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March 2018

Britain’s Massive Charity Scam by Giulio Meotti

“The exploitation is so widespread that some Syrian women are refusing to go to distribution centres because people would assume they had offered their bodies for the aid they brought home”, the BBC explains quoting a new UN report on the humanitarian abuses.

More than half the humanitarian donations from the United Kingdom to Syria through small NGOs have ended up in the hands of ISIS and other jihadist groups, according to the think-tank Quilliam Foundation. In this way, millions of pounds, thanks to the generosity of British taxpayers, have fallen in the hands of terror groups.

Fatiha-Global, which should have brought help to Syrian refugees fleeing the war, instead diverted the funds to the Islamic State, the very terror group which had caused the refugee crisis to begin with. To top it off, the head of Fatiha-Global, Adeel Ali, was photographed with the jihadists of the Caliphate — the same jihadist group that beheaded British volunteer Alan Henning, who had come to Syria on behalf of the subsidiaries of Fatiha.

In a secularized West, charitable organizations are the modern-day saints granting us our expiatory rites. Many humanitarian NGOs even seem to cater to Western consciences filled with guilt.

Since these NGOs say they work on behalf of “humanity” and for a “better world”, while possibly assuming that states and governments act only for the sake of social efficiency or their own self-preserving interests. Yet, often these NGOs risk becoming bureaucracies as much as states do, sometimes even with similar sexual and financial scandals. At times these NGOs also can look like just a “mammoth machinery” with more employees than services; a steep, often unaccountable budget, and an ideology promoting the worst “Western stereotyping”. The weekly magazine The Spectator called them “the bad charity”.

Alberto Mingardi Gertrude Himmelfarb and History’s Resonance

The Victorian age, if we knew it and its ideas better, would help us understand our own world, as the debates of that era remain the essence of today’s political discussions. In her major works and invaluable essays, Himmelfarb brings the Victorians back to life.

Past and Present: The Challenges of Modernity, from the Pre-Victorians to the Post-Modernists
by Gertrude Himmelfarb
Encounter Books, 2017, 256 pages, US$23.99

That the past lectures us on the present is one of the reasons we read history. Such lectures are often merely whispers, and coded in a language very few of us speak. This is why historians are indispensable translators.

Past and Present presents some of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s (left) shorter and apparently minor essays. The present the title refers to is contemporary America as it has been shaped by political battles in the last fifty years—a period Himmelfarb has witnessed first hand. The past of the title is mainly, though not exclusively, Victorian England, of which Himmelfarb is a foremost historian. Now Professor Emerita at the Graduate School of the City University of New York, she is a scholar’s scholar. Her bibliography includes works on Lord Acton and Mill, and seminal editorship of the latter too; explorations of the “Victorian mind”; and a genuine classic, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution (1959). Few historians of ideas have dug deeper in the British nineteenth century, and fewer still have done so from a conservative perspective. Himmelfarb, who married Irving Kristol, often considered the “godfather” of neoconservatism, by and large shared her husband’s views.

Himmelfarb’s conservatism can better be considered a style of arguing, rather than a consistent set of political ideas. Postmodernists have long been ruminating about the subjectivity of historians, making a theory of “a denial of the fixity of the past, of the reality of the past apart from what the historian chooses to make of it, and thus of any objective truth about the past”. Surely any work of history is vulnerable because historical records may be imperfect or imperfectly read by the historian, who is as fallible, conceited and biased as any other human being. But, Himmelfarb maintains, there is no reason to think history “is fatally flawed, that because there is no absolute, total, final truth, there are no relative, partial, contingent truths”.

The craft of the historian entails a struggle with her own subjectivity, a careful search for bits of truths whenever possible, a passion for making sense of them with the best of our analytical tools. Sure, history can never do without imagination, for no historian can do without putting himself in other people’s shoes. Macaulay thought that:

A perfect historian must possess an imagination sufficiently powerful to make his narrative affecting and picturesque. Yet he must control it so absolutely as to content himself with the materials which he finds, and to refrain from supplying deficiencies by additions of his own.

Such a description fits Himmelfarb’s own works, where the inspired writer never shines at the expense of the careful researcher.

Left and Lefter in California Golden State Democrats seem ready to break for good with mainstream, moderate liberalism. Joel Kotkin

The California Democratic Party’s refusal to endorse the reelection of Senator Dianne Feinstein represents a breaking point both for the state’s progressives and, arguably, the future of the party nationwide. Feinstein symbolizes, if anyone does, the old Democratic establishment that, while far from conservative, nevertheless appealed to many mainstream businesses and affluent suburban voters. The rejection of Feinstein reveals the eclipse of the moderate, mainstream Democratic Party, and the rise of Green and identity-oriented politics, appealing to the coastal gentry . It offers little to traditional middle-class Democrats and even less to those further afield, in places like the industrial Midwest or the South. In these parts of the country, bread-and-butter issues that concern families remain more persuasive than gestural politics.

To its many admirers back east, California has emerged as the role model for a brave new Democratic future. The high-tech, culturally progressive Golden State seems to be an ideal incubator of whatever politics will follow the Trump era.

Certainly, California is an ideal place to observe this shift, as radicalism faces no restraints here. The Republican Party has little to no influence in politics and culture and not much even among business leaders. For the Democrats, this vacuum allows for a kind of internecine struggle resembling that of the Bolsheviks after the death of Lenin. And just as happened then, a new Stalinism of sorts seems to be emerging—in this case, to the consternation not only of conservatives but also of traditional liberals and moderates of the Feinstein stamp.

Yet as California Democrats exult in what they see as a glowing future, they are turning away from the models that once drove their party’s (and the state’s) success—a commitment to growth, upward mobility, and dispersed property ownership. California’s current prosperity is largely due to the legacy of Governor Pat Brown, who, a half-century ago, built arguably the world’s best transportation, water, and power systems, and created an incubator for middle-class prosperity. Ironically, the politician most responsible for undermining this achievement has been Pat’s son, Governor Jerry Brown. Long skeptical of his father’s growth-oriented, pro-suburban policies, Brown the Younger put strong constraints on growth, especially when these efforts concerned the fight against global warming—a quasi-religious crusade. Battling climate change has awakened Brown’s inner authoritarian; he has lauded the “coercive power of the state” and embraced “brainwashing” on climate issues.

Uri Lubrani, Warrior and Liberator, Dies at 91 Israel and the Middle East as a whole have lost one of their greats. Kenneth R. Timmerman

To the Washington, DC policy community, and to Jewish organizations across America, Uri Lubrani had become a familiar face.

The first time I met him in Washington was in November 1994, when he came to openly challenge the Clinton administration over what he saw as an appeasement policy toward the Iranian regime.

His words at the time ought to resonate in the ears of policy-makers and corporate lobbyists seeking to do business in Iran today.

As I wrote in Countdown to Crisis, the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran:

“Let me make it absolutely clear,” Lubrani said. “The Iranis have no doubt in their mind that when some of the largest U.S. companies seek a working or trading relationship with Iran, even if this is done indirectly, it cannot be done without the knowledge and explicit approval and authorization by the highest quarters in Washington. This is so because it would be unthinkable to an Irani mind, which has no understanding of the inner workings of a democracy, that such activities are at all possible without being sanctioned from above.”

At the time, the company seeking to do business in Iran was oil giant Conoco. Today, of course, it is Boeing.

On Monday, with Lubrani’s peaceful death at the age of 91, Israel lost a warrior, and a giant.

Facebook’s Digital Reign of Terror Social media website rejiggers the rules to rob Trump of almost half of his online traffic. Matthew Vadum

Social media behemoth Facebook launched a full-scale assault on President Donald Trump and conservatives earlier this year that has seen engagement on Trump’s Facebook posts plummet by 45 percent.

The crackdown on conservatives and the Republican Party’s standard-bearer came after a year of unyielding pressure from the mainstream media, politicians, and Facebook employees after President Trump’s stunning electoral upset in November 2016. The Left’s farfetched Russia-Trump electoral collusion conspiracy theory scapegoated Facebook, claiming the website spread Russian propaganda and fake news that helped Trump beat the yet-to-be-indicted Hillary Clinton.

No less a personage from the anti-Trump resistance movement than former President Barack Obama lobbied Facebook’s CEO to play rough and dirty with conservatives. At a poverty conference in South America a few days after the 2016 vote, Obama leaned on a then-skeptical Mark Zuckerberg to do something, presumably to help take his fingerprints off the electoral collusion hoax.

As the Washington Post reported:

Nine days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “crazy” the idea that fake news on his company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election, President Barack Obama pulled the youthful tech billionaire aside and delivered what he hoped would be a wake-up call.

For months leading up to the vote, Obama and his top aides quietly agonized over how to respond to Russia’s brazen intervention on behalf of the Donald Trump campaign without making matters worse. …Now huddled in a private room on the sidelines of a meeting of world leaders in Lima, Peru, two months before Trump’s inauguration, Obama made a personal appeal to Zuckerberg to take the threat of fake news and political disinformation seriously, although Facebook representatives say the president did not single out Russia specifically. Unless Facebook and the government did more to address the threat, Obama warned, it would only get worse in the next presidential race.

The Clinton Dossier Gang That Knew Nothing They don’t know anything. Not a thing. Daniel Greenfield

“I know nothing,” isn’t just the motto of Sergeant Schultz. It’s also the Clinton motto. And Christopher Steele, the Brit whom the Clinton campaign hired to find out things for them, also knows nothing.

Or at least that’s the theme of the sprawling New Yorker profile of Steele, his dossier and his associates.

Steele, Jane Mayer, its authoress, tells us, is a brilliant researcher and we should take his word about all his allegations involving President Trump. Even the ones that aren’t true and don’t make any sense.

But he doesn’t know anything.

Take the Cody Shearer memo, the document authored by a Clinton plumber and which Steele passed along to the FBI as confirmation of his claims. The existence of the Shearer memo raised serious questions about whether the Clintons weren’t just paying Steele to dig up dirt, but were providing it. Some have speculated that Shearer’s smears were the original basis for Steele’s dossier.

But wait a minute.

Steele knew nothing. The New Yorker asks us to believe that their brilliant and trustworthy researcher passed along Shearer’s smears to the FBI without knowing who he was. ”Steele wasn’t aware that Shearer had longtime ties to the Clintons,” Mayer tells us, “as did Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton ally, who had given Shearer’s report to Winer.”

How could Steele ever be expected to know anything about the men whose material he was passing on to the FBI? Assuming, quite improbably, that Steele didn’t recognize the name of a close adviser to a former Secretary of State who had recently been involved in a foreign policy scandal, it would have taken him all of 60 seconds on Google to discover who Shearer and Blumenthal were.

Steele’s Sergeant Schultz routine betrays incompetence or dishonesty.

Stanford Bars College Republicans from Using American Flag in Their Logo By Jack Crowe

Stanford University College Republicans were told they cannot include an image of the American flag on club tee-shirts in a recent email from the private institution’s copyright office.

“Stanford does not approve the use of the American (or other flag on product also featuring our trademarks (including the Stanford name) [sic],” states a recent email — obtained by College Fix — to the College Republicans student president from a trademark licensing associate at Stanford University.

“We can approve red/white/blue themed product but cannot approve this design which features altered version of the flag in the background of the design, and within the initials for the organization name. I note you feature a different design on your website — we would be able to approve that design on product,” the email continues.

While the university has cast the censorship as a matter of copyright infringement, the Stanford University trademark guide does not mention flags in any capacity.

The Stanford College Republicans incoming president, John Rice-Cameron, told College Fix he does not want to use the club’s old logo, as was suggested by the copyright office.

“The [new] logo is emblematic of our club,” he said. “It shows we are willing to boldly promote conservatism.”

FBI Paid Best Buy Technicians to Inform Them about Illegal Content on Customer Devices By Mairead McArdle

The revelation comes as the FBI is accused of targeting Trump campaign officials.

The FBI recruited computer technicians at Best Buy to inform them about illegal content on personal devices customers brought in for repairs, new Bureau documents show.

The informants were discovered after Best Buy’s Geek Squad technicians at a Kentucky repair shop found thousands of child-pornography images on California doctor Mark Rettenmaier’s computer. The documents from the ensuing court case showed that eight informants were cooperating with the FBI to turn over illegal content.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the Department of Justice and finally obtained records the FBI had not revealed, which proved Best Buy had a long-term relationship with federal agents.

FBI agents would come and confiscate any device on which technicians found illegal content, take it to a field office, and, in some cases, obtain a warrant to search the device. Several informants received payments from $500 to $1000 for their cooperation.

Critics have raised possible Fourth Amendment issues with this unusual practice. Best Buy is sanctioned to search devices, but the FBI is supposed to obtain a warrant to do so. Providing a monetary incentive to employees would likely encourage them to perform searches that are unnecessary to the repair, the watchdogs say.

Last year, a Best Buy spokesman said the dealings the company had with federal agents occurred only if an employee happened upon illegal content by accident.

“We have a legal and moral obligation to turn that material over to law enforcement,” spokesman Jeff Shelman said.

Viewpoint Discrimination with Algorithms By Ben Shapiro

Media companies’ ‘impartial’ algorithms disproportionately impact conservative material.

The biggest names in social media are cracking down on news. In particular, they’re cracking down disproportionately on conservative news. That’s not necessarily out of malice; it’s probably due to the fact that our major social-media sites are staffed thoroughly with non-conservatives who have no objective frame of reference when it comes to the news business.

Thus, Google biases its algorithm to prevent people from searching for guns online in shopping; temporarily attached fact-checks from leftist sites like Snopes and PolitiFact to conservative websites but not leftist ones; showed more pro-Clinton results than pro-Trump results in news searches; and, of course, fired tech James Damore for the sin of examining social science in the debate over the wage gap. Google’s bias is as obvious as the “doodles” it chooses for its logos, which routinely feature left-wing icons and issues.

YouTube has demonetized videos from conservatives while leaving similar videos up for members of the Left. Prager University has watched innocuous videos titled “Why America Must Lead,” “The Ten Commandments: Do Not Murder,” and “Why Did America Fight the Korean War” demonetized (i.e. barred from accepting advertisements) at YouTube’s hands. Prager’s lawyer explains, “Google and YouTube use restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU.”

Facebook was slammed two years ago for ignoring conservative stories and outlets in its trending news; now Facebook has shifted its algorithm to downgrade supposedly “partisan” news, which has the effect of undercutting newer sites that are perceived as more partisan, while leaving brand names with greater public knowledge relatively unscathed. Facebook’s tactics haven’t just hit conservative Web brands — they’ve destroyed the profit margins for smaller start-ups like LittleThings, a four-year-old site that fired 100 employees this week after the algorithm shift reportedly destroyed 75 percent of the site’s organic reach (the number of people who see a site’s content without paid distribution).

A dark and stormy night for Trump with Stormy Daniels By Brian Joondeph

The dark and stormy night is one of those classic Victorian opening lines to the next great melodramatic novel. It’s become a caricature and a joke – appropriately, based on its overly dramatic style.

What else recently has become much the same – a caricature and a joke due to constant melodrama? How about the news media?

Stormy Daniels, who, I am quite certain, has enjoyed many dark and stormy nights, is an American porn actress. She is quite celebrated in her world, having won such awards as “Contract Babe of the Year”; “Favorite Breasts,” which she won three times; and “Crossover Star of the Year.”

Perhaps her most noteworthy recognition is a nomination for Best Safe Sex Scene in a movie. I’m not sure if she ever sat on Harvey Weinstein’s casting couch or is part of the #MeToo movement.

She is not a Russian hooker, as she was born in Baton Rouge. She said of her childhood that she “came from an average, lower-income household[.] … [T]here were days without electricity.”

Stormy’s real name is Stephanie Clifford. And despite not having ties to Russia or Putin, she is the latest shiny object being breathlessly chased by the media. No Russian collusion, but instead an alleged affair with Donald Trump.

She is not a young White House intern, but instead a porn actress who claims to have had an affair with then-citizen Donald Trump back in 2006. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid Stormy $130,000 in October 2016, just a few weeks before the election.

There is no dispute that Stormy was paid. Was it to buy her silence? Or to stifle another October surprise on the heels of the Billy Bush Access Hollywood tape? In lawsuits, settlements are paid to limit future costs and exposure, without any admission of guilt. Sometimes it’s just the most cost-effective path to take.

President Trump has denied the affair, as has Stormy Daniels. She wrote a letter dated January 10, 2018 denying an affair with Trump, “[s]tating with complete clarity that this is absolutely false.” She wrote, “He was gracious, professional and a complete gentleman to me and EVERYONE in my presence.” She concluded, “[T]he fact of the matter is these stories are not true.”