In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, big banks paid tens of billions of dollars to settle state and federal fraud investigations, yet not one top bank executive was prosecuted. Plus, the eye doctor who first uncovered possible links between erectile dysfunction drugs and permanent blindness. Also, the surprising reason why the federal government is missing-out on some of the best and brightest talent, as it recruits to fight online cyber battles.
The European Commission passed stricter gun laws in December in response to a growing terror threat. The Czech Republic was one of three countries to oppose the changes, and it is now about to make it legal for citizens to use firearms to protect the security of the country.
“This constitutional bill is in reaction to the recent increase of security threats, especially the danger of violent acts such as isolated terrorist attacks … active attackers or other violent hybrid threats,” a draft of the bill reads.
WARSAW (AFP) – The migrants pouring into Europe have changed routes: the crossing between Turkey and Greece is practically closed, but ever greater numbers are risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy.
A criminal industry has flourished, while the European Union has beefed up its border agency Frontex to try to check the mass migration.
Frontex is at once both good cop and bad cop, rescuing migrants from sinking boats but also dropping them off at welcome centres where they risk being sent back home.
Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri summed up the situation in an interview with AFP.
– Who are the migrants? –
On the shores of Greece there are now “80 or 100 people who arrive every day, whereas we had 2,500 a day” before the agreement with Turkey, said Leggeri.
Among those who arrive from Africa via the central Mediterranean and Libya, whose number is up by more than 40 percent, most come from west Africa. They are Senegalese, Guineans, Nigerians. In 2016 they totalled 180,000.
They are mainly economic migrants and include many young men but also families and young women. Nigerian women are often exploited as prostitutes in Europe.
“It’s not the poorest who leave, because they have to be able to pay the smugglers,” said Leggeri.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), of the more than one million people who made it to Europe in 2015, 850,000 crossed into Greece via the Aegean Sea. More than half came from Syria and most of the rest from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Following a landmark EU-Turkey accord in March 2016, the total number arriving in Europe by sea fell that year to around 363,000, IOM figures show.
But as the number of arrivals in Greece dropped, the figures arriving from north Africa started to grow.
By mid-April 2017, “some 36,000 migrants had arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, or an increase of 43 percent over the same period last year,” according to Frontex.
– Who are the smugglers? –
At the beginning of the most dangerous leg of the trip across the Sahara, the migrants are transported by Tuareg or Tebu nomads, for whom it is a traditional commercial activity, Leggeri said.
The Mediterranean crossing however is run by criminal networks, both big and small, as well as lone smugglers.
At the bottom of the ladder there are petty crooks, sometimes migrants themselves, who become the skippers of the small overloaded boats to pay for their own crossing, according to Leggeri. Read the rest of this entry »
Our political leaders are basically telling us that this kind of terrorism, random and deadly, is the price we have to pay for their policies of multiculturalism and political correctness.
Megan G. Oprea writes: As if on cue, in the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London political leaders are trotting out the usual treacly lines that have become so rote. But the words they pretend will provide comfort to anyone but the most naïve are borderline worthless. Worse, they’re an insult to the families who have had to experience the shocking pain of the sudden loss of a family member or friend at the hands of a terrorist.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, called Saturday’s attack “deliberate and cowardly,” and asked “all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant today and in the days ahead.” Most notably, he said: “You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world.”
What a thing to say at a time like this. Shouldn’t Britons be alarmed? Isn’t Saturday’s attack in London, coming as it did on the heels of the Manchester bombing, deeply disturbing? Why isn’t Khan more concerned about the threats that are so obviously at the doorstep, or better put, in Britain’s streets? Does anyone really take comfort from being told about swift police response times after yet another terrorist attack?
Our Politicians Can’t Handle the Truth
The sad truth, and getting sadder with every attack, is that the political class has little interest in doing what would really be necessary to combat Islamist terrorism, let alone talk about it. They don’t want to talk about how Britain’s lax immigration policies over decades led to hundreds of thousands of immigrants entering the country with varying degrees of willingness to assimilate and adopt Western values. They don’t want to openly criticize the blatant problems with the multiculturalism the UK has pursued for years and the obvious impact it has had on the immigrant population.
Oh no. This would cost them too much. It would shatter the façade of political correctness that’s been constructed over our “civilized” western world, and destroy the illusion, so vital to the political class, that Western values are universal. Read the rest of this entry »
Topless demonstrators from the Femen activist group have caused a commotion as they staged a stunt against Marine Le Pen outside a polling station where the far-right presidential candidate was heading to vote.
Around six topless Femen activists were detained Sunday morning after jumping out of an SUV limo wearing masks of Le Pen and United States President Donald Trump.
Police and security forces quickly forced them into police vans, confiscating their signs.
Le Pen voted at the station shortly after without further disruption.
The election is taking place amid heightened security. The government has mobilized more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect polling stations. (more)
“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” he said.
US presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Mr Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying: “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”
Xavier Jugelé, 37, a policeman who had been deployed in the 2015 Bataclan attack, was killed in the shooting.
Ms Le Pen, the far-Right candidate, blasted the mainstream “naive” Left and Right for failing to get tough on Islamism, calling for France to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.
François Fillon, the mainstream conservative candidate, pledged an “iron fist” in the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” – his priority if elected. “We are at war, it’s either us or them,” said the conservative, whose campaign has been weighed down by allegations he gave his British wife a “fake job”.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist, whom critics dismiss as a soft touch, hit back at claims shutting borders and filling French prisons would solve the problem, saying: “There’s no such thing as zero risk. Anyone who pretends (otherwise) is both irresponsible and deceitful.”
Sticking to his campaign agenda, far-Left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon told everyone to keep a “cool head” as he took part in a giant picnic.
A last-minute Odoxa poll taken after the attack suggested that Mr Macron was still on course to come first in Sunday’s first round, with Ms Le Pen just behind and through to the May 7 runoff. Read the rest of this entry »
Daniel Greenfield writes: The Dutch Labor Party used to dominate Maastricht. The ancient city gave its name to the Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union. In this election, the Labor Party fell from a quarter of the vote to a twentieth.
Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which advocates withdrawing from the EU, is now the largest party in the birthplace of the European Union.
And the growing strength of the Freedom Party can be felt not only on the banks of the Maas River, but across the waterways of the Netherlands. A new wind of change has blown off the North Sea and ruffled feathers in Belgisch Park.
In The Hague, where Carnegie’s Peace Palace hosts the World Court while the humbler Noordeinde Palace houses King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, the internationalist institutions colliding with the nationalist ones, the United Nations rubbing up against the Dutch parliament and Supreme Court, the Freedom Party has become the second largest party despite the 15% Muslim population.
In Rotterdam, where Muslim rioters shouted, “Allahu Akbar” and anti-Semitic slurs and where Hamas front groups are organizing a conference, the Freedom Party is now the second largest political party. In that ancient city on the Rotte that had the first Muslim mayor of a major European city, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of the Labor Party who was being groomed for Prime Minister, estimates are that Labor fell from 32 percent to just 6 percent. That is strikingly similar to what took place in Maastricht.
But nearly half of Rotterdam is made up of immigrants. Muslims make up 13% of the population. But turnout hit 72% and after the Muslim riots, the Freedom Party only narrowly trails the ruling VVD.
The Freedom Party has become the largest party in Venlo while the Labor Party has all but vanished.
PARIS – With the polls narrowing and one of her main rivals embroiled in an expenses scandal, far-right leader Marine Le Pen could feasibly become French president in May, senior politicians and commentators say.
“I think Madame Le Pen could be elected.”
— Jean-Pierre Raffarin
At the headquarters of her National Front (FN) party in Nanterre, outside Paris, officials believe the same forces that led to last year’s Brexit vote in Britain and Donald Trump’s victory in November’s U.S. election could carry Le Pen to power.
Even some of her rivals concede a victory for the far-right firebrand is possible.
“I think Madame Le Pen could be elected,” former conservative Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said this month.
Another former premier, the Socialist Manuel Valls, has also warned of the “danger” of assuming that Le Pen cannot win.
Polls show that support for the anti-immigrant and anti-EU candidate has been consistent for four years now.
Since 2013, surveys have shown the blond 48-year-old will progress through the first round to reach the runoff stage in France’s two-stage presidential election.
Pollsters now note that although Le Pen is not currently forecast to win the all-important showdown on May 7, she has whittled down the projected gap between herself and her main challengers.
The legal woes of her conservative challenger Francois Fillon have especially played into Le Pen’s hands.
When Fillon saw off pre-contest favorite Alain Juppe to clinch the right-wing nomination in late November, polls showed he would win 67 percent of the vote in the runoff to 33 percent for Le Pen.
Then in January allegations surfaced that Fillon had paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for parliamentary work she might not have done. Surveys now show Le Pen would score 44 percent to 56 percent for Fillon if the second round were held today.
The pressure on 62-year-old Fillon moved up a notch Friday when prosecutors announced he will face a full judicial investigation into the claims.
A similar picture emerges when Le Pen’s projected second-round score is compared to that of Emmanuel Macron, the pro-business centrist who has moved from outsider to genuine contender in the space of a few months.
Although Macron’s performance against Le Pen has only been tested since January, the winning margin has dropped from 30 points to around 20 in a month.
Once again, President Trump has come to Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s defense by throwing America under the bus.
Jonah Goldberg writes: In a pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, aired on Super Bowl Sunday, Trump was asked to explain his respect for Putin.
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?”
Wax statue of Vladimir Putin, Madame Tussauds
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.
Wax statue of Donald Trump, Madame Tussauds
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 »
From 2004: A behind-the-scenes look back at the man himself—detached yet accessible, astute and prophetic, colorful and complex.
Edmund MorrisJune 28, 2004 Issue: There they lie in their guttered drawers, projecting from the rosewood desk I had specially made for them: four yards of cards, each eight inches wide, five inches tall, most of them with his initials handwritten, headline style, in the top left-hand corner, from “rr’s birth zodiac—feb. 6, 1911” to “rr dies of pneumonia—june 5, 2004.” In between these two extremes, some eighteen thousand cards document whatever I was able to find out about thirty-four thousand of Ronald Reagan’s days. Which leaves sixteen thousand days unaccounted for. Lost leaves. “The leavings of a life,” as D. H. Lawrence might say.
“All the rhetorical arts—gesture, timing, comedy, pathos—were at his command.”
I once planned to show Reagan this card file, just to see him react as drawer after drawer rolled out yard by yard, green tabs demarcating his years, yellow tabs his careers, blue tabs his triumphs and disappointments. He could have looked down, as it were, on the topography of his biography, and seen the shoe salesman’s son moving from town to town across northern Illinois, in the teens of the last century; the adolescent achieving some sort of stability at Dixon High School in 1924; the Eureka College student and summer lifeguard through 1933; then, successively—each divider spaced farther from the next, as he grew in worldly importance—the Des Moines sportscaster and ardent New Dealer; the Hollywood film star; the cavalry officer and Air Corps adjutant; the postwar union leader and anti-Communist; the television host and corporate spokesman for General Electric; the governor of California, 1967-75; the twice-defeated, ultimately successful candidate for his party’s Presidential nomination; and, last, the septuagenarian statesman, so prodigiously carded that the nine tabs “1981” through “1989” stand isolated like stumps in snow.
He never visited my study, however, and on reflection I am glad he did not, because he might have been disturbed to see how far he had come in nearly eighty years, and how few more cards he was likely to generate after leaving the White House. Besides, I would have had to keep my forearm over a file more than a foot long, practically bristling with tabs descriptive of “rr the man.” Now that the man is no more, and subject to the soft focus of sentimental recall, a riffle through some of these tabs might help restore his image in all its color and complexity.
The first subsection deals with Ronald Reagan’s body. In 1988, at seventy-seven years of age, the President stood six feet one and weighed a hundred and ninety pounds, none of it flab. He boasted that any punch aimed at his abdomen would be jarringly repulsed. After a lifetime of working out with wheels and bars, he had broadened his chest to a formidably walled cavern forty-four inches in circumference. He was a natural athlete, with a peculiarly graceful Algonquin gait that brought him into rooms almost soundlessly. No matter how fast he moved (that big body could turn on a dime), he was always balanced.
One recalls how elegantly he choreographed Mikhail Gorbachev up the steps at the 1985 Geneva summit: an arabesque of dark blue flowing around awkward gray. Reagan loved to swim, ride, and foxtrot. (Doris Day remembers him as “the only man I ever knew who really liked to dance.”) Eleven weeks after nearly dying in the assassination attempt of 1981, he climbed onto the springboard at the Camp David swimming pool and threw a perfect half pike before anybody could protest.
Gorbachev once remarked on Reagan’s “balance” to me in an interview. But he used the Russian word ravnovesie in its wider sense, of psychological equilibrium. The President’s poised body and smooth yet inexorable motion telegraphed a larger force that came of a lifetime of no self-doubt (except for two years of despair in 1948-49, after Jane Wyman, his first wife, left him for boring her). Reagan redux did not care whom he bored, as long as nobody tried to stop him. His famous anecdotes, recounted with a speed and economy that were the verbal equivalent of balance, were persuasive on the first, and even the fourth, telling. But when you heard them for the fourteenth, or the fortieth, time, always with exactly the same inflections and chuckles and glances, you realized that he was a bore in the sense that a combine harvester is boring: its only purpose is to bear down upon and thresh whatever grain lies in its path. Reagan used homilies to harvest people.
He was always meticulously dressed in tailored suits and handmade shoes and boots. But he was neither a dandy nor a spendthrift. In 1976, he still stepped out in a pair of high-cut, big-tongued alligator pumps that predated the Cold War: “Do you realize what I paid for these thirty years ago?” His personal taste never advanced beyond the first affectations of the nouveau riche. Hence the Corum twenty-dollar-face wristwatch, the Countess Mara ties, the Glen checks too large or too pale, and a weekend tartan blazer that was, in Bertie Wooster’s phrase, “rather sudden, till you got used to it.” Yet Reagan avoided vulgarity, because he sported such things without self-consciousness. And he wore the plainer suits that rotated through his wardrobe just as unpretentiously. No man ever looked better in navy blue, or black tie.
On a card inscribed “alcohol”—his father’s cross—appears the comment of an old Hollywood friend: “Ronnie never had a booze problem, but once every coupla years, he wasn’t averse to a lot of drink. Its only effect was to make him more genial.” His face would flush after a mere half glass of Pinot Noir, giving rise to repeated rumors that he used rouge.
Actually, Reagan never required makeup, even when he was a movie actor. He didn’t sweat under hot lights: he basked in them. A young photographer who did a cover portrait of him in 1984 for Fortune told me, “When I walked into the Oval Office, I thought my career was made. He was just back from a long campaign swing, and looked terrible, all drained and lined. I hit him with every harsh spot I had, and etched out those wrinkles, figuring I’d do what Richard Avedon did to Dottie Parker. Know what? When my contacts came back from the darkroom, the old bastard looked like a million bucks. Taught me a real lesson. Ronald Reagan wasn’t just born for the camera. There’s something about him that film likes.”
Several of my cards itemize the President’s deafness. People who sat to his right imagined that they were privileged. In fact, he heard nothing on that side, having blown an eardrum during a shoot-out scene in one of his old movies. His left ear was not much better, so he relied increasingly on hearing aids, although their distortion pained him. One learned not to sneeze in his presence. When the room was crowded and voice levels rose, he would furtively switch off his sound box. I could tell from a slight frown in his gaze that he was lip-reading.
The quietness that insulated him was accentuated by severe myopia. As a boy, “Dutch” Reagan assumed that nature was a blur. Not until he put on his mother’s spectacles, around the age of thirteen, did he perceive the world in all its sharp-edged intricacy. He did not find it disorienting, as somebody who had been blind from birth might. Perhaps his later, Rothko-like preference for large, luminous policy blocks (as opposed to, say, Bill Clinton’s fly’s-eye view of government as a multifacetted montage, endlessly adjustable) derived from his unfocussed childhood.
Or perhaps the novelist Ray Bradbury, who also grew up four-eyed in small-town Illinois, has a more informed theory. “I often wonder whether or not you become myopic for a physical reason of not wanting to face the world,” Bradbury says in an oral history. Like Dutch, he competed with a popular, extrovert elder brother by “making happy things for myself and creating new images of the world for myself.” Reagan was not introverted, yet from infancy he had the same kind of “happy” self-centeredness that Bradbury speaks of, the same need to inhabit an imaginative construct in which outside reality was refracted, or reordered, to his liking. “I was completely surrounded by a wall of light,” Reagan wrote of his first venture onto a movie set. It was clear that the sensation was agreeable. 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 »
The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline “China in Chaos.” Fifty years later, TIME made U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a groundswell of mass support, both men rebelled against the established order in their respective countries and set about throwing the world into confusion. Both share an autocratic mind set, Mao Zedong as Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump as Chairman of the Board. As Jiaying Fan noted in May 2016, both also share a taste for “polemical excess and xenophobic paranoia.” For his part, Mao’s rebellion led to national catastrophe and untold human misery.
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. Although some of China’s New Leftists hailed Trump’s November 2016 win as a validation of ever-victorious Mao Zedong Thought, there is little reason to think that a Trump-led America will give much succor to China’s ideologues. In the two months since the U.S. election, through a phone call to Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, repeated comments on China’s currency manipulation, the appointment of Peter Navarro (an economic hawk and author, among other things, of the 2011 book Death by China: Confronting the Dragon—A Global Call to Action) as director of the National Trade Council, and his intervention in a dispute over an underwater U.S. drone waylaid by the Chinese navy in the South China Sea, Trump has indicated that he is taking an unpredictable approach to the most important global bilateral relationship. Even long-standing friends and allies of the U.S. have been thrown off guard as they learn how to live with the Great Disrupter.
The Chinese Communist Party under its Chairman of Everything, Xi Jinping, hasn’t had to confront such an erratic and populist leader since Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolutionary 50 years ago.
Uproar in Heaven
In Official China, the anniversary of the Cultural Revolution passed in silence, even though today’s People’s Republic, whether in terms of its achievements or of its egregious failures, continues to live in the shadow of that political maelstrom.
In 1966, Mao observed that his personality was a mixture of contradictory elements. There was the self-assured sense of destiny and confidence that led him to challenge and overturn earlier leaders of the Communist Party, confront Chiang Kai-shek, and lead the Chinese revolution. This was, he said, an expression of his “Tiger Spirit,” something that was in constant interplay with his “Monkey Spirit,” one that was skittish, paranoid, and unpredictable. The Monkey was always ready to take on the Tiger with devilish glee. In the last two decades of his life, Mao’s China reflected this deep-seated contradiction as the country lurched between authoritarian control and anarchic confusion. What for the Great Helmsman was his life force writ large would rend the fabric of the society he ruled and threatened everything he had worked to achieve.
At the time of the Sino-Soviet split in 1961, Mao wrote a poem in praise of China’s most famous monkey, Sun Wukong, the hero of the popular late-Ming novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. The international order established following WWII was under increasing pressure, and the Socialist Bloc, led by the Soviet Union, was riven by rebellion and disquiet as a result both of repressive Soviet expansionism in Europe and the ideological uncertainty generated by Nikita Khrushchev’s secret denunciation of Joseph Stalin in 1956. Mao, giving vent to his Tiger Spirit, would now lay claim to the mantle of world revolution.
A thunderstorm burst over the earth,
So a devil rose from a heap of white bones.
The deluded monk was not beyond the light,
But the malignant demon must wreak havoc.
The Golden Monkey wrathfully swung his massive cudgel,
And the jade-like firmament was cleared of dust.
Today, a miasmal mist once more rising,
We hail Sun Wu-kung, the wonder-worker.
Having delivered this challenge, Mao’s unpredictable Monkey Spirit would attempt to turn the world upside down. His poem and Uproar in Heaven, a 1964 film adaptation of Wu Cheng’en’s novel, struck a cord with the restive youth of China, many of whom closely followed China’s ideological contest with the Soviet Union. Like Mao, they too felt that their country was being stymied by a hidebound Soviet-style bureaucracy; the normalization of the revolutionary ardor of the past was frustrating China’s ability to lead history and achieve greatness. They related to Mao as he portrayed himself as an outsider who championed an uprising of the masses against a sclerotic system.
Chairman Mao Tse-tung, left, welcomes US President Richard Nixon at his house in Beijing (AFP)
When, in 1966, Mao both engineered and supported a grassroots youthful rebellion against the very party-state he had created, a group of middle-school students in Beijing responded by composing a series of manifestos declaring that they, like Monkey, would support the Chairman, create an uproar in heaven, and smash the old world to pieces. In particular, they proclaimed “Rebellion is Justified” and quoted a line from Mao’s 1961 poem:
The Golden Monkey wrathfully swung his massive cudgel,
And the jade-like firmament was cleared of dust.
Mao responded to the young rebels and, to use today’s parlance, an alt-left movement of radicalism was born. The students called themselves Red Guards.
In August 1966, Mao and his deputy, Lin Biao, encouraged the Red Guards to Destroy the Four Olds and a wave of iconoclasm swept the country while the violence against people victimized as representing the old order were denounced, attacked, beaten, and even killed. During what would be known as Bloody August, Mao is said to have written to Jiang Qing, his wife and partner in revolutionary extremism, declaring that “Once heaven is in great disorder a new kind of order can emerge.” He believed that throwing the political establishment and social order into confusion would liberate the true potential of people to achieve what was otherwise seemingly impossible. A high-tide of revolutionary enthusiasm would allow people to cast aside the deadening bureaucracy and revitalize industry, agriculture, research, and society itself. Under the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought, the goal of making China great again could be realized on the world stage.
The Instincts of an Autocrat
The similarities between Mao Zedong and Donald Trump don’t end with the autocrat’s mindset touched on in the opening paragraph of this essay, or with the clash between tiger-like brio and the dyspathy of the monkey. The will to autocracy means that both figures share (with elected or self-appointed strong men historically and worldwide) some disturbing parallels:
Quotations Vs. Tweets: In the Mao era, the mysterious, contradictory, and yet powerfully inciting utterances of the Chairman were conveyed not by Twitter, but through quotations broadcast over national radio and carried in the newspapers. In the print media, Mao’s gnomic utterances were always highlighted by being printed in bold, while on radio they were recited in the stentorian voice of authority. A daily quotation called “The Highest Directive” featured in the top right-hand corner of the People’s Daily and was mimicked by every paper across the land. The quotations demanded a response and action and sent the country lurching in different directions while confusion reigned supreme in Beijing.
Progadanda Vs. the Lying Media: Like Mao, Trump has trouble sleeping, and his early morning Tweets reveal whatever has caught the leader’s flickering attention, alerting the world to some new twist or turn in his feverish thinking. With Twitter, Trump bypasses both the formal bureaucracy of Washington and what he and his followers dub “The Lying Media.”
Mao too distrusted the state media based in the capital, Beijing, and with the support of his wife, Jiang Qing, and her Shanghai comrades he got his message of rebellion out in other cities. He extolled The Right to Rebel and, in essence, he launched the Cultural Revolution to “drain the swamp” of the Chinese Communist Party bureaucracy. He called enemies within the Party nomenklatura “Capitalist Roaders,” the permanent political class, that is men and women who were pursuing policies that undermined his ideas and which, he believe, held back China’s productive capacity and frustrated the country’s global revolutionary preeminence.
Climate Change Vs. Human Will: The effects of climate change and the mismanagement of natural resources were evident in Mao’s China. There was a profligate depletion of water resources; increasing desertification starting from Outer Mongolia; unmodulated industrial pollution from the Great Leap Forward era onwards; denial of contaminants in food and water supplies. . . the list goes on. Mao believed that “man can conquer heaven,” that human will could triumph over nature. China now faces the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation with sober clarity; Trump’s America will be led by climate skeptics, deniers, and those who would sign up for Mao’s axiom.
The Smartest Men in the Room: Like Trump, Mao thought he was “smart,” and he distrusted experts and the educated. An autodidact, he believed that he did not need to rely on others to understand complex issues and resolve problems. He declared that the more education you have, the more dangerous you may be. 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 »
MiG-35 Demo is Both Product Debut and Contrast of Russian and Western Doctrine in the F-35 Era.
Tom Demerly reports: In a widely publicized event on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (MiG) parented by United Aircraft Corporation officially demonstrated the new MiG-35 to the Russian government. A subsequent demonstration for export customers was carried out today Jan. 27.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to have viewed the first demonstration via remote video due to poor weather in the region.
The new MiG-35 (NATO reporting name: “Fulcrum Foxtrot”) is a greatly upgraded aircraft based on the earlier MiG-29 airframe. Significant upgrades on the MiG-35 include a completely new fly-by-wire flight control system, vastly improved cockpit, substantially upgraded avionics and an overall design philosophy that provides an enhanced degree of operational autonomy on the MiG-35 compared to earlier Russian combat aircraft. The MiG-35 will also integrate precision-guided targeting capability for air-to-ground weapons, a rarity in previous Russian air-ground doctrine.
The MiG-35 unveiled on Jan. 27, 2017
There is a significant engine upgrade on the new MiG-35. The aircraft uses two impressive Klimov RD-33OVT engines fitted with bi-directional thrust vectoring nozzles. This contrasts aircraft like the current Russian Su-35 and the U.S. F-22 Raptor that only use single-axis vertical thrust vectoring.
This marks a fascinating departure from previous Soviet-era combat aircraft capabilities while retaining the Russian penchant for lower unit cost in exchange for numerical superiority, a doctrine that has pervaded Russian military thinking for the entire century.
The OLS-K targeting and surveillance system is mounted on the engine nacelle in front of the elevators
The Russians have always traded unit capability for numerical superiority, relying on the hope that quantity would beat quality in a major conflict. Interestingly, this doctrine has shifted moderately toward a centrist mix of quality and quantity apparently in search of the best solution for indigenous use as well as attracting export buyers.
Do they got it? Perhaps they do. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.
KOBLENZ, Germany (AP) — European nationalist leaders came together Saturday in a show of strength at the start of a year of big election tests, celebrating Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president and declaring themselves a realistic alternative to the continent’s governments.
Right-wing populist leaders from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and elsewhere strode confidently into the Koblenz congress hall on the banks of the Rhine River ahead of a flag-waving escort, setting the tone for a gathering whose mood was buoyed by Trump’s swearing-in. The European parties hope for similar success in tapping anti-establishment and protectionist sentiment in elections this year.
“I believe we are witnessing historic times,” Dutch anti-Islam leader Geert Wilders told reporters. “The world is changing. America is changing. Europe is changing. And the people start getting in charge again.”
Wilders, speaking in English, declared that “the genie will not go back into the bottle again, whether you like it or not.”
The Netherlands will provide the next major test for populist parties’ support. Wilders’ Party of Freedom could win the largest percentage of votes in the March 15 Dutch parliamentary election, even though it is shunned by other parties and unlikely to get a share of power.
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, is among the top contenders in France’s April-May presidential vote. In September, Frauke Petry’s four-year-old Alternative for Germany party hopes to enter the German parliament in a national election, riding sentiment against German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming policy toward refugees. Other German parties say they won’t work with the anti-immigrant group.
Those at the Koblenz conference Saturday are part of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament, which was launched in 2015. The gathering also featured Matteo Salvini of Italy’s anti-migrant Northern League and Harald Vilimsky, the general secretary of Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party, which last year narrowly failed to win the country’s presidency. Read the rest of this entry »
Brexit Champion Daniel Hannan: ‘There Are Crybabies on Both Sides of the Atlantic’
“There are some crybabies on both sides of the Atlantic, who don’t accept the verdict of the people as final. And you can see this — it’s exactly the same kind of people on both sides (of the Atlantic). It’s the slightly spoiled millennials, it’s the generation of the safe spaces and the micro-aggressions and the trigger warnings, who have been taught from the moment they went to school that the correct way to deal with a difficult opinion is to try to silence it, and that someone disagreeing with them is a form of violence, rather than something that just happens in life.”
The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the ‘Rue Steve Jobs’ in honor of America’s best-known Capitalist.
PARIS (Reuters) – Geert De Clercq reports: A proposal to name a street after the late Apple Inc chief executive and co-founder Steve Jobs has divided the leftist city council of a Paris district.
“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur.”
— Spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet
The local district mayor wants to call one of several new streets around the vast Halle Freyssinet high-tech startup hub the “Rue Steve Jobs” in honor of the U.S. inventor of the iPhone who died in 2011.
“The choice of Steve Jobs is misplaced in light of the heritage he has left behind.”
— Communist local councillors
But Green and Communist local councillors in Paris’s 13th district don’t like the idea because of Apple’s social and fiscal practices.
“Steve Jobs was chosen because of his impact on the development of personal computing and because he was a real entrepreneur,” said a spokeswoman for mayor Jerome Coumet, defending the proposal.
She said other streets would be named after British computer scientist and code-breaker Alan Turing, UK mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, US naval officer and computer programming pioneer Grace Murray Hopper and French civil engineer Eugene Freyssinet, who invented pre-stressed concrete.
CNN mourns: Fidel Castro Ruz, the political personality, has died. Fidel Castro, the historical persona, has been born. He passes from the present into the past, to serve as an enduring historical subject of debate and dispute, about whom dispassion will be impossible for years to come. Fidel Castro was not a man about whom one is likely to be neutral.
Fidel is a metaphor. He is a Rorschach blot upon which to project fears or hopes. A prism in which the spectrum of colors refracted out has to do with light that went in. He is a point of view, loaded with ideological purport and political meaning. A David who survived Goliath. A symbol of Third World intransigence against First World domination.
But it is also possible to discuss the historical “essences” of Fidel Castro. He emerged out of a history shaped by a century of Cuban national frustration, heir to a legacy of unfulfilled hopes for national sovereignty and self-determination, aspirations that put Cuba on a collision course with the United States. Read the rest of this entry »
The Ruling Class of America is not up to the challenge of leading America in the world, partly because it has engaged for several generations now in a process of reverse merit selection.
Jerry Bowyer writes: Angelo Codevilla has spent more than his share of time as a sojourner among America’s ruling class. He was a key part of the Reagan transition and point-man in the Gipper’s efforts to transform both the foreign and the intelligence services. Then later he served as a professor of International Relations at prestigious Boston University. From this vantage point, Codevilla was able to get a close look not only at the international relations elite, but at the entire American ruling class, from which the former are overwhelmingly drawn. I had the honor of sitting across a Skype line with Angelo Codevilla recently to talk about his views on foreign policy and on the ruling class in general.
“Having been a college professor for many years I saw students become ever more confident of their own intelligence and their own preparation while they were becoming less able to do the most elementary things.”
As the ruling class wannabes, has beens, might’ve beens and I ams gather for today’s inauguration ceremony to offer laud and narcissistic supply to the most perfect exemplar of the ruling class that they have ever seen, Codevilla’s observations about the rapidly imploding ratio of competence to confidence among America’s elite are a breath of contrarian sanity.
“That’s what happens so often to ruling classes: they protect themselves against their competitors. Their greatest interest is in perpetuating their own cushy positions.”
The discussion is available here. Although the first section is devoted to foreign affairs and the second to the ruling class, this column will focus on the second of the two topics. What follows are my notes from the wide ranging and fascinating discussion. I hope you won’t limit yourself to my jottings about the conversation, but go on to the conversation itself. The following is a collection of paraphrased quotes from Codevilla.
“The Soviet system was completely closed. Our system becomes more closed as the years go on….today’s American ruling class differs from even a generation ago…now they come to the ruling class almost exclusively from the most prestigious universities and through institutions which are connected to government.”
The Ruling Class of America is not up to the challenge of leading America in the world, partly because it has engaged for several generations now in a process of reverse merit selection.
Our ruling class has practiced negative selection for several generations now. I point you to a very, very interesting piece of research by a man called Ron Unz.
“Very few people now rise independent of the ruling class itself: you have to rise through the ruling class to get to the ruling class.”
Ron Unz, a wealthy entrepreneur, has just conducted interesting research on the admissions policies of America’s elite universities and has found that there is an iron quota against Asians in these universities: a limit of roughly 16 percent in these universities, even though the proportion of Asians relative to other ethnic groups among high achievers in the country has risen…they account for something like 40 percent of high achievers in the national merit scholar competition, national math and science competitions, etc.
“Our ruling class rules on the basis of sheer, unearned self-confidence. They are not up to running the nation, its economy, its markets, its school system, its philanthropies or its foreign affairs. It is a ruling class of pygmies who walk on stilts and call themselves giants. They are not giants and the moment the rest of us realize this, the long con is over.”
What you’ve got here is a ruling class in these universities which has perpetuated itself and has become more like itself, and has excluded alien elements. The element most excluded happens to be also the most numerous, which is to say ‘white non-Jewish Americans,’ and hence the overwhelming majority of high achievers. Yet the percentage of white non-Jewish admittees has continued to drop; there is especially a virtual absence of Christians among these admittees. The point being that this ruling class, which is increasingly styling itself as meritocratic, is anything but meritocratic and has renewed itself by cooption. Read the rest of this entry »
The moment when Europe begins to suspect the progressive, welfare-state, open-borders, post-national cultural marxist technocratic fantasy was a fantasy. Was unreal. Was juvenile. Was irresponsible. Was a world-historical blunder. Read the rest of this entry »
In Europe, when it gets serious, you have to lie… at least if you are an unelected bureaucrat like Jean-Claude Juncker. In Russia, however, when it gets serious, attention immediately turns to the children.
“On the one hand, this is all part of a package of measures to prepare the elites for some ‘big war’ even if it is rather conditional, on the other hand – this is another blow to the unity of President Putin with his own elite”
Which is why we read a report in Russian website Znak published Tuesday, according to which Russian state officials and government workers were told to bring back their children studying abroad immediately, even if means cutting their education short and not waiting until the end of the school year, and re-enroll them in Russian schools, with some concern.
The article adds that if the parents of these same officials also live abroad “for some reason”, and have not lost their Russian citizenship, should also be returned to the motherland. Znak cited five administration officials as the source of the report.
“People note the hypocrisy of having a centralized state and cultivating patriotism and anti-Western sentiment, while children of government workers study abroad. You can not serve two gods, one must choose.”
The “recommendation” applies to all: from the administration staff, to regional administratiors, to lawmakers of all levels. Employees of public corporations are also subject to the ordinance. One of the sources said that anyone who fails to act, will find such non-compliance to be a “complicating factor in the furtherance of their public sector career.” He added that he was aware of several such cases in recent months. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in Laos and delivers an adress to the people of Laos. He is the first US President to visit the country.
…He also accused Americans of being isolated and ignorant because the United States is such a big country.
“The United States is and can be a great force for good in the world. But because we’re such a big country, we haven’t always had to know about other parts of the world,” he said. “If you’re in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think we’re so big we don’t have to really know anything about other people.”
Officials travelling with Mrs May have been issued with temporary mobile phones and email addresses in an attempt to evade Chinese state hackers.
Security advisers are also warning staff not to keep gifts they receive and to be particularly wary of electronic devices, such as free computer memory sticks, mobile phone SIM cards or chargers which they are offered by their Chinese hosts.
One Whitehall source said security chiefs had warned them that hotel rooms used during the summit were likely to be bugged. “We have been told that if you feel uncomfortable about people seeing you naked, you should get changed under your bedclothes,” the source said.
Damian McBride, left, was then prime minister Gordon Brown’s special advisor CREDIT: BRUCE ADAMS/REX
British security agencies regard China as one of the most aggressive nations when it comes to launching cyber-attacks against western governments and businesses, as well as posing a major espionage threat to the UK.
Chinese technological expertise has prompted security concerns at the highest levels of government and British intelligence.
There are fears that Chinese intelligence agents will use their capability to intercept emails and phone calls and to install spy software on computers during the summit.
However, one of the gravest threats posed by foreign spies is also one of the oldest: the honey trap.
During Mr Brown’s visit to China in 2008, one of the No 10 officials accompanying the then Prime Minister reportedly fell prey to a “beautiful” female Chinese spy. She went back to his hotel room, drugged him, stole his mobile phone and documents from his briefcase.
The incident was described by Mr Brown’s former spin doctor, Damien McBride, in his 2013 memoir, Power Trip.
The No 10 team was “accosted on one side by a beautiful posse of Chinese girls and on the other side by an equivalent group of Russian blondes”, Mr McBride said.
Even before our resident security expert could warn us that their interest was not to be taken at face value, we looked up and saw one of our number disappearing up the stairs to the exit with one of the girls, beaming back at us.
He woke up the following morning “minus his Blackberry and half the contents of his briefcase”.
The official also had a “‘very bad headache, owning to the Mickey Finn nightcap his overnight companion had administered to him in his hotel room”.
The European Union has shown itself to be a compulsory tax cartel.
Dan Sanchez writes: Taxation is bad enough: two consenting parties arrange a mutually-beneficial exchange, and an interloping third party demands a cut.
What compounded injustice then for a fourth party to enter the scene: a super-state/super-bandit who insists that the shakedown wasn’t big enough. No, the victim must hand over more to the lesser thief, even against the recipient’s will and in spite of his protest!
Thou Shalt Not… Not Steal
Ireland must join the rest of the Union in bleeding the private sector dry.
But the Irish governmentdoesn’t want the money! It had promised the low rates decades ago to entice Apple to set up and keep shop in Ireland, bringing the struggling country desperately needed jobs and economic growth. Irish officials are worried that if they renege on that deal, they will risk driving off the geese that lay the golden eggs: Apple, and other businesses as well.
But no, insists the European super-state: sustainably prudent parasitism is not an option. The Irish government must join the rest of the Union in recklessly bleeding its private sector hosts dry until the whole system collapses under its own dead weight. Read the rest of this entry »
Using both conventional media and covert channels, the Kremlin relies on disinformation to create doubt, fear and discord in Europe and the United States.
STOCKHOLM — Neil MacFarquhar reports: With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.
“People were not used to it, and they got scared, asking what can be believed, what should be believed?”
— Marinette Nyh Radebo, Mr. Hultqvist’s spokeswoman
The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.
“Moscow views world affairs as a system of special operations, and very sincerely believes that it itself is an object of Western special operations. I am sure that there are a lot of centers, some linked to the state, that are involved in inventing these kinds of fake stories.”
— Gleb Pavlovsky, helped establish the Kremlin’s information machine before 2008.
They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.
Sweden’s defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, last month at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He has tried to counteract disinformation that has threatened to sway public debate in Sweden about a proposed military partnership with NATO. Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“The planting of false stories is nothing new; the Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War. Now, though, disinformation is regarded as an important aspect of Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed at political debates in target countries with far greater sophistication and volume than in the past.”
“People were not used to it, and they got scared, asking what can be believed, what should be believed?” said Marinette Nyh Radebo, Mr. Hultqvist’s spokeswoman.
As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports. But they, numerous analysts and experts in American and European intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Vladimir V. Putin, who invaded Georgia in 2008 largely to forestall that possibility.
In Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now Syria, Mr. Putin has flaunted a modernized and more muscular military. But he lacks the economic strength and overall might to openly confront NATO, the European Union or the United States. Instead, he has invested heavily in a program of “weaponized” information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, stir discord in their domestic politics and blunt opposition to Russia. Read the rest of this entry »
Monopoly products and services go up in price, while competitive ones go down.
Imagine this. You are feeling under the weather. You pull out your smartphone and click the Rx app. A nurse arrives in 20 minutes at your home. He gives you a blood test and recommends to the doctor that she prescribe a treatment. It is sent to the CVS down the street, which delivers it to your door in 20 minutes. The entire event costs $20.
“Medical care prices are up 105% in the last 20 years. This contrasts with the television industry, which is selling products that have fallen 96% in the same period.”
Sounds nuts? Not so much. Not if health care were a competitive industry. As it is, medical care prices are up 105% in the last 20 years. This contrasts with the television industry, which is selling products that have fallen 96% in the same period.
Take a look at this chart assembled by AEI. It reveals two important points. First, there is no such thing as an aggregate price level, or, rather what we call the price level is a statistical fiction.
Second, it shows that competitive industries offer goods and services that are falling in price due to market pressure. In contrast monopolized industries can extract ever higher rents from people based on restriction. Read the rest of this entry »
In the U.S., some governors and other politicians have warned against moving fast to bring in the refugees, concerned that poor vetting could let in terrorists.
Despite promises of European Union member states to take in 160,000 refugees, a new report shows that they’ve accepted a fraction, 6,000, while the United States has embraced 8,000 of a planned 10,000 this year.
“As President Obama, backed by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, has ramped up accepting refugees fleeing Syria and other war-torn nations, the EU has put the brakes on hard, apparently bowing to public outrage.”
As President Obama, backed by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, has ramped up accepting refugees fleeing Syria and other war-torn nations, the EU has put the brakes on hard, apparently bowing to public outrage.
In the U.S., some governors and other politicians have warned against moving fast to bring in the refugees, concerned that poor vetting could let in terrorists.
“One year later, this commitment is far from being fulfilled. France is not the only ‘bad student.’ There is an obvious lack of solidarity.”
— Pierre Henry, director of an organization called France Terre d’Asile
After officials moved to stem the huge influx if immigrants, Europe had led the way in making promises to accept the additional refugees in camps in Italy and Greece. But a new report in France found that Paris had accepted just 1,300 of the 30,000 it promised to take from Greece and Italy by 2017.
…Thanks to the universities’ leftist indoctrination of two generations of Americans, and thanks to Bernie Sanders, the Democratic party is now in all but name a socialist party. In fact, it is actually to the left of many European socialist parties.
“This generation is not only not ‘the most tolerant and generous we’ve ever had,’ it is, in in many ways, the least tolerant and quite possibly the least generous ‘we’ve ever had.’”
For example, if Clinton wins, the government will now tell companies how much they must pay employees: “If you believe that companies should share profits with their workers, not paid executive bonuses, join us,” she brazenly announced.
And if you think that this is unconstitutional, remember that it won’t matter, because she will appoint left-wing Supreme Court justices and left-wing federal judges who do not view their roles as protectors of the Constitution. They view their roles as promoting “social justice,” which has as much to do with justice as “people’s democracy” has to do with democracy.
Which is better: socialism or capitalism? Does one make people kinder and more caring, while the other makes people greedy and more selfish? In this video, Dennis Prager explains the moral differences between socialism and capitalism, and why anyone who wants a kind and generous society must support one and oppose the other.
There will still be a country called the United States, a geographic entity situated between Canada and Mexico, but it will not be the America envisioned by the Founders, or by most Americans until the middle of the 20th century. She spelled this out very clearly in her acceptance speech.
Among its other highlights:
“We’ll build a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants.”
This means that our borders will mean nothing, that in order to guarantee Democratic-party victories for the foreseeable future, as president she will transform 10 or more million people who are here illegally into citizens.
Still waiting for Hope and Change… and waiting…and waiting….
“We have the most tolerant and generous young people we’ve ever had.”
She said this in order to pander to young Americans. But, thanks to the Left, it isn’t true. This generation is not only not “the most tolerant and generous we’ve ever had,” it is, in in many ways, the least tolerant and quite possibly the least generous “we’ve ever had.” Read the rest of this entry »
Why the destructive philosophy continues to attract followers.
Thomas Sowell writes: Socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.
“Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.”
While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and where there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.
“In 2015, the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they could have rigged it better than that.”
With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous. But it is doubtful if the young people cheering for Bernie Sanders have even heard of such things, whether in Venezuela or in other countries around the world that have turned their economies over to politicians and bureaucrats to run.
“The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think that the cost of their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on ‘the rich.'”
The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist “exploitation,” shouldn’t it?
From the dustbin of history, the zombie socialists
But people who attribute income inequality to capitalists exploiting workers, as Karl Marx claimed, never seem to get around to testing that belief against facts — such as the fact that none of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a standard of living for working people as there is in many capitalist countries. 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 »
“I think what’s most interesting is that fact that, if the Republicans are now abandoning free trade, for the first time ever in our memory, we’re having a presidential campaign where neither side is for free trade, which I think bodes really badly for our allies abroad…”
“They’re looking at a race where the country, with both parties, is now moving against free trade. They’d always assume that the United States would be the one country that would rise above the most narrow economic nationalism and save the idea of free trade. That’s not going to be true come January 2017, and that will change the whole international landscape…”
Welcome to the New Turkey, where people can get locked up for saying something critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkish President Erdogan (Thomas Koch / Shutterstock.com)
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)
Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.
Claude Barfield writes: For the first time this year, the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) “National Trade Estimate Report” took note of China’s Great Firewall. Granted, it was with this tame statement: “China’s filtering of cross-border Internet traffic has posed a significant burden to foreign suppliers.” The report did not indicate what steps, if any, the US plans to take against the People’s Republic of China’s heavy-handed and economically damaging censorship regime. But it is high time for the US, possibly in conjunction with other major trading partners, to test the legality of China’s sweeping Internet censorship system.
The nature of Chinese censorship
Chinese online censorship operations are not new, and they have been well-documented for over a decade. But the situation has grown worse since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012. Today, the USTR reports that eight of the 25 most trafficked websites worldwide are currently blocked by the Chinese government. Especially targeted are popular search engines such as Google, as well as user-generated content platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Sometimes, the blockade is permanent — Google formally withdrew from China in 2010 — but more often it is intermittent and random, as has occurred with increasing frequency with Gmail and Hotmail. The New York Times has been banned since 2012, and recently (as a result of reporting on the misdeeds of President Xi’s relatives) the Economist and Time magazine have also secured spots on the honored block list. Just last week, Beijing further tightened the screws on US companies when it imposed a ban on Apple’s online book and film services. The order came as part of a broader set of regulations, introduced in March, which established strict curbs on all online publishing.
Agustin Blazquez: America Is Turning Into Communist State
Filmmaker and American citizen Agustin Blazquez never thought his native Cuba would
become a communist country, but now he sees the same radical shift happening in America.
In this exclusive video interview for The Daily Caller News Foundation, he says the left has been clever by using “very non-threatening words,” like liberal, progressive and concerned citizens, for advancing government control of American lives
“Watching President Barack Obama travel to Cuba, he says, made him ‘want to throw up.’ This was a ‘betrayal to victims of communism.'”
The truth about Cuban politics is hard to find because of media spin and propaganda dominating American discourse.
For Blazquez, watching American youth embrace avowed socialistSen. Bernie Sanders for president, strikes him as “absurd.” It is the end result, he says, of the cultural marxist education and media propaganda that has anesthetized too many Americans who do not defend the values that made America exceptional.
Watching President Barack Obama travel to Cuba, he says, made him “want to throw up.” This was a “betrayal to victims of communism,” the filmmaker of “Covering Cuba” says. Blazquez adds there are “so many [Nelson] Mandelas” in Cuban prisons, who are tortured, denied medical attention and abused.
Democrats might have held onto one or both houses of Congress if only Americans better understood the strength of the economic recovery, President Barack Obama said in an interview published Thursday.
“I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter. Then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
“I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” Obama remarked in a New York Times Magazine interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
The U.S. economy is in a better state after the recession than the American people realize, Obama suggested.
“I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” he said. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.”
“I can probably tick off three or four common-sense things we could have done where we’d be growing a percentage or two faster each year. We could have brought down the unemployment rate lower, faster. We could have been lifting wages even faster than we did.”
The president also expressed regret that, in three successive years, his administration was not able to kick-start “a massive infrastructure project,” adding that 2012, 2013 and 2014 “was the perfect time to do it; low interest rates, construction industry is still on its heels, massive need — the fact that we failed to do that, for example, cost us time.
“It meant that there were folks who we could have helped and put back to work and entire communities that could have prospered that ended up taking a lot longer to recover,” Obama said. Read the rest of this entry »
“The government didn’t take over these pieces of property in order to protect them. They did so to acquire them.”
— Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Protestant Church
The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.
Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.
They have now effectively become state property – meaning they are run by the government – in a country with a dire human rights record where about 98 percent of the population is Muslim.
The order to seize the churches was made on March 25 by Erdogan’s council of ministers, according to the website World Watch Monitor.
They claim it was made on the grounds that authorities intend to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the city, which has been partially destroyed by 10 months of urban conflict between government forces and militants from the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).
But the seizures have outraged worshippers at the churches, who fear a government coup against their religion are now threatening to take legal action against the decision. Read the rest of this entry »
The White House told several news outlets on Friday the audio gap was the result of a “technical issue” not an attempt to scrub or censor Hollande’s comments and that an updated video with the complete audio was posted on WhiteHouse.gov soon after the problem was recognized.
French President Francois Hollande’s comments this week in Washington about Islamic terrorism — a term President Obama won’t use — were omitted from an official White House video.
“For seven years, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton and this administration have been sound bound up by political correctness that they have refused to acknowledge what is it is we are fighting, refused to even name it.”
Holland made the comments at an international summit in Washington on nuclear security that also focused largely on global terrorism.
“We are also making sure that between Europe and the United States there can be a very high level coordination. But we’re also well aware that the roots of terrorism, Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq. We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition. …” Hollande said following a meeting at the summit between his and Obama’s top officials.
“After every one of these attacks, the president does a national TV conference where he refuses to say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ Instead he lectures Americans on Islamophobia. Well, enough is enough.”
— Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
However, an audio gap occurs in the original White House video where the French-to-English translator would have said: “Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq. We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition.”
The gap was reported first by the Media Research Center, a conservative-leaning government watchdog group.
Republicans and others have been highly critical of Obama, and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, for not saying the words “Islamic terrorism” when talking about the Islamic State terror group, which has claimed responsibility for the recent, deadly bombing attacks in Paris and Brussels. Read the rest of this entry »
Sean Davis reports: President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande met in Washington on Thursday to discuss ways for the two countries to work together to defeat terrorism. But the White House apparently had zero appetite for Hollande’s mention of Islamist terrorism, since it censored the phrase from the official White House video of the meeting posted on the White House website.
[Watch and listen to the video below, which is available on YouTube through the White House’s official account, and you can hear the audio cut out right before Hollande says “Islamist terrorism”]
[You can read the full transcript of the event here or watch the full video here]
Media Research Center, a non-profit media watchdog, was the first to report the White House censorship.
While the official transcript available on the White House web page includes Hollande’s use of the phrase “Islamist terrorism,” the White House video of the remarks muted the audio during that portion of Hollande’s remarks. The audio of the French-to-English interpreter stops right before Hollande characterizes “Islamist terrorism” as the root of terrorism in Syria and Iraq…(read more)
Here is the transcript of what Hollande said, with strikethrough notation to show what the White House censored in its video of the exchange between the two presidents:
Europe has been hit more, given that it is also the target of the terrorists and ISIS. We’ve seen it in Paris last year, as well as in Brussels. And together with President Obama, we worked on coordinating further our commitments, our organizations, our services when it comes to fighting against these terrorists. Read the rest of this entry »