January 2015

The New York Times

A young Israeli soldier, fresh from the front, bluntly recounts the orders from above. “They never said, ‘Leave no one alive,’ but they said, ‘Show no mercy’,” he explains. “The brigade commander said to kill as many as possible.” ... The wrenching, taped testimony is not from last summer’s bloody battle in the Gaza Strip but from the 1967 war ... The film, “Censored Voices,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, the latest in a series of movies by leftist Israeli filmmakers who have won awards abroad by presenting harsh looks at their own society. Based on interviews that the military heavily edited at the time, it includes accounts of Israelis summarily executing prisoners and evacuating Arab villages in a manner that one fighter likened to the Nazis’ treatment of European Jews.

P. Jakob (M. Datini) - Wine Rambler

Asking people who lived through the Third Reich about the Fest der deutschen Traube und des Weines (Festival of German Grape and Wine) is likely to, after a moment of thought, evoke vivid memories ... A plan for a nationwide campaign to increase sales of German wine was developed ... The idea was to encourage the people to consume wine (as well as sparkling wine and table grapes) and thus help the wineries to reduce their stocks ... From the decoration of the windows up to the details of a massive propaganda campaign that made use of all available media, the festival was centrally planned and scripted ... The festival of 1935 turned out to be a big success and was repeated in 1936.

The Times of Israel

Should the world stop talking about the Holocaust? The answer might be obvious to many, but the BBC wants to open it up to discussion. As part of its special International Holocaust Remembrance Day programming, the BBC One show The Big Questions held a discussion on the lessons of the Holocaust, and how it is remembered today. The show, which aired Sunday, featured rabbis, academics, survivors, and educators. Some Twitter users didn’t take especially kindly to the question. The provocative question spurred a discussion on whether the Holocaust was a unique event in history, and how best to memorialize such a horrific period.

Matt Novak - Gizmodo

When Oregon was granted statehood in 1859, it was the only state in the Union admitted with a constitution that forbade black people from living, working, or owning property there. It was illegal for black people even to move to the state until 1926. Oregon’s founding is part of the forgotten history of racism in the American west ... The constitution was put to a popular vote in the state in 1857 and included two referendums that were to be voted on independently. The first was whether they should reject slavery. Roughly 75 percent of voters opted to reject the adoption of slavery. The second measure was whether or not to exclude black people from the state. About 89 percent of voters cast their vote in favor of excluding black and mixed race people from the state.

EJP

Almost half of the Jews in Britain fear they have no long-term future in Britain or Europe, according to a poll published on Wednesday. The poll of 2,230 British Jews by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) found that 45 percent feared Jews may have no future in Britain, and 58 percent were concerned they have no long-term future in Europe ... “The results of our survey are a shocking wake-up call straight after the atrocities in Paris," said CAA chairman Gideon Falter ... 2014 saw the most anti-Semitic incidents recorded by police since records began 30 years ago, according to the organization

Tom Heyden - BBC News

The UK is marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill. He is regarded by many as the greatest Briton ever, but for some he remains an intensely controversial figure. During Britain's darkest hours in World War Two, Churchill's leadership was vital in maintaining morale and leading the country to eventual victory over Nazi Germany ... Here are ten of the most common debates that have raged about Churchill's legacy. One: Views on Race .... Two : Poison gas ... Three: Bengal famine ... Four: Statements about Gandhi ... Five: Attitudes towards Jews ... Six: Attitudes towards Islam ... Seven: Treatment of strikers ... Eight: Sidney Street siege ... Nine: Role in Ireland ... Ten. Cash for influence ...

Kremlin (Russia)

Vladimir Putin sent his greetings to all those attending the requiem held to commemorate the 70 th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army and International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The President said: ... “The Holocaust was one of the most tragic and shameful pages in human history. Millions of innocent people fell victim to the Nazis, went through the hell of the death camps and were shot, tortured, and died from hunger and disease. The Red Army put an end to these atrocities and this ruthless barbarity and saved not just the Jewish people but also the other peoples of Europe and the world.”

Video

As this German wartime newsreel reports, young men across Europe volunteer for military service in the pan-European armed front against Soviet Bolshevism. Scenes from Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and Spain. German troops liberate Latvia’s capital, Riga. Corpses of Latvians killed by Bolsheviks are shown. Jews are rounded up and forced to work. German forces break through the “Stalin line” fortifications. In the tremendous “double battle” of Bialystok-Minsk, more than 300,000 Soviet prisoners are captured. German forces take Minsk, capital of Belarus, which the Soviets set on fire before retreating. German weekly newsreel, “Die Deutsche Wochenschau,” of July 16, 1941 (No. 567). With English subtitles (not entirely accurate). Runtime: 34:07 mins.

Video

Volunteers of the German-organized “Azerbaijani Legion” meet in Berlin in 1944. Azerbaijani officers who have already proven themselves in battle address the gathering. Among the attendees is the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Also, a Legion delegation lays a wreath at the “Neue Wache” memorial in central Berlin. From a wartime German newsreel. German-language narration. Runtime: 1:16 mins. The “Azerbaijani Legion” was one of many combat units of non-German volunteers that fought during World War II with Germany’s armed forces. Some 40,000 to 80,000 Soviet prisoners of war of Azerbaijani origin joined the formation to help liberate their homeland from Soviet rule. Azerbaijani culture and history is closely tied to that of Iran.

Associated Press

Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, some 58 percent of Germans say the past should be consigned to history, while three-quarters of Israelis reject the idea of putting the past behind them. Some 48 percent of Germans also say their opinion of today's Israel is poor and the Germans' view of the Israeli government is even worse, with 62 percent expressing a negative opinion ... The figures are the results of a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation released Monday. The foundation questioned 1,000 Germans and 1,001 Israelis for the poll; the margin of error was three percent ... A majority of both Israelis and Germans believe that Germany still has a special responsibility toward Israel because of its history.

JTA

More than one-third of Germans equated Israeli policies toward the Palestinians with Nazi policies towards the Jews, a new study found. Called “Germany and Israel Today: Linked by the Past, Divided by the Present?” the study of 1,000 Germans aged 18 and over was released Monday, one day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The survey, which was conducted in October by the German Bertelsmann Foundation, found that while many Germans would prefer not to discuss the Holocaust, they are willing to compare Israeli policies toward Palestinians today with those of Nazi Germany.

BBC News

A day of events has been held in London to mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral. The boat that carried the former prime minister's coffin along the Thames in 1965 repeated the journey, with members of his family among those on board. Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron laid a wreath in memory of the World War Two leader, whom he called "a great leader and great Briton". An evening service was held at Westminster Abbey. Speaking at a service in Parliament at the start of the day of commemorations, Mr Cameron said: "If there is one aspect of this man I admire more than any other - it is Churchill the patriot." Mr Cameron said the UK needed to draw on the "courage and resolve" of Churchill to battle "every affront to freedom in this century".

Mark Weber

In a secret wartime memorandum, Winston Churchill told his advisers that he wanted to "drench" Germany with poison gas. Churchill's July 1944 memo to his chief of staff Gen. Hastings Ismay was reproduced in the August-September 1985 issue of American Heritage magazine … Churchill's directive bluntly stated: "I want a cold-blooded calculation made as to how it would pay to use poison gas ... One really must not be bound within silly conventions of the mind whether they be those that ruled in the last war or those in reverse which rule in this."

Philip Weiss

In the last 24 hours the controversy over the planned speech by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to both houses of Congress on March 3 to rebut the president’s policy on Iran has blown up to a new level. Muted outrage over the invitation has turned into open rage ... Corn said the battle is for “Jewish voters.” This is not true; Jewish voters are in safe states, with the exception of Florida. It’s about Jewish donors and Jewish friends of Israel all over the establishment.

Scott McConnell - American Conservative

... No one could look at these poll numbers and fail to conclude that the current stance of Congress, which skews towards unconditional backing of the Israeli right, does not come close to representing the sentiments of the American people ... What remains is the power of the Israel lobby, exercised in great part through Congress by the leverage exerted by major donors ... So now the neoconservatives are laying the ground for their next war. Bombing Iran won’t do the job, say defense analysts like Kenneth Pollack (a somewhat chastened Iraq hawk.) We will need to occupy the country — four times as large as Iraq, with two and a half times the population. If you liked the occupation of Iraq, you’ll love war against Iran. The weird thing is that such a war is totally unnecessary.

Editorial – Forward (New York)

... By accepting House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to promote Iran sanctions legislation before a joint meeting of Congress, Netanyahu has risked further damaging his already-fraught relationship with President Obama. But the Israeli prime minister has done something else equally perilous. He’s once again put American Jews in a terrible quandary ... Just look at the numbers. Jews remain the most staunchly liberal voting bloc in presidential elections after African-Americans ... Moreover, there’s evidence that Jews are more supportive of his approach to Iran’s nuclear ambitions than the nation as a whole ... Netanyahu may be appeasing his funders, his Congressional allies and his friends in Jewish communal leadership with his upcoming speech. But he risks alienating many more American Jews whose support he may no longer take for granted.

Mark Weber

… What is emerging is a new bi-polar world, with the United States and Israel on one side, and the rest of the world on the other. This new alignment of forces, this shift in power relationships in the world, is strikingly reflected in the United Nations, where, time and time again, votes on issues in both the General As­sembly and the Security Council pit the United States and Israel on one side, and virtually the entire rest of the world on the other … The US-Israel alliance is, rather, a consequence, a result, of the Jewish-Zionist grip on American political and cultural life. Awareness of this fact is growing everywhere.

Associated Press

French President Francois Hollande called on Internet service providers to take action against the spread of anti-Semitism online. During a visit to France's Holocaust Memorial on Tuesday, Hollande said Internet service providers cannot ignore anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denial theories that are disseminated on social networks. Otherwise, he says, "they will be regarded as accomplices." Hollande also called European and international leaders to define new regulations with penalties for Internet service providers which do not comply.

Ali Abunimah

French President Francois Hollande used an International Holocaust Memorial Day speech to confirm that his government plans to tighten its control over what people are allowed to say online. The planned crackdown raises concern that French authorities will use their powers to further censor speech critical of Israel under the guise of combating anti-Semitism ... Hollande confirmed that under his government’s plans, “suppression of racist and anti-Semitic speech” would be moved from the civil press law to the criminal law, and that racist or anti-Semitic motives would be treated as aggravating factors in crimes. He said that Internet companies and social media websites would be “placed before their responsibilities” and punished if they failed to meet them.

The Age (Australia)

Members of Australia's Orthodox Jewish community who assist police investigating alleged child sexual abuse have been pressured to stay silent, secret tape recordings and emails obtained by Fairfax Media reveal. The details of the pressure being exerted on victims have emerged as the Royal Commission into child sex abuse prepares to hold public hearings next week to examine the responses of Melbourne and Sydney's yeshivah [orthodox Jewish education] centres to alleged offences dating back to the 1980s. In one secret, legally recorded 2011 telephone conversation, prominent Melbourne criminal lawyer Alex Lewenberg tells a victim of St Kilda Yeshivah centre sex offender David Cyprys he should not have co-operated with police.

Robert Fantina - CounterPunch

... It seems that Mr. Netanyahu, in his desperation to halt the slow march of justice for Palestine, has resorted to ‘the big lie’. As shown above, the statements he made regarding the ICC’s decision to investigate possible war crimes Israel committed are simply lies, falsehoods that he hopes the world will believe; in fact, he needs to world to believe them, so that Israel can continue its gradual genocide of Palestine ... The reason is simple; Israel, an apartheid state, has no interest in negotiating anything with the Palestinians; it simply wants to absorb all Palestinian land, destroy its culture and kill its people ... Pretty lies spoken with a straight face don’t hide the facts, and may slow the path of progress, but cannot stop it. The world, it seems, is finally losing patience with Israel.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... The issue is whether Iran represents a threat to our security worth risking a war. For that is where many, including Bibi, want us to go ... Alarmists may see a new Persian Empire threatening all mankind. A closer look reveals a Shia minority in a Sunni-dominated world where Shia are despised heretics ... What about Iran's drive to build a nuclear bomb? Well, Israel has 100-300 atom bombs. America has thousands. Iran's Muslim neighbor Pakistan has scores. And Iran? She has no bomb. Iran has never tested a nuclear device ... The U.S. intelligence community has twice said Iran has no nuclear bomb program. And the most recent finding, 2011, has never been reversed by the Director of National Intelligence.

Paul R. Pillar – The National Interest

It has not been a smooth month for those who want to keep Iran in pariahdom forever and thus seek to kill any international agreement on Iran's nuclear program ... There also has been the widespread and thoroughly justified criticism of Speaker of the House John Boehner's invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on the subject ... The inappropriateness of this invitation was apparent even to many people who may not fully appreciate how much Netanyahu has been trying to undermine U.S. foreign policy, and how he is much more of an adversary of the United States than an ally on this issue ... Zbigniew Brzezinski summarized well the nature of Boehner's move: “Speaker Boehner has an odd definition of leadership: inviting a foreign leader to undermine our President's policy in front of Congress?”

Daniel Larison - The American Conservative

... It is nonsense to claim that the relationship with Israel is the “most important” one that the U.S. has. This isn’t some technically false statement. It is preposterous. Israel is a small client state that doesn’t contribute very much and doesn’t do much to help advance U.S. interests anywhere. There are dozens of international relationships that the U.S. has that are more important than this one, starting with our treaty allies and closest neighbors ... No wonder the head of Israel’s government believes he can do whatever he wants in his dealings with the U.S. A top administration official is praising the relationship between our governments as “the most important” in the world just days after the head of their government effectively “spat” in the administration’s face (to use the word of another administration official).

BBC News

The key to learning and memory in early life is a lengthy nap, say scientists. Trials with 216 babies up to twelve months old indicated they were unable to remember new tasks if they did not have a lengthy sleep soon afterwards. The University of Sheffield team suggested the best time to learn may be just before sleep and emphasised the importance of reading at bedtime. Experts said sleep may be much more important in early years than at other ages ... The results, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed "sleeping like a baby" was vital for learning. On average one-and-a-half tasks could be repeated after having a substantial nap. Yet zero tasks could be repeated if there was little sleep time.

McClatchy

Reparation money inherited from survivors of the Holocaust should not be used to calculate eligibility for federal programs based on financial need, such as Medicaid, according to an emergency message issued last month by the Social Security Administration. Advocates for Holocaust survivors and their families called the decision a major victory. "Children of survivors will no longer be denied access to need-based programs as a result of money they inherited from their parents or grandparents if they can demonstrate that this money was Holocaust-related," said Michael Lissner, a New York lawyer ...

Arutz Sheva (Israel)

An anti-Semitic Israeli jazz player who describes himself as an "ex-Jew" has seen one of his performances cancelled in the UK, after residents complained over his history of anti-Semitism. Gilad Atzmon - whose virulently unabashed exhibitions of anti-Semitism have seen him appear alongside open anti-Semites to rail about the evils of "Jewish culture and identity" and "Jewish world domination" - was due to perform at a venue in Nottingham, northern England, as part of his band's nationwide tour. But when the local council which runs the venue received a letter from 13 locals highlighting comments by Atzmon including "it is always Jewish bad be‎havior that brings disaster on the Jews," and "Nuremberg was a fake tribunal, Israel deserves a real one," the decision was made to cancel the show ...

The Budapest Times (Hungary)

Hungary’s Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) has offered free legal assistance to kuruc.info, an internet portal recently condemned by a Hungarian court for publishing an article in 2013 denying the Holocaust. The court ordered that the article should be blocked. TASZ subsequently questioned both whether Holocaust denial should be criminalised, and if rules under which a wide range of internet content could be blocked are in line with the Constitution. “TASZ is convinced that making certain ideologies taboo through legal means is incorrect and harmful,” the organisation said. It suggested that a falsification of historical facts should be combated through education and through the state’s commitment to paying tribute to genocide victims, rather than through the penal code.

Tehran Times (Iran)

Iran’s House of Cartoon and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex plan to hold another international contest on the theme of Holocaust denial in the near future. The 2nd International Holocaust Cartoons Contest has been organized in protest against French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s recent publication of the cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad (S), the secretary of the contest, Masud Shojaei-Tabatabaii, said in a press conference on Saturday. Shojaei-Tabatabaii, who is also the director of Iran’s House of Cartoon, added that world cartoonists are asked to submit their works before the first day of April. The first place winners will receive a cash prize of $12,000, the second place will have $8000 and the third $5000.

Robert Parry - Consortium News

Showing who some in Congress believe is the real master of U.S. foreign policy, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session and offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s comments on world affairs in his State of the Union speech ... Besides this extraordinary recognition of another country’s leader as the true definer of U.S. foreign policy, Boehner’s move reflects an ignorance of what is actually occurring on the ground in the Middle East ... If indeed Netanyahu does end up addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, its members would face a stark choice of either embracing Israel’s foreign policy as America’s or backing the decisions made by the elected President of the United States.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... If democracy is our goal, why did we not recognize the election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, or of Hezbollah in Lebanon? ... Why do we not demand democracy in Saudi Arabia? But hypocrisy is the least of our problems. The real problem is that hundreds of millions of Muslims reject our values. They do not believe all religions are equal. They do not believe in freedom of speech or the press to blaspheme the Prophet ... In surveys, the Muslim world not only rejects our presence and puppets, but also our culture and beliefs. In a free referendum they would vote to throw us out of the region and throw the Israelis into the sea. For many in the Mideast collaboration with America is a betrayal.

Eric Margolis

... Now, the lame duck Obama administration has finally figured out how to put an end to Cuba’s Communist system: human wave attacks by hordes of American tourists in loud golf wear yelling “USA, USA!” and waving Visa cards. The flood gates open in March. Once this happens, the charming, lovely island of gracious people that I’ve known since my youth will go the way of Nineveh, Tyre and Atlantis ... Once US airlines open regular flights to Havana and Varadero Beach, the Old Cuba will be soon wiped away ... One suspects a majority of Cubans eagerly await the Yankee invasion. They have suffered long enough for the sake of pride and independence. I vividly recall Batista’s corrupt, raunchy Cuba of 1953. It’s likely that once the Communists are swept away, the island could revert to those bad old days.

Associated Press

A Jewish leader stood before 300 survivors of the Nazis' most notorious death camp on Tuesday and asked world leaders to prevent another Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews fearful of walking the streets, and is causing many to flee Europe. Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He said his speech was shaped by the recent terrorist attacks in France that targeted Jews and newspaper satirists.

Mark Weber

Since the end of World War II, authoritative claims about the character and scope of killings at the Auschwitz concentration camp have changed drastically. One particularly striking change concerns the various “official” estimates of the number of victims — a number that since 1945 has been steadily declining … Compared to the recently “authoritative” figure of approximately one million Auschwitz deaths, Meyer has reduced the number of Jewish victims there by at least 450,000.

Robert Faurisson

Rudolf Höss was the first of three successive commandants of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He is often called "the Commandant of Auschwitz," and the general public knows of him from a book published under the title Commandant in Auschwitz. He appeared before the [Nuremberg] International Military Tribunal as a witness on April 15, 1946, where his deposition caused a sensation. … He estimated that at Auschwitz 3,000,000 people had been exterminated, 2,500,000 of them by means of gas chambers. His confessions were false. They had been extorted from Höss by torture …

AFP

The UN General Assembly opened a special session on Thursday [Jan. 22] to denounce the global rise of anti-Semitism, two weeks after Islamist attacks in Paris that shocked the world. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy told the 193-nation assembly that the world must confront “the renewed advance of this radical inhumanity, this total baseness that is anti-Semitism.” ... Levy recalled that the United Nations was created in the wake of World War II and the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust that led to calls to "Never Again" allow genocide. "This assembly was given the sacred task of preventing those terrible spirits from re-awakening, but they have returned and that is why we are here," said Levy.

AFP

A leading Islamic organisation has called on the United Nations to make “contempt of religions” illegal and urged the West to protect Muslim communities following the attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars, headed by influential preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, appealed to Muslims to continue peaceful protests against images of the Prophet Mohammed but “not to resort to any violence” ... The union said there should be protection for “prophets” and urged Islamic countries to submit a draft law to the UN calling for defamation of religions to be outlawed. The union said the UN should then issue a “law criminalising contempt of religions and the prophets and all the holy sites”.

The Times of Israel

The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had “spat” in President Barack Obama’s face. “We thought we’ve seen everything," the newspaper quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying. "But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.

Paul R. Pillar – The National Interest

... The exerciser of free speech in question in Paris was a satirical magazine [Charlie Hebdo] that seems to specialize in cartoons that are bound to offend a lot of people. It is fair to say that in the centuries of struggles for civil liberties, this is probably not one of the nobler vehicles for the cause. We are not talking Thomas Paine here. What is that “je suis Charlie” stuff supposed to mean? That we are all dedicated to putting down religious prophets? With most rights also go responsibilities, and prudence in the exercise of those rights, with an honest effort to bear in mind the consequences of what one does or says. Responsible, prudent exercise of a right does nothing to diminish or compromise that right.

Daily Mail (Britain)

A new study shows a majority of Germans have had enough of the Holocaust and want to move on from greatest genocide in history ... 81 percent of Germans say they want to put 'the history of the persecution of the Jews behind them' and for their leaders to turn to 'contemporary problems.' The study entitled 'Connecting past, separating present' was conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation to gauge current German-Israeli relations and its findings published in the Bild am Sonntag ahead of World Holocaust Day remembrances. It also showed that almost half of modern day Germans - 48 percent - have a bad opinion about Israel ... In Israel the survey found that almost one in four people there wanted to draw a line underneath the Holocaust ...

i24 News (Israel)

The atrocities of the Nazi regime should never be forgotten, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an interview published Sunday as a poll indicated 81 per cent of Germans would like to put the Holocaust behind them ... The poll, conducted by the not-for-profit Bertelsmann Foundation about German-Israeli relations, found that 58 percent would like to see a line drawn under the Nazi past, Bild reported.

Glenn Greenwald - The Intercept

Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet. The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating ... That’s why there is nobody outside of American cable news, DC think tanks, and the self-loving Oxbridge clique in London which does anything but scoff with scorn and dark amusement when the US and UK prance around as defenders of freedom and democracy.

Murtaza Hussain - The Intercept

After nearly 20 years as de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah ibn-Abdulaziz al-Saud died last night at the age of 90. Abdullah ... ruled as absolute monarch of a country which protected American interests but also sowed strife and extremism throughout the Middle East and the world ... [US Secretary of State] John Kerry described the late monarch as “a brave partner in fighting violent extremism” and “a proponent of peace” ... It’s not often that the unelected leader of a country which publicly flogs dissidents and beheads people for sorcery wins such glowing praise from American officials. Even more perplexing, perhaps, have been the fawning obituaries in the mainstream press which have faithfully echoed this characterization of Abdullah as a benign and well-intentioned man of peace.

European Jewish Press

The radical leftwing Syriza party which appears to be the winner of Sunday’s general elections in Greece and has promised to stop with austerity and defy the European institutions, is also widely viewed as having a clear anti-Israel stance, which has promised to “cancel” austerity and defy the European institutions. The party’s 40-year-old leader, Alexis Tsipras, said the vote would mark “the return of dignity” to Greece ... The party has constantly identified itself with the Palestinian cause and its programme include a demand for abolition of Greece’s military cooperation with Israel and the support for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders ... Last year, Tsipras stated that ‘’the world should make every possible effort so that Israel ends its criminal attack and brutality against Palestinians.’’

The Times of Israel

Jewish groups in the Netherlands and Britain have voiced indignation over the docking in Rotterdam of the world’s largest ship, the Pieter Schelte, which is named after a Dutchman who served in the Nazi Waffen SS, the Guardian reported Saturday ... Pieter Schelte Hereema was in the SS during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, but later joined the Resistance. Esther Voet, who directs the Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, bemoaned the timing of the ship’s arrival in port, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz ...

France 24

Of the estimated 1,000 French citizens who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to wage jihad, a small minority are former servicemen in the French armed forces, the country’s defence minister told Radio France Internationale (RFI) radio Wednesday. Defence Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said that a ‘tiny minority’ of around a dozen of these fighters were among the French jihadists ... One of these former soldiers, the minister said, was effectively the emir, or military commander, of a unit of around a dozen French youngsters in the Deir Ezzor region of northern Syria. Others, mostly young men in their mid-20s, include explosive experts and former members of the French Foreign Legion and the elite Parachute Brigade.

R. Brownstein - National Journal

... The reason the U.S. faces the risk of declining educational achievement is its failure to sufficiently respond to the profound demographic change reshaping society ... The minority share of the entering class at two- and four-year colleges has increased from about one-fourth in 1995 to nearly two-fifths now. But completion rates for African-American and Hispanic students who start college remain considerably lower than for whites (or Asian-Americans). Because those black and Hispanic students make up an increasing share of the college pipeline, it is their high attrition rate that creates the risk that the nation's overall share of college graduates will shift into reverse. That will quickly affect employers ...

Jan Jarboe Russell - HNN

The general history of America's internment of its own citizens during World War II has long been focused on the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese ... But what I learned during my five years of research for the book, The Train To Crystal City, is that that Executive Order 9066, which ordered the internment of Japanese, also allowed the Roosevelt administration to intern German and Italian immigrants and their American-born children. About 6,000 Japanese, German, and Italians and their children were housed in a secret internment camp in Crystal City, Texas, a small desert town ... Roosevelt not only arrested German, Japanese and Italians on American soil, but orchestrated the removal of 4,058 Germans, 2,264 Japanese and 288 Italians from thirteen Latin American countries – and locked many of them up in Crystal City.

Mark Weber – The Journal of Historical Review

Armin Mohler, the Swiss-born author who has lived for many years in Germany, begins this well-written look at the Third Reich and its historical legacy by telling the fascinating story of his experiences as a 22-year-old in wartime Berlin ... “The Third Reich was not as I had expected,” he recalls. Life in wartime Germany was much more complex and multifaceted than was portrayed ... Mohler was struck, for example, by the self-confident style and attractive, even rather erotic appearance of Berlin’s women ... Even membership in the National Socialist party did not imply a uniformity of thinking and behavior ... “The greatest surprise for me was the intensity of the intellectual disputes.” ... Most of this book is devoted to a forthright, dissident treatment of the highly emotion-laden issue of Germany's burdensome Third Reich legacy.

Erich Schinnerer (1938)

The basis for all government intervention in business in [Third Reich] Germany is to be found in the National-Socialist conception of the relation between business and the State ... Business is subordinated to the State ... The supreme value is the nation, which we call in German Volksgemeinschaft, the community of the nation ... This means that the State is not concerned with economic conditions as long as they do not conflict with the welfare of the nation. The principle of private initiative has been maintained. However, where it seems necessary to bring business into line with the welfare of the nation, the State will not hesitate to intervene and direct business into the desired channels. In Germany, contrary to the usual belief, we have no "planned economy", but rather a "directed" economy ...

T. J. O'Keefe – The Journal of Historical Review

... Lothrop Stoddard's Into the Darkness, based on the author's journey to central Europe from October 1939 to early 1940 ... is a rare even-handed account of the Third Reich -- its leaders, its people, its politics and society -- at the outset of the Second World War ... Readers of Into the Darkness, whether they share Stoddard's racial views or not, may be surprised to discover how objectively he described what he saw.

VOA News

More than half the respondents to a survey published Tuesday by an independent Russian polling agency said Soviet dictator Josef Stalin played a positive role in the life of the country ... The percentage of respondents saying Stalin played a positive role in the country's life was the highest in a Levada-Center survey since 2006, when it began asking respondents to assess the role of Russian and Soviet leaders.

Eric S. Margolis

... In February, 1945, US President Franklin Roosevelt, Britain’s Winston Churchill, and Soviet ruler Josef Stalin met to decide postwar Europe’s future. In modern history’s greatest betrayal, the Allied war leaders handed half of Europe to Soviet rule, betraying tens of millions of its people to the gulag, dictatorship, and confiscation of all their property … The Soviet Union had done the lion’s share of fighting in Europe, destroying 75% of all German land and air forces, and naturally expected the lion’s share of the spoils.

Joseph P. Bellinger – Inconvenient History

Over the past twenty-five years, throughout much of the western world, historical revisionism has sustained ever-harsher assaults on freedom of conscience and expression aimed directly at it. Explicitly anti-Holocaust-denial criminal statutes impose the consequences: question the Holocaust, go to jail. Unrepentant revisionists convicted under these oppressive laws can expect to serve lengthy sentences and appeals in most cases are routinely denied. As of October 2008, fourteen countries had enacted laws either specifically prohibiting and punishing “Holocaust denial” or expressions of “racism.” ... Operating on the dictum that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease,” a number of Jewish organizations have repeatedly urged and subsequently applauded the successful suppression and prosecution of “deniers.”

B. Wolverton - The Chronicle of Higher Education

A onetime academic adviser, tutor, and college-basketball coach says that for 14 years he has helped athletes obtain their NCAA eligibility through shoddy classes and fraudulent tests ... The handwritten notes, by a onetime academic adviser and college-basketball coach, are part of an elaborate scheme. Over the past 14 years, he says, he has used test keys to cheat for hundreds of athletes, helping them meet the eligibility requirements of the National Collegiate Athletic Association ... Mr. White may be an extreme example, but his breaches illustrate the ease with which intercollegiate athletics can be exploited, its rules manipulated, and the inability of colleges and regulators to control it.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

An academic-fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took root under a departmental secretary and die-hard Tar Heel fan, who was egged on by athletics advisers to create no-show classes that would keep underprepared and unmotivated players eligible. Over nearly two decades, professors, coaches, and administrators either participated in the scheme or overlooked it, undercutting the core values of one of the nation’s premier public universities. Such are the sobering findings of an eight-month investigation ... The report estimates that more than 3,100 students received "irregular instruction" in the department’s "paper classes," which did not meet and required only a single paper for credit. Student athletes were disproportionately represented in the classes ...

Mark J. Perry - American Enterprise Institute

... For those applicants to US medical schools last year with average GPAs (3.40 to 3.59) and average MCAT scores (27 to 29), black applicants were four times more likely to be admitted to medical school than Asians in that applicant pool (81.0% vs. 20.4%), and 2.7 times more likely than white applicants (81.1% vs. 30.6%). Likewise, Hispanic applicants to medical school with average GPAs and MCAT scores were twice as likely as whites in that applicant pool to be admitted to medical school (61.7% vs. 30.6%), and three times more likely than Asians (61.7% vs. 20.4%).

U. S. Institute of Peace (Washington, DC)

... I walked the streets of Tehran freely without fear ... The Iranians I encountered were friendly and interested in the United States. I was impressed with the energy on the streets of Tehran. There are a lot of construction cranes present and the auto congestion is terrible. About every third or fourth car was driven by a woman …There were a lot of relatively new cars ... Young people and the press I met all seemed anxious to see an improved relationship with the United States and Europe. Keep in mind that 60 percent of Iranians are under age 30, and 60 percent of university students are female ... Iran is going to play a bigger role in the region - given its geography, history, religion, population and energy resources - whether we like it or not.

Daniel McGowan – Dissident Voice

... To fortify its Jewish character the program included a short discussion between Itzhak Perlman and Elie Wiesel, arguably the foremost proponent of the current Holocaust narrative. Wiesel told the incredulous Perlman that as a boy he too had studied violin. Moreover he claimed that he took his violin to Auschwitz in June 1944; his father suggested that since Elie was already there he might as well try out for the Auschwitz Orchestra in hopes of earning an extra ration of bread. But alas Elie could only play classical music, like Beethoven, and not those evil Nazi marches, so during his interview with the head of the Auschwitz Orchestra a vicious kapo grabbed his violin and smashed it under foot. As a Jew, I was proud of Perlman’s gracious restraint in not calling Wiesel’s remarks utter nonsense.

Christopher Hitchens

Is there a more contemptible poseur and windbag than Elie Wiesel? I suppose there may be. But not, surely, a poseur and windbag who receives (and takes as his due) such grotesque deference on moral questions … This claim is a cheap lie and is known by Wiesel to be a lie. It is furthermore an utterly discredited lie, and one that Israeli officialdom no longer cares to repeat. Israeli and Jewish historians have exposed it time and again: … And of course the lie is a Big Lie, because Expulsion-Denial lies at the root of the entire problem and helps poison the situation to this day.

Stephen Kinzer - Boston Globe

... It is a mistake to see the various political and military conflicts now shaking the Middle East as isolated from each other. All are part of a broad struggle to shape a new map of the region. That map will look quite different from the one that Bell and her fellow imperialists bequeathed to us. Some countries in the Middle East are doomed. They are unfortunate accidents of history ... In a region full of fake, made-up countries, one Muslim power is sure to survive: Iran. It is the opposite of a fake country. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are less than a century old. Iran has existed — more or less within the same boundaries, with more or less the same language — for 2,500 years. Colonialists never managed to divide it, and it stands today as an island of stability in a volcanically unstable region.

Philip Giraldi

... The United States has a notionally free press but it is in reality largely controlled by special and corporate interests that are not prepared to challenge the government in any serious way ... Because of the influence of money in campaigns, large donors often are able to dictate what positions candidates will take. So the average voter has little choice in reality ... Washington’s record on foreign policy and all that pertains to it is far worse than Russia’s. In practical terms there is little to separate Putin’s sense that he is acting aggressively to restore the prerogatives of Holy Russia and Obama’s insistence on extending unconstitutional executive privilege in pursuit of a progressive agenda. Both are convinced that it is altogether right and proper to have great power concentrated in their hands ...

Patrick J. Buchanan

... Race relations today seem in some ways more poisonous than in 1965, when there were vast deposits of goodwill ... Whether it is dropout rates, drug use rates, delinquency rates or incarceration rates, the rates for blacks far exceed those of white and Asian-Americans, and of immigrants and Hispanics ... Measured by the average incomes and wealth of Asians and whites and Hispanics and blacks, we have failed. And income inequality is back again, as issue No. 1. After 50 years of affirmative action and the greatest wealth transfers in human history, "equality as a fact" has not been achieved and will not be, absent a greater seizure of power by the U.S. government and larger and virtually endless transfers of wealth.

Anadolu Agency (Turkey)

World renowned political science professor says he has 'no sympathy' for staff at Charlie Hebdo / In Nazi Germany, there was an anti-Semitic weekly newspaper called Der Stürmer. Run by Julius Streicher, it was notorious for being one of the most virulent advocates of the persecution of Jews during the 1930s. What everybody remembers about Der Stürmer was its morbid caricatures of Jews ... “I’m sorry, maybe it is very politically incorrect. I have no sympathy for [the staff of Charlie Hebdo]. Should they have been killed? Of course not. But of course, Streicher shouldn’t have been hung. I don’t hear that from many people,” said Finkelstein. Streicher was among those who stood trial on charges at Nürnberg, following World War II. He was hung for those cartoons.

BBC News

Dr Tony Perry, a pioneer in cloning, has announced precise DNA editing at the moment of conception in mice. He said huge advances in the past two years meant “designer babies” were no longer HG Wells [science fiction] territory. Other leading scientists and bioethicists argue it is time for a serious public debate on the issue. Designer babies – genetically modified for beauty, intelligence or to be free of disease – have long been a topic of science fiction. Dr Perry, who was part of the teams to clone the first mice and pigs, said the prospect was still fiction, but science was rapidly catching up to make elements of it possible.

Associated Press

Suicides among members of the active-duty military personnel rose slightly in 2014, led by increases in the number of sailors and airmen who took their own lives, new Defense Department figures show. There were fewer suicides by Army soldiers and Marines, the two services that have seen the most combat in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. According to preliminary Pentagon data, there were 288 confirmed and suspected suicides by active-duty personnel in 2014, compared with 286 in 2013. Both totals, however, represent a sharp drop from the 2012 number of 352. The data was obtained by The Associated Press. Over time the numbers may change, particularly if deaths that were initially believed to be suicides are found to be otherwise.

R. Berman - The Atlantic

Republicans who panned President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night have responded by inviting one of their favorite speakers back for a return engagement: Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister last addressed Congress in 2011, delivering a speech that drew a more enthusiastic response from GOP leaders than any from the American president. Speaking as if he could have been elected from the Philadelphia suburb where he graduated high school, Netanyahu was interrupted more than two dozen times by bipartisan standing ovations as he firmly laid down his parameters for a peace deal with the Palestinians at a moment of tension with President Obama. Netanyahu would become the first foreign leader since Winston Churchill to appear before Congress three times.

The Washington Post

Republicans in Congress moved quickly Wednesday to reject many of President Obama’s proposals from the State of the Union address – and invited the prime minister of Israel to rebut Obama’s Iran policy from the same congressional podium next month. That invitation to address Congress, extended by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, marked a sharp rejection of Obama’s plea for Congress to stay out of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. If Congress votes to sanction Iran, Obama had warned, it could upset delicate and long-running talks. Boehner said he would ignore the president’s demand, taking the unusual step of inviting a foreign leader directly into an American political debate.

Daniel Larison - The American Conservative

Pushing for new sanctions legislation isn’t the only thing that hawks have in mind for sabotaging diplomacy with Iran: Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress about Iran next month, a move sure to inflame the Obama administration, which is trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic ... It doubles as an opportunity to rally “pro-Israel” hawks in Congress behind the bad cause of undermining a deal on the nuclear issue ... The frequency with which Israeli leaders have been addressing Congress in the last decade is remarkable in itself ... No other country’s head of government has spoken so often to our Congress in the last twenty years ... It is one more example of how one-sided and strange the U.S.-Israel relationship has become.

T. Luhby - CNN

It's not hard to see why income inequality and middle class woes are in the spotlight these days ... The richest Americans have seen their fortunes rise in recent decades. Everyone else has either been treading water or falling backwards. That's in large part because the wealthy have benefited from the soaring stock market and corporate profits. But wages, which the middle class depends on, have stagnated ... In the most recent recovery, for instance, the income of the Top one percent soared 31.4% ... The middle class, meanwhile, has given up all the income gains it enjoyed during the tech boom of the late 1990s and the housing boom of the mid 2000s. This, along with the lack of growth of average hours earnings in recent years, is one of the main reasons why Americans say they aren't feeling the economic recovery.

E. Kamarck -- The Brookings Institution (Washington, DC)

... While the State of the Union [annual address] has provided us with some of our most uplifting and sublime moments, the various responses have provided ample fodder for late night comedians ... Consider, for instance, Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union in which he evoked “the Four Freedoms” — freedom of speech and worship and freedom from want and fear— as a powerful justification for what was to be America’s role in a world at war. Then there was Lyndon Johnson’s declaration in his 1964 State of the Union that the coming Congress would be remembered as the one that “declared all-out war on human poverty.” More recently, in his 2002 State of the Union address, following the 9/11 disaster, President George W. Bush declared North Korea, Iran and Iraq “the axis of evil.”

Ben White - Middle East Monitor

Pro-Israel activists have vowed to fight back against a growing global boycott campaign, using new technological "tools" proposed and developed at a recent "Legitimacy Hackathon." The gathering, held on January 4-6 in Tel Aviv, was organised by Israeli think tank the Reut Institute, who in 2010 produced an influential report on fighting what they termed "delegitimisation" – the growing support for Palestinian rights and opposition to Israeli Apartheid ... In a separate development, it was revealed that StandWithUs will receive more than NIS one million [Israel shekels] "to help spread government-backed advocacy messages", especially on "social networks."

Patrick J. Buchanan

... And what are now the limits of free speech in France? Prime Minister Manuel Vals lists four. "There is a fundamental difference between the freedom to be impertinent and anti-Semitism, racism, glorification of terrorist acts, and Holocaust denial, all of which are crimes, that justice should punish with the most severity." Vals' list brings to mind another quote of Voltaire's, "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." Why did Vals not include slanders against Catholicism and Islam, the world's largest religions, both of which have been repeatedly insulted by Charlie Hebdo? ... Who decides what is "anti-Semitism" and what is "racism"? ... Who decides which historical events are off-limits for debate?

Kim Petersen

It is reported that a million people marched the streets of Paris today shouting “Liberté” and “Charlie”? Charlie who? Charlie Hebdo? Why would I want to align myself with cartoonists who show intolerance/prejudice to other cultures and religions? ... I also reject the killing of people to make a political/religious statement. I am Free Expression/ Speech. But Charlie Hebdo was not about either free expression or speech ... For Charlie Hebdo, in other words, Islamophobia is okay, but Judeophobia is not okay. This is by definition hypocrisy ... France is not about free expression/speech. One is not free to challenge the Jewish Holocaust narrative in France.

Jacob G. Hornberger

... The only thing that surprises me about the Paris attacks is that people are surprised about them. I just don’t get it. How can anyone be surprised over this sort of thing, after decades of death, destruction, torture, maiming, humiliation, and partnerships with dictatorial regimes on the part of the United States, France, and other members of “coalitions of the willing” put together by the U.S. government as part of its imperialist and interventionist campaign in the Middle East and Afghanistan? ... Terrorism — at least anti-American terrorism — comes with empire and intervention just as thunder follows lightning and death follows jumping off a 50-story building.

AFP

Almost half of French respondents to a poll oppose publication of cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, a marketing firm found yesterday, as global debate deepened on possible limits of free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings. The French Institute of Public Opinion poll found that 42 percent believe that cartoons depicting Mohammed that are seen as offensive by many Muslims should not be published. Fifty percent said they backed "limitations on free speech online and on social networks." However, 57 percent said opposition from Muslims should not prevent the cartoons being published, according to the poll ... However, 57 percent opposed French military intervention in nations including Libya and Syria.

BBC News

The head of Germany's "anti-Islamisation" movement Pegida has quit after disparaging anti-refugee comments and a photo showing him apparently posing as Hitler emerged. Lutz Bachmann apologised for Facebook comments he made in which he reportedly called refugees "animals" and "scumbags". He did not mention the photo of him with Hitler-style hair and moustache. Meanwhile, thousands of people have marched in Leipzig at a Pegida rally. Police were deployed to the streets of the eastern German city to prevent clashes with members of a rival anti-Pegida demonstration. Pegida supporters chanted "We are the people", while their opponents shouted "Get out of here."

The Telegraph (Britain)

... Protests under the banner Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West, or Pegida, have grown dramatically since a few hundred people turned up to the first demonstration in October, reaching 25,000 at a “funeral march” for the victims of the Paris attacks on Monday night. But counter-protests against the movement have grown even more rapidly, and on Monday they outnumbered Pegida supporters by four to one across Germany ... Every time Pegida have tried to replicate the success of their Dresden protests in other cities around Germany, they have been outnumbered by counter-protestors.

Rula Jebreal - The New York Times

… Israel is increasingly becoming a project of ethno-religious purity and exclusion ... Chief among the more than 50 discriminatory Israeli laws documented by Adalah, the Haifa-based Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is the Law of Return, which automatically guarantees Israeli citizenship for every Jew regardless of birthplace ... Further ethnic separation is maintained by the education system. Aside from a few mixed schools, most educational institutions in Israel are divided into Arab and Jewish ones ... While Israel (like the United States) claims to abhor racism and human rights violations elsewhere, the country’s political leadership is actively enacting laws that ensure a pervasive institutionalized system of discrimination.

D. Palumbo-Liu - The Nation

Most academic organizations have been wary of discussing, much less endorsing, the academic boycott of Israel. But things have changed since April 2013, when the Association of Asian American Studies became the first academic organization to answer the call for solidarity from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) emanating out of Palestinian civil society. The American Studies Association vote to endorse the academic boycott of Israel that December put into motion a mass movement that has had a ripple effect way beyond the United States.

Uri Avnery

... One may wonder if the State of Israel would have come into being in 1948 if there had not been the Holocaust. Recently, a million and a half Russian Jews were driven to Israel by anti-Semitism. Zionism was born at the end of the 19 th century as a direct answer to the challenge of anti-Semitism. After the French revolution, the new national idea took hold of all European nations, big and small, and all of the national movements were more or less anti-Semitic. The basic belief of Zionism is that Jews cannot live anywhere except in the Jewish State, because the victory of anti-Semitism is inevitable everywhere. Let the Jews of America rejoice in their freedom and prosperity – sooner or later that will come to an end. They are doomed like Jews everywhere outside Israel.

Jonathan Cook

... It would be wrong to view Mr Netanyahu’s argument as solely opportunistic. It is underpinned by an authentic worldview, even if one with paradoxical antecedents ... Such a conception of citizenship and nationhood is based on ethnicity, not territory. It opposes multiculturalism, believing instead that loyalty to the state derives from a tribal attachment rather than a civic one. It stands in stark opposition to most European countries’ notions of citizenship ... The logical corollary is that Jews too cannot be loyal to the other states they live in, such as France. In Mr Netanyahu’s conception, a Jew’s primary bond should be to their “true home”: the Jewish state of Israel.

VOA News

It might be 75 years old, but the American Civil War saga Gone With the Wind remains firmly in the hearts of American moviegoers. Based on Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize winning historical romance, the film premiered in 1939 and followed the tumultuous love story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler against the backdrop of the burning cities and hardships of war in the American South ... Apparently, movie tastes also come down along partisan lines. The top pick for Republicans and Independents is Gone With the Wind, but Democrats prefer Star Wars, followed by Gone With the Wind. Four films that made the Top Ten in a 2008 poll fell out of favor.

Hungary Today (Budapest)

A Hungarian court has ordered an article on the far-right website Kuruc.info to be deleted, it emerged on Wednesday evening. The court order to block the Holocaust denying article is the first time Hungarian courts have taken action to make an Internet content unavailable since the government criminalised the denial of crimes committed by totalitarian system. The article in question was published by the far-right news website Kuruc.info in June 2013. The piece questions the atrocities that took place against Jews in the Auschwitz, claiming “such things never ever happened”. Following its appearance on the site, a police investigation was launched due to the public denial of crimes committed by National Socialist or Communist systems; however, police were unable to locate the author or the person responsible for publishing the article.

Philadelphia Inquirer

You can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater. Can an ad proclaim "Jew-Hatred: It's in the Quran" on a crowded bus? That's the free-speech issue before U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg in Philadelphia, who soon will have to decide whether a private group's ad targeting the Quran and seeking to "end all aid to Islamic countries" can appear on SEPTA's buses, trains, shelters, and kiosks. Defenders of the ad say it falls into one of the First Amendment's most preciously protected categories: public-issue speech. SEPTA general counsel Gino Benedetti ... said he rejected the ad in the fall because of its potential to cause harm and incivility in a transit system that serves and employs Muslims among its one million daily customers and 9,000 employees.

The Associated Press

A German group protesting what it calls “the Islamization of the West” vowed Monday that it won’t be silenced after its weekly rally was canceled following an alleged terrorist threat against one of its organizers. The planned demonstration in Dresden by PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, was scrapped and local police banned all rallies Monday after being informed of a call for attackers to kill Lutz Bachmann, PEGIDA’s best-known figure ... About 25,000 people attended last week’s PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden, police estimated. Similar groups in other German cities haven’t drawn anywhere near as much support, and there have been much larger demonstrations against them.

The Washington Post

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation. The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

The Guardian (Britain)

A new report found that, at 51 percent, the number of children who qualified for federal programs for free or reduced-price lunches is the highest in at least 50 years, according to the Southern Education Foundation. In other words, in 2013, more than half of the students attending public school lived in poverty. Those numbers are representative of the growing problem of child poverty in the US. Overall, one in five US children live in poverty ... In 2012, out of 35 economically developed countries, only Romania had a higher child poverty rate than the US. The Southern Education Foundation found that with each passing year, an increasing number of states are seeing ​needy children in their classrooms.

Ann Jones

... Most Americans have no idea just how strange we now seem to much of the world. In my experience, foreign observers are far better informed about us than the average American is about them. This is partly because the “news” in the American media is so parochial and so limited ... To many, the most baffling and important question of all is: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up more and more trouble for all of us? That last question is particularly pressing because countries historically friendly to the United States, from Australia to Finland, are struggling to keep up with an influx of refugees from America’s wars and interventions ... Wherever I travel, the questions follow, suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others.

Alison Weir

Following is a deeply disturbing excerpt from a civil lawsuit filed by a Caltech professor against Caltech, often named the world’s top research university. Caltech’s official name is the California Institute of Technology. According to the lawsuit, a small coterie of Caltech professors and administrators ignored Israeli spying and theft of taxpayer-funded U.S. technology and then retaliated against the professor for reporting it ... In her suit Dr. Troian says that an Israeli postdoctoral student blatantly violated US laws and transmitted information on potential space technology to Israel. According to Troian, when she reported these violations, some Caltech administrators and professors ignored the Israeli’s extensive violations ...

AFP

Wealth accumulated by the richest one percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent in 2016, the Oxfam charity said Monday, ahead of the annual meeting of the world's most powerful at Davos, Switzerland. “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast," Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said. The richest one percent's share of global wealth increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014, the British charity said in a report, adding that it will be more that 50 percent in 2016 ... Of the remaining 52 percent, almost all -- 46 percent -- is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world's population ...

Seumas Milne - The Guardian (Britain)

... For all the talk of freedom of expression being a non-negotiable right, Holocaust denial is outlawed in France, and performances by the antisemitic black comedian Dieudonné have been banned. But just as there is a blindness in sections of progressive France about how the secular ideology used to break the grip of the powerful is now used to discipline the powerless, the right to single out one religion for abuse has been raised to the status of a core liberal value ... France famously refused to take part in the US-British aggression against Iraq. But it has been making up for lost time ever since, sending troops to Afghanistan, intervening in one African state after another, from Libya and Mali to Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic, bombing Iraq and backing Syrian rebels.

Sheldon Richman

Contrary to American officialdom and its stalwart “manufacturers of consent” — the intelligentsia and mainstream media — we will never comprehend the reasons for the slaughter of 17 innocent people in Paris as long as we ignore the history of Western violence against the Muslim world. Perpetrators and cheerleaders of Western violence stifle discussion of what motivates young Muslims to murder Americans and Europeans by conflating comprehension with exoneration ... Muslims and Arabs have legitimate grievances against the U.S. government and its allies — even if some of their responses are illegitimate. The way to end Muslim violence in the West, therefore, is for the West to end its violence against Muslims.

Aluf Benn - Haaretz (Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly objects to revealing any information about the “oil arbitration” case that has been conducted between Israel and Iran in European courts for more than 20 years, the details of which were exposed on Haaretz.com this weekend. Netanyahu signed a secrecy order in November 2013 banning the publication of information on the arbitration, because it “could possibly bring about harm to national security and foreign relations.” Netanyahu intervened to head off a petition filed in Jerusalem District Court in June 2013 by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center, under the Freedom of Information Law.

Jela de Franceschi - VOA News

With elections slated for several European Union countries this year, analysts say voters are likely to back far right and far left parties critical of the bloc's institutions. They say the EU, which was built on the promise of peace and prosperity, is having a hard time delivering on the latter. The new normal in Europe is economic stagnation and political mayhem, which few could have predicted. It all began with the 2008 global financial crisis, which is still plaguing Europe ... Prosperity held Europe together; without it the continent is breaking up ... While debt and austerity measures are a dominating political issue in southern Europe, immigration is the topic that dominates debates in the North.

Peculiarities of Russian National Character Dmitry Orlov

... Russia has a long history of being invaded from every direction, but especially from the west, and Russian culture has evolved a certain mindset which is difficult for outsiders to comprehend ... It may sound nonsensical to a westerner to hear Russians call their country “a country of princes, poets and saints,” but that's what it is — it is a state of mind. Russia doesn't have a history — it is its history.

Review by Serge Schmemann - The New York Times

... Kotkin's stunningly ambitious project is nothing less than to write an exhaustive history of Russia and the world around it, from the collapse of the czarist empire through the end of World War II. The first volume [of Stalin: Paradoxes of Power] ends in 1928 on the eve of the savage collectivization of Russia's peasant agriculture, with fascism rising to the west ... His Stalin is not a disciple who deviates from Lenin; he is Lenin's true disciple, in pitiless class warfare, in the inability to compromise, and, above all, in unshakable ideological conviction ... It is one of Mr. Kotkin's major theses that Stalin "reveals how, on extremely rare occasions, a single individual's decisions can radically transform an entire country's political and socioeconomic structures, with global repercussions."

Eric Margolis

… For eight decades, the greatest mass murder in modern history has been shamefully covered up or ignored … If we keep demanding that Germany and Japan atone for their wartime crimes, is it not time for our governments to finally recognize and atone their alliance with the biggest mass murderer in history, Josef Stalin, a man whose crimes exceeded those of Adolf Hitler by a factor of at least three or four times? Particularly so in the United States, where World War II has become something of a state religion and is endlessly invoked by conservatives and neocons to justify foreign military adventures.

Reuters

Weekly marches by the German anti-Islam movement PEGIDA may not spread much beyond the city of Dresden where they began, but their message is having a profound impact on mainstream political parties. The sight of 25,000 people waving German flags in the dark and chanting "Luegenpresse" (Lying press), a Nazi term, and "Wir sind das Volk" (We are the people), taken up before the Berlin Wall fell, leaves a strong impression ... Co-founder Lutz Bachmann, 41, says his 'Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West' campaign, born on Facebook three months ago, represents the silent majority and has huge potential across Germany and Europe ... At Monday's rally, Bachmann called on politicians to force immigrants to integrate.

Associated Press

A German newspaper has apologized for mistakenly publishing a fake Charlie Hebdo cover that featured an anti-Semitic cartoon on its front page the day after the French publication was attacked last week. The daily Berliner Zeitung featured four real Charlie Hebdo covers on its front page Jan. 8, along with a fake one depicting what appears to be an Orthodox Jew making a quip about the Holocaust. The cover carried the name "Charlo Hebdo" — one of the clues it was a fake. The Berliner Zeitung said Thursday it "failed to recognize that one of the cartoons was a fake" and offered its "profoundest personal apologies for this highly regrettable mistake." It said it had posted a correction in Friday's paper acknowledging that it mistakenly printed an anti-Semitic cartoon.

Eric Margolis

... In Islam, it is strictly forbidden to depict the Prophet of Islam. Doing so is one of the most serious provocations against Islam and a certain way to infuriate even moderate Muslims – though in no way does doing so justify violence ... To put things in context, France has emerged as one of the most active interveners in the Muslim world, conducting military operations in Libya, Mali, Chad, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Critics accused France of a new era of Mideast and African colonialism. As France increasingly wages small wars in the Muslim world, Islamophobia is surging in France, propelled by continued immigration and the rapid rise of the hard right National Front.

David Cole - Taki's Magazine

... Taki’s contributor Daniel Acheampong asked me a good question: “From your experience, which would you deem more dangerous: Holocaust revisionism, or slagging off the Prophet?” Acheampong knows my backstory: From 1989 through 1995, I was public enemy number one to Jewish organizations like the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center ... In Europe, revisionists and deniers are routinely imprisoned due to a series of draconian laws pushed through by Jewish groups. This is an affront to the supposed values of Western civilization ... But let’s not forget that the Jewish groups that rammed through those laws did so under the laws of the various European nations they targeted, exploiting free speech weaknesses in mealy-mouthed, pussified leftist nations.

Ron Paul

... The mainstream media immediately decided that the shooting was an attack on free speech. Many in the US preferred this version of "they hate us because we are free," which is the claim that President Bush made after 9/11 ... Foreign policy actions have consequences. The aggressive foreign policies of the United States and its allies in the Middle East have radicalized thousands and have made us less safe. Blowback is real whether some want to recognize it or not. There are no guarantees of security, but only a policy of nonintervention can reduce the risk of another attack.

Editorial - JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association)

The US position as a global leader in biomedical research is being undermined. As compiled and presented in this issue of JAMA by Moses et al, one indicator after another demonstrates numerous other countries outpacing the United States in their commitment to research. US medical research spending increased 6% per year from 1994 to 2004 but only 0.8% per year between 2004 and 2012. The United States’ share of total global investment declined by approximately 13% from 2004 to 2012 while the share of Asian economies increased by 7%. Patent output reflects these declines — the United States’ global share of research patents designated as most valuable declined from 73% in 1981 to 59% in 2011.

The Guardian (Britain)

A small Jewish ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel has found itself in the spotlight after digitally removing Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel from a photo of this week’s Paris march. World leaders had linked arms to march in Paris against terrorism after Islamic extremists killed 17 people. At the march, Merkel stood in the front row between the French president, François Hollande, and Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. But readers of the Hamevaser newspaper’s Monday edition didn’t know, as she had been digitally removed, leaving Abbas standing next to Hollande ... Within the insular ultra-Orthodox community, pictures of women are rarely shown, due to modesty concerns.

Associated Press

In the eyes of most Iraqis, their country's best ally in the war against the Islamic State group is not the United States and the coalition air campaign against the militants. It's Iran, which is credited with stopping the extremists' march on Baghdad. Shiite, non-Arab Iran has effectively taken charge of Iraq's defense against the Sunni radical group, meeting the Iraqi government's need for immediate help on the ground ... The result is that Tehran's influence in Iraq, already high since U.S. forces left at the end of 2011, has grown to an unprecedented level.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... In chanting “Je Suis Charlie,” the marchers showed support for a magazine French Muslims rightly believe is racist and anti-Islamic. Yet, Marine Le Pen, leading in the polls for the French presidency, was blacklisted from marching for remarks about Muslim immigration that are benign compared to what Charlie Hebdo regularly publishes. All weekend long, journalists called it an imperative for us all to defend the lewd and lurid blasphemies of the satirical magazine. But as journalist Christopher Dickey points out, Muslims in the banlieues wonder why insulting the Prophet is a protected freedom in France, while denying the Holocaust can get you a prison term.

Gregory Hood

... Tens of thousands of French citizens rallied throughout the country. People around the world claimed #JeSuisCharlie (“I am Charlie”) in solidarity with the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. And President Obama expressed his condolences to the French people and his support of the “universal belief in the freedom of expression.” All of this is nonsense. France has long restricted freedom of speech on important issues of immigration, history, and culture. These demonstrations are especially laughable because Charlie Hebdo was warned by the French state that it was in danger of breaking hate-speech laws.

Mehdi Hasan – New Statesman

... None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn. Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? ... Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren .... Weren’t you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the “unity rally” in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison ...

Glenn Greenwald - The Intercept

... Since that glorious “free speech” march, France has reportedly opened 54 criminal cases for “condoning terrorism.” AP reported this morning that “France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism.” As pernicious as this arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west ... “Free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game.

France24/ AFP

Notorious French comedian Dieudonné is to stand trial for being an "apologist for terrorism" after writing a Facebook comment suggesting he sympathised with one of the gunmen in last week's Paris attacks, a judicial source said Wednesday. Prosecutors had opened the case against him on Monday after he posted "Tonight, as far as I'm concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly" -- mixing the popular slogan "Je Suis Charlie" used in homage to the journalists killed at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, with a reference to one of the gunmen in last week's attacks, Amédy Coulibaly. Coulibaly killed four people at a Jewish supermarket on Friday and a policewoman the day before.

Reuters

The world outpouring of sympathy after the deadly "Charlie Hebdo" attack has touched many in France but some either detect a note of hypocrisy or feel squeamish about supporting a satirical weekly that antagonised many ... Scepticism has emerged on the one hand from surviving Charlie Hebdo workers who reject some of the support for them as insincere; from others who found the weekly plain offensive; and others who question the human rights records of the 40-plus world leaders taking part in Sunday's unity march in Paris ... More significant is the body of people who say that while they outright condemn the attacks, they still cannot bring themselves to support a newspaper that mocked religions.

Associated Press

Pope Francis said Thursday there are limits to freedom of speech, especially when it insults or ridicules someone's faith. Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks while en route to the Philippines, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one's mind for the sake of the common good. But he said there were limits. By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes papal trips and was standing by his side aboard the papal plane. "If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch," Francis said half-jokingly, throwing a mock punch his way. "It's normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

Paul Richter – Los Angeles Times

... As the U.S. has used sanctions more, the limits of their effectiveness have become more visible. So too has their potential for causing strain in America's alliances ... Some U.S. friends have joined in the complaints by adversaries that sanctions represent a new form of American unilateralism ... Some European leaders have complained that U.S. sanctions directed at opponents, particularly Russia, have begun to cause problems for its friends. French President Francois Hollande said last week that the Western policy of escalating sanctions on Russia "must stop now." ... America's eagerness for sanctions, particularly the moves against Russia, is causing strain with Europe.

John Fund - National Review

The film Selma, a soaring biographical drama about Martin Luther King’s role in the 1965 civil-rights marches ... could have been an even more meaningful film if its producers hadn’t been blocked by the King estate — represented by a for-profit company, King, Inc. — from using words from King’s speeches, including “I have a dream.” Selma still works because filmmaker Ava DuVernay was able to construct phrases that conveyed King’s oratory without using his actual words. King, Inc., is controlled by King’s surviving children and holds the copyright to King’s speeches. It has so aggressively enforced its legal rights as to make it almost impossible to use those speeches without paying a hefty fee.

BBC News

A record 25,000 people have joined an anti-Islamisation rally in Dresden, Germany, called in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. The protesters defied calls from German politicians to stay away from the Pegida organisation's rally. Elsewhere across Germany, tens of thousands of people joined anti-Pegida rallies ... However, the rally in the eastern city went ahead, drawing a record 25,000. Marchers carried banners expressing solidarity with the French cartoonists, killed by Islamists in Paris ... Pegida - Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West - has organised a number of Dresden rallies, and drew 18,000 a week ago. The anti-Pegida rallies on Monday drew 7,000 in Dresden, 30,000 in Leipzig, 20,000 in Munich and 19,000 in Hanover.

AFP

Unknown just three months ago, Lutz Bachmann is a cook by training with a criminal record who has managed to mobilise thousands of Germans out onto the streets against Islam. He was born in the former communist east German city of Dresden where the contested group he heads, the so-called "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident" (PEGIDA), has gained a foothold ... He refuses to speak to the media, branded the "lying press" by PEGIDA demonstrators at marches ... He was sentenced in 1998 to three and a half years in prison on charges including burglary and theft, fled to South Africa but was deported back to Germany and later convicted of drugs offences.

Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday [Jan. 12] Islam "belongs to Germany", in a clear repudiation of anti-immigration protesters gathering in Dresden and other cities. A day after walking arm-in-arm with French President Francois Hollande at the front of a massive march in Paris to honor the victims of killings by Islamic militants, Merkel received the Turkish prime minister and urged dialogue among religions. The conservative chancellor pointed to comments made by former German president Christian Wulff, who said in 2010 that Islam was part of Germany, triggering a fierce debate.

William Pfaff

... One is constantly told that history must be consulted in order to understand the present, but in practice that rarely is done with an open mind ... In this political climate of Arab national failure and, as it seemed, irresolvable Israel-Palestinian conflict, the United States determined that it was capable of imposing a new order. This had been implicit in America’s overall wartime and postwar world policy ... Obstacles to success in Washington’s renewal of war in the Middle East are that the American political model is no longer widely convincing or respected in the region; quite the opposite is true ... Thus the foreign policies of the United States have been stripped of a vital part of their assumed original moral content.

ScienceDaily

Research published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that circumcised boys are more likely than intact boys to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) before the age of ten. Risk is particularly high for infantile autism before the age of five. The research was carried out in Denmark among a cohort of all children born between 1994 and 2003 ... The study showed that regardless of cultural background circumcised boys may run a greater risk of developing ASD. The researchers also made an unexpected observation of an increased risk of hyperactivity disorder among circumcised boys in non-Muslim families.

Daily Mail (Britain)

A BBC reporter has faced calls to resign after he told the daughter of Holocaust survivors in Paris: 'Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well'. Journalist Tim Willcox sparked anger during his coverage of yesterday's rally in Paris, held in memory of the 17 victims of last week's terror attacks, including four Jewish people in a siege at a Kosher supermarket. During a live report from the streets of Paris, Willcox was speaking to a number of participants in the march, including one woman who expressed her fears that Jews were being persecuted, and 'the situation is going back to the days of the 1930s in Europe.'

VOA News

Many Americans kicked off 2015 with a pledge to lose weight over the next twelve months and U.S. obesity statistics suggest that’s a worthy goal for residents in every U.S. state. The fattest states in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are Mississippi – where 35.1 percent of adults are obese – and West Virginia (35.1%) and the slimmest are Hawaii (21.8%) and Colorado (21.3%), but while there’s actually been a leveling off of the nationwide obesity rate, none of the 50 states have much to be proud of. When the CDC first started collecting this data in 1995, not a single state had an obesity rate higher than 19 percent. Today, not a single state is lower than 20 percent.

Uri Avnery (Israel)

... With the coming of the Zionists to Palestine, a frantic archeological search started. The country was combed for real, scientific proof that the Biblical story was not just a bunch of myths, but real honest-to-God history ... From the beginning of the effort to this very day, not a single piece of evidence of the ancient history was found. Not a single indication that the exodus from Egypt, the basis of Jewish history, ever happened ... Even if one would like to believe that the Bible only exaggerates real events, the fact is that not even a tiny mention of the exodus, the conquest of Canaan or King David has been found. They just did not happen.

BBC News

He was Hitler's favourite Nazi commando, famously rescuing Mussolini from an Italian hilltop fortress, and was known as "the most dangerous man in Europe". After World War Two, he landed in Argentina ... So when Otto Skorzeny arrived in Ireland in 1959, having bought a rural farmhouse in County Kildare, it caused much intrigue. At 6 feet, 4 inches, and 18 stone [252 pounds], known as 'scarface' due to a distinctive scar on his left cheek, Skorzeny was an easily recognisable figure as he popped into the local post office. In Irish press reports at the time Skorzeny was portrayed as a glamorous cloak and dagger figure ...

BBC News

Israel has halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians following their bid to join the International Criminal Court, Israeli officials say. They said $127 million collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority last month would be held back. The Palestinians submitted documents to join the ICC on Friday in a move opposed by both Israel and the US. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli measure, calling it a "new war crime". "Israel is once again responding to our legal steps with further illegal collective punishments," Mr Erekat said. Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians, and transfers about $100 million per month, accounting for two-thirds of the authority's budget.

Juan Cole

If the International Criminal Court takes up Israeli government actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, it could well find specific officials guilty of breaches of the Rome Statue of 2002. Article 7 forbids “Crimes against Humanity,” which are systematically repeated war crimes. Among these offenses is murder, forcible deportation or transfer of members of a group, torture, persecution of Palestinians (an “identifiable group”) and “the crime of Apartheid.” ... The world wouldn’t end for Israeli leaders if they were convicted, as it hasn’t ended for al-Bashir. But the consequences would be real and unpleasant, and over time could have a substantial impact.

EJP

More than 1.5 million people visited the former Auschwitz concentration camp in 2014. It was the highest attendance ever at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial in Poland, according to its museum. Poland, with 398,000 visitors recorded, led the list, followed by Britain (199,000), the US (92,000), Italy (84,000), Germany (75,000), Israel (62,000) .... “The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial has become the world’s symbol of the Holocaust and the crimes of World War II,” said Piotr Cywinski, director of the Auschwitz Memorial.

Institute for Historical Review

Jean-Claude Pressac's book, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, is the first serious and detailed response to the revisionist critique of the generally accepted Auschwitz extermination story ... His book features hundreds of valuable illustrations, including many good-quality reproductions of previously unpublished original diagrams and documents that simply cannot be reconciled with the generally accepted Holocaust extermination story. Reproduced on the following pages are a few of these illustrations, which were selected from Pressac's book by Mark Weber, who also provided the captions.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... Europe's elites appear frozen in a dead past, addicted to an idea of Europeans inexorably melding into a single economic and political entity, like the United States, to become the model for the world. They seem in denial of the new realities exploding on the continent ... Europeans are asking direct questions of their governments, and demanding answers: Why, when our own economics are stagnant, do we need all these new immigrants with whom we have little in common? Why are we altering the identity of our people and nation? What gain is there for our countries by bringing in more Arabs, Muslims and Africans to swamp our native born and remake our nations in their image rather than our own?

Reuters

Protesters marched in several German cities on Monday [Jan. 5] against higher levels of immigration and what they see as the growing influence of Islam, in defiance of an appeal from Chancellor Angela Merkel to spurn rallies she views as racist. The rallies, organized by a new grassroots movement known as PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, have become an almost weekly event in the east German city of Dresden in recent months. Some 18,000 people, the biggest number so far, turned out in Dresden on Monday but similar rallies in Berlin and the western city of Cologne were heavily outnumbered by counter-protesters who accuse PEGIDA of fanning racism and intolerance.

BBC News – Video

The rapid rise of a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) has alarmed the German government, with Chancellor Angela Merkel calling its leaders racists. This one minute video looks at Pegida and the issues involved.

Reuters

One German in eight would join an anti-Muslim march if a rapidly-growing protest movement organized one in their home towns, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday. The survey highlighted growing support in Germany, as in other European Union countries including Britain and Sweden, for parties and movements tapping into voter fears that mainstream politicians are too soft on immigration.

The Telegraph (Britain)

Brigitte Bardot, the 1960s icon of liberated, bikini-clad French womanhood, has described the far-right leader Marine Le Pen as "the Joan of Arc of the 21st century" in an interview with Paris-Match ... “I am a native Frenchwoman and proud of it," Bardot said. "I mourn the fact that my beautiful country has deteriorated in every way. It's criminal to submit to these depths." Now an animal rights activist, she is an outspoken supporter of Ms Le Pen's anti-immigration Front National party, which topped the vote in European elections earlier this year amid widespread discontent with the Socialist government over record unemployment and the stagnant economy.

Der Spiegel (Germany)

... The French want to regain control of their own country. They want to determine the course of their own economy and their immigration policies. They want their own laws to take precedence over those of the European Union. The French have understood that the EU does not live up to the utopia they were sold ... In our glorious history, millions have died to ensure that our country remains free. Today, we are simply allowing our right to self-determination to be stolen from us. ... Our political class no longer has any convictions. You can only pass along the beliefs that you hold. They no longer believe in France -- they have a post-national worldview.

Doug Bandow - Cato Institute

... Congress appears determined to turn an adversary into a forthright enemy and encourage retaliation against more significant American interests ... While Americans, especially ethnic Ukrainians, care about Ukraine's fate, it is not a serious security interest for the U.S. America got along quite well over the centuries when Kiev was ruled from Moscow. Who controls the Donbass or Crimea is even less important to Washington today. The Ukrainian conflict raises humanitarian concerns, but no different than those elsewhere around the globe ... The Obama administration already has tried to impose its will on Moscow. There's hardly a nation on earth that the U.S. does not lecture, sanction, bully, or threaten. Russia is not exempt.

M. Klukushin - The New York Observer

... According to the respected Moscow ‘Levada Center,’ which measures political sentiment in Russian society, 74% of Russians have negative feelings towards the USA. It hasn’t always been like this; in the 1990s, 80% had positive attitude toward America. Currently, 76% of Russians hate Obama personally and only a meager 2% like him. In 2009 only 12% of Russians had extremely negative feelings towards Obama ... The owners of the Moscow supermarket “Electronics on Presnya” are using American flag doormats so the customers could wipe their dirty feet off ...

J. Crewdson – Chicago Tribune (2007)

... Lockwood was aboard the USS Liberty, a super-secret spy ship on station in the eastern Mediterranean, when four Israeli fighter jets flew out of the afternoon sun to strafe and bomb the virtually defenseless vessel on June 8, 1967, the fourth day of what would become known as the Six-Day War. For Lockwood and many other survivors, the anger is mixed with incredulity ... Their anger has been stoked by the declassification of government documents and the recollections of former military personnel ... The documents also suggest that the U.S. government, anxious to spare Israel's reputation and preserve its alliance with the U.S., closed the case with what even some of its participants now say was a hasty and seriously flawed investigation.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... Peering into 2015, there are wars into which our interventionists are eager to plunge that represent no immediate or grave threat to us. One is the war the Islamic State group is waging in Syria and Iraq, a menace so great, we are told, it may require U.S. ground troops ... "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future," said the wise Yogi Berra. But one prediction seems not too risky. Either Obama and Putin enter negotiations over Ukraine or the war in Ukraine, with 4,700 dead since April, gets bigger and wider.

The Washington Post

After falling to record lows, support for the Afghanistan war has risen since 2013, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds majority support for a plan to keep thousands of troops in the country in the coming year. Overall, Americans remain downbeat over the war at the end of NATO’s 13-year combat mission. A 56 percent majority says it has not been worth fighting, continuing a negative streak that dates to 2010 in Post-ABC polls. But 38 percent in the new survey say the war was worth the costs, up eight points from December 2013 and ten points from a record low that July (28 percent).

Patrick Cockburn - The Independent (Britain)

Islamic State (Isis) will remain at the centre of the escalating crisis in the Middle East this year as it was in 2014 ... It is only a year ago that President Obama dismissed the importance of Isis, comparing it to a junior university basketball team ... A year later Obama’s flip tone and disastrously inaccurate judgement jumps out at one from the page, but at the time it must have been the majority view of his national security staff. Underrating the strength of Isis was the third of three great mistakes made by the US and its Western allies in Syria since 2011, errors that fostered the explosive growth of Isis. Between 2011 and 2013 they were convinced that Assad would fall in much the same way as Muammar Gaddafi had in Libya.

K. Osband - The Wall Street Journal

... Police are six times as likely to be killed by black civilians than black civilians are to be killed by police ... Police are 22 times as likely to be killed by nonblack civilians than nonblack civilians are to be killed by police ... In risk of being killed, U.S. police officers have substantially more to fear from the public — white or black — than the public has to fear from police ... Blacks are 5.6 times as likely as nonblacks to kill a police officer. This likely causes officers to act more defensively with unfamiliar blacks than with unfamiliar nonblacks. The scale and intensity of recent protests confirm that many blacks are genuinely fearful of police. The preceding statistics suggest that many police are likely to be genuinely fearful of blacks.

The Telegraph (Britain)

A top court in France has upheld the ban on a performance by the controversial comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a move the government has hailed as a “victory” over anti-Semitism. The decision comes less than two hours before the comedian was due to give the opening performance of his national tour in the western city of Nantes, despite his lawyers claiming a breach of his freedom of expression ... The decision marks a landmark break with legal precedent in France, where previous attempts to ban Dieudonne from performing foundered against constitutional provisions on free speech.

BBC News

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz has made a name for himself defending high-profile celebrity clients and thriving in the limelight of public attention. Now, however, he may be working on behalf of his most important client yet - himself. The 76-year-old Mr Dershowitz was recently linked to the under-age sex scandal involving convicted financier Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty to prostitution charges after being accused of arranging under-age sex partners for "politically connected and financially powerful people". The Harvard professor, along with Prince Andrew, was recently identified as participating in the sex ring by one of the women engaged in a lawsuit against the US government.

The New York Times

.. Now, prompted by record low interest rates, the British government is planning to pay off some of the debts it racked up over hundreds of years, dating as far back as the South Sea Bubble. George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, said this month that in 2015 Britain would repay part of the country’s debt from World War I, and that he wanted to pay off other bonds for debt incurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. That includes borrowing that may have been used to compensate slave owners when slavery was abolished, to relieve the famine in 19th-century Ireland and to bail out the infamous South Sea Company, which caused the bubble in 1720.

AFP

Egypt has banned the Hollywood biblical epic movie "Exodus: Gods and Kings" citing historical inaccuracies, the culture minister said Friday, a day after a similar move by Morocco. The film relates how Moses helped Israelite slaves flee persecution in Egypt under the Pharaoh Ramses by parting the Red Sea to let them cross safely. Culture Minister Gaber Asfour told AFP that Ridley Scott's blockbuster was rife with mistakes, including an apparent claim that "Moses and the Jews built the pyramids". "This totally contradicts proven historical facts," Asfour said. "It is a Zionist film," he said. "It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies and that's why we have decided to ban it."

Patrick J. Buchanan

... Words matter. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much greater impact can a motion picture have? We are finding out. Egypt has banned "Exodus: Gods and Kings," the $140 million 20th Century Fox biblical epic. Cairo's culture minister Gaber Asfour condemns it as "a Zionist film" containing "historical inaccuracies." ... In this weekend's Washington Post, Joe Califano, a confidant of President Johnson, writes of how the new film "Selma" demeans LBJ's crucial role in enacting the Voting Rights Act of 1965. To enrich itself, Hollywood is playing games with religious beliefs and historical truths — and making enemies, not all of whom believe in turning the other cheek.

P. Kingsley - The Guardian (Britain)

Egypt is enacting authoritarian laws at a rate unmatched by any regime for 60 years, legal specialists from four institutions have told the Guardian. Since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Morsi’s successors in the presidency, Adly Mansour and Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, have used the absence of an elected parliament to almost unilaterally issue a series of draconian decrees that severely restrict freedom of expression, association and assembly. The speed at which the decrees have been issued outpaces legislative frenzies under the dictators Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak ...

Daniel Larison - The American Conservative

... The ritual visits to Israel for our would-be presidential candidates are becoming tiresome and embarrassing. There are many dozens of other countries with which the U.S. has more important relationships, and there are scores of countries with which the U.S. is formally allied, but likely candidates almost never visit any of these places. On the other hand, every cycle like clockwork our presidential aspirants make their pilgrimages to pay homage to a minor client state that is notable mostly for causing Washington unnecessary headaches. This recurring parade of likely candidates through Israel sums up very well how screwed up America’s foreign policy priorities are ...

RT News - Video

Ex-CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer explains how the pro-Israel Lobby corrupts the Congress to the point where US foreign policy is warped to serve the needs of Israel. This, he says, is dragging America into wars in the Middle East. In this interview, he also discusses the false premises on which US policy in the Middle East is based, US policy toward Iran, and more. Runtime: 11:03 mins.

The Guardian (Britain)

... We compared the heights of various leaders from different countries and eras. Now we have a new leader in the pack we're asking once again how tall really are our leaders? We've also compared them to the average height of statesmen of their country over the last 40 years ... The table below shows a selection of world leaders, past and present, and their stature. Those in bold are current leaders.

BBC News

The Austrian government is trying to work out what to do with the house in which Adolf Hitler was born. For years the interior ministry has rented the property in the village of Braunau in order to prevent its misuse by neo-Nazis. It used to be a day care centre for disabled people but is currently empty. A Russian MP recently offered to buy the house to destroy it, the offer was rejected.

AFP

Thousands of Ukrainian nationalists held a torchlight procession across Kiev on Thursday in honour of a 1940s anti-Soviet insurgent branded by Moscow as a Nazi collaborator whom Europe must reject. The march on what would have been Stepan Bandera's 106th birthday moved along the same streets on which hundreds of thousands rallied for three months last winter before ousting a Moscow-backed president ... Bandera is a mythical but immensely divisive figure in Ukraine whom some compare to Cuba's Che Guevara. His movement's slogan -- "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" -- was also the catchphrase of last year's pro-European revolt.

Eric S. Margolis

… At least 40 million victims, not including 20 million war dead. Kaganovitch and many senior OGPU officers (later, NKVD) were Jewish. The predominance of Jews among Bolshevik leaders and the frightful crimes and cruelty inflicted by Stalin's Checka on Ukraine, the Baltic states and Poland led the victims of Red Terror to blame the Jewish people for both communism and their suffering. As a direct result, during the subsequent Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe, the region's innocent Jews became the target of ferocious revenge by Ukrainians, Balts and Poles.

Mike Gravel – The Guardian (Britain)

In 1971, I entered the full text of the top-secret Pentagon Papers – a history of how the US became mired in the swamp of the Vietnam War – into the Congressional Record ... Subsequent case law affirmed that members of Congress may reveal any government “secret” to the public without fear of prosecution because of the “Speech and Debate” clause of the constitution ... It’s time for some Senator or Congress member to do the same for the full torture report and its associated documents. There’s still too much we don’t know about what the government did in our name – and who they did it to.

Lawrence Davidson

... Torture was made illegal in 1950 under the Third Geneva Convention, and this was reaffirmed in 1985 by the United Nations Convention against Torture. Both of these conventions were signed and ratified by the United States, making them the law of the land. Torture is also illegal under U.S. domestic laws such as the War Crimes Act of 1996 ... Despite the revelations of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, the chances are pretty good that Bush and his operatives will get away with their crimes. And that means that chances are just as good that it will all happen again.

James Petras

... The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved ... Despite over 6,000 pages of documents and testimony, recording crimes against humanity, the Senate Report is unlikely to trigger any reforms or resignations. This is not because of the actions of some mysterious “deep state” or because a ballooning national security apparatus has taken power. The real problem is that the elected officials, Presidents and Congress people, Democrats and Republicans, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, are deeply embedded in the security apparatus and they share the common quest for world supremacy.

Daily Mail (Britain)

… Thousands of Germans passed through the unit that became known as the London Cage, where they were beaten, deprived of sleep and forced to assume stress positions for days at a time. Some were told they were to be murdered and their bodies quietly buried. Others were threatened with unnecessary surgery carried out by people with no medical qualifications. Guards boasted that they were ‘the English Gestapo’. The London Cage was part of a network of nine ‘cages’ around Britain run by the Prisoner of War Interrogation Section (PWIS), which came under the jurisdiction of the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... De Blasio was feeding the myth that cops, especially white cops, are what young black males should fear most. That myth is a big lie ... In an increasingly ugly national clash between police and black communities, Holder did not stand squarely for the rule of law; he and the president took sides against the cops and stood with their own ... That’s the real D.C. That’s the real America. Unfortunately, de Blasio, Sharpton, Holder and Obama are either too blind to see it or will not concede it because they fear speaking truth to their followers. “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”

The Guardian (Britain)

Israeli settlers have stoned two cars belonging to the staff of the US consulate in Jerusalem during an angry stand-off in which US security guards – according to conflicting accounts – reportedly unholstered their weapons. The confrontation – unusual in seeing US diplomatic staff targeted – occurred between a US consular party and far-right settlers from the illegal Adei Ad outpost on the occupied West Bank on Friday.

The Times of Israel

US authorities said Friday they were “deeply concerned” about an incident in which [Jewish] settlers pelted a US diplomatic convoy with stones. Jerusalem consulate personnel were attacked Friday when they visited the West Bank to investigate a complaint by Palestinian farmers over vandalism of olive trees. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said no one was hurt and the American security team had not drawn their weapons. Earlier reports had indicated that American security staff had done so. Light damage was caused to consulate cars.

Agence France-Presse

Israeli authorities gave final approval on Wednesday [Dec. 24] to the construction of 380 new [Jewish-only] settler homes in two areas of annexed east Jerusalem, a local official said ... Despite repeated warnings from Washington that it is fueling tensions, Israel has approved a series of plans for new settler homes in east Jerusalem in recent months. Israel seized east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. It refers to the entire city as its "united, undivided capital", and does not view construction there as settlement activity.

Paul R. Pillar - The National Interest

The stated rationale for the United States casting on Tuesday [Dec. 2] one of the very lonely votes it sometimes casts at the United Nations General Assembly, on matters on which almost the entire world sees things differently, warrants some reflection. The resolution in question this time endorsed the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East and called on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to renounce any possession of nuclear weapons, and to put its nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency ... You know something doesn't wash when the contrary views are as overwhelmingly held as on this matter. The resolution passed on a vote of 161-5.

Tony Brenton (Former UK Ambassador to Russia) – The Telegraph (Britain)

... Putin, of whom I saw a fair amount as UK ambassador to Moscow, is not an ideologically driven fanatic, but much closer to Talleyrand – the calculating, pragmatic rebuilder of his country’s status in the world ... The Russians are ready to go to the brink to achieve their political objectives in Ukraine. Few believe we should go to the brink to stop them. So all we can do is prolong the agony and further immiserate Ukraine ... As many commentators have noted, Russia’s objectives – a neutral Ukraine, and constitutional safeguards for the population in the East – are not impossible to meet ... Uncomfortable as it may be, the time has come to do a deal with Putin. Part of this should be easy; Ukraine is in any case going to be in no condition to join Nato for the foreseeable future.

BBC News

The New Year's Day concert of classical music in Vienna has become an annual tradition - but it's not as old as some expect and there is a dark side to its history ... In fact the history of the New Year's Day concert is rather more recent. It was a Nazi invention ... The idea of a seasonal Strauss gala really gained traction when the Nazi party's cultural commissars hit upon the idea of a unifying event that could be broadcast live across the Third Reich. The concert moved to New Year's Day in 1941 ... When the war ended, not a beat was missed - the concerts simply continued, their awkward history quietly forgotten.

BBC News

... On Sunday a Louisiana blogger reported that in 2002 Steve Scalise, then a state legislator, gave a speech to a white supremacist group holding a "workshop on civil rights" in Louisiana. The following day Mr Scalise - now the third-ranking Republican in the US House of Representatives - acknowledged that he appeared before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, although he says he didn't know the group had been accused of espousing a neo-Nazi agenda. Complicating matters is the fact that one of the meeting's organisers was David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who served as a Louisiana legislator and ran unsuccessfully for the state's governorship and a Senate seat.

Philip Giraldi

The meticulously documented 528-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s secret rendition, detention, and interrogation program is remarkable for its candor. In blunt language it describes the horrors of the black site secret prisons and the efforts that were made to get terrorist suspects to talk ... The Senate report summary does not actually blame anyone and does not recommend any legal action against the senior officials either at CIA or in the White House who ordered the torture. Nor are the actual torturers being held responsible for what they did.

AFP

The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center slammed Monday a Mass in Zagreb to commemorate Croatia’s World War II pro-Nazi leader, claiming it was a “badge of shame” for the Catholic Church. “It’s hard to believe that in the center of the capital of a member of the European Union, very close to Zagreb’s Jewish community, hundreds of people gathered yesterday to commemorate the memory of one of Europe’s biggest mass murderers,” the head of the center’s Jerusalem office said in a statement.

Haaretz (Israel)

What does ADL national director Abe Foxman do when he’s not hunting anti-Semites and exposing racists? Well, one thing he did earlier this month was give away his son Ariel, 40, editor of InStyle magazine, in a same-sex wedding with his Cuban-American partner Brandon Cardet-Hernandez ... In his toast at the wedding, Foxman “thanked the grooms for the opportunity to be sensitive, and thanked Cardet-Hernandez for converting to Judaism, reminding him that the Jewish people had lost so many people in the past,” the Times reported ... The 260 guests at the high-chic wedding, which was held at the Brooklyn Museum, included many well-known faces from the world of fashion, as well as actors, musicians and journalists.