In the light of a setting sun 1

We continue the series of short essays by Jillian Becker posted on our Pages section under the general title of The Darkness of This World.

Here, in full, is the tenth essay, starting Part Two of the series.

It focuses on Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the nihilistic mood that prevailed there among discontented intellectuals; the decadence of the monarchy and the Orthodox Church; and it outlines the astonishing story of the mesmerizing, disgusting, scandalous mystic and lecher Rasputin, a peasant who rose to wield imperial power –  the enormous autocratic power that history had reposed in the weak hands of the last Tsar, Nicholas II.

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Romanticism – which grew in opposition to Reason from the very beginning of the Enlightenment, their common parent – is a kind of religion.

In certain essential ways it most closely resembles the Gnostic creeds of early and medieval Christianity. Both Romantics and Gnostics depend on feeling and intuition for their “truth”, which stands in both cases in opposition to their culture’s norms. To rebel against conventional morality, they choose evil. Both rationalize their perversity as the means to a higher good. For the Gnostics good lies in the heavens after life on earth is over; for the Romantics it lies in this life on this earth, just over the horizon, beyond the next revolution. Whether up there, or over there, both promise paradise.

In actuality, Romanticism led the way not to an earthly paradise but to earthly hells.

If Romanticism could be said to have a deity, it was “the Devil”. The Romantic imagination clung to him long after “God” had faded away. Germany “sold its soul” to him. Entranced by a Wagnerian fantasy of brutality, violence, war, conquest, “blood and beauty”, Nazi Germany chose evil, rode the storm triumphantly for a time, fulfilled its romantic dream in atrocity, and ended in flames and irreparable moral degradation.

Karl Marx prayed in romantic poetry to be empowered by the Devil, and metaphorically speaking his prayer was granted when Marxists took power after his death and tormented and destroyed millions of hapless victims. The Russian Bolsheviks were the first tyrants to govern in the name of the creed that bears his name. But they were not the first (or last) tyrants to govern Russia, nor the first Russians to choose evil.

The Enlightenment did not penetrate far into Russia. Even by the late nineteenth century, the Russian people were still deeply religious and the church was still immensely powerful. But a weariness with the old order, a romantic pessimism was spreading through the vast anachronism that was Tsarist Russia.

Dostoyevsky’s novel The Possessed (or The Devils or Demons), was published in 1872, eleven years before Karl Marx’s died. It has a cast of intellectual nihilist terrorists who typify the Romantic rebel in late nineteenth century Russia. They are against everything. Patronized, courted, and encouraged for the thrill of their scandalous philosophy of existential despair and malicious criminality by a stupid Governor’s wife – another type of civilization’s decline – they transgress all moral and conventional boundaries and eventually murder for the sake of murdering, and literally set the town on fire. One of them commits suicide and allows the others to blame him for their crimes, leaving an untrue note that he is the culprit. Why? Because nothing matters. Nothing. The man they look to as their leader, Nicolai Stavrogin, is the son of a wealthy landowner, an eccentric widow. She enjoys a protracted and chaste love affair of the mind with a once-daring but now perfectly tame intellectual rebel who has long since outlived his small fame. Young Stavrogin – handsome, rich, and privileged – is the rebel du jour, reckless and unpredictable. At his mildest, we learn when we meet him, he has publicly indulged his evil impulses by making defiant gestures against polite custom, saying and doing irrational things – such as biting a distinguished gentleman’s ear – deliberately to outrage society. In secret he has done far worse. He has committed a terrible crime that we learn about eventually: he raped a child, and the girl killed herself. Then, secretly again, he married a poor despised ill-used madwoman. Why? In penance? Out of compassion? Is he a saint as well as a sinner? Or is it a bizarre joke? Dostoyevsky perfectly describes what Stavrogin is doing: he is “living sarcastically”.

Dostoyevsky believed Russia was sick with nihilism and despair, and could be saved only by a return to Orthodox Christianity. But the sun was going down on “Holy Russia”. The Orthodox Church was no longer capable – if ever it had been – of distinguishing between its saints and its sinners.

In Orthodox eyes, which of the two – saint or sinner – was Grigori Rasputin, the man who more than any other single individual hastened Tsarist Russia into extinction?

Rasputin was a peasant monk who the royal family of Russia needed to believe was a mystic healer. They put all their hopes in him to cure the Tsarevich of hemophilia, the bleeding disease that threatened the life of the young heir to the throne, the only son of the Tsar. The peasant monk might also have been (it was both alleged and denied) a member of the Khlysty, a Gnostic sect that had arisen in the 17th century and lasted into the 20th century, to be ended along with everything else by the Communist revolution. The Khlysty believed in direct (“intuitive”) knowledge of the divine and redemption through sin.

Whether or not as a member of the Khlysty, Rasputin convinced numerous highborn ladies that they could be redeemed through sin. Their lust being sanctioned by so exciting a promise, they stripped naked for him, begged for his sexual attentions, and – according to some colorful accounts – would even lick his greasy fingers clean after he had been eating with his hands at the table of the Tsar. What is well attested is that the occult was in vogue in high society, and some of its luminaries seriously expected – because they deeply longed for – miracles. Rasputin was their master; to them he was the Devil himself, laughing among them.

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His own motive in performing his part may only have been the simple one of enjoying himself. By many accounts he fed gluttonously, drank copiously, and copulated promiscuously.

The Tsarina could not live without him. She did as he told her. And as she depended too much on her “holy healer”, the Tsar depended too much on her. By her insistence, the Tsar took into his own hands the direction of his country’s forces in the Great War, and he did not do it well. Persons in high places became concerned that Russia was being governed and misgoverned by the “mad monk” – and it was not too much of an exaggeration. He apparently had power even over the Holy Synod, though he had never been ordained a priest. It seemed that a lascivious peasant was working his will over church and state. The Tsar refused to send him away. Nothing could dislodge him.

Plots were hatched to kill him. And finally four would-be assassins – the Grand Duke Dmitri Romanov and Prince Felix Yusupov, along with a member of the Duma and an army officer – set about murdering him in the basement of the Yusupov palace on December 17, 1916; first with poison – but he stayed alive; then with a gun, shooting him many times – but still he did not die; then stabbing him and beating him on the head with a truncheon. Finally they dropped him, probably dead but by some accounts still alive, over a bridge and down through the ice of the River Niva. So ended his real-life performance as a “holy sinner”, or magus.

It had been a magnificent mockery – of religion, power, aristocracy, and morals – born of a brilliant, if instinctive, perception that the stupidity of the great laid them open to exploitation by bold native cunning. Had the Romanovs, in particular the Tsarina, and her noble ladies avid for sin, not been mystics themselves, not believed in miracles, they would not have fallen under Rasputin’s spell. The Orthodox Church itself – or part of it – romanticized mystic charlatans of his kind. Both the institutions of monarchy and church had become rotten stumps ready to be kicked over.

And kicked over they soon were. The downfall of Tsarist Russia began on April 16, 1917, just four months after Rasputin’s death, when Lenin returned from exile and began the process that brought the Russians under Marxian Communism.

 

Jillian Becker   September 20, 2014

 

AHA! – what were Yale atheists thinking? 2

This is from Truth Revolt, September 11, 2014:

Muslim Students Association at Yale University has written a letter expressing concern that the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program on campus is hosting women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak about Islam.

The Somali-born Hirsi Ali is an outspoken critic of organized religion, specifically Islam, which was used as justification for genital mutilation and attempting forced marriage.

In an email obtained exclusively by TruthRevolt, Abrar Omeish, an MSA board member, asks for campus organizations to stand against Hirsi Ali’s proposed talk.

Hirsi Ali (they say) is:

… a speaker who is very well known for her hateful comments towards marginalized groups, especially the Muslim community. It is making many Muslims on campus feel unwelcome and uncomfortable … We would like to point out though that her main source of fame – or, rather, infamy – has been her inflammatory comments about Islam and its followers. Not only are these comments hateful, but they are also very hurtful to the Muslim community, particularly to Muslim students at Yale.

Through its efforts, the MSA managed to recruit 35 other campus groups and student organizations to stand against Hirsi Ali’s talk because she “is being invited to speak as an authority on Islam despite the fact that she does not hold the credentials to do so.”

Hirsi Ali is scheduled to to give a lecture titled “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West” on Monday September 15th.

Hirsi Ali, a best-selling author, drew national attention when Brandeis University infamously rescinded a previously-extended offer of an honorary degree this past April.

Omeish also privately noted that a “ number of prominent groups and publications on campus especially those of faith, have joined, and as brothers and sisters in faith we would particularly appreciate solidarity with you against hatred that we both believe God does not teach us to promote. The Muslim community and its allies are disappointed that our own fellow Yalies would invite such a speaker knowingly and that she would have such a platform in our home”.

Co-signers to the letter include: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), J Street U, The Arab Students Association (ASA), Women’s Leadership Initative (WLI), The Women’s Center, Asian American Student Alliance (AASA), Black Church at Yale (BCAY), The Slifka Center, Council on Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), and the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA).

The last six words intensely provoke us! Why would the Yale Atheists turn against a fellow atheist? Join “brothers and sisters in faith” acting in a way they think “God” would not approve? Against an extraordinarily brave and brilliant woman – and great thinker and writer – who knows as much as anyone can possibly know about the suffering of women under Islam, being herself a survivor of its cruel tyranny?

William S. Buckley, after whom the Program is named that she was invited to honor with her presence, would have held her in the highest esteem.

We’re glad to say Ayaan Hirsi Ali did deliver her address at Yale University as scheduled.

We’ll post a video or transcript of it if and when we can.

Here, for now, is how she ended it:

 

The systematic weakening of America 4

This is from an article at Investors’ Business Daily by Robert R. Monroe, retired vice admiral with the U.S. Navy and former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency:

At the dawn of the nuclear era, when America created its nuclear weapons laboratories (Los Alamos, Livermore and Sandia) … the labs were charged to conduct advanced nuclear weapons research, development and testing of all types so that no adversary could ever take us unawares by producing some new and dangerous types of nuclear weapons.

The labs performed this mission superbly throughout World War II and the five decades of the Cold War. For over half a century our nuclear weapons and related advanced technological capabilities were supreme in the world.

But since 1992, the U.S. government — executive branch and Congress — has actively prevented the labs from doing work of this type. For 23 years Democrats and Republicans, using laws, regulations and denials of funding, progressively restricted the labs from taking any of these needed actions.

Lab scientists have not been able to even think about new weapons, exploratory work has ceased to exist and the high-priority mission of avoiding technological surprise has been closed down.

These grave mistakes resulted from the simplistic belief that they would help prevent nuclear proliferation. Wiser voices, making the obvious point that true national security — and effective prevention of nuclear proliferation — lay in nuclear weapons strength, were shouted down.

This two-decade rampage has resulted in a staggering list of national disabilities:

Most damaging is President Bush’s unilateral 1992 moratorium on underground nuclear testing. It bars the labs from essential testing of our overage nuclear stockpile, prevents development of relevant replacement weapons, denies our scientists use of the scientific method (the basis of all advancement) and leaves us at the mercy of Russia, China and other adversaries.

• From 1993-2003 Congress explicitly made it illegal to carry out any research or development on low-yield nuclear weapons, which are vital to deter today’s grave new nuclear threats. This established the wrong mindset in a generation of lab scientists which still exists.

In 1989 the executive branch shut down the nation’s only facility to produce plutonium pits — the hearts of nuclear weapons — making us the only nuclear weapons state in the world unable to produce nuclear arms. Since then, executive branch fumbling and congressional denials have combined to prevent replacement of this absolutely essential production facility. If a decision were made today, it would still be 10 to 15 years before pit production could start.

In 1996 President Clinton signed the extremely damaging Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which denies nuclear weapons testing for all time. The Senate emphatically rejected ratification in 1999, but several adverse effects of the signing remain and President Obama is determined to get it ratified. The CTBT has an overpoweringly adverse effect on the labs.

In 2003 the executive branch belatedly proposed three important new nuclear weapons programs. The Advanced Concepts Initiative would have enabled the labs to commence research and development on advanced nukes. The Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator program would have met the mushrooming threat of hard, deeply buried targets. The Enhanced Test Readiness program would have enabled the president, in a national emergency, to conduct an underground test within one to two years, rather than the current three to five.

Congress delayed, then killed, all three programs.

The weakening process has been accelerated under Obama:

• In 2005 the Reliable Replacement Warhead program was proposed. Because it had no new military capabilities, it gained fragile bipartisan support. However, Congress soon backwatered on it, and Obama killed it in 2009 as not befitting his “world without nuclear weapons” vision.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which established the overall nuclear policy of the current administration, provided the blueprint for U.S. nuclear weakness, a stark reversal from the role of U.S. nuclear weapons strength that had been established and maintained by 12 Presidents (six Democrats, six Republicans) throughout the prior seven decades.

The urgently needed modernization program for the labs and America’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, formally agreed to by Obama in return for Senate approval of New START treaty ratification in 2010, has been progressively dismantled by both branches ever since.

These eight actions — and many others — by our national leadership have emasculated the labs’ ability to protect us from technological surprise in nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, for two decades Russia has been following exactly the opposite course. Its nuclear weapons labs have focused on low-yield weapons research, design, testing and production. It’s pursued advanced concepts, fifth-generation weapons and greater use of fusion and less of fission (possibly achieving pure fusion).

Such weapons might well emit only neutrons and gamma rays, and their tactics of use would be ones we’ve never seen.

Furthermore, Russia’s new strategy calls for early use of nuclear weapons in all conflicts, large and small.

America’s current nuclear weapons course is one of grave risk. Our policy documents emphasize that “nuclear stability” must be our goal, yet the technological surprise we are encouraging by our actions is the antithesis of stability. We must return to a policy of nuclear strength.

China too is strengthening its arsenal with new weapons.

This is also from IBD:

National Security: Beijing is moving fast on a maneuverable, hypersonic glide vehicle designed to evade America’s defenses, including the Aegis ballistic missile system guarding our carrier battle groups.

On Aug. 7, China conducted a second test of its hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), known as the WU-14, yet another example of its relentless pursuit of high-tech weaponry as the United States abandons what the administration dismisses as Cold War weaponry.

The first test, conducted in January, saw China’s HGV reach speeds in the vicinity of Mach 10, about 10 times the speed of sound. In the latest test, according to Internet reports, the WU-14 was the upper stage of a missile launched from the Jiuquan satellite launch facility in China’s western Gobi desert.

Strategic experts say that the importance of this weapons program cannot be understated. …

China in March announced a 12.2% rise in this year’s military budget over 2013, which itself was 10.3% over the year before that.

These are the actions of an ascending power intent on challenging the U.S., first in the western Pacific and then globally.

It is building a blue-water navy complete with its own carrier battle groups.

Last fall, the Chinese newspaper Global Times boasted, “The 12 JL-2 nuclear warheads carried by one Type 094 SSBN (ship, submersible, ballistic, nuclear — i.e., a ballistic missile-carrying nuclear submarine) can kill and wound 5 to 12 million Americans.” This announcement came complete with target maps.

As we’ve also noted, China recently unveiled a new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41, that can deliver 10 nuclear warheads to any target in the U.S.

We have moved in the opposite direction, recently deactivating an entire ICBM missile squadron.

China has begun throwing its weight around, recently establishing an air defense identification zone over the Senkaku Islands near Okinawa, claimed by Japan. It has also laid claim to the Spratly and Paracel Island chains in the South China Sea, the entirety of which it treats as Chinese territorial waters.

Beijing’s goal is to push the U.S. out of the western Pacific, establish regional dominance along the Pacific Rim and then push outward from there.

Will the US do anything to stop it?

There’s no sign that it will.

Between the Hamas devil and the deep blue sea 10

The one really helpful thing that a strong American leadership could do to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: persuade the Egyptian and Jordanian governments to assimilate the Palestinians. Egypt could annex Gaza – something it resisted doing even when Gaza was under its administration before 1967. And Jordan could add the population of the West Bank to its existing Palestinian majority. Jordan was created to be the Arab state  in the Palestine area over which Britain was granted a mandate after the First World War.

Many Gazans find life under the cruel government of Hamas intolerable. Thousands try to flee the Strip. They pay smugglers to get them to Europe.

On arrival in Europe they claim to be refugees from Syria.

Recently two ships carrying Palestinian refugees from Gaza were sunk – by rival smugglers. Most of the men, women, and children they were carrying drowned.  

This report comes from the repellent, left-slanted, but informative Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

Thousands of Palestinians have left the Gaza Strip for Europe using tunnels, traffickers and boats …

Gazans have been fleeing the Strip since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge [Israel's name for the most recent war],  but their escape was hardly covered in the media since they have been leaving clandestinely, with the help of paid smugglers.

And the smugglers are in cahoots with Hamas.

The sinking of two ships carrying Palestinians from Gaza — one off the coast of Malta last week, and the other off the coast of Egypt — and the drowning of hundreds of passengers have focused attention on the trend.

The Palestinian Embassy in Greece reported yesterday that the ship that sank off the coast of Malta was carrying more than 450 passengers, most of them Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and that it was rammed intentionally by another ship run by rival smugglers.

The Gaza-based human rights group Adamir has collected the names of more than 400 missing people. “No one knows where they are; the whole Gaza Strip is talking about it. It’s such a painful story, as if it’s not enough what happened in the last war and now another blow comes,” said Adamir director Halil Abu Shamala, noting that most of the passengers were young people but that there were also whole families aboard.

At least 15 Palestinians drowned when another ship sank off the Egyptian coast near Alexandria on Saturday. …

One prominent smuggler leader named Abu Hamada Asuri oversees a network that brings people out of the Gaza Strip to Europe by sea. He lives in Egypt but has representatives in the Strip, some of whom are well-known figures there.

A Palestinian told the newspaper:

This trip costs between $3500 to $4000 dollars a person. People who want to go make arrangements ahead of time to come to the entrance to a tunnel in Palestinian Rafah. It’s a relatively small tunnel; most of the big ones have been blocked by the Egyptians. People crawl dozens of meters and at the end of the tunnel on the Egyptian side of Rafah a minibus or other vehicle waits for them and takes them to Port Said.

The man said that once they get to Port Said or other locales, they wait in an apartment or other building that has been prepared for them ahead of time. He added that Egyptian security officials are bribed to look the other way and stamp passports with forged stamps. …

The refugees wait until they get word from the smugglers to proceed to Alexandria, where they board small boats, sometimes dozens per boat. Once they leave Egyptian territorial waters they switch to another boat that in most cases sails to Italy. The trip usually takes about a week.

One refugee who managed to get to the Italian coast [said] that when the boat approaches the shore it issues a distress call and Italian navy and Red Cross ships pick them up. In other cases, the boat approaches the shore and people jump into the water with life jackets, and are rescued by the Coast Guard or the Red Cross.

Most of the refugees say they are Syrians or Palestinians who have arrived from Syria seeking safe haven from the war in that country. The refugees are transferred to special facilities where they wait for a few days. They say the long arm of the smugglers reaches right into those facilities; representatives of the smugglers sign papers releasing them from the facilities, and then onward to their destinations. Some want to leave Italy for another country where they have relatives.

One Gaza resident, who had planned on leaving the Strip in the next few days … changed his mind after he heard about the drownings. People hear about how to leave Gaza by word of mouth, he said. “Some people came and told about the good life and the normal conditions and of course anywhere in Europe is better than here. Whether you get through the whole trip safely depends on what kind of luck you have.” …

One woman survivor of the ship that sank off the coast of Alexandria said Egyptian smugglers had rammed it and that they saw people were drowning and offered no help. “But I don’t think even such a terrible incident will stop the phenomenon because people are completely desperate and want to leave. They say clearly it’s better to die at sea than die of despair and frustration in Gaza,” the resident said.

The Palestinian Authority yesterday warned Palestinians to be wary of the smugglers. But the government cannot act against those who flee because its security forces don’t have control over the smuggling routes, which are in the hands of influential people who are close to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. 

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Another Israeli source, also reporting on the sinking of refugee ships and Hamas’s involvement in the smuggling, writes this:

Internal Arab polls indicate that at least 70% of Gazans want to leave Gaza for good. The Europeans must take the moral step to help these people leave safely to European shores.

What? Seventy percent of the population of Gaza to be added to the Muslim colonists of Europe?

Europe should rather join America – when it has proper leadership – in bringing about the annexation of Gaza by Egypt (and the absorption of the West Bank Palestinians by Jordan).

Posted under Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestinians by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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And God created ebola 11

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These photos (from the Mail Online) of sufferers from ebola lying dead on the roads in Liberia give a true picture of Africa. See how poor it is – despite decades of First World aid being poured into it.

Why the pervasive and persistent poverty with it concomitant filth and ignorance? Could the aid have something to do with it? It wrecked the local economies and filled the Swiss bank accounts of the dictators rather than built a house, paved a street, or founded a school or hospital.

Millions of Africans have died of malnutrition, malaria, and Aids. And now thousands are dying of ebola.

But out of the West comes more aid. The outbreak and rapid spread of this most terrible disease allows Obama to continue his campaign of turning the US military into a ministry of social workers.

American soldiers will now have to face something far more lethal than IS/ISIS/ISIL. Something they did not sign up for. (Will there be no protest from the ranks?)

And what are the odds against their bringing ebola back home with them?

This is from the Wall Street Journal. (Google the title Obama Plans Major Ebola Offensive to get round the paywall. )

President Barack Obama plans to dramatically boost the U.S. effort to mitigate the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including greater involvement of the U.S. military …

Mr. Obama is expected to detail the plan during a visit Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] in Atlanta …  Among the possible moves: sending additional portable hospitals, doctors and health-care experts, providing medical supplies and conducting training for health workers in Liberia and other countries.

Mr. Obama also is expected to urge Congress to approve the request he made last week for an additional $88 million to fund his proposal.

“There’s a lot that we’ve been putting toward this, but it is not sufficient,” Lisa Monaco, Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said in an interview Sunday. “So the president has directed a more scaled-up response and that’s what you’re going to hear more about on Tuesday.”

The strategy has four components: control the outbreak at its source in West Africa; build competence in the region’s public-health system, particularly in Liberia; bolster the capacity of local officials through enhanced training for health-care providers; and increase support from international organizations …

The Ebola outbreak has infected at least 4,784 people as of Sept. 12, with 2,400 of them dying—a jump from 3,707 cases and 1,848 deaths as of Aug. 31. The true toll probably is much higher, the World Health Organization says. …

Mr. Obama ordered a bolder U.S. effort about two weeks ago after CDC Director Tom Frieden briefed the White House on his findings from a trip to West Africa … Dr. Frieden said publicly on Sept. 2 that he saw dozens of patients lying on the ground in an Ebola treatment center because there weren’t enough beds. “I could not possibly overstate the need for an urgent response,” he said.

Mr. Obama’s plan is a reaction to concern that the epidemic could significantly grow in West Africa, particularly in urban areas. …

One rising concern among officials is the possibility that the virus could mutate in a way that would make it more dangerous.

It could become air-borne.

The more the virus spreads from one human to another, the more opportunities it has to mutate, virologists say. While not all scientists agree that significant mutations that would change the way the virus is transmitted are likely, one recent study of virus samples over three weeks in Sierra Leone found many mutations.

The fourteenth century was cursed with the Papal Inquisition and bubonic plague. The twenty-first century is cursed with Islam and ebola.

The only sensible place to look for real help is the laboratory.

Western hard-headed science will do what Western soft-hearted charity can not.

Posted under Africa, Health, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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A Muslim speaks for Israel 0

An interesting video, worth the hour it takes to watch it.

Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim of Pakistani descent, talks about how and why he changed from being fiercely anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, to being an admirer of Israel and a defender of Zionism.

Posted under Anti-Semitism, Commentary, Ethics, Islam, Israel, Muslims, Pakistan, Palestinians by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Dirty tricks at Hillary Clinton’s State Department 2

An article by Sharyl Attkisson at the Daily Signal uncovers deep and shameless corruption in Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

It is a shocking story. If it is true – and it certainly rings true – it should not merely put Hillary Clinton out of the running for the presidency, but bring her reputation into such disrepute that the best thing she could do is retire permanently from public life. It should also launch a legal investigation if the Obama DOJ under Eric Holder were not equally corrupt.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, a chief officer in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, was one of the four totally innocent people “disciplined” for unspecified wrong-doing over the Benghazi attack. In other words, they were scapegoated, while those guilty of letting four Americans, including the Ambassador – the high representative of the United States of America – be murdered in Benghazi, have been exonerated by a white-washing Accountability Review Board (ARB).

It is Maxwell who reveals what happened.

His department “was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe”.

On a certain week-end, “confidants” of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (how many is not told) gathered in a basement room where documents were stored, and separated some before handing over a batch to the ARB. 

“I was not invited to that after-hours endeavor, but I heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon,” Maxwell says.

When he arrived …  he observed boxes and stacks of documents. A State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though technically she worked for him, he hadn’t been consulted about her weekend assignment.

“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light’.”

“Seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisors.

“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Those are our orders’.”

A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says, in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.

They were two more of Hillary Clinton’s “confidants”: Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff and former White House counsel who defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial; and Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan, who previously worked on Hillary Clinton’s and then Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

“When Cheryl saw me, she snapped, ‘Who are you?’” Maxwell says. “Jake explained, ‘That’s Ray Maxwell, an NEA Deputy Assistant Secretary. She conceded, ‘Well, OK’.”

The two Clinton “confidants” (“conspirators” would be a better word for them) “appeared to check in on the operation and soon left”.  

Maxwell “did not feel good” about what was going on, and walked out.

He views the after-hours operation he witnessed in the State Department basement as “an exercise in misdirection”.

In May 2013, when critics questioned the ARB’s investigation as not thorough enough, co-chairmen Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen responded that “we had unfettered access to everyone and everything including all the documentation we needed.” Maxwell says when he heard that statement, he couldn’t help but wonder if the ARB — perhaps unknowingly — had received from his bureau a scrubbed set of documents with the most damaging material missing.

“Perhaps unknowingly”? Maxwell put that in, but he does not have faith in the ARB.

Maxwell also criticizes the ARB as “anything but independent,” pointing to Mullen’s admission in congressional testimony that he called [Cheryl] Mills to give her inside advice after the ARB interviewed a potential congressional witness.

Smell a rat? The smell of a whole nest of rats is strong enough to bring the exterminators without a call to summon them.

Maxwell also criticizes the ARB for failing to interview key people at the White House, State Department and the CIA, including not only Clinton but Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, who managed department resources in Libya; Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro; and White House National Security Council Director for Libya Ben Fishman.

Those three officials must have been suspected of being honest.

“The ARB inquiry was, at best, a shoddily executed attempt at damage control, both in Foggy Bottom and on Capitol Hill,” Maxwell says.

Maxwell “spent a year on paid administrative leave with no official charge ever levied against him”. He was eventually “cleared of wrong-doing” and reinstated. Soon after that he retired, in November 2013.

Several weeks after he was placed on leave with no formal accusations, Maxwell made an appointment to address his status with a State Department ombudsman.

“She told me, ‘You are taking this all too personally, Raymond. It is not about you’.”

But his reputation had been besmirched. He was being named by the media as a man who had contributed to the disaster of Benghazi.

“I told her that my name is on TV and I’m on administrative leave, it seems like it’s about me. Then she said, ‘You’re not harmed, you’re still getting paid. Don’t watch TV. Take your wife on a cruise. It’s not about you; it’s about Hillary and 2016′.”

The question now is: will the mainstream media report the story?

You don’t believe so? Neither do we.

A sort of coalition of the very unwilling 2

President Obama does not want to take action agains the Islamic State. But opinion polls have forced him to utter some platitudes about keeping America safe and the Islamic State being a bad thing (though “not Islamic”, he says), and to make a military gesture or two by sending a few American personnel to Iraq and having the US Air Force bomb a few IS sites. But you mustn’t call it aggressive war, what he’s doing. If it must be called “war” at all, then it must be something the whole world wants to do so the US has no choice but to go along with the wish of so overwhelming a community.

He has sent that great negotiator John Kerry. who has a record of success in his diplomatic ventures (being sarcastic here), to form a coalition.

And it looks as if Kerry will be as successful as ever he was. He has not managed to form a coalition. Not with Arab states. Not with Islamic states. Not with European states.

Iraq might say it will join, but it has only a diminished and intimidated army.

Egypt and Jordan have refused to join.

Turkey has not only refused, but has denied airbases on its territory for US or any other airstrikes against IS.

Britain and Germany will send arms to the Kurdish peshmerga forces to fight IS, but will not take part directly in the fighting.

France … Ah, France! President Francois Hollande is as eager to lead the chimerical coalition as President Obama is reluctant to do it. Last Friday he personally accompanied a vast amount of materiel to Baghdad. He plans to host the occasion in Paris on Monday when – if – a coalition will  be formed. And he has invited Iran to participate.

Our information comes largely from DebkaFile, from which we quote the following:

Friday, Obama appointed Gen. John R. Allen, former commander in Afghanistan and western Iraq, to lead the coalition forces in the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levan.

It is hard to see what combat forces he will lead, in view of the mixed international responses so far to Washington’s appeals for a global coalition to combat terror.

In the years 2006-2008, Gen. Allen commanded the US II Marine Expeditionary Force, which successfully fought Al Qaeda under Musab Zarqawi’s leadership in western Iraq’s Anbar province. He led what was then dubbed the “Awakening” project, which rallied the region’s Sunni tribes to the fight.

President Obama appears to be hinging his campaign against the new Islamist scourge on Gen. Allen repeating that success. …

The prospects of this happening in 2014 are fairly slim, because the circumstances are so different:

1. To support the Sunni Awakening venture, President George W. Bush authorized the famous “surge” which placed an additional 70,000 US troops on the Iraqi battlefield. However, Obama has vowed not to send US combat troops back to Iraq in significant numbers, and has approved no more than a few hundred American military personnel.

2.  In 2006, Iraqi Sunnis trusted American pledges. They agreed to turn around and fight fellow Sunni Al Qaeda after being assured by Washington that they would not lose their status and rights in Baghdad, and that the US would give them weapons and salaries. In 2009, they realized that the Obama administration would not stand by the Bush administration’s assurances. Their disillusion with America and the rise of a Shiite-dominated regime in Baghdad pushed them into the arms of ISIS.

3. Since then Iraq’s Sunni leaders have learned not to trust anyone. Today, they are hedging their bets, their tribal leaders split into two opposing camps between Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and the Islamic State, on the other. For the first time since the US invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein 11 years ago, Iraq’s Sunni leaders feel they are in the saddle and in a position to set a high price for their support.

All this leaves President Obama and Gen. Allen on the threshold of a war on Islamist terrorists, which everyone agrees needs to be fought without delay, but without enough political leverage for going forward or much chance of mustering the right troops to lead – even into the first battle.

Islam is a religion of cruelty, destruction, and murder 4

Bill Maher, atheist, explains to Charlie Rose, also apparently an atheist, how Islam is even worse than other religions.

 

(Hat-tip our Facebook commenter Tedd Allen)

 

 

Posted under Islam, jihad, Muslims, Religion general, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, September 13, 2014

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The riches of ISIS 9

The Islamic State is a state, whether the world likes it or not (and its doesn’t). A state is populated territory governed by an authority which is able to enforce its will internally and hold off its enemies. IS/ISIS/ISIL is fully able to do that. It is doing it. (Though being at war, its borders are not yet firmly established.) It does not require recognition by other states, nor to be a member of the ludicrous United Nations.

What is more, it is a rich state.

From the Heritage Foundation:

The army of radical Islamists [IS/ISIS/ISIL] controls production of 30,000 barrels of oil a day in Iraq and 50,000 barrels in Syria. By selling the oil on the black market at a discounted price of $40 per barrel (compared to about $93 per barrel in the free market), ISIS takes in $3.2 million a day. …

The oil revenue, which amounts to nearly $100 million each month, allows ISIS to fund its military and terrorist attacks — and to attract more recruits from around the world, including America.

According to James Phillips, veteran expert in Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation:

ISIS sells oil to consumers in territory it controls, roughly the size of Maryland, inside Syria and Iraq. The terrorist group also sells oil to a network of smugglers that developed in the 1990s during Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s rule; that network smuggled oil out of Iraq into Turkey to avoid sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

ISIS also reportedly sells oil, through middlemen, to the Assad regime in Syria that is trying to quell rebellion there. When it comes to making a fast buck, the Middle East has no shortage of “strange bedfellows” willing to do business with each other.

[This is very likely to be true. It is the sort of thing that happens in the Arab Middle East. In Lebanon in the early 1980s, when war and civil war were raging there, I learnt that certain factions bought their weapons from other factions that they were fighting fiercely every day - JB]

Oil is only one of the sources of revenue for the Islamic State.

This is from Business Insider:

ISIS brings in nearly $12 million a month in revenues from extortion and other shady practices in the Iraqi city of Mosul alone in addition to $1 million to $3 million a day selling oil illegally. …

In a recent interview with Der Spiegel, Brookings Doha Center fellow Charles Lister explains how ISIS uses its control of food and water supplies to further its goals:

Money is key here. It is well-known that the IS is almost entirely self-financed. Its money comes from the control and illicit sale of oil and gas, agricultural products like wheat, the control of water and electricity and from imposing taxes within areas it controls. It is literally earning millions of dollars each week, and a great deal of this money is pumped into social services.

ISIS’s advance throughout northern Iraq has put vast quantities of prime farmland under the control of the militant organization. Large portions of five of Iraq’s most fertile provinces are currently under ISIS control.

These provinces are collectively responsible for producing 40% of the country’s wheat crop. The militants have also raided between 40,000 and 50,000 tons of grain from government silos in the north of the country.

Al Arabiya reported that ISIS has transported at least 700 tons of grain from western Iraq into Syria for milling and refining. ISIS then proceeded to sell the grain to the Iraqi government through third-parties in order to raise further funds.

ISIS has expanded this effort recently by making flour using the grain it stole from government mills throughout Mosul.

A source at Iraq’s Agricultural Ministry told Reuters that ISIS has placed close to 30% of Iraq’s entire farm production at risk.

This scarcity and food insecurity has driven up prices and increased the windfall that ISIS receives from its wheat trade.

Control of water resources and hydroelectric power stations provide further funding for ISIS. The control of massive pieces of infrastructure, such as the Tabqa Dam outside of ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqqah, Syria, along with the group’s short-lived seizure of the Mosul Dam in Iraq, further demonstrates ISIS’s capabilities and ambitions. … The dam generates electricity for Aleppo and the surrounding region. ISIS fighters made sure that the dam’s staff was left relatively unmolested, in order to ensure that the dam remained operational.

ISIS collects taxes on a variety of commercial items, such as trucks and cellphone towers Raqqa’s Credit Bank has transformed into a functioning tax authority, with shop owners paying $20 every two months to ISIS in exchange for utilities and security.

ISIS [also engages] in extortion, carjacking, and kidnapping. Kidnappings have become an especially lucrative source of funding for the organization as the group targets foreigners, and attempts to ransom them.

If kidnappings have “become an especially lucrative source of funding” for the Islamic State, it must be because some of their attempts to ransom the captured foreigners have been successful.

ISIS also seized cash and gold from the banks it captured.

Hundreds of airstrikes by the US Air Force will not destroy the Islamic State. Words of condemnation at international summits will not defeat it. The West has allowed the growth of this savage force, has encouraged Islam to believe that it can conquer the Middle East, Europe, and eventually the world. Islam is crowing its triumphalism. It will take iron resolve, a huge commitment of military forces, persistence, and first and foremost the precise defining of the enemy as Islam, if IS/ISIS/ISIL is to be destroyed.

President Obama has poked the nasty thing with a tentative finger, and reluctantly sanctioned some attacking of it from a dizzy height. He will not call the engagement a war. He has sent a few hundred military personnel to Iraq to … what? Advise someone about something?

He’s hoping other nations will do any real fighting that might be necessary. His fervent wish that America will not be perceived (by whom? his political base? the Nobel Peace Prize Committee?) as leading a coalition of states using military force is so desperate that he includes China, and even Iran in his hopes.

Meanwhile the Islamic State is growing, strengthening, flourishing, mass-murdering, and drawing tides of men from all over the world to join its wild jihad.

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