Kevin D. Williamson writes: With the American Health Care Act dominating the week’s news, one conversation has been unavoidable: Someone — someone who pays attention to public policy — will suggest that we pursue policy x, y, or z, and someone else — someone who pays a little less careful attention, who probably watches a lot of cable-television entertainment masquerading as news — responds: “The first thing we have to do is acknowledge that health care is a human right!” What follows is a moment during which the second speaker visibly luxuriates in his display of empathy and virtue, which is, of course, the point of the exercise.
It’s kind of gross, but that’s where we are, politically, as a country.
Here is a thought experiment: You have four children and three apples. You would like for everyone to have his own apple. You go to Congress, and you successfully persuade the House and the Senate to endorse a joint resolution declaring that everyone has a right to an apple of his own. A ticker-tape parade is held in your honor, and you share your story with Oprah, after which you are invited to address the United Nations, which passes the International Convention on the Rights of These Four Kids in Particular to an Individual Apple Each. You are visited by the souls of Mohandas Gandhi and Mother Teresa, who beam down approvingly from a joint Hindu-Catholic cloud in Heaven.
Question: How many apples do you have?
You have three apples, dummy. Three. You have four children. Each of those children has a congressionally endorsed, U.N.-approved, saint-ratified right to an apple of his own. But here’s the thing: You have three apples and four children. Nothing has changed.
Declaring a right in a scarce good is meaningless. It is a rhetorical gesture without any application to the events and conundrums of the real world. If the Dalai Lama were to lead 10,000 bodhisattvas in meditation, and the subject of that meditation was the human right to health care, it would do less good for the cause of actually providing people with health care than the lowliest temp at Merck does before his second cup of coffee on any given Tuesday morning. Read the rest of this entry »
Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights.
Carlos Eire writes: Dead at last, dead at last. Fidel Castro has shuffled off this mortal coil, at the age of ninety. Unfortunately, his death comes a bit too late—about sixty years too late. Millions of his people had been awaiting this moment for well over half a century. And as we Cubans rejoice, we weep. Our losses over the past six decades have been far too great, and so our glee is far from unbridled.
“Fidel justified his repressive policies by insisting that the Cuban people were incapable of achieving social justice by any other means.”
Slavery is what Fidel’s revolution was about. Brooking no dissent, he enslaved a nation in the name of eternal class warfare, creating a new elite dedicated to suppressing their neighbors’ rights. He pitted Cubans against one another, replacing all civil discourse with invective and intimidation.
“Likewise, many of Fidel’s First-World admirers view Cubans as postmodern equivalents of Rousseau’s noble savage—as primitives who are uncorrupted by civilization and incapable of comprehending Enlightenment notions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—or perhaps as swarthier versions of Mussolini’s unruly Italians, that is, hot-blooded Latin rustics in need of a strong leader who can make their trains run on time.”
Fidel boasted that he was loved by the Cuban people and spoke for us, that he was our very embodiment. But these were some of the boldest of his many big lies. The Cuban people he spoke for were but a monstrous abstraction, a figment that he projected onto the world stage. Flesh-and-blood Cubans had to be forced to attend his interminable speeches, or, as now, his funeral.
“Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations.”
Dissenters were demonized. If you objected to his self-anointing as Maximum Leader or disdained his dystopian vision, two painful choices were open to you. Just two.
You could oppose him. But if you dared, even by murmuring in the dark, you faced imprisonment, torture, or death. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans were brave enough to suffer these consequences, but the world beyond the island’s shores ignored them, even denied their existence.
“Why does the First World display so little indignation over Fidel’s labor camps and prisons, his torture chambers, and the summary executions with which he purchased his shamefully inadequate healthcare and indoctrination programs?”
The other option was to beg for the privilege of banishment. Nearly two million Cubans chose that route, but millions more never got the chance. No one knows how many have died trying to escape by sea without his magnanimous permission.
“Why do so many well-heeled tourists flock to the ruin Cuba has become? Why are so few of them offended by Cuba’s endemic racism, or the apartheid laws that deny ordinary Cubans access to the finest beaches and hotels in their own homeland?”
Fidel portrayed those who fled his dystopia as selfish troglodytes. These nonconformists were vilified not just by Fidel but by all those around the world who believed his lies, including many eminent intellectuals, artists, and journalists in free, affluent nations. Lately, the tyrant even seemed to gain approval from His Holiness, Pope Francis, who paid him a very cordial visit.
For the millions of Cubans who remained in Fidel’s kingdom, the losses were even more profound. As they waved tiny Cuban flags at mass rallies and waited in line for necessities with their ration books in hand, as they listened to Fidel’s promises of a very distant glorious future, these Cubans watched others leave by the hundreds of thousands. When nearly two million refugees flee from a small island nation, everyone who remains is touched by loss. The exodus is all the more galling when those who have fled prosper in exile and those who remain become ever more destitute. 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 »
But has policing really become so dangerous that we need to arm peace officers like an invading army? The answer is no. It’s never been safer to be a cop.
To start with, few police officers die in the line of duty. Since 1900, only 18,781 police officers have died from any work-related injury. That’s an average of 164 a year. In absolute terms, officer fatalities peaked in 1930 (during alcohol prohibition) at 297, spiking again in the 1970s before steadily declining since.
An outspoken Hong Kong bookseller who has become a symbol of opposition to China’s authoritarian government has accused Chinese security agents of behaving like the notorious triad gangs in a bid to silence the publishers of provocative books about the country’s leaders.
Lam Wing-kee shot to prominence in June when he revealed how he had been spirited into secret detention in eastern China by a mysterious group of agents supposedly acting on the orders of the Communist party leadership.
Writing in the Diplomat, Amnesty International’s China researcher William Nee said Lam’s testimony had provided “a blow-by-blow account of the abusive tools that have become Chinese authorities’ modus operandi to silence critics since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012”. Read the rest of this entry »
“It makes sense politically, rationally, electorally, to gain political power by saying all sorts of terrible things about immigrant groups, but at a certain point, the math doesn’t work out,” says Joel Fetzer, a professor of Political Science at Pepperdine University*, and author of the new book new book Open Borders and International Migration Policy: The Effects of Unrestricted Immigration in the United States, France, and Ireland.
The bookexamines three cases of massive and at times nearly unrestricted immigration made famous in the movies: the influx of Central European immigrants to Ireland in the early 2000s as portrayed in the film Once, the flood of Algerians into Marseilles in the wake of the Algerian war as seen in the French film Samia, and the Cubans who ended up in South Florida after Castro’s purging of the so-called “scum” of Cuban society, some results of which are memorably portrayed in Scarface.
Fetzer, Fetzer sat down with us to discuss what these three natural experiments in mass migration tell us about the arguments for, and against, opening our borders. These are some of his key findings: Unrestricted migration does not lead to job loss for natives, and in some cases even may lead to reduced unemployment. Mass immigration is not a net drain on public resources. Only in the Cuban case did violent crime spike, a phenomenon Fetzer attributes to the fact that Castro purposely sent criminals to America. Burglaries did increase slightly in all cases for a short time, and in at least one case it appeared that migrants may have more often been victims than perpetrators of the crimes. Read the rest of this entry »
Carlos Tejada reports: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a rare security alert for Westerners in the Chinese capital city on Christmas Eve, prompting a number of other foreign embassies to follow suit.
The notice posted on Thursday said the embassy had received “information of possible threats against Westerners” patronizing the area around Sanlitun, the site of a number of tony shops and restaurants catering to foreigners and affluent Chinese alike. The area is also close to a number of embassies, though not the U.S. embassy.
It said U.S. citizens should be vigilant. An embassy spokesman said he didn’t have additional information.
Beijing police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Via social media, they issued their own security alert, though it didn’t specify any specific threats. It wasn’t clear whether the police notice was related to the embassy advisories. Chinese authorities have routinely issued security notices during holidays, even during foreign holidays such as Christmas.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman referred questions to other authorities. He added that Chinese authorities would do their best to ensure the safety of foreigners in the country.
A small group of armed troops were stationed in front of the Tai Koo Li mall, a high-end shopping center famous for housing an Apple Store that is sometimes the scene of scuffles when the gadget maker updates one of its popular products. Chinese security personnel also erected spiked barricades near embassies in the area. Read the rest of this entry »
An old school building in Onsala ‘caught fire’ on Saturday evening, the third time in a week that prospective asylum accommodation has been badly damaged by a fire.
The fire was attended by 20 firefighters. The building, part of the otherwise demolished Furulidsskolan, was to be prepared to greet asylum seekers in the affluent area of Kungsbacka.
“Half the building has been damaged by fire,” said Mikael Lindgren, lead operator of the emergency services in Greater Gothenburg.
The cause of the fire is unclear but police will cordon off the area and carry out a technical examination when the emergency services have finished making the property secure.
The fire occurred just a day after a school, just south of Ljungby in Småland, was also destroyed by fire. The school building was to be used to accommodate refugees and had recently been decorated. Read the rest of this entry »
China’s Communist government is rolling out a plan to assign everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, ‘authoritarianism, gamified.’ ”
“Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.”
In the system, everyone is measured by a score ranging from 350 to 950, and that score is linked to a national ID card. In addition to measuring your financial credit, it will also measure political compliance. Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.
“When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative.”
This horrifying plan is to be administered by Alibaba and Tencent, companies that run much of China’s approved social networks and already have tremendous stores of data about what Chinese citizens are saying. When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative. Read the rest of this entry »
John Hayward reports: “News of a verdict in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court initially came early Sunday, but court spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei did not specify the judgment,” reports Rezaian’s paper, the Washington Post. “In a state TV report late Sunday, Ejei said definitively that Rezaian was found guilty.”
“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years. It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.”
The Iranians have not specified what Rezaian is guilty of or what his sentence will be. The “trial” wrapped up two months ago. Rezaian has already been imprisoned in Iran for 14 months. He has now been held hostage longer than the Americans seized in Tehran under President Jimmy Carter, a milestone Rezaian passed over the weekend.
“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years,” the Post ominously notes. “It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.” His Iranian lawyer also appeared to be unaware of the conviction.
“Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing,” said Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »
BEN CARSON IS RIGHT: YES, JEWS SHOULD HAVE HAD GUNS IN THE HOLOCAUST
Anyone who would deny such people guns because ‘it wouldn’t have mattered anyway’ ought to be cut off from the class of decent human beings.
Ben Shapiro writes: On Thursday, Republican 2016 presidential contender Dr. Ben Carson stated on CNN that the Holocaust would have been less likely had Jews been armed.
In his new book, A More Perfect Union, Carson contends, “Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.” He defended that argument on national television, explaining, “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed. I’m telling you there is a reason these dictatorial people take guns first.”
“The Nazi genocide against Jews relied on two factors: a population that, understandably, believed no sane or rational force on the planet, let alone the highly civilized Germans, would systematically murder civilians for no discernable purpose; and disarming that population before they could recognize the truth. Gun control had a long history in Germany long before the Holocaust.”
The media cynically objected to Carson’s language. Good Morning America labeled Carson’s comments “bizarre.” Politico accused Carson of “linking Hitler to gun control” – a ridiculous notion, given that Hitler is the one who linked Hitler with gun control.
“Just because the Nazis shot those who tried to resist them with armed force does not mean that Jews should not have had the ability to fight the Nazis.It is difficult to think of a more evil argument than the argument that you will undoubtedly be killed whether or not you have a gun, so we might as well remove your ability to defend your life.”
The media quickly ran to its leftist allies in the Anti-Defamation League, a longtime opponent of gun rights. “Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate,” National Director Jonathan Greenblatt told Yahoo! News. “The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.”
“Defending your own life is a basic human right. Jews are human beings, even if the media would hope to treat them as less than that. Ask any Holocaust survivor whether they would, in retrospect, have preferred to have a gun rather than being forced at gunpoint onto a train and then into Auschwitz, separated from their soon-to-be-gassed families, and then forced into starvation for years.”
Well, of course the “small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews” wouldn’t have prevented the Holocaust. That was the entire goal of prohibiting Jews from owning firearms over the course of years….
…In 1933, upon Hitler’s assumption of power, “non-Nazis throughout Germany were disarmed as ‘Communists,’” according to legal scholar Stephen Halbrook; simultaneously, Nazis were armed. The Nazis banned ownership of any “military” firearms by non-Nazi civilians, but naturally put special emphasis on seizing any guns from Jews. Handgun importation was banned.
“The argument against Carson has serious real-world consequences that extend beyond the argument against domestic gun seizures.”
Finally, in 1938, the Nazis enacted the Weapons Law, which banned weapons ownership without a license, just like the 1928 law; the law itself did not explicitly deny licenses to Jews. But the law did ban Jews from firearms businesses, and further required full government-available records of all gun sales. After Kristallnacht, the Nazis utilized the law to ban guns from all Jews after utilizing the media to blame “armed Jews” for unrest…
…German Jewish leadership said that any failure to comply would only drive more brutality. This strategy, needless to say, led to catastrophe.
Nonetheless, the media continue to lay out arguments that Carson was wrong, and that presumably, the Jews should have avoided guns even as the Germans came for their children. Read the rest of this entry »
Shootings are rare in China, which largely outlaws private gun ownership. But knifings have occurred there with some frequency in recent years, including an assault at a school in central China in December 2012 that injured 22 children and one adult.
Bethany Allen Ebrahimian writes: On the morning of August 26, a reporter and a cameraman for a local Virginia television station were fatally shot during a live television interview. The alleged gunman, now dead, apparently shot himself before being apprehended by police.
“The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.”
— Weibo user
The shooting quickly made national news in the United States, and outlets across the country have provided regular updates. The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.
State new agency Xinhuafeatured the shooting among its online list of top ten news items. By 10:30 p.m. in Beijing. Chinese news website NetEase had created a separate live-update webpage for the shootings. By 11 p.m. in Beijing, the state-run, often fervently nationalist Global Times had made a related photo its website’s cover photo, accompanied by a report with details of the shootings.
“The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire…or both.”
The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire — even Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his daughter to Harvard to study — or both. Within China, the high rate of gun violence in the United States is widely known and often seen as a flaw in the U.S. political system, a criticism repeated after the Virginia shooting.
Though Chinese media reports on the Virgina incident were strictly factual, the accompanying social media commentary quickly became a domestic political battleground. Around 9:20 p.m., Beijing time, Chinese web giant Sina began live-blogging about the shooting on its official news account on microblogging platform Weibo, with one post garnering more than 570 comments. Read the rest of this entry »
How do you boost a song’s popularity? In China, now there’s a new option: put it on a government blacklist.
Hu Xin reports: China’s Ministry of Culture this week banned 120 songs for “containing content that promotes sex, violence or crime, or harms public morality.” According to a notice posted on the ministry’s website late Monday, streaming music sites and karaoke parlors must remove the offending songs within 15 days or else face an unspecified “severe punishment.” The songs are also banned from commercial performance.
Of the 120 blacklisted tunes, many contain explicit language or touch on amorous themes, with lyrics about “making love” and “one night stands.”
“You see why China will never have its own Eminem now. Hip-hop is popular in America because you can sing everything you want.”
— Music fan on Weibo
Some stars such as Taiwan’s Ayal Komod and MC Hotdog have songs that made the list. Yet about one-fifth of the banned songs were penned by two Chinese hip-hop groups, In 3 and Xinjiekou. While lauded by fans of the genre, the two bands – who sing about their daily lives and sometimes voice their anger towards society — are little-known outside mainland hip-hop circles.
“Have they really listened to those songs or did they just judge them based on their titles?”
MC Han, one of the founders of Xinjiekou, told China Real Time in a phone interview Tuesday that he is not frustrated by the sudden blacklisting of eight of his songs.
Every foreign business or nonprofit in China has to balance its principles with the realities of operating in a dictatorship. But what’s the point of claiming to promote the rule of law in China if your presence and silence serve as political cover for the worst legal abuses?
China’s recent arrests of human-rights lawyers have drawn protests from around the world, but there’s a notable, mumbling exception: the American Bar Association.
“ABA leaders acknowledge that the development of a just rule of law is a continuing struggle in every nation, including the United States.”
— ABA President William Hubbard
State security agents rounded up some 235 lawyers and other legal activists around the country last month, some of them grabbed, hooded and not heard from since. Beijing officials have railed against a “major criminal gang” of lawyers “plotting to stir up sensitive cases.”
Amnesty International staged a protest outside the Chinese embassy to demand the release of over 200 human rights lawyers and activists in China. AFP/ Nicolas ASFOURI
Some brave voices inside China have spoken up for these political prisoners, as have legal groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The New York City Bar Association expressed “grave concern” and called on Beijing to “immediately release” those lawlessly detained, more than 20 of whom it cited by name. Read the rest of this entry »
Mission: Control online discourse, reduce U.S. influence
SHANGHAI— James T. Areddy writes: As social media helped topple regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa, a senior colonel in the People’s Liberation Army publicly warned that an Internet dominated by the U.S. threatened to overthrow China’s Communist Party.
Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the Internet represented a new form of global control, and the U.S. was a “shadow” present during some of those popular uprisings. Beijing had better pay attention.
Four years after they sounded that alarm, China is paying a lot of attention. Its government is pushing to rewrite the rules of the global Internet, aiming to draw the world’s largest group of Internet users away from an interconnected global commons and to increasingly run parts of the Internet on China’s terms.
“Many Western companies are surrendering to Beijing’s rules so they can build a position in China, with an online population nearing 700 million.”
It envisions a future in which governments patrol online discourse like border-control agents, rather than let the U.S., long the world’s digital leader, dictate the rules.
“Ye Zheng and a Chinese researcher, writing in the state-run China Youth Daily, said the Internet represented a new form of global control, and the U.S. was a “shadow” present during some of those popular uprisings.”
President Xi Jinping—with the help of conservatives in government, academia, military and the technology industry—is moving to exert influence over virtually every part of the digital world in China, from semiconductors to social media. In doing so, Mr. Xi is trying to fracture the international system that makes the Internet basically the same everywhere, and is pressuring foreign companies to help.
“Four years after they sounded that alarm, China is paying a lot of attention.”
On July 1, China’s legislature passed a new security law asserting the nation’s sovereignty extends into cyberspace and calling for network technology to be “controllable.” A week later, China released a draft law to tighten controls over the domestic Internet, including codifying the power to cut access during public-security emergencies.
Other draft laws under consideration would encourage Chinese companies to find local replacements for technology equipment purchased abroad and force foreign vendors to give local authorities encryption keys that would let them control the equipment.
Chinese officials referred questions about Internet policy to the Cyberspace Administration of China, a recently formed government body. That agency declined to make an official available to comment for this article. Read the rest of this entry »
Josh Chin writes: China offered an almost exclusively positive portrait of its human rights situation in a white paper released Monday that cited progress in a wide range of areas. Near the top of the list: development of the country’s film and cartoon industries.
“The white paper has departed so much from reality that its claims that the government has made ‘great achievements’ on human rights are absurd. The government could have counted the number of pandas as a sign of rights progress.”
— Ms. Wang
The annual white paper, which weighed in at 21,000 characters this year, is China’s response to frequent foreign criticisms of its human rights record. In contrast to its critics, who tend to emphasize the rights of the individual, China advocates a broader definition of human rights that puts greater weight on social goods, such as economic and cultural development.
And, evidently, entertainment.
In the report’s first section, titled “Right to Development,” this year’s white paper backed up Beijing’s claim to have better protected the Chinese people’s cultural rights by pointing to, among other things, China’s burgeoning television, cartoon and film production.
”The tremendous achievements China has made in its human rights endeavors fully demonstrate that it is taking the correct path of human rights development that suits its national conditions.”
In 2014, the paper noted, China produced 429 TV series, accounting for 15,983 episodes, and cartoon programs amounting to 138,496 minutes. The report also flagged growth on the silver screen, saying the country produced a total of 618 feature films — 36 of which earned more than 100 million yuan each — and racked up total box office revenues of 26.9 billion yuan ($4.3 billion) last year.
Billy Hallowell reports: A Christian printer who was previously found guilty of discrimination for refusing to print T-shirts for a gay pride parade won big on Monday after a court ruled that he can decline to print messages that run in opposition to his religious views.
“In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions. America should not be a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote groups like theWestboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.”
The Fayette County Circuit Court’s ruling overturned a previous decision by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, finding that Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals, a printing company in Lexington, Kentucky, was within his rights when he declined to make shirts for the Lexington Pride Parade, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm.
“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.”
— Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom
The court found that Adamson did not violate the law in citing his religious convictions as the reason for the refusal, and that his decision was based on his personal freedom not to be forced or coerced to print messages that contradict his views.
“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way,” Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement.
He added, “In short, [Hands On Originals’] declination to print the shirts was based upon the message of [Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington] and the Pride Festival and not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members.”
As TheBlaze previously reported, Adamson’s case began when he refused service to the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington and the organization subsequently filed a complaint against Hands on Originals in March 2012, alleging that he had discriminated based on sexual orientation.
But Adamson and his attorneys consistently argued that Hands on Originals is a Christian business and that the views presented on the T-shirts — which advertised a gay pride festival — violated his religious beliefs; these arguments were initially dismissed. Read the rest of this entry »
Little people sterilized, forced to live in remote area
TOKYO – Bill Gertz reports: The abuse of North Koreans who have dwarfism, a genetic condition that produces short bodies and disproportionate limbs, is the latest disclosure of widespread human rights abuses within the country. A U.N. commission report a year ago charged the regime with “crimes against humanity.”
“It is tempting to see the treatment of little people as evidence of the revolutionary state’s obsession with the purity of the race…”
Dwarfs are persecuted by the regime under a policy that combines Korean superstitions about physical deformities manifesting from personal or ancestral sin, and the hardline communist regime’s demand that all citizens must work, according to North Korean defectors.
“…But when you consider that Kim Il-Sung himself had a goiter the size of a fist on his neck that didn’t appear to disqualify him from leadership, I fear we have to look for other explanations.”
— Michael Breen, a Seoul-based specialist on North Korea
As part of the anti-dwarf measures, all people under 120 centimeters in height, or just under four feet, have been forced to relocate to the farming village at Yeonha-Ri.
One defector, who disclosed details of the village on condition of anonymity, said the North Korean government originally planned to exterminate the dwarfs as part of a policy of eliminating those within the population with undesirable physical traits. But concerns about international reaction to the population “cleansing” instead resulted in allowing the dwarfs to set up the farming village.
“I think that in this case…the nanny state in its zeal for social engineering is simply expressing the harsh and superstitious culture that it derives from.”
The goal of the separation is to prevent the dwarfs from marrying and reproducing. To that end, they are forced to undergo sterilization.
Also, North Korean dwarfs face a greater risk of starvation because they are not given the same food rations as other North Koreas.
Travel is also restricted under the dubious claim that as little people the dwarfs could be crushed while riding on crowded train cars.
The defector said stories related to the village include reports that during some of North Korea’s frequent famines, women would move in with Yeonha-Ri’s men who had reputations for being resourceful and good providers.
Adam Kredo reports: The Iranian regime hanged seven citizens on Christmas morning and at least 12 others in the days before and after the holiday, according to Iranian dissidents monitoring the human rights situation.
The latest round of state-sanctioned killings—which have hit an all time high in the past year—came just days after President Barack Obama praised Iran in an interview at the White House and said that it could be a “successful” member of the international community. Read the rest of this entry »
“For something like this to happen, it had to happen over a long period of time. You cannot just exfiltrate one terabyte or 100 terabytes of data in a matter of weeks.”
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A former hacker for Anonymous doesn’t believe North Korea has the infrastructure to be behind the Sony hack attack.
“Do you really think a bunch of nerds from North Korea are going to fly to New York and start blowing up movie theaters? No. It’s not realistic. It’s not about ‘The Interview.’ It’s about money. It’s a professional job.”
Hector Monsegur told “CBS This Morning” that the communist regime doesn’t have the technical capabilities to pull off the hack.
This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 26, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a shelling drill of an artillery sub-unit under Korean People’s Army (KPA) Unit 681 at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP
“In my personal opinion, it’s not. Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely…They don’t have the technical capabilities.”
— Hector Monsegur
He continued, “They do have state-sponsored hackers very similar to China, very similar to Russia and very similar to our good, old USA.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.”
A former CIA official, though, believes that North Korea could pull of this type of cyberattack.
“North Korea has significant cyber capabilities. They use them quite frequently against South Korea. For a backwards state that might be a little surprising but they also have a nuclear weapon. They are capable of achieving things when they focus on them.”
— Mike Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA
The cancellation announced Wednesday was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.
“This attack went to the heart and core of Sony’s business — and succeeded. We haven’t seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history.”
— Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner
A U.S. official said Wednesday that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea and may make an announcement in the near future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.
“It doesn’t tell me much. I’ve seen Russian hackers pretending to be Indian. I’ve seen Ukrainian hackers pretending to be Peruvian. There’s hackers that pretend they’re little girls. They do this for misinformation, disinformation, covering their tracks.”
Yeonmi Park tells her story of life in North Korea and calls for action against such human rights violators. Yeonmi was speaking at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin. Click here to see the full transcript in Korean.
I have to do this because this is not just I am speaking… This is for the people who want to tell the world what they want to say.
North Korea is an unnatural country. There is only one channel on TV and there is no internet. We aren’t free to sing, say, wear or think what we want.
North Korea is the only country in the world that executes people for making unauthorized international phone calls.
North Koreans are being terrorized today.
When I was growing up in North Korea, I never saw anything about love stories between man and woman, no books, no songs, no press, no movies about love stories. There is no Romeo and Juliet, every stories were propagandized to brainwash about the Kim dictators.
I was born in 1993 and I was abducted at birth even before I knew the words ‘freedom’ or ‘human rights’. North Koreans are desperately seeking and dying for freedom at this moment…
When I was 9 years old, I saw my friend’s mother publicly executed. Her crime? Watching a Hollywood movie.
Expressing doubt about the regime can get 3 generations of whole family imprisoned or executed.
When I was 4 years old, I was warned by my mother, not to even whisper, the birds and mice could hear me. I admitted it. I thought the North Korean dictator could read my mind. My father died in China after we escaped North Korea. And I have to bury him at 3 am in secret. I was only 14 years old. I couldn’t even cry, I was afraid to be sent back to North Korea.
The day I escaped North Korea, I saw my mother raped. The rapist was a Chinese broker. He had targeted me. I was only 13 years old. There is a saying in North Korea, “Women are weak, but mothers are strong”. My mother allowed herself to be raped in order to protect me.
North Korean refugees, about 300,000 are roaming over in China. 70 percent of North Korean women and teenage girls are being victimized and sometimes sold for as a little as 200 dollars. We walked across the Gobi desert following a compass and when it stopped working, we followed the stars to freedom. I felt only the stars are with us. Mongolia was our freedom moment.
Death or dignity; I was with the knife, we were prepared to kill ourselves if we are going to be send back to North Korea. We wanted to live as humans…
People often ask me, “How can we help North Koreans?”. There are many ways but I would like to mention 3 for now.
One, as you care yourself, you can raise awareness about human crisis in North Korea.
Two, help and support North Korean refugees who are trying to escape for freedom.
Noah Rothman writes: This should be perfectly intuitive for anyone who has had even fleeting exposure to human nature, but it is easy to suspect that an administration that reflexively bleats “science” in lieu of a cogent argument may lack the requisite experience to know that people will instinctively resist internment.
The media appeared certain that they had in nurse Kaci Hickox a figure they could transform into a victim of the imperious bully Chris Christie when she was involuntarily quarantined after returning to the United States from West Africa where she aided Ebola victims. In creating an object of pity out of Hickox, the press perhaps believed they could take some of the heat off of President Barack Obama who, in opposing the quarantining of those returning from West Africa, is on the wrong side of 80 percent of the public just days before a national election. Read the rest of this entry »
Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. Her mother was a Dutch baroness, and her father, who was of English and Austrian descent, worked in business.
After her parents divorced, Audrey went to London with her mother where she went to a private girls school. Later, when her mother moved back to the Netherlands, she attended private schools as well. While she vacationed with her mother in Arnhem, Netherlands, Hitler’s army took over the town. It was here that she fell on hard times during the Nazi occupation. Audrey suffered from depression and malnutrition.
After the liberation, she went to a ballet school in London on a scholarship and later began a modeling career. As a model, she was graceful and, it seemed, she had found her niche in life–until the film producers came calling. In 1948, after being spotted modeling by a producer, she was signed to a bit part in the European film Dutch in Seven Lessons(1948).
Later, she had a speaking role in the 1951 film, Young Wives’ Tale (1951) as Eve Lester. The part still wasn’t much, so she headed to America to try her luck there. Audrey gained immediate prominence in the US with her role in Roman Holiday (1953) in 1953. This film turned out to be a smashing success, and she won an Oscar as Best Actress. This gained her enormous popularity and more plum roles…(read more)
In a press release announcing a new term for the committees under the Economic and Social Council– whose theme this term will be “the future of humanitarian affairs: towards greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability and effectiveness”– the UN announced that Iran will serve on the Commissions on Population and Development, Science and Technology for Development, the Committee for Programme Coordination and on Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Commission on the Status of Women.
The United States has objected to Iran’s election to these positions. UN Ambassador Samantha Powersaid in a statement: “The unopposed candidacy of Iran, where authorities regularly detain human rights defenders, subjecting many to torture, abuse, and violations of due process, is a particularly troubling outcome of today’s election.”
Iran’s history makes it a clearly unworthy steward of international human rights, though two of those appointments are far more distressing than the others: the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations and the Commission on the Status of Women. Power’s statement preceded a promise to continue supporting NGOs that work to expose human rights violations abroad, many of which have clashed with the Iranian government when attempting to investigate its abuses. Read the rest of this entry »
Adam Kredo writes: Iran has gone on an execution binge in the past two weeks, hanging some 40 people, including 19 in one day, according to international human rights groups inside and outside of Iran.
A demonstration on Sunday marked 100 days since the mass killing at Rabaa al-Adawiya, a square in Cairo where security forces fired on protesters while trying to break up an Islamist sit-in.
CAIRO — David D. Kirkpatrick writes: Egypt’s military-backed government has issued a law that all but bans street protests by applying jail time or heavy fines to the public demonstrations that have felled the last two presidents and regularly roiled the capital since the Arab Spring revolt.
The new law, promulgated on Sunday, is the latest evidence of a return to authoritarianism in the aftermath of the military takeover that removed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July. It criminalizes the kind of free assembly and public expression that many Egyptians had embraced as a cherished foundation of their new democracy after the 2011 ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. And the relatively muted outcry against the law, mainly from human rights advocates, demonstrated how far public sentiment has swung.
Rights activists said the new law appeared even stricter than those in place under Mr. Mubarak. It effectively replaces a three-month “state of emergency” declared in August, when the government used deadly force to crush street protests by Islamist opponents of the July 3 takeover, killing more than a thousand. The state of emergency — which suspended protections against police abuse — expired last weekend, but the new protest law now grants the police other added powers that they could use to squelch any attempt to mobilize.
Yes, when it came to the letter “N” in the alphabetical list, Elle creative director Joe Zee appears to have been so thoroughly stumped that he just gave up and named “North Korea Chic” a trend.
Zee notes that North Korea Chic is a lot like military-inspired apparel, but is “edgier, even dangerous, with sharp buckles and clasps and take-no-prisoners tailoring.” (Never mind the fact that North Korea is actually quite fond of taking prisoners.)
Chen will become a distinguished fellow in human rights at Witherspoon, which is based in Princeton, New Jersey, for the next three years. He will also be affiliated with The Catholic University of America and the more liberal-leaning Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, Luis Tellez, Witherspoon’s president, said in a telephone interview.
[…] Witherspoon, which Tellez says is guided by Catholic principles, is best known for its articles and studies opposing abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage.
[…] He said Chen, who is not a Christian, would not be expected to espouse or even share Witherspoon’s views on social issues.
“I do not know Mr. Chen’s views on same-sex marriage,” Tellez said. “I never asked him. I don’t intend to ask him.” [Source]