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France, EU, civilization as we know it: Macron-Le Pen runoff; UPDATE: Fire in the streets, ‘Russia hacking’ theme

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 8:58pm

[Update at the bottom. – J.E.]

The sense of relief is palpable in the mainstream media.  Emmanuel Macron, the “center-left” latecomer in the French election, seems to be finishing in the pole position as the first round draws to a close.  National Front’s Marine Le Pen is finishing second.  A strong second, to be sure — the difference is currently about 600,000 votes — but second, nevertheless.

Polls have suggested that Macron would defeat Le Pen in a runoff.  And now that’s the head-to-head match the French voters will face in round two, on 7 May.

Center-right Republican candidate Francois Fillon — the Jeb! of this scenario — clocks in with a third-place finish, and is thus out of the runoff.  So is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Bernie Sanders radical in the group.  In spite of a late surge in the polling, he’s finishing in fourth place, just behind Fillon.

The oddity, as noted by numerous media outlets, is that the French Socialist Party — which successfully put up Francois Hollande in 2012 — is nowhere to be seen, its candidate (Benoît Hamon) fading in fifth place more than 4 million votes behind Mélenchon.  The Telegraph points out that between them, France’s two main parties for the last several decades — the center-right Republicans and the Socialists — have polled only 27% of the vote.

(Google News; Screen cap by author)

So it is fair to say that this election represents a watershed of some kind.  If Macron wins on 7 May, EU enthusiasts will take that as a ringing endorsement of globalist progressivism.  It won’t be; the combined vote tallies for Le Pen and Mélenchon — both EU-hostile — are a better gauge of that.  They show some 42-43% of French voters explicitly invested in walking out on EU-ism.  The 19-odd percent of the vote for Fillon indicates another sizable group that might best be called EU skeptics:  not anxious to break up the EU, necessarily, but willing to see France assert independence from it in some ways, and demand reforms and changes of policy.

Even Macron himself has not expressed blind fealty to an unaltered EU.  In fact, he is regarded in the media, with a respect that is very interesting for so little-known a politician, as something of an enigma.  His youth (age 39), his extremely thin political resume, and his late-breaking, out-of-nowhere surge against the sclerotic Socialist Party he came from, are reminiscent of Barack Obama’s breakout in 2007-2008.

Macron even gave his breakaway political party a downright Obama-ite name:  En Marche!  Literally a marching command — meaning simply “March!” — the name is usually translated into English as “Onward!” or “Let’s Go!”  But many observers have commented already on the similarity it bears to the iconic organizational name MoveOn in the USA — an organization wholly associated with Barack Obama, and one of his chief backers, George Soros.

I don’t claim any proof that Macron is connected with Soros, so let’s get that out of the way up front.  Neither will I sign up for any premature litmus-test assertions that Macron is not connected with Soros.  I don’t know if he is.  The empirical position on the matter is exactly that.  We don’t know.  To assert anything else is to insist on a partisan narrative.

That said, the political history of Emmanuel Macron’s rise in the 2017 electoral cycle is informative.  Patrick Marnham at the UK Spectator summarizes it:

His rapid rise makes Macron a genuine original in French politics and his opponents do not know what to make of him. Unlike all other serious contenders, he has no visible record of political commitment. In 2004 he graduated from the National School of Administration (ENA) and joined the upper civil service. Then, in 2008, he paid €50,000 to buy himself out of his government contract and became an investment banker with Rothschild, where he was highly regarded and quickly made a small fortune. Then, in 2012, with the election of President Hollande, his career took another unexpected change of direction: he left Rothschild to become deputy secretary-general at the Elysée. When Manuel Valls became Hollande’s second prime minister in 2014, with instructions to deregulate the French economy, Macron was catapulted into the economics ministry. …

As the months in office passed, Macron openly developed a separate political agenda, often disagreeing in public with Valls. Soon after his appointment, a mysterious movement appeared called ‘Les Jeunes avec Macron’ (‘Young people for Macron’). This was launched as a ‘spontaneous’ internet site, but quickly grew into a well-organised group numbering several thousand activists whose average age was said to be 33.

Good grief.  (There’s always something fascinating about those remarkable, rapidly assembled small fortunes, isn’t there?)  And there’s more:

[P]arty leaders mocked his inexperience and lack of support on the left, and estimated his electoral appeal at 6 per cent.

Undaunted, the economics minister announced that he was forming his own political ‘movement’, ‘En Marche!’ (Let’s Go!), ‘open to everyone of progressive views’ and ‘aimed at younger voters’. Last August he started touring French holiday resorts appealing for a vision that would ‘re-forge the country’s politics, culture and ideology’. At the end of the month he announced his resignation, and in November he launched the presidential campaign that he must have been secretly preparing ever since he joined the government.

More recently, some Americans will be aware that Macron claims to have been targeted by…oh no he didn’t…Russian cyber-attacks and a Russian-backed “fake news campaign.”  The whole narrative deployed around the U.S. election has been dumped into the French campaign, right down to the ceaseless refrain — uttered without the slightest evidence — that Russian interference is making the voters lose their faith in democratic processes.

Read all the commentary from Macron’s party leader, Richard Ferrand (link above).  It’s laughable.  It could not have been better designed to bolster and echo the narrative woven about the U.S. election, if it had been written by exactly the same person.

Now, Macron is not the Hillary Clinton of the French scenario.  That unhappy camper would be Benoît Hamon, the usual-suspect approved face of the wheezing Socialist Party.  But Macron is the guy claiming to be the target of fake news and cyber-attacks, courtesy of the Russian Bear.  So draw your own conclusions about where he fits in the strangely-unvarying political narrative of “noble liberal progressivism” versus “scary, Russia-backed fascists picked by ignorant, racist voters.”

For my part, I can’t endorse Le Pen.  From what I can tell, she is alarming in some ways (although not in terms of simply being a nationalist).  Trump is not Marine Le Pen — but Le Pen is what Trump might be if his despisers were right about Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka (which, however, they are not).

People with a sensibly status-quo mindset would all prefer that more-mainstream candidates were being more successful in politics these days, both before and after the elections.

But they’re not.  Neither Macron nor Le Pen represents a long-term win for France, or Europe.  Electing either of them will merely shift the calendar date of the reckoning for unsustainable policies and institutions.  With Le Pen, the French would know with some certainty what they were getting.  With Macron, they won’t.  En avant l’arc de l’histoire, belle France.

*UPDATE*: “Anarchists” — Antifa goons — took to the streets on Sunday, mounting violent protests as it became clear that Marine Le Pen would advance to the 7 May runoff.  It isn’t clear just yet how widespread the activity is around the country.  News reporting from multiple sources indicates that the protesters went at it for hours in Paris, however, ultimately escaping the containment area the police had set up, and moving on to another part of the city, where they “smashed shop windows, bus shelters and the windows of police vehicles.”  (You can watch hours of the stuff here and here, if you’re interested.  There’s been more than just a little of it going on.)

They also set some cars on fire.

Cars BURN as Paris protesters lash out at election result https://t.co/pTIoFX10DC pic.twitter.com/UjKSJDRvmR

— Artillería Roja (@Arti_Roja) April 24, 2017

Meanwhile, Politico.eu weighed in before the election returns started coming in, with a full-throated Greek-chorus narrative about “Russia hacking the French election.”  That’s basically the headline of the post, in case you aren’t getting it through your thick skull:

How Russia hacked the French election

The headline is preserved for posterity in this screen cap, in case things go well for Macron and somebody thinks better of leaving the Russian-interference paper trail out there.

(Screen cap by author, 23 Apr 2017)

It won’t be a surprise that the author of the post, Laura Daniels, is a fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, a project of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.  The Robert Bosch Stiftung cooperates with the Open Society Foundation in numerous ways, including on its European Program for Integration and Migration, which advocates tirelessly for unfettered migration into Europe.  Politico.eu’s news editor is Mr. Stephan Faris, who served as an editor for Project Syndicate from 2014 to 2016.  Project Syndicate, a media organization operating out of Prague, is one of Soros’s main media projects, funded by the Open Society Foundation.  No one seems to be quite as enamored of the Russian-interference narrative as Soros-funded and Soros-linked media organizations.  They run that flag up the pole rain or shine.

Palestinian stabs 4 near Tel Aviv promenade

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 5:54pm

An 18-year-old Palestinian from Nablus in the West Bank stabbed and lightly wounded three men and a woman in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon in a terror attack near the Herods Hotel on Hayarkon Street, along the city’s seaside promenade.

Shlomi Sagi, the commander of the Tel Aviv Police’s Yarkon District, said the terrorist was overpowered by hotel staff and police.

“Since we were already deployed in the area, he was arrested within seconds,” he said.

Shortly after his arrest, the attacker was handed over to the Shin Bet and after a preliminary investigation, security officials concluded that the rampage was nationalistically motivated.

Magen David Adom paramedics provided emergency treatment to the victims before evacuating them to the Ichilov Hospital at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

The wounded individuals included two men, a 50-year-old woman and a 70-year-old man.

Continue reading →

Government Schools + Anti-Gun Political Correctness = Child Abuse

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 12:39pm

Several years ago, I would regularly share horror stories about innocent kids being abused by politically correct government school administrators who overreacted to anything remotely resembling a gun.

I even had a U.S. vs. U.K. stupidity contest that featured many examples of anti-gun lunacy, though Canada may actually win the prize for the most absurd case of political correctness.

But I eventually stopped sharing these types of stories because it seemed there were so many and I felt like I was making the same points over and over again.

Time for the hiatus to end. I’ve run across a handful of stories that are so preposterous that I can’t resist revisiting the issue.

Here’s our first example. A local television station in North Carolina reports that a little girl was suspended because she pretended that a stick was a gun while playing with her friends.

A local mother is outraged after her 5-year-old daughter was suspended from school because of a stick that resembled a gun. …It started Friday when her mother got a call from the principal about a playground incident. Caitlin explained that she and her two friends were using their imaginations, playing “King and Queen.” In this case, Caitlin was the guard protecting the royals and picked up the gun to imitate shooting an intruder into the kingdom. Hoke County Schools said Caitlin posed a threat to other students when she made a shooting motion, thus violating policy 4331. …Miller says Caitlin was alienated by her friends and teachers as a result of the suspension. She hopes that the school will issue some sort of apology to her daughter.

I’m not the only one who thinks this is insane.

POLL: Should 5-year-old girl be suspended for playing with ‘stick gun’? https://t.co/vQpNDwk1LZ

— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) March 29, 2017

Now for our second story.

It’s about a very dangerous 11-year old girl who – gasp!! – used a butter knife. A Florida television station has the details.

A South Florida couple is outraged after they said their daughter was suspended from her middle school for using a child butter knife at lunchtime to cut a peach. …Souto’s daughter is an honor roll student at Silver Trail Middle School in Pembroke Pines. …Ronald and Andrea Souto told Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden that their 11-year-old daughter was suspended for six days for bringing the knife to school. “This is a set of a spoon, fork and knife for toddlers — one year old,” Andrea Souto said. “It is made for children to learn how to eat properly. She’s used it since she was baby.” According to the school district, the girl violated the county’s weapon policy when she used her butter knife in the cafeteria to cut the peach. …Ronald said he hopes what happened to his daughter will bring change to the district, specifically new polices when it comes to weapons.

But this rogue child didn’t just get suspended. She may become an actual criminal.

The Soutos said they were shocked about the suspension and are now concerned that their daughter’s act of kindness could lead to criminal charges. …The Pembroke Pines Police Department said it has turned over their investigation to the State Attorney’s Office. It’s unclear whether prosecutors will file charges.

Our third story comes from a St. Louis TV station and it involves a four-year old boy who was suspended for a shell casing.

Hunter, 4, has been suspended from his preschool for bringing a shell casing from a fired bullet to school. He’d been at the preschool for about a year, she said, and now was in tears. Neither she nor Hunter’s dad knew it, but he found something he thought was pretty neat and he took it to school Tuesday to show his friends. …Hunter’s parents got a letter from the school’s director saying Hunter had been suspended for 7 days. …It turns out the casing came from a visit with Hunter’s grandpa who is a Caseyville police officer, Jackson said. …The school’s vice-president e-mailed her that he was notifying the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

The last sentence is particularly chilling since DCFS bureaucrats presumably have the power to take children from their families. So imagine the horrible position of Hunter’s parents, who not only have to deal with their kid being suspended for doing nothing wrong, but also have to worry about the state kidnapping their child if some anti-gun bureaucrat woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Our fourth and final story is courtesy of the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama, where a teenager was expelled for a year because of a water gun.

A family is up in arms after their 16-year-old daughter was expelled from Prattville High School for having a water gun on campus. …she was banned from school property and any extra-curricular activities for the same period. …She said a male classmate handed the toy to her daughter “as a joke.” “…the second you picked it up, you know its plastic and a toy,” she said. “So we can understand the initial reaction, not knowing it wasn’t a real gun. But after the principal and school officials knew it was a water gun, things should never have progressed this far.” …The family wants any reference to the expulsion removed from Laney’s academic records, McPhillips’ letters read. …If the expulsion isn’t removed from Laney’s academic record, the family is considering filing legal action

I suppose there are two big-picture lessons to be learned.

First, it’s hard to be optimistic about the education system after reading this type of story.

If bureaucrats at government schools don’t have common sense, how can they teach reading, writing, and arithmetic?

Maybe (especially given the shocking lack of results after record levels of staffing and funding) we should break up the government school monopoly and let parents choose better-quality schools.

Second, keep in mind that anti-gun statists know they can’t win the intellectual argument against private gun ownership, so they’re trying to stigmatize anything remotely connected to guns in hopes of eventually winning the political argument.

Iranian resistance group confirms that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is ongoing

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 11:38am

An Iranian resistance group known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed on Friday that the rogue regime has not stopped its nuclear weapons program despite the P5+1 nuclear deal negotiated by former Secretary of State John Kerry and former President Barack Obama.

The engineering unit for the regime’s nuclear weapons program is called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research known by its Persian acronym SPND. The information was gathered by the network of the main Iranian opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, through assets within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Defense Ministry, and SPND, and so on. It shows that following the establishment of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, not only has the unit remained in place and active, it is now clear that in some fields its activities have even expanded.

The SPND is the unit charged with designing and creating a nuclear weapon. It is broken down into seven subdivisions, each of which is responsible for its own portion of nuclear weapons research.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, also known as Dr. Hassan Mohseni, is the key individual in the regime’s nuclear weapons program. He is a veteran IRGC brigadier general and continues to head SPND.

According to NCRI, each of the seven subdivisions of the SPND has continued its work at the same pace as prior to the 2015 nuclear deal. The work is being done at a new location tied to the nuclear weapons project , which had been kept a secret from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) up to this point.

According to Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the U.S. Representative office of the NCRI, two of the seven subdivisions of SPND play the most significant roles:

The first, the Center for Research and Expansion of Technologies on Explosions and Impact (METFAZ), works on the trigger and high-impact and non-conventional explosions. The second, Fakhar Moqaddam Group, works on uranium enrichment and enriched uranium.

According to Jafarzadeh, The director of METFAZ is currently an engineer named Mohammad Ferdowsi, who has been working at the Defense Ministry since 1986 and is a high-explosive expert. At the same time, he is the chairman of the board of directors of the High-Explosive Society of Malek Ashtar University (affiliated with the Defense Ministry).

In September 2009, the NCRI revealed the existence of METFAZ as well as the location of its tests in the Khojir military district in eastern Tehran. The site is located in the Khojir military road leading to the Parchin military industrial site and is adjacent to Sanjarian Village. However, the most recent investigation reveals that METFAZ conducts its main activities in another location, which has thus far remained a secret.

According to Jafarzadeh, the new intelligence by the MEK reveals the existence of a new location, which is identified in SPND’s internal communications with the codename “Research Academy”, or simply “Research”. This location has become the main center for METFAZ’s tests and other activities.

Apparently after the P5+1 deal was agreed to, much of the METFAZ research (and people) were moved to the Research Academy within the Parchin military facility.

If Parchin seems familiar, that’s because of the Associated Press report of the secret side deal which allowed Iran to conduct its own nuclear inspections at the Parchin base with no one from the IAEA present.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had long sought access to Parchin, which had been suspected of being the location were Iran was developing its detonation systems for nuclear weapons. In October 2014 Iran admitted to using Parchin to test exploding bridge wires, which are used as nuclear detonators, but they claimed the test explosions were not for weapons development.

Access is needed to clarify the nature and scope of Iran’s past nuclear weapons work. Inspectors need to establish what the Iranians did and how far they got. These are questions that need to be answered in order to set up a baseline for an inspection regime against future violations. The Obama administration had promised lawmakers that IAEA inspectors would be able to inspect Parchin and resolve all PMD issues before any final deal was inked. But that didn’t happen. Instead they allowed Iran to sign a secret side deal with the IAEA permitting the Iranians to self-inspect the facility rather than grant IAEA inspector robust access.

Now, according to the NCRI there is additional research and development going on at Parchin that the IAEA can’t monitor.

“In order to avoid the leaking of intelligence and information on the Research Academy, the location is under heavy surveillance and control by the IRGC Intelligence’s protection service,” Jafarzadeh said.

Ms. Soona Samsami, the U.S. Representative of the NCRI, commented on the political implications of the new information: “Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has stated time and again, including on November 24, 2013 immediately following the initial agreement of P5+1 with the clerical regime, that if the world powers had acted steadfastly, without economic and political considerations, they could have totally contained the regime’s bomb-making apparatus in that round of negotiations. She had warned: Total implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, in particular total stop of enrichment, accepting the Additional Protocol, and free and unhindered access of the IAEA inspectors to all suspected centers and facilities, are necessary in order for the regime to give up its drive to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Fox News tried to get independent confirmation of the NCRI analysis of the satellite pictures by interviewing two of the most renowned arms control analysts.

David Albright, the trained physicist and former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, told Fox News the structures visible in the satellite photography are consistent with a facility that makes high explosives; but he noted that Iran has the right to do so under the JCPOA, and that the imagery yielded no outward sign that Iran was also testing high explosives at the site. Still, he believes the IAEA should press for access there. “The international inspectors should use authorities under the nuclear deal to go and look at this site, and see what’s going on and start to verify a critical part of the nuclear deal,” Albright said, “namely, those activities involved in the development of nuclear weapons.”

Olli Heinonen spent nearly three decades at the IAEA, eventually rising to the level of the number-two official at the agency: deputy director-general. He has traveled to Iran for inspection tours and other business some twenty-five times. He reached a similar assessment about Plan 6, even as both men emphasized the need for more information to make determinative judgments.

“We see that the buildings are surrounded by berms; they are a distance from each other. This is a typical design for a site that works with high explosives,” Heinonen told Fox News. “I think there are serious questions to be asked [of] the Iranian government. Most likely IAEA should have access to this site.”

The NCRI has been invaluable in exposing some of the most significant parts of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, including Natanz uranium enrichment and Arak heavy water sites (August 2002), Kalay-e Electric centrifuge assembly and testing facility (February 2003), Lashkar-abad Laser enrichment and Lavizan-Shian site (May 2003), Fordo underground enrichment site (December 2005), and Defensive Innovation and Research Organization, SPND (July 2011).  And this new facility located within Parchin may be one more.

Cross-posted at The Lid

Colorado newspaper publishes letter advocating violence against fracking sites

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 11:13am

A newspaper in Colorado has yet to retract a letter to the editor it published suggesting state residents would be “intelligent” to act violently against oil pipelines in their communities.

The Boulder Daily Camera posted a letter to the editor April 19 that citizens have a moral obligation to destroy pipelines and eliminate oil jobs if they violate the sensibilities of Colorado residents. Editors altered the piece after publication but left the writer’s basic thesis in place: Violence may be the only way to prevent pipeline construction.

“If the oil and gas industry puts fracking wells in our neighborhoods, threatening our lives and our children’s lives, then don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers?” Andrew O’Connor wrote in a letter to the paper’s editors.

The letter was edited the following day to read “Don’t we have a moral responsibility to take action to dissuade frackers from operating here?” The Camera’s editors did not include an apology for its edits.

O’Connor’s piece is worthwhile, the editors noted, because it brings up philosophical ideas that are important to consider when discussing fracking.

“This letter was edited to delete references that may have been construed to expressly advocate violence or property destruction,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “The Camera does not condone or endorse violence or property destruction of any kind.”

His letter still claims, “fracking equals murder” and says blowing up gas lines would be the “intelligent” move. O’Connor implies using violence against pipeline companies is a matter of self-defense.

The Camera has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Similar situations have propped up in the past. Pennsylvania newspaper The Daily Item, for instance, apologized in 2015 for publishing a letter threatening violence against former President Barack Obama.

“We bungled the Obama attack letter,” the central Pennsylvania paper wrote. Letters are normally screened for “offensive language and ad hominem attacks” and there was “no excuse” for publishing threats of violence, the editors added. It was later deleted from the outlet’s website.

Activists have advocated using all manner of tactics against pipelines in Colorado for more than a year. TheDCNF obtained emails in 2016 showing environmentalists were recruiting protesters willing to get arrested for demonstrating against hydraulic fracturing.

An environmentalist group calling itself “Break Free Colorado” sent emails to anti-fracking protesters and other demonstrators asking those “willing to risk arrest, nonviolent direct action” to attend seminars teaching them how to get arrested.

Instructors at the group’s training seminars were tasked with teaching anti-fracking protesters how to engage in non-violent civil unrest tactics that lead to arrests.

“Here in Colorado, people are taking action to defend our communities from the dangers of fossil fuel extraction on our lands,” the email adds. “We are sending a strong message to our state leadership that we must break away from fracking our public lands and communities!”

This report, by Chris White, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Foul-mouthed woman loses it when flight is delayed

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 11:00am

This is sad. But who could blame them?

A big-mouthed woman erupted in a major rant on a flight about to depart San Antonio, Texas, and she seemed to know what she was doing.

After the recent United Airlines debacle where a doctor was forcibly removed from a plane that caused a media firestorm, police seemed afraid to remove the beligerant woman when they arrived. And she took full advantage, even referencing the doctor and said she wouldn’t be as nice as he was.

Video of the ranting passenger was posted to YouTube on Wednesday shows her swearing at crew members, taunting other passengers, and walking up and down the aisles yelling. It is not certain who the woman is, but the video is going viral and for good reason — it’s wild.

After a few minutes, a couple of San Antonio police officers enter the plane but both approach the situation very gingerly appearing not willing to be caught in the same situation as police in Chicago where they forcibly removed Dr. David Dao seriously injuring him in the process.

Continue reading →

Questions on child marriage, genital mutilation, wife-beating included in new Australian citizenship test

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:52am

Future applicants for Australian citizenship will asked a series of questions on “Australian values,” touching on subjects such as wife-beating, child marriage, genital mutilation and girls’ right to an education.

The government denies these questions are targeting Muslims.

“They’re not pointed at anybody in particular,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told a morning television show Thursday, when asked if Muslims were in the government’s crosshairs.

“They’re pointed at people who might think domestic violence is okay – well it’s not,” he said. “We should say to people who want to become Australian citizens that it is against the law, and if you have a different view, frankly we don’t want you to become an Australian citizen.”

Later Thursday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a raft of changes to the country’s citizenship policies. In future applicants will have to have lived in the country for four years rather than one, take a more stringent English test, and the citizenship test questions will be broadened to deal with what he called “Australian values.”

“We don’t define ourselves, like many other countries do, by race or religion or ethnicity,” he said in a television interview on Thursday night.

Continue reading →

Thai police arrest man smuggling semen into Laos

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:36am

Thai police have arrested a man attempting to smuggle six vials of human semen into Laos.

Authorities found a nitrogen tank containing the vials in the man’s bag when he was crossing the border at the northern Thai town of Nong Khai.

Police said the man confessed that the semen was bound for a fertility clinic in the capital of Laos – Vientiane.

Laos has seen a boom in commercial surrogacy after neighbouring Thailand and Cambodia banned the practice.

The semen was collected from Chinese and Vietnamese men, police said.

The smuggler, a Thai national, told police he had done 12 similar trips in the past year where he would collect semen from Bangkok clinics and transport them to the clinic in Laos, reported The Bangkok Post newspaper.

He said he had also done several deliveries to a hospital in Cambodia, the paper reported.

In 2015, Thailand banned foreigners from paying Thai women to act as surrogates following a string of scandals in the once thriving industry. Cambodia followed with a total ban last year.

Continue reading →

Taliban leader killed in U.S. airstrike

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:33am

A Taliban leader once known as a shadow governor of an Afghanistan province has been killed in a U.S. airstrike, U.S. forces in that country said.

Quari Tayib, at one time known as the Taliban shadow governor of Takhar Province, was killed in an airstrike in Archi District, Kunduz Province, Afghanistan on Apr. 17, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a press release Saturday morning.

“Tayib had been a target of interest since 2011 and was directly responsible for the deaths of U.S. service members in Afghanistan,” the release said. “Eight additional Taliban fighters were killed in the strike.”

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Another Dem boards the Trump impeachment fantasy train

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:29am

Juan Williams, the media pundit who was welcomed by Fox News after NPR tossed him for too-conservative views — and who’s since been a true-blue voice for the left — joined in the growing-in-popularity Democratic Party slam of Donald Trump and trotted out the “I-word,” impeachment, to crow yes, indeed, it sure does look like the president’s headed toward that fall.

Could the left please, please, please get it in their heads that prosecution generally follows crime — not precedes it?

And that simply believing someone’s guilty of something is not, in fact, proof positive of guilt?

In a piece for The Hill, Williams penned this: “Liberal Democrats could yet see their dreams come true. Last week, a new poll from the liberal outfit Public Policy Polling asked Americans if President Trump should resign if evidence emerges that his campaign worked with Russia to help defeat Hillary Clinton. A majority, 53 percent, said he should resign. That is important because PPP also found that 44 percent of Americans already believe that Trump’s campaign did just that.”

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Indiana State U. prof arrested, accused of making up anti-Islamic threats and attack

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:23am

Like other forms of persecution visited on so-called protected classes in twenty-first-century America, Islamophobia lives mostly in the minds of liberals and those they would seek to defend. People like Azhar Hussain, an assistant professor at Indiana State University, who claimed he was the target of hate emails threatening violence against him because of his Islamic faith. The threats culminated on the morning of March 24 when, Hussain claimed, he was physically assaulted as he was entering his office in the College of Technology. He told police that he was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground.

“He said he had not seen his attacker, and no words were spoken,” according to the Tribune Star. But the story began to fall apart almost immediately. Campus police questioned four people in the vicinity, and none of them was able to corroborate Hussain’s story, adding that they had seen no suspicious activity or people.

A joint investigation by campus police and the Cybercrime and Investigative Technologies Section of the Indiana State Police followed, during which investigators were able to track the computers from which the emails originated back to Hussain himself.

On Friday, Hussain was arrested on charges of making false reports of threats against him and an attack that authorities say did not happen.

Hussain, 56, faces a felony charge of obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor charge of harassment. He was booked into Vigo County Jail … and is scheduled for a Monday appearance in Vigo County Superior Court 6. Bond has been set at $10,000 cash.

[…]

The university on Friday said Hussain had been notified recently by Provost Mike Licari that he would not be reappointed to his faculty position beyond the 2017-18 academic year due to his inability to fulfill the conditions of his original appointment.

NYT: Comey went public about Emailgate partly because he didn’t trust Loretta Lynch to be impartial

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 9:45am

Lynch’s untrustworthiness has always been a key ingredient to the Comey/Emailgate saga. If not for the tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton last spring, it would have fallen to her as AG to make the final decision on whether to charge Hillary. Instead, because of the suspicions surrounding her, she declared publicly that she’d follow whatever recommendation the FBI made. That left Comey as the ultimate decision-maker, so when the investigation concluded, he felt obliged to state his reasons publicly. And, having done so, he felt further obliged in October after the feds started looking through Anthony Weiner’s laptop to notify the public that maybe the investigation wasn’t concluded after all. History will never know what might have happened, or not happened, had Bill Clinton stayed off Lynch’s plane and Comey remained in a subordinate role on the Clinton matter.

According to the Times, though, there’s more to the story than that. The tarmac meeting was important in thrusting Comey into a public spotlight on Emailgate, but unbeknownst to most of the country, he and the FBI had already developed suspicions about Lynch’s political bias towards Clinton.

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Columbia U. spending $2.5M to study its students’ sex lives

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 9:41am

Columbia University is spending $2.5 million on a sociological study of its students’ sex lives, according a professor working on the project.

“I am part of a major study right now,” Shamus Khan, a sociology professor, said during a talk Wednesday night with Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis. “The trustees of Columbia wrote a $2.5 million check to the faculty and said, ‘Figure this out. What’s going on with sex and the sex lives of students?'”

The project began in 2015, as Columbia became a focus for sexual assault activism. This included when Emma Sulkowicz, a university student, pledged to carry her mattress around campus until the student she accused of rape, but the university cleared, left campus or was expelled. Her case made Columbia ground zero for sexual assault awareness on college campuses and brought the university a great deal of negative press and unwanted attention.

The study, blessed by university president Lee Bollinger’s office, intends to examine “the individual, interpersonal, and structural (cultural, community, and institutional) factors that shape sexual health and sexual violence for undergraduates,” according to the project’s website. It’s called the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation, or “SHIFT.”

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Providence, R.I. passes ordinance welcoming gang members to their city

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 9:37am

The Providence (RI) City Council voted Thursday to give first passage to the Community Safety Act, a far-reaching ordinance designed to curb profiling by the city’s police but the odd benefits it gives to criminals and specifically gang members has many in law enforcement shaking their head.

The council voted 12-0 to approve the ordinance as hundreds of supporters cheered.  Mayor Jorge Elorza has already said he intends to sign it into law.

After reading the details of this ordinance, the only ones that will be cheering in a few months will be the criminals.

While the politicians covered up the terrible provisions in this act by saying that it was simply designed to “curb profiling,” what was really inside it will create one of the most lawless cities this country knows.

The violent crime rate in Providence is already 134% higher  than the state average and the passing of this ordinance will be the best thing that Rhode Island criminals have seen in some time.

Developed by activist groups, the Community Safety Act is weighed heavily towards giving benefits to the criminal element.

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A liberal justification for Trump Derangement Syndrome

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 9:27am

Suddenly, Trump Derangement Syndrome is a thing, or is trying to become one.

We’re told by many wise and well-meaning people that it is a huge and even fatal mistake for liberals (and for constitutional conservatives) to respond negatively to every Trump initiative, every Trump policy, and every Trump idea. There are bound to be — in an Administration staffed not by orcs and ogres but for the most part by the usual run of military people and professional politicians — acceptable actions, even admirable initiatives, and we would do ourselves and our country a huge disservice by simply responding to them all with the same reflexive hatred….

This is a perfectly reasonable assertion, and one that would count for a lot in pretty much any semi-normal circumstance. The problem is that it refuses to see, or to entirely register, the actual nature of Trump and his actions. Our problem is not Trump Derangement Syndrome; our problem is Deranged Trump Self-Delusion. This is the habit of willfully substituting, as a motive for Trump’s latest action, a conventional political or geostrategic ambition, rather than recognizing the action as the daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity that it truly is.

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Fraternity was told it was ‘appropriating a culture’; administrators won’t say which

Liberty Unyielding - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 9:17am

[Ed. – Twenty questions]

Don’t blame college students for their hostility to free expression. The fault ultimately lies with cowardly school administrations, who so often cave to student demands for censorship. Or as some now prefer to call it, “empowering a culture of controversy prevention.”

Those are the actual, Orwellian words of an official at American University.

Several weeks ago, a fraternity at AU, Sigma Alpha Mu, began planning a fundraiser for a veterans’ organization….

To jazz things up, they called their event “Bad(minton) and Boujee.” It’s a pun on “Bad and Boujee,” a popular rap song by the group Migos about being newly rich and hanging with materialistic women. Sigma Alpha Mu registered the fundraiser on American’s online scheduling system, required for all campus events.

A few days later Cimino got a strange email from the school.

Colin Gerker, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, said the word “boujee” might be criticized for “appropriating culture.” He would not approve the event unless the fraternity changed the name.

[…]

The students were perplexed.

A brief etymology, for those not familiar with “boujee”: The word originates with the Latin for castle or fortified town, “burgus.”

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Congress Should Tell the Music Industry ‘No’ When it Comes to Legislating Royalties

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Sun, 04/23/2017 - 2:48am

Originally published by The Hill on April 21, 2017.

If the music industry has its way, Congress will soon pass legislation that will charge consumers more for listening to music.

Major publishers of music have made record revenues from music royalties, but now they want Congress to legislate even larger profits. The largest publishers and record labels have created a front group called MusicFirst, which is organizing major lobbying efforts in Congress to generate artificially higher profits for the industry.

Currently, local radio stations receive free airplay in exchange for the free exposure they provide to artists. That exposure is highly valuable as it reaches hundreds of millions of people each week. One study suggested that the total value of such airplay totals nearly $2.5 billion annually.

Radio airplay is what determines the commercial success of artists, and it’s clear that record labels would even pay for its promotional value. But federal law prohibits doing so. The “free airplay for free advertising” set-up was created at the onset of the radio age to please both sides of the music equation, and to ensure that money would not corrupt or influence radio playlists.

Yet despite the fact that the music industry receives billions in free advertising from local radio stations every year, it’s asking Congress to impose a new royalty fee on local radio stations for playing popular music.

The specifics of the proposal are still being worked out, but it has already involved big hitters in the music industry. The group financed Grammys on the Hill and Advocacy Day earlier this month, and had about one hundred of the biggest celebrities in the entertainment industry knock on representatives’ office doors.

The leading music publishers and record labels dismiss the value of radio play for music success, yet airtime on local radio stations remains the largest factor in the success of popular music. “That’s where they get a lot of my music,” said country artist and 2017’s honoree at Grammys on the Hill Keith Urban. As a result, the record labels and publishers behind MusicFirst annually invest millions in promoting music for radio airplay.

MusicFirst, referring to the promotional value of radio airtime, notes in a statement, “In any other market-based arrangement they (local radio stations) would have to compensate the owner of that music at market rate.” But the reality is that in any other market-based arrangement, “big music” would also be paying for the promotion of their product as advertising.

In an open letter to Congress, MusicFirst said their proposal was based on “market-based principles [that] drive compensation for all artists and creators.” The problem is that the market would not set the “market rate” at all: The coalition is advocating for a government rate-setting agency to dictate prices on local radio stations.

Clearly, this effort is not one of seeking increased revenues for the music industry via the free market, but one of seeking a government-imposed fee at the expense of those who listen to popular music via local radio stations.

While the industry has sought several times in the past, through both legislation as well as regulatory action, to increase their profit margins, all of those efforts have failed. One such effort in the past was the Songwriter Equity Act, which did not go anywhere in Congress. The music industry has also unsuccessfully sought to get the Department of Justice to allow for artificially higher royalty rates off the backs of taxpayers.

Bailing out the music industry should not even be on Congress’ map. Voters elected their members of Congress to repeal and replace ObamaCare, reform the federal government, create jobs, and build a much stronger economy. Congress should heed the wishes of the voters that elected them and tell “big music” that the era of special interest bailouts is over.

U.S. conservatives should hope Francois Fillon prevails in France

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 9:09pm

[Ed. – I agree, although the hope is forlorn at this point.  France — and Europe — are in for a hard ride.]

There are two risks. One is that National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Mélenchon win the first round, giving France a choice between an extreme right and extreme left who agree about leaving the European Union. Both also are friendly with Moscow. The other is that Le Pen will face either the traditional conservative Francois Fillon or the synthetic centrist Emmanuel Macron, with the likelihood that the left will support Le Pen rather than — as in the past — obediently align itself with the center in order to defeat the National Front. A Le Pen victory would mean the end of Europe’s institutions as we know them. …

If I were French I would at least consider voting for Le Pen; as an American, I hope she loses as a matter of pure American strategic interest. The best outcome from an American standpoint would be the victory of the conservative Catholic free-marketeer Francois Fillon.

There are two sources of French rage against the country’s complacent and corrupt Establishment. The first is security. …

The second is economic.

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Trump shuts down EPA’s ‘Energy STAR’ crony program; interesting reason why media silent?

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 8:49pm

[D]on’t expect any media coverage of this repeal soon, at least not until after the EPA’s big Awards banquet in Washington DC on April 26. Government and media elites will gather to honoring 152 businesses and organizations with prestigious 2017 ENERGY STAR awards, and there is simply no need to spoil the party with inconvenient facts.

ENERGY STAR is arguably the most corrupt federal program in US history, built entirely on myth, fraudulent scientific research and bogus technical reports. Which explains why most Americans have never heard of the ENERGY STAR program, and couldn’t locate a single shred of evidence supporting the EPA’s phony claims of hundreds of billions of dollars allegedly saved by EPA Partnerships. …

The US has never developed a National Standard for the measurement and verification of energy efficiency in products, all energy-savings claimed are estimates made by bureaucrats. Yet lawyers somehow managed to turn the ENERGY STAR brand of ‘certified’ government energy efficiency into a multi-billion dollar commodity, and relied on mainstream media to promote their delusional energy-saving claims to the Global community.

What they didn’t disclose is that ENERGY STAR’s big break came rather suddenly in 2009, when the Obama Administration released the EPA: Lead By Example guidelines and began claiming that ENERGY STAR products save 25-50% more electrical energy than other identical products. No technological breakthroughs were involved in this miracle, only the reshuffling of words on paper were required to create incredible value for this rare commodity.

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Google in the hot seat in SC: Big data sucks in big water

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 8:39pm

[Ed. – An interesting conundrum for “environmentalists” who want to smarten us all up by tracking and manipulating our lives using…big data.]

“[W]ater wars” are erupting in South Carolina, and that’s why the withdrawals by high-tech companies like Google are so controversial.

Forty million gallons of surface water per day now are pumped to customers by the Berkeley Water and Sanitation utility. Google, the marquee computer network company, apparently uses one-tenth of it — about 4 million gallons — to cool the servers at its only South Carolina data center, in Goose Creek.

Now Google wants to draw 1.5 million gallons per day from an aquifer under the coastal region to help cool the servers after a planned expansion — a volume that would make it the third largest aquifer user in the three counties around Charleston, according to South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control records.

The move is opposed by residents, conservationists and nearby water utility officials. …

Google has been tight-lipped about its Goose Creek operations, as it has at other centers. It has a non-disclosure agreement with Berkeley County Water and Sanitation. The utility does not release how much water the company uses or how much it pays.

The agreement was negotiated because Google considers the details a trade secret, according to county spokeswoman Hannah Moseley. The company is the only one of the top 10 users that is not disclosed, she said.

In a Water and Sanitation report requested by The Post and Courier, the only “undisclosed customer” in the top 10 list is the second biggest user.

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