As President Obama gave his valedictory speech to the United Nations General Assembly and has recently returned from a farewell tour of East Asia, it sure seems like other countries were dissing him ... Yet the problem is not so much that Obama is personally weak as is it that the United States has been debilitated by the lack of a global grand strategy – that is, the country has a muddled vision of what it wants to or can sustainably do in the world. The United States still tries to operate as the world’s policeman, yet is overextended – accounting for 38 percent of global defense spending but only 16 percent of its GDP – and has a national public debt of more than $19 trillion. And U.S. foreign policy remains stuck in the Cold War ...
Murders in the US rose 10.8 percent last year, the biggest single-year percentage jump since 1971, according to data released Monday by the FBI. The rising violence was driven by an increase in the murders of black men, and by an increase in the number of gun murders. At least 900 more black men were killed in 2015 than in 2014, according to FBI data ... The net increase in murders, which follows a two-decade downward trend, erased the gains of the past few years, and put the number of murders back at 15,696, about the same number as in 2009. Murder and violent crime are still dramatically lower than they were at the peak of the violent crime wave of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The speeches in the Senate on the Paul-Murphy resolution of disapproval of the latest arms sale to Saudi Arabia were instructive in showing how thoroughly dishonest some supporters of the arms deal are willing to be. The worst offenders were John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who ranted and raved about the dangers of blocking arms sales to the Saudis, and mostly tried to make the debate about Iran’s role in the region. McCain incredibly described the Saudis as a “nation under attack” because of incursions into Saudi territory that were provoked by the Saudi-led bombing campaign. Graham portrayed the Saudis as victims of Yemeni “aggression,” which has everything completely and obviously backwards.
... A very large percentage of all incoming freshmen have no business being admitted to college. According to College Board’s 2015 report, the average combined SAT score for white students was 1576 out of a possible 2400. Black student SAT scores, at 1277, were the lowest of the seven reported racial groups. The College Board considers a SAT score of 1550 as the benchmark that indicates a readiness for college-level work. Only 32 percent of white students scored at or above proficient in math, and just seven percent of black students did. Forty-six percent of white test takers scored proficient in reading, and 17 percent of blacks did ... These are significant differences in academic preparation between white and black students. I am sure that the differences give black students feelings of inferiority and being out of place.
From real estate, to high-tech firms to entertainment giants, Chinese investments in the United States, notably California, are moving at a dizzying pace and are on course to smash records again this year. Chinese companies shelled out a record $15 billion last year in the US, and that figure could more than double in 2016, according to research firm Rhodium Group and the National Committee on US-China Relations. California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, has been at the forefront of China's appetite to invest overseas, with billions of dollars going into the technology, renewable energy and entertainment sectors, and increasingly into real estate.
China's economy is now the world's second largest, and China is set to soon replace the US as the foremost economic and industrial nation. Over the past 30 years, real per capita income in China has grown by more than 1,300 percent. Over the last decade alone, China quadrupled its industrial output. It now produces more automobiles than the US and Japan combined. China -- along with Hong Kong, Singapore, and, to a lesser extent, Taiwan and South Korea – has achieved dramatic economic growth with a social-political system that combines free enterprise and "state socialism." What those countries have accomplished over the past half century proves that economic growth, technological progress and prosperity are possible without US-style democracy and capitalism.
... The political thinker who today has the most influence on Mr. Putin’s Russia is not Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Communist system, but rather Ivan Ilyin, a prophet of Russian fascism. The brilliant political philosopher has been dead for more than 60 years, but his ideas have found new life in post-Soviet Russia. After 1991, his books were republished with long print runs. President Putin began to cite him in his annual speech to the Federal Assembly ... To complete the rehabilitation, Mr. Putin saw to it that Ilyin’s corpse was repatriated from Switzerland ... Writing in the 1920s and ’30s after his expulsion from the Soviet Union, when he became a leading emigré ideologue of the anti-Communist White Russians, Ilyin looked on Mussolini and Hitler as exemplary leaders who were saving Europe by dissolving democracy.
Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin (1883-1954) was a Russian religious and political philosopher, White emigre publicist, and an ideologue of the Russian All-Military Union ... Ivan Ilyin was a conservative Russian monarchist in the Slavophile tradition ... A number of Ilyin's works (including those written after the German defeat in 1945) advocated fascism. However, Ilyin was staunchly opposed to Nazism in his writings, particularly its xenophobic character ... In his 1949 article, Ilyin argued against both totalitarianism and "formal" democracy in favor of a "third way" of building a state in Russia ... Ilyin's views influenced other 20th-century Russian authors such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, as well as many Russian nationalists. As of 2005, 23 volumes of Ilyin's collected works have been republished in Russia.
In his speech to the Russian parliament on 4 December , Vladimir Putin quoted philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who died 60 years ago today. Putin supervised the repatriation and reburial of Ilyin’s body in 2005, and has laid flowers on Ilyin’s grave. He has quoted him several times before ... If Putin has a favourite philosopher, Ilyin seems to be the man ... He believed that the Russian revolution was a product of the spiritual failings of the Russian people ... Ilyin was a nationalist. Love of country was a central part of his philosophy. Russians he felt, should put Russian interests first. This contrasted with the internationalist philosophy of the communists. Furthermore, every nation, Ilyin said, should develop in its own way. Thus the West had no right to tell Russians how to run their own country ...
The "Quartet" of Middle East peace mediators said on Friday it was strongly opposed to Israel's ongoing settlement activity, warning that it risked ending the chance of a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Peace talks, envisaging a Palestinian state in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war, collapsed two years ago after nine months of largely fruitless discussions sponsored by the United States. The acid political climate between Israelis and Palestinians makes progress unlikely ... The group, which comprises the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, issued a report in July calling on Israel to stop its policy of building settlements on occupied land and restricting Palestinian development, but the activity has shown no signs of abating.
Benjamin Netanyahu has been perhaps the most anti-Palestinian Israeli prime minister of a large rogue’s gallery dedicated to driving the aggrieved Palestinians out of the land they and their ancestors have lived in and worked for millennia. This oppression — which has included ethnic cleansing, savage war on the people of the Gaza Strip, routine brutality and humiliation, and expanding illegal Jewish settlements on land conquered through aggressive war — has been underwritten and encouraged by the U.S. government since 1948 ... It is no exaggeration to say that the US government rewards Netanyahu for his regime’s bad behavior.
A day before their first debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton engaged in a little global diplomacy courtesy of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While both presidential candidates pledged to guarantee Israel's security during separate meetings with Netanyahu in New York City, each stressed different issues in post-meeting statements ... Clinton, a former secretary of State, "reaffirmed her unwavering commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and her plan to take our partnership to the next level," said a statement issued by her campaign after the evening meeting with Netanyahu ... The Democratic presidential nominee also "stressed her commitment to countering attempts to de-legitimize Israel," the statement said, "including through the BDS movement" that supports economic boycotts of Israel over the Palestinian issue.
... It is the American people who have been burned, time and again, by Hillary Clinton's dreadful lies. Let's review just a few examples of her serial dishonesty: She lied repeatedly about her emails. She lied when she said she had "turned over everything I was obligated to turn over" ... She lied when she said there was "no classified material" in her private emails ... that there was nothing "classified at the time" ... and that there was nothing "marked classified" in her private emails -- all of which the FBI director said were untrue ... As the late, great William Safire pointed out in a 1996 New York Times column, she delivered a "blizzard of lies" as first lady ... Even back then, Safire concluded, Clinton was "a congenital liar." Today, the American people agree.
The U.S. has made virtually no progress in a battle to reclaim its elite position in the global marketplace, a Harvard Business School study says, squarely placing the blame on a broken political system and coarse presidential campaign. “We believe that the nation’s political system has now become America’s greatest competitive weakness, and that the situation continues to deteriorate,” Harvard professors Michael Porter, Jan Rivkin and Mihir Desai wrote in a report titled “Problems Unsolved and a Nation Divided.” ... For the first time since the Harvard researchers began the study in 2012, the Harvard alumni they surveyed were more pessimistic about U.S. competitiveness than they were a year ago. Fifty percent of the business leaders expect it to decline, up from 42 percent in 2015, while just 30 percent foresee improvement ...
Parenting magazine Baby & Family [Baby und Familie] has told readers to beware of families who are “inconspicuous” and “cheerful”, as these warning signs indicate they are right wing and thus “dangerous”. Depicted with illustrations featuring solely blonde women and children, the report says ordinary parents must take action against right-wing families, and make clear that their ideology has no place in the world ... This, the high-circulation German magazine declares, “is precisely the great risk” as such people are just as dangerous if not more so as gangs of Nazi skinheads. The identifying features of right-wing families, it contends, are that they are “inconspicuous, blond, cute and engaged”.
Israel has 200 nuclear weapons “all targeted on Tehran,” so Iran would not dare use a bomb even if it could make one, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a 2015 email, which has surfaced this week as part of a hacking scandal. Unknown hackers have compromised Powell’s Gmail account, and the whistleblower website DCLeaks posted a trove of his emails on Wednesday [Sept. 14]. Powell’s spokeswoman Peggy Cifrino confirmed that the emails were authentic. The email to Jeffrey Leeds, Powell's business associate and major Democratic donor, contained an admission that Israel had nuclear weapons – something the key US ally has carefully avoided confirming or denying for years, in a policy called “nuclear ambiguity.”
Two longtime senators leaned on questionable geographic analysis Wednesday as part of their successful defense of a $1.15 billion proposed arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The Strait of Hormuz would be threatened if Houthi rebels had taken over all of Yemen before Saudi Arabia launched a military intervention last year, they agreed before leading colleagues to shoot down a bid to block the arms sale. But the shipping bottleneck actually separates Iran and an Omani peninsula hundreds of miles north of Yemen, where Shiite rebels and backers of a deposed and formerly U.S.-supported strongman are resisting a Saudi-led campaign that has killed many civilians.
The conversion of Winston Churchill’s former home into the swastika-draped headquarters of Adolf Hitler for a Transformers movie has been denounced by veterans’ groups and former military commanders. Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, has been reimagined as the headquarters of the Nazi leader in The Last Knight, the fifth Transformers film, which is currently shooting. The set-dressing includes enormous swastika flags, a variety of German military equipment and SS stormtroopers filling the forecourt. “I know it’s a film,” Col Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told the Sun. “But it’s symbolically disrespectful to Churchill. He will be turning in his grave.”
After several years of arming and supporting Syrian rebel groups that often collaborated with Al Qaeda’s Nusra terror affiliate, the United States launched an illegal invasion of Syria two years ago with airstrikes supposedly aimed at Al Qaeda’s Islamic State spin-off, but on Saturday that air war killed scores of Syrian soldiers and aided an Islamic State victory. Yet, the major American news outlets treat this extraordinary set of circumstances as barely newsworthy, operating with an imperial hubris that holds any U.S. invasion or subversion of another country as simply, ho-hum, the way things are supposed to work ... In the world of Official Washington, the United States has the right to intervene anywhere, anytime, for whatever reason it chooses.
Fifteen years, hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later, the United States’ war on terror has spawned more instability, violence and chaos than we could have imagined when this undefined and never-ending global campaign began. Today, jihadist terror groups control more territory and are more of a threat to the world than they were on September 11, 2001. Last week, US-based security firm the Soufan Group estimated that many of the post-9/11 concerns about global terrorism are “considerably worse now than in 2001.” The group argued the spread of violent extremism has “surpassed anything [Osama] bin Laden likely thought achievable in a fifteen-year period.”
... In January 1917, a strikingly handsome radical-revolutionary, Lev Davidovich Bronstein — otherwise known as Leon Trotsky — arrived into this vast cosmopolitan-cultural-melting-pot. Kenneth D. Ackerman, a lawyer and historian based in Washington D.C., has recently published “Trotsky in New York 1917: A Radical on the Eve of Revolution.” The book recalls Trotsky’s controversial ten weeks spent in New York before he headed back to Russia to lead the Military-Revolutionary Committee which carried out the overthrow of the Provisional Government in the October Revolution. In several instances throughout the book, Ackerman documents how the Jewish community played a significant role in Trotsky’s life during his brief stay in the city.
‘Denial’ is one of those well-meaning movies about an important subject that isn’t particularly good, but tends to get a free pass in awards season thanks to sincerity and presenting a positive social message ... The audience gets to feel outraged by offensive behavior with the calm and soothing comfort of knowing that all problems will be solved by the time the credits roll ... The film is essentially one big, long, obvious excuse to feel good about not being a racist, mostly told through long courtroom monologues. Yawn ... ‘Denial’ is essentially a glorified TV movie designed to be comfort food for folks who enjoy participating in outrage culture. It’s fairly well produced and the cast are good despite their limited subject matter, but it’s nothing particularly special that will be remembered for longer than its theatrical release window and awards push.
... Considering that legacy, “Denial,” a drama based on recent Holocaust history — or, in fact, on the denial of it — would seem to have the makings of a terrific movie. It’s about the British libel suit that was brought, in 1996, against Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, by David Irving, the British historian who Lipstadt accused of being a Holocaust denier ... It’s a curiously awkward and slipshod movie that winds up being about nothing so much as the perverse, confounding eccentricities of the British legal system.
... The film [“Denial”] did not depict a conference call in which Julius explained to a room of American Jewish leaders what was at stake, and how much money needed to be raised to pay for solicitors, barristers, graduate student researchers, and the world’s top experts. ("Denial" correctly notes Steven Spielberg’s support for the defense, but there were many individuals and groups from the U.S. – and depressingly few from the UK – who put up the required funds) ... I helped raise the funds, and worked with the lawyers, graduate students and experts, sometimes from London, and sometimes from my home in Brooklyn (where the courtroom stenographer’s real-time transcript appeared on my computer, and I could communicate with a paralegal with a vibrating cell phone in the courtroom, if need be).
A verdict has finally been reached in the much publicized Irving-Lipstadt libel trial in London. Judge Charles Gray, in a lengthy ruling made public on April 11, 2000, called David Irving an anti-Semitic and racist "Holocaust denier" who has "deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence." The judgment could hardly have been more severe. The 62-year-old British historian is now obliged to pay some $3 million in legal costs to the two defendants: Jewish American writer Deborah Lipstadt, and Penguin Books, the British publisher of her anti-revisionist work, Denying the Holocaust.
Over the last few decades, I doubt that any American political organization has received greater negative attention in our national news and entertainment media than the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK ... Not only does the KKK total [of victims] pale in comparison with Stalin and his considerable body-count, but during its two decades of greatest infamy all those hundreds or thousands of armed Klansmen accounted for fewer victims than the number sometimes sent to the Chicago city morgue over a long holiday weekend these days ... Those who have allowed the currency of journalistic integrity to become totally debased have only themselves to blame when they discover it is no longer accepted by the general public.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $5 trillion and counting, according to an independent analysis conducted by a political science professor at Brown University. The calculations by Dr. Neta Crawford extend beyond the typical accounting of overseas contingency operations for the Defense and State Departments, which amounts to $1.7 trillion through 2016, according to her report issued late last week. Crawford also tabulated base and future budgets for the Defense Department, along with war-related Department of Homeland Security and Department of Veterans Affairs spending, which ballooned as the wars escalated and troops rotated home with injuries.
... Do the major media understand that in their determination, bordering on desperation, to kill Trump, they are killing their credibility? And as they are losing credibility they are losing the country. According to a new Gallup poll, distrust of the press has hit an all-time high. Half the nation’s Democrats still trust the media, but only one-in-three independents and one-in seven Republicans, 14 percent, believe the media are truthful, honest and fair ... And the more the media vent their detestation of Trump, the more Trump’s supporters revel in their discomfort ... America’s media seem utterly lacking in introspection. Do they understand why so many people hate them so? Do they care? Are they so smugly self-righteous and self-regarding they cannot see? ... No matter who wins in November, America is going to face a divide unseen in decades.
Japan’s demographic challenges are well-known: It’s home to the world’s oldest population and has a shrinking birthrate and an astonishing number of single people ... According to the Japan Times, a new survey of Japanese people ages 18 to 34 found that 70 per cent of unmarried men and 60 per cent of unmarried women are not in a relationship ... Around 42 per cent of men and 44.2 per cent of women admitted that they were virgins ... In 2010, 36.2 per cent of men and 38.7 per cent of women in the 18-34 age bracket said they were virgins. The number of children among couples who have been married for between 15 and 19 years averaged a record low this year.
... Despite the popular, and the academic, image of the Nazi state as all-embracing and Hitler as all-powerful, the German people as brainwashed, and the Gestapo as “a huge organization with agents everywhere,” “in reality [writes historian Frank McDonough] any person who accepted and supported the Nazi regime enjoyed enormous individual freedom. Hitler’s regime was hugely popular. Once you appreciate this essential fact you begin to understand the reality of life inside Nazi Germany.” ... The Gestapo spent “an exhaustive amount of time” on cases; “most ended up being dismissed, with no charge, or a surprisingly lenient punishment.” ... The Gestapo handled accusations against normally law-abiding individuals “with professional diligence and often surprising compassion.”
The U.S. Senate cleared the way for a $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, defending a frequent partner in the Middle East recently subject to harsh criticism in Congress. The Senate voted 71 to 27 to kill legislation that would have stopped the sale. The overwhelming vote stopped an effort led by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy to block the deal over concerns including Saudi Arabia's role in the 18-month-long war in Yemen, and worries that it might fuel an ongoing regional arms race ... Paul, Murphy and other opponents of the arms deal were sharply critical of the Riyadh government during debate before the vote, citing Yemen, the kingdom's human rights record and its international support for a conservative form of Islam.
A Senate resolution opposing a $1.15 billion arms transfer to Saudi Arabia garnered support from 27 senators on Wednesday, a sign of growing unease about the increasing number of civilians being killed with U.S. weapons in Yemen. A procedural vote to table the resolution passed 71-27. The Obama administration announced the transfer last month ... In addition to providing Saudi Arabia with intelligence and flying refueling missions for its air force, the United States has enabled the bombing campaign by supplying $20 billion in weapons over the past 18 months. In total, President Obama has sold more than $115 billion in weapons to the Saudi kingdom – more than any other president ... The Republican leadership strongly opposed the bill ...
The State Department has paid or approved 90 claims for a total $11 million in reparations from France to former World War II prisoners who were carried to Nazi death camps in French trains — the first French reparations paid to Holocaust survivors living in the United States, officials said Thursday. The payments apply to Holocaust survivors who were deported from France to concentration camps on stifling trains operated by the state-owned French railway, SNCF, or, if the survivors have died, to their spouses or heirs. It is the first French compensation to Holocaust survivors who settled in the United States as well as Israel, Canada and other countries that haven’t had a reparations agreement with France.
... They are two of the estimated half-million remaining Holocaust survivors around the world, a group whose needs are growing in complexity and cost as they age ... In recent decades, the Claims Conference relied on financial support from a variety of sources. Payments came from a $1.25 billion compensation fund from unclaimed Swiss bank accounts held by those murdered, a $5 billion fund to compensate slave laborers and other settlements negotiated in the early 1990s after the fall of Europe's Communist governments ... An agreement between the German government and the Claims Conference, reached in July, resulted in an increase in funding for the care of Holocaust survivors in their homes over the next three years.
... Despite the fact that Moscow has abandoned control of immense areas of Europe and Asia, self-appointed experts insist that Russia is an expansionist power. Oddly, this “expansion” only seems to be occurring in zones that Moscow once controlled, into which the E.U. and NATO, supported by the U.S., have sought to extend their influence. The comparison of today’s Russia to yesterday’s U.S.S.R. is baseless. I know this, and rage inwardly at my inability to convey my understanding to others ... The current attitude toward the Putin state is selective and cynical, not based upon any real principle ... Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West has struggled to find a new bogeyman.
The United States on Wednesday [Sept. 14] signed an unprecedented new security agreement with Israel that will give the Israeli military $38 billion over ten years. The deal, the largest such agreement the U.S. has ever had with any country, amounts to $3.8 billion a year beginning in budget year 2019, compared with $3.1 billion the U.S. gave Israel annually under the current ten-year deal that expires in 2018. "This commitment to Israel's security has been unwavering and is based on a genuine and abiding concern for the welfare of the Israeli people and the future of the state of Israel," President Barack Obama said in a statement. After months of negotiations that took place after a particularly tense time in the relationship amid disputes over the Iran nuclear deal, the memorandum of understanding was signed ...
The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8 billion – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019. Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House ... American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel ... Even The New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”. Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100 billion in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view ...
The United States has just signed an unprecedented military aid deal with Israel totaling $38 billion ... I asked about this issue in my May 2016 American public opinion poll, with Nielsen Scarborough, when reports were spreading that Israel and the United States were still negotiating a deal that could total approximately $40 billion ... Like on all issues facing the United States, the American public is split along partisan lines. Among Democrats and Independents, a majority (57 percent and 59 percent respectively) say it’s too much or way too much, while only five percent and 17 percent respectively say it’s too little or way too little. Republicans, on the other hand, were split evenly (40 percent each) in saying the aid is too much/way too much, or too little/way too little.
... Along the way, I got an inside look at an odd juxtaposition: the Jewish links surrounding the most famous group in rock ’n’ roll history ... After I had toured with the Beatles in l964 and l965 people asked me whether I thought Lennon was anti-Semitic. I think not, although I did see him striding around his hotel suite, his finger to his lip, mustache style, pretending he was Adolf Hitler. And from time to time Lennon would offer a Nazi salute to the crowd. He did it in front of thousands on the balcony of the Liverpool Town Hall before the premiere of A Hard Day’s Night, when the city put on a massive Beatles tribute ... At the end of their first American tour, the Beatles were interviewed by Playboy Magazine and asked, “Is there any celebrity you would like to meet.” “I wouldn’t mind meeting Adolf Hitler,” said McCartney.
... Roald Dahl, the beloved author of “Matilda” and “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” would have turned 100 today. It’s an anniversary we mark with admiration and a bit of uncertainty as well. For, aside from his brilliant imagination and wicked sense of humor, Dahl was also something of an unrepentant anti-Semite. In 1983, he told the New Statesman, “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason” ... In 1990, he told the Independent, “I am certainly anti-Israel, and I have become anti-Semitic.”
Shortly before the newest U.S. News & World Report college rankings came out last week, I got a fresh glimpse of how ridiculous they can be -- and of why panicked high school seniors and their status-conscious parents should not spend the next months obsessing over them ... The rankings nourish the myth that the richest, most selective colleges have some corner on superior education; don't adequately recognize public institutions that prioritize access and affordability; and do insufficient justice to the particular virtues of individual campuses ... One of the main factors in a school's rank is how highly officials at peer institutions and secondary-school guidance counselors esteem it. But they may not know it well. They're going by its reputation, established in no small part by previous U.S. News evaluations. A lofty rank perpetuates itself.
Cattle prods, kidnapping and an alleged murder plot. For the second time in three years, federal prosecutors are uncovering a shady Orthodox underground where men plan violence to force a brutal end to troubled marriages. Call it the revenge of the chained wives. In 2013, New York’s tabloids were enthralled with the case of the “Prodfather,” an Orthodox rabbi who led a kidnapping ring that charged hefty fees to use cattle prods on recalcitrant husbands who “chained” their wives by not giving them a religious divorce. Today, the “Prodfather” is in a federal prison in New Jersey, but a new ring of ultra-Orthodox men stands accused of plotting another violent conspiracy that, if it had been carried out, would have made the “Prodfather” look like a yeshiva boy.
The United States will give Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, the largest such aid package in U.S. history, under a landmark agreement signed on Wednesday [Sept. 14]. The deal, whose details were reported by Reuters earlier, will allow Washington's chief Middle East ally to upgrade most of its fighter aircraft, improve its ground forces' mobility and strengthen its missile defense systems, a senior U.S. official said ... Obama's aides wanted a new deal before his presidency ends, seeing it as an important part of his legacy. Republican critics accuse him of not being attentive enough to Israel's security, which the White House strongly denies, and of taking too hard of a line with the Israeli leader.
Last week’s announcement of a record-breaking US aid package for Israel underscores how dangerously foolish and out-of-touch is our interventionist foreign policy. Over the next ten years, the US taxpayer will be forced to give Israel some $38 billion dollars in military aid. It is money we cannot afford going to a country that needs no assistance to maintain its status as the most powerful military in the Middle East ... Much of what we call “foreign aid” is actually welfare for the wealthy here at home. The aid package to Israel is a very good example. According to the agreement, this $38 billion will all go to US weapons manufacturers. So the real beneficiaries are not the American people, and not even Israeli citizens. The real beneficiaries are the US military-industrial complex.
The United States signed an unprecedented pact with Israel that will provide the Jewish state with the largest amount of military aid ever awarded, $38 billion over ten years, with promises of the latest in fighter jets, missile defense systems and cutting-edge technology ... The two leaders have continued to work together but appear to have a sour relationship. Israeli commentators noted that this signing of the military aid package should have been a signal moment. Instead, it seemed designed to go to the bottom of the news cycle. “Neither Obama nor Bibi are breaking open the champagne on this one,” said Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst with the Wilson Center, using the common familiar name for Netanyahu. “Obama thinks he gave too much and Netanyahu thinks he didn’t get enough” ...
A solid majority of Americans would redirect $38 billion the Obama Administration pledged to Israel toward other priorities. The Obama administration last week signed an executive agreement with Israel pledging $38 billion ($3.8 billion per year) in foreign aid for fiscal years 2019- 2028. The majority of the proposed spending is for Foreign Military Financing to provide Israel advanced and upgraded jet fighters, to continue developing Israel’s missile defense systems and to purchase other U.S. weapons. Although the White House has released a Memorandum of Understanding fact sheet, the actual MOU has not been made publicly available. An Irmep poll fielded by Google Consumer Surveys reveals 80.8 percent of the US adult Internet user population says they would redirect the proposed spending toward other priorities.
Black Americans today earn even less relative to their white counterparts than they did in 1979, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report, released by the left-leaning think-tank on Tuesday, shows that the gap between wages of both black and white men and black and white women has widened over the last 36 years. Black men’s average hourly wages went from being 22.2 percent lower than those of white men in 1979 to being 31 percent lower by 2015. For women, the wage gap went from six percent in 1979 to 19 percent in 2015 ... The EPI report comes a week after the US Census Bureau found that in 2015, median income for white Americans went up 4.4 percent and that of black Americans went up by 4.1 percent.
Whenever academics and scholars tickle their fancy by putting forth yet another poll of historians on presidential rankings, there is little doubt about which president will top the list — Abraham Lincoln ... Which brings us to Woodrow Wilson, whose failures of commission probably had the most dire consequences of any U.S. president ... Immediately upon entering his second term, he sought to get his country into the war by manipulating neutrality policy. While proclaiming U.S. neutrality, he favored Britain by observing the British blockade of Germany ... and by allowing armed British merchant ships entry to U.S. ports, which in turn fostered a flow of U.S. munitions to the Allied powers ... Wilson’s failures of commission render him, arguably, the worst president in American history.
After 9/11, President George W. Bush abandoned his campaign pledge of a “humble” foreign policy and instead unleashed America’s military throughout the Middle East, with disastrous results. Fifteen years and another administration later, the U.S. is more entangled in violent conflicts throughout the world than ever before, and there’s no end in sight ... While the Obama presidency differed from the Bush administration in tactics, the former continued the same general policies with cascading negative consequences. America desperately needs a new foreign policy approach. Unfortunately, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s only criticism of the Obama administration is that it has not done enough.
... The single most consequential result of all of this was the launching in 2003 of the war in Iraq. Although Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the surge in public militancy made it politically possible for the first time for neoconservatives to implement this longstanding item on their agenda. The damage, including to matters related to U.S. national security, has been vast, including trillions in expenditures, the igniting of a continuing civil war in a major Middle Eastern state, the stoking of region-wide sectarian conflict, and — as far as terrorism is concerned — giving birth to the group now known as ISIS ... The main legacy of 9/11 has been less anything that terrorists have done to us than what we have done to ourselves, and to others, in response. On balance the legacy has not been beneficial.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved a resolution calling on the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel if Israel does not stop building settlements and “enable an independent Palestinian state.” Voting at its triennial assembly in New Orleans that ended Saturday [August 13], the church also sought a halt to all investment in companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and called on the president of the United States to recognize the State of Palestine.
... Colonization does not require occupation. It merely requires the subjugation of the colonized. With ambition, superior information and calculation, and the right mindset, smaller nations can (and have in the past) colonized and dominated larger and nominally more powerful countries ... In a similar vein, Israel today is in the process of colonizing the United States, which is vital to its global projection and exercise of power. ... Colonization does not mean total control of everything. It means total control of what matters ... Today, Israel has effective control of US policy in the Mideast, and similar goals ... The colonizer must be a “Sacred Object” above criticism or objective review, and dangerous critics must be either destroyed or marginalized.
For years after David Ben-Gurion triumphantly declared its establishment in May 1948, the state of Israel was widely admired around the world as a spirited, resolute and self-reliant young nation ... What went wrong? That's the unspoken question behind every page of Milton Viorst's "Zionism," a smart, analytical, engaging history of the people and ideas that built the state ... The unmistakable message of the book is that the Zionist project was derailed somewhere along the line and that only by grappling with its biggest questions can it be put back on track. For instance: Is it possible for an avowedly Jewish state to offer equal rights and democratic privileges to its Arab citizens? Is anti-Zionism actually just another manifestation of anti-Semitism? ... These days, prospects for peace seem terribly remote.
The Zionist dream is becoming a nightmare. There is no place in the world where the Jewish people are more insecure than in Israel, in part, of course, because of the continuation of anti-Semitism, especially in the Islamic world, but also because of the policies and behavior of the Jewish state. As for its role of moral exemplar, today defenders of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians don't even bother to claim a higher morality.
Sidney Rittenberg first visited China as a GI during World War Two. A fluent Mandarin speaker inspired by the communist revolution in China, he stayed after the war and joined the Chinese Communist Party, the first US citizen to do so. Ultimately he rose to become a close confidante of Chairman Mao, acting as his interpreter. However, he fell foul of the authorities who suspected him of being a US spy. He was arrested more than once and spent a total of 15 years in solitary confinement. He returned to the United States in 1980. In this interview, Rittenberg looks back on his remarkable life, Mao Zedong, and the record of Maoist rule in China. Runtime: 4:13 mins
A classic polemic against war and US military interventionism. Butler joined the Marine Corps when the Spanish American War broke out, earned the Brevette Medal during the Boxer Rebellion in China, saw action in Central America, and in France during World War I was promoted to Major General. He served his country for 34 years, yet he spoke against American armed intervention into the affairs of sovereign nations. With audio documentary. Runtime: 29 mins.
In April 1898 the United States went to war with Spain for the stated purpose of liberating Cuba from Spanish control. Several months later, when the war had ended, Cuba had been transformed into an American protectorate, and Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines had become American possessions … That American forces were engaged in a colonial war to suppress another people's independence led to a great deal of soul-searching among important American thinkers, writers, and journalists. What eventually became the American Anti-Imperialist League began at a June 1898 meeting at Boston's Faneuil Hall …
.. No form of government had ever been so brutal to those it regarded as its own people. Soviet Russia was far crueler than its tsarist predecessor ... Western public opinion has never come to terms with the crimes of Communism ... Being leftwing means never having to say you’re sorry ... Some figures speak for themselves. The volume’s scholars estimate twenty million deaths in the USSR, sixty-five million in China, two million each in Cambodia and North Korea, 1.7 million in Mengistu’s Ethiopia and other African countries, and so on, to a total of about one hundred million. ... The goal was to change both nature and human nature ... No less important was the Leninist understanding of morality. Since the Party was the agent of History itself, it could not be mistaken, and so anything the party did was morally right by definition.
... It is the Hillary camp that has injected Russia into the campaign debate to use it as a bludgeon to beat on Trump. They do so without considering that regular excoriation of Russia in the media and from various political pulpits might actually have consequences ... In a recent speech Hillary Clinton also piled on Russia while affirming that she is now the candidate of “American exceptionalism,” an obvious ploy to attract even more neocons and dissident GOP hawks ... She went on to call Putin “the godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism” before launching an attack on Trump personally ... It would be bad enough if a delusional Hillary Clinton were alone, a voice crying in the wilderness, but she is not. She is supported by a growing number of neoconservatives as well as the Establishment Dems in her own party.
By Sunday afternoon, the video in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posits that dismantling Jewish West Bank settlements in the framework of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is akin to “ethnic cleansing” had garnered nearly a million views, 14,000 likes, numerous condemnations from Israeli politicians and a stinging rebuke from the American government ... At the very least, Netanyahu’s message serves as a reminder of how he views a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: His talk of “ethnic cleansing” in the context of possible withdrawals underlines his utter rejection of a wide-scale evacuation of settlers.
... Bibi Netanyahu’s latest outrage is this video in which he ever so innocently professes bafflement that Palestinians would oppose Israeli settlements. Why, he asks, if two-million “Arabs” ... live in Israel proper, can’t Jews live in Palestine? ... While Israeli settlers have literally stolen the land out from under the Palestinian natives ... It’s Israel, rather than Palestine, that’s engaged in ethnic cleansing. Israel has destroyed a record number of Palestinian homes over the past year, leaving their inhabitants homeless ... The final hypocrisy of Bibi’s video is his refusal to reciprocate with Palestinians regarding Jewish settlers in Palestine. If you truly believe that Jews must live there, then it’s self-evident that Palestinians should be permitted to return to their homes in pre-48 Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim in a Facebook video on Friday that the Palestinian demand for the evacuation of Jewish settlements from the West Bank constitutes “ethnic cleansing” belongs in the same league as “Arabs are coming to vote in droves” and “the Mufti persuaded Hitler to exterminate the Jews.” It’s the kind of statement you can’t believe he really said until you see he really said it … Netanyahu apparently thinks that Abbas and the Palestinians are all potential ethnic cleansers, along with the rest of the world, which is egging them on … The settlements were established under the auspices of the occupying power and against the wishes of the local inhabitants.
George Washington, the first American president, has his face on the quarter and the $1 bill. So many things are named after him — counties, towns, mountains, bridges, lakes and countless schools. But the president of the San Francisco School Board, Matt Haney, wants to change the names of any of the city’s schools that are named after slave owners such as Washington and Thomas Jefferson. “We should rename Washington High School after San Francisco native, poet and author Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou High School. No schools named after slave owners,” Haney wrote on his Twitter account Sunday.
As Americans enter the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on their nation, they still have not understood the true cause of these dreadful attacks. Who can blame them? Our politicians and media have totally obscured the truth behind these and subsequent attacks that we call 'terrorism.' ... 9/11 was a revenge attack conducted by mostly Saudi nationals who claimed they wanted to punish the United States for supporting Israeli oppression of Palestine, and for what they claimed was the US ‘occupation’ of Saudi Arabia ... The 9/11 narrative was immediately twisted by President George Bush into a spurious claim that America had been attacked by Muslims because of its ‘freedoms’ and her ‘way of life.’ ... America was attacked for what it had been doing all over the Muslim world, not for what it was.
In the days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents. Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent ... The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make the ... The drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan only revealed how little war has achieved and how much damage it has inflicted ... One poll from 2016 found that more than 90 percent of young people in Iraq now consider the United States an “enemy” of their country.
A group of descendants of slaves sold by Jesuits in the 19th century to benefit Georgetown University called on both the university and Maryland Jesuits to do more to promote reconciliation after the horrors of slavery, asking to create a charitable foundation. The descendants proposed a $1 billion foundation, and announced that they had raised $115,000 in seed money, an amount equivalent to the 1838 sales price for the 272 people Georgetown sold to pay off a debt. That amount is equivalent to about $3 million in today's dollars. Last week, Georgetown's president announced that it would apologize for the university's role in the slave trade, give an admissions preference to descendants of the 272 slaves, name two buildings in honor of those enslaved people and create a memorial.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been feted repeatedly at the White House and honored at the Democratic National Convention ... Yet the Black Lives Matter movement is based on a lie ... The idea that the U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of racially driven police shootings is also false, and dangerously so. Several studies released this year show that police officers are less likely to shoot blacks than whites ... Blacks commit homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined ... For the past two decades, the country has been talking about phantom police racism in order to avoid talking about a more uncomfortable truth: black crime.
In an interview with the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Die Welt," Alternative for Germany (AfD) co-chair Frauke Petry called for revaluing the term "völkisch’ [folkish], which is closely associated with National Socialism ...”It's unacceptable to reduce the word 'völkisch' to 'racist,'" Petry said. "I myself don't use the term, but I have a problem with the negative connotations of the concept 'völkisch' being extended to the word 'Volk.' We need to work on giving the concept positive connotations." The word "Volk" had racial connotations during the Third Reich but continues to be used in common speech to signify people in the sense of the German people.
Ernst Zundel, a German-born publisher, author and civil rights activist, has been a major figure in the worldwide Holocaust revisionist movement. For seven years he was held behind bars, first in Canada and then in Germany, solely for the peaceful expression of non-conformist views. He has been the most prominent political prisoner in the western world. He is the author of countless booklets, newsletters and essays. He has been a prodigious publisher, a one-man public relations firm, and an able public speaker and organizer. Energetic, tenacious and courageous, he has been dauntless in struggle against apparently insurmountable odds and seemingly invincible adversaries ... Zundel was released from prison on March 1, 2010.
Jan Grabowski, a historian at the University of Ottawa, expects his upcoming book to be controversial in his native Poland. But if a proposed new law is approved by Poland’s parliament this fall, as expected, Grabowski’s book, which examines the role of Poland’s police force in robbing and murdering Jews under the Nazis, may also get him sentenced to prison if he visits the country ... The government bill, prepared by the Ministry of Justice, would make it a criminal offense, punishable by up to three years in prison, for anyone to implicate Poland, or the Polish people, in the crimes of the German Third Reich.
Israel has agreed to allow the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to send a delegation to Israel and the occupied territories, it was revealed at the weekend, in a step that could dramatically increase the risk of Israeli officials being tried for war crimes. Emmanuel Nahshon, a foreign ministry spokesman, confirmed to Al Jazeera on Sunday that Israel had agreed to the visit in principle, though the “when and how” were still under discussion. The ICC’s move comes as human rights groups have harshly criticised Israel for closing investigations into dozens of allegations that its military broke the laws of war during an attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014.
Turkey’s brief democratic moment is ending. The rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Development and Justice Party (AKP) in 2002 signaled the collapse of the militarized secular republic created by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The failed coup of two weeks ago killed the semi-liberal democracy that briefly replaced Kemalism. NATO is an anachronism and Ankara’s membership even more so. The Cold War’s premier military alliance led by the U.S. should have disappeared once the Europeans recovered from World War II and especially after the Soviet Union dissolved. Today Turkey undermines U.S. and European security. As Ankara moves toward an authoritarian one-party state, its membership in NATO becomes ever more incongruous. A civil divorce would be best for all parties.
The United States stands at the center of a far flung global alliance system, which commits it to defend the security of countries rich and poor, great and small, liberal and illiberal. The principal U.S. formal alliances are the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the U.S.-Japan security treaty, the Republic of Korea Treaty, and the Australia-New Zealand (ANZUS) treaty. The United States has less formal relationships with Israel and several Arab states, and many others around the world. The foreign-policy establishment insists that all of these alliances are central to our security. The reasons offered since the end of the Cold War to support this judgment are seldom clear, and the costs are always buried, if acknowledged at all.
Many young Americans seem to know nothing about who was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, or even what happened. Fifteen years after the shocking attacks, media analyst Mark Dice visits a beach in southern California to ask randomly selected people about September 11, 2001.
We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection ... Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated two million a year ... Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology.
Israeli society is heading for civil war and the country must take steps to counter it, former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo warned Tuesday in his first public remarks since stepping down as the spy agency director in January. “The internal threat must worry us more than the external threat,” he told a press conference ... “If a divided society goes beyond a certain point, you can end up, in extreme circumstances, with phenomena like civil war. To my regret, the distance [until we reach that point] is shrinking. I fear that we are going in that direction,” Pardo said ... Pardo said the establishment of an independent Palestinian state is crucial to region-wide peace in the Middle East, joining the ranks of retired security men to urge the government to seek a two-state solution.
Something strange happens to retired chiefs of the Israeli internal Security Service, Shin Bet ... Upon leaving the service, the Shin Bet chiefs, one after another, become outspoken advocates of the "two-state solution". The same is happening to the chiefs of the Mossad, Israel's external intelligence service ... All of them, with different levels of intensity, advocated peace based on the "two-state solution". They expressed their opinion that there will be no peace unless the Palestinians achieve a national state of their own ... Pardo's main point was a warning: Israel is approaching a situation of civil war. We are not yet there, he said, but getting there rapidly ... The rift is deepening swiftly. Signs of mutual hatred are becoming more obvious. Public discourse is full of them.
... More important for the future, Secretary Clinton also unsuccessfully urged Obama to get more deeply involved in Syria’s complicated, multi-sided, and bloody civil war. She advocated augmenting lethal aid to the Syrian opposition and creating a no fly zone to protect these forces and civilians. So if she wins power in the election, she may very well go farther down the road to enmeshing the U.S. military in another unwinnable quagmire, much like the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq ... The main U.S. problem in the conflict is its pursuit of incompatible objectives. The United States is trying to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, while decimating or destroying the opposition ISIS group, keeping its Turkish ally happy, staying friends with the rival Kurds, and avoiding getting sucked more deeply into the quicksand.
What a mess! In the crazy Syrian war, US-backed and armed groups are fighting other US-backed rebel groups. How can this be? It is so because the Obama White House had stirred up the war in Syria but then lost control of the process ... Growing competition between the US military and militarized CIA broke into the open in Syria. Fed up with the astounding incompetence of the White House, the US military launched and supported its own rebel groups in Syria, while CIA did the same. Fighting soon after erupted in Syria and Iraq between the US-backed groups ... The only thing exceptional about US policy in Syria was its astounding incompetence ... Hatred for the US is now seething in Turkey and across the Mideast. Hundreds of millions of US tax dollars have been wasted in this cruel, pointless war.
Phyllis Schlafly believed feminism was a losing battle. The conservative icon, who died on Monday aged 92, insisted that the movement for gender equality was “a fight with human nature,” and therefore doomed to fail ... But despite Schlafly’s predictions and beliefs, the world she left behind this week is one that largely embraces the issues she most feared. Feminism is more popular than ever, women are in the workforce en masse, LGBT rights are front and center, and the country is mostly pro-choice ... Schlafly’s argument against the ERA, for example, was that it would mean the legalization of “homosexual marriage”, women in combat, unisex bathrooms, and public funding of abortion. Today – even without the amendment – same-sex marriage is legal, women can serve on the front lines, bathroom laws are shifting ...
The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Toward a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extend US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia ... But why is “that era is now ending”? What’s changed since 1997 when Brzezinski referred to the US as the “world’s paramount power”? Brzezinski points to the rise of Russia and China, the weakness of Europe and the “violent political awakening among post-colonial Muslims” as the proximate causes of this sudden reversal.
As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture ... The United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power. But neither is any other major power ... In today’s postcolonial world, a new historical narrative is emerging. A profound resentment against the West and its colonial legacy in Muslim countries and beyond is being used to justify their sense of deprivation and denial of self-dignity ... Given all this, a long and painful road toward an initially limited regional accommodation is the only viable option for the United States, Russia, China, and the pertinent Middle Eastern entities.
Iran has kept to a nuclear deal it agreed with six world powers last year limiting its stockpiles of substances that could be used to make atomic weapons, a report by the U.N. nuclear agency found. The confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen by Reuters did not point to any violations in Tehran's observance of the deal which was opposed by hardliners inside Iran and by skeptics in the West. “Throughout the reporting period, Iran had no more than 130 metric tonnes of heavy water ... The White House has denied there were any secret deals and says the agreement, also negotiated by Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, does ensure Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons. In exchange, international sanctions on Iran were lifted.
A staggering 81 percent of US households saw “flat” or “falling” incomes over the past decade, suggesting that the country's younger generation may end up poorer than their parents. Other advanced economies also showed distressing figures. The research, conducted by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and published on Thursday, saw the US placing second on the list of advanced economies which saw flat or falling incomes between 2005 and 2014 ... The economic situation has affected the way many of those with flat or falling incomes view the global economic system, with a “significant number” stating that they have lost faith in aspects of it. In addition, nearly one-third of those who are not advancing said they expect their children to also advance more slowly in the future. They also expressed negative views about free trade and immigration.
The real incomes of about two-thirds of households in 25 advanced economies were flat or fell between 2005 and 2014. Without action, this phenomenon could have corrosive economic and social consequences. / Most people growing up in advanced economies since World War II have been able to assume they will be better off than their parents. For much of the time, that assumption has proved correct ... Yet this overwhelmingly positive income trend has ended. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, Poorer than their parents? Flat or falling incomes in advanced economies, finds that between 2005 and 2014, real incomes in those same advanced economies were flat or fell for 65 to 70 percent of households, or more than 540 million people.
The umbrella organization of British Jews on Monday called on the opposition Labour Party to expel Ken Livingstone from its ranks “immediately,” after the controversial former London mayor, a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, again claimed that Adolf Hitler once supported the Zionist movement ... Livingstone repeated the claims that he made on her show in April, which led to his suspension from the Labour party ... “It’s going to be very difficult for them to expel me from the Labour Party when I’ve got this whole sheaf of documents and papers which shows that what I said was true. The fact (is) that during the 1930s, Hitler collaborated with the Zionists and supported them because he believed that a solution to his problem – the Jews – was that they should all move to Palestine,” Livingstone said.
Phyllis Schlafly, one of the most iconic and recognizable leaders in America’s conservative movement for many decades, has died. Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum in 1972, a pro-family conservative group focusing heavily on social issues — it has about 80,000 members ... “Phyllis Schlafly spent an astounding 70 years in public service of her fellow Americans,” said the Eagle Forum in a statement ... She was known nationwide and in many political circles as the reason the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated in the 1970s and, subsequently, into the 1980s. As momentum grew in the 1970s for the amendment, Schlafly became its most outspoken critic and was vilified by its supporters.
... Some claim that Muslim hostility toward Jews is taught in the Qur'an itself. How does the Qur'an portray the Jews? Is it inherently hostile toward them? ... There are approximately 60 verses in the Qur'an that speak directly about or to the Jews ... Their special status and covenant with God gives the children of Israel a great responsibility: the responsibility to uphold the covenant and abide by the law and guidance God has given them. So, what of the Qur'an's criticism of Jews? ... The above verses clearly extend the promise of God to all who believe and do good, whether they are believers in the Qur'an or not. Those who are criticized in the Qur'an are those who fail to uphold their covenant with God. Nothing in the Qur'an calls on the Jews to abandon the Torah in favor of the Qur'an.
Almost precisely a century after women were granted the right to vote, it is perhaps time to assess the wisdom of this epoch-making decision. Has female suffrage strengthened or weakened Western nations? A disinterested survey of the matter not only suggests a preponderance of negative effects stemming from the female franchise, but reveals that a number of women themselves have spoken out bluntly and critically on the issue ... Anti-feminist activist Janet Bloomfield goes farther, contending that women's voting patterns are chiefly destructive not only to men, but to society's prosperity and security ... Women's suffrage may not be the unmitigated good it has been made out to be.
... The U.S. has been engaged in hostilities in the region for almost all of the last 15 years, and support for Israel has actually increased during the same period. Israel’s “strength and security” appear to do absolutely nothing to keep the U.S. out of wars in the region (it’s not clear why they would), and so the U.S. ends up paying the costs of the wars it fights in the region and pays to subsidize the defense of a wealthy client that contributes little or nothing to U.S. security. Prior to the establishment of the close relationship with Israel, the U.S. was never directly involved in any wars in the region.
... The United States has been heavily involved with propping up the state of Israel from its creation in 1948 until the present time ... Truman officially recognized Israel against the advice of his Secretary of State, George Marshall, who viewed the move as based on domestic political concerns. Truman did so in large part to ensure the support of American Jews in the upcoming presidential election ... We are continually told that Israel is America’s most important ally in the Middle East, however, that is the exact opposite of the truth ... In return for her Israel First foreign policy, including illegally helping to start a war in Syria in part to help Israel, Hillary Clinton has received and will continue to receive massive material support from pro-Israel donors and PACs.
... In the years leading up to, and in the months following, American recognition of Israel in May 1948, Truman was filled with doubt and regret about his role. The rosy portrayal of Truman’s unquestioning commitment to and constant sympathy with Israel, which is often linked to a picture of the younger Truman as a Christian Zionist, is dead wrong ... He continued to express regret in private that he had not achieved his original objective, which he blamed most often on the “unwarranted interference” of American Zionists ... Speaking of the Zionists, Truman exclaimed, “Jesus Christ couldn’t please them when he was here on earth, so how could anyone expect that I would have any luck?”
Americans trust the U.S. military to protect lives and freedoms, but they cannot trust it to perform an honest accounting of its own budget. According to a report from the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General, the Army "materially misstated" or simply made up accounting figures totaling $6.5 trillion for 2015. The errors eclipse the DoD's total budget, which is $573 billion for 2016, because errors in one account cascade down to multiple levels of subaccounts as well ... The DoD [Department of Defense] has a long history of waste and a lack of accountability. In recent years, it has wasted billions in doomed Afghanistan reconstruction efforts, spent $1 billion to destroy $16 billion worth of obsolete and unused ammunition and lost more than $500 million worth of weapons, aircraft, patrol boats and equipment given to Yemen ...
Russia and Iran escalated their military cooperation on the war in Syria. On August 16, Russian warplanes, taking off from Hamedan airbase in western Iran, bombed targets in Syria belonging to ISIS and Jabhat Fateh al Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al Nusra). Since 2011, Moscow and Tehran have provided key military support for Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s campaign against extremist groups and rebels. The two nations have been coordinating closely on the battlefield for nearly a year. Russia’s use of the air base marks the first time a major power has conducted military operations from Iranian soil since the 1979 revolution.
An American journalist visiting Third Reich Germany made this remarkable film during his travels around the country. It gives an idea of everyday life, as well as something of the impact of changes made since the National Socialist Party took power five years earlier. It concludes with footage of a public appearance by the nation’s popular leader, Adolf Hitler. The color film was made by Theodore Andrica, Nationalities Editor of the daily Cleveland Press, who also wrote the paper’s "Around the World in Cleveland" column. This 39 minute-long film, with no narration, was made in 1938, the last full year of peace before the outbreak of war.
The last two administrations have followed a bipartisan policy of constant war. Unfortunately, the consequences have been ugly: every intervention has laid the groundwork for more conflict. Yet the architects of this failure claim that all would be well if only Washington had acted more often and more decisively. In their view, the problem is not that America goes to war, but that it doesn’t go to war nearly enough. This approach is based on the belief that Washington is capable of solving every international problem. If only unnamed bright people implemented theoretically brilliant strategies backed by unidentified resolute citizens, terrorism would be suppressed, ISIS would be defeated, Russia would be compliant, Iraq would be successful, Syria would be peaceful, Libya would be united and China would be respectful.
An 87-year-old woman has been sentenced to prison after she claimed that Jews were never exterminated in Auschwitz. Her criminal record includes two fines and another sentence for sedition. A court in Detmold on Friday sentenced Ursula Haverbeck to eight months in jail on charges of sedition. The presiding judge ruled out the possibility of parole and said that Haverbeck had a lack of "any kind of respect" and that she had made more offensive comments in the courtroom ... In Germany, anyone who publicly denies, endorses or plays down the extermination of Jews during Adolf Hitler's regime can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail. Haverbeck was found guilty of writing a letter to Detmold's mayor, Rainer Heller, saying it was "clearly recognizable" that Auschwitz was nothing more than a labor camp.
... British spies had played a massive hidden role in getting America involved in the Second World War despite the overwhelming opposition of the citizenry, and very possibly had murdered a top Republican Party official as they secretly gained political control of the GOP and its presidential nominating process ... The audacity of the British spy ring was really quite remarkable, and partly explained by the enormous degree of control that they and their American allies exerted over most of the leading media outlets, which largely protected them against risk of damaging public disclosures. Under this umbrella of media immunity, documents were forged to embarrass political opponents, leading public opinion polls were manipulated or possibly even faked, and attractive women were deployed to sway prominent elected officials.
The aircraft has always intrigued aviation fans. But after a 2009 National Geographic Channel special aired, touting the Horten Ho 229 V3 flying wing’s “stealthy” characteristics and claiming it was stored in “a secret government warehouse,” Internet forums went wild ... The U.S. Army Air Forces had captured the flying wing prototype — along with hundreds of other German aircraft — near the end of World War II ... The public’s focus on the aircraft’s possible stealth aspects slightly dismays Horelick. “I think once we stop paying attention to the big picture, we lose perspective on the overall iconography of the piece, which was a leader in the streamlined, all-wing design. I feel that the emphasis should be less on these teeny particles and more on the overall swept-wing look of the aircraft.”
Belarus is an interesting, attractive country, certainly off the beaten track. A beautiful, rebuilt capital city of Minsk (mostly destroyed along with 30 percent of the country’s population during World War II), with wide boulevards and parks and superbly clean, belies its old reputation as the last dictatorship in Europe. Its economy is heavily statist, but 30 percent is private enterprise, and its information-technology sector is world class ... People are not so anxious for possibly chaotic, unjust “democracy,” as long as their government delivers safety, order, and economic growth ... Belarus is progressing in ways favorable to economic progress and is much freer than its reputation as a surviving “Marxist” state ... Although political opponents are sometimes jailed (a dozen in 2013), they are then shortly released.
This month, opponents of the Iran deal have decided to run with the talking point that the delivery of $400 million to Iran in January was a “ransom payment” for the release of three American citizens ... The constant urge to attack the White House and American diplomats when they negotiate the release of Americans held abroad is becoming a noticeable trend for critics of the White House’s efforts to pursue diplomacy instead of military force as the preferred tool for furthering American interests. Indeed, many of the White House’s neoconservative critics, such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ John Hannah, have made it abundantly clear that they prefer a policy of regime change to any negotiated agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
... Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans. Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why ... “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812 ... So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.
Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit higher-education institution, announced plans to offer preferential admission to nearly 300 descendants of slaves used to fund the school nearly 200 years ago. The private college, opened in 1789, also said it will offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery, and build a public memorial to atone for its past use of slaves. In 1838, the school sold 272 slaves to pay its debts and keep the school afloat. The school received $115,000, or about $3.3 million in today's dollars ... The school also plans to rename two campus buildings -- one for a man named Isaac who was the first slave sold and the other for black educator and Catholic sister Anne Marie Becraft, who had roots in the Georgetown area.
How extreme does vetting need to be to keep anti-Semites from entering the United States, and is Donald Trump’s plan worth the effort? The Republican nominee’s proposal to apply an ideological test to potential immigrants is based on precedent ... Trump in his Aug. 15 speech noted the precedent. “In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test,” he said. “The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting.” Among those excluded, Trump said, would be anti-Semites. ... Trump also would extend his ban to those who are intolerant of other minorities, including the LGBTQ community, and to those who would seek to impose Islamic religious law on the United States.
With less than two days to go in August, the City of Chicago has seen 78 homicides and 400 shooting victims this month, making it “the most violent month in the city in almost 20 years,” reports the Chicago Tribune. The paper reports that the last time the city experienced a deadlier month was October 1997, when 79 people were murdered. The August spike comes as the city is grappling with a particularly violent year, recording 487 homicides ”and more than 2,800 people shot so far this year, compared to 491 homicides and 2,988 people shot all of last year, according to Tribune data.” The paper points out that although Chicago has a lower homicide rate than many small cities, it has experienced more murders and shootings this year than New York City and Los Angeles combined.
In early May, Secretary of State John Kerry set an ultimatum for the Syrian government, demanding the beginning of a “transition” that would see the removal of President Bashar al-Assad by the target date of August 1 “or else.” Today [August 1], the deadline passed. The response from the US was minimal, with Kerry making some statements issuing his usual demands, but no signs that the US is actually making any changes to its ongoing policy in Syria, let alone the “very different track” that Kerry had threatened before. It was never clear what the ultimatum really threatened ... With the election so close, any major changes are probably unlikely until next year. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has talked up a massive shift in the war, aiming to oust the Syrian government militarily, despite that putting the US on a collision course with Russia.
... A Holocaust survivor, whose mother and sister were killed in the genocide, said he locked a powerful Nazi prisoner in a shed for three days, made him strip naked and “pissed” on his face, “This American Life,” the weekly public radio show, reported Sunday. “I told him, from now on, you sleep naked on this cold floor. You will not move,” Werner Meritz said. “And with that, I pissed all over him. Terrible thing to tell you. His head and everywhere.” ... The captured Nazi was Julius Streicher, a friend and protégé of Adolf Hitler and the publisher of the notorious anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer. His tormentor was one of a number of Jewish refugees from Europe who were recruited by the American military to interrogate Nazi prisoners during World War II ... Streicher was later one of eleven Nazis sentenced to death in the Nuremberg Trials.
The Nuremberg Tribunal of 1945-46 — the most spectacular judicial enterprise in history — was meant to prove that the defeated German regime had been one of unique and monstrous deceit, rapaciousness and evil. But in fact the Tribunal dispensed not justice, but injustice. The four Allied powers that organized and ran it were themselves guilty of some of the very same crimes they accused the German defendants of having committed. The Tribunal operated on the basis of “ex post facto” law created after the fact expressly for the occasion, and which the Allies applied only to the defeated. The hangings of German leaders ordered by the Tribunal were little more than murders glossed over with a veneer of makeshift, hypocritical pseudo-legality.
A large crop circle in the shape of a swastika has mysteriously appeared in England. The symbol, which is about 150 to 180 feet wide, was cut during the night without permission in a large field in Beckhampton in Wiltshire county, southwest England. An ancient symbol of good fortune and well-being, the swastika has been used in numerous cultures over the ages. In the early 1920s it was adopted by Hitler’s National Socialist movement in Germany, and later became emblematic of the Third Reich. The particular design of the swastika in this English field appears to be a version of the ancient symbol from India.