The ISIS Butchers: Beheading for the Cause : By Ian Tuttle

They’re following in the footsteps of the Romans, the French revolutionaries, and Mohammed himself.

There are many ways to kill a human being, but few are as flamboyant as beheading. In his Civil Wars, for instance, the Roman historian Appian recounts the beheading of Gaius Trebonius — and, more important, its aftermath:

Since Trebonius had participated in the murder of Caesar by detaining Antony in conversation at the door of the senate-house while the others killed him, the soldiers and camp-followers fell upon the rest of his body with fury and treated it with every kind of indignity. They rolled his head from one to another in sport along the city pavements like a ball till it was completely crushed.

The Romans were a brutal folk, but in the annals of human-on-human violence, similar incidents are not uncommon. There is John the Baptist’s head on Herod’s platter, and Blackbeard’s head roped to Maynard’s bowsprit. The guillotine may have purported to make beheading humane, but les révolutionnaires still rejoiced in the blood of Marie Antoinette.

Still, although one can find state-sanctioned beheadings in “civilized” nations into the 20th century — France last employed the guillotine in 1939 — beheading has assumed a much-deserved taboo. Call it moral progress if you like: In the West, we no longer accept as permissible rending a human being in twain.

Which is what Islamic State jihadists were counting on when they beheaded American journalist James Foley this week. Foley was kidnapped in Syria in 2012, and little was known of his whereabouts until the appearance of a video purporting to show his decapitation. The video is reminiscent of others we have seen in recent years: The murders of Daniel Pearl in 2002, and Nick Berg and Paul Marshall Johnson Jr. in 2004, all American citizens, were similarly broadcast.

Scholars of Islam debate whether the Koran actually sanctions beheading. Whether it does or not, what is clear is that sword-wielding jihadists of the Islamic State type believe that it does. And, the word of Allah aside, Islamic history provides plenty of precedent. In the late 19th century, Mahdists — Islamic millenarians — beheaded foes in British-administered Sudan. Nearly a millennium before, the Muslim conqueror Yusuf ibn Tashfin and his troops cut off the heads of the 24,000 Castilians they had killed in the Battle of Sagrajas in 1086, and then they piled up the rest of the bodies “to make a sort of minaret for the muezzins who, standing on the piles of headless cadavers, sang the praises of Allah,” wrote historian Paul Fregosi. Tashfin then sent packages of heads to every major city in North Africa and Spain. But the practice of beheading goes further back, to the Prophet Muhammad himself, who reportedly ordered the execution of 700 Jewish men in Medina on charges of conspiring against him.

Amity Shlaes:Emotional Storms Are No Response for Disasters

A new study shows that government aid and World Bank projects are not enough to spur lasting recovery.
New Orleans is growing, but is New Orleans back?

Not entirely.

That’s the exchange we’ll all be hearing in the coming weeks as the city marks the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Interesting new businesses have sprung up. Many schools are better than they used to be. New Orleans has more bicycle paths. But the city can’t claim the population it had in July 2005. And poverty rates have increased from their level in the first hopeful years after the storm.

This outcome disappoints, and it also challenges received wisdom. Americans nurse their own very private and personal storm of emoto-thoughts when it comes to natural disasters. We want to do something, so we look for theories that support action. One such theory is that restoring old structures or hurricane and flood spending can so stimulate economic activity at a disaster site that the place will emerge better than it would have been prior to the misfortune. Our officials routinely buttress this thesis.

In addition to such arguments for government or private spending, we see a second theory: disaster as a kind of natural selection of businesses. There’s yet a third theory, which is related: that disaster spaces can benefit from a specific version of Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction.” In this view, the same disaster environment that is hostile to humans is especially hospitable to innovators. Technological innovators flock in and drive out old backward technology, yielding productivity gains that also render New Orleans, or any other such unfortunate locale, superior to its old self.

This optimism speaks well of our national character, but not necessarily of our logic. For a systematic and global sweep of the evidence suggests that New Orleans is no exception: We often tend to overrate the quality of post-disaster intervention. Economists Solomon Hsiang and Amir S. Jina recently studied economies of nations that had endured the prototypical natural disaster, the cyclone. Studying 6,700 cyclones that took place around the world between 1950 and 2008, the pair published a National Bureau of Economic Research paper supplying strong evidence that national economies decline compared with their pre-disaster trend and “do not recover.” Wrote the authors: “The data reject hypotheses that disasters stimulate growth or that short-run losses disappear.” The conclusion: Cyclone-hit countries, rich or poor, experience such losses. Places where very big cyclones hit lose 3.7 years of development over the following two decades. This blow compares to a tax increase of 1 percent of gross domestic product, or a currency crisis.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: FANNING THE FLAMES IN FERGUSON

Why do only handful of such tragedies trigger national outrage?

Violence following the recent fatal shooting of an unarmed robbery suspect in Ferguson, Mo, has tragically followed a predictable script.

On average, more than 6,000 African Americans are killed by gun violence each year. That startling figure is nearly equal to all of the U.S. combat fatalities incurred in both Afghanistan and Iraq over some 13 years. African Americans are the victims in about half of the homicides in America each year despite the fact that blacks represent only about 13 percent of the U.S. population.

One would think that these alarming statistics would provoke the sort of protests that we’ve seen in Ferguson, but that is not the case. Nor does racial unrest automatically follow cases in which white police officers fatally shoot black criminal suspects. Only a small handful of such instances trigger outrage in the black community.

Instead, the sort of civil unrest we’re seeing in Ferguson is most likely to be ignited by the infrequent and disparate cases in which someone white, whether a police officer or not, fatally shoots an unarmed African American.

Controversy, for example, arose over George Zimmerman’s fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. Now, small-town Ferguson is in an uproar over a police officer’s fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

There is a second theme in such cases. The media almost invariably distort the facts, sometimes deliberately seeking to incite tensions. In the Trayvon Martin case, journalists published photos of Martin as a diminutive adolescent, not more recent pictures of Martin as a 17-year-old who was much taller than Zimmerman.

REVISITING RAYMOND IBRAHIM’S ARTICLE ON THE EXTERMINATION OF IRAQ’S CHRISTIANS FROM 2011

Revisiting “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs’” Posted By Raymond Ibrahim

Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote a FrontPage article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:

Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.

Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:

“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”

Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?

The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.

DANIEL GREENFIELD: FIX FERGUSON BY GETTING RID OF THE MEDIA

If there’s a problem in America or anywhere in the world, inflicting the media on it can only make it worse. By some accounts there are more reporters in Ferguson than there are protesters. That may be why the protesters ran for cover behind the media after throwing bottles of urine at the police.

There are so many reporters in Ferguson that the rioters and looters can use them as human shields. You just wouldn’t know it because they don’t take pictures of each other. The occasional photos of media scrums around a crying woman in the Middle East or an angry protester in Ferguson reveal the artificiality of the event. It’s okay to have one reporter in front of a camera, but when there are so many reporters at an event that they outnumber everyone else, the whole thing starts looking like a movie set on which events are staged for the entertainment and profit of the producers.

Remember that every time you see a masked protester caught in the act of throwing a rock or a loving couple huddled in fear of dark masked shapes in riot gear, these images are as artificial and posed as anything in an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog.

They show you what is in front of the camera, not what is behind it.

Look through the news reports of riots anywhere and you’ll see the same poses repeat across continents and generations. The rioters are different people with different causes and agendas, but the photos of them are being taken and selected by the same people from the same news agencies.

There is never anything new on the news because the media has a pre-existing formula for handling any event. What we think of as the newspaper or the evening news just plugs actual news into its formula and turns it into propaganda.

The national news network and the newspaper of record tell the same few stories just like Hollywood makes the same movies, even if they seem to feature different characters and places. That’s because the formula doesn’t change. The formula is what we are getting from Ferguson’s mob of professional and amateur reporters each fighting for the chance to retell the same story to the same audience.

Calling the packed masses of angry leftists in Ferguson “reporters” is a little unfair. Even the term media is mostly meaningless. Ferguson is packed with reporters from national and local news networks. Alongside them are crews from enemy state propaganda outlets like Al Jazeera and RT. And they’re the cream of the crop compared to Vice, Infowars and activists with digital cameras selling what they shoot to anyone who will buy it.

ROBERT SPENCER:OBAMA SAYS ‘ISLAMIC STATE SPEAKS FOR NO RELIGION” (???!!!)

The imam Obama has spoken: “ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” Yet Islamic law mandates death for heretics and apostates, and that is what the Islamic State jihadis consider their Muslim victims to be. Also, the Qur’an teaches: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (47:4). James Foley was certainly an unbeliever, and one from a state with which the Islamic State considers itself to be at war — thus they did not consider him innocent.

Obama excuses and apologizes for Islam every time a jihadist atrocity affects the U.S. in some way. He would do far better to confront the Islamic State’s Islamic justifications for its actions and call on Muslims in the U.S. and elsewhere to teach against these understandings of Islam that they ostensibly reject. But he never does that, and apparently has no interest in doing it.

“Transcript: President Obama’s remarks on the execution of journalist James Foley by Islamic State,” Washington Post, August 20, 2014:

President Obama delivered the following remarks in Martha’s Vineyard on the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the militant group Islamic State. Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody.

Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL. Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.

He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there. Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocked the conscience of the entire world. He was 40 years old, one of five siblings, the son of a mom and dad who worked tirelessly for his release. Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.

Now, Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.

Hillary Clinton Connects w/Ordinary Working People in the Hamptons By Daniel Greenfield

Hillary’s Hard Choices has bombed in most bookstores so she’s been taking it to a different audience. Ordinary working Americans. Just kidding. She brought Hard Choices to Martha’s Vineyard and now the Hamptons.

“Bookhampton honored to welcome Hillary Rodham Clinton. Aug. 16, 2014,” read the writing on royal-blue shirts the store’s employees wore.

The higher-profile names included home-decorating maven Martha Stewart, former Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, all of whom chatted with Clinton in a private area in the store before the official signing began. “Martha! Martha!” the photographers who had been allowed inside the store called out, hoping for her to look up as she chatted with Clinton. Others, like former Office of Management and Budget head Peter Orszag and his wife, Yahoo News anchor Bianna Golodryga, and former New York City mayoral hopefuls Mark Green and Herman Badillo, waited in line.

“It’s a celebrity drop-by!” Clinton exclaimed to Orszag and Golodryga as they approached the table.

The ruling class. Enjoying some time at the beach while the rest of their Weimar Republic burns. And oddly enough, Martha Stewart is the only one in the bunch to have served time in jail. Talk about unfair.

The Clintons are renting a reportedly $18 million home in Amagansett, a town near East Hampton, where they have often stayed in the past.

Well they are flat broke. It’s not like they can afford to rent a $50 million home.

It’s like a horror movie poster. Just imagine that ticket.

ANDREW McCARTHY: INSIDE HAMAS: HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE GLOBAL ISLAMIC THREAT

In-depth reporting by the Wall Street Journal’s Nicholas Casey and Adam Entous takes us inside Gaza, into the minds, indoctrination and support system of Hamas. The report is here (but behind the paper’s subscriber wall).

It will be a tough one to refute for the willful blindness crowd – i.e., the bipartisan Beltway ruling class and its cooperative mainstream media – who insist that Islam is innately a religion of peace. The report illuminates the reality that Islamic study is the basic pathway to jihadist militancy and that, for members of Hamas, the jihad against Israel is not a parochial political affair but part and parcel of a global ideological movement that is very much driven by a perception of divine directive.

To observe what Hamas members and their supporters believe, and to learn that even non-adherents of Hamas respect the organization’s tenets as an entirely legitimate construction of Islam, is to elucidate the stubborn stupidity of the claim that “true” Islam is unconnected to terrorism committed by Muslims – and that we should regard such Muslims as irrational “violent extremists” rather than jihadists.

The report introduces us first to Abu Thoraya, a Hamas jihadist killed in the recent fighting:

[He was] in some respects a typical young man in his 20s. He was unmarried, worked a clerical job and lived with his parents, whom he and his brother supported. He took long morning runs down the Gaza Strip toward Egypt. He had a pious side which drew him to Hamas. He made connections to the group at the Abu Salim Mosque, an old stone prayer hall down the street from his home.

We learn from his brother that family members “didn’t share the same views” as Abu Thoraya, but it quickly becomes clear that the narrow disagreement is about jihadist aggression. The report explains that the brother is an “Islamist.” This means (although the report does not go into it) that he is an Islamic-supremacist: a supporter of sharia government – i.e., imposition of Islam’s societal framework and legal code. That is Hamas’s goal as well. The only real difference is that the brother belongs to an Islamic supremacist faction, the Dawa movement, that does not have a military wing.

Why is it so important to understand the ideological sympathies, rather than narrow disagreements about tactics that Western leaders obsess over? Because it shows that even dissenters from Hamas respect the terrorist organization’s beliefs and goals. Despite their differences, the report explains, “the family accepted and supported Mr. Abu Thoraya’s decision to plumb the world of Hamas through Islamic study and religious training.”

The Golden Age of Neuroscience Has Arrived :Michio Kaku

We have learned more about the thinking brain in the last 10-15 years than in all of human history.

More than a billion people were amazed this summer when a 29-year-old paraplegic man from Brazil raised his right leg and kicked a soccer ball to ceremonially begin the World Cup. The sight of a paralyzed person whose brain directly controlled a robotic exoskeleton (designed at Duke University) was thrilling.

We are now entering the golden age of neuroscience. We have learned more about the thinking brain in the last 10-15 years than in all of previous human history. A blizzard of the new technologies using advanced physics—resulting in scans and tests we know as fMRI, EEG, PET, DBS, CAT, TCM and TES—have allowed scientists to observe thoughts as they ricochet like a pong ball inside the living brain, and then begin the process of deciphering these thoughts using powerful computers.

The Pentagon, witnessing the human tragedy of the wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan, has invested more than $150 million in the military’s Revolutionary Prosthetics program, so that injured veterans can bypass damaged limbs and spinal cords and mentally control state-of-the-art mechanical arms and legs. Already, the technology exists to let you walk into a room and mentally turn on the lights, control appliances, surf the Web, write and send emails, play videogames, dictate articles, control a distant robot or avatar, and even drive a car.

Not just our bodies, but even our memories are now being digitized. Last year at Wake Forest University and the University of Southern California, scientists for the first time were able to record and upload memories directly into an animal brain, which is something straight out of a sci-fi movie like “The Matrix.” Scientists there trained mice to perform certain simple tasks, which can be recorded by sensors placed in their brains. After they forget the task, the digitized memory can be reinserted back into their brain, allowing them to remember.

PAUL DRIESSEN: TRAMPLING ON COAL COUNTRY FAMILIES

http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/trampling-on-coal-country-families?f=puball

Obama and EPA are determined to destroy U.S. coal, people’s lives and welfare be damned
Between 1989 and 2010, Congress rejected nearly 700 cap-tax-and-trade and similar bills that their proponents claimed would control Earth’s perpetually fickle climate and weather. So even as real world crises erupt, President Obama is using executive fiats and regulations to impose his anti-hydrocarbon agenda, slash America’s fossil fuel use, bankrupt coal and utility companies, make electricity prices skyrocket, and “fundamentally transform” our economic, social, legal and constitutional system.

Citing climate concerns, he has refused to permit construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and blocked or delayed Alaskan, western state and offshore oil and gas leasing and drilling. He’s proud that US oil production has climbed 58% and natural gas output has risen 21% since 2008. But he doesn’t mention that this is due to hydraulic fracturing on state and private lands; production has actually fallen in areas controlled by the federal government, and radical environmentalists oppose fracking all over the USA.

Above all, the President’s war on hydrocarbons is a war on Coal Country families. For 21 states that still rely on coal to produce 40-96% of their electricity, it is a war on people’s livelihoods and living standards – on the very survival of small businesses and entire communities. The price of electricity has already risen 1-2 cents per kilowatt-hour in those states, from as little as 5.6 cents/kWh in 2009. If it soars to the 14.6 to 15.7 cents/kWh paid in “job-mecca states” like California and New York – which rely on coal for less than 3% of their electricity – the impacts will churn through coal-dependant states like a tsunami.

Yet that is where rates are headed, as the Obama EPA’s carbon dioxide and other restrictions kick in. Hundreds of baseload coal-fired power plants (some 180 gigawatts of electric generation capacity) will be forced into premature retirement between 2010 and 2020. That’s more than 15% of the United States’ total installed capacity – enough electricity to power nearly 90 million average homes or small businesses. EPA assumes it can be replaced by expensive, unreliable, habitat-gobbling wind and solar power. It can’t.

EPA rules mean the price of everything people do will skyrocket: heating and air conditioning, lights and refrigeration, televisions, computers, medical equipment, machinery and every other gizmo that runs on electricity. Poor, minority and blue-collar families will have to find hundreds of dollars a year somewhere in their already stretched budgets. Shops and other small businesses will have to discover thousands of dollars, by delaying other purchases or laying people off. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to send out search parties to locate millions a year at the end of rainbows.