On the morning of April 4, a Syrian Air Force Russian-made Sukhoi-22 fighter bomber dropped or fired something at a target in rebel-held Idlib Governorate. A cloud of some chemical substance subsequently materialized and drifted to the adjacent inhabited village of Khan Shaykhun, where it killed between 50 and 100 people ... The deaths and alleged use of chemical weapons were described by President Donald Trump as a “vital national-security interest,” and served as the pretext for a strike by 59 U.S. cruise missiles two days later, which was directed against the Syrian air base at al-Shayrat ... It certainly appears that there was a rush to judgment on the part of the White House and the top presidential advisors ... As in the case of Iraq, the available intelligence was made to fit the preferred narrative.
The number of people shot in Chicago this year is nearing 1,000 after a violent weekend left seven dead and 31 others wounded, according to data kept by the Tribune. As of Monday morning [April 24], at least 992 people had been shot in Chicago this year. Last year, the city passed the 1,000 mark on April 20 and had reached 1,054 by this time, the Tribune data show. The pace of homicides is virtually the same as last year. There have been at least 179 homicides so far this year compared with 180 this time last year, according to the data. The weekend violence included a span of seven hours Sunday when four men were fatally shot and six other people were wounded across the city.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday launched a blistering assault on Allied policy during World War II, saying world powers’ failure to bomb the Nazi concentration camps from 1942 cost the lives of four million Jews and millions of others ... “If the powers in 1942 had acted against the death camps — and all that was needed was repeated bombing of the camps — had they acted then, they could have saved four million Jews and millions of other people,” he said at the official state ceremony marking the start of the memorial day. “The powers knew, and they did not act,” he told the audience at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
Two leading Israeli Holocaust scholars have rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that new research shows the Allies could have saved four million Jews from the Holocaust if they had bombed Nazi death camps from 1942 but chose not to act. “This is utter nonsense. There is absolutely no truth in this,” said Yehuda Bauer, one of Israel’s most eminent scholars of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry ... Bauer said the newly released UN documents, cited by Netanyahu as constituting new evidence that the world knew about the Holocaust earlier than previously assumed, are not in fact revelatory ... “Netanyahu just proved to be as ignorant as he was when he blamed the mufti for instigating Hitler to start the Final Solution,” said Zimmermann ...
... There are even those who insist that American officials were well aware of Hitler's crimes during World War Two, yet chose purposely not to stop them. Documentation made available only during the past decade, however, amply demonstrates that the volatile accusations of American indifference -- even collusion -- are unwarranted. That the Roosevelt administration (and, it is also charged, American Jews) did not act with dispatch to effect the rescue of European Jewry, shows essentially that the tales of extermination were not believed. This study will examine what was known of allegations of a German policy of mass murder in Europe, and whether the many wartime reports about such allegations were credible.
From the very beginning there were grave doubts about allegations of mass killings of European Jews. Although such reports were a major feature of the Allies' "psychological warfare" campaign during the Second World War, top British and American officials in a position to know what was going on in German-ruled Europe did not believe what their own governments were telling the world. In July 1943, the chairman of the Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, commented: "The Poles, and to a far greater extent the Jews, tend to exaggerate German atrocities in order to stoke us up." … More remarkable, there is no mention of "extermination" or "gas chambers" in the early postwar editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published from 1947 to 1956 ...
President Donald Trump has signed a proclamation designating a week of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. The White House released the proclamation on Monday, which marked Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day ... Trump’s proclamation condemned the Nazi murder of six million Jews as well as other minorities ... The president’s statement reiterates America’s support for Israel. “We support the Jewish diaspora and the State of Israel as we fulfill our duty to remember the victims, honor their memory and their lives, and celebrate humanity’s victory over tyranny and evil.’’ ... In a video message for the opening of the World Jewish Congress plenary assembly in New York, President Trump pledged to stand firm against hatred of Jews and terrorism ...
The religion of “the Holocaust” is a secular one: it belongs to the lay world; it is profane; in actuality, it has at its disposal the secular arm, that is a temporal authority with dreaded power. It has its dogma, its commandments, its decrees, its prophets and its high priests. As one revisionist has observed, it has its circle of saints, male and female, amongst whom, for example, Saint Anne (Frank), Saint Simon (Wiesenthal) and Saint Elie (Wiesel). It has its holy places, its rituals and its pilgrimages. It has its sacred (and macabre) buildings and its relics …
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel ... would normally get an immigrant visa, because his wife of 16 years — who is about 80 years old — is a U.S. citizen. But he was classified as inadmissible because he has been convicted of foreign crimes for which the sentence was five years or more ... As best I can tell from press accounts, Zundel’s speech that formed the basis of his German conviction would not have been “deemed criminal by United States standards.” Denying the Holocaust and expressing anti-Semitic sentiments is just not a crime under American law. Indeed, it can’t be made a crime, given the First Amendment ... So the exclusion of Zundel was itself not a First Amendment violation. But, based on Ramirez-Rivero — and certainly the office’s description of Ramirez-Rivero — it appears to have been a violation of American immigration law.
“I love WikiLeaks,” candidate Donald Trump said on October 10th on the campaign trail. He praised the organization for reporting on the darker side of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was information likely leaked by a whistleblower from within the Clinton campaign to WikiLeaks. Back then he praised Wikileaks for promoting transparency, but candidate Trump looks less like President Trump every day ... Now, as President, it seems Trump wants Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent to prison ... There is a word for this sudden about-face on Wikileaks and the transparency it provides us into the operations of the prominent and powerful: hypocrisy. The Trump Administration’s declaration of war on whistleblowers and Wikileaks is one of the greatest disappointments in these first 100 days.
The U.S. Department of Defense spent an average of more than US$626 million annually on propaganda, more than all other federal government agencies combined, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. The report, released last week showed that from 2006-2015, the Pentagon was allocated 66 percent of the US$1 billion annual federal spending on public relations. The next biggest sector to receive funding was the Department of Health and Human Services, with US$117 million, equivalent to ten percent of the overall budget ... Pentagon employees account for 40 percent of the federal public relations workforce and also have the highest combined salaries, the audit revealed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has received the 2017 Elie Wiesel Award, the highest honor from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Merkel was presented with the award Monday, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day. She accepted it in a video message. She was selected for her contributions to Holocaust memory and education. In the video, Merkel called the award a “great honor” and “a major gesture toward me and my country.” She said that for Germany to have a bright future, it’s essential to understand the Holocaust as “the ultimate betrayal of all civilized values.” The award was established in 2011 and named for Wiesel, who was also its first recipient. Wiesel, who died last year, was a Holocaust survivor and author and the founding chairman of the museum.
… Wiesel claims to be full of love for humanity. However, he does not refrain from an appeal to hatred. In his opinion: “Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate -- healthy, virile hate -- for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of the dead.” ... Elie Wiesel passes for one of the most celebrated eyewitnesses to the alleged Holocaust. Yet in his supposedly autobiographical book Night, he makes no mention of gas chambers. He claims instead to have witnessed Jews being burned alive, a story now dismissed by all historians. Wiesel gives credence to the most absurd stories of other "eyewitnesses." He spreads fantastic tales of 10,000 persons sent to their deaths each day in Buchenwald.
... Middle-aged white Americans without four-year degrees are at increasing risk of dying, a well-documented trend driven not only by drug use but also by alcoholism, suicide, and slowing progress against heart disease and cancer. Outcomes may worsen further as millennials — Johnson’s generation — grow older ... Almost two-thirds lack a bachelor’s degree, which in today’s economy is a near-prerequisite for jobs that provide higher wages and benefits. Meanwhile, marriage is happening later and less often. Religious affiliation and union membership have declined, so when life doesn’t work out well for millennials, they’re on their own ... Today’s 20- to 34-year-olds are killing themselves at higher rates than people of similar age in 2000.
... The insiders note that no evidence has been produced to demonstrate convincingly that Syrian forces dropped a chemical bomb on a civilian area ... They also note that Syria had absolutely no motive for staging a chemical attack. In fact, it was quite the contrary, as Washington had earlier that week backed off from the U.S. position that President Bashar al-Assad should be removed from office. The so-called rebels, however, had plenty of motive. Many intelligence officials have concluded that the White House is lying and concealing what it knows ... The uncompromising demand that al-Assad must go will lead, in their opinion, to a rapid escalation of military activity that inevitably will result in conflict with Russia.
... To outside observers, Washington’s ambitions seem clear: global dominance, achieved and enforced by that “very, very strong” military that candidate Trump claimed he’d never have to use, but is already employing with gusto, if not abandon ... It’s vitally important to recognize that President Trump’s “America-first” policies are anything but isolationist in the old twentieth century meaning of the term; that his talk of finally winning again is a recipe for prolonging wars guaranteed to create more chaos and more failed states in the Greater Middle East and possibly beyond; and that an already dangerous Cold War policy of “deterrence,” whether against conventional or nuclear attacks, may now have become a machine for perpetual war that could, given Trump’s bellicosity, explode into some version of doomsday.
We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”— the fraction of children who earn more than their parents — by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90 percent for children born in 1940 to 50 percent for children born in the 1980s. Increasing GDP growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. However, distributing current GDP growth more equally across income groups as in the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70 percent of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the “American dream” of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is shared more broadly across the income distribution.
Pledging to confront anti-Semitism in all its forms and to "never be silent," President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced as accomplices to "horrible evil" anyone who denies that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. In a speech marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump also pledged that as president of the United States he will "always stand with the Jewish people." Trump spoke at a U.S. Capitol ceremony hosted by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum ... “This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism," he said. "We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act. As president of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people, and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the state of Israel."
“It’s a new day for Israel at the UN,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told delegates at the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in New York on Tuesday. In front of a crowd of some 600 Jewish activists and leaders from 90 different countries, Haley emphasized that the US will not remain silent when Israel is attacked at the UN. “Silence is not my thing anyway,” she said, “but that’s especially true when it comes to standing up for America’s friends. And we have no better friend in the Middle East than Israel.” Last month, Israel announced it would reduce its annual membership payment to the United Nations by $2 million following recent “anti-Israel” votes in the organization’s bodies.
... The problem is that if anyone mentions the truth about Israel’s clout, the person is immediately smeared as “anti-Semitic” and targeted by Israel’s extraordinarily sophisticated lobby and its many media/political allies for vilification and marginalization. So, the open secret of Israeli influence is studiously ignored, even as presidential candidates prostrate themselves before the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee ... It seems that no extreme is too extreme to protect the American people from the insidious Russians and their Russia-gate schemes to sow doubt about the U.S. political process. But God forbid if anyone were to suggest an investigation of Israel-gate.
... In proportion to their numbers, Jews are the most successful and powerful group in the United States today. They have both raw power, political and economic, and enormous intellectual influence, shaping America's self-understanding ... The Jews don't really “run” America; but they haunt it in a peculiar way that makes it seem as if they run it, and gives them a leverage out of all proportion to their numbers, and even to their raw power. They have a certain moral authority, which isn’t altogether specious, but is certainly lopsided, since they are exempted from the kind of public criticism they are free to dish out.
In 2013, Donald Trump had a clear policy on the Syrian Civil War: Stay out. He posted often about the futility of Obama’s attacks ... Now in 2017, Citizen Trump has disappeared. In his place is President Trump, whose foreign policy is indistinguishable from Obama’s (or for that matter, the Bushes’ or Clinton’s). There is no concern for legal details such as congressional declarations of war or even resolutions. Missiles are launched as flippantly as tweets ... The Syrian Civil War has killed more than 400,000 people so far. A few of them were killed by poison gas. No one knows for sure how many. In 2013 it was loudly announced that Assad had used nerve gas. Then it turned out that maybe the nerve gas was launched by U.S.-backed rebels ... We do know that Trump’s actions were illegal under the U.S. Constitution.
Igor Shafarevich, an internationally renowned Russian mathematician who had a central role in the anti-Soviet dissident movement during the height of the Cold War, died on Feb. 19 in Moscow. He was 93 ... In recent decades his image was tarnished in academic circles by accusations of anti-Semitism and a far-right tilt toward Russian nationalism ... Shafarevich's political writings were at first in sync with the anti-Soviet sentiments of the intelligentsia. His book "The Socialist Phenomenon" traced the history of socialism to the Sumerian, Egyptian and other ancient empires and described it as deadly in all its forms, not least Bolshevism. His writings, however, became progressively more xenophobic. And to his critics, one essay, "Russophobia," from 1982, stamped him as an anti-Semite.
The Anti-Defamation League is offering to hold Holocaust-awareness training for White House staff after administration spokesman Sean Spicer was pilloried for saying Adolf Hitler never used chemical weapons. In a letter to Spicer shared with the media on April 13, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said his organization “would be happy to conduct one of these trainings at your convenience for you, your staff, and anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust. We know you are very busy, but we believe a few hours learning this history will help you understand where you went wrong and prevent you from making these mistakes in the future.” ... The ADL offers training in Holocaust awareness and tolerance to law enforcement professionals and educators.
Poland’s state Institute for National Remembrance (INR) has urged regional authorities to take down 500 Soviet monuments, the institute’s director told Polish news site Onet. Poland has a troubled history with the Soviet Union and its relationship with Moscow is linked to the debate over the 50 years of Soviet influence on the country ... Initiatives to take down Soviet monuments in the past have sparked an overwhelmingly negative reaction from Russia. In the wake of pro-Russian violence in Ukraine over the last two years, Polish authorities have taken down several Soviet monuments, much to Russia’s disapproval ... Russia has repeatedly accused Poland of disrespecting the memory of soldiers who died fighting the Nazis.
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson donated $5 million for President Trump’s inauguration committee, new disclosures from the Federal Election Commission revealed Tuesday. Adelson’s gift was the largest contribution ever given to support an inauguration, but it was far from the only such donation: more than 20 people and corporations signed million-dollar checks, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and billionaire investors Steven A. Cohen and Paul Singer. Singer was once a notable critic of Trump. Bloomberg News reported that “For many donors, the inaugural committee represented the last or only chance to get on the Trump bandwagon before he took the oath of office.” Donors received special access to inaugural balls and the swearing-in ceremony.
French voters face two radically different visions of the country’s future after centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen won the first round of the French presidential election, triggering a runoff on May 7... A snap poll released late Sunday suggested Macron would defeat Le Pen by more than 20 percentage points in the second round. The result means that for the first time in modern French political history, both establishment parties were eliminated in the first round ... The outcome ... represents an earthquake that will reshape French and potentially European politics for years to come. The rejection of the two main parties reflects the anger coursing through a society traumatized by Islamic terrorism and buffeted by years of sub-par economic growth and high unemployment.
... The real story of France and Europe laid bare by Macron's whisker of a win is that simply no consensus exists among today's adult generations about how to refashion a future for Europe. Right now, there is really no question that the globalist center's ideal "future" has been tabled indefinitely by events ... An open-ended financial and economic predicament with no rational solution and no mores deep enough to cauterize the wound and start fresh. A continuous low-grade panic attack of police action and surveillance, struggling undermanned and under cultural constraints to prevent just enough terror attacks and abuses, whatever that magic number may be ... Neither Macron nor anyone on his ideological team has the first inkling of how to surmount or steer clear of these impasses.
... Democracy seems everywhere to be losing its luster ... Why is liberal democracy, once hailed as the future of mankind, in a deepening bear market? ... Democracy’s reputation also suffers from the corruption and incompetence of some of its celebrated champions ... Democracy requires common ground on which all can stand, but that ground is sinking beneath our feet, and democracy may be going down the sinkhole with it. Where liberals see as an ever-more splendid diversity of colors, creeds, ethnicities, ideologies, beliefs and lifestyles, the Right sees the disintegration of a country, a nation, a people, and its replacement with a Tower of Babel. Visions in conflict that democracy cannot reconcile.
... Claims by US officials that the true civilian death toll from the US and allied bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria is in the hundreds, as opposed to the tens of thousands, have never been credible, as senior officers have occasionally admitted. The uncritical repetition of the US military’s absurd claims by US media as if they were credible estimates of civilian deaths is a journalistic scandal. This has only served to increase the near-total ignorance among much of the American public about the real human costs of the wars being waged in our name ... With Trump, the mask is off, and the world is suddenly faced with the unvarnished reality of an aggressive military power that accepts no legal constraints on its violence.
... The Syria strikes satisfied Trump’s need for domestic acclaim and recognition. The Trump administration’s threat of preventive military action against North Korea is similarly lacking in strategic justification ... A foreign policy driven by status and prestige concerns is strategically unwise, and can be very dangerous ... To secure its core interests, it [the USA] doesn’t need to have a sprawling military presence around the globe, pose as the policeman of the world, or intervene willy-nilly in far-off countries for the sake of peripheral interests. But status and prestige inspire an activist foreign policy and spurn the moderation that would allow the United States to husband its power and avoid getting sucked into wars of choice. Unfortunately, Trump is the ideal candidate for using foreign-policy activism to satisfy status and prestige.
A modest, scantily furnished 90 square feet room – that's how Adolf Hitler's dwelling looked during his first years in Munich. He lived on the first floor of Thierschstrasse 41, sharing the flat with a Bavarian family. Their landlord lived a floor above – a Jewish textile merchant named Hugo Erlanger ... The room was furnished with only a bed, a desk, a makeshift bookshelf, a single chair and a small carpet covering the worn linoleum floor ... For nine years he resided at this address ... “I must admit that I found Hitler quite sympathetic [said Erlanger]. I often encountered him on the stairway and at the door – he was usually scribbling something in a notebook – and we normally exchanged pleasantries. He never gave me the feeling that he views me differently than other people.”
The Russian Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian sect, are an "extremist" group and ordered their Russian property turned over to the government. Supreme Court Judge Yuri Ivanenko declared the denomination's Administrative Center, its head office in Russia, an "extremist organization" and, on that basis, ordered the Jehovah's Witnesses group in Russia "dissolved" and its activities banned. Russia's Justice Ministry had sought the order, which the group said it will appeal ... Jehovah's Witnesses do not observe Christmas, Easter, birthdays and other holidays, which they consider to have pagan origins that are not compatible with Christianity. They also reject military service and blood transfusions.
Amid discussions on limiting ritual slaughter of animals in Belgium, a leader of the country’s Jewish community pleaded with lawmakers not to “repeat the Nazis’ acts.” The statement Thursday by Philippe Markiewicz, president of the Consistoire organization of Belgian Jewry that is responsible for providing religious services, was unusual because Jewish community officials rarely draw comparisons between present-day issues and the Nazi occupation, which remains a sensitive subject in Belgium. “The last assault on ritual slaughter was in October 1940 under the Nazi occupation because they knew how important it was for Jews,” Markiewicz said during an address in the city of Namur ...
... Most of what calls itself “the left” in the West has been totally won over to the current form of imperialism – aka “globalization”. It is an imperialism of a new type, centered on the use of military force and “soft” power to enable transnational finance to penetrate every corner of the earth and thus to reshape all societies in the endless quest for profitable return on capital investment. The left has been won over to this new imperialism because it advances under the banner of “human rights” and “antiracism” – abstractions which a whole generation has been indoctrinated to consider the central, if not the only, political issues of our times ... By far the most fundamental emerging issue in this campaign is the conflict between the European Union and national sovereignty. It will probably not be settled in this election, but it won’t go away.
Donald Trump’s missile strikes on Syria have attracted worldwide attention (and disgraceful plaudits) in recent days. But much less airtime is being given to his administration’s risky and increasingly barbaric military escalations on several other fronts across the world ... As troubling as these developments are, we should be just as concerned about the explosion of civilian deaths – more than 1,000 in March alone – that have come directly as the result of the Trump administration’s other reckless military campaigns across the Middle East over the past few weeks ... With several conflicts likely brewing with countries that have significant military power, the Trump administration is putting the US – and the world – on a potentially catastrophic collision course.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking Friday during U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' visit to Jerusalem, said that Israelis "sense a great change" has occurred in America. Mattis' stop marked the first visit to Israel by a Cabinet member in the new Trump administration. "I think this is a welcome change, a strategic change of American leadership and American policy," Netanyahu said. Mattis met with Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin after speaking with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Leiberman in Tel Aviv. Lieberman praised Mattis' "clear and strong approach" to North Korea, Syria and Iran.
With the administration of US President Donald Trump forming a new policy towards the Middle East, Defense Secretary General James Mattis arrived in Israel Thursday afternoon to discuss regional security issues with top officials on Friday, with Iran topping the list ... Known as a hawk on issues related to Iran, last month in London Mattis recalled a statement he made in 2012 in which he stated that the three gravest threats to American national security were “Iran, Iran, Iran,” an echo of [Israeli Defense Minister] Lieberman’s statement at the Munich Security Conference in February that main challenges facing the region were “Iran, Iran, Iran.”
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations took aim at Iran and its proxy militia Hezbollah on Thursday, saying the United States would act against this “growing menace." At the monthly meeting of the U.N. Security Council that focuses on the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Nikki Haley said the council should expand its attention to focus on other threats in the region. “We need to start with the chief culprit: Iran and its partner militia Hezbollah,” she said, referring to the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization. She said the two have conspired together to destabilize the region through terrorist acts and military action.
Horst Mahler's checkered career has taken another sharp turn. The 81-year-old neo-Nazi and Holocaust-denier has declared that he is on the run from the judiciary and is now thought to have fled the country. In a video released on YouTube (and since removed) by the far-right affiliated network "Nordland TV," the lawyer said he would not be following an order to serve his latest prison sentence, and would instead "ask for asylum in a sovereign state that is ready to accept people." He called the charges against him "political persecution without legal basis” ... Mahler, one of Germany's most prominent Reichsbürger (or “Reich citizens," a loose movement that refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the modern Federal Republic) was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2009 for repeated incitement to racial hatred and Holocaust denial.
Thirty-six hours after the pre-dawn cruise-missile strike against Syria’s al-Shayrat airfield, neoconservative hawks, many of whom beat the drums for war in Iraq 14 years ago, are feeling the warm spring breezes of renewal and rejuvenation. Suddenly hopeful that Donald Trump may yet be coming around to their worldview, neoconservatives are full of praise for the action, which they (like many liberal interventionists) insist was long overdue. Not surprisingly, neocons are pressing for more. The strike, which marked a dramatic reversal by a president who had strongly opposed any similar action by Barack Obama in 2013 ...
... Others that have made the shift to English-only, despite being based in non-English-speaking countries, include Yokohama, Japan-headquartered Nissan, which implemented an English-first strategy in the late 1990s ... German electronics company Siemens also made English its official language years ago ... This shift is not a throwback to colonialism or a play for cultural superiority. In Europe, nearly 80 percent of children in their primary years are learning English, while ... 70 percent of Chinese parents want their children to learn the language to help them get into to better schools ... The move to English as a corporate language just make sense, she says: “If a Chinese person meets someone from the Middle East, they will speak English. They don’t expect to know each other’s language.”
The past week has been an immensely clarifying — and profoundly demoralizing — one in American politics. It has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the country's foreign policy establishment, along with its leading center-right and center-left politicians and pundits, are hopelessly, perhaps irredeemably, deluded about the role of the United States in the world ... Let's start with absolute basics: Launching even one missile at another country is not, as we euphemistically like to presume, a "military action," a "military operation," or even a "humanitarian intervention." It is an act of war. Full stop ... During the eight years of his presidency, Obama bombed at least nine countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic, and the Philippines.
... The media, led by the usual neoconservative cheerleaders, have applauded Trump’s brand of tough love with Syria, even though Damascus had no motive to stage such an attack while the so-called rebels had plenty to gain. The escalation to a war footing also serves no U.S. interest and actually damages prospects for eliminating ISIS any time soon. Democratic Party liberal interventionists have also joined with Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio to celebrate the cruise missile strike and hardening rhetoric ... All of which means that the United States has committed a war crime against a country with which it is not at war, and has done so by ignoring Article 2 of the Constitution, which grants to Congress the sole power to declare war. It has also failed to establish a casus belli that Syria represents some kind of threat ...
... In Syria, a terrible war crime has been committed. The civilian population in a rebel-held town called Idlib was hit with poison gas. Dozens of civilians, including children, died a miserable death. Who could do such a thing? The answer was obvious: that terrible dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Who else? ... But throughout, that question continued to nag my mind. Why did Assad do it? What did he have to gain? The simple answer is: Nothing. Absolutely nothing ... There is no way to deny the conclusion: Assad had the least to gain from the dastardly deed ... A day before, Trump was despised by half the American people, including most of the media. Just by launching a few missiles, he has won general admiration as a forceful and wise leader. What does that say about the American people, and about humanity in general?
... Either of these possibilities — a false-flag attack by al-Qaeda or a deliberate provocation by the regime itself — is quite plausible. What is not remotely believable is the notion that the stupid and evil Syrian regime just decided that a random poison gas attack on an unimportant town would be a bit of fun. Villains in DC Comics do bad things simply because they are evil. The players in the Syrian civil war do bad things because they are part of serious (though often evil) strategies. Whoever committed the atrocity at Khan Sheikhoun wanted the United States to attack the Syrian regime, and Donald Trump fell for it.
Five major US newspapers — the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News — offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes. By contrast, the five papers ran a total of 18 op-eds, columns or “news analysis” articles (dressed-up opinion pieces) that either praised the strikes or criticized them for not being harsh enough: ... Cable news coverage was equally fawning. In the hours immediately following the attack, MSNBC had on a seemingly never-ending string of military brass and reporters who uncritically repeated the assertion the strikes were “proportional” and “limited.” ... CNN’s resident Serious Military Person Lt. Gen Mark Hertling repeated over and over -- seemingly on script -- that the strikes were “bold, tactical.”
The Trump administration said on Tuesday it was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States' national security interests, while acknowledging that Tehran was complying with a deal to rein in its nuclear program. In a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, on Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran remained compliant with the 2015 deal, but said there were concerns about its role as a state sponsor of terrorism. Under the deal, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days on Iran's compliance under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is the first such notification under U.S. President Donald Trump.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilising the Middle East and undermining America's interests in the region. "An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Mr Tillerson said. President Donald Trump earlier ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal. However, the US admits that Tehran is complying with the 2015 agreement ... As part of a long list of charges, he criticised Iran's involvement in the Syrian conflict and its support for President Bashar al-Assad. The secretary of state earlier acknowledged the Iranians had met the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. But he said its "nuclear ambitions" remained "a grave risk to international peace and security".
The French far right may be tiny on the institutional stage - the National Front (FN) has only two MPs - but on online platforms it is a giant. Often collectively called the "fachosphère" (from "fascist"), websites denouncing mass immigration and Islam have seen spectacular growth in France over the past ten years. The most popular among them dwarf the sites of the current presidential candidates in terms of page views. .. As internet access became easier, far-right websites proliferated, reveling in subjects regarded as taboo in a French press that has no mass tabloids and spans a relatively narrow range of views.
... It should come as no surprise that humanity is currently on an unsustainable and uncertain path – but just how close are we to reaching the point of no return? ... As poorer nations continue to disintegrate amid conflicts and natural disasters, enormous waves of migrants will stream out of failing regions, seeking refuge in more stable states ... Meanwhile, a widening gap between rich and poor within those already vulnerable Western nations will push society toward further instability from the inside ... “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode,” Randers argues. “Democratic, liberal society will fail, while stronger governments like China will be the winners.”
President Donald Trump’s missile attack on the Shayrat Airfield in Western Syria was a poorly planned display of imperial muscle-flexing that had the exact opposite effect of what was intended. While the attack undoubtedly lifted the morale of the jihadists who have been rampaging across the country for the last six years, it had no military or strategic value at all ... This is a hotly contested issue and one that requires greater clarification. The rational approach would be for the UN to send a team of chemical weapons and forensic experts to the site of the bombing to try to figure out what really happened. Trump decided he couldn’t be bothered with such trivialities as a formal investigation. He was more interested in projecting the image of a strong and decisive leader which is why he decided to shoot first and ask questions later.
Russia, Syria and Iran have warned the United States against launching new strikes on Syria and called for an international investigation into the chemical weapons attack in Syria. The foreign ministers from Russia, Syria and Iran, meeting Friday in Moscow, said any further unilateral action by the U.S. in Syria would be met with "grave consequences" and pose a danger to the entire world. The U.S. fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria's al-Shayrat air base last week in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria days earlier. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the circumstances surrounding the chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed more than 80 people were still not clear.
... Two new revelations contradict the Trump administration’s line on the April 4 attack. A former US official knowledgeable about the episode told Truthout that the Russians had actually informed their US counterparts in Syria of the Syrian military’s plan to strike the warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun 24 hours before the strike. And a leading analyst on military technology, Dr. Theodore Postol of MIT, has concluded that the alleged device for a sarin attack could not have been delivered from the air but only from the ground, meaning that the chemical attack may not have been the result of the Syrian airstrike.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his wife visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Tillerson, his wife and two other family members, accompanied by a small security detail, toured the museum’s permanent exhibit on Saturday, the Washington Post reported. The visit comes days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer apologized for saying that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons in a discussion of Syrian leader Bashar Assad, and called Nazi concentration camps “Holocaust centers,” raising the ire of Jewish groups around the world. The White House also angered Jewish groups in January when it failed to mention Jews in its statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
... Why is the United States, which dominates the globe militarily, politically, and economically, fixated on this poor, isolated, and distant nation [North Korea] ? Because America has gotten entangled where it does not belong ... American soldiers shouldn't be treated as defenders of the earth, deployed here, there and everywhere. The United States should go to war only when its most important interests are at stake ... The U.S. security presence in South Korea is an expensive and dangerous commitment that America can no longer afford. Nor has it ever brought the United States much popularity in the country, where U.S. soldiers are a constant irritant to nationalists. The South is no longer a poor nation in need of protection from the specter of global communism but one more than capable of standing on its own two feet.
... Before the U.S. launches any pre-emptive strike on North Korea, Congress should be called back into session to authorize any act of war against the North. Perhaps this time, Congress would follow the Constitution ... The promise of a Trump presidency — that we would start looking out for our own country and own national interests first and let the rest of the world solve, or fail to solve, its own problems — appears, not 100 days in, to have been a mirage. Will more wars make America great again?
... US analysts have in the past estimated a US invasion of North Korea would cost some 250,000 American casualties and at least $10 billion, though I believe such a war would cost four times that much today. The Army, Air Force and Marines would have to mobilize reserves to wage a war in Korea. Already overstretched US forces would have to be withdrawn from Europe and the Mideast ... All this craziness would be ended if the US signed a peace treaty with North Korea ending the first Korean War and opened up diplomatic and commercial relations. No need for war or missile threats. North Korea is a horrid, brutal regime. But so is Egypt, whose tin pot dictator was wined and dined by Trump last week. But pounding the rostrum with your shoe is always much more fun than boring peace talks.
Thousands of Christian followers of the Orthodox and Catholic faiths from all over the world gathering at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City celebrated Easter Holy Saturday with the emergence of the holy fire from the location of the tomb of Jesus Christ. However, only a few privileged Palestinian Christians, mainly those living in East Jerusalem or Israel, were able to attend the celebrations. Thousands of their brethren from the locked West Bank and Gaza Strip, only few kilometers away from Jerusalem, were not able to attend them. Israel does not allow Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to reach the walled-in East Jerusalem without special army issued permits.
Tens of thousands of Polish officers were secretly executed in the USSR during World War 2. The German occupying forces reported the first mass grave, in the village of Katyn in 1943, but Moscow only admitted to the killings in 1990. Dina Newman speaks to the son of one of the murdered officers, Waclaw Gasiorowski. Runtime: nine minutes.
French wartime newsreel report on the Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish officers by the Soviets. From a "France actualité" newsreel of 1943, which made use of German-supplied film footage. Runtime: 2:17 mins. While people in France, Germany and other European countries were told the truth about the atrocity, US officials made sure that Americans were kept in ignorance. In keeping with Allied wartime policy and propaganda, US officials and the American mass media blamed Germans for the killings.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, has described the Israeli occupation as “the most malignant” in the world. The Canadian official added that perpetuating an alien rule over almost five million people, against their fervent wishes, inevitably requires the repression of rights, the erosion of the rule of law, the abrogation of international commitments and the imposition of deeply discriminatory practices ... He presented his report to the UN Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights Council during its latest session on Israel. Israeli and US diplomats boycotted the session dedicated to several UN reports criticising Israeli settlements, the blockade of Gaza and the excessive use of force against Palestinians.
... From a strictly legal perspective, therefore, whether or not Israel is identical to, or even resembles, apartheid-era South Africa is, frankly, irrelevant. The only issue that matters is whether Israel is in violation of international law ... Back in 1967, Goodman understood in a flash what Ben Gurion was trying to say. Today, defenders of the Jewish state refuse to understand the warnings of former Israeli prime ministers, the condemnations of South African anti-apartheid activists, and the clear strictures of international law. For Palestinians, however, this is far from an academic issue or a mere debating point. For fifty years they have been the victims of discrimination, segregation and oppression. How much more do they have to endure?
Hollywood actor Richard Gere likened the situation in Hebron to segregation in the Jim Crow-era American South during a recent tour of the divided West Bank city. In footage aired by Channel 2 Wednesday, Gere said the separation in the city, home to a few hundred Israeli Jewish families among tens of thousands of Palestinians, was the same as what happened in the “old south” of the United States ... Contrasting the street now, barred to Palestinians, to photos of the market’s vibrant heyday in the early 90s, Gere compared the situation to the racial segregation that predated the civil rights movement. “It’s exactly what the old South was in America. Blacks knew where they could go,” he told his guides.
The United States formally entered World War I a hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917. The nation set aside its posture of neutrality nearly three years after the start of the bloody conflict that came to be known as the “Great War.” ... The legacy of the Great War is hard to overstate. Adjectives like cataclysmic, catastrophic and transformative are used by historians. In just four years, the world order was recast dramatically, killing off and creating new power brokers and ministates. After only nine months in the war, the United States was suddenly a respected world power — and would go on to lead globally throughout the rest of the 20th Century. The country had become the world's largest economy shortly before the war broke out, and the challenge of mobilization spurred even faster growth.
This April 4th will be 100 years since the U.S. Senate voted to declare war on Germany ... This was the Great War, the war to end all wars, the war without which the conditions for the next war would not have existed. As well recounted in Michael Kazin’s War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914-1918, a major peace movement had the support of a great deal of the United States. When the war finally ended ... just about everybody regretted it. The losses in life, limb, sanity, property, civil liberties, democracy, and health were incredible. Death, devastation, a flu epidemic, prohibition, a permanent military and the taxes to go with it, plus predictions of World War II: these were the results, and a lot of people remembered that they had been warned, as well as that the ending of all war had been promised.
One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, Congress voted to declare war on imperial Germany. The First World War was the pivot of the 20th century: It took the lives of 17 million people and resulted in the collapse of three major empires (the German, the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian). In the aftermath, totalitarian regimes both right and left came to power, leading to a second, far bloodier global conflict. Alas, for most Americans, the “Great War” holds little interest, particularly compared with the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam — all conflicts remembered as titanic moral struggles that transformed the nation. This neglect has given rise to some serious misconceptions about the war in which more than 116,000 Americans died. Myth No. One: The United States was neutral, in fact as well as name, until 1917.
... The [1914-1918 world war] is best remembered for the brutal trench warfare, the millions of deaths, and the failure to bring a lasting peace to Europe. But the conflict also saw a convergence of emerging technologies that would remake life on and off the battlefield ... Machine guns were introduced, as were tanks, radios, military aircraft — and chemical weapons ... And these advances merged in ways no one had imagined before the war. Radio and phone communications proved vital to orchestrating troop movements along a front line that stretched hundreds of miles. Wristwatches also proved critical for pilots, serving as a backup fuel gauge ... When the war ended, the U.S. emerged as a true military power, with the world's largest economy, a more global mindset and a new appreciation for technology.
The United States’ use of force against the sovereign state of Syria is a prima facie violation of international law. It is an act of aggression against an UN Member State in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. It therefore gives Syria the right to react in self-defense or a legal justification for the use of force. It also gives any other UN Member State the right to act in collective self-defense and to support Syrian action against the US. This is the basic understanding of the international legal consequences of the United States’ use of force against Syria. An analysis of the US use of force must review the known facts and the applicable international law. The position of US law, while relevant to Americans, has little to do with the evaluation of international law. National law can never be a justification for a violation of international law.
... In our names, President Trump committed an act of war firing 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syria without authority from Congress and therefore without authority from us, the American people. Under the Constitution only Congress can declare war. Trump did not ask Congress for war or for authority to use our military forces against Syria ... As Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Friday, “the United States was not attacked.” Because of that and since there is no declaration of war or statutory authority for Trump’s act of war, he has also violated the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
... Let’s compare the America First Committee [of 1940-1941] with Trump’s America First program. We know it is not about staying out of war. Last night he ordered a cruise-missile attack on a Syrian airbase (without the congressional authorization he once said was necessary for such an action) — although Syria has not attacked the United States. He’s intensifying the wars in Iraq (against ISIS), Syria (against ISIS), Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and probably some other places we don’t know about yet ... The upshot is that in Trump’s hands “America First” is a demagogic slogan that depends on people’s economic illiteracy to augment his power and diminish their liberty. It has nothing to do with John T. Flynn’s noble cause.
My days of hoping for the best from Donald Trump – and at least appreciating the fact that he was not the neocon/liberal hawk that Hillary Clinton is – are over along with my hopes that he might implement his campaign promise and take U.S. foreign policy in a more positive, less warlike, direction. From being possibly part of the solution, President Trump has become an integral part of the problem. And with his bigger-than-life ego, petulance and stubbornness, Commander-in-Chief Trump is potentially a greater threat to world peace than his weak-willed predecessor Barack Obama. This week, Trump ignored Russian calls for an investigation into Tuesday’s alleged chemical gas attack in Idlib province before issuing hasty conclusions on culpability.
... A German scientist had stumbled onto the nerve agent while experimenting with compounds in an attempt to kill beetles. The German military built a sarin factory in 1943. Officers pleaded with Hitler to use it. He didn’t. Why? Over the years, historians (armchair and scholarly) and psychologists have speculated that maybe Hitler didn’t use sarin because he was a victim of a mustard gas attack in 1918, during World War I, and knew the misery of such weapons ... But there’s not much, if any, historical evidence to suggest that Hitler vetoed sarin because of his mustard gas experience. But there is a wealth of historical record about Hitler’s archenemy in World War II: Winston Churchill. Churchill embraced the use of chemical weapons during World War I.
In a secret wartime memorandum, Winston Churchill told his advisers that he wanted to "drench" Germany with poison gas. Churchill's July 1944 memo to his chief of staff Gen. Hastings Ismay was reproduced in the August-September 1985 issue of American Heritage magazine … Churchill's directive bluntly stated: "I want a cold-blooded calculation made as to how it would pay to use poison gas ... One really must not be bound within silly conventions of the mind whether they be those that ruled in the last war or those in reverse which rule in this."
With attendance swelling to 1.3 million annually, from one million in 2010, the Anne Frank House has begun reckoning with a striking dimension of its popularity: Many of the younger and foreign visitors who flock here nonetheless have little knowledge of the Holocaust — and sometimes none about Frank. The museum and some others dedicated to Jewish life are seeking new ways to address a declining understanding of World War II and the genocide that took the lives of six million Jews in Europe, efforts that have increasing relevance as anti-Semitic incidents intensify across parts of Europe and the United States.
Amid broad condemnation for his assertion that Adolf Hitler did not use poison gas “on his own people,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer called billionaire Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to apologize. An Adelson spokesman confirmed the car, reported Politico’s Alex Isenstadt, but did not explain the reason behind it. Adelson is a major donor to conservative and Jewish causes. He is not the leader of any major Jewish organization. He does, however, have a special relationship with President Donald Trump: He got prime seats at Trump’s inauguration after pouring massive amounts of cash into the campaign. Spicer’s comments, made on the Jewish holiday of Passover, attempted to draw a contrast between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the Nazi leader.
... The president, or at least his appointees, has seemingly gone mad. Candidate Trump correctly pointed out that the American people have nothing vital at stake in one of the most complicated and brutal civil wars of recent years. Now he is preparing to drag the United States into the conflict ... All of this for a conflict in which the United States has no stake, and that the public is unlikely to back the moment casualties occur ... Even before his latest flip-flop, it was clear that the president has at best a superficial understanding of international affairs ... The Trump administration’s virulent hostility toward Iran is as foolish as it is obvious.
It seems that every new US president has to prove his machismo … or make his bones, as wiseguys say … by bombing the usual Arabs. By now, it’s almost a rite of passage. The American public loves it. So we just saw the US launch 59 or 60 $1.5 million apiece cruise missiles at a western Syrian airfield to express President Trump’s outrage caused by seeing injured children allegedly caused by a Syrian government toxic gas attack. But what, Mr. President, about all those Iraqi, Syrian and Afghan babies killed by US B-52 and B-1 heavy bombers? Or the destruction of the defiant Iraqi city of Fallujah where the US used forbidden white phosphorus that burns right to the bone?
... One of the biggest events of the Jewish calendar is predicated upon reminding the next generation every year of how the Egyptians were our cruel slave-masters, in a bondage that likely never happened ... The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt. Yes, there's the story contained within the bible itself, but that's not a remotely historically admissible source. I'm talking about real proof; archeological evidence, state records and primary sources. Of these, nothing exists. It is hard to believe that 600,000 families (which would mean about two million people) crossed the entire Sinai without leaving one shard of pottery ... with Hebrew writing on it. It is remarkable that Egyptian records make no mention of the sudden migration of what would have been nearly a quarter of their population ...
... Today’s frenzy over alleged use of poison gas in Syria is the 2017 version of Anthony Blair’s WMD in Iraq. Why can you not see it? Did you think they would do it in exactly the same way again? You are being assailed through your emotions, to act first and think long after, and far too late. How can trained journalists (and experienced diplomats) be so lacking in the desire or ability to question what they are told? How come that they accept without hesitation reports which have not come from their own staff, but instead come from within terrifying war zones / ... And then there is this simple point. Why would the Syrian government use gas at this stage in a war it has recently begun to win with conventional munitions? You don’t have to believe that the Assad state is saintly to ask this question ...
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly supported US President Donald Trump in his decision to carry out strikes against Syrian forces following the use of chemical weapons. He said the air strikes ‘’sent a strong and clear message in words and actions today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated”. President Reuven Rivlin echoed Netanyahu's statement calling the US airstrike a "fitting and appropriate response" to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. "In acting as it has, the United States serves as an example to the entire free world, which must support any step required to bring the atrocities in Syria to an end," Rivlin added.
The presidents of the United States and Russia have both presented a negative view of the relationship between their two countries. It comes after Moscow gave an unusually hostile reception to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday in a face-off over Syria. President Donald Trump said the United States’ relationship with Moscow “may be at an all-time low.” Trump’s comments came after he made his biggest foreign policy decision of his new presidency last week. He gave the order to fire missiles at Syria to punish Moscow’s ally for its suspected use of poison gas. Vladimir Putin was equally pessimistic. “The level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated,” the Russian President said in a TV interview.
... The United States carried out a missile strike against Syria, killing a reported 100 people. Dozens of missiles were fired as retaliation for a chemical attacked levied by the Syrian government earlier this week, and Twitter, as it tends to do in cases of breaking news, came alive with commentary and criticism. The most widely cited critic? This guy: “Donald J. Trump: AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING! ... 5 Sep 2013” That’s just the most forceful piece of unrequested advice President Trump tweeted at President Obama back in 2013, warning him not to intervene in Syria.
The decision to launch airstrikes against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad represents a 180-degree change for President Trump. Less than four years ago, Trump was strongly opposed to intervention in Syria over Assad's use of chemical weapons. Don't believe it? Let's go to the tweets. Trump was concerned about the possibility of civilian casualties ... And he insisted Obama should seek congressional approval before acting: “Donald J. Trump: The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not! ... 30 Aug 2013” ... So, just in case there were any doubts: “What I am saying is stay out of Syria ... 3 Sep 2103”
A North Carolina legislator is facing criticism after he wrote on Facebook Wednesday that President Abraham Lincoln is a similar “tyrant” to Adolf Hitler. Republican state Rep. Larry Pittman made the comment while responding to backlash on his Facebook page ... Another wrote that Mr. Pittman should “get over it.” Mr. Pittman’s now-deleted response, according to The News & Observer, read, “And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it? Lincoln was the same sort [of] tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.” Mr. Pittman, who works as a pastor of Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church in Stanly County, did not respond to the newspaper’s repeated requests for comment.
Marine Le Pen's attempts to convince voters that she has modernized the views of her far-right Front National party have come into question after she questioned the French state's role in the Holocaust. Le Pen suggested France was not responsible for the wartime round-up of Jews who were sent to Nazi death camps. With just days until the first round of voting in France's presidential election, her remarks have been met with widespread condemnation. Her stance is at odds with former president Jacques Chirac and current premier Francois Hollande, who have both apologized for the role played by French police in the rounding up of 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track I Paris, ordered by the Nazis in July 1942.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen “contradicted historical truth” when she said that her country was not responsible for the rounding up of Jews during the Holocaust. The response came a day after Le Pen, who leads the National Front party, said that it was the wartime Vichy government that was to blame for the capture and deportation to Nazi death camps of thousands of Jews, and not France as a whole. Former French president Jacques Chirac and current leader Francois Hollande have both apologized for the role French police played in the round-up of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track, which was ordered by Nazi officers in 1942.
Thursday’s US missile attack on Syria must represent the quickest foreign policy U-turn in history. Less than a week after the White House gave Assad permission to stay on as president of his own country, President Trump decided that the US had to attack Syria and demand Assad’s ouster after a chemical attack earlier in the week ... President Trump said it is in the “vital national security interest of the United States” to attack Syria over the use of poison gas. That is nonsense ... Would the neocons and the mainstream media lie to us about what happened last week in Syria? Of course they would. They lied us into attacking Iraq, they lied us into attacking Gaddafi, they lied us into seeking regime change in Syria in the first place. We should always assume they are lying.
By firing off five dozen Tomahawk missiles at a military airfield, our “America First” president may have plunged us into another Middle East war his countrymen do not want to fight ... A Syrian war would consume Trump’s presidency ... Another problem: Trump’s missile attack was unconstitutional. Assad had not attacked or threatened us, and Congress, which alone has the power to authorize war on Syria, has never done so ... As in most wars, the first shots fired receive the loudest cheers. But if the president has thrown in with the neocons and War Party, and we are plunging back into the Mideast maelstrom, Trump should know that many of those who helped to nominate and elect him – to keep us out of unnecessary wars – may not be standing by him. We have no vital national interest in Syria’s civil war.
The real Donald Trump has been exposed. The man who promised a sensible and non-interventionist Middle Eastern policy and a reset with Moscow has now reneged on both pledges ... Trump, regarded by many including myself as the sensible “peace candidate,” appears to be preparing to engage militarily on multiple fronts worldwide. And things are particularly heating up in the Middle East and South Asia ... So it is all a mess, largely of our own creation due to our tendency to get involved in places regarding which we know nothing and could really care less about ... As bad as that all seems, if I had to pick one place where our inability to discern right from wrong is likely to lead to the next major armed conflict, i.e. a real war, in fairly short order it would have to be Iran.
Just two days after news broke of an alleged poison-gas attack in northern Syria, President Trump brushed aside advice from some U.S. intelligence analysts doubting the Syrian regime’s guilt and launched a lethal retaliatory missile strike against a Syrian airfield. Trump immediately won plaudits from Official Washington, especially from neoconservatives who have been trying to wrestle control of his foreign policy away from his nationalist and personal advisers since the days after his surprise victory on Nov. 8 ... But logic and respect for facts no longer prevail inside Official Washington, nor inside the mainstream U.S. news media.
"Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one," says Syrian President Bashar al Assad in this recent interview. “And we don't think this is going to help,” he goes on to say. “What are they going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq, they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan, your neighboring country. They didn't succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions."
Almost 60 percent of the people in Germany say the US strike on a Syrian airbase earlier in the week was the wrong thing to do, according to a poll commissioned by Bild am Sonntag newspaper. The poll, ordered by the media outlet and conducted by Emnid-TNS company, asked respondents about Washington’s decision to launch Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian airfield. The survey revealed that 26 percent approved, and 59 percent disapproved of the attack on the military site. The majority of the respondents, 80 percent, also think that no more strikes should be made on Syrian territory ... The Bild am Sonntag survey also found that 40 percent of Germans fear that the strike can provoke military conflict between Russia and the US, while 53 percent do not believe it is a possible outcome.
The United States will hold responsible anyone who commits crimes against humanity, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday, days after the U.S. military unexpectedly attacked Syria. Tillerson is in Italy for a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialised nations, with his counterparts from Europe and Japan eager for clarity from Washington on numerous diplomatic issues, especially Syria. Before the April 7 missile strikes on a Syrian airbase, U.S. President Donald Trump had indicated he would be less interventionist than his predecessors and willing to overlook human rights abuses if it was in U.S. interests. But Tillerson said the United States would not let such crimes go unchallenged.
... Today, there is hardly a college campus that doesn’t sport a women’s studies program or department ... What “women’s studies” describes is not an academic discipline but rather a knot of grievances searching for recognition. Like black studies and — a more recent phenomenon — homosexual (“gay”) studies, women’s studies exists primarily to promote a species of political solidarity. Intellectually, women’s studies has always been a terrible embarrassment ... Women’s studies addresses no definable subject matter. It advances no distinct area of knowledge. It masquerades as an academic specialty ... It castigates the goal of objective knowledge as a patriarchal fiction; it seeks to refract all academic activity and institutional practice through the lens of a single guiding obsession: gender.
... Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was sentenced to another year of suspension after a hearing by the Labour Party’s national constitutional committee (NCC) concerning his remarks on Hitler’s temporary support for Zionism. Livingstone has been one of the most noted personalities in what has been a year-long 'scandal' over an alleged 'Labour anti-semitic problem'. The media has a part in it, a very worrying one. While blaming Ken Livingstone for supposedly distorting history, mainstream media outlets are distorting Livingstone’s own words ... Of course, this is not really about anti-Semitism. It’s about Zionism. The Labour party doesn’t have any substantial 'anti-Semitic problem' – it has a Zionist problem.
Is the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responsible for the chemical weapons attack in northern Syria? Experts suggest it could have been jihadi rebels. It wouldn't be the first time. / More than 80 people were killed by suspected chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun. That is about the only thing certain about the attack. Western statements place blame at the feet of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, an accusation Damascus and Moscow contest. The Syrian regime may not have had a compelling motive, believes Günther Meyer, the director of the Research Center for the Arab World at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. "Only armed opposition groups could profit from an attack with chemical weapons," he told DW.
Donald Trump’s surprise decision to launch missile strikes against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces in response to Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack represented a reversal from Trump’s noninterventionist campaign message. It’s also the most recent sign of the declining power of his chief strategist Stephen Bannon. Two sources close to Bannon told me the former Breitbart executive chairman argued against the strike — not because of its questionable constitutionality, but on the grounds that it doesn’t advance Trump’s America First doctrine. “Steve doesn’t think we belong there,” one Bannon ally told me. Bannon’s position lost out to those inside the White House, including Jared Kushner, who argued Trump needed to punish the Assad regime.
One hundred years ago today, Congress voted to enter what was then the largest and bloodiest war in history ... The intervention led to big changes in America, as well as the world. It began the creation of a political order most citizens now take for granted, even as some protest against it: a state equipped to fight war after war abroad while keeping a close watch on allegedly subversive activities at home ... But at least until Donald Trump took office, the larger aim of American foreign policy under both liberal and conservative presidents had remained much the same: to make the world “safe for democracy,” as our leaders define it. To achieve that purpose required another innovation of World War I: a military-industrial establishment funded, then partly and now completely, by income taxes.
When America entered World War I, a century ago this week, the European powers were bogged down in a grinding trench war that had killed millions and ravaged the European continent. Swinging its industrial might and vast manpower behind France and Britain against Germany and its allies on April 6, 1917, the United States tipped the balance of the conflict and marked its own emergence as a global power ... Across the Atlantic, the American economy boomed with war spending. By the war's end, it was many times stronger than any of the ravaged pre-war powers. US banks were also keen on collecting the $10 billion in loans made to the Allies during the conflict.
Citing Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare and a telegram proposing an alliance with Mexico, the US formally entered the Great War on April 6, 1917, with President Woodrow Wilson pledging to make the world “safe for democracy.” ... Getting involved in a war between European powers went against more than a century of American political instincts. Wilson himself campaigned in 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Asking for a declaration of war from Congress on April 2, however, he painted a picture of an apocalyptic struggle between democracy and tyranny ... The vote to declare war in the Senate was 82 to six ... The government cracked down on domestic dissent by introducing the Espionage Act (June 1917), Sedition Act (May 1918) and Alien Act (October 1918).
... These were not the only falsehoods that helped nudge America toward involvement in the bloodletting. The outbreak of war was accompanied by copious propaganda about fictitious German atrocities, such as bayoneting Belgian babies, raping nuns, and nailing Entente prisoners on barn doors ... Ultimately, as we have seen, such lies employed by Britain, played an important role in whipping up popular support for America’s entry into the conflict. Most Americans, then as now, will support wars if they can be framed as a struggle between good and evil. The priggish Woodrow Wilson promised his countrymen they would be fighting variously the “war to end all war” and to “make the world safe for democracy”— making the venture very much the prototype for today’s so-called humanitarian interventions.
... In the spring of 1917, British and Belgian propagandists, in a concerted action with privately owned media, launched an invented story about “Corpse Factories”, where the Germans allegedly boiled down their own soldier dead to lubricants, fertiliser, pig fodder, and soap. The aim was to vilify the Germans, especially among American and Asian countries, which Great Britain wanted to drag into the war on her side. Its efficiency in mobilizing anti-German sentiments made the “Corpse Factory” the “master hoax” of World War I propaganda. Millions world-wide who still believe in its offspring, the World War II “Nazi human soap factory” legend, show its longevity.
On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I after the U.S. House of Representatives followed the lead of the U.S. Senate in approving a declaration of war against Germany. The decision was a divisive one at the time, and it remains controversial a century later. On the centennial of America’s entry into the Great War, explore the historical debate about whether that decision was a correct one or not... Detractors of the American entry into World War I argue that by tipping the scales to the Allies, the United States didn’t hasten the end of the war but actually prolonged it by removing the incentive for the British and French to make a negotiated peace with Germany as the battle stalemated in 1917.
It may be too early to tell for sure, but Donald Trump is looking more and more like a phony. He’s also looking like a weakling. And a political ingrate. All this is coming into stark relief with accelerating events involving Syria. The United States launched dozens of missiles against Syrian military installations to retaliate for the chemical attack on rebel-held territory. Thus did Trump demonstrate that, to the extent that his foreign policy differs from that of his predecessor, it is more aggressive and adventuresome than Obama’s. That’s the opposite of how he campaigned ... It seems our new president is wrapping himself in Wilsonian garb, sending American forces out into far-flung precincts of the globe in behalf of humanitarian sentiments.
... But what will the US’s military strike – a barrage of at least 59 (offensively named) Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at a lone airfield – really accomplish? ... The administration seems to have no vision of what it wants to accomplish or what it can accomplish. Trump ended his announcement of Thursday’s strike with the modest goal of ending “terrorism of all kinds and all types.” Good luck with that. Meanwhile, the heart of the problem is that the United States seems always to have only one solution to war: make more war ... At its best, Thursday’s reckless and largely ineffective bombing does little but make US lawmakers feel good about themselves. At its worst, it deepens a war which the US has no idea how to end.
With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity ... Even as basic facts were still being assembled about Tuesday’s incident, we, the public, were prepped to disbelieve the Syrian government’s response that the poison gas may have come from rebel stockpiles that could have been released either accidentally or intentionally causing the civilian deaths in a town in Idlib Province. One possible scenario was that Syrian warplanes bombed a rebel weapons depot where the poison gas was stored, causing the containers to rupture.
... Once again, the media — and, sadly, the Trump administration — is in overdrive about what is claimed to be a gas attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikoun by the Assad government ... Sorry, but it seems ridiculous to try to launch a gas attack that kills a few dozen people in a civil war that has already killed between 321,000-400,000 people when it will be condemned by virtually everyone, and has been used in the past as a pretext for US involvement ... Another possibility is that a normal bomb, shell, rocket hit an opposition chemical weapons depot. Again there is no reason why this is impossible ... It is clear then that the most likely explanation for this tragic event is either an accident (as claimed by Russia: the rebels accidentally detonating their own sarin) or a false flag, and certainly not an intentional action by the Assad government.
... The Southern Poverty Law Center launched an effort to catalog and map Confederate place names and other symbols in public spaces, both in the South and across the nation. This study, while far from comprehensive, identified a total of 1,503. These include: 718 monuments and statues, nearly 300 of which are in Georgia, Virginia or North Carolina; 109 public schools named for Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis or other Confederate icons; 80 counties and cities named for Confederates; nine official Confederate holidays in six states; and, ten U.S. military bases named for Confederates.
Gestapo Chief, more than seventy thousand copies of which have reportedly been sold, is the product of an inventive mind and much hard work. It purports to present long-suppressed secret documents with startling revelations about Third Reich Germany, Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Second World War ... Perhaps this book's most sensational "revelation" is that Hitler did not commit suicide, as those who were with him in the final days of the war later unanimously testified, but instead escaped to Spain ... My view that the Gestapo Chief series is an elaborate hoax is based not only on an examination of the books themselves, but on lengthy telephone conversations with the author ... The man who crafted this series of books is a known fabricator of documents who has used a variety of names over the years ...
“Make five children, Europe’s future is yours”. So spoke Turkish President Erdogan ... And Imam Qaradawi, the guru of the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke of Islamic birth rate as the weapon for the “non-violent conquest of Europe”. It is Islamic eschatology, but with real meaning. Especially because these Muslim leaders cultivate it in the bosom of a Europe that has stopped having children. Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany, Portugal and all the East European countries lie in a disastrous demographic ... Timothy M. Savage of the Office of European Analysis of the US State Department has estimated that Europe will be 20 percent Muslim by 2050 ... Mr. Erdogan and the other hallucinatory Muslim leaders watch this infertile and aging Europe. And they dream about giving it the finishing blow.
A recent  survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 74 percent of Americans think manners and behavior have deteriorated in the United States over the past several decades. A large majority of Americans believe that politicians should be held to a higher standard than the general public, but few think they are living up to that expectation ... The study finds that people are generally in agreement about what sort of behavior is unacceptable ... Two thirds (68 percent) see political campaigns this year  as outdoing the public in levels of rudeness ... Eighty percent of Americans say political leaders should be held to a higher standard of behavior than other people. Only 15 percent believe that candidates should not be sensitive to the possibility of upsetting other people while they are campaigning.
One of the unavoidable consequences of youth is the tendency to think behavior we see today has always been. I'd like to dispute that vision, at least as it pertains to black people. I graduated from Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High School in 1954. Franklin's predominantly black students were from the poorest North Philadelphia neighborhoods. During those days, there were no policemen patrolling the hallways. Today close to 400 police patrol Philadelphia schools ... In contrast with today, students didn't use foul language to teachers, much less assault them ... Customs, traditions, moral values and rules of etiquette are behavioral norms, transmitted mostly by example, word of mouth and religious teachings.
Has the recession and economic inequality been a catalyst for growing incivility in America? Just look at our TV shows ... Repeated public opinion polls have voiced the concern of Americans over the erosion of civility in government, business, media and social media. The most recent  poll by Weber Shandwick, reported that 65 percent of Americans say the lack of civility is a major problem ... Uncivil behavior is also increasingly showing up in our classrooms, not just at work ... Nearly half of Americans twenty years and older (45%) say that they’d be afraid to be teenagers today because of incivility’s frequent occurrence ... Reid argues that Americans should not be surprised at the levels of incivility. It’s not like there wasn’t ample warning.
... Despite the Iran-as-bogeyman narrative, it is unlikely that Trump will launch any direct military attacks against Iran ... More confrontation in the region will be costly, and is likely to draw him into clashes with major powers with which he’d prefer to do business. Although he insists “all options” remain on the table with Iran, Trump’s choices are actually fairly limited. Sanctions never worked and the Iran nuclear deal has ensured that other global players needn’t participate in future ones. Under pressure from allies, he has backtracked on his threats to scuttle the nuclear agreement, which he now seems to understand would needlessly isolate the U.S., not Iran ... Conventional war would require a substantial Iranian provocation and isn’t likely to be sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
Some hardline myths about Iran never seem to die. One myth especially pertinent to U.S. policy is that revolutionary regime change in Iran is a significant possibility in the near future and that with a bit more of a push from the outside, the Islamic Republic will collapse and be replaced by something much more to our liking ... Most Iranians do not have an appetite for making a new revolution. Both the regime and the people in Iran have demonstrated an ability to withstand hardship much greater than what U.S. sanctions can inflict. They did so during the extremely costly eight-year Iran-Iraq War, which Iran doggedly continued for some time even after Saddam — who started the war — began seeking an armistice. Certainly if pressure or punishment from an outside power is involved, both the regime and the people exhibit determined resistance.
On March 9, General Joseph Votel, discussed the U.S. military posture in the Middle East before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The head of U.S. Central Command said that Iran “poses the most significant threat to the Central Region and to our national interests and the interests of our partners and allies.” The following are excerpted Iran-related remarks from his statement ... “Iran aspires to be a regional hegemon and its forces and proxies oppose U.S. interests in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria, and seek to hinder achievement of U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and some Central Asian States.”
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” So President Donald Trump warns, amid reports North Korea, in its zeal to build an intercontinental ballistic missile to hit our West Coast, may test another atom bomb. China shares a border with North Korea. We do not. Why then is this our problem to “solve”? ... The United States is in rising danger of being dragged into wars in half a dozen places, because we have committed ourselves to fight for scores of nations with little or no link to vital U.S. interests ... If we do not begin to rescind these war guarantees we have handed out since the 1940s, the odds are high that one of them will one day drag us into a great war, after which, if we survive, all these alliances will be dissolved in disillusionment.
Alan Dershowitz recently told a conference of Jews that they should not deny or apologize for Jewish power and influence in American public life. In his remarks, the prominent academic, lawyer and activist said: “People say Jews are too powerful. We’re too strong. We’re too rich. We control the media. We have too much this. We have too much that. And we often apologetically deny our strength and our power. Don’t do that! Don’t do that! We have earned the right to influence public debate!” Dershowitz was addressing a conference of some 250 people in Los Angeles, March 4-6, 2017, organized by the Jewish-Zionist group “StandWithUs.” The gathering, titled “Combating the Boycott Movement Against Israel,” focused on countering the global “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel.
A Ukrainian lawmaker and war hero used a word usually translated as “kikes” in complaining that Jews wield excessive power in her country. Nadiya Savchenko, a fighter jet pilot who was elected to parliament in 2014 while she was still being held as a prisoner of Russia, made the statements on Saturday during a televised interview for the 112 station, and insisted they were not indicative of anti-Semitic bias ... Savchenko said, “I have nothing against Jews. I do not like ‘kikes.’” She later said Jews possess “80 percent of the power when they only account for two percent of the population.” ... During the earlier interview on March 21 for OneNews, Savchenko agreed in principle with a caller who inveighed against a “Jewish takeover of Ukraine.”
... A new book, “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy,” by Nicholas Reynolds, details Hemingway’s suspected undercover work for both the U.S. and the Russians before and during the Cold War ... Translated excerpts of Hemingway’s Soviet file, smuggled out of Russia, show he was given the code name “Argo” and was recruited by Jacob Golos, a top agent in the NKVD office in New York ... During the ‘40s, Hemingway had several meetings with Soviet contacts. Throughout this period, his Soviet file reads: “’Argo’ did not give us any polit(ical). Information, though he repeatedly expressed his willingness and desire to help us.” ... Hemingway committed suicide in 1961. Reynolds believes his later letters reveal the writer was haunted by his Soviet connections.
... Did Hemingway ignore his status as a supposedly unarmed, noncombatant journalist, take up arms, and kill enemy soldiers? Hemingway's own assertion is that he did kill on several occasions during his approximately eight months in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in 1944 and early 1945. According to Hemingway himself, he killed either 26 or 122 men. These are the conflicting claims he makes in relatively unstudied letters ... Pinning down the truth of the particular claims is elusive, as with many aspects of Hemingway's life ... Another letter to Lanham written a month later contains the first mention of a claim that he mortally wounded a sixteen-year-old German soldier on a bicycle ... Whether he did kill in other situations, such as with the interrogated S.S. officer or the teenaged German on a bicycle, may be another matter.
This week is the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s speech to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany ... Wilson was narrowly re-elected in 1916 based on a campaign slogan, “He kept us out of war.” But Wilson had massively violated neutrality by providing armaments and money to the Allied powers that had been fighting Germany since 1914 ... Wilson acted as if the congressional declaration of war against Germany was also a declaration of war against the Constitution ... World War One was ended by the Treaty of Versailles, which redrew European borders willy-nilly and imposed ruinous reparations on Germany. One of Wilson’s top aides at the peace talks, Henry White, lamented: “We had such high hopes of this adventure; we believed God called us and now we are doing hell’s dirtiest work."
... [President Woodrow Wilson] “believed the United States was divinely chosen to do God’s will on earth.” The United States was the “redeemer nation” destined by God to “instruct and lead the world.” While president of Princeton, Wilson said in a speech that the mighty task before us was “to make the United States a mighty Christian nation, and to Christianize the world.” Wilson viewed himself as “the divinely appointed messenger.” The United States was his parish, and he would “be an evangelist, a missionary, for the export of Christian democracy.” He compared himself to the prophet Ezekiel. He equated patriotism with Christianity and the United States with God’s chosen people.
... As a former soldier and military historian, I’ve always felt that World War One was the most tragic conflict in modern history: a totally avoidable madness that wrecked Europe’s glittering civilization and led directly to World War II, Hitler and Stalin. This mournful anniversary has reopened fierce debate over who was responsible for the Great War ... The British and French anti-German cliques played the same role as the pro-war American neoconservatives in the Bush administration, planting phony stories in the press, and promoting pro-war allies into positions of power ... We see the same dangers today in the petty but growing conflict over Ukraine between the US and its European satraps and Russia.
... Americans, however, continue to dwell on other conflicts — mainly the Civil War and World War II. Both are labeled "good wars" because one eradicated slavery and the other fascism, thus justifying the profuse violence and mass death. So the standard lesson goes. A lot of my students' thinking about these two good wars comes from Hollywood and movies such as "Lincoln," "Glory," "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" ... Both Hollywood and high school portray the past as Manichaean conflict ... “Good wars" make for monumental stories, but they do not invite complexity of thought. The ends always justify the means.
The global conflict of 1914-1918 was the most destructive military clash in history, surpassed only by World War II. The war that American historian George F. Kennan called "the original catastrophe" not only brought destruction, misery and death to millions, it shattered the seemingly secure Western world order. It broke the confidence of Europeans in themselves and their long-held values, brought down dynasties – in Russia, Austria-Hungary and Germany -- that had ruled for centuries, and forced a drastic reassessment of cherished assumptions about life and society.
France, despite its reputation as a beacon of progressive liberalism, has been at the forefront of a burgeoning pan-European far-right movement ... The most distinctive characteristic of France's patriotic surge is youth. Unlike their contemporaries in the US and the UK, the under-30s in France are more nationalistic than the general population. At the radical end of the movement are the "identitaires", or identitarians - the equivalent of the American alt-right. Who are the identitarians? Their standard bearers are Génération Identitaire (GI), a group that specialises in publicity stunts that it films and posts online to advertise its fight to reclaim French territory said to have been lost to foreign migrants.
Researchers from King's College London have used a genetic scoring technique to predict reading performance throughout school years from DNA alone. The study, published today in Scientific Studies of Reading, shows that a genetic score comprising around 20,000 of DNA variants explains five per cent of the differences between children's reading performance. Students with the highest and lowest genetic scores differed by a whole two years in their reading performance. These findings highlight the potential of using genetic scores to predict strengths and weaknesses in children's learning abilities. According to the study authors, these scores could one day be used to identify and tackle reading difficulties early, rather than waiting until children develop these problems at school.
Jeremy Corbyn [head of Britain’s Labour Party] is facing a mutiny over Labour’s failure to expel Ken Livingstone from the party over his remarks about Hitler and Zionism. The former mayor of London refused to apologise after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of bringing the party into disrepute – but failed to expel him, instead ruling he will be suspended from holding office for a year. He will still be free to vote on party matters and attend meetings. Jewish Labour members and MPs rounded on Mr Corbyn for failing to push for a stricter punishment.
On March 27, President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Moscow with a large political and economic delegation for a two-day visit. Iranian and Russian officials signed 14 memoranda of understanding to cooperate on a range of security, economic, scientific and cultural issues. Putin highlighted that bilateral trade had increased 70 percent compared to last year ... In a joint statement, Rouhani and Putin expressed support for the continued implementation of the Iran nuclear deal ... Putin and Rouhani discussed their shared interests in the security and stability of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. The Syrian conflict was also key topic on the agenda. Both countries have provided military support to President Bashar al Assad and are concerned with the concentration of jihadi groups in the war-torn country.
Is common sense beginning to creep into US policy in the Middle East? Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the longer-term status of Syrian President Assad would be “decided by the Syrian people.” The media reported this as a radical shift in US foreign policy, but isn’t this just stating what should be obvious? What gives any country the right to determine who rules someone else? ... It’s only too bad that President Obama hadn’t followed this back in 2011 instead of declaring that Assad had to go and then arming rebel groups who ended up being allies with al-Qaeda ... Will the Trump Administration actually follow through on Tillerson’s Syria policy statement? It is too early to tell. The President has illegally sent hundreds of US troops to fight on the ground in Syria.
US President Donald Trump’s decision not to focus on toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad marks the end of a 16-year-long master plan to effect regime change across the Middle East, former US Army Major Todd Pierce told Sputnik. On Friday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the United States should accept the political reality with respect to Assad and focus on eliminating Daesh [ISIS] ... Former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark “revealed that immediately after 9/11, the Bush administration began to implement that plan with seven Mideast countries targeted for destruction, with Syria in line right behind Iraq,” Pierce said.
The UK Labor Party on Tuesday suspended former London mayor and senior party official Ken Livingstone for one year for comments about Hitler supporting Zionism that a disciplinary committee found “grossly detrimental” to the party. Jewish groups called the move inadequate and said it would erode the trust between the party and its Jewish members ... “Have I said anything that wasn’t true? All the Jewish activists who spoke on my behalf yesterday, all actually confirmed what I said was true.” ... Livingstone also charged that for decades in the UK there had been a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticizes Israel policy as anti-Semitic.” Last week, he caused fresh uproar by claiming that German Zionists received assistance from the SS, and were close collaborators of the Nazi regime.
Spring in Washington would not be complete without the city’s famous cherry blossoms and the annual “Policy Conference” meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ... The AIPAC gathering is really all about subverting Congress, so it is a good thing that a large majority of Congressmen were attending, making the necessary bowing and scraping that much easier. And they will enjoy it even more when the 15,000 AIPAC loyalists descend on Capitol Hill as the conference ends to make sure that Congress is listening ... The Israel Lobby has the U.S. Congress and media by the throat, and the Trump administration promises to be completely uncritical in its relationship with Netanyahu and whatever homicidal kleptocrat might be in line to succeed him.
U.S.-based pro-democracy group Freedom House said Tuesday that a "spectacular breakdown of democracy" has been taking place in Poland and Hungary, two countries that stood as models of democratic change after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Hungary now has the lowest democracy score in Central Europe, and Poland's score is falling, the watchdog organization said in a report. It cited attacks by populist leaders in both countries on constitutional courts and the system of checks and balances, as well as the transformation of public media into "propaganda arms."
A homework assignment that asked students in an upstate New York school district to argue for or against the Final Solution, from the perspective of a Nazi official, was withdrawn and will not be assigned again. High school students in an advanced class in Oswego County were given a project to pretend they were members of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party in order to argue for or against the Holocaust’s Final Solution. “This is an exercise on expanding your point of view by going outside your comfort zone and training your brain to find the evidence necessary to prove a point, even if it is existentially and philosophically against what you believe,” the instructions for the assignment said.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has slammed the “brazen and disruptive” US moves in the Middle East, saying Washington has ties with all terrorist currents. “The US Army, Pentagon and CIA are sponsors of terrorists in the region and are disturbing peace in the Middle East on a large scale,” Larijani said on Saturday ... Elsewhere, Larijani said Iran has "thought out various ways" to respond to Washington's lack of commitment to its obligations under the landmark nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015. He added that the “mischievous” acts would ultimately be detrimental to those who have failed to honor the agreement.
... Trump plans to boost the defense budget – which should be called the `offence budget’ – by $54 billion to a total of $664 billion ... The US military budget is already larger than the defense budgets of China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, and Japan – combined ... It’s interesting that Trump & Co. have cut funding for US allies, culture, education, the poor, and just about everything else except the Pentagon and Israel. Not a penny was reduced from Israel’s recent grant of $38 billion in arms spending over ten years. Not a peep about this from Congress or Trump. I’m sorry that Trump did not level with Americans over financing our endless wars. Today, their costs are hidden into the ever expanding national debt, now approaching $20 trillion.
“If we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of our time. On the world stage, who could vie with him?” So asks Chris Caldwell of the Weekly Standard ... What explains Putin’s appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Trump’s? Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization ... The new dividing lines are between social conservatism and self-indulgent secularism, between tribalism and transnationalism, between the nation-state and the New World Order.
Two men were charged with a hate crime for an assault on an Arab teacher allegedly carried out by members of the Jewish Defense League outside this week’s AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. The report released Thursday by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia listed Kamal Nayfeh as the victim. 972 Magazine, which reported Thursday on the attack, said that Nayfeh, 55, is an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte ... The alleged assailants are not named in the police report, but a police spokeswoman identified them as Yosef Steynovitz, 32, of Canada, who was charged with assault with significant bodily injury, and Rami Lubranicki, 59, of Howell, New Jersey, who was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
Members of the Jewish Defense League severely beat a 55-year old Palestinian American man and assaulted several American Jewish activists with IfNotNow outside the AIPAC Conference in Washington, D.C. Sunday, new video footage provided to +972 Magazine shows. Kamal Nayfeh, a father of four and an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC ... was punched and kicked and clobbered with flag poles, leaving him with cuts and bruises all over his face and body ... Two of the JDL members who attacked Nayfeh were eventually arrested by the police and released, according to the IMUE ... The Jewish Defense League, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, has been described as a terrorist organization by the FBI.
... The mainstream media has finally discovered the Jewish Defense League. And only a decade or two too late ... From a period of 1980 to 1985, there were 18 terrorist attacks in the United States committed by Jews. Fifteen of them by members of the Jewish Defense League ... What are you talking about?! There have been Jewish terrorist attacks! Should we therefore ask no Jews to please apply for a visa? ... As long as the JDL was attacking the “right” victims (real or perceived white racists and anti-Semites), the media turned a blind eye ... In July 1984, when the JDL firebombed the warehouse and library of the Holocaust revisionist/denial publishing house the Institute for Historical Review, the silence from the media moved Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian John Toland to pen a letter condemning the blackout ...
In the early morning hours of July 4, 1984, the offices of the Institute for Historical Review in Torrance, southern California, were destroyed in a devastating arson attack ... For a long time the perpetrators’ identity remained a mystery. It was only 18 years later that responsibility for the attack was publicly and authoritatively established ... Based on its investigation of the crime, the report notes, in December 1984 the Torrance Police Department submitted the case to the District Attorney’s office for criminal complaints against Irv Rubin, Earl Krugel, Michael Canale and Danny Nichols on arson and conspiracy charges. But no arrest was ever made.
The United States, Britain and France are among almost 40 countries that will not join talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty starting at the United Nations on Monday [March 27], said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley ... The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December - 113 in favor to 35 against, with 13 abstentions - that decided to "negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination" and encouraged all member states to participate ... The Trump administration is reviewing whether it will reaffirm the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, a White House aide said last week, referring to an aim embraced by previous Republican and Democratic presidents and required by a key arms control treaty.
A worldwide nuclear ban is simply not "realistic", the US ambassador to the UN has said, as nearly 40 countries stayed away from talks on the subject. The US, Britain and France were among the countries that skipped a UN meeting to discuss a new treaty. More than 120 others endorsed a plan for a legally binding nuclear ban. But US envoy Nikki Haley said national security required nuclear arms because of "bad actors" who could not be trusted ... The UN conference to negotiate a legally binding nuclear ban treaty was announced in October. Britain, France, Israel, Russia and the United States voted "no" to the nuclear ban treaty back then, while China, India and Pakistan abstained.
Negotiations begin Monday [March 27] at the United Nations in New York on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination.” ... The impetus behind the talks is growing consciousness of nuclear dangers, frustration at the glacial pace of nuclear-disarmament efforts, and exasperation at the nuclear-weapon states’ disregard of their legal disarmament obligations ... More than 15,000 nuclear warheads continue to threaten Earth. Even a limited nuclear exchange would bring incalculable loss of life to humans, animals, plants and ecosystems. Yet, while every other category of weapon of mass destruction has been specifically prohibited under international law, nuclear weapons have not.