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February 2017

Western Fascism vs. Islamofascism? Edward Cline

First, let’s clarify the meaning of fascism, as it has become a word that’s tossed reflexively like a grenade at Donald Trump or at anyone who supports him or who challenges, Progressivism, or the morality of the welfare state. It sounds scary and package-deals so many political and social realms that have little or nothing to do with fascism. Brendan O’Neill of Spiked wrote in a much needed analysis “What Fascism Is, and What It Isn’t”:

The f-word has been destroyed through overuse, its original sense and power diluted by a million op-eds branding unpleasant politicians ‘fascists’ and by radical marchers hollering ‘fascist scum’ at anyone who irritates them: President Donald Trump, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the cops. On the right, too, the accusation of fascism has become a Tourette’s-style cry. It’s the left who are the real fascists, they say. Ugly alt-right barbs like ‘feminazi’ and ‘eco-fascist’ confirm that right-wingers are now as likely to scream ‘fascist’ as they are to have it screamed at them.

O’Neill is a tad off-track concerning how and why “right-wingers” use the term fascism. They are a bit more perceptive of the Left’s assertions, ends, and methods (whereas leftists are blind to the consequences of their beliefs), and there’s no reason why they should refrain from calling face-masked goons fascists. Rampaging leftists walk like ducks, and so are ducks. They’re just as not nattily garbed as Nazi Brown Shirts or Fascist Black Shirts.

However, I left this comment on O’Neill’s column:

Ask a true contemporary “fascist” – i.e., one of the Berkeley rioters and window smashers, or one of the Women’s March pussy hat wearers – what fascism is, and all you’ll get for an answer is a rapid blinking of the eyes, a careening, stuttering search for words, or some hackneyed warbling about Hitler; it would do you no good to remind the person that “Fascism” was not the same as Hitler’s Nazism, and that the only true or original Fascist was Benito Mussolini, and that the term is derived from the Roman fasces, a bundle of elm or birch rods with an ax head protruding from them, carried by servants of the Roman Senate. Today’s “activists” – violent or otherwise – are woefully ignorant of the meaning of the words they use or throw at their enemies, and don’t care.

Let’s look at some definitions of fascism.

The Merriam-Webster definition:

….a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition [e.g., censorship or punishment; my addition]

The Business Dictionary definition:

Political ideology that imposes strict social and economical measures as a method of empowering the government and stripping citizens of rights. This authoritative system of government is usually headed by an absolute dictator who keeps citizens suppressed via acts of violence and strict laws that govern the people. The most noted form of Fascism was implemented under Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, who both stripped citizens of their rights and maintained strict regimes that resulted in the deaths of thousands of humans. Some of the defining characteristics of fascism are: (1) racism, (2) militarism, (3) dictatorship, and (4) destructive nationalistic policies.

Auburn University definition:

A class of political ideologies (and historical political regimes) that takes its name from the movement led by Benito Mussolini that took power in Italy in 1922. Mussolini’s ideas and practices directly and indirectly influenced political movements in Germany (especially the Nazi Party), Spain (Franco’s Falange Party), France, Argentina, and many other European and non-European countries right up to the present day.

The different “fascist” movements and regimes have varied considerably in their specific goals and practices, but they are usually said to be characterized by several common features:

Militant nationalism, proclaiming the racial and cultural superiority of the dominant ethnic group and asserting that group’s inherent right to a special dominant position over other peoples in both the domestic and the international order
The adulation of a single charismatic national leader said to possess near superhuman abilities and to be the truest representation of the ideals of the national culture, whose will should therefore literally be law
Emphasis on the absolute necessity of complete national unity, which is said to require a very powerful and disciplined state organization (especially an extensive secret police and censorship apparatus), unlimited by constitutional restrictions or legal requirements and under the absolute domination of the leader and his political movement or party
Militant anti-Communism coupled with the belief in an extreme and imminent threat to national security from powerful and determined Communist forces both inside and outside the country
Contempt for democratic socialism, democratic capitalism, liberalism, and all forms of individualism as weak, degenerate, divisive and ineffective ideologies leading only to mediocrity or national suicide
Glorification of physical strength, fanatical personal loyalty to the leader, and general combat-readiness as the ultimate personal virtues
A sophisticated apparatus for systematically propagandizing the population into accepting these values and ideas through skilled manipulation of the mass media, which are totally monopolized by the regime once the movement comes to power
A propensity toward pursuing a militaristic and aggressive foreign policy
Strict regulation and control of the economy by the regime through some form of corporatist economic planning in which the legal forms of private ownership of industry are nominally preserved but in which both workers and capitalists are obliged to submit their plans and objectives to the most detailed state regulation and extensive wage and price controls, which are designed to insure the priority of the political leadership’s objectives over the private economic interests of the citizenry. Therefore under fascism most of the more important markets are allowed to operate only in a non-competitive, cartelized, and governmentally “rigged” fashion.

The Encyclopedia Britannica begins its definition with:

There has been considerable disagreement among historians and political scientists about the nature of fascism. Some scholars, for example, regard it as a socially radical movement with ideological ties to the Jacobins of the French Revolution, whereas others see it as an extreme form of conservatism inspired by a 19th-century backlash against the ideals of the Enlightenment. Some find fascism deeply irrational, whereas others are impressed with the rationality with which it served the material interests of its supporters. Similarly, some attempt to explain fascist demonologies as the expression of irrationally misdirected anger and frustration, whereas others emphasize the rational ways in which these demonologies were used to perpetuate professional or class advantages. Finally, whereas some consider fascism to be motivated primarily by its aspirations—by a desire for cultural “regeneration” and the creation of a “new man”—others place greater weight on fascism’s “anxieties”—on its fear of communist revolution and even of left-centrist electoral victories.

One reason for these disagreements is that the two historical regimes that are today regarded as paradigmatically fascist—Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany—were different in important respects. In Italy, for example, anti-Semitism was officially rejected before 1934, and it was not until 1938 that Mussolini enacted a series of anti-Semitic measures in order to solidify his new military alliance with Hitler. Another reason is the fascists’ well-known opportunism—i.e., their willingness to make changes in official party positions in order to win elections or consolidate power. Finally, scholars of fascism themselves bring to their studies different political and cultural attitudes, which often have a bearing on the importance they assign to one or another aspect of fascist ideology or practice. Secular liberals, for example, have stressed fascism’s religious roots; Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars have emphasized its secular origins; social conservatives have pointed to its “socialist” and “populist” aspects; and social radicals have noted its defense of “capitalism” and “elitism.”

For these and other reasons, there is no universally accepted definition of fascism. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify a number of general characteristics that fascist movements between 1922 and 1945 tended to have in common.



Positive results for “wonder” cancer treatment. I reported previously (Dec 2013) that VB-111 from Israel’s Vascular Biogenics (VBL Therapeutics) had been fast-tracked by the US FDA for the treatment of GBM – aggressive brain cancer. Meanwhile, VBL has announced that VB-111’s Phase 2 trial for thyroid cancer was successful. http://seekingalpha.com/pr/16747478-vbl-therapeutics-reports-full-data-vbminus-111-monotherapy-phase-2-trial-recurrent-thyroid

Co-operating to study cancer. Researchers from Israeli and Palestinian Arab hospitals together found risk factors for B Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Studying 823 patients with the disease from both communities, plus a similar number of healthy controls, they found genetic, environmental, lifestyle and medical links.

Life-saving prize. Israel’s national volunteer emergency medical services organization, United Hatzalah, received the Jerusalem Prize for excellence in lifesaving. It was awarded in honor of the 3,200 volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), paramedics, and doctors, who work with the organization.

Bacteria sleep to evade antibiotics. Biophysicists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that bacteria go dormant to prevent being killed by antibiotics. This process also helps the bacteria develop faster resistance and suggests that resistance can be prevented by targeting dormant bacteria with separate treatments.

Teva’s “blockbuster” treatment pipeline. Israel’s Teva expects FDA approval in 2017 for seven innovative treatments. They include for chronic migraine, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s Disease and tardive dyskinesia (movement disorder). http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-tevas-pipeline-shows-promise-1001177680

Detecting vertebral fractures. (TY Atid-EDI) Yet another diagnostic algorithm from Israel’s Zebra Medical Vision. This time its machine and deep learning Imaging Analytics engine will be able to detect compression fractures from uploaded scans and also identify people at risk of subsequent osteoporotic fractures.
http://www.fiercebiotech.com/medical-devices/zebra-medical-s-latest-algorithm-detects-vertebral-compression-fractures https://www.zebra-med.com/algorithms/bone-health/

Discovery can help diagnose dyslexics. (TY Avivit) Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists have discovered that dyslexics have a shorter implicit memory than non-dyslexics. On hearing a sound repeated sometime later, dyslexics failed to recognize it. The findings pave the way to early diagnosis and intervention.
http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/33409 https://elifesciences.org/content/6/e20557

Brain surgery cures patient of rare tinnitus. For the first time in Israel, doctors at Beersheba’s Soroka-University Medical Center performed a brain catheterization on a patient suffering from severe tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The condition was due to an aneurysm of veins in the brain, causing blood flow to press on air cells in the ear. http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Health-and-Science/Brain-catheterization-treats-rare-tinnitus-482345

16 Palestinian Arab children can hear for the first time. Dr. Michal Kaufmann of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital performed cochlear implant surgery on 16 Palestinian Arab deaf and dumb children to allow them to hear for the first time in their lives. He performed six of the operations in just one month.

European approval for pain monitor. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (May 2015) on the pain measurement device developed by Israel’s Medasense Biometrics. The innovative PMD200 has now received CE approval, allowing physicians to assess and manage pain for patients who cannot communicate.

Nigel Davies Ten Myths About the Phony War

Too many historians completely dismiss the first months of World War II as a period which saw the Allied powers sit on their hands, doing little while passively awaiting Germany to make the first move. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On April 8, 1940, the 1600-ton British destroyer Glowworm engaged, and eventually rammed, the 16,000-ton German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper, which was leading a convoy on the way to invade Norway. It was a valiant effort, but you can probably guess which one went to the bottom. This was really the opening shot, the turning of what many people have described as the “Phoney War” into a very hot war indeed. In the next few months, world politics was changed fundamentally.

The problem is that term “Phoney War”. We have a very peculiar idea of the Phoney War. Too many historians completely dismiss it as the period where the Allied powers sat on their hands waiting for Germany to strike. Nothing could be further from the truth. This period is a fascinating study of the very traditional British pursuit of a “balance of power” solution.

The only conceivable reasons for most historians writing off the entire period as not worthy of consideration, are either: that it is too complex to explain, or, more likely, that it would completely undermine their neat explanations of the Second World War. The Phoney War is little understood, and is usually not considered in its real context. As the Israeli-born Cambridge scholar Gabriel Gorodetsky noted:

The clues to understanding the course of the war … and the seeds of the subsequent conflict are all to be found in the crucial period of 1939–1941 … In fact we can confidently assert that 1939–1941 was the most traumatic and dynamic period of the war.[1]

The German view of the Phony War

Why was the Admiral Hipper on its way to invade Norway in April 1940? Why did Germany need to invade countries that had quietly sat out the previous war?

The usual reason, given in most modern books, is that the Royal Navy had been getting a bit frisky in response to German abuse of Norwegian territorial waters, and was planning to mine the “Narrows” to cut off German iron ore supplies from Sweden. But that is not the real reason that Hitler expedited Operation Fall-Weserubung from a mere planning exercise to a matter of urgency.

In fact the Germans believed that they had been forced into pre-empting an Allied occupation of Norway, and potentially Sweden, that had in fact been ordered, and then delayed, twice over the last two months. From the German perspective, the invasion of Norway was forced on them by Allied plans. The Fuhrer’s War Directive for “Case Weser Exercise” issued on March 1, 1940, began:

The development of the situation in Scandinavia makes it necessary to prepare for the occupation of Denmark and Norway … this would anticipate English action against Scandinavia and the Baltic, would secure our supplies of ore from Sweden …[2]

For the first time Nazi Germany was reacting, rather than initiating. That alone should give us pause for thought about populist over-simplifications about the Phoney War period.
The Allied plan for an ‘intervention’ in Scandinavia in March 1940

As part of the division of Eastern Europe in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, the Soviets occupied Eastern Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, large parts of Rumania, and Finland. Finland was the only one to fight back—quite successfully, for several months. Their David-versus-Goliath struggle captivated the world, and the fact that Finland’s 150,000-man volunteer army—with only thirty-two tanks and 114 aircraft available—had victory after victory against well over a million Soviet troops—with over 6000 tanks and 3800 aircraft—gave the conflict the aura of one of the epic sagas of history. One poem, by Alfred Noyes, written shortly after Finland’s surrender, captured the mood:

Far off between the mountain and the sea,
In Ancient days this word was sped:
“Tell them at home we held Thermopylae,
According to their will, and lie here, dead.”
Now from the north there comes a mightier cry:
“We fought and failed against titanic powers.
But ask mankind—whose is the victory
When every unchained heart on earth is ours?”[3]

The League of Nations, moribund and useless for most of the 1930s, finally stirred itself into action for “superb, sublime Finland” as Churchill called it. They expelled the Soviet Union from the League in 1939, not over Poland or the Baltic States or Bessarabia, but over Finland. (One of the first post-war acts of the new United Nations was to bow to Soviet pressure to prosecute Finland for “crimes against peace”!)

The League also, in 1939, requested every member state to assist Finland in any way possible, and eventually dozens of nations sent money and weapons. Some of these included Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands—all of whom were justly wondering who might be next on the Nazi-Soviet hit list. Others were Britain, France, Spain, Italy and the United States.

France: Deradicalization of Jihadists a “Total Fiasco” “Deradicalization in and of itself does not exist.” by Soeren Kern

The report implies that deradicalization, either in specialized centers or in prisons, does not work because most Islamic radicals do not want to be deradicalized.

Although France is home to an estimated 8,250 hardcore Islamic radicals, only 17 submitted applications and just nine arrived. Not a single resident has completed the full ten-month curriculum.

By housing Islamists in separate prison wings, they actually had become more violent because they were emboldened by “the group effect,” according to Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas.

“Deradicalizing someone does not happen in six months. These people, who have not been given an ideal and who have clung to Islamic State’s ideology, are not going to get rid of it just like that. There is no ‘Open Sesame.'” — Senator Esther Benbassa.

“The deradicalization program is a total fiasco. Everything must be rethought, everything must be redesigned from scratch.” — Senator Philippe Bas, the head of the Senate committee that commissioned the report.

The French government’s flagship program to deradicalize jihadists is a “total failure” and must be “completely reconceptualized,” according to the initial conclusions of a parliamentary fact-finding commission on deradicalization.

The preliminary report reveals that the government has nothing to show for the tens of millions of taxpayer euros it has spent over the past several years to combat Islamic radicalization in France, where 238 people have been killed in jihadist attacks since January 2015. The report implies that deradicalization, either in specialized centers or in prisons, does not work because most Islamic radicals do not want to be deradicalized.

The report, “Deindoctrination, Derecruitment and Reintegration of Jihadists in France and Europe” (Désendoctrinement, désembrigadement et réinsertion des djihadistes en France et en Europe) — the title avoids using the word “deradicalization” because it is considered by some to be politically incorrect — was presented to the Senate Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on February 22.

The report is the preliminary version of a comprehensive study currently being conducted by a cross-party task force charged with evaluating the effectiveness of the government’s deradicalization efforts. The final report is due in July.

Much of the criticism focuses on a €40 million ($42 million) plan to build 13 deradicalization centers — known as Centers for Prevention, Integration and Citizenship (Centre de prévention, d’insertion et de citoyenneté, CPIC) — one in each of France’s metropolitan regions, aimed at deradicalizing would-be jihadists.

Netanyahu Responds:

It’s an honour to be the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia. I have to say that I hope the next trip doesn’t take another sixty-eight years. I agree completely with Malcolm Turnbull that people-to-people contacts, that the ability to meet, see each other, hear each other, talk to one another is crucial, and for this we need a Dreamliner and I’ll say it five more times before I leave because you in Australia are used to flying in your own country for several hours. It takes four minutes to cross the State of Israel so we’re not used to it. A Dreamliner would help us acclimate.

I want to salute this Jewish community, which is unusually committed to the State of Israel, to the Jewish people. You’ve shown it time and time again, you show it here today even though I think we’ll have some problem with the Jewish community in Melbourne, but that’s for the next trip, for the next trip. They’re wonderful people and you have been stalwart champions of our alliance.

Israel and Australia are two vibrant democracies. This is not something that is self-evident. Democracy has to be nourished; it has to be protected; it has to be maintained. In the nineteenth century, the great English writer George Eliot [author of Daniel Deronda] wrote, “There will be…” she said, “…in the van of the [Middle] East… amid the despotisms of the East… a great beacon of freedom.”

“A great beacon of freedom”, she said prophetically. And indeed this is exactly what has happened. Israel is a beacon of freedom, of tolerance, of progress in a very dark expanse that I hope and I believe will change as many Arab countries understand that Israel is not their enemy, but their vital and indispensable ally in warding off the barbarism that threatens all of us.

There is, I think, an opening, as Malcolm and I discussed, for the first time in my lifetime, because the Arabs understand that Israel could be a key to their future. I’m not looking at reality through rose-colored glasses. I’m, I think, a realist. But as a realist, I see not only challenge but opportunity that grows from this challenge. And I think that if anyone understands the hopes of the people of Israel for peace and security it is you. \

You have shared this hope and this dream with us day in, day out. And you have this strong bond with Israel. You have relatives and you have friends, I have friends and relatives here, believe it or not. And you have them in Israel in abundance, so I want to thank you for your consistent support over the years.

A few days ago I visited the Jewish community in Singapore. There’s a Jewish community in Singapore. And like the joke, they have two synagogues – one they go to and the one they don’t go to. An amazing community.

And a few months ago, I visited Jews in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, two Muslim countries. They sang Jewish songs in Muslim countries and that’s the kind of coexistence and tolerance that we’d like to see everywhere.

Malcolm Turnbull Greets Netanyahu

Malcolm Turnbull:

‘I came here to the shul with a message, a message of absolute solidarity for the state of Israel.
I came here with a message of solidarity on behalf of the Australian Government in the wake of that UN resolution [SC 2334] which was so regrettable. A resolution we would never support.
My Government will not support any more than the government of John Howard would, or the government of Tony Abbott would a resolution so one sided, attributing fault only to the state of Israel. That has no contribution to make to the peace process.
It was an unfortunate resolution. We regret it and we disassociated ourselves from it in our public statements and here, right here in this shul.

You know we’ve spoken of security a lot today, both at the lunch and of course Bibi and I have spoken about that in our meetings and it is plainly simple. The first duty, as I said out our press conference, the first duty of every government, of every prime minister, every president, is the safety of the people of the nation they lead.

And so the fundamental requirement of what we hope will be a negotiated outcome between Israel and the Palestinians, a two-state solution negotiated between the parties, but the fundamental condition, the foundation of that must be the safety, the security of the state of Israel and its people.
We do deplore the efforts that de-legitimise the state of Israel. We deplore the boycott campaigns. We stand with Israel. We are a committed and a consistent friend. We have been so, from the beginning [see here] and we will always be so.

Now, I want to say, however, as I observed in the article that was published in … The Australian today – it is easy to see Israel and its situation entirely through the prism of security.
That is inevitable, I suppose, given the existential threat that Israel faces.
And given the miraculous success of Israel brought by the determination, the enterprise, the indefatigable courage of its people, not simply to establish the state of Israel – that a miracle in itself – but to maintain it, to continue it, to enhance it for it to succeed again and again against extraordinary odds. That has been an extraordinary achievement. Wondrous, miraculous and now we see the state of Israel leading the world in the most important technologies of the twenty-first century.

As I said today at the luncheon which I know many of you have been at, which we were at earlier today in the city, I said that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery and indeed it must be that Israel should be sincerely flattered because so many countries, including our own seek to capture some of that extraordinary innovative chutzpah which enables Israelis, in a nation, until the recent discovery of gas I might add, but until then, absolutely devoid of natural resources other than the brilliance and the enterprise of its people enabled Israel to develop that culture of innovation to lead in technology, to recognise, as Bibi said today, that once a nation has achieved that middle-income status, to get from there to great success and greater heights, you need to be competitive, you need to be productive and the key to that is innovation.

Appeasement Never Works And it’s making matters worse in Cuba. By George Weigel

At first blush, Luis Almagro would seem an unlikely candidate for the disfavor of the current Cuban regime. A man of the political Left, he took office as the tenth secretary general of the Organization of American States in 2015, vowing to use his term of office to reduce inequality throughout the hemisphere. Yet Secretary General Almagro was recently denied a visa to enter Cuba. Why? Because he had been invited to accept an award named in honor of Cuban democracy activist Oswaldo Payá, who died in 2012 in an “automobile accident” that virtually everyone not on the payroll of the Castro regime’s security services regards to this day as an act of state-sanctioned murder. Payá’s “crime” was to organize the Varela Project, a public campaign for basic civil liberties and free elections on the island prison, and he paid for it with his life.

The regime’s refusal of a visa for the head of the OAS caused a brief flurry of comment in those shrinking parts of the commentariat that still pay attention to Cuba, now that Cuban relations with the United States have been more or less “normalized.” But there was another facet of this nasty little episode that deserves further attention: While Almagro’s entry into Cuba was being blocked, a U.S. congressional delegation was on the island and, insofar as is known, did nothing to protest the Cuban government’s punitive action against the secretary general of the OAS.

According to a release from the office of Representative Jim McGovern (D., Mass.), the CoDel, which also included Senators Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), Thad Cochran (R., Miss.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), and Tom Udall (D.,N.M.), and Representative Seth Moulton (D.,Mass.), intended to “continue the progress begun by President Obama to bring U.S.–Cuba relations into the 21st Century and explore new opportunities to promote U.S. economic development with Cuba,” including “economic opportunities for American companies in the agriculture and health sectors.” I’ve no idea whether those economic goals were advanced by this junket. What was certainly not advanced by the CoDel’s public silence on the Almagro Affair while they were in the country was the cause of a free Cuba.

There were and continue to be legitimate arguments on both sides of the question of whether the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba should be lifted. And those pushing for a full recission of the embargo are not simply conscience-lite men and women with dollar signs in their eyes. They include pro-democracy people who sincerely believe that flooding the zone in Cuba with American products, American technology, and American culture will so undermine the Castro regime that a process of self-liberation will necessarily follow. That this seems not to have been the case with China is a powerful counterargument. Meanwhile, my own decidedly minority view — that the embargo should have been gradually rolled back over the past decade and a half in exchange for specific, concrete, and irreversible improvements in human rights and the rule of law, leading to real political pluralization in Cuba — seems to have fallen completely through the floorboards of the debate.

But as pressures to “normalize” U.S.–Cuba relations across the board increase, there ought to be broad, bipartisan agreement that Cuban repression, which has in fact intensified since the Obama initiative two years ago, should have its costs. If, as Congressman McGovern averred, he and others want to move Cuba–America relations into the 21st century, then let him and others who share that goal agree that Cuba should be treated like any other country: meaning that when it does bad things, it gets hammered by criticism and pressures are brought to bear to induce or compel better behavior in the future.

Donald Trump to Skip White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner Announcement comes at a moment of tense relations between president and news media By Peter Nicholas

WASHINGTON—Having denounced several leading news organizations​ as the “enemy of the people,” President Donald Trump on Saturday said he won’t mingle with any members of the press at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Mr. Trump tweeted that he won’t attend the April 29 event, though he didn’t give a reason. “Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!” he wrote. Presidents typically speak at the dinner, a major event on the Washington social calendar.

The last president not to appear at the event was Ronald Reagan, who in 1981 was recovering from injuries he received from an assassination attempt. Mr. Reagan addressed the dinner by phone, though.
“If I could give you just one little bit of advice: When somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it,” Mr. Reagan said, referring to John Hinckley Jr.’s attempt to kill him outside the Washington Hilton, the same venue where the press dinner is held.

Mr. Trump seemed to leave open the possibility of participating in future dinners: his tweet notes that he won’t be attending “this year.”

The correspondents’ dinner is an annual Washington ritual that has evolved over the years into an A-list social event complete with pre-parties and after-parties. Hollywood celebrities mix with reporters, members of Congress, White House officials, lobbyists and cabinet secretaries in an evening dubbed the “nerd prom.” Gawkers line up at the Washington Hilton to take pictures of arriving guests.

Presidents typically deliver a speech, with guests in formal wear lifting a glass to the commander-in-chief.

While the dinner has drawn complaints about apparent coziness between government officials and the press, it also serves as a forum for awarding scholarships and honoring exceptional journalism. CONTINUE AT SITE

God help us if Chelsea Clinton runs for office By Maureen Callahan

Last Sunday Chelsea Clinton, usually such a reticent public figure, took to Times Square with her 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte, to march in the Muslim solidarity rally.

“Thank you to all who organized #IAmAMuslimToo today — Charlotte’s 1st protest rally. #NoBanNoWallNoRaids,” she tweeted.

Chelsea’s also promoting her new, co-authored book “Governing Global Health,” with a soft-focus Q&A in the Sunday New York Times and an eight-city tour in April. It’s a more high-profile push than the one for her last, a 2015 YA book called “It’s Your World,” which focused on low-key school visits — exercising, perhaps, an abundance of caution during her mother’s presidential campaign.

This was, for decades, the Clinton strategy: Say as little as possible, avoid unforced errors. While stumping for her mother in 2008, Chelsea took it to new levels, refusing to answer this question: “Do you think your dad would be a good ‘first man’ in the White House?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately,” Chelsea said. “Even though I think you’re cute.”

The interrogator? A 9-year-old “kid reporter” from Scholastic News.

If Chelsea’s new online persona seems surprising — she’s come alive on Twitter, prolific and politicized — party observers say it shouldn’t be. In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s devastating electoral loss, it seems Chelsea Clinton, historically boring and opinion-free, is mulling a run for high office.

Though her spokesperson denies it, signs point elsewhere.

“The super-aggressive tweets are a way to create a constituency around her,” says veteran political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “Particularly in New York, where people don’t like Donald Trump.”

‘It bothers the s—t out of me that everyone thinks she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.’

Last November, Page Six reported that Chelsea was being groomed for a Congressional run. The Clintons “will not give up,” a source said. “Chelsea would be the next extension of the Clinton brand.”

That’s the problem. Putting aside America’s exhaustion with dynastic politics, Chelsea herself, as a potential candidate, comes loaded with Clintonian baggage: the greed, the entitlement, and her mother’s greatest flaw — an inability to connect with common people.

Planned Back-Channel Talks Between U.S., North Korea Scuttled State Department withdraws visa approvals for Pyongyang’s top envoy on American relations By Jonathan Cheng

SEOUL—Plans for back-channel talks in New York between government representatives from North Korea and former U.S. officials were scuttled Friday after the State Department withdrew visa approvals for Pyongyang’s top envoy on U.S. relations, according to people familiar with the matter.

The talks, which were scheduled to take place on the first two days of March at a hotel near the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, where North Korea has a mission, were contingent on the granting of a visa for Choe Son Hui, the director-general of the American affairs bureau in the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The plans for the unofficial meeting, which were reported earlier by the Washington Post, came together after several approaches from the North Korean side following Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, according to one of these people.

It isn’t clear what led the U.S. to deny Ms. Choe the visa. But North Korea’s recent provocations, including the test-firing of a new missile during Mr. Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month and the suspected assassination in broad daylight of the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, may have played a role in souring sentiment on the U.S. side.A State Department spokesman declined to comment, saying it doesn’t discuss the details of individual visa cases.

The meeting, which would have been the first between the two sides on U.S. soil in nearly six years, was to have included two former U.S. officials who planned to push for the release of two Americans imprisoned in Pyongyang.

Ms. Choe has been a frequent interlocutor with her U.S. counterparts in the past, but was less active during the latter half of the Obama administration as the White House turned its focus to striking deals on Iran and Cuba. CONTINUE AT SITE