John Solomon and Sara Carter reports: As his presidency drew to a close, Barack Obama’s top aides routinely reviewed intelligence reports gleaned from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad, taking advantage of rules their boss relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats, Circa has learned.
Dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures. Sometimes the Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible. Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA-based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice, his CIA Director John Brennan and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Some intercepted communications from November to January involved Trump transition figures or foreign figures’ perceptions of the incoming president and his administration. Intercepts involving congressional figures also have been unmasked occasionally for some time. Read the rest of this entry »
Noted Media Expert Van Jones Calls Out Hollywood, Reality TV for Trump’s Rise, Says ‘SNL’ Should Air 24/7Posted: March 25, 2017
Ericka Franklin reports: Thursday morning, the Montage in Beverly Hills became the stomping grounds for EMA as it kicked off its inaugural two-day Impact Summit.
“Look, Hollywood created ‘The West Wing.’ That opened the door for a President Obama to be taken seriously as a cerebral, high-integrity candidate. Hollywood also produced reality television, which lowered the bar for any kind of rational discussion or role models and that gave you Donald Trump.”
Along with the most environmentally conscious suited professionals, the event drew Malin Akerman, Lance Bass, and Van Jones who delivered a keynote, “Where We Went Wrong and How We Can Change the Future.”
“I think this town needs to take a lot more seriously the stories it’s telling. The same Hollywood liberals that cash all these checks from reality TV when they look in their bank account are now sad from looking at their TV every night.”
Before addressing the crowd, “The Messy Truth” host spoke with Variety to weigh in on the media’s impact on politics.
“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to find better ways to listen to each other,” he said. “People are now almost completely isolated from each other from a media point of view. The media is no longer just what happens on television. Algorithms that Twitter and Instagram and [others] use that suggest you follow this person and this person are killing us. They only suggest you follow people that are just like you. The algorithms never say maybe because you’ve followed a hundred liberals maybe you want to consider following one conservative. Nope. You follow one hundred liberals, they’ll let you follow a thousand, ten thousand, and a million liberals. You’ll never hear from somebody else.”
“We can’t recover from two things and the world can’t recover from two things. One is nuclear war and the other is runaway catastrophic climate change. Those two threats are now more present than they’ve ever been in the history of this country because of the president.”
Regarding the impact of commentary from late-night television and President Donald Trump’s administration, the former Obama administration advisor was all for the satirical jab saying, “I think ‘SNL’ should be a 24-hour, seven-day a week station.”
He also mused on how film and television run adjacent with the vote. “Look, Hollywood created ‘The West Wing.’ That opened the door for a President Obama to be taken seriously as a cerebral, high-integrity candidate. Hollywood also produced reality television, which lowered the bar for any kind of rational discussion or role models and that gave you Donald Trump. I think this town needs to take a lot more seriously the stories it’s telling. Read the rest of this entry »
A Russian spy ship that made a foray near a U.S. Navy submarine base in Connecticut in February is once again in international waters off the East Coast of the United States, presumably to monitor activity at American Navy bases.
The Viktor Leonov spy ship is now 50 miles east of the U.S. Navy’s submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, according to a defense official. The ship traveled there from a port in Havana, Cuba, where it docked for five days.
The Leonov’s earlier visit off the Eastern Seaboard in mid-February drew international attention although American officials noted at the time that the visits have become a regular occurrence in recent years.
For one day in February the ship was offshore of the U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut, the furthest north the Russian intelligence ship had ever traveled up the East Coast of the United States.
Moscow (AFP) – It was the year that ended centuries of royal rule, brought two revolutions, ushered in Soviet domination and changed the course of Russian history irrevocably.
A century later, the country seems unsure how to treat the tumultuous events of 1917 that saw it hurtle from the abdication of the last tsar Nicholas II to a Communist dictatorship in a matter of months.
During seven decades of Soviet rule the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks was celebrated with pomp by the Kremlin and the tsarist regime was demonised.
But after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 there was a u-turn that saw the royal family canonised and public opinion increasingly view the upheavals not as a triumph but as a tragedy that sparked generations of bloodshed and suffering in Russia.
Some 500 conferences, round tables, exhibitions and art festivals are planned to mark the centenary — but so far, at least, there are no signs that there will be any major fanfare.
“Russian society needs an objective, honest and profound analysis of these events,” Putin said in a speech last year.
“The lessons of history are needed primarily for reconciliation, to strengthen society,” he said, adding that it is “impermissible to let the splits, malice, resentment and bitterness of the past into our life today.”
A former Soviet-era intelligence officer, Putin has turned himself into what many see as a kind of modern tsar and surrounded himself with a new super-wealthy elite.
His mantra has been restoring stability, strength and unity to the country after the upheaval that followed the end of the Soviet Union, and returning Russia to the conservative values of the past.
Following mass anti-Kremlin rallies in 2011-12 and the ouster of the Russian-backed leader of Ukraine by protesters in 2014, authorities have been increasingly wary of any popular revolt that could impact their grip on power. Read the rest of this entry »
A court in Austria has heard that nine Iraqi immigrants gang raped a teacher during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Vienna.
The defendants in the case are aged 22 to 45 and are all related to each other. At the time of the alleged attack, which is said to have taken place on January 1, 2016, five of the men had refugee status while the asylum applications of the other four were pending.
After the alleged incident, one of the men led the woman – who is German – to a bathroom in the apartment and with his phone took a photo featuring both of them. She was later taken to a tram stop in central Vienna and subsequently hospitalized.
One defendant has pleaded guilty to rape. The others deny assaulting the woman. The court was told they feel “no guilt” despite the existence of DNA evidence. One claimed the woman had been “offered” to them by relatives while another said she was willing.
At about 3am the woman and her friend were drinking in a bar called Cactus when the victim disappeared. A witness in the bar reportedly said some men she had been talking with had “taken her away”. Read the rest of this entry »
Boston Herald Columnist, Adriana Cohen, former Bush senior campaign advisor, Mark Serrano, and Club for Growth president, David McIntosh on President Trump’s trade policies and his desire to put America first.
Note: the above image is from Japanese social media. Original source unknown. But very typical of popular ‘kawaii’ image editing apps. See more of our Japan coverage here.
Once again, President Trump has come to Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s defense by throwing America under the bus.
From Our Partners: Asked About Russia Sanctions, Donald Trump Says ‘We Ough…
“He is the leader of his country,” Trump said, adding the usual boilerplate about wanting to have good relations and help fighting Islamic State.
O’Reilly interjected, “Putin’s a killer.” And a vexed Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?”
This was no gaffe. A similar conversation played out between MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Trump in December 2015. Scarborough asked about Trump’s bromance with Putin and Trump responded, “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.”
Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” objected Scarborough. “Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”
“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said, referring to then-President Obama.
“But, again, he kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” protested Scarborough.
“Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe,” Trump said.
In July, Trump said something similar in response to questions from the New York Times about the bloody repressions and mass arrests by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”
One might expect to hear that kind of logic from a dorm room full of Marxists. And if Obama had ever suggested the same, conservatives would have pounced. Of course America isn’t without sin. But ethically speaking, America has towered above Russia – including Russia under Putin. Read the rest of this entry »
“We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters. Read the rest of this entry »
By suppressing debate about Islam, nationalism and terror, the left set the stage for today’s backlash, says Sohrab Ahmari in The Wall Street Journal.
Sohrab Ahmari writes: Donald Trump’s double-layer fence along America’s southern border, and his plan to suspend all immigration from terror-producing countries, are dramatic and consequential pieces of public policy. But they’re also palliative symbols. The message they send to the president’s supporters is: “Your days of anxiety are behind you. We will be a coherent nation once more.”
Politicians across the West are beginning to tell their voters the same thing in what is shaping up to be the widest rollback of the freedom of movement in decades.
It’s not just right-wing nationalists like Marine Le Pen in France or Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Centrists get it, too. Some, like Angela Merkel, are still-reluctant restrictionists. Others, like Theresa May, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French presidential aspirant François Fillon, are more forthright. All have wised up to the popular demand for drastically lower immigration rates.
The paradox here is that freedom of movement is unraveling now because liberals won central debates—about Islamism, social cohesion and nationalism. Rather than give ground on any of these fronts, they accused opponents of being phobic and reactionary. Now liberals are reaping the rewards of those underhanded victories.
Liberals “won” the debate about the link between Islamist ideology and terrorism.
For eight years under President Obama, the U.S. government eschewed even the term “Islamism.” The preferred nomenclature created the ludicrous effect that U.S. service members were sent to war against people passionate about “violent extremism.” But voters could read and hear about jihadists offering up their actions to Allah before opening automatic fire on shoppers and blasphemous cartoonists. Read the rest of this entry »
Ed West writes: I’ve learned that it’s best not to say anything about a terrorist atrocity on social media, especially not if it confirms one’s political prejudices. It just looks crass, or it has when I’ve done it. Try not to say anything profound either, as it will probably look insipid; also ideally do not make any point about similar atrocities occurring in less well known parts of the world, as people will quite reasonably think you’re just scoring points. And best not to bother with the tweets of solidarity, which are superfluous these days surely; France and Belgium and Germany are our close allies, friends and neighbours, and it goes without saying that when one of us is attacked we feel for them.
German social media is apparently filled with anger, not with Islamic extremists or Angela Merkel but with Alternative für Deutschland and its supporters. I’m not sure what the psychological condition is called; I suppose it’s a form of Stockholm Syndrome.
I can understand the human urge to protect the vulnerable, refugees and Muslims generally, from hostility as these awful events repeat themselves. It’s easy to sneer at politicians who come out with vapid theological comments, as I have in the past, but their job is to protect all the country’s citizens. I can also see why this urge might convince an intelligent person that Merkel’s migration policy has actually helped the fight against terrorism. But it’s extremely unlikely; all things being equal, hosting refugees does lead to an increase in terrorism, although the risk is smaller in richer countries, largely because they have better security services. It’s at times like this when I thank God for ours, who have saved countless lives in our country by preventing a good dozen attempts at mass murder. I’d suggest we all send them Christmas presents but I imagine they’d be destroyed. But if you’re reading – thank you all.
“German social media is apparently filled with anger, not with Islamic extremists or Angela Merkel but with Alternative für Deutschland and its supporters. I’m not sure what the psychological condition is called; I suppose it’s a form of Stockholm Syndrome.”
In fact, Merkel’s policies have some pretty serious implications for Germany in the future. I’ve read many people arguing that it was actually a clever, shrewd policy to admit one million migrants because Germany has a low birth rate and needs more people. Yet the education levels and skill sets of most of the people who have entered in the past 18 months are, by German standards, extremely low; Germany has a fairly high-wage economy, especially compared to Britain, and there are not a whole lot of positions available for low-skilled men. The number of recent migrants who have found employment is exceptionally low. Employment rates among second generations migrants from the Middle East, mostly Turkish, are also considerably worse than ethnic Germans. Read the rest of this entry »
With signs of Russian involvement in the damaging Democratic National Committee email hack, questions have been increasing about just what Putin’s motives might be when it comes to the US presidential election. We put that question to one of Moscow’s top Putin observers.
Mikhail Zygar writes: The year 2005 was a turning point in Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy and worldview. Until then, he’d had the sense that he was in control on the world stage, that he knew the rules of the game, that he understood whom he was dealing with and who his partners were. But in 2005, everything changed, and slowly the ground started moving out from under his feet.
That was the year Putin’s friend and partner Gerhard Schroeder lost the German elections and resigned as chancellor. Schroeder and Putin, who spoke German after serving in the KGB in East Germany, understood each other well and established close diplomatic and personal ties. But in 2005, Schroeder was replaced by Angela Merkel, whom Putin didn’t understand—and doesn’t understand to this day. In the intervening 12 years, he started suspecting Merkel of deceiving him, spinning intrigues and weaving conspiracies against him. He showed his distrust by bringing his dog to meetings with Merkel, knowing full well that she had an intense fear of canines.
Now, Putin seems to be experiencing déjà vu: In the upcoming U.S. election, the battle is, once again, between a Gerhard Schroeder and an Angela Merkel—but with the differences and the stakes hugely amplified. The American Merkel is even more unpleasant to Putin. Hillary Clinton is already inclined to dislike him and Russia from her experience as secretary of state. Their personal interactions have not been positive; there is no love lost between the two. And then you have the American Schroeder, who seems to be an even better fit for Putin than the German one, and better even than Putin’s favorite international partner, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Donald Trump, in the Kremlin’s view, is extremely pragmatic, extremely unprincipled and extremely cynical—which makes him easier to reach an understanding with. Not to mention that Trump, unlike Clinton and just about the entire rest of the Washington foreign policy class, has explicitly expressed admiration and sympathy for Putin.
This is the kind of relationship with a US president the Kremlin has dreamed about, and has been unable to attain, for years. Read the rest of this entry »
At federal agencies across Washington, regulators are rushing to finalize rules before President Barack Obama leaves the White House.
Where the administration has issued an average of 2.2 rules per day this year, 10 were pushed out the door on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a count by the American Action Forum.
“We’re running — not walking — through the finish line of President Obama’s presidency,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said to agency staff in a post-election e-mail.
The Federal Register, the dense tome where the government publishes new agency rules, swelled to 1,465 pages on Friday — the thickest volume yet this year. Since the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to fight “radical regulations,” the White House has finished reviews of nine economically significant rules — compared to eight during all of September.
One reason for the speed: The later a regulation is released by an outgoing administration, the easier it can be killed by the next one. Republican lawmakers are on track to adjourn early to take advantage of a measure intended to guard against so-called midnight rule-making that permits them to void regulations put in place in the last 60 days of the legislative session. Read the rest of this entry »
Calling Le Pen, Clinton, Trump, and other right-wing populists ‘fascists’ obscures more than it clarifies.
Sheri Berman writes: As right-wing movements have mounted increasingly strong challenges to political establishments across Europe and North America, many commentators have drawn parallels to the rise of fascism during the 1920s and 1930s. Last year, a French court ruled that opponents of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, had the right to call her a “fascist”—a right they have frequently exercised. This May, after Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, nearly won that country’s presidential election, The Guardian asked, “How can so many Austrians flirt with this barely disguised fascism?” And in an article that same month about the rise of Donald Trump, the Republican U.S. presidential candidate, the conservative columnist Robert Kagan warned, “This is how fascism comes to America.” “Fascist” has served as a generic term of political abuse for many decades, but for the first time in ages, mainstream observers are using it seriously to describe major politicians and parties.
Fascism is associated most closely with Europe between the world wars, when movements bearing this name took power in Italy and Germany and wreaked havoc in many other European countries. Although fascists differed from country to country, they shared a virulent opposition to democracy and liberalism, as well as a deep suspicion of capitalism. They also believed that the nation—often defined in religious or racial terms—represented the most important source of identity for all true citizens. And so they promised a revolution that would replace liberal democracy with a new type of political order devoted to nurturing a unified and purified nation under the guidance of a powerful leader. Read the rest of this entry »
Chairman Mao inflicted human suffering in one country equivalent to the entirety of World War II. Not that socialism will allow its victims any remembrance.
“Unfortunately, in today’s China under President Xi, seeking the truth about the past can be a dangerous endeavor if anyone dares to dissent from the government’s official versions.”
I was born in China, and finished my undergraduate education before coming to the United States to pursue a master’s degree. So I was typical of the output of China’s government-sanctioned education system. When I first came to the United States, although I had some doubts here and there about certain historical events I had been taught in China, I spent very little time questioning them. Instead, I focused on working hard to better myself economically, like many other immigrants have.
My parents rarely mentioned to me anything that had happened in the past. One thing they did tell me was that our family’ genealogy book, which covered many generations of our clan, was destroyed in China’s Cultural Revolution. As a writer, I always wanted to write a family history book. So when my parents turned 70 several years ago, I realized I’d better get my parents talking about the past.
What My Parents Remembered
What I learned from my parents was shockingly different from what I had been taught in China. Allow me to present two historical events to illustrate my point.
The first historical event is the “land reform.” The Chinese Communist Party pushed for nationwide “land reform” from 1950 to 1953. In our high school history book, there were only a few sentences about land reform. The movement was depicted as a popular and necessary measure to distribute land back to poor Chinese peasants, who were supposed to be the rightful owner of the land.
“Napoleon Bonaparte once said ‘history is a set of lies agreed upon.’ In China, it’s probably more accurate to say the government-sanctioned history is a set of lies forced upon its people.”
Our Chinese literature class reinforced this notion. One of the required readings was an excerpt from a novel titled “Hurricane” (Baofeng Zhouyu, or 暴风骤雨) by a Chinese novelist, Zhou Libo. The novel supposedly presented the most realistic picture of land reform. It showed how the righteous landless peasants fought and won land reform despite sabotage by the evil landowners.
I especially remember the excerpt we were required to memorize. It illustrated what a joyful event it was armies took land and farm animals from land owners and redistributed them to poor peasants. This novel was so popular in China that it was later adapted into a movie and stage play. Read the rest of this entry »
Nationalists Overtake Merkel’s Doomed, Spectacularly Unpopular Pro-Immigration Party in a German State Legislature VotePosted: September 5, 2016
Merkel’s refugee policies were a prominent issue in the campaign for Sunday’s election, which came a year to the day after she decided to let in migrants from Hungary — setting off the peak of last year’s influx. Germany registered more than 1 million people as asylum seekers last year.
A nationalist, anti-immigration party performed strongly in a German state election Sunday in the region where Chancellor Angela Merkel has her political base, overtaking her conservative party to take second place amid discontent with the leader’s migrant policies, projections indicated Sunday.
The three-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won about 21% of votes in the election for the state legislature in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, according to projections for ARD and ZDF television based on exit polls and partial counting. They put support for Merkel’s Christian Democrats at between 19% and 20%, which would be their worst result yet in the state.
The center-left Social Democrats, who lead the outgoing state government, were expected to be the strongest party with about 30% support.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, an economically weak region in Germany’s northeastern corner, is home to 1.6 million of the country’s 80 million people and is a relative political lightweight. It is, however, the state where Merkel has her parliamentary constituency, and Sunday’s vote was the first of five regional votes before a national election just over a year away.
National AfD leader Frauke Petry celebrated “a blow to Angela Merkel.” Local AfD leader Leif-Erik Holm told supporters: “Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship today.”
Merkel’s refugee policies were a prominent issue in the campaign for Sunday’s election, which came a year to the day after she decided to let in migrants from Hungary — setting off the peak of last year’s influx. Germany registered more than 1 million people as asylum seekers last year.
New arrivals in Germany have slowed drastically this year, and Mecklenburg is home to relatively few foreigners. Still, New Year’s Eve robberies and sexual assaults blamed largely on foreigners, as well as two attacks in July carried out by asylum seekers and claimed by Islamic State, have fed tensions.
Merkel has stuck to her insistence that “we will manage” the refugee crisis and has also said that “sometimes you have to endure such controversies.” Read the rest of this entry »
Douglas Murray writes: How is your Merkelsommer going? For now, Britain seems to be missing the worst. True, a couple of men of Middle Eastern appearance tried to abduct a soldier near his base in Norfolk for what was unlikely to have been an interfaith dialogue session. But Britain’s geographical good fortune, relative success in limiting weapons and our justified scepticism of the undiscriminating ‘open borders’ brigade mean that we have so far been spared the delights of what Angela Merkel’s growing army of critics refer to as her summer of terror.
It is now a fortnight since Mohammed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ploughed a truck along the Nice seafront, killing 84 people. The following Monday Mohammed Riyad, who said he was from Afghanistan but almost certainly came from Pakistan, screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ while hacking with an axe at his fellow passengers on a Bavarian train. The next day another Mohammed, this time Mohamed Boufarkouch, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and stabbed a Frenchwoman and her three daughters (aged eight, 12 and 14) near Montpelier. Mixing things up a little, that Friday’s shooter in Munich was a child of Iranians called Ali David Sonboly. Skip forward a couple of days and a ‘-Syrian asylum seeker’ with a machete was hacking a pregnant woman to death in Stuttgart. The next day another ‘Syrian asylum seeker’, Mohammad Daleel, carried out a suicide bombing outside a bar in Ansbach, Bavaria. And a little over 24 hours later two men shouting the name of Isis entered a church in Rouen during Mass, took the nuns and congregation hostage and slaughtered the priest with a knife.
Although the public know what is going on, the media seems loath to find any connection between these events. Indeed, the same papers that blame an exaggerated spike in ‘hate crime’ on everyone who voted for Brexit seem unwilling to put the blame for these real and violent attacks on the individuals carrying them out. ‘Syrian man denied asylum killed in German blast’ was the Reuters headline on the Ansbach story, neatly turning the suicide bomber into the victim and the German asylum system into the perpetrator. As Reuters went on: ‘A 27-year-old Syrian man who had been denied asylum in Germany a year ago died on Sunday when a bomb he was carrying exploded outside a music festival.’ How terrible for him to lose his bomb in such a way.
The more complex story of the Munich shooter allowed everyone to double-down on their favourite explanations for violence. Inadequate welfare provisions, unsuitable town-planning and bullying were all wheeled out to explain why Ali David Sonboly started shooting in a McDonalds. Others were a little too keen to claim him as an Isis warrior, when it seems he wasn’t. The BBC got around the problem by excising the ‘Ali’ and all reports of his religion. Instead, speculation about the shooting happening on the fifth anniversary of Anders Breivik’s terrorist assault in Norway meant that every-one could ignore the Muslim eyewitness who heard Sonboly shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ and headline on Breivik instead. Meaning that in Europe in 2016 a child of Iranian parents can be portrayed as a white supremacist, while no amount of Mohameds shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ can be said to have any connection to Islam.
Sections of the media and political class seem determined to stop the public coming to any conclusions. But most of us probably did that a long time ago, and these conclusions are being reinforced on a daily basis.
For the time being, the acceptable thing is to blame Isis. There is sense in that. The German train attacker had an Isis flag at his home, the Ansbach bomber left a video pledging allegiance to the group, and at least one of the Rouen church attackers had tried to travel to Syria to join them. The extent to which the group is involved varies, and they undoubtedly talk up their capabilities, but their ability to inspire as well as direct will be a problem as long as they exist. Read the rest of this entry »
Mayor Carda Seidel was quoted by Munich’s Focus magazine as saying that the explosion late Sunday night was near the entrance to an open-air music festival.
The website for a group of local newspapers, nordbayern.de, reported that Seidel said it was not yet clear if it was an attack.
German police told the dpa news agency earlier that the explosion was outside a cafe in Ansbach, which is near Nuermberg.
Ansbach police could not immediately be reached for comment. Read the rest of this entry »
Smith was a hugely influential Scottish political economist and philosopher, best known for his book ‘The Wealth of Nations’.
Adam Smith’s exact date of birth is unknown, but he was baptised on 5 June 1723. His father, a customs officer in Kirkcaldy, died before he was born. He studied at Glasgow and Oxford Universities. He returned to Kircaldy in 1746 and two years later he was asked to give a series of public lectures in Edinburgh, which established his reputation.
In 1751, Smith was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow University and a year later professor of moral philosophy. He became part of a brilliant intellectual circle that included David Hume, John Home, Lord Hailes and William Robertson.
In 1764, Smith left Glasgow to travel on the Continent as a tutor to Henry, the future Duke of Buccleuch. While travelling, Smith met a number of leading European intellectuals including Voltaire, Rousseau and Quesnay.
In 1776, Smith moved to London. He published a volume which he intended to be the first part of a complete
theory of society, covering theology, ethics, politics and law. This volume, ‘Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations‘, was the first major work of political economy. Smith argued forcefully against the regulation of commerce and trade, and wrote that if people were set free to better themselves, it would produce economic prosperity for all. Read the rest of this entry »
Turkey retreats further into dictatorship.
Welcome to the New Turkey, where people can get locked up for saying something critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
When the AKP came to power in the early 2000s, Western liberals claimed the party’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was pro-democracy. He was supposed to be enlightened; an innocent Islamic version of a Christian Democrat.
An Istanbul court convicts a former Miss Turkey of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through social media postings and gives her a 14-month suspended sentence.The court finds 27-year-old model Merve Buyuksarac guilty of insulting a public official but immediately suspends the sentence on condition that she does not re-offend within the next five years.
Back in 2014, Buyuksarac (who now goes by her married name of Ciner) shared a satirical poem on her…(read more)
Source: PJ Media
Merkel Bows to Primitive Censorship: Comedian Faces Prosecution for Poem About Turkish president Recep Tayyip ErdoğanPosted: April 15, 2016
Under section 103 of the criminal code, insults against organs or representatives of foreign states are punishable with up to three years in prison, or three months to five years if a court judges the insult to be slanderous.
Philip Oltermann reports: Angela Merkel, has been criticised by members of her cabinet after acceding to a request from Ankara to prosecute a comedian who read out an offensive poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The German chancellor insisted her government’s decision did not amount to a verdict on whether Jan Böhmermann was guilty or not, but should be understood as a reaffirmation of the judiciary’s independence.
“I consider this to be the wrong decision. Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”
— Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction
“In a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts,” Merkel said in a press conference on Friday.
The chancellor expressed “grave concerns” about the prosecution of individual journalists in Turkey, as well as growing limitations to the right to protest, but emphasised Germany’s close diplomatic ties with the country.
Merkel was left with the final decision on whether Germany’s state prosecutor should start proceedings against Böhmermann after Erdoğan requested the comedian be prosecuted.
“Throughout his reading, the comedian is advised by another comedian impersonating a media lawyer, who tells him this poem is precisely the sort of thing that does not qualify as satire and is therefore illegal.”
Under an obscure section of Germany’s criminal code, prosecution for insults against organs or representatives of foreign states requires both a notification from the offended party and an authorisation from the government.
Merkel and other ministers confirmed reports that there had been disagreements on how to handle the Böhmermann affair between ministers within her coalition government.
The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Social Democrat ministers, including himself and the justice minister Heiko Maas, had been overruled by Merkel in allowing the prosecution to proceed. “It is our view that the prosecution should not have been authorised,” Steinmeier said. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression and artistic freedom are the highest goods requiring protection in our constitution.”
“I consider this to be the wrong decision,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction. “Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”
The little-used paragraph of the German legal code that had allowed the Turkish president to request the prosecution is likely to be scrapped in the aftermath of the affair. Merkel said on Friday that she considered the law unnecessary, and that legal steps would be taken towards deleting it from the penal code within the next two years. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2015 we witness a rare geopolitcal power shift – and in the face of every kind of new external challenge the leaders of the EU and the USA have never looked weaker or more bemused.
Christopher Booker writes: As we enter this new year, what is the most significant feature of how the world is changing that went almost unnoticed in the year just ended? Two events last autumn might have given us a clue.
One was the very peculiar nature of that state visit in October, when the president of China was taken in a golden coach to stay at Buckingham Palace, down a Mall lined with hundreds of placard-waving pro‑China stooges, while the only people manhandled away by Chinese security guards were a few protesters against China’s treatment of Tibet and abuses of human rights.
Led by David Cameron, our politicians could not have fawned more humiliatingly on the leader of a country whose economy, before its recent wobbles, was predicted by the IMF to overtake that of the US as the largest in the world in 2016. While Britain once led the world in steel‑making and the civil use of nuclear power, the visit coincided with the crumbling of the remains of our steel industry before a flood of cheap Chinese steel, as our politicians pleaded for China’s help in building, to an obsolete design, the most costly nuclear power station in the world.
Three weeks later came the rather less prominent visit of Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, whose even faster-growing economy is predicted by financial analysts to become bigger than Britain’s within three years, and to overtake China’s as the world’s largest in the second half of the century. Read the rest of this entry »
Sympathisants Jihadists: In Paris Neighborhood Heavily Hit by Terrorists, Bobo Hipster Residents View Attackers as VictimsPosted: November 15, 2015
‘They’re stupid, but they aren’t evil,’ says Parisian woman who works in 11th arrondissement, and in Place de la Republique, no one wanted to talk about Islamists or the Islamic State.
PARIS – Ansel Pfeffer reports: On the day after the terror campaign in Paris that left 129 people dead and more than 300 wounded, residents of the French capital are still trying to absorb what hit them.
“They are victims of a system that excluded them from society, that’s why they felt this doesn’t belong to them and they could attack. There are those who live here in alienation, and we are all to blame for this alienation.”
By evening, after they had avoided gathering outdoors all day on the orders of police, hundreds of people started to assemble at the Place de la Republique, only a few hundred meters from the Bataclan concert hall where four terrorists had held hostage hundreds of people for more than two hours, killing 89 of them. From Boulevard Voltaire, where the hall is located and which was closed by police, ambulances carrying the bodies of the victims would emerge every few minutes, sirens wailing. As of last night only a handful of the victims had been named.
“They don’t want us to think that maybe it’s connected to the policies of our government and of the United States in the Middle East. These are people the government gave up on, and you have to ask why.”
A group of friends was standing near the candles that had been lit at the foot of the monument at the square, trying to find out if the waiter that had served them at La Belle Equipe, one of the restaurants attacked in the 11th arrondissement, had been killed.
“One member of the group said they had come to the square to demonstrate ‘unity,’ but they didn’t seem to feel solidarity with the victims of the last wave of terror. There were signs calling for unity, but it wasn’t clear what they were meant to unite around.”
“It’s very personal, what’s happened,” said Stephan Byatt, an actor who lives on a nearby street. He has a hard time finding the words to describe what he’s feeling. His friend, Bruno Michlaud, a graphic artist, tries to help out. “It’s a symbol of Paris, a symbol of life. They hurt us in the center of our lives and each of us could have been one of those killed.”
But they aren’t angry, at least not at the perpetrators. “They’re stupid, but they aren’t evil,” their friend Sabrina, an administrative worker in one of the theaters in the 11th arrondissement, said. “They are victims of a system that excluded them from society, that’s why they felt this doesn’t belong to them and they could attack. There are those who live here in alienation, and we are all to blame for this alienation.”
“Perhaps it’s correct to bomb them in the name of democracy and freedom, but it brought the war in Syria to us in France. I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Ten months after the previous wave of terror in Paris that hit the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher kosher supermarket, one might assume that residents would feel a sense of continuity, but that didn’t seem to be the case. “Then they harmed journalists and Jews, those were defined targets,” said one of the young people who had come to the square. “Now it was an attack with no objective, anyone could have been hurt.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Greek government has announced one of the terrorist gunmen who had a part in killing over 120 in Paris on Friday evening entered Europe while masquerading as a refugee just six weeks ago.
“The news will come as a major shock to the European establishment who have mocked and derided those who have warned that the migrant route into Europe would be exploited by those wishing to do harm to Europe.”
Reports early on Saturday that one of the gunmen was found to have been carrying a Syrian passport have been followed by an announcement by Greek minister for citizen protection Nikos Tosca that the individual was masquerading as a refugee, reports Greek Antenna news.
“Latest United Nations estimates show over 800,000 migrants have passed through the Mediterranean on their way to Europe this year, with 660,700 landing in Greece and 142,400 in Italy.”
The unnamed killer was registered on the Greek island of Leros in the southern Aegean sea on the third of October. The Island is just ten miles from the Turkish coast and has been a major point of ingress for so-called ‘refugees’ into Europe, alongside neighbour island Kos.
— The Greek Analyst (@GreekAnalyst) November 14, 2015
Having come ashore in Europe in October, the killer spent just six weeks as a refugee before killing in Paris.
Read the rest of this entry »
France’s foreign minister said the country would implement border controls across road, rail, sea and aviation entry points. Airline and rail links would continue to operate, with airports remaining open. France has open borders with many of its European neighbors, though the government’s announcement suggests some checks would be restored. Early Saturday, travel officials were still trying to figure out what the additional security measures would entail, but the steps could include ID checks at borders that previously weren’t required.
A French aviation official said that while airports would be open, enhanced security procedures would go into force.
Most international train and ferry services had already halted for the night.
Eurostar, the operator of high-speed international train service into Paris, said it was working with authorities to understand the implications to how border restrictions might impact service. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] President Obama Ranks Third in Forbes ‘Most Powerful’ List, First Time Sitting U.S. President Drops Out of Top TwoPosted: November 4, 2015
David Rutz reports: President Obama ranked third in the Forbes “World’s Most Powerful People” list released Wednesday, the first time the sitting U.S. president has ever not ranked No. 1 or 2 in the annual survey.
For the third straight year, Russian president Vladimir Putin was listed at No. 1, but German chancellor Angela Merkel came in at No. 2. CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King expressed surprise at Obama’s standing while the show’s panel interviewed Forbes‘ Luisa Kroll about how the magazine came up with its list.
“That’s the first time since we’ve been doing the list that any U.S. president falls out of the top two spots,” Kroll said. “Again, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that this is going to be hist last year in office. He’s a little bit more hamstrung, both domestically and internationally, and it’s just a nod to his decreasing power at this time.”
On Obama, Forbes wrote:
“There’s no doubt that the United States remains the world’s greatest economic, cultural, diplomatic, technological and military power. But as Obama enters the final year of his presidency, it’s clear his influence is shrinking, and it’s a bigger struggle than ever to get things done. At home, his approval ratings are perpetually stuck under 50%; abroad, he’s outshined by Angela Merkel in Europe, and outmaneuvered by Putin in the Middle East.”
“I was stunned by that, because the U.S. economy is five times larger than the Russian economy,” co-host Norah O’Donnell said. “We spend 10 times more on the military than the Russians do, so how do you define power for this issue?”
“It’s money, it’s the use of power, it’s the spheres of influence, and it’s the number of people,” Kroll said. “Obviously, it’s also a subjective list … It’s not that we’re saying the U.S. isn’t powerful. It is definitely still the most powerful country.” Read the rest of this entry »
PANIC: German TV Network Inflames Refugee Debate by Depicting Angela Merkel as a Chador-Wearing MuslimPosted: October 6, 2015
Justin Huggler reports: ARD television was inundated with complaints after it broadcast a mocked-up picture of Mrs Merkel wearing the garment, known as a chador, against a backdrop of the Reichstag surrounded by minarets.
“This is not constructive journalism. Ugh! The mood turns because of such defamation and propaganda. So yes it’s true: integration cannot succeed.”
— A Facebook post
The image was shown during a debate on the refugee crisis on Report from Berlin, a Newsnight-style programme, and was intended to be satirical, the broadcaster claimed.
“Of course it was also the of this artwork to provoke and polarise opinion. We consider this satirical form of representation to be in keeping with our journalistic values. We reject any insinuation that we would operate Islamophobic propaganda.”
— ARD television, defending its use of the controversial image
But many viewers accused the programme-makers of Islamophobia, and said they were deliberately provoking anti-Muslim sentiments.
“This is not constructive journalism. Ugh!” read one comment on the programme’s Facebook page. “The mood turns because of such defamation and propaganda. So yes it’s true: integration cannot succeed.”
The broadcaster defended the use of the image. “Of course it was also the of this artwork to provoke and polarise opinion,” it said in a statement.
“We consider this satirical form of representation to be in keeping with our journalistic values. We reject any insinuation that we would operate Islamophobic propaganda.”
But many viewers complained that the image was similar to posters produced by the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant movement Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West. Read the rest of this entry »