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August 2017

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal by John R. Bolton

Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred. But no such options were forthcoming, despite “a sharp series of exchanges” between the president and his advisers, as the New York Times and similar press reports characterized it.

Many outside the administration wondered how this was possible: Was Trump in control, or were his advisers? Defining a compelling rationale to exit Obama’s failed nuclear deal and elaborating a game plan to do so are quite easy. In fact, Steve Bannon asked me in late July to draw up just such a game plan for the president — the option he didn’t have — which I did.

Here it is. It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, hundred-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement. There is no need to wait for the next certification deadline in October. Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity.

I offer the paper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible. Although he was once kind enough to tell me “come in and see me any time,” those days are now over.

If the president is never to see this option, so be it. But let it never be said that the option didn’t exist.
Abrogating the Iran Deal: The Way Forward
I. Background

The Trump Administration is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the July 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — JCPOA), and that this agreement is in the national-security interest of the United States.[1] While a comprehensive Iranian policy review is currently underway, America’s Iran policy should not be frozen. The JCPOA is a threat to U.S. national-security interests, growing more serious by the day. If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.

Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the President must certify every 90 days that:

(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements;

(ii) Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement or, if Iran has committed a material breach, Iran has cured the material breach;

(iii) Iran has not taken any action, including covert activities, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and

(iv) Suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the agreement is –

(I) appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and

(II) vital to the national-security interests of the United States.

U.S. leadership here is critical, especially through a diplomatic and public education effort to explain a decision not to certify and to abrogate the JCPOA. Like any global campaign, it must be persuasive, thorough, and accurate. Opponents, particularly those who participated in drafting and implementing the JCPOA, will argue strongly against such a decision, contending that it is reckless, ill-advised, and will have negative economic and security consequences.

Accordingly, we must explain the grave threat to the U.S. and our allies, particularly Israel. The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level internationally demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security interests of the United States. We can bolster the case for abrogation by providing new, declassified information on Iran’s unacceptable behavior around the world.

Academia is heading off the Left cliff. Can it be steered to safety? by Washington Examiner

We’ve seen fires and riots in recent years, but it’s unlikely that tensions on America’s college campuses have yet reached their peak. As students return to campus for the 2017-2018 academic year, be prepared for more chaos that will crowd out learning.

There will be more canceled lectures, more censorship, more protests, more vandalism, and more violence.

For conservatives disillusioned by the increasingly incomprehensible and toxic brand of leftism rising in academia, it’s dangerous to simply dismiss this behavior as the sad inchoate spasms of immature youth. This is a serious movement grounded in a clear and dangerous philosophy.

The anti-liberal mindset of today’s campus liberals has precipitated the rewriting of our political vernacular, the effects of which have already rippled into newsrooms, corporations, and political offices.

Why are conservative student organizations routinely referred to as “hate groups” and bastions of “white supremacy?” Why, on campuses, is it “racist” to wear sombreros on Cinco de Mayo or host Egypt-themed fraternity parties?

Why, for that matter, did fired Google engineer James Damore’s anodyne memorandum on ideological diversity constitute an act of “violence” against women? Furthermore, why is Google sending weekly emails to employees raising awareness of “microaggressions”?

These are the effects of rampant political correctness, yes. But political correctness is a symptom of the campus Left’s deliberate effort to broaden the definitions of the terms “violence,” “bigotry,” “hate,” “racism,” and “white supremacy,” so as to impugn everyone’s conduct and narrow the bounds of permissible dissent to include only their own way of thinking about anything.

Concepts such as privilege, oppression, and violence have been broadened to implicate everyone belonging to a historically enfranchised group in the systematic subjugation of minorities.

White supremacy, for most Americans, likely conjures images of the Ku Klux Klan marching with torches or skinheads tattooed with swastikas spewing bigotry. When most of us think racism, we think of separate drinking fountains or those harrowing pictures of police dogs attacking our fellow Americans in the streets. We may even think of Philando Castile’s shooting, or of birtherism, or of people who remind us of Archie Bunker.

It’s certainly true that racism and white supremacy rear their ugly heads outside these confines. Well-intentioned people can make hurtful mistakes, sometimes subtly, in their interactions with those who experience discrimination. But lumping in proponents of stricter immigration laws or conservative writers such as Heather Mac Donald with proponents of genocide is objectively ridiculous. And, of course, it also fans the flames of conflict on campuses. Conservative students told that standard center-right views are not only wrong but actually justify violence against them, are even more prone to challenge their censorious peers by embracing any forbidden idea they stumble across, including the ones that are actually bad.

A Tale of Two Labor MPs By Bruce Bawer

“These recent developments have made at least one thing clear: in Britain’s Labour Party, it’s OK to call for the destruction of Israel and for the silencing of child rape victims – the one thing you can’t do is tell the truth about Islam.”

The other day, I noted on this site that “thousands of pedophile rapes aren’t enough to snap the British establishment out of its reprehensible PC equivocation about Islam.” Underscoring the pathological level of denial about the connection between Islam and so-called “grooming” gangs is a recent controversy – or, more correctly, pair of controversies – involving two female Labour MPs.

Sarah Champion represents Rotherham and until recently was shadow secretary of state for women and qualities; Naz Shah represents Bradford West and is a key ally of Labour honcho Jeremy Corbyn.

Rotherham, it will be remembered, is the city in which it was discovered that more than 1,400 non-Muslim girls had been raped, over a period of many years, by gangs of Muslim men. Police, social workers, and other public officials knew about this mass atrocity for a long time, but kept mum for fear of being called racist. Rape victims who sought to report the crimes committed against them were told that they were racist.

Eventually at least some of the Rotherham perpetrators were brought to justice, and similar patterns of activity were discovered in other cities across Britain. But an air of unease continues to envelop the whole issue. People don’t want to talk about it, and they especially don’t to mention the fact that the rapists share a common religion and nation of origin.

In an August 10 article for The Sun, Sarah Champion sought to confront this discomfort. “Britain,” she began, “has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.” She continued:

There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?

For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up.

No more. These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.

We have to have grown-up conversations, however unpalatable, or in six months’ time we will be having this same scenario all over again.

Champion went on to outline her own experience with the issue. Not long after being elected to Parliament in 2012, she attended a committee meeting at which members of the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council sought to “justify their failure to protect young girls who were victims of this vile crime.” Her response? “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”

She launched an inquiry, and found critical problems in both police departments and courts that desperately needed to be addressed. In February 2015, she presented then-Prime Minister David Cameron and his cabinet with a plan for preventing further abuse. But nothing happened. Today “we have warm words and still no action.” Which, she explained, was why she was writing this article.

Note, by the way, one key detail about Champion’s article: she dared to point out that most of the rapists were Pakistanis – but she made no mention of Islam. Apparently she wasn’t willing to go that far.

In any event, her reticence on this point didn’t save her. She’d written the article in an effort to spark official action. Well, it worked – although not in the way she hoped. The article caused a firestorm. So did a brief follow-up column by Sun writer Trevor Kavanagh, who praised Champion for her outspokenness.

In response, Naz Shah drafted an open letter that condemned Kavanagh for using “Nazi-like language” to describe Islam. In fact, he hadn’t even mentioned Islam; his article could hardly have been tamer. But Shah got over a hundred MPs to sign her letter: such is the madness that has taken hold of the world’s oldest parliament.

Champion, feeling the heat, promptly apologized for her article, claimed that The Sun had “stripped” it of “nuance” (in reply, The Sun maintained that she had been “thrilled” with it), and threw Kavanagh under the bus (his column, she charged, was “repulsive and extreme Islamophobic”).

But her mea culpa proved insufficient. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn offered her a choice: resign as shadow minister or be fired. She quit.CONTINUE ST SITE

The Feds and the Frog: Private Landowners Stand to Lose on 1,500 Acres The government estimates that regulatory restrictions could cost one family $34 million. By Reed Hopper & Mark Miller —

Imagine waking one day and learning that federal officials have declared your private property subject to federal control as “critical habitat” for an endangered frog, even though the frog does not and cannot exist on the property or, apparently, anywhere else in the state.

That is the surreal fate of the Poitevent family, owners of a parcel of land in St. Tammany Parish, La., that has been in the family for more than 100 years. The family started a lumber business on the property after the Civil War. The land is still managed for timber today.

A few years ago, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service declared the property “essential” to the survival of the Mississippi gopher frog, aptly named, as it’s found only in Mississippi. Only later, when federal officials decided to expand the frog’s territory into Louisiana, did they give it the name it bears today: the dusky gopher frog.

But there is nothing apt about designating over 1,500 acres of private land “critical habitat” when the property is not used as habitat, is unsuitable as habitat, and has no direct connection to the dusky gopher frog.

Federal regulators don’t deny any of this. Instead, they express the hope that the Poitevents’ property can be modified at some point to become hospitable habitat for frogs. This is pure speculation, because the property is tied up in timber leases for decades and may never be usable habitat. Rather than acquire the property so it can be managed for species protection, the government seeks to impose the cost of species conservation on the landowners, who did nothing to put the gopher frog in peril.

Although the property provides no conservation benefit to the gopher frog, the government estimates that the regulatory restrictions on the landowners could cost them $34 million.

A federal district judge took a dim view of this costly land grab, calling it “troubling,” “harsh,” and “remarkably intrusive,” with “all the hallmarks of governmental insensitivity to private property.” Nevertheless, the judge felt “compelled” to defer to the government and allow the “critical habitat” designation to go forward.

On appeal, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit also deferred to the government, by a 2–1 vote. However, the dissenting judge argued that if regulators can declare that the Poitevents’ non-habitat property is “critical habitat,” the same could happen to any property owner, anywhere. This outcome defied both logic and the law, the judge insisted.

On an 8–6 vote, the full Fifth Circuit declined to review the panel decision. In a stinging, 32-page opinion, the six dissenters called the panel decision an “execrable” misinterpretation of the Endangered Species Act and said it ran contrary to Supreme Court precedent.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s preposterous renewable-energy plan threatens Long Island’s fishing industry. Robert Bryce

Nat Miller and Jim Bennett didn’t have much time to chat. It was about 8:45 on a sunny Sunday morning in early May, and they were loading their gear onto two boats—a 20-foot skiff with a 115-horsepower outboard, and an 18-foot sharpie with a 50-horse outboard—at Lazy Point, on the southern edge of Napeague Bay, on the South Fork of Long Island. “We are working against the wind and the tide,” Miller said as he shook my hand.

The men had already caught a fluke the size of a doormat and were eager for more. Miller and Bennett are Bonackers, a name for a small group of families who were among eastern Long Island’s earliest Anglo settlers. The Bonackers are some of America’s most storied fishermen. They’ve been profiled several times, most vividly by Peter Matthiessen in his 1986 book Men’s Lives. Miller’s roots in the area go back 13 generations, Bennett’s 14. That morning, Miller and Bennett and five fellow fishermen were heading east to tend their “pound traps,” an ancient method of fishing in shallow water that uses staked enclosures to capture fish as they migrate along the shore. Miller and Bennett were likely to catch scup, bass, porgies, and other species.

If Governor Andrew Cuomo gets his way, though, they and other commercial fishermen on the South Fork may need to look for a new line of work. An avid promoter of renewable energy, Cuomo hopes to install some 2,400 megawatts of wind turbines off New York’s coast, covering several hundred square miles of ocean; a bunch of those turbines will go smack on top of some of the best fisheries on the Eastern Seaboard. One of the projects, led by a Manhattan-based firm, Deepwater Wind, could require plowing the bottom of Napeague Bay to make way for a high-voltage undersea cable connecting the proposed 90-megawatt South Fork wind project to the grid. The proposed 50-mile cable would come ashore near the Devon Yacht Club, a few miles west of the beach on which we were standing. “I have 11 traps, and all of them run parallel to where that cable is proposed to be run,” Miller says. “My grandfather had traps here,” he adds before shoving his skiff into the water. “I want no part of this at all.”

The mounting opposition to the development of offshore wind in Long Island’s waters is the latest example of the growing conflict between renewable-energy promoters and rural residents. Cuomo and climate-change activists love the idea of wind energy, but they’re not the ones having 500-, 600-, or even 700-foot-high wind turbines built in their neighborhoods or on top of their prime fishing spots. The backlash against Big Wind is evident in the numbers: since 2015, about 160 government entities, from Maine to California, have rejected or restricted wind projects. One recent example: on May 2, voters in three Michigan counties went to the polls to vote on wind-related ballot initiatives. Big Wind lost on every initiative.

Few states demonstrate the backlash better than New York. On May 10, the town of Clayton, in northern New York’s Jefferson County, passed an amendment to its zoning ordinance that bans all commercial wind projects. On Lake Ontario, a 200-megawatt project called Lighthouse Wind, headed by Charlottesville, Virginia–based Apex Clean Energy, faces opposition from three counties—Erie, Niagara, and Orleans—as well as the towns of Yates and Somerset. An analysis of media stories shows that, over the past decade or so, about 40 New York communities have shot down or curbed wind projects.

Cuomo started pushing offshore wind because he and his political allies realized that building massive amounts of new wind capacity onshore isn’t going to happen. In January, the governor contended that offshore wind poses none of the aesthetic problems that have made land-based projects so difficult. “Not even Superman standing on Montauk Point could see these wind farms,” he said. Maybe not; and maybe wealthy beachfront homeowners won’t be able to see the proposed turbines, but lots of fishermen will. And that has them spoiling for a fight.

Europe’s Asylum Disgrace Guess who gets the red-carpet treatment — and who gets turned away? Bruce Bawer

Three years ago, Aideen Strandsson, an Iranian actress who had converted from Islam to Christianity applied for asylum in Sweden on the grounds that apostasy is a capital offense in her home country. (Don’t ask me why her name sounds Swedish rather than Iranian.) This summer, Swedish authorities turned her down. They were fully prepared to send her back to Iran – and to her death – when the Hungarian government stepped in and agreed to take her. It is just one individual’s story, but it illuminates the dramatic difference between Western and Eastern Europe when it comes to matters that will, before too long, decide the future of the continent.

Sweden, of course, is one of those Western European countries that have eagerly granted asylum to armies of Muslims who pose as refugees from persecution but who are, in fact, economic migrants, eager to climb onto the welfare-state gravy train. Hungary, meanwhile, is one of those Eastern European countries that refuse to take in Muslims but are willing to accept Christians.

The logic, in both cases, is clear. Western European politicians and bureaucrats tend to be postmodern multiculturalists – in Sweden, fanatically so. They feel a contempt for their own civilization and they regard this contempt as a mark of sophistication and virtue. They have made a fetish of unqualified respect for other cultures, however objectively undeserving those cultures may be of any decent person’s regard. They are especially fond of cultures that share their own contempt for the West, and hence there is no culture for which they show more deference than that of Islam, which since its founding has been at war with what used to be called the Christian world.

The postmodernists live, of course, in countries that are – or were, until they started ruining it all – free, prosperous, and safe, and they feel an obligation to share their good fortune with as many Muslims as possible, even if it means, in the long run, destroying that freedom, prosperity, and safety. In the case of Sweden, this self-destructive impulse is so strong that the country has actually opened its arms to returning ISIS terrorists – and given them all kinds of freebies to make them happy.

When a Muslim such as Strandsson converts to Christianity, however, all bets are off. Her otherness is immediately erased, effaced, nullified. Western officials who reflexively treat everything having to do with Islam with delicacy and respect take an entirely antithetical view of a Muslim who has converted to Christianity. While they regard Islam, the religion of “the other,” as by definition virtuous – as a faith whose adherents should be automatically esteemed, appeased, and rewarded – they view Christianity, the faith of their despised Crusader ancestors, as intrinsically iniquitous, a religion of conquest and oppression. In the eyes of the truly fervent Swedish multiculturalist, sending someone like Strandsson back to a place like Iran to be brutally executed by the merciless enforcers of sharia law is not obscenely immoral but is, rather, the ultimate gesture of respect – and thus an act of virtue.

What makes Eastern Europe so different from Western Europe in this regard is simple: it is not postmodern. It rejects multiculturalism. Its officials, perversely enough, are actually on their own side. Having been under the Soviet boot within living memory, they have not enjoyed freedom long enough to take it for granted. In their view, their primary duty is not to serve the interests of strangers from distant lands but to preserve the liberty, culture, prosperity, and security of their own people – and to reach out a hand to those who need their help and have embraced their values. “Taking in persecuted Christians,” said Hungary’s Deputy Prime Minister, Zsolt Semjén, about the Strandsson case, “is our moral and constitutional duty all at once.”

Cancelling Patriot Prayer Democrat politicians let Antifa thugs suffocate free speech. Matthew Vadum

Freedom of speech in America is under assault by the Left like never before.

The constitutionally-suspect shutting down of Patriot Prayer’s tiny, properly permitted rally at a federal park in San Francisco Saturday is yet more proof of the political ascendancy of the evil ultra-violent “antifa” street thug movement. The Left now has the power to dictate what is and is not acceptable speech in California and many parts of the country.

Patriot Prayer is an innocuous Tea Party-ish group that only wanted to conduct a rally to affirm its members support for free speech. Instead the group has been smeared relentlessly — and now as it turns out, persecuted by state actors.

As Fox News reports:

Joey Gibson, who is Japanese American and leads Patriot Prayer, said his group disavows racism and hatred and wanted to promote dialogue with people who may not share its views. He cancelled a planned rally Saturday at a field under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge after he said his members received anonymous threats on social media and feared civic leaders and law enforcement would fail to protect them.

The official excuse for sabotaging conservative events is always “public safety,” even though left-wingers never have a problem getting their message out. Given the track record of authorities in California in dealing with conservative speakers, Gibson’s fear that his supporters would be vulnerable to attack by antifa were completely justified.

So while Gibson may have canceled his group’s event, it was the authorities in San Francisco who effectively shuttered it by making it difficult if not impossible for his would-be speakers to speak. Police in nearby Berkeley prevented David Horowitz and Ann Coulter from speaking there by moving their speaking venues far from the university campus and changing the time of their events to make it inconvenient for students to attend.

San Francisco officials denied the First Amendment rights of Patriot Prayer supporters for a second time on Saturday by shutting down Alamo Square park at which Gibson wanted to hold a presser after canceling the rally at Crissy Field. A fence was erected around the park and riot police kept people out.

More than a thousand left-wingers showed up at Alamo Square to demonstrate against the non-existent neo-Nazis. They waved signs and chanted, as leftists are wont to do, the rioters’ mantra, “Whose streets? Our streets!”

Gibson later addressed a few supporters, including blacks, a Latino, and a Samoan American, in suburban Pacifica. Several reportedly said they “support President Donald Trump and want to join with moderates to promote understanding and free speech.”

Gibson told Fox News that San Francisco’s pro-antifa mayor, Ed Lee (D), prevented the rally from happening. Lee had claimed previously that the rally would attract violent hate-speech practitioners and violence. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) and a cohort of Democrat politicians lied repeatedly, claiming Patriot Prayer’s rally was a “white supremacist” event that should not be allowed to go forward.

The Time Has Come To Stop The War On Free Speech If local authorities won’t do it, the Federal government must. Daniel Greenfield

Freedom of Assembly is the first and most important right of the Bill of Rights. Today it is being denied in cities like Berkeley and Portland where local left-wing governments have contrived to deny rally permits while giving the masked thugs of their leftist Antifa allies a blank check to assault those whose views they oppose.

In Berkley, Boston and San Francisco, the First Amendment doesn’t exist anymore.

The threat of violence that shut down the Patriot Prayer demonstration in San Francisco, an event scheduled to feature African American, Samoan and Latino speakers, is a case of fascism justifying itself by flying the false flag of “anti-fascism.” And it is the third such case this week – the others being Boston and Berkeley. The founder of Patriot Prayer, Joey Gibson, is a Japanese American who regards himself as a “person of color” and who had made it very clear that he opposes Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and who has publicly stated that his goal is to promote “love” not hate.

This time the violence and hate were coming from one side, and one side only.

Gibson’s attempt to hold a demonstration to end hate was torpedoed by Nancy Pelosi and Mayor David Lee who falsely claimed that it was a proposed gathering of “white supremacists.” Pelosi insisted that Patriot Prayer should not be allowed a permit for Crissy Field in San Francisco. “The Constitution does not say that a person can yell ‘wolf’ in a crowded theater,” she insisted. But the only people crying wolf were Pelosi and the leftist thugs who caused it to be shut down.

In Berkeley, authorities denied free speech advocates a permit, and did little to prevent the leftist violence that broke out against a handful of individuals who showed up after the organizers had called it off.

James Queally, the crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, tweeted, “There is a complete mob mentality here. People are randomly accusing random people of being Nazis.” Another Tweet added, “The moderate counter protesters are livid with the violence. ‘We need to get Antifa out of here.’ said man who helped break up fight.’”

The authorities are not going to do it. The choice is simple. Either we have a First Amendment. Or we don’t. If mobs of violent leftists with the complicity of leftist authorities can shut down any protest or speaker they don’t like, then we no longer have a Bill of Rights. All that’s left is leftist tyranny.

In the sixties, Governor Reagan sent in the National Guard to stop the violence at Berkeley. Governor Brown won’t do it. It’s up to President Trump to act.

And there’s precedent.

Mob rule will not be tolerated.

That was the message that President Eisenhower delivered to Americans in the fall of ’57 when he returned to the White House and ordered the deployment of the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Governor of Arkansas, a progressive Democrat who was a product of the radical leftist Commonwealth College, had allowed a racist mob to rampage at Central High School in Little Rock.

Eisenhower warned that “disorderly mobs” operating “under the leadership of demagogic extremists” would not be allowed to terrorize citizens with the complicity of local authorities. He showed that the President of the United States was willing to protect civil rights with armed force.

“The only assurance I can give you is that the Federal Constitution will be upheld by me by every legal means at my command,” Eisenhower vowed.

And that’s what he did.

California, under Democrat rule, has become a rogue state ruled by leftist mobs and their political godfathers, where there are a million regulations, but no rule of law, where there is a code for everything, but where the Constitution no longer operates.

Antifa is a criminal terrorist organization. Its masked thugs know they are criminals which is why they hide their identities. The first responsibility of government is the safety of its citizens. When violent thugs shut down free assemblies, government is not doing its job.

Reagan and Eisenhower made it clear that mob violence would not be tolerated. And they were willing to back up the Constitution and our political freedoms with force.

That’s what must be done to restore First Amendment rights in Berkeley everywhere Antifa mobs seek to shut down the free speech of those they disagree with. If leftist governors and mayors won’t protect the rights and safety of their citizens, then it’s up to the federal government to step in and do it for them.

Palestinians: Destroying the Judiciary by Khaled Abu Toameh

Now that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership have succeeded in their effort to intimidate social media activists and journalists, they are turning their repressive gaze on judges and lawyers.

The PA government’s proposed bill authorizes the executive branch to dismiss judges; the critics say that this constitutes a breach of the Palestinian Basic Law and jeopardizes the independence of the judicial system. The controversy surrounding the PA government’s new bill targeting the judicial authority is yet another indication of how the Palestinians are marching backward, and not forward, in establishing proper and transparent state institutions.

Abbas and his government are quietly and successfully turning the PA into an autocratic one man-show, making it a private Abbas fiefdom. After the journalists, the media and the judiciary, it remains to be seen whose turn is next.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is facing sharp criticism over its attempt to “encroach” on the judicial authority and turn it into a tool in the hands of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian lawyers, judges and legal experts say that a new bill proposed by the PA government in the West Bank would have a negative impact on the independence and integrity of the judiciary system.

The controversial draft bill aims at amending the law of the judicial authority so that Abbas and his government would be able to tighten their grip over the work of the courts and judges.

The PA leadership’s bid to take control over the judicial authority comes on the heels of an ongoing crackdown on the Palestinian media and journalists. In recent weeks, PA security forces have blocked more than 20 news websites and arrested scores of journalists. In addition, Abbas has approved a Cyber Crimes Law that gives his security forces expanded powers to silence his critics on social media.

Protests by Palestinian journalists and some human rights organizations have thus far failed to persuade Abbas to abandon the Cyber Crimes Law and punitive measures against reporters. As of now, Abbas’s campaign to muzzle his critics appears to have worked.

Deterred by the new law, which was passed secretly and without consultation with the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the arrest of seven journalists in the past few weeks, many of Abbas’s critics are keeping a low profile.

This month, PA security forces arrested Mashal Alkouk, a Palestinian-American, for posting critical comments on Facebook. Alkouk, a prominent member of the Palestinian community in the US, was arrested on August 19 when he came to the West Bank to attend the wedding of a family member. He was released four days later.

A statement issued by his friends in the US strongly condemned Alkouk’s arrest as a “flagrant assault on individual and public freedoms and freedom of expression.”

The statement noted that Alkouk was arrested for his public activities on website called “Palestinians in the US.” It said that the website is based in the US and serves as a platform for Palestinian and Arab activists living in the US.

Northern Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat by Nuhu Othman

Why do members of the Congressional Black Caucus call themselves African American when they don’t give a hoot about the tragedies engulfing the abandoned continent-Jihads, famines, epidemics, tribal wars, corrupt and tyrannical leaders and genocide? What hypocrisy…..rsk
As is the case across the globe, the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others are a double-edged sword. They are used for a disseminating information, but also for spreading disinformation and lies, as well as for recruiting fighters to the Boko Haram terrorist group, based mainly in Northern Nigeria, and responsible for the bulk of the suicide bombings and other mass murders committed in Africa.

Although people such as the members of the Humanist Society of Northern Nigeria have the same constitutional rights as anyone else in Northern Nigeria, if they try to express their political beliefs in the 2019 presidential election, they are liable to face persecution in different forms, including through the penal code.

After 2000, criminal cases in Northern Nigeria were placed under the jurisdiction of Sharia courts. Suspects began being tried for offenses such as blasphemy and adultery. To make matters worse, even when some of these cases were overturned by the Nigerian Supreme Court, the accused remained stigmatized in their communities. This is likely to be the fate of the members of the Humanist Society, particularly if they are perceived to pose a political threat in the next elections. There is also no indication that the authorities will protect them in such an event. Such a betrayal is unacceptable in a country that says it prides itself on being a democracy.

Nigeria’s fragile democracy is under fire. Nigerian Islamists in the highly religious Islamic north of the country have been targeting a marginal non-profit organization of secularists, the Humanist Society of Northern Nigeria (HSNN). The problem is worth examining.

Since the return of democracy to the largest African country in 1999, freedom of speech has been expressed mostly on social media. Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of internet users in Africa — about 91 million. Yet, as is the case across the globe, the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others are a double-edged sword. They are used for a disseminating information, but also for spreading disinformation and lies, as well as for recruiting fighters to the Boko Haram terrorist group, based mainly in Northern Nigeria, and responsible for the bulk of the suicide bombings and other mass murders committed in Africa.

To understand the significance of HSNN, one must grasp that 18 years ago, with the introduction of multiparty elections in Nigeria, most of the northern states used the ballot box to choose a system of Sharia (Islamic religious law).