» News

The PJ Tatler

Sarah Silverman vs. Rand Paul on ‘Free Healthcare’

Monday, May 25th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Sarah Silverman recently posted the above via her WhoSay page, retweeting “Rand Paul. Republican. Presidential candidate. Pragmatist. Thinker. Knob.” Clearly, the factually challenged comedian takes issue with Senator Paul’s description of “free healthcare” as slavery.

At first blush, the comparison may seem extreme. However, at root, it proves accurate. If your neighbor claims a right to the service you provide, you have no right to deny them access to that service. Fundamentally, a “right” to healthcare proves no different than a plantation owner’s “right” to cotton-pickers.

Paul paints a dramatic picture of doctors and other healthcare professionals being pulled out of their homes and compelled to work at the point of a gun. While that may not literally happen under Obamacare, force has been applied to set prices, limit and compel relationships, and tax individuals for services provided to others.

Slavery offends by denying individuals their right to live their life for their sake. That’s the crime. When we recognize that, we realize how prolific slavery actually is, and how rapidly the institution has expanded despite exaggerated reports of its demise.

Read bullet | 40 Comments »

Obama’s Big Brass Clanging Tablets on Display at D.C. Synagogue

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: This Friday, hours before Shabbat is set to begin and one day before the holiday of Shavuot starts, President Obama walked into a D.C. synagogue and proceeded to tell Jews that their religious texts and traditions compel them to give away Israeli land for the creation of a Palestinian state.

That’s some big, clanging brass you-know-whats on display right there. It’s one thing to use a prayer breakfast to rip Christians a new one. Would he have the guts to walk into a church and do the same thing, hours before a holy day, one day before a holiday no less? Are we Jews that nice? That pathetic? Do we give the impression of being such pushovers that we turn our pulpits over to world leaders who crap on our identity and manipulate our covenant with God to suit their own personal political agendas?

There is no doubt that Obama created Jewish American Heritage Month and participated in today’s keynote event simply to smooth over his relationship with the Jewish American community in the wake of his aggressive negotiations with Iran and the Gulf states. We are no longer the fiddlers. We are merely the fiddles being played by a political performer who has no problem proclaiming that he knows us better than we know ourselves.

On Shavuot we will celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is, in effect, the anniversary of our entering into our covenant with God. This is the very holiday that marks the making of us as a people. A key element of that covenant is the land on which the nation of Israel is to be established. And today, 1,000 attendees at Adas Israel anxiously clapped away that promise in favor of the pervading moral relativism of the White House.

They aren’t bad Jews because they vote liberal. They aren’t bad Jews because they vote Obama. They are bad Jews, as we all are, for ignoring, belittling, dismissing, and forgetting the covenant we made with God. The covenant that crafted us into who we are and showed us what we could be. Come on, people. We’re better than that.

 

Read bullet | 62 Comments »

Civil Rights Activist Questions Brutality Charges Against Black Cop

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

police

A police officer in Minneapolis has been charged with nine counts in an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on Wednesday. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Patrol officer Michael Griffin, 40, has been the subject of 22 complaints, only one of which has been sustained by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Griffin is charged in the indictment with depriving the men of their civil rights, falsifying reports and committing perjury in testimony in two lawsuits filed against him.

The suits resulted in $410,000 in payouts by the city to the litigants and their attorneys.

Griffin happens to be black, a fact which informed this reaction:

“I do hope that we are not looking at a double standard by federal authorities because there have been a number of cases involving white officers over the last five years where federal authorities appeared to show no interest,” said civil rights activist Ron Edwards, a former president of the Minneapolis Urban League, who sits on a police oversight committee appointed by Police Chief Janeé Harteau.

Edwards stops just short of suggesting that Griffin should get a pass on account of his race.

“It is so hard and difficult to get a person of color, African-Americans, into law enforcement in this state,” [Edwards] said. “This was a young man who came into the department with high expectations. Something went wrong. He lost his vision of what he wanted to do.”

Perhaps Edwards intent was to suggest that white officers similarly accused ought to face similar indictments. That’s the best-case scenario. Either way, we can see that grand jury decisions regarding police misconduct can be spun as racist no matter how they come out.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

Much-Heralded Study on Gay Marriage Views Retracted Because Data was Faked

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Story telling.

One of the authors of a recent study which claimed that short conversations with gay people could change minds on same-sex marriage has retracted it.

The retraction this week of the popular article published in a December issue of the Science academic journal follows revelations that his co-author allegedly faked data for the study, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support of gay marriage.”

According to academic watchdog Retraction Watch, Columbia University political science professor Donald Green published a retraction of the paper on Tuesday after confronting co-author Michael LaCour, a graduate assistant at UCLA.

The study received widespread media coverage from The New York Times, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and others, when it was released in December.

The news here isn’t that study data was fabricated to fit the pre-determined narrative’s conclusion, it’s that they were caught and are retracting it.

Progressives in academia don’t dismiss opposing points of view merely because they are generally intolerant people(they most definitely are), they also can’t believe any other conclusion but their own to be true. This is a condition that has gotten worse in recent years as the progressive hijacking of academia has taken firmer hold.

It would be at all surprising to me if younger academic wannabes make the “square peg/round hole” approach more commonplace and begin “adjusting” facts whenever they believe they can get away with it. Perhaps they already are and this story is an anomaly.

Maybe we should give them a “safe space” to talk about the abandonment of ethics.

Read bullet | 37 Comments »

Governor Blames Republicans for Education Bill That Democrats Voted For

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

It’s been clear for weeks now that Minnesota’s Democrat governor Mark Dayton wants a government shutdown. He’s been openly pining for it, not bothering to mask his naked partisan desire to blame Republicans going into next year’s election season.

The regular legislative session concluded late Monday night. As the deadline for the session approached, Governor Dayton repeatedly moved the goal posts on education funding, demanding ever more spending and full funding of universal preschool for four-year-olds.

The preschool piece has been a “priority” for Dayton despite widespread bipartisan opposition to the idea. Officials in the school district in which I live, which already deals with challenging fiscal issues, have told me they wouldn’t know where to put the new students if preschool were mandated by the state. But practical issues like that don’t concern Dayton, who sees universal preschool as a chance to both define a personal legacy in his second term and stick a thumb in the eye of House Republicans.

Tuesday, Dayton indicated he would make good on a threat to veto an education bill passed by the legislature because it does not include universal preschool. His veto will necessitate a special session during a time when capitol renovations leave the legislature with nowhere to meet. But Dayton says the inevitable special session was triggered by Republicans for not including his “priority.”

There’s only one problem with that narrative. Dayton’s fellow Democrats control the State Senate, and passed the same bill he’s about to veto. The Senate’s passage has been spun by some as a reaction to pressure to end the regular session on time. However, the reality is that many Democrats stand as skeptical of universal preschool as most Republicans.

The drama indicates that Dayton thinks voters will ignore the facts and buy his manufactured narrative of partisan intransigence. Even liberal allies in local media remain skeptical of that strategy’s chances.

Read bullet | Comments »

Conservative Nebraska Could Dump Death Penalty

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Nebraska might be the last place you would expect to overturn the death penalty. A highly conservative state where Republicans dominate, Nebraska may nonetheless join a growing list of states which have abandoned capital punishment.

The trend has emerged from a shift in the application of philosophical principles. An increasing number of conservatives have come to regard capital punishment as antithetical to their vision for government. From the New York Times:

Sen. Colby Coash, a conservative who is a sponsor of the bill [to eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment], said he had come to believe that opposing capital punishment aligned with his values as a Republican and a Christian conservative.

“I’m a conservative guy — I’ve been a Republican my whole life,” he said. “… Some people see this as a pro-life issue. Other people see it as a good-government issue. But the support that this bill is getting from conservative members is evidence that you can get justice through eliminating the death penalty, and you can get efficient government through eliminating the death penalty.”

The point about efficiency seems to get much traction these days. The cost of running a death row convict through an appeals process is cited as wasteful. Procuring the drugs necessary for lethal injection is considered difficult.

This new way of thinking about the death penalty reflects a larger flaw in modern conservative/libertarian thinking, which emphasizes the size and cost of government without regard to its purpose.  But we can’t talk about government waste outside the context of government’s purpose. First, we must determine what government is for. Only then can we evaluate whether its cost and scope proves excessive.

We have government to protect individual rights and administer justice. That is its end. Whatever cost that purpose requires, we should pay it. Whatever size government needs to maintain liberty, we should happily sustain it.

Opposition to the death penalty is not pro-life. One does not support life by tolerating its degradation and destruction. Rather, it’s the death penalty that’s pro-life. The death penalty affirms the value of life by eliminating those who show no regard for it. Opposing the death penalty conveys a lower regard for the value of life, a tolerance of unmitigated evil. There’s nothing conservative about that.

It’s one thing to take an abstract stance against the death penalty in a hypothetical laboratory. However, as the recent death sentence doled out to the Boston Marathon bomber in liberal Massachusetts indicates, the appropriateness of executing heinous murderers becomes clear when you see one.

Read bullet | Comments »

Teacher Fired for Helping Teens Plan Tryst in School Closet

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

When parents check their kids’ cell phones, they don’t expect to see what one suburban Atlanta mother discovered when she looked at her 14 year-old son’s phone. The mom, who chose to remain anonymous, found a series of texts between her son and his teacher, helping the boy plan to have sex with a girl in a storage room at the school.

The school system has fired 25-year-old Quinton Wright, who taught at Champion Theme Middle School in Stone Mountain, east of Atlanta. Wright also faces charges, but he hasn’t turned himself in.

WSB-TV’s Tom Regan spoke with the parent, who said she couldn’t believe what was happening.
“I was in a state of disbelief when I read all these messages,” the mother said, asking to remain anonymous.

[...]

“Basically he’s allowing the students to have sex in a storage room of his classroom,” the mother said.
“He told my son you can have it from 7:30 to like 8:30,” the mother said reading some of the messages. “’Did you tell the girl what’s going to happen? That she cannot tell anybody?’ basically don’t tell anyone I’m allowing you to use my room.”

The mother said the teacher also sent her son a calendar showing teachers’ schedules and a text saying he did not have condoms.

The school system removed Wright from the classroom after the mother discovered the messages, but that was not enough for the distressed parent.

“It’s very sickening and disheartening, because we trust administrators and educators when we drop our kids off at school,” the mother said.

The mother told Regan she pulled her eighth-grader from school Friday and contacted the school’s principal and police.  She said she also filed a complaint.

[...]

The student’s mother told Regan she was suspicious of the teacher from earlier behavior.

“He called me when the kids are at their eighth-grade prom and asked if he could come over and take pictures with the boys before the prom, and I said no,” the mother said.

Featured image courtesy of WSB Radio

Read bullet | 13 Comments »

Too Little Too Late? Loretta Sanchez Apologizes For Being Loretta Sanchez

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

What I meant by the headline is that this latest incident isn’t really anomalous for Rep. Sanchez, she’s just kind of like this. In the apology video here, the Sacramento CBS affiliate speculates that Sanchez not only nuked her Senate bid, but may have jeopardized her House seat as well.

Fingers crossed…

Read bullet | Comments »

Evangelicals to Bring Christian College Students to Israel

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Christian? In college? Want to go to Israel for $500? Haaretz reports:

Conservative Jewish funders and Christian donors of Hobby Lobby fame have joined forces to launch a Christian Birthright trip, modeled after the successful program that has taken thousands of Jewish young adults to Israel for the past 16 years.

Covenant Journey, a subsidized evangelical 11-day trip to Israel that was officially announced May 8, will bring 250 students to the Holy Land by the end of the summer. It aims to bring thousands more in the upcoming years.

Just like the Taglit-Birthright Israel program it is modeled after, Covenant Journey seeks to strengthen American students’ love for Israel. But instead of having them mingle with young Jewish soldiers, participants walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and visit Christian holy sites. According to the program’s founder, the results from a recently launched pilot tour were encouraging. Participants in the trip were transformed into enthusiastic pro-Israel advocacy messengers.

…The Philos Project, a pro-Israel group with a stated mission of promoting “positive Christian engagement in the Middle East,” offered its backing early on. The group’s board includes Richard Lang, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary; Mark Tooley, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, which is a conservative religious think tank, and Republican Jewish activist Dan Senor, who served as spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, in Iraq, during the administration of George W. Bush. The group’s main funder is Paul Singer, a Jewish hedge fund billionaire who is also one of the single largest donors to Republican politics.

Politically it’s a smart move. With anti-Semitism on the rise on college campuses and Obama stacking the decks against the Democrats when it comes to the pro-Israel vote, subsidized Israel trips are yet another great way to solidify bonds with Israel’s Christian supporters who vote in America. Targeting the millennial generation is more than a wise idea. These young adults are the ones who have been the most exposed to an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist agenda in the history of public education. What’s more, whether it is in the form of BDS, Christ at the Checkpoint, the Soros-backed Telos Group, or Palestinian Liberation Theology, the Christian community is far from immune to anti-Zionist influences.

Read bullet | Comments »

Why Are Government Shutdowns Even a Thing?

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

It’s become a perennial drama. Divided government, at either the state or federal level, reaches an impasse in legislative negotiations which triggers a shutdown of government operations. Nobody claims to want it. Yet everyone seems to shape their strategy around it, with each party hoping the other will take the brunt of the blame from frustrated constituents.

Minnesota’s regular legislative session will end tonight at midnight. The chances of Democrat governor Mark Dayton reaching agreement with House Republicans stands next to nil. From all accounts, Dayton wants it that way. As the session deadline has loomed closer, the billionaire department store heir has moved the goal posts on education funding again and again. Most recently, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Dayton will veto an education bill “if it only includes $400 million in new money for schools.”

Dayton’s banking on a hunch that Republicans will take the blame for a contentious special session and potential government shutdown. He’s “vowing that House Republicans would pay the biggest political cost” in that scenario. That’s what passes for leadership in Minnesota at the moment, triggering shutdowns on the belief political opponents will be blamed.

Why is this even a thing? You might think, with the amount of frustration that these standoffs cause for all parties concerned, there would be some proposal to reform how the budget process works so that negotiations never take place under the specter of a shutdown. If or how that would work legally, I leave to the experts. But such a proposal would quickly sort the disingenuous partisan operatives from the statesmen.

Read bullet | Comments »

Valerie Jarrett Declares a Mother’s Place Is…with Her Kids?

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

At a Women Employed luncheon in Chicago last week, senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett declared:

Every single day in our country, moms are not at the Halloween parade, they’re not at the check-up, they’re not at the parent-teacher conference. They’re not doing what they need to be doing at home and that needs to stop.

What does the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls suggest businesses do? Offer more “paid leave and schedule flexibility.”

The question becomes, how will businesses afford to offer these perks in the wake of required minimum wage hikes and Obamacare regulations? You can’t exactly tax a business on one hand and slap them with the other. Jarrett’s White House doesn’t exactly support stay-at-home moms, either. The Child and Dependent Care Credit is only applicable to those who use daycare facilities; a spouse who sacrifices their salary to stay at home with their child winds up footing the bill. The president also called for a “second-earner tax credit” for households in which both parents work.

Bottom line: Jarrett cares about your children inasmuch as their existence forwards her White House’s “class warfare” agenda. Don’t count on Obama supporting businesses in their efforts to support working mothers any time soon.

Read bullet | Comments »

Obama to Arab World: Negotiations With Iran Are Useless

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In the wake of this past week’s summit with Arab States at Camp David, President Obama granted his first-ever interview to an Arabic language newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, a pan-Arab daily headquartered in London that publishes in 14 locations worldwide. In his attempt to pander to his Arab audience, Obama reveals the inefficacy of negotiations with Iran:

…President Obama concurred that “the countries in the region are right to be deeply concerned about Iran’s activities, especially its support for violent proxies inside the borders of other nations.”

…He explains his reasoning for extending an invitation to the leaders of the GCC, saying it is part of an effort to “further strengthen our close partnerships, including our security cooperation, and to discuss how we can meet common challenges together. That includes working to resolve the conflicts across the Middle East that have taken so many innocent lives and caused so much suffering for the people of the region.”

…”When it comes to Iran’s future, I cannot predict Iran’s internal dynamics. Within Iran, there are leaders and groups that for decades have defined themselves in opposition to both the United States and our regional partners. I’m not counting on any nuclear deal to change that.”

In other words, what is the point of negotiating with Iran? Especially in light of the fact that America’s Arab allies in the region reject the idea of negotiations to the point of forming a United Arab Army? Given that the conclusion of the appeasement summit was a statement assuring US financial and military backing in order to defend these nations, it would appear that Obama is negotiating the next Arab (or worse, Arab-Israeli) war in the Middle East.

So much for “peace in our time”.

Read bullet | Comments »

Did the U.S. Just Agree to Support Arab Forces in a War Against Israel?

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

On Thursday, the White House released the rather long-winded “U.S.- Gulf Cooperation Council Camp David Joint Statement” as an appeasement to our Arab allies in the region in the wake of negotiations with Iran. Mainstream outlets reported the statement using the following language:

President Barack Obama has vowed to back Gulf allies against any “external attack,” seeking to reassure them of Washington’s commitment to their security amid Arab anxiety over US-led efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama, hosting the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council for a rare summit at the Camp David presidential retreat, pledged that the US would cooperate with them to address what he called Iran’s “destabilizing activities in the region.”

While the American press largely ignored the entire event, the Washington Post did declare the summit to have an “upbeat ending,” with David Ignatius concluding:

For once, in the theater of the Middle East, the Arabs have opted to be the good guys, compared to an unyielding Israeli government. And Obama has responded with the sentiment conveyed by the Arabic expression, “Ahlan wa Sahlan.” You are welcome.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, of Israel’s Independent Media Review Analysis, begs to differ. Publishing the entire text of the statement, Lerner notes the following language [emphasis mine]:

In the event of such aggression or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determineurgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners.

As with Operation Decisive Storm, GCC states will consult with the United States when planning to take military action beyond GCC borders, in particular when U.S. assistance is requested for such action.

…The United States and GCC member states strongly affirmed the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just,
lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that results in an independent and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.

Lerner then says what American and Arab media sources dare not:

 So the US doesn’t exactly commit to using force - just discussing the possibility.

There is a CALL FOR ISRAEL TO BE SPLIT IN TWO so that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are “contiguous Palestinian state”.

Also in the call to Israel and the Palestinians “urgent need for the parties to demonstrate—through policies and actions—genuine advancement of a two-state solution” we have missing any explicit call for the Palestinians to HONOR THEIR EXISTING COMMITMENTS. What commitments? Well, for starters, The thousands of rockets in the Gaza Strip are in complete and total violation of the agreements signed already! So are the Fatah armed militias in the West Bank!]

The reality of the language of this latest agreement is simple: It paves the way for a US-backed military war against Israel in order to create a Palestinian state. Whether or not that language will ever be realized will hopefully not be a story for another day.

Read bullet | 28 Comments »

Contrary to Popular Outrage, Pope Francis Didn’t Call Mahmoud Abbas ‘an Angel of Peace’

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Another day, another misquote.

I hate to get into a public disagreement with a colleague here, but the outrage du jour seems to be based on a translation that may or may not be deliberately wrong. As the BBC and the Associated Press are at the root of it, I’m leaning towards the former.

A BBC reporter in the room claimed that Pope Francis said “you are an angel of peace” while presenting a gift (which is Vatican tradition) to Abbas.

The Vatican reporter for the Italian newspaper La Stampa has it differently:

As is tradition with heads of State or of government, Francis presented presented a gift to the Palestinian leader, commenting: “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.”

Calling someone something and exhorting him to be that something are two entirely different things.

What has befuddled me and several of my conservative friends who are also devout Roman Catholics is the willingness of our conservative friends to take news about this pope at face value from MSM outlets that aren’t trusted for anything else.

I can tell you this: MSM reporting on the Vatican, the Church or whomever is pope at the time almost always needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The media has an obsession with Francis because they’ve convinced themselves that he’s the pope who will make the Church become a gay marriage, abortion loving free-for-all. This, even though barely six months into his tenure, Francis excommunicated a priest for supporting women priests and gay marriage.

As with any political agenda supported by the MSM, it is willing to bend facts to shoehorn stories into the narrative.

Also read:

The Pope Is Catholic, Not an American Politician

Read bullet | 50 Comments »

Mitt Romney to Fight Heavyweight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield for Charity (Video)

Friday, May 15th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

romney Holyfield

No, this is not the Onion or Epic Rap Battles of History. This is really happening – tonight.

If a fight between a politician and a former heavyweight champion seems like a bit of a mismatch — don’t worry. The goal is to put on a fun exhibition and raise money to cure blindness.

The 68-year-old retired Republican is stepping into the ring against the 52-year-old retired boxer for charity. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Friday night fight will benefit Charity Vision, a nonprofit with the mission of restoring vision to people in developing nations. The event is expected to raise $1 million, which will pay for things like medical equipment, vision screenings, eye surgeries and training doctors in poverty-stricken areas.

Back in March, Romney told late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon that his 2 1/2 year old grandson had been “training” him to fight. (Watch the video at the link to see what he means by “training.”) Other than that, I don’t think he’s done a lot of boxing in his life.

I found a brief description of the former Massachusetts governor’s athletic prowess in a 2012 L.A. Times article about his health:

The Romneys enjoy athletic pursuits such as swimming and biking when staying at their vacation home on the shore of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. Romney has put younger aides to shame during waterskiing expeditions on the lake. He also competes with his five sons each year in the now-famed “Romney Olympics,” which includes contests like beach volleyball, log-sawing and hanging from a bar over the lake until their arms give out (the last contestant hanging on to the bar wins).

In quieter moments, Romney joins his wife, Ann, an accomplished equestrian, for trail rides that have helped her cope with her multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

I don’t see anything in there about boxing.  Waterskiing and horseback riding, I’ll warrant, do not prepare one for the ring. Against the former heavyweight champ.

Donnie Reilly, a producer and writer for Carson’s Corner MMA radio, said on Twitter that according to his source, “@Holyfield is planning to turn it up to 75% in round 2 to test @Romney.”

“It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious,” Romney said matter-of-factly in a recent interview. “It won’t be much of a fight. We’ll both suit up and get in the ring and spar around a little bit.”

YouTube Preview Image

Two things are for sure: they are both stand-up guys for doing this, and they’re certain to raise some big bucks for a great cause.

Read bullet | Comments »

Church Planters in Pakistan Facing Death Threats

Friday, May 15th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Christians working to plant churches in Pakistan have faced recent death threats, while experts warn that conditions for Christians and other religious minorities may only get worse.

Javed David has been building churches in poor communities for the past two years, but says he is becoming increasingly afraid of the consequences, particularly in the wake of the double suicide bomb attacks on churches in Lahore, where he lives, in March.

“After the tragedy in Youhanabad [a Christian majority suburb of Lahore], circumstances have changed and now there is more fear,” David told Asia News. He has personally received two threats on his life since February. Once, a motorcyclist threw a piece of paper though his car window, reading: “This is an Islamic nation. We cannot allow church building. Either you convert to Islam or you leave this country! Stop building churches or you’ll pay the consequences!”

In a second incident on April 4, another motorcyclist told him: “We know what you are doing here. Stop building churches. Convert to Islam, which is the true religion. Otherwise we will make a horrible example of you.”

One of David’s colleagues, Ata-ur-Rehman, has also received threats. He said that though there has been some resistance from members of the local Muslim community, Christians and Muslims largely live in peace together. He did, however, express concern about “rising religious intolerance.”

Recent reports on human rights in Pakistan have highlighted the problems that Christians and other religious minorities face, and other experts have noted that persecution against religious minorities is on the rise.

The Minority Rights Group and International and Sustainable Development Policy Institute said that “violent attacks against religious minorities occur against a backdrop of legal and social discrimination in almost every aspect of their lives, including political participation, marriage and freedom of belief,” and called for increased protections for all citizens.

[...]

Religious freedoms granted by the government “are only confined in words,” [spokesperson for the British Pakistani Christian Association Mewhish] Bhatti said. “That’s not the real story that we’re facing”. Forced marriages are very common, she added, noting that many girls are abandoned or even killed by their Muslim husbands if they refuse to submit to Islamic teaching.

Bhatti also said that any government protections given in the wake of incidents such as the church bombings in Youhanabad are short lived. “Our lives are in danger. The government send higher-level security for one or two weeks, just for media coverage, but [there are] no long term measures.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Asianet-Pakistan

Read bullet | Comments »

Smartest President Ever Says Weaponized Chlorine Is Not a Chemical Weapon

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Here is some video of the press conference (complete with a classic Obama snippy reply to a reporter).

Here is a tweet from a reporter quoting him if you don’t want to watch the video:

 

It’s not just me who finds this odd, noted Right Wing Nutjob organization the United Nations says that, yes, chlorine kinda always has been a chemical weapon.

The modern use of chemical weapons began with World War I, when both sides to the conflict used poisonous gas to inflict agonizing suffering and to cause significant battlefield casualties. Such weapons basically consisted of well known commercial chemicals put into standard munitions such as grenades and artillery shells. Chlorine, phosgene (a choking agent) and mustard gas (which inflicts painful burns on the skin) were among the chemicals used. The results were indiscriminate and often devastating. Nearly 100,000 deaths resulted.
Since World War I, chemical weapons have caused more than one million casualties globally.

It’s more than likely that everyone around him is buying into his arbitrary classification. Remember, this is the guy who makes up job numbers and thinks the economy is booming along and doesn’t get asked a lot about any of it.

What I’m wondering here is if he has any plans in the near future to redefine what “nuclear weapon” means.

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

David Cameron Announces Plans to Tackle Radical Islamists

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

And now for something completely different.

Just days after kissing goodbye to the Lib Dem coalition and forming the first all-Tory government since 1992, David Cameron will today announce controversial plans to fast-track new powers to tackle radicalisation that were blocked by Nick Clegg’s party in the last government.

The Prime Minister is expected to set out his intention to include a new counter-extremism bill in his Queen’s Speech later this month as he chairs the first meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) since the Tories’ election victory.

Planned measures include introducing new orders to ban extremist organisations and restrict people who seek to radicalise youngsters.

The proposals will aim to crack down on preachers like Abu Hamza, as well as the sort of radicalisation which led Mohammed Emwazi (AKA ‘JIhadi John’) to join the Islamic State militant group, as well as the murder of Lee Rigby.

American conservatives may need a moment here, after all, we aren’t used to conservatives who have just had decisive electoral victories acting like it when they return to work. This is so fantastical for us that this story is almost like reading a Tolkien novel.

This is very good news because the UK has had a bad case of Creeping Sharia for years now (even worse than we do here). As the post mentions, Cameron’s efforts to push back have been-SHOCKER!-blocked by liberals. Little pockets of “tolerance” have allowed Sharia to usurp the law of the land. No more.

Providing a model that will hopefully one day be adopted here, Cameron is moving quickly while he has momentum.

This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation, and bring our country together.

Now if someone could please give Mitch McConnell’s phone number to the prime minister.

Read bullet | 18 Comments »

ABC News Should Be Ashamed

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

The underhanded way ABC rolled out a controversial news story about one of its anchors today is disgraceful.

As Michael Walsh reported this morning, ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos gave $50,000 in undisclosed charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation in recent years. While the contributions were publicly available information, the host had not disclosed the conflict of interest to ABC viewers – until he was caught by Andrew Stiles of the Washington Free Beacon.

Stiles asked ABC for a comment, and while they were waiting for a reply, ABC leaked the story to Dylan Byers of Politico, who titled his story “George Stephanopoulos discloses $50,000 contribution to Clinton Foundation” (as if the idea to disclose was all Stephanopoulos’s).

WFB reported:

Stephanopoulos, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, confirmed the donation to POLITICO’s Dylan Byers after the Free Beacon contacted ABC News for comment. The host, who acknowledged making two donations of $25,000 between 2013 and 2014, issued a statement of apology for failing to disclose his contributions.

A half an hour after Politico’s story ran, ABC News sent a statement  to the Washington Free Beacon.

Tweets via Twitchy:

Disgraceful, but unfortunately par-for-the-course behavior from the media these days. If you were wondering what MSM coverage of Hillary Rodham Clinton will look like in 2016 (if she gets that far) this little episode should give you a pretty good idea.

Read bullet | Comments »

$235 Million Later, Hawaii Pulls Plug on Obamacare Exchange

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

JokerBurnsMoney

Whenever you hear government apologists claim that budgets can’t be cut lest the poor wither and die in the street, remind them that the federal government and the state of Hawaii effectively just set $235 million ablaze. The state’s Obamacare insurance exchange will be shuddered this month after failing to attract enough enrollees to become financially viable. From Americans for Tax Reform:

While the exchange has struggled since its creation, it is not for lack of funding. Since 2011 Hawaii has received a total of $205,342,270 in federal grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In total, HHS provided nearly $4.5 billion to Hawaii and other state exchanges, with little federal oversight and virtually no strings attached.

Despite this generous funding, the exchange has underperformed from day one. In its first year, Hawaii enrolled only 8,592 individuals – meaning it spent almost $23,899 on its website for each individual enrolled. Currently over 37,000 individuals are enrolled in Hawaii’s exchange – well below the estimated 70,000 enrollees that is required to make the website financially viable. Unfortunately, taxpayers will have to hand out an additional $30 million so that Hawaii can migrate to the federal system.

That’s fundamentally no different from lighting a huge stack of money on fire. At least The Dark Knight’s Joker had the decency to only burn his half.

Think of it, $235 million that came out of household budgets and business accounts, $235 million that won’t go into investments or be spent supporting businesses and funding jobs. It’s a scandal for which no one anywhere will apparently pay a price, just the taxpayers who already have.

Read bullet | Comments »

WATCH: 2 ‘Jetmen’ Fly Over Dubai Wearing Rocket Packs

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Yves Rossy, aka “Jetman,” and his buddy Jetman Dubai Vince took a flight over Dubai this week using Rossy’s own jetpacks. The footage alone is phenomenal, putting Disney’s Rocketeer to shame. The question is, how long will it be before these jet packs are commercially available for consumer use? After all, it is 2015. Weren’t we supposed to have flying cars by now?

Read bullet | Comments »

Common Core: Creating a Productive Citizenry of Sex-Bots

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to the National Sexuality Education Standards for Common Core, children as young as the second grade are expected to comprehend that gender is a cultural construct. By 5th grade they need to be able to identify what HIV is and how to prevent it medically. By the end of 8th grade they need to identify “credible sources of information about sexual health.” They also need to comprehend how abstinence contributes to the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, much to the chagrin of Jenny Kutner, resident sexpert at Salon, who does not view abstinence to be “medically accurate” let alone a form of “sex education at all.”

Kutner justifies her opinion based on a recent California judge’s ruling regarding sex ed in public school classrooms. “Access to medically and socially appropriate sexual education is an important public right,” as is everything nowadays from wedding cakes to vandalizing major cities in the name of civil rights. Why is sex ed a public right? According to the Common Core standards:

Improvements in public health, including sexual health, can contribute to a reduction in health care costs. [And] Effective health education can contribute to the establishment of a healthy and productive citizenry.

The last time the government was so concerned about public sexual health, they handed out condoms by the boatload to soldiers. That’s right, folks, your public school kid is a soldier in America’s new “productive citizenry” army.

What neither the nationalized sex ed curriculum, nor the judge in California, nor Jenny Kutner ever expect students to understand is that if they want children one day, they need to have a plan to prioritize or balance family and career by the time they’re 18. Female students need to understand that the longer they push off having children, the harder that process will be. They also need to understand the medical ramifications of various birth control methods and how those may impact their ability to have children down the line as well. 

Since the procreation of life is conveniently lumped in with the prevention of disease, it is safe to assume that the cultural standard is to avoid both by all costs. After all, that’s what a productive citizen would do — place the needs of the state before their own selfish desires in order to avoid diseases of all kinds that could inhibit their ability to contribute to society.

So, why not promote abstinence, the only method of avoidance with a 100% guarantee? The loyalties expressed in abstinence-only education, to God, monogamous life-partners, and the unborn, pose the greatest threat to this State-focused mentality. The State doesn’t care if your kids have sex. They just don’t want to have to deal with the consequences.

Read bullet | 17 Comments »

Mark Levin Lashes Out at Libs Politicizing Amtrak Disaster While Bodies Aren’t Even Cold Yet

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

On his increasingly popular radio show, Mark “The Great One” Levin lashed out at liberals yesterday for trying to politicize the Amtrak disaster. He played several audio files of Democratic politicians and pretend-journalists who didn’t even wait until the victims’ bodies were cold before they started playing their usual political games, and rightfully responded with great outrage:

Almost since last night, but since early this morning — while emergency personnel are at the crash scene trying to find bodies, trying to save people, trying to get them to the hospital — early this morning, within hours of the accident, the media, the Democrats, the liberals … in front of the microphones … all of a sudden it’s a spending issue. It’s a spending issue!

Levin then continued to play audio files from MSNBC and other leftist media proving his point. One after the other, liberals — journalists and politicians — said the disaster was caused by too little spending. If the government had just spent a bit more, this tragedy would never have occurred.

The only problem with that? There isn’t enough information out yet to conclude anything, except that the train was going 106 mph on a part of the track where the maximum speed was 50 mph.

But hey, we’re talking about liberals here; famous for “never let a good crisis go to waste.” And so they wasted no time putting blame on the shoulders of those darned Republicans, while the victims’ bodies were still warm and rescue workers were trying to save lives.

It’s all because of conservatives who hate to spend! If it was up to Democrats, this would never have happened! May those cold-hearted Republicans be damned for their willingness to put lives in jeopardy, just to save a few bucks.

Levin went on:

They want to spend more, so anyone who doesn’t is now against safety. In fact, they’re part of the problem with Amtrak.

Of course, “billions and billions of taxpayers’ dollars have been poured into Amtrak.” But it didn’t make the slightest difference. In fact, if anyone — at all — is to blame for possibly underfunding Amtrak, it’s Democrats, not Republicans:

Ladies and gentlemen, when Obama controlled the Senate and the House, and the entire Congress, they passed an over $800 billion stimulus program, and you may recall that when Paul Ryan came on this program — he doesn’t come on anymore — but a few years ago, he said $9 billion of the over $800 billion went to infrastructure.

So they stole that money, they were greasing palms, they were sending it to their community interests’ front groups. They didn’t use it for infrastructure, bridges and railroad tracks and all the rest. And so they’re pushing hard once more — once more! — they want massive spending; not for infrastructure — to spread the wealth yet again.

As usual, Democrats and their cronies in the media brush aside inconvenient facts. After all, much easier to blame everybody else and argue for spending increases, with money that simply doesn’t exist, at the same time.

Here’s the audio from the show:

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

Christians in Yemen Face ‘Terrible’ Conditions

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Since tensions flared up in Yemen this spring, Christians in the city of Aden have faced what the Anglican bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf has referred to as “terrible” conditions, even as tensions appear to have died down.

More than 600 people have been killed in the city and 3,000 wounded, while 22,000 residents had been displaced since the Iran-backed Houthi rebels first pushed into the city on March 25.

Fighting in the city has seen damage to the city’s Christ Church and its associated clinic, Ras Morbat.

Rt Rev Michael Lewis wrote in a prayer letter that the buildings’ windows had been blown out as a result of blast waves from sustained shelling. However, he added, “we are told that all our staff are safe so far, and for that we thank God”.

He said: “The general state of Aden is terrible: lack of fuel means lack of electricity, and telecommunications and even basic movement around the large city have become hugely difficult. Food is limited, and money to buy it even more so.

“Our administrator is very thankful for the many prayers that he knows have been made for him, for all who work at Ras Morbat, and for the people of Aden and the Yemen as a whole, a country sorely abused by those with the power, if they chose to use, to promote the common good to the glory of God.”

A coalition of Middle East nations have bombed Houthi army units and other rebel strongholds, while Sunni-led Saudi Arabia believes that Shi’ite Iran is behind the rebels, who have taken control of much of the country since late March. The coalition seeks to restore Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

A five-day cease fire, which began earlier this week, appears to be holding steady, though locals do not expect it to lead to a lasting peace.

Aid agencies said the five-day break in fighting to allow fuel, medicine, food and aid workers to enter Yemen could be a “lifeline” for civilians trapped in conflict zones.

The United Nations believes 828 civilians, including 182 children, have been killed across Yemen since March 26.

Aden locals expressed doubts that the ceasefire would last.

“Aden needs a humanitarian truce so badly, given the lack of food, fuel and everything else. But we question the intentions of the Houthis and believe they will take advantage of the truce to take more areas,” said Hassan al-Jamal, a resident of Aden.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / patrice6000

 

Read bullet | Comments »

Women Prove the Strongest Supporters of HR36 Act Banning 20 Week Abortions

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to the Washington Post:

In fact, of four major polls conducted in recent weeks on the 20-week abortion ban, each one shows women are actually more supportive of the law than men.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows 60 percent of women prefer allowing unrestricted abortions for only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the Supreme Court-prescribed 24 weeks. Among men, 50 percent support the 20-week law — a 10-point gap.

Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the gap at seven points, while two other polls (from NBC/Wall Street Journal and National Journal) showed it at six and four, respectively.

And those numbers may actually understate support among women for the new restrictions.

In the Post-ABC poll, rather than choosing between a 20-week ban and the current 24 weeks, 8 percent of women volunteered that abortion should never be legal, and 3 percent volunteered that the window should be smaller than 20 weeks. If you add them to the 60 percent of women who support the 20-week abortion ban, then 71 percent of women would seem to support the effort to increase abortion restrictions.

Perhaps the overwhelming female support of the ban is a result of the physical reality of the mother-child bond at 20 weeks of fetal development, the official halfway point of gestation. By that time, most moms have felt their babies move in the womb. They’ve seen the baby a minimum of twice, once for a diagnostic confirmation of pregnancy at roughly 8 weeks and once more for fetal screening at 12 weeks. If they are under the age of 35, they’re just about to learn the sex of their baby at their 20 week ultrasound. (Bonus for feminist supporters of the bill: If the baby is a girl, she’s developed roughly 7 million primitive eggs in her ovaries by this point.) If mom has been keeping regular appointments, mothers have heard their child’s heartbeat a minimum of 3 times.

Read bullet | Comments »

Derailed Train Reportedly Going Twice the Speed Limit, Engineer Not Speaking to Investigators

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Via the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Investigators of Tuesday’s deadly Amtrak derailment say they are focusing on reports that the train was traveling more than twice the 50-mile-an-hour speed limit when it entered a sharp curve in Frankford.

An automatic train control system designed to prevent speeding was not in place where Amtrak Train 188 crashed, killing seven people and injuring more than 200.

The train’s engineer, who has not been identified, declined to give a statement to police investigators and left the East Detectives Division with an attorney, police commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Wednesday.

The fact that the engineer left with his attorneys may simply be a union precaution but the reports about the egregious speeding certainly make it seem otherwise.

In news that may or may not be related, a Philadelphia commuter train was struck by a projectile about twenty minutes before the Amtrak derailment and fairly close by.

Read bullet | 21 Comments »

Oracle’s Larry Ellison Will Host Big Money Fund Raiser For Rubio

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

That’s some expensive chicken.

Sen. Marco Rubio now has another billionaire in his corner: Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

Ellison will host a fundraiser for the Florida Republican’s White House bid at his mansion in Woodside, Calif., on June 9, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.

A VIP reception and photo opportunity with Rubio will cost attendees $2,700 per person. The fundraiser will also include a host committee dinner for couples who have raised $27,000.

This is some nice early money for Rubio. Ellison has been a Republican donor in the past and is a major Silicon Valley get for the campaign given that Rand Paul has been the most open about going after donor dollars there.

This will also give the Rubio campaign extra time for their candidate to prepare for an appearance on Mark Halperin’s “How Cuban Are You?” show.

Read bullet | Comments »

High School Soccer Player Punches Referee Over Call in Final Game

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

High school sports can be as competitive as professional sports — especially in the South. Just ask the soccer team at Chattahoochee High School north of Atlanta. At their April 29 game, the last of the season, senior Andrew Gray disagreed with a call from the referee, so Gray responded with a sucker punch.

From WSB-TV:

A police report obtained by Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik said the referee, Christopher Heintzman, told police the incident happened after Chattahoochee lost a playoff game to Milton High School on April 29.

“That student walked over to him and acted as if he wanted to shake hands but instead that student sucker-punched him on the right side of the face,” the report stated.

When police questioned Gray, the report said he began to cry and said that Heintzman’s penalty call against him near the end of the game messed up his career.

“He wanted to apologize to the official,” the report said, but Heintzman told police the next time he wanted to see the student was in front of a judge.

The school system would not comment on the specifics of the case, but athletics director Steven Craft said that the system would take measures to ensure that incidents like the one involving Grey do not happen again.

“When they put on that jersey they’re representing themselves, their family, the school and the community and we want them to understand that,” Craft told Petchenik.  “We have an expectation of what we expect our student athletes to act like.  They’re going to be respectful, they’re going to compete hard…but we’re going to do it the right way.”

Craft said he will require the Chattahoochee High School soccer team and its coaches to undergo sportsmanship training to ensure this does not happen again.

“It is an isolated incident, but it gives us the great opportunity to make sure we’re sending the right message to everybody,” he said.

Gray is due in court later this week to answer to the charges against him. When local media contacted his attorney, the attorney had no comment on the matter.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Gines Romero

Read bullet | 15 Comments »

Obama Calls Successful Americans ‘Society’s Lottery Winners’

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

When President Obama told American business owners that they didn’t build their own success, he shifted the credit to government for providing things like infrastructure and public schools. Now, he’s attributing success to another factor – dumb luck. From the New York Times:

Speaking to a gathering of faith leaders at Georgetown University, Obama said …his unsuccessful effort to raise taxes on hedge fund managers is an example of the refusal by conservatives to compromise for the benefit of the poor…

“If we can’t ask from society lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show,” Obama said. He added later, “If we can’t bridge that gap, I suspect we are not going to make as much progress as we need to.”

That single comment defines the president’s economic worldview. Success doesn’t come to those who act rationally in pursuit of their values. It doesn’t come from hard work performed intelligently. No, it comes from the roll of a die.

There’s a lot more code language in the clip from the Georgetown “poverty summit” embedded above. Obama lamented successful Americans “divesting” from “the commons” by sending their children to private school or working out in private clubs. He claims these acts of free association and pursuit of happiness foster an “an anti-government ideology” which endangers “those things which draw us together.”

It all adds up to a vision of America as a place where success is unearned and exploitative. The president thus prescribes punishing the successful and discouraging individual achievement.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

Christie Seeks Court Power to Overturn His Own Legislation

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is attempting to use the courts to overturn the “2011 pension reform he once called his ‘greatest governmental victory.’ Ironically, Christie now contends the statute he had championed is unconstitutional, and therefore unenforceable.”

That’s right, the guy who chatted up his 5-point plan for national economic growth in New Hampshire yesterday is busy petitioning the courts to overturn his own budgetary legislation. What’s the Governor’s solution for New Jersey’s ailing pension fund? “Transferring control [of] the assets, liabilities and risks of the retirement plans to public employee labor unions.” 

According to the latest Bloomberg poll, Christie is hovering between stronger, more conservative candidates and the flash-in-the-pan ideologues like Carson and Huckabee. While he’s roughly where he was a month ago now it’s Rand Paul, the isolationist, not Donald Trump, the 80′s celebrity, who is beating the Governor to the White House. Who’s the overall winner of the Republican ticket so far? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the guy who took power away from the unions instead of recommending they get given the reins.

Looks like Mary Pat Christie better brush off that resume.

Read bullet | Comments »

How Your Tax Dollars Fund Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A recent survey indicates that 95% of parents think their overweight children “look just right”. Cue Michelle Obama’s latest national panic attack: We don’t know what fat looks like anymore! But before you allow the Feds to implement yet another government-mandated solution, read on. “African American and low-income parents had the most inaccurate perceptions” of what a healthy child should look like. These populations are also the ones reaping the benefits of federal programs like WIC, the Women, Infants and Children special supplemental nutritional program administered by the USDA.

According to a 2013 Time article, the answer to “Why Obesity Rates are Falling” was WIC “…which provides nutritious foods and information on healthy eating and health care referrals to low-income pregnant women, promotes breastfeeding and offers whole fruits and vegetables instead of fruit juice.” How far did those statistics really fall? A whopping 1%. The minority big enough to protest against on Wall Street is also a cause for celebration among fans of tax-subsidized food programs. If only every American’s standards were so low.

How does WIC produce fat kids 99% of the time? By providing a budget that allows for a greater consumption of sugars, carbohydrates and fats than fruits and vegetables. The monthly food package for a child ages 1-4 permits for 128 fluid ounces of juice, 2 pounds of bread, 1 dozen eggs… and $8 worth of fruits and vegetables in cash vouchers. For a whole month.

That’s right, you don’t even get the food directly. You get a cash voucher and hope you can access fresh fruit and veggies, which can be hard to find in low-income areas often dubbed “food deserts.” Even if fruit and veg are accessible, they are some of the most expensive items at the food store. (I’m still waiting for my coupon for brussel sprouts.)  In fact, according to the journal Pediatrics, “high prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are associated with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) in young children in low- and middle-income households.”

The Feds have created a culture of obesity currently fed and later medically supported by your tax dollars. I guess those low-income and minority babies aren’t good enough for Michelle O’s salad of the week. Save those greens for the middle class. They’ll need the energy to get to work.

 

Read bullet | 11 Comments »

Pulitzer Prize Winner Hawks ‘Protocols of the Elders of the Anti-Islam Movement’ in the New Yorker

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

A document entered into court evidence by Justice Department prosecutors in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, and later cited affirmatively by the federal judge in the case and cleared by the federal appeals court, would seem an unlikely target for a former journalist to try to spin a conspiratorial tale around, namely slandering others of hawking a racist/”Islamphobic” “Protocols of the Elders of Islam.”

And yet that is what David K. Shipler, a former New York Times reporter and winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, is now trying to do.

Clearly upset that so-called “Islamophobes” have been successful using the document – again, discovered by the FBI, submitted into the evidence by federal prosecutors and approved as genuine by the federal court – to expose the Muslim Brotherhood roots of some of America’s largest Islamic organizations, Shipler wields his “Islamophobia” harpoon like Ahab at his “anti-Islam industry” Moby Dick.

He makes his dubious case in a new book out this week, entitled “Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword” (Alfred A. Knopf), which includes an entire chapter on the subject, and summarizes it in an article published on Tuesday in The New Yorker, “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement.” The book received a very lukewarm review in the New York Times this past Sunday.

In the New Yorker article, Shipler claims:

Virtually all the alarm over the coming Islamic takeover and the spread of Sharia law can be traced back to an old document of questionable authority and relevance, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” Dated May 22, 1991, it was found in 2004 by the F.B.I., buried in one of a large number of boxes uncovered during a search of a house in northern Virginia. (I reported on the discovery and the use of the document for my book “Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword.”) It is cited on numerous Web sites, and in articles, videos, and training materials, which quote one another in circular arguments. Its illusion of importance was enhanced by federal prosecutors, who included it in a trove of documents introduced into evidence in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charitable organization ultimately convicted of sending money to Hamas.

The memo, however, is far from probative. It was never subjected to an adversarial test of its authenticity or significance. Examined closely, it does not stand up as an authoritative prescription for action. Rather, it appears to have been written as a plea to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership for action, by an author we know little about, Mohamed Akram. He is listed elsewhere as a secretary in the Brotherhood, but he writes in the tone of an underling. Islam watchers do not quote his appeal that the recipients “not rush to throw these papers away due to your many occupations and worries. All that I’m asking of you is to read them and to comment on them.” These lines reveal the memo as a mere proposal, now twenty-four years old. No other copies have come to light.

Two features of the memo are highlighted by the Islam watchers: first, its assertion that “the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” and, second, “a list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” [emphasis added]

What’s remarkable about Shipler’s treatment of the Explanatory Memorandum in his article and in his book is how much he is willing to quickly dismiss facts that completely undo his case, and how he pays no attention to the glaring contradictions he ends up wrapping himself into trying to debunk the document. At major points he contradicts himself. He breezes over the mountain of evidence that he has to overcome, but that means he can’t plead ignorance of it. One is only left with the conclusion that he’s being intentionally mendacious.

I beg the reader’s indulgence, for I will quote lengthy passages and on occasions paste screenshots from the court documents themselves so you know I’m not engaged in anything dodgy. Tellingly, most of these quotes never appear in Shipler’s book, and if so, only in selectively edited form.

So let’s start with the evidence.

The document he is trying to cast doubts on is known generally as the “Explanatory Memorandum,” but it’s actual title is “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group in North America.” The document is dated May 22, 1991, and was entered into evidence as “Elbarasse Search – 3″ by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in 2008.

Helpfully, the federal court overseeing the case in an unusual move posted the trial evidence on their own website. The Explanatory Memorandum and the FBI translation of the document can be found here.

At this point, we can turn to what the Justice Department said in federal court about the Explanatory Memorandum. In one court filing, available on the ACLU’s website, federal prosecutors state (p. 12):

The evidence introduced at trial, for example, established that ISNA and NAIT were among those organizations created by the U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood.8 Govt. Exh. 3-64 (seized from the home of HAMAS leader Ismail Elbarasse); Govt. Exh. 3-3 (Muslim Brotherhood document noting that ISNA was founded by the US-Muslim Brotherhood) ; Govt. Exh. 3-85 (1991 memorandum authored by U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni, recognizing ISNA and NAIT as Muslim Brotherhood organizations.) Government’s Exhibit 3-85, entitled An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group, described the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as a kind of “grand Jihad”:

The Ikhwan must understand that their role in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious…. [emphasis added]

So the Justice Department states that:

1) Two Islamic organizations – the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) – were created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (based on other trial evidence as well as the Explanatory Memorandum);

2) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni;

3) That the memo describes the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western Civilization from within.”

Now please note that these claims were not made by “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement” but the Justice Department in a federal court filing. He can tilt at all of the “anti-Islam” windmills he wants, but fundamentally he still has to explain away the court evidence.

And as stated earlier, much to the consternation of Shipler, the federal court agreed in a published opinion with the Justice Department’s analysis of the document when Judge Jorge Solis ruled on motions from three separate organizations named as unindicted co-conspirators in the trial — ISNA, NAIT, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — asking to be removed from the Justice Department’s co-conspirator list. The judge’s ruling against removing the groups from the unindicted co-conspirator list was unsealed in 2010.

In that ruling, Judge Solis states (p. 15):

Government Exhibit 3-85 is titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” authored by Mohamed Akram of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood and dated May 22, 1991. (Gov’t Ex. 3-85 (Elbarasse 3) at 21.) The “Explanatory Memorandum” includes a section titled “Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America,” which states that the work of the Ikhwan in the United States is “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” (Id.) Also contained in that document is a list of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” which includes ISNA, NAIT, the Occupied Land Fund (“OLF”) (HLF’s former name), and the United Association for Studies and Research (“UASR”). (Id. at 32.)

So Judge Solis found that:

1) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by Mohamed Akram of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council;

2) That the document describes the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within”;

3) That the document lists the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” including ISNA and NAIT.

At this point Shipler laughably believes he has room to maneuver. In the New Yorker article and in his book, he makes three general claims:

1) That the judge blindly accepted the Justice Department’s argument about the origins and importance of the memo and never allowed adversarial challenges to its provenance;

2) That the Explanatory Memorandum was admitted as hearsay, meaning that the groups named in the memo were never allowed to challenge in court;

3) That the judge failed to distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.”

Let’s take these in order.

1) Judge Solis accepted the Justice Department’s description of the Explanatory Memorandum unquestioningly and never allowed adversarial challenges.

In discussing the order by Judge Solis in response to the motions of the three Islamic organizations, Shipler states in his book (p. 190):

CAIR and two other groups moved to have themselves removed from the list of unindicted co-conspirators, but the effort backfired and gave Islam watchers more ammunition. Not only was their motion denied by Judge Jorge Solis, who presided over the retrial, conviction, and sentencing of the five Holy Land Foundation defendants (the first trial had ended in a hung jury). He also accepted the government’s assertions by citing the seized Elbarasse documents, including the Explanatory Memorandum, without testing their accuracy in an adversarial proceeding. He did not distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.” He ruled, “The Government had produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA [Islamic Society of North America], and NAIT [North American Islamic Trust] with HLF [Holy Land Foundation], the Islamic Association of Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.” [emphasis added]

Remarkably, Shipler contradicts himself just a few pages later, quoting a defense attorney for the Holy Land Foundation defendants who said that the Elbarasse documents had, in fact, been challenged by the defense team (p. 198):

The defense team lodged vigorous objections to the introduction of this and the other documents from the Elbarasse search, and two attorneys on the defense team, Nancy Hollander and Marlo Cadeddu, scoffed at Guandolo’s statement. “There was no such stipulation by the defense,” said Cadeddu. “Nor would we ever have stipulated to any such thing. Any claims to the contrary are simply untrue.” Indeed, after the five Holy Land officials and fund-raisers were convicted, their lawyers argued specifically, in an unsuccessful appeal to the Fifth Circuit, that the trial judge had erred in admitting the documents, which the attorneys branded hearsay, irrelevant to the charge that the defendants had funneled money to Hamas. [emphasis added]

Read bullet | 20 Comments »

Politico Posts Dig at GOP over Amtrak Funding While Details of Tragedy Still Coming In

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Here’s Politico editor Blake Hounshell’s tweet that he posted even before mentioning the casualties:

This is why it’s difficult to see the political landscape getting any better in America any time soon, if ever. The agenda and the narrative trump all for liberals.

Fatalities in a tragedy?

Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to those in a minute, gotta remind everyone that the Republicans want to cut the budget first.

There is no discussion with people who think it’s appropriate to launch into an infrastructure spending tirade even as first responders are just arriving on the scene of a tragedy. They truly believe this happened because evil Republicans kept just the magic amount of money away from Amtrak to make it safe.

They are all from the Krugman school of thought that says any federal spending that didn’t do the trick failed simply because enough wasn’t spent.

And then you’re on an infinity loop of tax dollar demands that isn’t even slowed down by the presence of dead bodies.

Read bullet | Comments »

The New York Times Begins Publishing On Facebook Tomorrow

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

The Grey Lady’s death rattle?

Tomorrow morning, in what marks a tectonic shift in the publishing industry, the New York Times is expected to officially begin a long-awaited partnership with Facebook to publish articles directly to the social media giant, a source with direct knowledge of the talks told me. According to people familiar with the negotiations, the Times will begin publishing select articles directly into Facebook’s news feed. Buzzfeed, NBC News and NatGeo are said to be also joining the roll out, among others.

The deal raises all sorts of knotty questions for the Times. How many articles will Facebook get to publish per day? What is the revenue sharing breakdown? How does the Times protect the independence of its journalism, say, if the paper runs a hard-hitting investigation on Facebook? And what happens when the Times allows Facebook to insert itself between its journalism and its readers?

Not surprisingly, the prospect of a Facebook partnership is generating palpable anxiety inside the Times newsroom, with some Times journalists casting it as an end-of-the-Times-as-we-know-it inflection point. When rumors of a deal surfaced last October, the Times’ late media columnist David Carr articulated this view, writing “the wholesale transfer of content sends a cold, dark chill down the collective spine of publishers, both traditional and digital insurgents alike.”

Many will say that this is the final nail in the coffin of what we used to call journalism. Just as many will probably posit that leftist bias buried it so long ago the coffin has already begun rotting.

Whatever the actual case may be, one thing is for certain, that air of exclusivity and swagger is gone now. Every displaced New Yorker’s favorite Sunday affection in Los Angeles is now slumming it alongside BuzzFeed and sponsored ads for a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It’s just now adopting a distribution channel that drunk college girls made famous ten years ago.

While this may very well breathe new financial life into the Times, it certainly can’t be a good sign for newspapers or journalism in general. What was once a news destination is now arm-wrestling NatGeo for the attention of people who just want to see if they’re missing any friends’ birthdays.

The Times‘ management wants to keep its digital subscriber base and somehow thinks it will protect the content that lures them all the while throwing Facebook enough “news” to keep Zuckerberg and company happy.

Good luck with that.

Read bullet | Comments »

Minneapolis Terror ‘Deradicalization’ Program Fails After Just Months, ‘Test Case’ Back in Jail

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

A terror deradicalization program — established in the “Ground Zero” of terror recruitment, Minnesota’s Twin Cities — has already failed after just a few months.

The program was established after a federal court released 19-year-old terror suspect Abdullahi Yusuf to a halfway house earlier this year. Federal prosecutors opposed Yusuf’s release, but were overruled by the federal judge in the case, Michael J. Davis, the Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota. Today, Yusuf again sits in jail, having violated the terms of his release.

Remarkably, Judge Davis said today in a separate case of six men charged with trying to join the Islamic State that he would be willing to consider “less restrictive options” than detaining the men – just a day after Yusuf’s re-arrest.

Last May, Yusuf was arrested at the Minneapolis airport while on his way to Syria by way of Turkey to join the Islamic State. One of his accomplices, Abdi Nur, did make it to Syria, and he now serves as an effective recruiter for the terror group.

Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the program with an article titled “A Test Case for ‘Deradicalization’“:

The path of reform for Abdullahi Yusuf, a U.S. teenager who tried to become a radical Islamic soldier, passes through writings of Martin Luther King Jr., readings of the U.S. Constitution and discussions about life and literature with a fellow Somali-American named Ahmed Amin.

Mr. Yusuf’s attempt to travel to the Middle East last year helped lead authorities to six Minnesota men who were charged last month in connection with a plan to join Islamic State abroad. The 19-year-old has become a test case for whether Americans lured by Islamic extremism can be deradicalized.

A Minnesota judge earlier this year sent Mr. Yusuf to a halfway house, where he adheres to a tailor-made curriculum aimed at reintegrating him into American society and his immigrant community here. If the program succeeds, Mr. Yusuf’s sentence could be reduced — and the approach to his deradicalization replicated, experts say.

Counterterrorism experts believe it is the first such effort in the U.S. to try to turn a young person connected to a terror prosecution away from an extremist Islamist ideology since the advent of groups like al-Shabaab and Islamic State, or ISIS.

Apparently, reading Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Wright’s Native Son, and articles about the experience of Native Americans didn’t sway Yusuf to keep compliant with the program. The Star-Tribune reports today:

Abdullahi Yusuf, a Somali-American who pleaded guilty to conspiring to support terrorists in the Middle East, has been taken into custody for allegedly violating conditions while living in a St. Paul halfway house, according to court documents filed Monday.

Yusef, a student at Inver Grove Community College, drew national attention after a federal judge decided to place him in a halfway house and provide counseling for him rather than hold him in custody while awaiting sentencing.

Yusuf’s alleged violations were not detailed in court records.

Despite the violations not being detailed, the video report on Abdullahi’s re-arrest aired on the local CBS affiliate notes Abdullahi’s violations occurred on the same day last month that six other Twin Cities men were arrested for attempting to join the Islamic State.

One additional interesting tidbit is that according to the New York Times, federal prosecutors opposed Yusuf’s release:

Mr. Yusuf, Mr. Nur’s co-defendant, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support for terrorism and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years. But in an experiment being watched nationally, Judge Michael J. Davis of Federal District Court agreed to a presentence plan to divert Mr. Yusuf to a halfway house with the support of Heartland Democracy, an education nonprofit in Minneapolis. He worked at Best Buy and attended community college until late November, when he was jailed for a time in connection with his attempt to travel to Syria. His supporters are now working with the court to get him back in classes and eventually back in a job.

The idea, said Mary McKinley, executive director of Heartland Democracy, is to gradually reintegrate Mr. Yusuf into the community, and possibly give him a role in countering the radicalization of young people.

“Ideally, Abdullahi will be able to tell his story in a way that is useful to young people who are frustrated and disengaged,” Ms. McKinley said. His lawyer, Jean M. Brandl, said her client was not prepared to speak publicly.

Federal prosecutors opposed giving Mr. Yusuf a break, noting that he had lied to F.B.I. agents at the airport. But Judge Davis, who knows the Somali community well enough to ask about clans and sub-clans, went along with the plan, intended to reduce the chasm between Somalis and law enforcement officials. Parents and friends concerned about a young person drawn to the Islamic State are more likely to call the police, advocates say, if they believe there is an alternative to a long prison sentence.

The Associated Press reports today that during a hearing for the other six men arrested in April accused of trying to join the Islamic State Judge Davis said he is willing to consider “less restrictive options” than holding the men until trial:

Five Minnesota men accused of trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group were ordered Tuesday to remain in custody pending trial, but Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said he’s open to exploring less restrictive options.

The five men are all charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization; four are charged with attempting to provide such support. Their attorneys had appealed orders that the men be held while their cases proceed, arguing their clients weren’t dangerous or a flight risk.

In separate hearings for each man Tuesday, Davis said no set of conditions could reasonably ensure the community’s safety or guarantee that each man would not flee. But he told attorneys to come up with plans that could support their release.

“I’m not rushing into this,” Davis said. “It’s a slow process. But I’m taking a look at each of these defendants individually.”

As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”

Read bullet | 41 Comments »