Displaying posts published in

October 2017

How to Steele an Election by Mark Steyn

From Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes:

Mostly she was mad – mad that she’d lost and that the country would have to endure a Trump presidency… Hillary kept pointing her finger at Comey and Russia. ‘She wants to make sure all these narratives get spun the right way,’ this person said.

That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

“Mook” is campaign manager Robby of that ilk, and “Podesta” is John, her campaign chairman and, with his brother Tony Podesta, one of the two Podestas who founded the Podesta Group, now under investigation for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Notice Mr Allen and Miss Parnes’ choice of words: Whether or not the election in reality “wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up”, Messrs Mook and Podesta and the rest of the Clinton team decided to “engineer the case” that it wasn’t.

And engineering-wise they did a pretty impressive job, as you’ll know if you’re one of the impressionable rubes who gets his news from ABC, CBS, NBC or CNN. If the campaign team had worked its precision engineering half as well on the actual campaign, they would have won the election “on the up-and-up” and saved themselves the need for a post-election campaign.

By “Russian hacking” of the election, they mean that some Internet trolls from halfway round the world bought a few fake Facebook ads, half of which weren’t seen until after election day. For purposes of comparison, the one hundred grand these trolls spent to “interfere” in the US election works out at less than two per cent of what Hillary paid a high-ranking spy of a foreign power to interfere in the US election …and post-election.

It started in April 2016, when it became clear that Trump was going to win the Republican nomination. The Hillary campaign and the DNC gave millions of dollars to Marc Elias, a Clinton lawyer, who in turn hired Fusion GPS, who in turn hired former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Why use Mr Elias as a cutout? Because Hillary and the DNC could then itemize the expense as “legal services” rather than list payments to Mr Steele, which would be in breach of federal law.

Mr Steele used to be head of “the Russia house”, to go all John le Carré on you. So he asked his contacts in Moscow to come up with some stuff on Trump, and they responded with some pretty thinnish material that Steele managed to stretch out to a total of about 33 pages. I can tell you, after six years in the fetid craphole of the District of Columbia Superior Court for the Mann vs Steyn case, that the most routine procedural motion therein runs at least three times the length. The most “salacious” (in James Comey’s word) assertion of the dossier is that Trump likes getting urinated on by Russian hookers. Having met him, I regard this as most unlikely: He is a germaphobe who resents having to do all the unhygienic gladhanding required in American politics. I find it easier to imagine almost any other Republican bigshot enjoying the erotic frisson of micturition, if only from Chuck Schumer. But judge for yourself: You can read the dossier here.

At which point things took a strange and disturbing turn. Steele’s dossier was passed along to the FBI. It seems a reasonable inference, to put it as blandly as possible, that the dossier was used to justify the opening of what the Feds call an “FI” (Full Investigation), which in turn was used to justify a FISA order permitting the FBI to put Trump’s associates under surveillance. Indeed, it seems a reasonable inference that the dossier was created and supplied to friendly forces within the bureau in order to provide a pretext for an FI, without which surveillance of the Trump campaign would not be possible.

In October 2016, things took a stranger and more disturbing turn. Steele “reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the Bureau to pay him to continue his work”. In other words, the permanent bureaucracy and the ruling party were collaborating to get the goods on their political opponent, by illegally paying a foreign spy to interfere with the election. Why would the most lavishly funded investigative agency on the planet need the services of a British subject and his modest consulting firm? Not just for plausible deniability but also for plausible reliability: Hey, investigating Trump would never have occurred to us, but the former head of the Russia desk at MI6 thought we ought to know about this… Which, in case you haven’t noticed, is the precise equivalent of Bush crediting British intelligence as the unimpeachable source for his belief that Saddam Hussein was seeking to acquire yellowcake from Niger.

A month later, Trump did the impossible and won the election. And within twenty-four hours Mook and Podesta had begun “engineering the case” that the election “wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up”. On November 18th, Andrew Wood, formerly British Ambassador in Moscow, and John McCain, the Senator from Arizona and fierce Never Trumper, met at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia. Sir Andrew told Senator McCain about the dossier and said he’d known Steele when they were both on Her Majesty’s service in Russia and that he was a splendid chap, very sound and awfully decent.

[UPDATE! Steve McIntyre, slayer of hockey sticks, notes that Andrew Wood is not merely a former ambassador but an Associate of Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd (Steele’s company).]

One month after the election, on December 9th, McCain met with FBI Director Comey and handed over the dossier. It is not known if Comey replied, “Oh, this old thing? As a matter of fact, we used it as a pretext to get surveillance warrants on Trump. Do you know what it’s like to sit through hours of phone transcripts about how ‘The Apprentice”s ratings have tanked since they hired that loser Schwarzenegger?”

France: New Anti-Terrorism Law Takes Effect by Soeren Kern

The new law authorizes prefects to order the closure of mosques or other places of worship for a period of up to six months if preachers are deemed to express “ideas or theories” that “incite violence, hatred or discrimination, provoke the commission of acts of terrorism or express praise for such acts.”

French police and intelligence services are surveilling around 15,000 jihadists living on French soil, Le Journal du Dimanche reported on October 9. Of these, some 4,000 are at “the top of the spectrum” and most likely to carry out an attack.

Of the 1,900 French jihadists fighting with the Islamic State, as many as one-fifth have received as much as €500,000 ($580,000) in social welfare payments from the French state, Le Figaro revealed on October 26.

French President Emmanuel Macron has formally signed a new counter-terrorism law which gives prefects, police and security forces wide-ranging powers — without the need to seek prior approval from a judge — to search homes, place people under house arrest and close places of worship. The measure also authorizes police to perform identity checks at French borders.

The new law, adopted by the French Senate on October 18, makes permanent many of the previously exceptional measures imposed under a two-year-old state of emergency, which was introduced after the jihadist attacks in Paris in November 2015. That state of emergency was slated to expire on November 1.

During a signing ceremony at the Élysée Palace on October 30, Macron said the compromise measure strikes the right balance between security and respect for civil liberties. Hardliners counter that the new law does not go far enough, while human rights groups complain that it will leave France in a permanent state of emergency.

The new law — Law to Strengthen Internal Security and the Fight Against Terrorism (Loi renforçant la sécurité intérieure et la lutte contre le terrorisme) — consists of seven main parts:

Security Zones. The new law gives prefects, the top government official in each of France’s departments or regions, the power to designate public areas and sporting or cultural events, including music concerts, that are deemed to be at risk of terrorism, as security zones. The law authorizes police to search all persons or vehicles attempting to enter such areas or events. Anyone refusing to submit to such searches will be denied access.

Closing Places of Worship. The new law authorizes prefects to order the closure of mosques or other places of worship for a period of up to six months if preachers are deemed to express “ideas or theories” that “incite violence, hatred or discrimination, provoke the commission of acts of terrorism or express praise for such acts.” Violations are punishable by six months in prison and a fine of €7,500 ($8,750). Opponents of the law argue that “ideas” and “theories” are subjective and therefore open to abuse.

House Arrest. The new law authorizes the Minister of the Interior to confine suspected Islamists, even those who are not accused of a specific crime, to the town or city of their domicile. Any individual for whom there are “serious reasons to believe that his or her conduct constitutes a particularly serious threat to public security and public order,” may be placed under house arrest — without the prior approval of a judge — for a period of three months, renewable for additional periods of three months to a maximum period of one year. Individuals subject to such confinement will be required to report to their local police station once a day. Alternatively, individuals may be placed under mobile electronic surveillance. The Minister of the Interior may also prohibit individuals from being in direct or indirect contact with certain persons, named by name, who are believed to pose a threat to public security. Violations of the measures are punishable by three years in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($52,500).

Search and Seizure. The new law authorizes a prefect to ask a judge for a warrant to search the home of anyone suspected of posing a threat to public security. The individual being searched may be detained for up to four hours if he or she represents “a threat of particular gravity for security and public order” and has “habitual contact to persons or organizations with terrorist aims” or supports and adheres to ideas inciting to such acts. The law also authorizes police to seize any documents, objects or electronic data at the place being searched.

Radicalized Public Servants. A civil servant working in fields related to national security or defense can be transferred or even dismissed from the public service if he or she is found to hold beliefs that are “incompatible with the exercise of his or her duties.” Soldiers can also be discharged for similar motives.

Electronic Surveillance and Data Collection. The new law authorizes the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Transport to collect the telephone and email communications of suspicious individuals “for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offenses and serious crimes.” The law also allows security services to access travel information, including from travel agencies, about airline and maritime passengers. Data collection “shall exclude personal data that may reveal a person’s racial or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, political opinions, trade union membership, or data relating to the health or sexual life of the person concerned.”

Border Checks. The new law authorizes police to conduct warrantless identity checks at more than 118 border areas and 373 airports, seaports and train stations, as well as the surrounding areas up to a radius of 20 kilometers. This encompasses 28.6% of French territory and 67% of the French population, according to Le Monde. Critics say this includes many mainly immigrant suburbs and could lead to harassment of ethnic minorities.

Surprise! Study Shows Islamic Terrorism is Islamic by Judith Bergman

Although the internet evidently did play a role in the radicalization process, the study showed that face-to-face encounters were more important, and that dawa, the proselytizing of Islam, played a central role in this process, as the men themselves became missionaries for Islam.

The third factor was the establishment of a “them and us” distinction between the radicalized men and the rest of the world, especially the belief that the West is an enemy of the Muslim world. The distinction also involved a rejection of democracy and a commitment to the establishment of a caliphate governed by sharia law, which the men want to bring about either through dawa (proselytizing) or violence (jihad).

“The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic? Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world. Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate. Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc. Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from non-Muslims]. Al Azhar teaches stoning people. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?” — Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, scholar of Islamic law, graduate of Egypt’s Al Azhar University, explaining why it refused to denounce ISIS as un-Islamic, 2015.

Western leaders insist that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. Evidence to the contrary appeared again this week from Mohamad Jamal Khweis, an ISIS recruit from the United States who said in a 2016 interview with Kurdistan24, “Our daily life was basically prayer, eating and learning about the religion for about eight hours.” Khweis was sentenced to 20 years in prison on October 27 for providing material support to ISIS, according to CBS News.

As early as 2001, immediately after 9/11, then-President George W. Bush gave a speech in which he claimed that in the United States, the terrorist acts in which over 3,000 people were killed “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith” and that “Islam is peace”.

Twelve years and many spectacular terrorist attacks later, in 2013, when two jihadists murdered Lee Rigby in broad daylight in London, the prime minister at the time, David Cameron, declared that the attack was “a betrayal of Islam… there is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act”.

In January 2015, jihadists in Paris shouting “Allahu Akbar” attacked Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, murdering 15 people. French President François Hollande said that the jihadists had “nothing to do with the Muslim faith”.

Two years later, when a jihadist targeted the very heart of European democratic civilization, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, British PM Theresa May said: “It is wrong to describe this as Islamic terrorism. It is Islamist terrorism and the perversion of a great faith”.

In the face of hundreds of Muslim terrorists yelling “Allahu Akbar” while bombing, shooting, stabbing, and car-ramming thousands of innocent civilians to death and wounding thousands of others, it would be reasonable to assume that elected representatives might feel obliged to put their denial of reality on hold long enough to read at least bits of the Quran. They might start by reading the commands in “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them…” (9:5), or, “So fight them until there is no more fitna [strife] and all submit to the religion of Allah” (8:39).

If that is asking too much, perhaps they might be willing to consider a recent study by Islamic theologian and professor of Islamic religious education at the University of Vienna, Ednan Aslan, which was commissioned by the Austrian ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the 310-page study, which was conducted over 18 months and involved interviews with 29 Muslims who were all jailed or in juvenile detention (over half for having committed terrorist offenses) was reportedly to investigate the role that Islam plays in the radicalization of young Muslims in Austria. The study showed that jihadists are not, as Western leaders claim, ignorant of Islam and therefore “perverting” it. On the contrary, the jihadists apparently have a deep understanding of Islamic theology. Aslan explicitly warns against reducing the issue of Islamic terrorism to questions of “frustrated individuals, who have no perspective, are illiterate and have misunderstood Islam”.

The study found that three factors were particularly relevant to the radicalization process of the interviewees. The first factor was Islam itself: The interviewees had actively participated in their own radicalization, by engaging with the content, norms and standards of Islamic doctrine, and had apparently found this engagement to be a positive turning point in their lives. The study describes the approach to Islam of these men as “Salafism”, which it defines as the view that Islam comprises all aspects of life, religious, personal and societal. Moreover, the majority of the men evidently came from religious Muslim homes and were therefore already familiar with the foundations of Islam. The study explicitly states that the prevailing assumption that the majority of radicalized Muslims know very little about Islam could not be confirmed by the interviewers’ findings.

The second factor was the environment: the specific mosques and imams to which the men went and on which they relied. Although the internet evidently did play a role in the radicalization process, the study showed that face-to-face encounters were more important, and that dawa, proselytizing Islam, played a central role in this process, as the men themselves became missionaries for Islam. Notably, the study showed that the level of theological knowledge determined the individual’s role in the hierarchy — the more knowledge they had of Islam, the more authority they had.

The third factor was the establishment of a “them and us” distinction between the radicalized men and the rest of the world, especially the belief that the West is an enemy of the Muslim world. The distinction also involved a rejection of democracy and a commitment to the establishment of a caliphate governed by sharia law, which the men want to bring about either through dawa (proselytizing) or violence (jihad).

Critics might argue that a qualitative study of 29 radical Muslims is not representative of most Islamic terrorists, but that is hardly true. In 2015, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, a scholar of Islamic law and graduate of Egypt’s Al Azhar University, explained why the prestigious institution, which educates mainstream Islamic scholars, refused to denounce ISIS as un-Islamic:

“The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic? Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world. Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate. Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc. Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from non-Muslims]. Al Azhar teaches stoning people. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?”

In 2015, Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt — a prestigious institution that educates mainstream Islamic scholars — refused to denounce ISIS as un-Islamic. (Image source: Sailko/Wikimedia Commons)

Western leaders did not listen.

They also did not listen when, in 2015, The Atlantic published a study by Graeme Wood, who researched the Islamic State and its ideology in depth. He spoke to members of the Islamic State and Islamic State recruiters and concluded:

“The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam”.

How much longer can the West afford to ignore reality?

Peter Smith Kneeling Before an Altar of Lies

Repetition of lies produces factoids, a technique in which the Left is well practised and relentless in its application. This business of kneeling in protest at US football games is the latest example. How refreshing to see a president uncowed by myth and political correctness.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired! He’s fired!’ ”

Down camme the Trump haters from great heights of sanctimony. Trump is a racist and white supremacist, charged the Democrats and their cheerleaders; to wit, the hopelessly-corrupted fake-news media. No other conclusion could be drawn, they intoned over and over again.

Repetition of lies makes factoids. Leftists know that and are well practised in mythmaking. ‘The stolen generations’ is an exemplar in Australia. Talk to almost anyone you like and that myth has become a ‘truth’.

As most of the highly paid NFL players are black – they must have some physiological edge, but we are probably not allowed to say that — Trump must be a racist. And he is dog-whistling to white supremacists. His use of the word ‘bitch’ proves that to those who are prepared to go through any tendentious contortions to arrive at the answer they want.

The never-Trump Republicans get on board; if in a less colourful way. Karl Rove disproves of Trump’s language and his impugning of the parenthood of the NFL players. I was reminded of NSW Premier Robert Askin vocalising his thought “run over the bastards” to Lydon Johnson when anti-Vietnam War protesters were attempting to block his motorcade. Askin was criticised for this in some quarters, but I don’t seem to recall part of that criticism being related to the archaic literal meaning of ‘bastards’.

Memo to leftists and Karl Rove and company: Trump was using a common or garden expression, as was Askin. Moreover, in using the expression “he’s fired” he was parodying himself. The humour of the children’s literature character Amelia Bedelia, who took everything literally, would be entirely lost on today’s adult wallies. We are clearly living through a dumb age in which common sense has become a much rarer commodity.

Mark Steyn says that common sense presupposes a common understanding of the world, which is now absent. He’s right, which is why Q&A panels and audiences, for example, appear to me to be mostly populated by aliens; and particularly dumb and nasty ones. Witness, as another example, an elementary school librarian, Ms Liz Phipps Soeiro, who scolded Melania Trump for gifting her library “racist” Dr Seuss books. This lady can spot racist undertones in The Cat in the Hat. Imagine how young children will turn out under this dumb leftist tutelage. It is a growing curse on our children and on mankind.

Back to taking a knee for the flag and anthem. Though it has taken on an anti-Trump complexion, the initial protest by Colin Kaepernick was against (imagined) police brutality towards black men. Disconcertingly, even those who oppose the form of the protest; nevertheless, implicitly accept its premise, if only by their silence about it. The premise being that black men are disproportionately targeted and shot by cops. Quite simply, this is not supported by the evidence.

I wrote about this using publicly available data (The Truth in Black and White,) but Heather MacDonald (The War on Cops) is the person to go to. She has completely exposed the myth. For example, when set against black crime rates, blacks are by a long way less likely to be killed by cops than are whites. Don’t worry, the myth will live on. Black rabblerousers and the fake-news media will see to that.

Facts aside about police brutality, there is a lot of injustice in the world. I am pretty sure many young black people in America suffer injustices. Others do too but that doesn’t mean black sportsmen can’t highlight the injustices that they feel most acutely. How they do it is the issue.

A national anthem and flag transcend politics. Me, standing for Advance Australia Fair does not mean that I support Malcolm Turnbull. Nor does it mean that I am happy about the inevitable enactment of SSM or about impoverishing renewable-energy targets. Equally, kneeling when the anthem is played would not be a constructive or remotely comprehensible way of voicing my political objections.

There has to be one point where those making up a nation come together. That point is patriotism; wanting the best for the nation as a whole. Standing for the anthem and flag is simply an expression of that point of common cause, even among those who may be bitterly divided on particular political and social issues.

Apologists for the NFL players claim that they are not intending to disrespect the flag. This is pure sophistry. If you don’t mean to be disrespectful, it is odd indeed to take a knee precisely when the American flag is flying and the Star-Spangled Banner playing. To someone with common sense (there’s the problem I suppose) it is plainly disrespectful. And it is unmistakeably directed at the unifying symbols of the nation.

What’s in a Pronoun? An awful lot, say transgender activists. Seth Barron

The movement to extend transgender rights and awareness continues its push to determine how people speak. Third-person pronoun usage has become a major subject of contention in the last year, with the passage of laws that seek to govern how people refer to one another. The New York City Commission of Human Rights (NYCCHR), for example, declares that “individuals have the right . . . to be addressed with their preferred pronouns and name without being required to show ‘proof’ of gender.”

The range of “preferred pronouns” has expanded widely recently, with the introduction of a new set of pronominal terms, complete with their own declensions. The NYCCHR, in its guidance on municipal anti-discrimination law, explains that “ze and hir are popular gender-free pronouns preferred by some transgender and/or gender non-conforming individuals.” The guidance further explains that “intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title” is a violation of human rights law, which can lead to significant fines. “Ze” and “hir,” incidentally, are only two examples of the dozens of new pronouns invented in the last few years, including “ae/aer,” “ey/em,” “xe/xem,” “per/per,” yo/yo,” and “ve/ver,” among others.

Transgender advocates insist that nobody is in danger of getting jail time for misidentifying trans-people; rather, the law is meant to raise consciousness about the issue. “Our guidance encourages people to ask transgender and gender non-conforming individuals how they would like to be addressed,” says New York City Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis. “The law is meant to address situations in which individuals intentionally and repeatedly target transgender and gender non-conforming people with this type of harassment.” The commission fails to specify, though, how many instances of such misidentification would constitute intentional and repeated harassment.

A new California law, the Gender Recognition Act, allows people to designate their gender as “nonbinary”—meaning that they “may or may not identify as transgender, may or may not have been born with intersex traits, may or may not use gender-neutral pronouns, and may or may not use more specific terms to describe their genders, such as agender, genderqueer, gender fluid, Two Spirit, bigender, pangender, gender nonconforming, or gender variant.” The Golden State has also required nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to “use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.”

Pushing further, some advocates object to the idea that pronoun choice is even a question of preference. The student health center at UC-Davis clarifies that “a common misconception or trend these days is to say PGPs for Preferred Gender Pronouns. However, for many people, their pronouns are not preferred, they are mandatory.” As anti-discrimination law tends to follow the steepest path downstream, it’s not hard to imagine legislators soon regarding designation of pronoun choice as “mandatory,” with the appropriate penalties for those contravening the new norm.

It seems fair and just to refer to people as they present themselves and wish to be addressed. It would be rude to call a transman “Miss” just to make a point, and within reason, going along with whatever benign fiction people might have cooked up about themselves is simply good manners. “Preferred-pronoun” usage, however, is a bridge too far, and not just because it’s impossible to expect everyone to memorize lists of declensions of made-up words. The pronoun debate is also an effort to force us to change the way we talk about people who are not actually present: when we speak of “he” or “she,” we are almost always talking about someone who is not there. When speaking face-to-face, the only pronoun we commonly use is “you.” It’s considered improper to use third-person pronouns in the presence of their subjects; hence the old saying, “‘She’ is the cat’s mother,” meant to admonish against using the pronominal form instead of the individual’s proper name, if he or she is present. Insisting that we refer to absent people according to made-up vocabulary words upon threat of punishment is to interpose political ideology into conversation under force of law. It deputizes all listeners or interlocutors as surveillance agents in the name of gender equality.

Free people can think of and present themselves in just about any manner that they wish; nowadays, they have more latitude to do so than ever before. This should more than suffice. Anything further is fantasy, enforced by thought police.

Seth Barron is associate editor of City Journal and project director of the NYC Initiative at the Manhattan Institute.

Podestas Embroiled In Mueller Probe Where is the media scrutiny? Joseph Klein

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former presidential campaign manager for a brief time, was indicted Monday by a federal grand jury, along with one of his business associates Richard W. Gates, on twelve counts. The charges, which cover conduct going as far back as 2006 and continuing through 2016, include conspiring to defraud the United States in business dealings with Ukraine, conspiracy to launder money, false and misleading FARA [Foreign Agent Registration Act] statements, and being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal. While the charges have been brought as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between President Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, they have nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign. In response to the news of the charges, President Trump tweeted: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”

In fact, at least some of the charges brought against Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates may turn out to be millstones around the necks of the Podesta Group, the Democrat leaning consulting and lobbying firm co-founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and his brother Tony. It was reported that special counsel Mueller has opened a federal investigation into Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has reported some additional details about the relationship between Manafort and the Podesta Group that may provide some context for the charges brought against Manafort and Gates. Carlson said he was told by an unnamed source claiming to be a former senior employee of the Podesta Group that “Paul Manafort spent years working with The Podesta Group on behalf of Russian government interests. That relationship extends back to at least 2011 when our source claims Manafort had dinner with both Podestas, Tony and John.”

In the years following that dinner, Carlson’s source said he saw Paul Manafort in the Podesta Group offices frequently, “representing Russian business and political interests, who sought to influence Capitol Hill, Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and the Obama administration.” Tony Podesta in turn had direct discussions with Hillary Clinton while she was the Secretary of State.

Tony Podesta also had connections to the Clinton Foundation. The subject of one meeting between Tony Podesta and the Clinton Foundation, according to Carlson’s source, involved the Uranium One deal in which the Russians gained control of 20 percent of U.S. uranium reserves while the company’s principals gave more than $100 million to the Clinton Foundation. “As our source put it, Tony Podesta was basically part of the Clinton Foundation,” Carlson reported.

Carlson proceeded to describe the vehicles Paul Manafort and the Podesta Group used to push the agenda of their Russian and Russian-friendly Ukrainian clients in high level Obama administration circles. One such vehicle, called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, was a major client of the Podesta Group and Manafort. This relationship went at least as far back as 2012.

The Associated Press had previously reported last year that Manafort and Gates introduced the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine to the Podesta Group and another lobbying group named Mercury LLC. The Podesta Group did not file a Foreign Agents Registration Act disclosure until this past April, years after it engaged in lobbying work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The Podesta Group reportedly received $1.13 million from the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine between June 2012 and April 2014.

The criminal indictment of Manafort and Gates ties some strings together, referring specifically to the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, and to two unnamed lobbying companies in the United States solicited by Manafort and Gates.

Paragraph 11 states, “The European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (the Centre) was created in or about 2012 in Belgium as a mouthpiece for Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. The Centre was used by MANAFORT, GATES, and others in order to lobby and conduct a public relations campaign in the United States and Europe on behalf of the existing Ukraine regime.” The Party of Regions was a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. Yanukovych was the former pro-Russian president of Ukraine who was ousted in 2014.

Tensions High As Israel Destroys Palestinian Terror Tunnel IDF deploys the Iron Dome and places troops on alert. Ari Lieberman

At least seven Palestinian terrorists were killed and 12 injured hours ago after the Israeli Army discovered a terror tunnel that extended from Gaza into Israeli territory. According to Israel’s Channel 2, eleven terrorists were killed. Most of the terrorists belonged to the Islamic Jihad group but some were affiliated with Hamas.

According to Palestinian sources, the tunnel was destroyed with an airstrike. Israeli sources, which are generally more reliable, claim that it was destroyed with a controlled explosion. Israel’s combat engineering units train incessantly for such scenarios and have played a key role in detecting and destroying terror tunnels. In the past two years, several Palestinian-constructed tunnels have mysteriously and inexplicably collapsed, killing dozens of terror operatives trapped inside. Palestinians have accused Israel of deploying a new weapon and the Israelis have not denied the existence of such a top-secret device.

Israel believes that the tunnel was constructed after Operation Protective Edge, which took place in 2014. Palestinians have attempted to employ tunnels as an offensive strategic weapon for the purpose of infiltrating Israeli territory and perpetrating mass killings and kidnappings. However, at least three dozen of these tunnels were destroyed during Operation Protective Edge, thwarting Hamas’s ghoulish designs. Hamas terrorists have invested substantial sums in creating a network of tunnels that crisscross the Gaza Strip. They have also diverted cement and steel, designated for civilian use, to construct tunnels.

According to Israeli officials, the tunnel ran from the Gazan city of Khan Younis, crossed under the border for several dozen feet, and approached the Israeli Kibbutz of Kissufim. An Israeli military spokesperson noted that none of the Kibbutz residents were in danger as the tunnel was destroyed approximately 1 and ¼ miles from the kibbutz. Officials added that construction of the tunnel was being monitored for a period of time prior to its destruction.

According to Palestinian sources, at least five of the dead were identified as Islamic Jihad members while two were affiliated with Hamas. The discovery of the tunnel, its destruction and the deaths of so many terrorists has significantly raised tensions near the Gaza periphery.

The Israel Defense Forces declared the area near the Gaza Strip a closed military zone. In addition, Israel readied its Iron Dome batteries in anticipation of retaliatory rocket fire. Iron Dome proved its mettle during Operation Pillar of Defense, which occurred in 2012 and then again during Operation Protective Edge. In 2012, the system scored an 85% success rate and in 2014, Iron Dome boasted an even greater success rate, shooting down more than 700 Hamas rockets. Iron Dome calculates the rocket’s trajectory and is only fired if it is determined that the rocket will land in populated areas.

Predictably, Islamic Jihad called for retaliation. An Islamic Jihad spokesman posted the following combative comment on twitter: “The Zionist terror government must realize that we will not hesitate to protect our people and our land.” Hamas issued similar militant comments.

The question that everyone is asking now is whether this incident will spiral into a full-scale conflagration. In 2014, a Hamas kidnapping of three hitchhiking Israeli youths provoked a series of escalations that resulted in full-scale war.

Islam’s Harvey Weinstein? Tariq Ramadan faces an accuser. Bruce Bawer

Almost every day now, since various actresses began pointing fingers at Harvey Weinstein, yet another celebrity has been accused of sexual misdeeds. Among the latest is Tariq Ramadan.

Who is Ramadan? First, he’s Muslim royalty, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, who despised the West and preached the doctrine of Islamic conquest of the Christian world. Ramadan himself pretends to be a different kind of Muslim. Mild-mannered and presentable, the silver-tongued, Swiss-born Ramadan poses as a moderate, or even liberal, bridge-builder between Islam and the West. In perfectly fluent French, and decent enough English, he speaks of a future “Euro-Islam” – a peaceful, modernized version of the faith, ushered in by himself and his followers, that would be entirely compatible with Western life and values.

Some of the West’s major cultural institutions have been sucked in by the visions Ramadan has spun and the image he’s created for himself. He’s been on the faculty at Oxford since 2005. The British Foreign Office, while banning from the U.K. such forthright critics of Islam as Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, employs Ramadan as an adviser on religion. The New York Times has repeatedly carried water for him: the Times Magazine ran a glowing full-length profile; the Times Book Review published a review of one of his books that read like a press release, and later, in a bizarre and unprecedented move, a piece in which Ramadan spent 2500 words gushing over the supposed humanity, profundity, and poetic beauty of the Koran – without ever mentioning that it is, in reality, little more than a barbaric compendium of commands to kill infidels and accounts of the torment that awaits them after death.

For years, close observers of Ramadan have been well aware that despite his pretense to moderation, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s not really that hard to figure out. He openly supports sharia law. He openly supports female genital mutilation and the stoning of women. He’s reportedly on the payroll of the terrorist-funding rulers of Qatar. During the presidency of George W. Bush, he was banned from the U.S. because of suspected terrorist ties. (Hillary Clinton lifted the ban when she became Secretary of State.) He was, and perhaps still is, also prohibited from entering several Muslim countries. For a time he was banned from France, although this ban was apparently lifted at some point, because in 2012, according to a Muslim woman named Henda Ayari, he sexually assaulted her in a Holiday Inn hotel room in Paris when they both there attending an Islamic conference.

I’m shocked. No, not that Tariq Ramadan may have raped somebody. I’m shocked that there’s a Holiday Inn in Paris.

Who is Ayari? She’s a former hijab-wearing Muslim who, after enduring a forced marriage to a man who (she says) beat her mercilessly, rebelled against her religion’s oppression of women and threw off the veil – although, like many such rebels, she continues to identify as a Muslim. Last year published a book entitled J’ai choisi d’être libre (I Chose to Be Free). “I was one of the living dead,” she has said. “Salafism anaesthetized me until I freed myself from its mental chains.” As it happens, her book includes an account of the incident at the Holiday Inn, only with her attacker’s identity disguised. “I was completely under the thumb of this intelligent, seductive and manipulative being,” Ayari wrote. So bewitched was she by him, in fact, that she maintained an intimate relationship with him for several months after the assault, until she finally snapped out of it. Now she’s angry at what she considers the blatant hypocrisy of this man who “continues to give lessons in Islamic morality.” Not until the other day did Ayari disclose that her attacker was, in fact, Tariq Ramadan. She has since filed charges.

We need to talk about transgenderism Trans politics has engulfed our institutions, with zero debate. Joanna Williams


When, eventually, enough time has passed for people to consider the current period with some objectivity, surely one thing that will intrigue them most is the shift that has taken place in our understanding of gender. The existence of two distinct categories, men and women, once taken for granted as biological fact, can no longer be assumed. The trend, particularly among young people, is to question whether their gender identity corresponds to their sex. Sex is now considered nothing more than an arbitrary designation, an act of violence performed at the moment of birth. Instead, in the media, in schools and universities, gender fluidity is celebrated and those bold enough to transition and make their biology conform to their new sense of themselves are applauded.

The practical impact of this new belief in gender as non-binary and fluid is felt everywhere. Schools have introduced gender-neutral uniforms and are now busy building new gender-neutral toilet facilities. Time is spent discussing which changing room boys who now identify as girls should use after PE lessons and which gender-neutral pronouns teachers should use to address pupils. At university, women’s colleges admit male students who have ‘taken steps to live in the female gender’. Male rapists who transition after sentencing can be moved to women’s prisons. The Church of England offers renaming ceremonies to parishioners unhappy with the sex they, presumably, think God allotted them at the moment of conception. Debates about how passports and the UK’s national census should accommodate gender fluidity are ongoing. Mermaids, a UK taxpayer-funded transgender charity, was, until last week, advertising ‘same day’ cross-sex hormone treatment for children.

What’s truly remarkable is that this disregard for biology and overturning of social convention is occurring with such little debate. Teenagers, swept along with the current fashion, or young adults with a history of mental illness, are not questioned but affirmed by schools and therapists. Challenging someone’s decision to change gender, advising caution and delaying hormone therapy is seen, by transgender campaigners, as an offensive denial of an individual’s right to exist. As a result, there has been little public discussion of the profound impact new attitudes towards gender are having on society more broadly, on what it might mean for the continued existence of single-sex schools and women-only spaces such as hospital wards and prisons, on whether money spent converting toilets in small schools could be better spent elsewhere. There is little discussion of what it means to be a man or a woman in today’s society.

Attempts to discuss transgender politics are closed down. Last month, feminists trying to meet to consider the government’s Gender Recognition Act, had to change venue after protests were threatened. At the meeting point to share the new location they were attacked by trans activists. Discussion was shut down with physical violence. At Cambridge University, the renowned feminist activist and founder of Black History Month, Linda Bellos, had her invitation to speak withdrawn when it came to light she planned to question ‘some of the trans politics… which seems to assert the power of those who were previously designated male to tell lesbians, and especially lesbian feminists, what to say and what to think’. Bellos had not said anything controversial. Like the feminists wanting to discuss the Gender Recognition Act, she hadn’t been given the chance. Even the prospect of raising questions was enough to have Bellos disinvited.

Elsewhere, research into the experiences of individuals who transition from one gender to another is being shut down. James Caspian, a psychotherapist who specialises in working with transgender people, hoped to study people who had undergone gender-reassignment surgery but then regretted transitioning, a group he was increasingly coming across in his work. Bath Spa University initially approved Caspian’s research but when he failed to recruit enough participants, and so broadened his proposal to include people who had transitioned to men but subsequently reverted to living as women without reversing their surgery, Bath Spa’s ethics committee rejected his proposal and he could no longer continue with his research.‘The fundamental reason given was that it might cause criticism of the research on social media, and criticism of the research would be criticism of the university. They also added it’s better not to offend people’, Caspian has said. In other words, his research was rejected for being ‘politically incorrect’. CONTINUE AT SITE

When Fantasy Trumps Reality By Victor Davis Hanson

The enemy of empiricism is ideology. Translated that means politics make people see the world as they want it to be, rather than as it is.https://amgreatness.com/2017/10/30/when-fantasy-trumps-reality/

Take the NFL. Any disinterested observer could see that since 2016 and the beginning of Colin Kaepernick’s crusade to sit or kneel during the National Anthem, the player protests have been an utter financial and public relations disaster for the NFL.

Depending on the calibrations of game attendance and television viewing, and adjustments for diverse local markets and weekly venues, most estimates range from a 15 percent to a 20 percent drop in patronage from the pre-Kaepernick 2015 norms. The league stands to lose well over $1 billion per year.

Yet social justice warriors still praise Kaepernick to the skies and suggest that he is making headway in winning over others to his cause. Supporters of the protests have even said the NFL was mostly unaffected financially or, in Orwellian fashion, that a drop off in viewers was actually due to Kaepernick’s supporters’ own solidarity with the protesting players.

For more than a year sports analysts have cited almost every possible extraneous reason for a decline in viewership—from worries over brain injuries to saturation of the market to competition from other entertainment and recreation. All, in theory, are true. All, in fact, are not the main reason why the league is suffering an abrupt erosion of support.

The truth is, most NFL viewers—middle-aged, male, and center-right politically—want entertainment and a refuge from politics. They do not tune in for multimillionaire players to insult the National Anthem. They do not want uninformed, 20-something multimillionaires lecturing fans on their purported sins. How can it ever be wise for a business to insult its consumer base? Again, reality apparently has been intolerable to the owners, the players, and the media. So it is massaged, disguised, or rejected—up to the point when facts make further fantasy impossible.

Collusion Fantasies
The same disconnect is true of the entire “Russian collusion” narrative. An empirical examination would conclude that if several congressional committees, federal investigators, a frenzied media, and highly motivated Democratic operatives could not—after a year(!)—find proof of Trump’s personal collusion with the Russians, then there likely was none. To save the credibility of the investigation Mueller has had to advise indictment for former and fired Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, in part on the basis of his wheeler-dealer past.

If Manafort’s indictment now sets the bar for “collusion,” then an entire array of Clinton, Inc. operatives are facing even more exposure. Why would Russian interests pay Bill Clinton $500,000 for a brief speech or give more than $140 million to the Clinton Foundation (do they continue to do so now?)—when at roughly the same time control of sizable percentages of small but vital U.S. uranium holdings were transferred to Russian companies, sanctioned by a decision in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had considerable influence?

Why would anyone believe that a “dossier” with bizarre salacious detail, funded by an opposition research firm with a history of destructive invective, and purchased by the Clinton campaign—and later by the FBI to warrant politically motivated surveillance on U.S. citizens—be considered disinterested “proof” of Trump wrongdoing, especially given that it relied on bought Russian sources? And how could a fine man like Robert Mueller escape charges of conflict of interest? His very appointment was the result of deliberate leaks and machinations of his former associate and successor at the FBI, the now largely discredited James Comey—while Mueller himself had overseen, in 2010-11, FBI investigations into Russian efforts to rig the transfer of U.S. uranium? Eventually, there will be an investigation into what Mueller himself found out about Russian collusion six years ago, what he did about it, and why his findings were either ignored or set aside. Pretending there is no conflict of interest, does not mean there is not any.

Despite the absence of proof of Trump collusion and the plethora of evidence that pointed the other way, the media and larger culture have clung to the Trump collusion narrative all the way to the point of absurdity. If Paul Manafort’s indictment hinges on Robert Mueller’s evidence that Manafort was receiving Russian money, it will more likely establish standards by which the Clinton campaign will face even greater legal exposure—given that its purchase of the Steele document was, in essence, a transfer of monies to Kremlin sources.