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May 2017

German Police Bust Syrian Muslim Refugee Suicide Bomber Daniel Greenfield

Reality doesn’t go away just because you wave a “Refugee Welcome” sign. Syria is a terror haven where much of the country supports some flavors of Islamic terrorism. Bringing Syrians or any Islamic migrants to the West is asking for terror. And those who ask, will have their requests met by the generous Ummah of the believers in Allah and Mohammed.

German police have arrested a teenage asylum seeker suspected of planning a suicide attack in Berlin, Brandenburg state officials say.

The suspect, 17, was arrested in the Uckermark district, Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schröter announced.

But Brandenburg police say they have not confirmed reports that the teen, who entered Germany in 2015, is Syrian and was definitely planning an attack.

It’s doubtful he really was 17. It was habitual for these “unaccompanied minors” who were really grown men to lie about their age.

Special forces arrested the teenager after police received a tip-off, Brandenburg police tweeted (in German). He had sent a message to his family saying farewell and that he was joining the “jihad”, the police said.

Investigators are looking into whether the suspect may have falsely registered as a Syrian, police spokesman Torsten Herbst told the AP.

Half these migrants also claimed to be Syrian. You can’t, despite Obama’s lies and the media’s complicity in those lies, vet people from a war zone.

Some 280,000 asylum seekers arrived in Germany last year, a drop of more than 600,000 compared to 2015.

How many of them will kill next? How many of their children, like the Manchester Arena terrorist, will?

Peter Smith Abide with Me in an Age of Posturing

It seems all too possible that puerile leftist posturing will go on undermining enlightened Western civilisation. Waiting in the wings is its Dark Ages replacement. I have prayer. My prayer is that God-given reason eventually prevails, but there are many moments when it is very difficult to keep the faith.

At my Anglican church on a recent Sunday the lady giving ‘the prayers of the people’, having delivered the accustomed collective environmental mea culpa, asked that we pray for Palestinians in Israeli jails who were apparently on hunger strike, to thank God for our multicultural and diverse society, and to help us resist hate speech. She made no mention of Jews killed by Palestinian terrorists, or of Christians being persecuted in the Middle East, or of underage Muslim girls in Australia being wedded off or subjected to FGM.

She brought her political agenda before the congregation and God. I have political views but there is a time and place to express them. And the time and place is not Sunday morning in church. There are standard words that all we Christian churchgoers of different political views can sign up to. Here is an abridged example, which I plucked randomly from a particular Episcopalian church service:

Let us pray for the nations and peoples of the world [for] justice, peace, and prosperity [for] those who are sick, those who suffer, and those who struggle and who have died.

The dissonance exhibited at my church stems from believing that one’s political agenda has moral authority, even godly authority. It is an extraordinary conceit. It is delusional. This kind of delusion is rampant within Christian churches from top to bottom. It is even more rampant, sans the godly part, among modern-day leftists who dominate public services, the media, universities and schools, and who infest our well-to-do suburbs.

Go back some decades and I doubt that nearly as many people — common sense was more abundant — would have conflated their personal political beliefs with moral authority. As it is, leftists now put a moral badge on their cockamamie views and therefore regard those who don’t share them as fair game for abuse. Virtue signalling passes for thinking and spawns deplorable childlike behaviour.

We see conservative speakers being refused venues and shouted down. And those who would provide them a stage intimidated by violence and threats of violence. Absurdity flourishes. Trade union bosses throw their members to the wolves by promoting pointless policies to curb CO2 emissions.

How did we get here? It is hard to say. The feminisation of schooling may have played a part. Tongue in cheek I have suggested alien body snatching. Let me go to something earthbound. I wonder whether the evolving structure of work has also played a part.

The industrial revolution has profoundly changed the structure of work since 1750 but only in more recent decades has it resulted in the wholesale switch out of manual work. In the US, for example, Greenwald and Kahn (Globalization) report that from 1970 to 2005 employment in managerial and professional roles grew by 153%, in service occupations by 123%, while employment in traditional manufacturing roles fell by 10 percent. It is a safe to assume that this trend has not abated.

Manual work is grounding. You see first-hand that materials, power and effort are required to make things. Now there are far fewer workers down the pit, or on the factory floor, or on the docks; and, correspondingly, large segments of the population have no contact with them at all. Think of the inner-city latte sets.

In this sanitised world goods just appear, as though out of thin air. Let me speculate. The upshot is a cargo-cult mentality among the weak minded; and, more generally, an infantile disconnection from reality. Thus the wind and sun can replace coal, oil and gas and create millions of clean green jobs. Here is a mixed selection of more:

Ever more generous provisions of welfare, health and education are ‘rights’, the denial of which on the basis of affordability is unconscionable.
Taxing the rich is a bottomless wallet for making affordable the unaffordable.
Palestinians are willing to live in peace with Israel, even though their children are taught from infancy to hate, despise and kill Jews.
Islam is a peaceful religion no matter how much godless violence is preached and practised in its name; no matter how clear are the violent riding instructions in the Koran and Sunna.
Our Western past is shameful and we must be penitent in the ways of Obama.
All refugees must be welcomed across our open borders and everything will be fine.
Free speech is a right provided no-one outside of white men is offended; in which case it is hate speech.
Traditional marriage, and male and female demarcations, are dispensable affectations of less enlightened times when gender fluidity was not so de rigueur.

The list goes on.

Freedom of religion is being used as a defense in a female genital mutilation caseby Allison Maass

For the first time in 21 years a law making it illegal to cut young girls’ genitalia will be challenged, claiming freedom of religion as a defense, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Three people have been charged with cutting the genitals of two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota in February. The defendants, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, his wife Farida Attar and Dr. Jumana Nagarwala are members of the Indian-Muslim sect Dawoodi Bohra, located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, outside of Detroit.

One of the defense lawyers for the case, Mary Chartier, told the Detroit Free Press that besides freedom of religion, the defense will also argue that technically the doctors didn’t cut any genitalia, it was just a “scraping.”

“We know there is female genital mutilation. No one is saying it doesn’t exist. But what we’re saying is this procedure does not qualify as FGM. And even if it did, it would be exempt because it would violate their First Amendment rights. They believe that if they do not engage in this then they are not actively practicing their religion,” Chartier said.

But according to court records, the young girls said the procedures were very painful and were told to keep it a secret.

“She knew that this was illegal but did it anyway. As a medical doctor, she is aware that female genital mutilation has no medical purpose,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward told the Detroit Free Press about the doctor who performed the procedure.

FGM became illegal in 1997 under the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, according to Catholic News Agency.

The US ‘successfully intercepted’ an intercontinental ballistic missile

The U.S. “successfully intercepted” an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first test of its ground-based intercept system, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Tuesday. During the first live-fire test event, the target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment for the GMD system and a critical milestone for

this program,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jim Syring. “This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat. I am incredibly proud of the warfighters who executed this test and who operate this system every day.”The missile is aimed to provide combatant commanders the ability to engage and destroy intermediate and long-range ballistic missile threats. The Pentagon’s successful launch follows a series of ballistic missile tests conducted by North Korea. The Pentagon will test its ability to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time using its own long-range interceptor missiles on Tuesday in what is widely considered a test of the United States’ ability to counter a possible North Korean missile launch, CNN reported.

The test is set to take place in the skies above the Pacific Ocean and comes two days after North Korea fired a short-range missile that splashed down inside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Fox News: Jared Kushner Didn’t Suggest Back Channel, the Russians Did By Debra Heine

A Washington Post report alleging that Jared Kushner was seeking to open a secure, private line with Russia is false, a source familiar with the matter has told Fox News. It was the Russians’ idea, according to the source. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law is currently under FBI scrutiny as part of the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The December meeting between Kushner and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower focused on Syria, the source said. The meeting included another senior adviser in the Trump administration, as well.

Via Fox News:

During the meeting the Russians broached the idea of using a secure line between the Trump administration and Russia, not Kushner, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News. That follows a recent report from The Washington Post alleging that Kushner wanted to develop a secure, private line with Russia.

The idea of a permanent back channel was never discussed, according to the source. Instead, only a one-off for a call about Syria was raised in the conversation.

In addition, the source told Fox News the December meeting focused on Russia’s contention that the Obama administration’s policy on Syria was deeply flawed.

According to the WaPo report, Kushner had suggested the use of Russian diplomatic facilities as a way to evade U.S. monitoring during pre-inauguration discussions with Kislyak. The “taken aback” Russian ambassador allegedly then relayed the suggestion to his superiors in Moscow.

The Post based its story on intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials and leaked to the press. Neither the meeting nor the Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials told the Post.

According to Fox News’ source, Kushner is “eager” to tell his side of the story to Congress.

Words, Words, Words. By Bruce Bawer

Writers love words. Journalists love words. We spend our professional lives typing them out, shifting them around, cutting and pasting and refining. The reason we do so is that we feel we have something to say, and we keep trying to find a clearer, stronger, and more precise way of expressing exactly what we want to express.

This was one reason journalists loved Obama. Like a very small number of political leaders throughout human history, from Marcus Aurelius to Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill, he was, or seemed to be, a man of words. Certainly he wanted to be seen that way.

Indeed, everything about the way he gave speeches — the posture, the gestures, the tone — made him seem very much like someone who wished to be thought of as a philosopher king, right out of Plato via Central Casting. He loved playing the role of president as professor, loved the mellifluous sound of his own voice, loved standing in regal fashion at a lectern and proffering what he expected to be received by his audiences as pearls of wisdom.

And whether it was wisdom or not, journalists loved it. Because — oh, the words, those glorious words! The sentences, the passages, the transitions! At one point during the 2008 campaign, somebody in some newspaper or magazine actually diagrammed a sentence by Obama, not from one of his magnificently polished speeches but from some impromptu response to a question at a press conference.

The point, of course, was to show what a wonderfully complex and coherent thinker he was, and how skilled he was at expressing his thoughts in unscripted, elegant, and grammatically correct statements. Obama’s sentence was contrasted with an off-the-cuff statement by George W. Bush, which, needless to say, was much more simply put together — indeed, barely coherent, and certainly far from literate.

The conclusion was obvious: Obama was a man for whom the wording and construction and delivery of a speech, or even an answer to a reporter’s query, was a matter of supreme importance. The man always came off as thoughtful, sophisticated, supremely articulate.

Throughout his 2008 campaign and then throughout his presidency, journalists’ respect for him as a highly serious man of highly serious words remained unshaken. Whatever his policies, and whatever the success or failure thereof, one fact about him could not be challenged: he was a man who took very seriously the act of putting ideas into words, and of polishing those words (or ensuring that his speechwriters polished them) to a golden, perfect sheen. And for this reason – in many cases, perhaps, more than any other – journalists revered him.
Trump vs. Obama: A Study in Contrasts

Then came Trump.

When it comes to all of these matters, Trump was Obama’s exact opposite. He never pretended to be a philosopher king – far from it. On the contrary, he made a flagrant point of the fact that he enjoys speaking off the cuff, in simple, punchy, repetitious, and often vulgar language. And to the shock and dismay of America’s journalists, millions of voters didn’t care. Indeed, a lot of them liked it. For many of us who write for a living, who labor over language, and who regard words with an almost religious awe, it can be unpleasant to be reminded that most people don’t care about such things. CONTINUE AT SITE

Merkel throws Trump into the Briar Patch Despite differences, Germany still needs to find common ground with US in the Middle East by David Goldman

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel now agree about the main issues in US-German relations. “The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are a way past us,” Merkel told a beer-tent rally of her political party. “We Europeans really have to take our fate into our own hands.” That is just what President Trump has been telling the Europeans since the beginning of last year’s US election campaign, demanding in particular that Europe pay more for its own defense. Both Trump and Merkel, moreover, say they want the Euro to strengthen against the US dollar. That buries the two bones of contention between Berlin and Washington. Everything else is political posturing and fake news.

The German Chancellor in effect threatens to throw President Trump into the proverbial briar patch, giving him what he wants while appearing to denounce him (those who miss the pop-culture reference may find an illustration here).

Merkel is running for re-election to a fourth term in next September’s national elections, and it does her more good to denounce Trump than to speak of policy convergence. The German public hates Donald Trump with a visceral passion. The country’s largest-circulation news magazine, Der Spiegel, titled an editorial last week, “It’s time to get rid of Donald Trump,” explaining: “Donald Trump has transformed the United States into a laughing-stock and he is a danger to the world. He must be removed from the White House before things get even worse.”

Trump’s unashamed nationalism elicits revulsion in a land whose 20th-century experience with nationalism was less than satisfactory. The Germans never will understand American populism; for them, populism is the dank fen of German politics that incubated National Socialism. Germany’s self-styled populists of the Alternative for Germany party are infested with Nazi apologists. In the distorting mirror of German history, Trump looks like a monster.

Even worse, Trump stepped on Germany’s sore toe with big boots when he denounced Germany’s 2015 decision to admit more than 1.2 million Muslim refugees supposedly from Syria, but including economic migrants from as far away as Afghanistan. For Germans, this was a grand national sacrifice to world-citizenship; to Trump and the American political right, it was a hallmark of civilizational decline. That may be true, but the Germans insist on their right to decline in their own chosen fashion.

Why Do Taxpayers Get the Bill for a Union President’s Pension? The Michigan Education Association keeps its employees technically ‘on loan’ from school districts. By Alex Cortes and Jarrett Skorup

The year was 1993. Bill Clinton had recently been elected president. A gallon of gas cost $1.16, and the Chicago Bulls won the first of three consecutive National Basketball Association championships. Over in Lansing, Mich., a teaching assistant’s dreams were about to come true as well.

This public employee, Steve Cook, was making a relatively low hourly wage at Lansing Public School District. But he had an opportunity to enter the private economy, where his new employer would pay him a lot more. Even better, he would be allowed to continue accruing taxpayer-funded pension benefits.

Why? This was no ordinary private employer. Mr. Cook was going to work for the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. His new employer worked out a deal with the school district that made Mr. Cook an “educator on loan,” a scheme that allows public employees to be paid by a government entity while being “loaned out” to another organization. Under the arrangement, the district technically pays Mr. Cook’s salary and the union reimburses the district. This allows him to accrue a much higher pension, by basing it on a far higher salary and many more years of service.

Richard Halik, the district’s superintendent at the time, agreed to the request. “You want a positive relationship with the MEA,” Mr. Halik said in a 2016 interview, explaining why he agreed to the deal that he expected to last only one year. “You pick the hill you die on. . . . We were going to be cooperative.”

Nearly 25 years later the scheme is still going. And this is not unique. Michigan’s largest teachers union has these types of agreements with its past three presidents, most of their current executives and even some low-level union employees. Dozens of people working full time for the private union are technically getting paid by a public school district.

It’s not hard to see why union employees go for such a setup. The lucky ones get to boost their taxpayer-funded pensions by pretending that they are still public employees. Since they are technically being paid by school districts—even though they work exclusively for a private union—union officials accrue benefits and stay eligible for Michigan’s school-employee pension system. That system is $29 billion underfunded, thanks in part to arrangements like this.

Mr. Cook became president of the MEA in 2011. He is set to retire later this year. His current salary is more than $200,000. While his pay was determined by the union, his paychecks still came from the Lansing school district. Had Mr. Cook stayed on as a teacher’s assistant in 1993, his annual pension benefit in retirement would be around $10,000, according to estimates by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (which uncovered the scheme). Instead, Mr. Cook is in line to receive an annual pension of at least $105,000 for the rest of his life, at taxpayer expense.

The school district says it didn’t intend for this to happen. But three words in Mr. Cook’s “educator on loan” contract prohibit the district from terminating the arrangement. The contract, according to language contained in it, “shall be renewed.” Since there is no end date specified, the union claims the arrangement renews in perpetuity—and it has.

Union officials in Michigan and throughout the country benefit from these and other schemes. “Release time” arrangements enable public employees such as teachers to work full time for their unions, while still receiving their full school salaries and benefits. In Michigan, at least 70 school districts spend millions offering this benefit to union officials.

Last year, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld one such arrangement after the Goldwater Institute challenged it under the state’s constitutional “gift clause” provision. In California everyone from janitors to schoolteachers to college professors takes union release time, paid for by taxpayers, and the California Legislature actually expanded the practice in 2013.

The Office of Personnel Management tracks release time for federal employees. Its most recent report in 2014 showed that union employees logged 3.4 million hours of release time, at a cost of more than $162 million. In the Veterans Affairs Department alone, employees took more than a million hours of leave time.

Using taxpayer money to pay for union activities and private pensions should outrage anyone interested in efficient and effective public services. Taxpayers are on the hook twice—once to pay for the released worker and again to pay for a replacement employee. There’s no legitimate reason why governments should provide these types of extra benefits to unions and their officials. States and the federal government should end these schemes. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Campus Mob Came for Me—and You, Professor, Could Be Next Whites were asked to leave for a ‘Day of Absence.’ I objected. Then 50 yelling students crashed my class. By Bret Weinstein

I was not expecting to hold my biology class in a public park last week. But then the chief of our college police department told me she could not protect me on campus. Protestors were searching cars for an unspecified individual—likely me—and her officers had been told to stand down, against her judgment, by the college president.

Racially charged, anarchic protests have engulfed Evergreen State College, a small, public liberal-arts institution where I have taught since 2003. In a widely disseminated video of the first recent protest on May 23, an angry mob of about 50 students disrupted my class, called me a racist, and demanded that I resign. My “racist” offense? I had challenged coercive segregation by race. Specifically, I had objected to a planned “Day of Absence” in which white people were asked to leave campus on April 12.

Day of Absence is a tradition at Evergreen. In previous years students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus—a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning. This year, however, the formula was reversed. “White students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave the campus for the day’s activities,” the student newspaper reported, adding that the decision was reached after people of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.”

In March I objected in an email to all staff and faculty. “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles . . . and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away,” I wrote. “On a college campus, one’s right to speak—or to be—must never be based on skin color.”

My email was published by the student newspaper, and Day of Absence came and went almost without incident. The protest of my class emerged seemingly out of the blue more than a month later. Evergreen has slipped into madness. You don’t need the news to tell you that—the protesters’ own videos will do. But those clips reveal neither the path that led to this psychosis, nor the cautionary nature of the tale for other campuses.

Evergreen is arguably the most radical college in the country—and while it does lean far to the left in a political sense, it is the school’s pedagogical structure to which I refer. Rather than placing students in many separate classes, most of our curriculum is integrated into full-time programs that may run the entire academic year. This structure allows students and professors to come to know each other very well, such that Evergreen can deliver a deep, personally tailored education that would be impossible elsewhere. When it works well, it is unlike anything else. Last week’s breakdown of institutional order is far from an indictment of our founder’s wisdom.

Rather, the protests resulted from a tension that has existed throughout the entire American academy for decades: The button-down empirical and deductive fields, including all the hard sciences, have lived side by side with “critical theory,” postmodernism and its perception-based relatives. Since the creation in 1960s and ’70s of novel, justice-oriented fields, these incompatible worldviews have repelled one another. The faculty from these opposing perspectives, like blue and red voters, rarely mix in any context where reality might have to be discussed. For decades, the uneasy separation held, with the factions enduring an unhappy marriage for the good of the (college) kids.CONTINUE AT SITE

The White House Mess A shakeup needs to start with some self-reflection at the top.

White House aides are leaking that President Trump is considering a staff shakeup to stop them from leaking, and the casualty on Monday was communications director Mike Dubke. Mr. Trump certainly needs to fix his White House mess, but staff changes won’t matter unless the President accepts that he is the root of the dysfunction.

Mr. Dubke’s departure was rumored for weeks, though he’d been on the job for only three months. He wasn’t the problem, and his replacement won’t be the solution. It’s impossible to run a communications operation, or a policy shop, if the top man prefers chaotic, make-it-up-as-you-go management.

Take two recent examples. In late April Mr. Trump decided after consulting with a couple of advisers that he wanted to unilaterally withdraw from Nafta. No staff preparation. No warning to Mexico or Canada.

As word spread that the announcement was imminent, other aides and business leaders swung into action to prevent it, including pleas to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call the President. Mr. Trump stood down, but the result was wasted political energy and economic uncertainty.

Then there was the fire drill over Mr. Trump’s tax plan. The White House National Economic Council had been working to develop a plan to send to Congress, but suddenly the President announced publicly that he wanted it rolled out in days. The result was a one-pager that moved in the right policy direction but was easily attacked for its lack of details. Mr. Trump may have wanted to galvanize his team, but the drill wasted time and did little to build a Republican consensus in Congress.

This is apparently how Mr. Trump likes to govern, and he has built a White House tower of Babel in that image. Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, has too little power and must read constantly that his job is in jeopardy. Steve Bannon is supposed to be the keeper of the populist flame, but his coterie of allies leak relentlessly against economics aide Gary Cohn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.