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April 2017

The Millstones of the Gods Grind Late, but They Grind Fine :Victor Davis Hanson

The latest disclosures that former Obama national-security adviser Susan Rice may have requested that intelligence agencies reveal or “unmask” those from the Trump team who were surveilled in purportedly normal intelligence gathering — and that such requests may have extended over an apparently considerable period of time — remind us that at some point there is always an accounting.

Rice’s past serial and shameless untruths about the tragic deaths at Benghazi (a 2012 Obama re-election “al-Qaeda on the run” narrative, with a supposedly spontaneous riot over a YouTube video as the cause of the attack) were contextualized by the media and eventually vaporized.

Her sad “honor and distinction” narrative about the Bowe Bergdahl betrayal of his comrades — the infamous purported “prisoner of war” “captured on the battlefield” fabrication — was intended to mask what was otherwise a dishonest and terrible hostage swap for someone who had endangered the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Recently, she has denied all knowledge of what House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes had been fighting to uncover, and has even tweeted periodically to criticize the purported ethical lapses and unprofessionalism of the Trump administration.

All that is a lot for even the gods to grind. If, as likely, she had access to, or requested, such raw data, and sent it, with names illegally unmasked, to primary players of the Obama administration (e.g., Clapper, Brennan, Rhodes, etc.), that fact would blow up some heretofore denials of any knowledge of such skullduggery and perhaps become the greatest presidential scandal of the last half century.

The Rice revelation might also put into the proper landscape the following:

a) the astounding self-confessionals of Hillary adviser Evelyn Farkas about her frantic efforts to convince Obama operatives to increase intelligence gathering and to leak the information to the press (what gave a former mid-level Department of Defense employee the presumption that she could influence the intelligence operations of the U.S. government?)

, b) the unprecedented eleventh-hour Obama effort to broaden access to classified data to spread and leak such unmasked individuals

, c) the political and media landmines that Representative Nunes (facing “kill the messenger” efforts to kill the message) had to navigate around and the character assassination to which he has been subjected

Australian Imam: “Palestine is Jewish Land” Video Must see!!!

Australian Imam: “Palestine is Jewish Land”  http://daphneanson.blogspot.com/2017/04/australian-imam-palestine-is-jewish-land.html No wonder Ayaan Hirsi Ali admires this Australian Shi’ite imam, Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi.  He is speaking to the Rotary Club of Adelaide. Hear him out. Memri.org video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUe4SbpN5-E)

Why Does the West Keep Colluding with Terrorists? by Douglas Murray

Like other criticisms of Hirsi Ali, the effort was to portray her as the problem itself rather than as the response to a problem.

That this type of campaign can succeed — that speakers can be stopped from speaking in Western democracies because of the implicit or explicit threat of violence — is a problem our societies need to face.

There is a whole pile of reasons why Islamists want to stop her explanations from being aired. But why — when the attacks keep on happening — do our own societies collude with such sinister people to keep ourselves the dark?

Only a fortnight after a vehicular terrorist attack in Westminster, London, another similar attack took place in Stockholm, Sweden. On one of the city’s main shopping streets, a vehicle was once again used as a battering-ram against the bodies of members of the public. As in Nice, France. As in Berlin. As so many times in Israel.

Amid this regular news there is an air of defeatism — a terrible lack of policy and lack of solutions. How can governments stop people driving trucks into pedestrians? Is it something we must simply get used to, as France’s former Prime Minister Manuel Valls and London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan have both suggested? Must we come to recognise acts of terror as something like the weather? Or is there anything we can do to limit, if not stop, them? If so, where would we start? One place would be to have a frank public discussion about these matters. Yet, even that is easier said than done.

There is a terrible symmetry to this past week in the West. The week began with the news that the Somali-born author and human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been forced to cancel a speaking tour in Australia. “Security concerns” were among the given reasons. A notable aspect of this issue, which has been made public, is that one of the venues at which Hirsi Ali was due to speak was contacted last month by something calling itself “‘The Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia Incorporated”. Nobody appears to know where this “incorporated” organisation comes from, but its purported founder — Syed Murtaza Hussain — claimed that the group would bring 5000 protestors to the hall at which Hirsi Ali was scheduled to talk. This threat is reminiscent of the occasion in 2009 when the British peer, Lord Ahmed, threatened to mobilise 10,000 British Muslims to protest at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster if the Dutch politician Geert Wilders were allowed to speak. On that occasion — as on this one — the event was cancelled. Promises to mobilise thousands of angry Muslims can have such an effect. But the long-term implications often get lost in the short-term outrage.

One Week, Five Terror Attacks: Beginnings of Another ‘Summer of Terror’? By Patrick Poole

By the end of July last year, I noted that from the time of the Pulse dance club attack in Orlando that killed 49, Western countries were seeing ISIS-inspired terror attacks at the rate of one every 84 hours.The pace slackened slightly over the next two months, but last summer I termed it the “Summer of Terror”:

And now, just hours before the beginning of the Christian Holy Week and a few days before Jewish Passover, the events of this past week may indicate that we’re seeing the beginnings of yet another “Summer of Terror” comparable to last year’s or perhaps surpassing it.

Just this week we’ve seen terror attacks in:

St. Petersburg, Russia
Vaucouleurs, France
Queanbeyan, Australia
Ofra, West Bank
Stockholm, Sweden

St. Petersburg, Russia

On Monday, a nail bomb carried by a suicide bomber ripped through a metro train in St. Petersburg; the attack, at last count, killed 14 people.During the course of the investigation more devices were discovered:The suspected bomber, Akbarzhon Jalilov from Osh, Kyrgyzstan, became radicalized and traveled to Turkey in November 2015, at which point a large gap emerges in his biography.It’s unclear whether Jalilov entered Syria and possibly trained with terrorists. So far, eight others have been arrested in connection with the bombing.

Vaucouleurs, France

Monday night, Sarah Lucy Halimi, a 66-year-old doctor and Orthodox Jew, was stabbed while in her bed and then thrown over her third-floor balcony by a 27-year-old Muslim neighbor while he shouted, “Allah Akhbar”: CONTINUE AT SITE

The vanishing Japanese By Thomas Lifson

When the United States defeated and occuppied Japan after World War 2, lowering the country’s birthrate was a major priority. The conventional wisdom of the day was that overpopulation was a root cause of Japan’s military aggression, so measures to reduce the birth rate were a major priority. Abortion was legalized, and a comprehensive propaganda campaign was launched, with media (fully under control of the occupation) depicting large families as unahappy and two children as ideal. Over the course of a few years, the birthrate sharply declined and then continued to decline more slowly. Meanwhile, as the average age rose, so did the death rate, so deaths began to outnumber births, as this chart shows:

(The decline in 1966 was due to that year being particularly “unlucky” according to the Japanese zodiac.)

Japan’s population peaked at just over 128 million and now is declining at an accelerating pace, as fewer young people are having fewer babies. A demographic time bomb is now detonating, with the population projected to decline by one third to 87 million in 2060, with half the population between 15 and 65.

The birth dearth is already visible on the streets of Tokyo, where I am currently visiting with AT co-founder Richard Baehr. Very few babies are visible on the streets. Yesterday, we saw only two baby carriages all day, and both of them were like this:

Pets, meanwhile, have become big business. This is in upscale pet store very near where we are staying:

“Pets always come first.” Hmmm.

The dogs and cats are adorable. A quick look at the pets section of a bookstore as well as the pet store itself suggests that low-maintenance cats are far more popular than dogs.

Meanwhile, it is cherry blossom (sakura in Japanese) season in Japan. Here are the cherry trees in front of a junior high school in Tokyo:

And here are the blossoms in Ueno Park, one the prime spots for viewing them.

But of course, as with every aspect of human behavior in Japan, there is an etiquette, a set of rules for people to follow. Due to the large number of foreign tourists (esspecially from Asia) visitng Japan lately, the rules are spelled out in Ueno Park:

Aside from the sheer beauty of cherry blossoms, the cultural appeal for the Japanese is related to their evanescence: after blossoming for a few days, they fall to the earth – a powerful metaphor for the transience of human life. Owing to the acelerating decline in Japan’s population, the cherry blossom may prove an unfortunately appropriate symbol of Japan’s flowering as an economic and cultural force in the world.

The War against Reality By David Solway

Reality is a formidable opponent. It never loses. Sometimes the victory is immediate; in the political, cultural, and economic domains, it may take a while longer. In any human confrontation with the intractable facts of life, physical or historical, the outcome is never in doubt. Ignorance is a serious liability in any transaction with the real world. Denial is ultimately lethal.

The most succinct definition of reality I know of is the deceptively simple dictum of the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides in his fragmentary poem “On the Order of Nature”: “Whatever is is!” Human error and ensuing catastrophe consist in the unfortunate propensity for believing that “things that are not are.” The modern update of the formulation is Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,” where we read, “The world is the totality of facts” (Proposition 1.1). A lie is also in itself a fact, but it is not a part of the structure of reality – that is, in the philosopher’s words, it does not satisfy the criterion of its “unalterable form.” A lie is a “negative fact,” pointing to the “non-existence of certain states of affairs.”

Lies, like imaginary objects, are protean; they can shift, change, recompose. Reality is what is “unalterable”: 2+2=4, the Archimedes Principle, the gravitational law of inverse squares, the Coriolis Effect, Ohms Law, the force of entropy, and so on. One cannot violate or deny these facts with impunity. They simply are. The same is true of historical facts, for example: over-taxation depletes a country’s resources by impoverishing its productive classes; a falling reproductive ratio leads in time to national decline; military adventurism creates domestic turmoil, but “peace in our time” is the harbinger of war; magical ceremonies do not cure serious diseases; hyperinflation can “Weimar” a loaf of bread; public entitlements cause personal dependency; and so on. Pretending otherwise, and acting on the pretence, is a recipe for an empty larder and a house in disarray.

It is much easier, of course, to reject or dismiss facts or truths where the damage is not immediate, to conflate “things which are not” with things that “are,” if the harm is deferred to a later date. One can deny sexual dimorphism, for example, and posit 32 different genders or gender identities along with a welter of ludicrous pronouns before the result of such folly becomes evident in cultural degeneration and social collapse. One can refute the fecund marriage of a man and a woman – that is, the family, as the historically validated foundation of a robust, viable, and productive society before social and cultural disintegration inevitably set in. One can suppress the provable fact of differential climate change over the eons and replace it with fashionable and scientifically untenable theories such as man-made global warming before the inevitable economic effects reduce a nation to increasing financial hardship.

Melvin Schut :Why the West is No Longer Educated

Melvin Schut is an Anglo-Dutch writer and academic currently teaching in the Netherlands. His main research interests are Tocqueville and Tocqueville-related questions. He contributed “What Britain Might Learn from the Colonies” in the July-August 2015 issue.

With its precision and focus on the true, the beautiful and the good, the classical culture of reasoning is at the core of our tradition and—as Tocqueville notes—a “useful” corrective to democracy’s tendency for haste and superficiality. That is something worth restoring.
Education seems universally—and almost self-evidently—supported as a Good Thing. Few would argue that a liberal democracy could do without literate citizens. Fewer still that a modern economy could do without a skilled workforce. Accordingly, spending on education is higher than ever. But what does it mean to be educated?

At present, education seems understood primarily as coursework in vocational topics, and “useful” natural and social sciences. There is a lot to be said for such education, as individuals need to be prepared to make a living. But there is also reason for concern. It is not obvious how well the “useful” courses prepare students for the world of work. Moreover, knowledge of the foundations of our culture, prerequisites of liberal democracy and fundamental assumptions in science is transmitted haphazardly or not at all. Individuals are hence increasingly clueless about our civilisation and their responsibilities. It is also unlikely for university graduates to have even basic familiarity with the history and philosophy of their disciplines, leaving many without critical distance from the fashionable views of the day. This sits ill with democratic citizenship, innovation and a dynamic, entrepreneurial economy.

Much as in China’s stifling scholarly tradition, to be a good student has become tantamount to conformity to a maze of institutionalised dogma, rendering the rise of university “safe spaces” and formal and informal speech codes sadly unsurprising. In effect, students are socialised for bureaucracies, both governmental and corporate. Thus diplomas, more than proving good judgment, function as tokens in a signalling game for the job market. Paradoxically, as the increased number of degrees has deflated their worth, proxies for competence (accent, dress, social circle and manners) have gained renewed importance.

Taken together, these developments represent a break with the traditional understanding of education, aimed at good judgment. For most people, the practice of apprenticeships, acquiring practical skills, fulfilled exactly this purpose. They also attended church, where they might receive moral instruction.

The academically gifted followed a different path. In a logical sequence, first they were trained to think, and then they absorbed both fundamental and more specialised knowledge. This encouraged development of independent judgment, inviting an examined renewal of our civilisation. Ideally, any vocational training (such as in law, engineering or medicine) would take place after such a liberal education.

Josh Zumbrun: Trump Taps Kevin Hassett For Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Mr. Hassett emerged as a candidate for the job several months ago, but the White House announced its intent to nominate him Friday.

President Donald Trump said he would nominate Kevin Hassett, an expert in tax policy and one of the most prominent economists at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, to serve as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

The council’s chairman is generally considered the chief economist of the White House. The White House announced its intent to nominate Mr. Hassett in a statement Friday afternoon.

Mr. Hassett emerged as a candidate for the job several months ago, but his nomination wasn’t confirmed until Friday. The fate of Mr. Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers had been uncertain. How much Mr. Trump cared about advice from academic economists also came into question when he announced that his cabinet would no longer include the council’s chairman, as former President Barack Obama’s had.
An economic advisory council announced during his presidential campaign had included only one Ph.D. economist, Peter Navarro, who has already been appointed to head a trade council for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Hassett, however, has a traditional pedigree for an elite academic economist. He received his doctorate in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrote a dissertation on applied econometrics–the difficult statistical work that underlies much economic research. He has published on a wide range of topics, with a particular focus on the benefits of tax cuts and the effects of economic uncertainty on business investment.

“He’s not just a standard-issue really good economist, he’s someone who knows how policy works,” said Glenn Hubbard, who chaired the CEA under President George W. Bush and has published research with Mr. Hassett. CONTINUE AT SITE

Egyptian Church Blast Kills at Least 13 Church in town of Tanta was packed with worshipers on Coptic Christian Palm Sunday

CAIRO—A bomb has struck a church north of Cairo, killing at least 13 people and wounding 25 others, Egypt’s Health Ministry said.

The attack took place on the Coptic Christian Palm Sunday, when the church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta was packed with worshipers. Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed confirmed the toll from the attack in an interview with CBC TV. The state-run MENA news agency provided the same death toll and said 35 were wounded.

CBC showed footage from inside the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.

Christians make up around 10% of Egypt’s population and have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists.

Of Reichstag Fires And Other Horrendous Provocations: Diana West

Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State

On the basis of Article 48 paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the German Reich, the following is ordered in defense against Communist state-endangering acts of violence:

§ 1. Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights of personal freedom [habeas corpus], freedom of (opinion) expression, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. Warrants for House searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

On the night of February 27, 1933 a fire, the origins of which were reported to be arson, broke out in the Reichstag, destroying the building. Chancellor Adolf Hitler pressed Germany’s President Paul von Hindenburg to issue the above decree, which, as my readers can discern, pretty well snuffed out civil liberties for Germans – and gave Hitler absolute power.

What is noteworthy is that the Nazis blamed the communists for setting the fire. That assertion remains unsubstantiated and the question as to who actually did set it is unanswered. There was speculation that the Nazis actually lit the blaze and pinned the destruction on the communists for political traction. That this event, accompanied by Hindenburg’s decree, was a landmark in World History is inarguable. 55 million people died in World War II.

We still don’t know who burned the Reichstag.