January 2016

Garikai Chengu - CounterPunch

... To the vast majority of the world, where the sun once never set on the British empire, Winston Churchill remains a great symbol of racist Western imperialist tyranny, who stood on the wrong side of history. The myth of Churchill is Britain’s greatest propaganda tool because it rewrites Churchill’s true history in order to whitewash Britain’s past imperialist crimes against humanity. The Churchill myth also perpetuates Britain’s ongoing neo-colonial and neo-liberal policies, that still, to the is day, hurt the very people around the world that Churchill was alleged to have helped civilise ... Apart from being an unrepentant racist, Churchill was also a staunch proponent of the use of terrorism as a weapon of war.

J. Heilbrunn - The National Interest

... The former British Prime Minister was the star of the show at the Capitol's National Statuary Hall, where a bust dedicated to him was unveiled before worshipful legislators, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid ... Churchill has become the statesman that American politicians routinely invoke. George W. Bush stuck his bust in the White House ... Neoconservatives routinely use his name to invoke a new Munich — whenever and wherever possible ... In Washington, Churchill has become a vital strut in the belief that American is an exceptional nation, destined to bring democracy abroad ... At a moment of polarization, he is the one thing its politicians seem able to agree on. He has literally become an idol.

Mark Weber

The well-entrenched idealization of Churchill is part and parcel of a drastically misleading view of the Second World War that Americans have been fed for decades. One common deceit is to give the impression that Hitler sought war against Britain and France, and that Germany aggressively attacked those two countries … Churchill's enduringly stellar image is all the more remarkable considering that his views on a range of issues were, by today's standards, hopelessly backward and politically incorrect … Along with most Britons (and Americans) of his era, he was also an unabashed racist.

The Washington Post

The world's most populous country is also the globe's least religious. According to a new study, 90 percent of all Chinese consider themselves to be atheists or not to be religious. The survey of 65 countries, conducted by Gallup International and the WI Network of Market Research, is based on 63,898 interviews. China tops the list of the world's least religious nations by far; it's followed by countries in Europe -- about three fourth of all Swedish and Czech also said that they were either atheists or not religious ... In Western Europe, the U.K. and the Netherlands top the ranking, followed by Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Austria ... With 65 percent, Israel has surprisingly many citizens who consider themselves not religious or to be atheists. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, atheism is deeply entrenched in the country's society.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... When Iran said it did not have a nuclear bomb program, it was telling the truth. Indeed, it is Iran's accusers, many from the same crowd that misled and lied to us when they said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, whose credibility is in question today. Iran's accusers should produce their evidence, if any, that Iran had, or still has, a nuclear bomb program. Otherwise, they should shut up with the lying and goading the U.S. into another war that will leave us with another trillion-dollar debt, ashes in our mouths, and thousands more dead and wounded warriors. ... Similarly, Iran's regime seems to have concluded that the path to power and permanence of the regime lies not in conflict with the United States, but in avoiding conflict — and taking the China road.

P. Fricke – Campus Reform

Portland Community College [in Oregon] has designated April "Whiteness History Month" (WHM), an "educational project" exploring how the "construct of whiteness" creates racial inequality. "'Whiteness History Month: Context, Consequences, and Change' is a multidisciplinary, district-wide, educational project examining race and racism through an exploration of the construction of whiteness, its origins, and heritage," PCC states on its website. “Scheduled for the month of April 2016, the project seeks to inspire innovative and practical solutions to community issues and social problems that stem from racism."

J. Mendoza – The Christian Science Monitor

An Oregon community college’s announcement this week that it has designated April as “Whiteness History Month” has sparked controversy online, reigniting discourse on race and racism and raising questions about the best ways to approach such issues. The initiative by Portland Community College (PCC), which has about 90,000 students, is geared toward the study of whiteness, its origins as a social construct, and its impact on society, according to the project’s website ... The stiffest opponents of the project dismiss PCC’s explanation, calling the endeavor an attack on white people and white culture ... The American Conservative dubbed the project “Hate Whitey Month,” and described it as “plainly designed to convince white students to despise themselves and their culture.”

P. Hasson - Campus Reform

According to Portland State University Professor’s Rachel Sanders’ “White Privilege” course, “whiteness” must be dismantled if racial justice will ever be achieved. The course description states that “whiteness is the lynchpin of structures of racial meaning and racial inequality in the United States” and claims that “to preserve whiteness is to preserve racial injustice.” Students taking the course will “endeavor to make whiteness strange.” In order to make whiteness strange, the description says students must “interrogate whiteness as an unstable legal, political, social, and cultural construction.” ... Portland State University isn’t the only university offering classes in whiteness. The University of Alabama-Birmingham, for example, is offering a course titled “Whiteness Studies” this fall, which “seeks to uncover and de-center the fiction of whiteness.”

The Times of Israel and AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for “intensive action” against anti-Semitism on Saturday, urging vigilance particularly when dealing with young people from countries “where hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism is widespread.” “Anti-Semitism is more widespread than we imagined. And that is why we must act intensively against it,” Merkel, who on Monday will inaugurate an exhibition in Berlin titled “The Art of the Holocaust,” said in her weekly video podcast. In late November Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, expressed concern that many asylum seekers coming into the country come from cultures “in which hostility toward Israel and antisemitism are a common practice.” Merkel said these concerns must be taken “seriously.”

H. Sargeant – Daily Mail (Britain)

... I had glimpsed a London I did not know existed — one of Third World poverty, exploitation and criminality. It is writer Ben Judah’s great achievement to reveal that hidden city in his new book, This Is London: Life And Death In The World City. A young war correspondent, Judah examines his home city as the foreign metropolis it has now become. Since 2001, immigration has transformed the capital. More than half of Londoners are now not ethnically British. As he says: ‘I was born in London, but I no longer recognise this city. I don’t know if I love the new London, or if it frightens me: a city where at least 55 per cent of people are not white British, nearly 40 per cent were born abroad and hundreds of thousands are living illegally, in the shadows.’

Bloomberg

As the crash in commodities prices spreads economic woe across the developing world, Europe could face a wave of migration that will eclipse today's refugee crisis, says Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. "Look how many countries in Africa, for example, depend on the income from oil exports," Schwab said in an interview ahead of the WEF's 46th annual meeting, in the Swiss resort of Davos. "Now imagine one billion inhabitants, imagine they all move north." Whereas much of the discussion about commodities has focused on the economic and market impact, Schwab said he's concerned that it will also spur "a substantial social breakdown." That fits into what Schwab, the founder of the WEF, calls the time of "unexpected consequences" we now live in.

The Economist (Britain)

... The assumption that Germany’s tight labour market was tailor-made for job-hungry migrants has given way to the grim realisation that most are an ill fit for an economy mainly seeking highly skilled workers. The head of one business group reckons almost 80 percent of refugees have next to no skills at all ... Merkel continues to insist that there can be no cap on the number of refugees Germany accepts, and the constitution agrees with her. But increasingly, reality does not ... Time is running out. Germany has perhaps two months to hope that the jigsaw pieces fall into place before the refugee flows pick up again, and each part of the job gets harder every day. Can Germany still handle this? We will continue to make the case, says a government official. “But nobody believes it.”

AFP

Nearly 40 percent of German voters think Chancellor Angela Merkel should quit over her liberal asylum policy after almost 1.1 million newcomers arrived last year, a poll showed Friday. As the mood in Germany has shifted from a euphoric welcome for people fleeing war and persecution last September to growing doubts about the country's ability to accommodate and integrate the record influx, the popular Merkel has come under increasing pressure. However, the poll for Focus news magazine conducted by the independent opinion research institute Insa among 2,047 German citizens showed that a larger share -- nearly 45 percent -- did not think Merkel should resign.

D. Alexe – New Europe

Dutch police have been visiting the homes of people critical of asylum centres on Twitter, urging them to delete posts ... In recent months, police have visited the homes of many more people that criticised the plans for asylum centres. In October 2015, in Leeuwarden about twenty opponents of the programs received police visits at home. It happened in Enschede, and in some places in the Brabant, where, according to the Dutch media, people who had been critical of the arrival of refugees and ran a page on social media on the topic were told to stop. A spokesman for the national police acknowledged to Handelsblad that there are ten intelligence units of “digital detectives” monitoring in real time Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and looking for posts that go “too far”.

VOA News

Opinions of young Europeans appear to be hardening toward immigration. Ask them about their lives and talk quickly turns to the challenge of finding jobs and the threat of Europe being overrun by migrants ... To the north of Hungary, anti-migrant protesters in Poland took to the streets Sunday to echo Kitti’s fears. The protesters at Gora Kalwaria, 30 kilometers south of Warsaw, said they feared for women and children after the New Year’s Eve sex attacks in Germany. Others complained migrants would not be able to integrate because of different traditions.

EJP

France "will put all its strength to protect the Jews’’, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said at a ceremony in the Paris City Hall to mark the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin. The event was originally due to take place in November but had to be postponed because of the terrorist attacks in Paris. "The Jews are again and still abused, victims of a virulent anti-Semitism that is hidden behind hatred of Israel," Valls said. ‘’Anti-Semitism strikes in the Middle East. It also hits Europe. And France will put all its strength to protect the Jews, for the French Jews, who are legitimately attached to the land of Israel as they love their country France, to continue to look France as their homeland,’’ the Prime Minister declared.

AFP

A 95-year-old former medic at the Auschwitz death camp will go on trial next month on at least 3,681 counts of accessory to murder, German authorities said Monday. Hubert Zafke was a medical orderly at the camp from August 15, 1944, to September 14, 1944 ... Ahead of proceedings due to begin February 29, prosecutors said Zafke was "aware of the purpose of the Birkenau camp as an extermination camp" as well as of its structure. "Given his awareness, the accused lent support to the organisation of the camp and was thereby both involved in and advanced the extermination," said prosecutors ... The court acknowledged that he had "cognitive impairments and low physical capacity" and ordered regular breaks during the hearings, as well as medical care.

BBC News

Nine executives at Israeli travel agencies have been arrested on suspicion of fixing the price of high school students' trips to former Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz. Police say they are investigating allegations of a secret price-fixing arrangement by companies who organise the trips for students. Investigators have raided the homes of executives and frozen bank accounts. At least six travel agencies are accused of violating competition rules. They are suspected of colluding on prices before responding to an education ministry tender to take students to Holocaust memorials. When the Israeli education ministry approached a number of different companies, it received identical quotes. Reports say the alleged collusion was aimed at artificially inflating prices.

Ron Paul

... President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing ... It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East ... Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war. Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the US Constitution will be all but a dead letter.

The New York Times

When President Obama secretly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013, the spy agency knew it would have a willing partner to help pay for the covert operation. It was the same partner the C.I.A. has relied on for decades for money and discretion in far-off conflicts: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Since then, the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels on AK-47 assault rifles and tank-destroying missiles.

Doug Bandow - The National Interest

... Over the last few years Riyadh’s behavior has become more harmful to America’s interests. The [Saudi] monarchy has been pushing to oust Syria’s Assad without worrying about who or what would follow. To the contrary, Riyadh has subsidized and armed many of the most extreme opposition factions. Moreover, in Yemen Saudi Arabia turned a long-term insurgency into another sectarian conflict. In the process the royals have been committing war crimes and creating a humanitarian disaster ... Washington should stop lavishing attention, praise, support and reassurance on the Saudi royals. Particularly important, the United States should disentangle itself militarily from the KSA, especially the latter’s misbegotten war in Yemen.

The Independent (Britain)

Germany will deploy up to 1,200 troops to the Middle East as part of a multi-million euro mission to support the fight against Isis after the plans were approved by MPs. The Bundestag voted on the move this morning, supporting Angela Merkel's proposal to send six Tornado reconnaissance jets and refuelling aircraft, a frigate to protect a French aircraft carrier and the supporting soldiers. The German Chancellor has stated that armed forces will not fight or launch bombing missions, but work to support countries including Britain, France, the US and Russia ... The defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen sought to reassure voters nervous of foreign intervention, saying that Germany had not been drawn into war against its will.

Khamenei.ir (Iran)

A video issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, calls into question the familiar Holocaust narrative, and sharply criticizes the hypocrisy of European countries that imprison “Holocaust deniers” while proclaiming support for freedom of speech. In the video, which includes images of individuals who have been punished for “denial,” Khamenei says (in Farsi, with English subtitles): “No one in European countries dares to speak about the holocaust, while it is not clear whether the core of this matter is a reality or not. Even if it is a reality, it is not clear how it happened. Speaking about holocaust and expressing doubts about it is considered to be a great sin. If someone does this, they stop, arrest, imprison, and sue him. This is while they claim to be the supporters of freedom.”

AFP

Controversial French comedian Dieudonne was being held at Hong Kong airport Thursday after flying in to give performances in the city, with his production company saying he was likely to be deported. The comedian, who has been repeatedly convicted in France for anti-Semitic remarks, arrived in Hong Kong early Thursday and had been held for seven hours by immigration officers at the airport, his lawyer Sanjay Mirabeau said. It was not immediately clear why he had been stopped or on what grounds he could be deported. The South China Morning Post reported the comedian was held after complaints by the French and Israeli consulates ahead of his shows.

Gilad Atzmon (Britain)

The Jewish Chronicle reported today that [prime minister] David Cameron has marked holocaust Memorial Day by announcing that a new national shoah memorial will be built next to the Parliament. For a second, I was delighted. I thought that at last our PM had decided to commemorate some of the holocausts the Empire inflicted on millions of innocent people around the globe ... And what about the indiscriminate murder of hundreds of thousands of German civilians in an orchestrated air raid campaign to wipe out German cities? ... Of course, I was totally wrong. Cameron had no intention of commemorating British wrongdoing. Instead, once again, it was the primacy of Jewish suffering to which our PM subscribed.

JTA

A Belgian Jewish newspaper complained to the country’s watchdog on journalism about a daily that published a Holocaust denier’s claim that no one died in Nazi gas chambers. The Antwerp-based Joods Actueel monthly filed the complaint against the De Morgen daily last week, the monthly’s editor-in-chief, Michael Freilich, told JTA Monday. In its complaint against De Morgen, Joods Actueel cited legislation from 1995 that forbids claiming the Holocaust did not happen – a law which Freilich claims was broken both by De Morgen and by the newspaper’s interviewee, Siegfried Verbeke.

Forward (New York)

When American Jewry’s most important national umbrella group hosted American Jewry’s most famous recently paroled spy for Israel, it did so over breakfast in an elegant synagogue conference room in Manhattan with a congressman in attendance. That is about as much as can be gleaned about the setting of the closed January 25 meeting, based on a photograph of the event provided by Jonathan Pollard’s official website. In the photo, Pollard and his wife are pictured in the foreground. In the background are Representative Jerrold Nadler, Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein, a coffee urn and some miniature topiary.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... Taken together, the candidacies of Trump, Sanders, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz represent a rejection of the establishment ... Half the nation appears to want the regime overthrown ... A vast slice of the electorate in both parties today is angry — over no-win wars, wage stagnation, and millions continuing to pour across our bleeding borders from all over the world. And that slice of America holds both parties responsible for the policies that produced this ... For the Sanders, Trump, Cruz and Carson voters, the status quo seems not only unacceptable, but intolerable ... Unlike previous elections in our time, save perhaps 1980, this appears to be something of a revolutionary moment. We could be on the verge of a real leap into the dark.

The Guardian (Britain)

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has accused UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, of giving a “tailwind to terror” after the UN head criticised Israel for continuing to build settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and describing it as an affront to the Palestinian people and the international community. In unusually strong language, Ban also questioned Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution, claiming Palestinian violence was the result of “frustration”. “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half-century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process,” Ban told a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday. He called the settlement building “an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community”.

BBC News‎

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of "encouraging terror". Referring to the Palestinians, Mr Ban said it was human nature for oppressed peoples to react to occupation. Speaking at the UN Security Council, Mr Ban also condemned recent stabbings of Israelis by Palestinians. More than 155 Palestinians, 28 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean have died in violence since October ... Mr Ban told the Security Council the wave of attacks was driven by a "profound sense of alienation and despair" among some Palestinians, particularly the young. "Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process," he said.

The Jewish Chronicle (Britain)

US rapper B.o.B has released a track downplaying the Nazi genocide, hinting at a Jewish conspiracy involving President Barack Obama and urging listeners to research Holocaust denier David Irving. The song came after B.o.B - whose real name is Bobby Ray Simmons - posted dozens of tweets on Monday claiming that the Earth is flat. At one point, the singer - who has number one singles in the UK and the US - wrote: “A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ ... In the same song, the singer - who has collaborated with Taylor Swift and Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams - included other conspiratorial lyrics ...

Evening Standard (Britain)

Award-winning playwright Sir David Hare has lambasted Donald Trump and said his latest film - a true-life legal drama starring Rachel Weisz - is partly a response to the US presidential hopeful’s politics. Sir David has scripted Denial, which stars Weisz as American academic Deborah Lipstadt, who was sued for libel by British historian David Irving after she wrote a book labelling him as a Holocaust denier. Professor Lipstadt won the case, with the judge ruling that Irving was an anti-Semite and racist who associated with Right-wing extremists.

BBC News

Too few teachers - particularly history teachers - are being trained to teach the Holocaust in England, the Education Select Committee says. Although good Holocaust teaching material is available, the majority of teachers are "self-taught" with little professional development, MPs say. They also call for steps to be taken to preserve the words of Holocaust survivors for future generations. Ministers say all pupils must study the Holocaust and what it teaches us today. This is why it is unique in being the only subject named as a compulsory part of the history curriculum, a spokesman for the Department for Education said ... Committee chairman Neil Carmichael said: "Teaching young people about the Holocaust and its legacy continues to be a vital part of their education.

Associated Press

A Budapest court on Thursday sentenced a Hungarian man to three years' probation for publicly denying that the Holocaust happened. The case stems from a June 2012 speech in which Ferenc Oroshazi read excerpts from "Fatelessness," a semi-autobiographical novel by Hungarian Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize-winning author Imre Kertesz, and said they proved that the Holocaust didn't happen ... The public denial, downplaying or justification of the Holocaust or of the crimes committed by Hungary's communist regime can be punished by up to three years in prison. Last year, a Hungarian man was fined 800,000 forints ($2,750) for denying the Holocaust in a comment on the Facebook page of a Jewish advocacy group.

VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticized the regime of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and sharply denounced brutal repressions by the Bolshevik government. During a meeting Monday with pro-Kremlin activists in the southern city of Stavropol, Putin denounced Lenin and his government for brutally executing Russia's last czar along with all his family and servants, as well as killing thousands of priests and members of the bourgeoisie. Putin suggested that Lenin's ideology was like an "atom bomb" that eventually led to the fall of the Soviet Union. He said Lenin was wrong in his dispute with Josef Stalin, who advocated for a unitary state model while Lenin gave the republics the right to leave the USSR.

Time

There may be no entertainment industry figure more influential than Disney’s eponymous founder. In his 65 years, Walt Disney succeeded in moving animation from a black-and-white novelty to a highly respected genre that would produce Oscar-worthy feature films. More than a few of his creations — including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy — are instantly recognizable global icons ... Yet, despite his fame, Disney remains a relatively unknown figure ... He was the original voice behind Mickey Mouse ... He was determined to produce a feature-length animated movie, even when everyone thought the idea was crazy ... He received more Academy Awards and nominations than any other person in history. Between 1932 and 1969, Disney won 22 Academy Awards and was nominated 59 times.

Aol.com

... For a man who defined the childhoods of generations across the globe, Walt Disney led a relatively secretive existence. Even to this day, basic details of his quotidian life remain shrouded in mystery ... Disney Is French. Though his parents were Irish-Canadian immigrants, his heritage is deeply French. Disney was a descendant of Robert d'Isigny, a Frenchman who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. "Disney" was an anglicization of the more musical "d'Isigny." ... He Was Obsessed With Trains ... Everyone Thought Snow White Would Be a Failure ... He was a Smoker ... During WWII, Disney Produced Anti-German Propaganda Movies ... Disney Was a Right-Winger ... His Head Was Not Cryogenically Frozen.

Matt Blitz

... If entertainment is America’s greatest export to the world, Walt Disney was the most famous supplier of this commodity. Quite simply, there is no denying the impact Disney had on the world and he has to be ranked as one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century, in terms of world influence, at least. ... In 1938, Walt Disney hosted Nazi propagandist and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl at his studio and gave her a tour. In 1938, only a month after Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Nazi campaign to round up all the Jews, Leni Riefenstahl arrived in the United States. She was there to meet with studio executives and gain an American audience for her film on the 1936 Berlin Games, Olympia. The film showcased German athletes in varying stages of preparation and achievement.

Mark Weber

For more than 40 years, the company founded and built by Walt Disney offered popular, well-crafted entertainment that upheld American values and traditions. Its films and television programming -- even if sometimes sugary -- epitomized, to use the much-mocked phrase, wholesome family entertainment. It was the work largely of one man, Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966), a gifted illustrator, brilliant filmmaker and genial entrepreneur who left a lasting mark on American popular culture.

Jesse Singal - Science of Us/ New York Magazine

... At its core, Galileo’s Middle Finger [a new book by Alice Dreger] is about what happens when science and dogma collide — specifically, what happens when science makes a claim that doesn’t fit into an activist community’s accepted worldview. And many of Dreger’s most interesting, explosive examples of this phenomenon involve liberals, not conservatives, fighting tooth and nail against open scientific inquiry ... What both the Bailey and Chagnon cases have in common — alongside some of the others in Galileo’s Middle Finger — is the extent to which groups of progressive self-appointed defenders of social justice banded together to launch full-throated assaults on legitimate science, and the extent to which these attacks were abetted by left-leaning academic institutions and activists too scared to stand up to the attackers ...

JTA

... Have you ever heard of “Holocaust money,” the currencies that the Nazis forced on Jews and others in concentration camps and ghettos? ... The first known use of Holocaust money was in the Lodz ghetto in Poland in 1940. Over the next five years, the Nazis introduced currencies in concentration camps and other ghettos in Germany and occupied Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands. Each camp or ghetto had its own currency — with unique denominations and designs — to be used only within its gates ... Banknotes from the Theresienstadt concentration camp are included in the Strassler Center’s collection. Both the blue 50-krone notes and the pink 100-krone notes feature an image of Moses, bearded and holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments, and a stylized Star of David.

Color reproductions of currency notes used in the World War II Jewish ghetto of Lodz (Litzmannstadt), and of notes used in the wartime Jewish city-ghetto of Theresiendstadt (Terezin).

Jeremy A. Rabkin - Library of Law and Liberty

The political theorist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) published his most important work in the 1920s and 1930s — in German ... The most remarkable thing about Schmitt is his appeal to contemporary academics in the English-speaking world ... He was a fierce critic of liberalism. He made liberal pieties look empty, insipid, deluded. He practiced intellectual negation on a grand scale. He condemned the Enlightenment for dissolving political commitment into a smothering consensus ... The Schmitt revival also reflects a tide of academic disdain for the liberal institutions and principles that Schmitt had so mocked ... He assumed the presidency of the National Socialist Jurists Association and did not shrink, in that role, from talking about the need to cleanse German law of Jewish influence.

New Scientist (Britain)

.... Researchers around the world are re-evaluating what we see in a face, investigating whether it can give us a glimpse of someone’s personality or even help to shape their destiny ... First impressions are highly influential, despite the well-worn admonition not to judge a book by its cover. Within a tenth of a second of seeing an unfamiliar face we have already made a judgement about its owner’s character – caring, trustworthy, aggressive, extrovert, competent and so on. Once that snap judgement has formed, it is surprisingly hard to budge. What’s more, different people come to strikingly similar conclusions about a particular face ... People also act on these snap judgements. Politicians with competent-looking faces have a greater chance of being elected, and CEOs who look dominant are more likely to run a profitable company.

Breitbart

Islam will become the second-largest religious group in the United States by 2050, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. Islam’s spectacular birthrates, the relative youth of Muslims and the increase in Muslim immigration into the United States combine to account for its accelerated growth rate in the U.S. Muslims currently make up approximately 0.9% of the U.S. adult population, or 1.8 million Muslim adults. If children are included, the Muslim population in the United States totals 2.75 million Muslims in the country, the majority of whom (63%) are immigrants. As the fastest- growing religion in America, by the year 2050, the number of Muslims is projected to more than double, surpassing Judaism as the country’s second-largest religious group after Christianity.

WBUR (Boston)

A new report says more than a quarter of the people living in Boston in 2014 were born outside the United States. The Boston Redevelopment Authority report says the number of foreign-born residents of Boston increased by 19 percent from 2000 to 2014. Of the city’s 656,051 residents in 2014, 177,461 were foreign born. Of Boston’s foreign-born residents, about half — 49 percent — are naturalized U.S. citizens. The Dominican Republic has surpassed China as the top country of origin for Boston’s foreign-born, with Haiti the third-largest source. Thirteen percent of Boston’s foreign-born population came from the Dominican Republic, topping the 10.6 percent that came from China, per the report.

Dustin Ensinger (2011)

One of the largely overlooked aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement is the fact that the failed trade pact has been the catalyst for the massive increase in illegal immigration over the past two decades or so. An influx of highly subsidized corn flooding the Mexican market has displaced millions of rural farmers, according to McClatchy Newspapers. Prior to the implementation of NAFTA, Mexican officials claimed that factory jobs would fill the void left by disappearing work on family farms. Mexican officials had promised that NAFTA would result in the “export of goods, not people.” That, however, has turned out to be far from reality.

David Bacon – PRA/ The Public Eye

When NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] was passed two decades ago, its boosters promised it would bring “First World” status for the Mexican people. Instead, it prompted a great migration north. / ... NAFTA, however, did not lead to rising incomes and employment in Mexico, and did not decrease the flow of migrants. Instead, it became a source of pressure on Mexicans to migrate. The treaty forced corn grown by Mexican farmers without subsidies to compete in Mexico’s own market with corn from huge U.S. producers, who had been subsidized by the U.S. Agricultural exports to Mexico more than doubled during the NAFTA years ... Not one immigration proposal in Congress in the quarter century since IRCA was passed has tried to come to grips with the policies that uprooted miners, teachers, tree planters, and farmers.

Patrick Cockburn – The Independent (Britain)

Arab Spring was always a misleading phrase, suggesting that what we were seeing was a peaceful transition from authoritarianism to democracy similar to that from communism in Eastern Europe. The misnomer implied an over-simplified view of the political ingredients that produced the protests and uprisings of 2011 and over-optimistic expectations about their outcome. Five years later it is clear that the result of the uprisings has been calamitous, leading to wars or increased repression in all but one of the six countries where the Arab Spring principally took place ... The West played a role in supporting uprisings against leaders they wanted to see displaced such as Muammar Gaddafi and Assad. But they gave extraordinarily little thought to what would replace these regimes.

John Glaser – National Interest

While ISIS is the threat that keeps Washington policymakers up at night, it’s the rise of China that has international relations theorists in a panic ... It’s an impending great power clash that makes the threat from ISIS look like child’s play. But China threatens the United States only insofar as America insists on being the dominant power in China’s backyard, a policy that actually contributes very little to U.S. security. If we abandon our strategy of primacy, the risk of a clash will shrink away. If we try to contain China’s rise, on the other hand, these predictions of doom may prove right ... In reality, Washington’s determination to maintain dominance in East Asia is much more likely to generate an intense security dilemma.

C. Goeschel - Oxford Univ. Press

... In the spring of 1945, Nazi Germany went to its end in an unprecedented wave of suicides. Not only Hitler and other leading Nazi officials ended their lives amidst Nazi Germany’s total defeat, but also thousands of lower-ranking Nazi officials and ordinary people. Suicide at the Third Reich’s end almost became a routine phenomenon, despite the strong Christian taboo on killing oneself ... Five times more people killed themselves in 1945 in Germany than in previous years, according to official statistics ... In suicide notes left by women, fear of being raped by Red Army soldiers was a significant suicide motive.

Dwight D. Murphey

… The American public has long thought of the Allied effort in World War II as a “great crusade” that pitted good and decency against Nazi evil. Even after all these years, it is likely that the last thing the public wants to learn is that vast and unspeakable wrongs were committed by both the Western Allies and the Soviet Union during the war and its aftermath. It flies in the face of that reluctance for MacDonogh to tell “the brutal history” at great length [in his book, After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation]. That willingness is commendable for its intellectual bravery.

Show Me the Science

Science is always looking to manipulate and create new possibilities. These twelve hybrid animals are nothing like you'd expect to see running free.

Doyle McManus - Los Angeles Times

... “We've seen a long deterioration in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and it started well before the Obama Administration,” a former U.S. ambassador to Riyadh, Charles W. Freeman Jr., told me last week. “The U.S.-Saudi relationship is based entirely on interests, not values,” he said. “It's been an impossible relationship in value terms from the beginning.” And in recent years, the two countries have increasingly seen their interests diverge ... The fracture in U.S.-Saudi relations isn't going away, because the foundations of the relationship — the interests the two countries had in common — are no longer as strong.

Douglas Bandow

... For decades U.S. officials have treated the Saudi royals, who conveniently sit atop vast oil reserves, as dear friends ... The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is essentially a totalitarian state which acts as a tool of plunder for some 7000 princes and their families ... While Washington requires Riyadh to pay for its weapons, so far logistical support for the Yemen war has been free. Instead of being treated as an ally, Saudi Arabia “should be a pariah,” argued Freedom House President Mark Lagon. At the very least, U.S. officials should drop the faux intimacy and treat Riyadh as Washington once treated Moscow. An important power to be engaged, not supported, endorsed, praised, subsidized, and reassured. Ultimately regime change in Riyadh is as necessary, indeed, perhaps even more so, than regime change in Tehran.

Cameron Glenn - US Institute of Peace (Washington, DC)

Iran and Saudi Arabia both claim to be model states based on Islam. But Iran is a theocracy with democratic elements, and Saudi Arabia is a hereditary monarchy. Iran’s political system is based on Shiism, while Saudi Arabia has strong ties to Wahhabism, a conservative branch of Sunni Islam ... Like Iran’s constitution, Saudi Arabia’s Basic Law frames the political system as an ideal Islamic state ... Since the 1980s, Saudi Arabia has reportedly spent at least $100 billion exporting Wahhabism to Muslim countries around the world through missionaries, building mosques and schools, media outreach, and other activities ... Loosely monitored Saudi-based charities have reportedly funded Sunni militant groups such as al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Hamas.

Dan Balz - The Washington Post

... Trump, however, has tapped a vein of frustration and resentment among those who have suffered most from the economic maladies of the past decade and a half, and he has ridden it to the top of the GOP polls ... He has done it by eschewing political correctness. Trump draws strong support from the kinds of voters who see illegal immigration as eroding the values of the country and who might worry that their jobs are threatened by the influx ... Trump’s campaign slogan is not just “Make America Great,” but “Make America Great Again.” He summons a time when the middle class was prosperous and incomes were rising.

William Hartung

The dominant theme of last night's [Dec. 15] Republican debate was that only a "tough" Republican president who radically increases Pentagon spending can make America safe again. But throwing more money at the Pentagon will not make us safer. The Pentagon’s $600 billion-plus budget wastes tens of billions of dollars that could be put to better use. We need more spending discipline at the Pentagon, not more spending. Pentagon waste comes in many forms. From overspending on spare parts to investing $1 trillion in a three-decade, across-the-board nuclear weapons buildup, the Pentagon budget is chock full of unnecessary expenditures that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

University of California-Santa Barbara/ ScienceDaily

Following a meta-analysis of experimental methods to determine whether or not the benefits of early interactions designed to raise intelligence remain over time, researchers found that the positive effects on intelligence actually diminish after a particular intervention ends. This study marks the first quantitative analysis of the fadeout effect across nearly every known intervention that has attempted to improve early intelligence ... The findings, which appear in the journal Intelligence, have important implications for the long-term benefits of programs such as Head Start, a federal initiative that promotes school readiness of children under five from low-income families through education, health, social and other services.

Eric Margolis

North Koreans may be happy, but the rest of the world certainly is not. Predictably, the US, Japan, China, Australia and South Korea seethed with fury at the explosive North Koreans ... The UN shook its tiny fist at North Korea, ignoring that the US, Britain, France, Russia and China are all in violation of the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. There was not a peep about nuclear scofflaws, Israel, Pakistan and India. Nor mention that today’s outraged South Korea and Taiwan had been caught by CIA red-handed trying to make their own nuclear weapons.

Philip Giraldi - The American Conservative

... Russians have for some time been learning English in their schools from the first grade on up and are, unlike Americans, very well informed on what is going on in the world ... President Vladimir Putin has numerous critics inside Russia but he remains wildly popular and is viewed as a genuine nationalist of the old school, meaning that for most citizens he is perceived as behaving in terms of Russia’s actual interests. That has made him an appealing figure on the world stage ... One does not have to love Mother Russia or Vladimir Putin to appreciate that it is in America’s interest to develop a cooperative relationship based on shared interests. Ukraine, which is every bit as corrupt as Russia if not more so, is not a vital U.S. interest while working with Russia is.

Christopher Layne - The American Conservative

... America’s security and interests will best be served by reducing the U.S. military footprint in the region and adopting an offshore balancing strategy. Saber-rattling may score cheap political points, but recent events show that American military intervention is not a panacea for solving the Middle East’s deep political pathologies. Indeed, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 Libya intervention increased regional instability and, by creating breeding grounds for Islamic extremists, amplified the threat from groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS ... The wisest American strategy is to pivot away from the Middle East and to insulate ourselves as much as possible from the region’s turmoil.

Der Spiegel (Germany)

... Refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, foreigners, friendly or evil, new or long-time residents: It doesn't matter. It seems as though the time has come for a broad debate over Germany's future -- and Merkel's mantra "We can do it," is no longer enough to suppress it. New Year's Eve marks a shift because it crystallized a widespread unease with state inaction. The happenings on the square between the Cologne Cathedral and the main train station was as symbolic as they were real: symbolic of the state's powerlessness in the face of chaos and crime ... What should be done? An attempt at complete honesty would be a good start ... Politicians like to talk about integration but have not yet given any indication that they understand the magnitude of the challenge facing them.

Ross Douthat - New York Times

... If you believe that an aging, secularized, heretofore-mostly-homogeneous society is likely to peacefully absorb a migration of that size and scale of cultural difference, then you have a bright future as a spokesman for the current German government. You’re also a fool. Such a transformation promises increasing polarization among natives and new arrivals alike. It threatens not just a spike in terrorism but a rebirth of 1930s-style political violence ... This need not happen. But prudence requires doing everything possible to prevent it. That means closing Germany’s borders to new arrivals for the time being ... It means giving up the fond illusion that Germany’s past sins can be absolved with a reckless humanitarianism in the present.

Reuters

Wearing black jackets adorned with a symbol of a Viking and the Finnish flag, the "Soldiers of Odin" have surfaced as self-proclaimed patriots patrolling the streets to protect native Finns from immigrants, worrying the government and police ... As with other European countries, it is now struggling with a huge increase in asylum seekers, and the authorities are wary of any anti-immigrant vigilantism. A group of young men founded Soldiers of Odin, named after a Norse god, late last year in the northern town of Kemi ... Since then the group has expanded to other towns, with members stating they want to serve as eyes and ears for the police who they say are struggling to fulfil their duties.

Saree Makdisi - Los Angeles Times

At its annual convention this week, the Modern Language Assn., which represents 26,000 language and literature scholars, will become the latest academic body to consider the merits of adopting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions ... The justification for an academic boycott — which targets institutions, not individual scholars — stems from the peculiar relationship between Israel's educational system and its broader structures of racism ... Israel maintains two separate educational systems for its citizens — one for Jewish children and another for the children of the Palestinian minority — a structure that reinforces the profound segregation of Israeli society in everything from matters of citizenship and marriage to housing rights.

Jonathan Cook

A small scene from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unfolded last week on a Greek airport runway. Moments before an Aegean Airlines flight was due to take off, three Israeli passengers took security into their own hands and demanded that two fellow passengers, from Israel’s Palestinian minority, be removed from the plane. By the end of a 90-minute stand-off, dozens more Israeli Jews had joined the protest, refusing to take their seats ... Shortly before the Athens incident, Israel banned a Hebrew novel, Borderlife, from the schools curriculum because it features a romance between an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian. The education ministry said it feared the book would undermine Jewish pupils’ “national-ethnic identity” and encourage “miscegenation.”

JTA

Anti-Semitic incidents doubled in France in 2014 over the previous year even as other hate crimes decreased, according to a new report. “Breaking the Cycle of Violence,” which was published Thursday by the Human Rights First nonprofit on the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher terrorist attacks in Paris ... The report said anti-Semitic incidents, which include both acts and threats, doubled to 851 in 2014 from 423 the previous year ... Anti-Semitic acts accounted for 51 percent of all recorded hate incidents in France in 2014, even as Jews “account for only one percent of the population,” and as recorded racist acts, excluding anti-Semitic ones, decreased by 5 percent that year, the report said.

A. J. Goldmann - Forward (New York)

... The head of Munich’s Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, told The Associated Press that even with annotations, the original text of “Mein Kampf” remains dangerous. “It could still have an impact, because both of the core ideas are timeless: ultra-nationalism and racism,” the 83-year-old Holocaust survivor said ... Even with the ban that has been in place in the book’s country of origin, “Mein Kampf” is one of the best-selling books of all time. More than 12 million copies were sold by the end of WWII alone ... Bauerkämper told the Forward that he welcomed the critical edition, which, he said, will show that many of Hitler’s ideas were hardly original, but were rather part of an established intellectual stream that included anti-liberalism and Social Darwinism. “The point of the edited version is to prevent misuse and exploitation,” he added.

City News Service

A 12.6 percent rise in the number of crimes from 2014 to 2015 in Los Angeles was driven by increases in gang-related and domestic violence crimes, Mayor Eric Garcetti and police Chief Charlie Beck said today. Violent crime alone was up 20.2 percent last year, while the number of property crimes was up 10.7 percent, according to Los Angeles Police Department statistics. The upticks followed a twelve-year trend of declining crime in the city. Among the violent crime categories, the homicide rate grew by 8.8 percent, from 260 people killed in 2014 to 283 in 2015. Nearly 60 percent of those 2015 homicides — 165 — were deemed to be gang-related ... The number of reported rape rose 9.1 percent to 1,649, according LAPD statistics.

Chicago Tribune

Seven people were shot to death and 30 more were wounded across Chicago over the weekend, raising the number of shootings in Chicago to more than a 100 a little more than a week into the new year, according to police. The fatal shootings included two teens killed by a store clerk during a robbery in the Gresham neighborhood on the South Side, and one of three people shot at a party four blocks from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home. As of Monday morning, at least 19 people have been killed in gun violence in Chicago so far this year and at least 101 more have been wounded. This time last year, nine people had been killed and another 31 wounded, according to statistics kept by the Chicago Tribune.

Glenn Greenwald - The Intercept

It’s been almost one year since millions of people — led by the world’s most repressive tyrants -- marched in Paris ostensibly in favor of free speech. Since then, the French government — which led the way trumpeting the vital importance of free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings — has repeatedly prosecuted people for the political views they expressed, and otherwise exploited terrorism fears to crush civil liberties generally. It has done so with barely a peep of protest from most of those throughout the West who waved free speech flags in support of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.

The Times of Israel

Two Israeli caricaturists had their drawings censored at a Tel Aviv exhibit to commemorate last year’s terrorist attack on the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Hebrew-language media reported on Sunday. The works were allegedly censored after the French Embassy expressed concern over their portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad, both Globes and NRG reported. Caricaturists Vladik Sandler and Roy Friedler had submitted cartoons to the “Apres Charlie” (“After Charlie”) exhibition — a tribute to the eleven people, including five cartoonists, who were murdered in the attack on January 7, 2015. The exhibit opened Thursday and runs throughout January at the French Institute in central Tel Aviv.

The Jerusalem Post (Israel)

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon wrote to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday demanding he condemn Iran’s anti-Semitic cartoon competition, scheduled for June. The competition, which is sponsored by the municipal authorities in the Iranian capital, is the 11th Tehran International Cartoon Biennial, and will focus this time on cartoons depicting the Holocaust. The winner will receive a $50,000 cash prize ... Danon called the event “an anti-Semitic act,” and said Iran is “evil incarnate.” “Holocaust denial is the most powerful expression of anti-Semitism which legitimizes the murder of six million Jews,” Danon wrote in his letter to Ban.

The Times of Israel

What a comeback: Nearly 90 years after Adolf Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf,” and 70 years after his death, his magnum opus is again topping German bestseller lists. The new edition of the book — published in Germany last Friday for the first time since World War II — sold out within hours, leading the publisher to quickly order several thousand reprints. Despite the controversy surrounding the reappearance of Hitler’s anti-Semitic screed, the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich was surprised by the success of the two-volume annotated version of “Mein Kampf,” which contains more critical commentary than the original text ... Even the publication of a “critical edition,” as the publisher calls it, was received with mixed feelings in Germany’s Jewish community.

The Guardian (Britain)

A taskforce set up by the German government to determine the ownership history of more than 1,500 artworks discovered in 2012 has found that only five were wrongfully taken from Jews, drawing criticism from Jewish groups. German tax inspectors discovered the art collection, which included works by Matisse and Picasso, during a raid on the Munich home of Cornelius Gurlitt. His father, an art dealer, had sold what Hitler dismissed as “degenerate” art. After two years of research, the head of the taskforce, Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, presented the final report on Thursday ... The announcement drew sharp criticism from Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress. Lauder issued a statement calling the results “meagre and not satisfactory”.

CBS News

As President Obama prepares to give his last State of the Union address, the country is split on his job performance: 46 percent of Americans approve, while 47 percent disapprove ... Americans remain pessimistic about the direction of the country. Just 27 percent think the country is headed in the right direction, while two-thirds think it is off on the wrong track. These views have been fairly consistent for the past few years and were actually more negative before Mr. Obama assumed office ... Today, most Republicans (91 percent) think the country is off on the wrong track, compared to 47 percent of Democrats who say that ... Compared to other recent two-term presidents, Mr. Obama's job approval rating is higher than George W. Bush's was at a similar point in his presidency, but lower than the ratings of both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Press TV (Iran)

US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, his last before leaving office, was an “implicit acknowledgment” of failure on his campaign message of hope and change, said an American historian. On Tuesday night, Obama delivered his seventh State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill ... “In spite of the soaring rhetoric and assurance that America today is ‘strong,’ the final State of the Union address of President Obama was actually an implicit acknowledgment that he had failed to fulfill the great hopes that millions of Americans, and many more around the world, held for him when he took office seven years ago,” said Mark Weber, director of the Institute for Historical Review, based in California.

Daily Mail (Britain)

Security authorities are growing increasingly concerned by the rising number of sex attacks by gangs of migrants which appear to be spreading across Europe. Finland and Sweden today became the latest European countries to issue warnings to women to be wary of the threat of sex attacks following fresh reports of sexual assaults in the last week, while the Viennese police chief advised women not to go outside alone in Vienna. The warnings come as reports emerged that Austrian and German police tried to cover-up the issue over fears of reprisal attacks on asylum seekers and damage to the countries' tourist trade. Dozens of arrests have been made today in connection with the wave of recent sex attacks across Europe.

EJP

Following her call for investigations into ‘’extrajudicial killings’’ by Israeli forces and other critical statements towards the Jewish state, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström will not be welcome in Israel. Wallström made the comments while responding to a question in parliament on a controversy raised in December by her statement on the need for Israel to avoid "extrajudicial executions" during the wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks targeting Israelis ... Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, harshly criticised Wallstrom, calling her comments "a mix of blindness and political stupidity". "Israel has decided to close its doors to official Swedish visits," she said on Israeli public radio.

Arutz Sheva (Israel)

A Hungarian man is facing a possible jail term over Holocaust denial comments on Facebook, a sentence handed down under a 2010 law banning public denial of genocides. The man, identified in a court ruling as Norbert Juhos, 38, made the comments on Facebook last August in response to an article published on the social media site by a Jewish group called TEV (Action and Protection Foundation). During a three-sentence expletive-rich tirade he used anti-Semitic insults and a term which questioned the veracity of the Holocaust. According to the court ruling seen by AFP on Wednesday, the defendant was ordered to pay a fine of around 800,000 forints ($2,700/ 2,500 euros) or spend 400 days in jail.

The Times of Israel

Controversial Israeli performance artist Natali Cohen Vaxberg is reportedly set to be charged over a video she filmed of herself defacating on the Israeli flag two years ago. Cohen Vaxberg, an actress and far-left activist, has been arrested and investigated by police for defiling a national symbol a number of times since first uploading the video online in 2014, but never charged. Sources close to the case said Cohen Vaxberg will soon be charged with five counts of desecrating the flag, Haaretz reported ... Cohen Vaxberg is no stranger to controversy, and has sparked anger with a number of videos uploaded in the past. Among other things, in her films she has compared IDF soldiers to Nazis, and maintained that the Holocaust was “the best thing to have ever happened to the Jews,” since it allowed them to “occupy Palestinian land uninterrupted.”

The Algemeiner (Brooklyn, New York)

An international Jewish human rights organization blasted the organizers of Hollywood’s Golden Globe Awards for selecting disgraced movie star Mel Gibson as a presenter at the ceremony on Sunday night, due to his anti-Semitic history. “We’re disappointed that the Golden Globe Awards committee, at a time of surging anti-Semitism, has chosen to rehabilitate a bigot,” Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told The Algemeiner on Thursday ... The Braveheart star gained notoriety for spewing anti-Semitic vitriol at a Los Angeles police officer in 2006, when he was arrested for drunk driving ... Gibson additionally came under fire for his 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, which suggested that Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Reuters

Germany has seen no drop in the number of people arriving and seeking asylum despite European Union efforts to confront a migration crisis, the deputy interior minister said on Wednesday, blaming a lack of controls at Europe's borders. More than a million people fleeing the Middle East and Africa arrived in Europe in 2015. Denmark began 2016 by imposing checks on its border this week, prompting the EU to call Germany, Denmark and Sweden to a meeting in Brussels. Germany has been one of the most seriously affected EU member states. Sources in Berlin said on Wednesday the country registered some 1.09 million asylum seekers last year. "We had an average influx of 3,200 refugees per day arriving in Germany, and the numbers are not declining in the last days," Ole Schroeder, the deputy German minister, told a briefing in Brussels.

Linh Dinh

... Germany’s fascination and identification with American minorities started with the American Indian, whom many Germans still admire for his purity, simplicity and toughness ... With the advent of hip hop, German malcontents have a contemporary role model. Instead of the mythical American Indian, they can now mimic American ghetto blacks, as purveyed by Hollywood ... With their hatred of the state, nation and law and order, German leftist radicals see American ghetto blacks, as portrayed in movies, music videos and newscasts, as kindred spirits ... All of the anti-cop graffiti I’ve seen in Germany are written in English, by the way. This is only appropriate since many of these radicals’ firmest and most up-to-date beliefs have also been imported from the USA ... Believing themselves so progressive, they’re actually just puppets of the empire.

Arutz Sheva (Israel)

Florida has become the fifth American state to pass a resolution condemning the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel BDS movement. On Dec. 21, Florida legislators followed the lead of Tennessee, whose state legislature was the first to pass a similar resolution against the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam became the first state leader to sign a resolution of this type, following efforts by PJTN – Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a Tennessee-based Christian Zionist organization ... Following Tennessee's landmark resolution to confront BDS, the states of New York, Indiana and Pennsylvania also passed similar declarations. Some 35 more states are considering doing the same.

Mondoweiss

Do you wonder why Benjamin Netanyahu is declaring war on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), and Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban are holding a secret Las Vegas conference to fight it ... ? Well, here’s why. The Financial Times has published a big, and somewhat balanced, article on the rapid rise of BDS ... “This week an Israeli financial newspaper covered a leaked government report estimating that BDS could cost Israel’s economy $1.4 billion a year. The estimate included lower exports from the settlements in keeping with the EU’s plans to begin labelling goods made there — not part of the BDS movement, although many Israelis lump the two things together. The Rand Corporation, the US think-tank, says the costs could be more than three times higher: $47 billion over ten years.”

B. Ahmed - Think Progress

For ten years, pro-Palestine activists have attempted to push back at Israel’s expansion into the West Bank by taking a stand against the companies doing business there. The popularity of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement — or BDS — reached new heights last year [2014] with the 50-day long conflict between Israel and the militant Palestinian political organization, Hamas. As evidenced by a Congressional hearing on the topic last month, many on either side of the debate have their reservations about the boycott effort’s ethics and efficacy ... The effort has grown into a real threat to the Israeli economy since it started a decade ago. Some have even described BDS as “an existential threat to the Jewish state.”

Uri Avnery (Israel)

... Each of us has a few books that formed and changed his or her world view. In my early youth I read Oswald Spengler's monumental "Der Untergang des Abendlandes" (The Decline of the West). It had a lasting effect on me ... The next monumental work that influenced my world view was Arnold Toynbee's "A Study of History". Like Spengler, he believed that history consists of "civilizations" that mature and age, but he added a few more of them to Spengler's list ... Now the [Israeli] government wants to enact a law calling for the "Nation State of the Jewish People", overriding the existing legal fiction of a "Jewish and democratic State". The fight about this law may well be the decisive battle for Israel's identity. The concept itself is, of course, ridiculous. A people and a nation are two different concepts.

Keith Stimley – Institute for Historical Review

... Predicting a second world war, Spengler warned in Hour of Decision that the National Socialists were not sufficiently watchful of the powerful hostile forces outside the country that would mobilize to destroy them, and Germany ... Oswald Spengler, shortly after predicting that in a decade there would no longer be a German Reich, died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936, in his Munich apartment. He went to his death convinced that he had been right, and that events were unfolding in fulfillment of what he had written in The Decline of the West.

Lawrence S. Wittner - HNN

When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that these weapons’ vast destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945 — at least not yet. But, in reality, it has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties ... Drawing upon millions of government records and large numbers of interviews, they concluded that employment in the nation’s nuclear weapons plants since 1945 led to 107,394 American workers contracting cancer and other serious diseases ... And 33,480 of these workers have died ... A 2002 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintained that, between 1951 and 1963 alone, the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons — more than half of it done by the United States — killed 11,000 Americans through cancer.

R. Hotakainen, L. Wise, F. Matt, S. Ehlinger - McClatchy

... Vaigneur is one of 107,394 Americans who have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. For his troubles, he got $350,000 from the federal government in 2009 ... For the last year, McClatchy journalists conducted more than 100 interviews across the country and analyzed more than 70 million records in a federal database obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Among the findings: McClatchy can report for the first time that the great push to win the Cold War has left a legacy of death on American soil: At least 33,480 former nuclear workers who received compensation are dead. The death toll is more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Peter Van Buren

... The Obama/ Clinton/Sanders/Cruz/ Rubio/Pentagon/ et al. solution -- let someone else fight the ground war against IS [Islamic State] -- is based on what can only be called a delusion: that regional forces there believe in American goals (some variant of secular rule, disposing of evil dictators, perhaps some enduring U.S. military presence) enough to ignore their own varied, conflicting, aggrandizing, and often fluid interests. In this way, Washington continues to convince itself that local political goals are not in conflict with America's strategic goals. This is a delusion. In fact, Washington’s goals in this whole process are unnervingly far-fetched ... Unworkable national boundaries were drawn up after World War I without regard for ethnic, sectarian, or tribal realities and dictatorships were then imposed or supported past their due dates.

B. Chellaney - Project Syndicate

Containing the scourge of Islamist terror will be impossible without containing the ideology that drives it: Wahhabism, a messianic, jihad-extolling form of Sunni fundamentalism whose international expansion has been bankrolled by oil-rich sheikhdoms, especially Saudi Arabia ... Western leaders have recognized the Saudi role for many years. In a 2009 diplomatic cable, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” ... Unless the expansion of dangerous ideologies like Wahhabism is stopped, the global war on terror, now almost a generation old, will never be won.

S. Sokol - The Jerusalem Post (Israel)

There are very few sure bets in life and even fewer guarantees. But we can always count on the ever reliable triumvirate of death, taxes and anti-Semitism ... It is a safe bet to predict a further increase in anti-Semitic violence in Europe over the year ahead ... This is a continuation of a trend that has been intensifying for several years ... Overall, anti-Semitic violence rose by 40 percent worldwide, according to figures provided by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry ... Such concerns are compounded by the massive influx of Middle Eastern migrants making their way to European shores. While organized Jewry on the continent has been largely supportive of efforts to aid refugees, wariness remains.

The Jerusalem Post (Israel)

A well-known Orthodox rabbi and lecturer based in the US posted a video claiming that only one million Jews died in the Holocaust. The other five million people included in the numbers of Jews killed by the Nazis were intermarried and not Jewish, he said. Academic scholars of European Jewry and the Holocaust based in Israel rubbished his claim saying it was without historical foundation. Rabbi Yosef Mizrahi is involved in Jewish outreach to return Jews to religious life and holds a series of weekly lectures in New York as well as speaking in other parts of the US and has a Facebook page with 77,000 followers ... In a video published on his YouTube channel on Tuesday, Mizrahi stated, “This is how it was in Europe, 80 percent of the Jewish people were assimilated and intermarried with non-Jews many generations before the Holocaust.”

Don Heddesheimer

Even before World War II, the iconic figure of Six Million Jewish victims was already widely used in propaganda, as shown in these items, reproduced here in facsimile. During the years following the First World War (1914-1918), propaganda claims were widespread that East European Jewry was on the brink of annihilation. These claims regularly invoked now-familiar buzzwords such as “extermination” and “holocaust,” as well as the now-familiar Six Million figure. In 1919, for example, The New York Times was telling readers that six million Jews in Poland and Russia were threatened with imminent holocaust: All this is from the 2003 book, The First Holocaust, by Don Heddesheimer.

Patrick J. Buchanan

The New Year’s execution by Saudi Arabia of the Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was a deliberate provocation ... Like every regime in the Middle East, the Saudis look out for their own national interests first. And their goals here are to first force us to choose between them and Iran, and then to conscript U.S. power on their side in the coming wars of the Middle East ... What exactly is our vital interest in a permanent military alliance that obligates us to go to war on behalf of an autocratic ally as erratic and rash as Turkey's Tayyip Recep Erdogan? Do U.S.-Turkish interests really coincide today? ... Do all, do any, still serve U.S. vital national interests? ... No nation should be able drag us into a war not of our own choosing ... This hubristic Saudi blunder should be a wake-up call for us all.

Paul R. Pillar - The National Interest

... The impact of Israeli policies and actions on U.S. interests has included much that is damaging and destructive, which is the kind of impact that ought to be among the highest priorities for the collection of intelligence. Recently, in connection with negotiation of the multilateral agreement to restrict the Iranian nuclear program, the Israeli government did everything it could to sabotage and frustrate an important foreign policy initiative of the United States and its Western allies ... Along this line, we should note how often has arisen the threat of Israel militarily attacking Iran, and of how this threat is related to the subject of the nuclear negotiations that have been the target of Israeli sabotage attempts and reported Israeli espionage.

The Jerusalem Post (Israel)

A record number of more than 1.72 million visitors came to the Auschwitz memorial in 2015. The new mark breaks the standard of 1.534 million visitors set last year, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland reported Monday. In 2015, Poland had the most visitors with 425,000. Rounding out the top five were the United Kingdom (220,000), the United States (141,000), Germany (93,000) and Italy (76,000). Next were Spain (68,000), Israel (61,000), France (57,000), the Czech Republic (47,000) and the Netherlands (43,000). August saw the most visitors with over 210,000 ... Nearly 80 percent of the visitors are guided by museum educators in one of 20 languages.

The Telegraph (Britain)

For German women, 2016 has got off to a shocking start. Dozens of women trying to see in the New Year in the centre of Cologne found themselves trapped in a crowd of some 1,000 men, who groped them, tore off their underwear, shouted lewd insults and threw fireworks at them. To make matters worse, a series of sexual assaults that would normally make headline news went almost completely unreported for five days – and the scale of what happened that night in the western German city is only now emerging ... Police have now confirmed that sex attacks took place in three cities: Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart. So far around 120 women have come forward, claiming to be victims ... Many German women are now beginning to voice fears that their personal safety is being compromised in the name of political correctness.

The Washington Post

Dozens of sexual assaults and robberies were reported at the main station in the German city of Cologne on New Year's Eve. But the offenses didn't become public for nearly five days. One of the country's main TV channels, ZDF, apoligized for ignoring the assaults for so long ... Some alleged that the police as well as German media outlets that have been largely welcoming to refugees over the past year had deliberately ignored the crimes for days, and others demanded a tougher response to offenses committed by refugees. Germany's right-wing Alternative für Deutschland party said the attacks were "the appalling consequences of catastrophic asylum and migration policies."

The Washington Post

... Here in Germany, the government is effectively enforcing civility, taking aim at a surge of hate speech against refugees and Muslims. As Western Europe’s most populous nation grapples with a historic wave of mostly-Muslim migrants, politicians and activists are decrying a rash of incendiary speech bubbling to the surface of German society ... Prosecutors are launching investigations into inflammatory comments as judges dole out fines, even probation time, to the worst offenders. German authorities, meanwhile, have reached a deal with Facebook, Google and Twitter to get tougher on offensive content ... Critics call it the enforcement of political correctness, raising the question of what constitutes hate speech and sparking a national debate over free expression.

Intact America - Hudson Center for Health Equity & Quality

Newborn male circumcision is the most common surgical procedure performed in the U.S. It's a common misconception that there are tangible health benefits to male circumcision, but the truth is no medical society in the world recommends it. This invasive procedure carries serious health risks, including infection, hemorrhage, surgical mishap, and death, as well many ethical considerations ... No professional medical association in the United States or anywhere else in the world recommends routine circumcision as medically necessary. In fact, leaving boys intact is becoming the norm in the U.S., as parents realize the risks and harms of circumcision.

VOA News

Over the past 15 years, the number of American teenagers working part-time jobs has decreased dramatically, which is bad news for the U.S. labor market. In 2014, only one in five teens in school (22 percent) had a job, down 16 percentage points from 2000, when more than one in three teens in school (38 percent) worked ... Research shows reduced work experience for high school students, especially those who don’t go on to college immediately after graduation, is associated with lower employment rates and earnings in later years.

Robert Parry – Consortium News

... In a rational world, Saudi Arabia would be viewed as a major part of the problem, not part of any solution ... Though Sanders’s and Trump’s brands of populism offer sharply divergent remedies, they both speak to Main Street’s fear that it is being left behind by the high-tech globalized world that has diverted vast wealth to Wall Street and Silicon Valley ... Despite their other shortcomings, Trump and Sanders are the only candidates seriously addressing some of these key economic issues ... The central challenge for a possible political transformation in America rests on reliable information getting to the people, especially given all the sources of misinformation and the many barriers to the truth. That battle – restoring the life-blood of democracy, an informed electorate – remains the challenge of our time.

Robert Fisk - The Independent (Britain)

Saudi Arabia’s binge of head-choppings – 47 in all, including the learned Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, followed by a Koranic justification for the executions – was worthy of Isis [Islamic State/ Daesh]. Perhaps that was the point. For this extraordinary bloodbath in the land of the Sunni Muslim al-Saud monarchy – clearly intended to infuriate the Iranians and the entire Shia world – re-sectarianised a religious conflict which Isis has itself done so much to promote ... It will also present the West with that most embarrassing of Middle Eastern problems: the continuing need to cringe and grovel to the rich and autocratic monarchs of the Gulf while gently expressing their unease at the grotesque butchery which the Saudi courts have just dished out to the Kingdom’s enemies.

Eric Margolis

The Saudis have made themselves even more unpopular after decapitating or shooting 47 prisoners last week. Critics are calling them, “the white ISIS.” ... The Saudi monarchy has long used the public death penalty as a means of repressing dissent and efforts to end or reform its feudal system. Government opponents and members of the kingdom’s Shia minority are routinely framed and face kangaroo courts ... The kingdom’s restive Shia minority, which looks to Iran, has been largely kept in line by draconian punishments ... The Saudi invasion of Yemen, and support for rebels in Syria and Iraq, may yet prove a grave mistake that threatens the very future of the sword-wielding desert kingdom.

AFP

The copyright of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" expires Friday [Jan. 1], with plans by several publishers for annotated reprints sparking fierce debate over how one of the world's most controversial books should be treated seven decades after the defeat of the Nazis ... In Germany, historians have readied an annotated version to hit the bookstores on January 8, while in neighbouring France, publisher Fayard will go ahead with a new French version, sparking chagrin in some quarters ... In India and Brazil, the book is easily found, while in Japan even a manga version of the tract is available. In Turkey, more than 30,000 copies have been sold since 2004 ... No country is as torn over the book as Germany, where all reprints have been halted since 1945 although the sale and possession of the book is not banned.

Daniel A. Gross - The New Yorker

... [Gerhard] Weinberg, who is now eighty-seven and retired, spent his career dredging up ugly memories from the remnants of the Second World War. In 1938, as a nine-year-old, he fled Germany to escape Hitler’s regime. In 1962, as a professional historian, he returned to investigate Hitler’s legacy ... In an echo of postwar “denazification,” “Mein Kampf” was kept strictly out of print [in Germany]. Florian Sepp, a historian at the Bavarian State Library, summed up the official stance, for the Washington Post: “This book is too dangerous for the general public.” ... The lack of critical editions didn’t prevent readers from accessing Hitler’s ideas — instead, it prevented historians from shaping the way these books are remembered.

Mark Weber - Podcast

There seems to be no end to the West’s obsession with Nazism, Hitler and the Third Reich, says prominent British journalist Simon Jenkins. What’s behind this? In spite of decades of hateful propaganda, this fascination seems to grow with time, and millions of people around the world even regard Hitler and the Third Reich positively. The dreaded “anti-Semite” label has been hurled so often and so recklessly in recent times that it’s lost much of its impact. Gertrude Stein was an influential, “modernistic,” twentieth-century Jewish-American writer. In spite of her background, in 1938 she nominated Hitler for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Douglas Bandow - Forbes

... No single policy was as injurious to Middle Eastern Christians as the invasion of Iraq ... U.S. intervention triggered a sectarian conflict which drove out hundreds of thousands of Christians (many to Syria), spawned a new al-Qaeda organization which morphed into the Islamic State (now killing Christians in Iraq and Syria), and tolerated ruthless Shia rule which encouraged Baathists and Sunni tribes to support ISIL (enabling its unexpected victories). Absent George W. Bush’s Iraq folly, backed by Rubio and most of his competitors, the “murderous terrorist organization,” as Rubio termed the Islamic State, wouldn’t even exist.

Patrick J. Buchanan

... Why have Republicans and conservatives rallied to candidates who relish bashing the elites of their own party? Establishment Republicans have lost what the Chinese used to call the mandate of heaven. Despite their blather, they never secured the border in 25 years. They talk populism at election time but haul water in Washington for corporate America by signing on to trade treaties, like NAFTA, GATT and TPP, that workers detest and that send U.S. jobs overseas and cause U.S. wages to sink ... The racial divide we thought had closed has returned to re-poison our politics. And with the crime rate not only higher in the African-American community, but rising, there are inevitably going to be more and more black vs. blue collisions on which Americans take sides.

Associated Press

The children of service members are victims in hundreds of incidents of sexual abuse each year, according to data the Defense Department provided exclusively to the Associated Press. The abuse of military dependents is committed most often by male enlisted troops, the data show, followed by family members. The figures offer greater insight into the sexual abuse of children committed by service members, a problem of uncertain scale due to a lack of transparency into the military's legal proceedings. ... An AP investigation published in November found more inmates are in military prisons for child sex crimes than for any other offense. But the military's opaque justice system keeps the public from knowing the full extent of their crimes or how much time they spend behind bars.

Associated Press

A string of sex assaults and robberies during New Year's celebrations in Germany has fuelled debate about the country's ability to integrate large numbers of migrants, after police said that men who targeted dozens of women in the western city of Cologne appeared to be of "Arab or North African origin." Political leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attacks, though many also warned against hasty conclusions about the perpetrators. But to some Germans already uneasy about the one million asylum-seekers their country took in last year the incident seemed to confirm simmering fears. "Is this the 'cosmopolitan and colorful' Germany that Merkel wished for?" asked Frauke Petry, leader of the nationalist party Alternative for Germany.

AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under mounting pressure Wednesday over her welcoming stance toward migrants, which opponents have linked to a rash of apparently coordinated sex attacks in Cologne on New Year's Eve. Police in the western city told AFP they have received more than 100 complaints by women reporting assaults ranging from groping to two rapes, allegedly committed in a large crowd of revellers during year-end festivities outside the city's main train station and its famed Gothic cathedral. Victims blamed men of "Arab or North African" appearance, inflaming a heated public debate about Germany's ability to cope with the nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers the country took in last year.

BBC News

Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker has drawn ridicule online for proposing a "code of conduct" for women to prevent sexual assault, advising them to remain at "an arm's length" from strangers. Amidst the controversy and protests following a series of sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year's Eve, the city's mayor has waded into the debate with a suggestions for how women can help avoid danger, which have proved highly controversial online ... But it was her suggestion that women should keep at "an arm's length" from strangers that has triggered most outrage on social media, with the phrase turned into a hashtag - #EineArmLaenge - on Twitter. Thousands of messages have been posted using the phrase. The main charge being made against her online was that Reker was blaming the victims for their behaviour, rather than the attackers themselves.

Patrick Cockburn - The Independent (Britain)

... Over the past year the Saudis have overplayed their hand, backing local allies and proxies in Syria and Yemen who are never going to win decisive victories ... Saudi rulers have faced serious challenges before, but they have never been faced with the degree of instability in states surrounding or close to the kingdom. There are wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, a guerrilla conflict in Sinai and street protests in Bahrain that could always become more serious. It should be much in Saudi Arabia’s interest to mitigate these crises but instead it stokes them but without any real plan on how to bring them to an end.

Philip Giraldi - The American Conservative

The Wall Street Journal story revealing that the Barack Obama administration used the National Security Agency (NSA) to listen to phone calls made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides is being spun in a number of different directions depending on one’s political proclivities ... Obama was not eavesdropping on American legislators — he was working against a foreign country that was actively spying against the United States and using the information it obtained to interfere with U.S. policy formulation. That was more than sufficient reason to try to find out what Netanyahu was up to ... Then there are the Jewish organizations that were evidently being briefed, coached, and organized by the Israeli Embassy to oppose the White House proposals.

Forward (New York)

Until early last year, the website of a Brooklyn-based charity called the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation boasted that the organization had its own “biomedical cancer research center” where “leading scientists” were working on cancer treatments. A PowerPoint slide that the group’s founder, Zvi Shor, used in a presentation showed an office building where the research center was said to be located, with the words “Biomedical Cancer Research Center” across the side of the building. Shor has now admitted that the group had no research center, nor any of its own scientists ... Shor admitted, as part of the settlement, that many of the programs that NCLF told donors and the public that it operated were either blown vastly out of proportion, or had never existed.

VOA News

A new U.S. survey shows that nearly half of Americans are angrier at current events than they were a year ago, with whites, Republicans and women the most outraged. Overall, the NBC News/ Survey Monkey/ Esquire online poll released Sunday said that 49 percent of Americans found themselves feeling angrier about the news in 2015. Whites were the angriest, with 54 percent saying they were more outraged in the last year, compared to 43 percent of Latinos and 33 percent of blacks. The poll also showed Republicans angrier than Democrats, with 61 percent of Republicans saying that current events irk them more now, compared to 42 percent of Democrats.

Associated Press

Bitter cold, biting winds and rough winter seas have done little to stem the seemingly endless flow of desperate people fleeing war or poverty for what they hope will be a brighter, safer future in Europe. As 2016 dawns, boatloads continue to reach Greek shores and thousands trudge across Balkan fields and country roads heading north. More than a million people reached Europe in 2015 in the continent's largest refugee influx since the end of World War II — a crisis that has tested European unity and threatened the vision of a borderless continent. Nearly 3,800 people are estimated to have drowned in the Mediterranean last year, making the journey to Greece or Italy in unseaworthy vessels packed far beyond capacity.

Patrick Cockburn – The Independent (Britain)

It was a year of dramatic events in the war in Syria and Iraq, but the political and military stalemate at the beginning of 2015 was still there at the end of it. The most important change on the ground was the start of the Russian air campaign on 30 September which ended a series of significant defeats for the Syrian army ... President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian army may not be able to win the war with increased Russian and Iranian support but they are unlikely to lose it. The armed opposition, dominated by Isis, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra Front and the ideologically similar Ahrar al-Sham, has likewise every reason to go on fighting ... Faced with these problems the US, Britain and other allies have taken refuge in wishful thinking.

Daily Mail (Britain)

A wordless song released by the anti-Islam group Pegida has knocked Adele off the top off the top of Amazon's German downloads chart. The song, Gemeinsam sind wir stark! or Together We Are Strong!, is being sold to raise funds for the protest movement, short for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident. The tune was made available to download from December 21 and has now overtaken Adele's Hello. The Pegida movement first emerged as an anti-Islam movement in October 2014, organising weekly demonstrations against what it termed the ‘Islamisation’ of the western world. The refugee crisis in Europe has boosted the popularity of Pegida’s rallies in the eastern city of Dresden and raised fears about right-wing radicalism.

Salon.com

The Israeli government banned a romance novel depicting an interracial Jewish-Arab relationship from schools, according to reports in the Israeli media. Israel’s education ministry ruled that the book “Gader Haya” (“Hedgegrow” in Hebrew, but translated into English as “Borderline”) cannot be used in high schools, claiming the love story threatens “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector.” In the justification for its decision, education ministry officials insisted “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threaten the separate identity,” warning that “young people of adolescent age don’t have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.”

AFP

The Vatican's first accord with the Palestinians -- an agreement that Israel has attacked as counter-productive to the Middle East peace process -- has come into force, the Holy See announced Saturday. The accord was signed in June, just over two years after the Roman Catholic Church recognised the Palestinian territories as a sovereign state in February 2013 ... In June, the Vatican hailed the agreement, which includes provisions to protect the rights of Christians, as a model for other Arab and Muslim states in their relations with Christian minorities facing increasing persecution in the Middle East ... The Vatican's recognition of the state of Palestine -- joining dozens of others -- followed a November 2012 vote in favour of recognition by the UN General Assembly.

Ballotpedia (Wisconsin)

The Holocaust Denial Speech Restrictions Initiative (#15-0073) is an initiated constitutional amendment proposed for the California ballot on Nov. 8, 2016. The measure would prohibit any speech that claims Jewish, Armenian or Ukrainian Holocausts did not exist in any state-funded school, museum or educational institution. It would also prohibit Holocaust denial organizations from distributing information or conducting activities at these state-funded locations.

Mark Weber

... Throughout his lifetime, the great English writer continually questioned all "official" or "accepted" versions of history. As early as 1945, just after the end of the war in Europe, he expressed doubts about the widespread stories of "gas oven" exterminations (Notes on Nationalism). George Orwell was a revisionist. He detested officially sanctioned atrocity and hate propaganda .... The fact that the Institute for Historical Review is so hated and vilified by the bigoted forces of darkness that seek to strangle any contrary voice, no matter how modest, is itself evidence of its importance as a bulwark against intellectual tyranny and scholastic repression.

J. North, P. Weiss - Mondoweiss

You’d think that there would be widespread outrage over the story everyone’s talking about today, the Wall Street Journal scoop that the Obama administration spied on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during the Iran Deal negotiations so as to counter his efforts to sink it. The wiretaps reveal that Israeli officials were up to their necks in the US political process; they “coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes, according to current and former officials familiar with the intercepts.” ... That’s right; there’s a compelling national interest in stopping the Israel lobby ... The practice is sure to anger Americans and drive an even deeper wedge into the Jewish community over the role of the lobby.

Ron Paul

Each year more than one trillion dollars goes up in smoke. More accurately, it is stolen from the middle and working classes and shipped off to the one percent. I am talking about the massive yearly bill to maintain the US empire ... None of this trillion dollars taken from us is spent to keep us safe, despite what politicians say. In fact, this great rip-off actually makes us less safe and more vulnerable to a terrorist attack thanks to resentment overseas at our interventions and to the blowback it produces ... The more money sent to the Pentagon and other parts of the Washington war apparatus, the more danger we are in ... What can we do to work for peace in 2016? First we must tune out the lying propaganda served up by the US mainstream media. We must educate ourselves so that we can help educate others.

Eric Margolis

A striking example of how dangerously Americans are misinformed and misled by the war party was featured in a major article in 24 December, New York Times ... Let’s look at the true figures. The US so-called “defense budget” (it should be called “offense budget”) is in the range of $600 billion, 37 percent of total world military spending by a nation that only five percent of world population ... The US spends more on its armed forces than the next nine military powers – combined. America’s wealthy allies in Europe and Japan add important power to America’s global military domination ... Russia’s relatively modest military budget is hardly a threat to the mighty United States. In fact, the only real Russia threat we face is the danger of blundering into a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, the Black Sea, Syria or Iraq.

The Times of Israel

The White House instructed US spies to eavesdrop on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials earlier this year in an effort to counter campaigning against the Iran nuclear deal, despite promising to curtail listening in on foreign leaders, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday [Dec. 29]. The National Security Agency’s spying dragnet was cast so wide it caught conversations Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders had with US officials and Jewish American leaders ... Much of the spying was focused on gaining an intelligence on what Israeli and Jewish figures were doing to campaign among US lawmakers to oppose the nuclear deal, inked between Iran and six world powers and July.

E. Murphy - Mondoweiss

The Wall Street Journal has continued its series of scoops on espionage in the U.S.-Israel relationship: a new report, “U.S. Spy Net on Israel Snares Congress,” details how the decision to keep NSA technology trained on the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led to intercepts of conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American Jewish groups. While the possibility of illegal spying on Congress will dominate public discussion of the story, the monitoring of Netanyahu and his staff, and the blunt way American officials reportedly discuss it in private, deserves attention, as it completely belies the public presentation of a relationship based on “shared values.” ... The general notion implicit in Obama’s claim — that Israel is capable of threatening U.S. national security — is the most volatile element of what Haaretz has called an “explosive report.”

Glenn Greenwald - The Intercept

... All sorts of people who spent many years cheering for and defending the NSA and its programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them and their American and Israeli friends rather than just ordinary people ... This pattern — whereby political officials who are vehement supporters of the Surveillance State transform overnight into crusading privacy advocates once they learn that they themselves have been spied on — is one that has repeated itself over and over. It has been seen many times as part of the Snowden revelations, but also well before that.

Reuters

A new appraisal names the United States as one of the threats to Russia's national security for the first time, a sign of how relations with the west have deteriorated in recent years. The document, "About the Strategy of National Security of Russian Federation", was signed by President Vladimir Putin on New Year's Eve ... “The strengthening of Russia happens against the background of new threats to the national security, which has complex and interrelated nature," the document says. Conducting an independent policy, "both international and domestic" has caused "counteraction from the USA and its allies, which are striving to retain their dominance in global affairs." That in turn is likely to lead to "political, economical, military and informational pressure" on Russia, the document says.

Jim Lobe

... Hard-line neocons here have clearly not given up on their cherished goal of achieving regime change in Tehran. Thus, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the successor organization of the notorious Project for the New American Century (PNAC) that did so much to cheerlead the U.S. into Iraq, has recommended to its subscribers a new essay published in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs co-authored by Eliot Cohen, Eric Edelman (one of FPI’s co-directors), and Ray Takeyh ... The clear intent of the article is to inject the concept of regime change into the 2016 presidential debate and the policy of the winner ... In that context, they clearly see Iran as public enemy number one in the Middle East and thus relegating the Islamic State (whose inspiration they actually blame on Iran) to a relatively minor distraction: ...

AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cited Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler to defend his controversial push to expand the powers of the presidency, local media reported on Friday ... “In a unitary system (such as Turkey's) a presidential system can work perfectly," Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters in Istanbul on Thursday on his return from a visit to Saudi Arabia. "There are already examples in the world and in history. You can see it when you look at Hitler's Germany," he was quoted as saying. But in a press statement published later, the Turkish presidency said it was "unacceptable" to interpret Erdogan's remarks as endorsement of Nazism.