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Trump lawyers told Carter Page in Dec 2016 to ‘cease’ calling himself a ‘Trump adviser’

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 8:11pm

[Ed. – I don’t suppose the Trump lawyers can get Fox and other news outlets to cease and desist.  Page has been categorical that he never met with Trump and wasn’t part of his campaign.  He’s also been categorical that he never talked to the Russians he’s been alleged to have spoken to in 2016.  (But he was probably putting his brief stint on a pro forma “advisory council” for Trump on things like LinkedIn.)]

Donald Trump’s legal team was trying to distance the president from international businessman Carter Page in the aftermath of the 2016 White House race, amid mounting questions about Russia influencing the outcome, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Attorney Don McGahn told Page in a December 2016 letter to “immediately cease” saying he is a Trump adviser and to stop suggesting he was more than a short-lived advisory council member “who never actually met with the president-elect.”

Page’s communications were being wiretapped by the FBI at least since last summer because the federal government had reason to believe he was acting as a Russian agent, as first reported by The Washington Post.

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He’s ba-ack: Obama to make first post-presidential political appearance on Monday

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 7:06pm

[Ed. – We know you’ve been on pins and needles.  Italics in original.]

[N]ow the vacation is over, at least for the moment, and the former President is heading back to Chicago to give a speech and get in on all of that hot “Resist!” action that’s going on. (Washington Times)

Steel yourselves. Barack Obama’s about to emerge from the shadows — and first stop, University of Chicago.

Why there? No doubt, it’s one of the more receptive breeding grounds for his particular brand of activism — the activism he’ll be touting to malleable student-age minds while engaging in, as his people called it, a “conversation about community organizing and civic engagement. …

That’s pretty much how Obama’s spokesperson frames it.

“This event is part of President Obama’s post-presidency goal to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world,” a statement about the event from Obama aides read.

[…]

[This is] a fairly significant shift away from what he was saying in May of 2016 when he sent Valerie Jarrett out on the cable news circuit to tell everyone that he would be “staying out of politics like George W. Bush” after he left. She went on to clarify, saying that, “he will leave being the president to the new president when he moves out of the White House…”

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Surgeon general who called ‘gun control part of medicine’ gone from Trump administration

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 6:03pm

Long-time readers of Liberty Unyielding remember when Howard Portnoy brought us the story of Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Harvard-trained physician whom Obama nominated to be his surgeon general in 2014.

Dr. Murthy had a lengthy and impressive resume.  But no part of it was as distinctive and controversial as his posture that “gun control” is a public health issue, and is “part of medicine.”  Since Murthy’s nomination erupted at a time when Americans were first learning that the Obamacare legislation was intended to have their doctors grill them on whether they had guns at home, the whole thing seemed like a bad idea gone worse.  (The following year, some of the public schools got into the act, like this one in Texas which asked students in a questionnaire about what guns were in their homes.)

Murthy didn’t necessarily bolster the, shall we say, gravitas of his cause by disclosing in 1994 that his philosophy about guns and medicine was developed from watching Saturday morning cartoons as a child.

But he was eventually confirmed by the Senate in December 2014, after a tough fight put up by the NRA.

Now he’s out.  The New York Times reports that he was fired:

Alleigh Marré, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in an emailed statement on Friday that he was asked to step down “after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration.” Ms. Marré said Dr. Murthy would continue to serve as a member of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service.

But Dr. Murthy’s wife, Alice Chen, said on Saturday that her husband had refused to resign and was fired.

No reason for his departure has been given. Certainly, Murthy hasn’t mellowed on his view of “gun control as part of medicine.”  He confirmed that in a November 2016 interview:

“What I’ve said before is what I believe now — which is gun violence is a public health issue,” Murthy told POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast. “I won’t shy away from saying that. It makes some people nervous when I say that. Frankly, I don’t care because the truth is the truth.”

Murthy’s version of the truth is consistently…interesting.  At the end of November 2016, he participated in a forum at Harvard’s Kennedy School, at which he had this to say:

In response to a question about gun control and gun safety, Murthy replied that gun violence is a public health issue. “That’s not controversial,” he said. “We need sensible gun laws in this country, and we need to invest in mental health.” Gun safety is also critical, he said, particularly for parents of young children who are also gun owners. More broadly, though, Murthy highlighted the need to address “the root cause of violence,” which he called “an expression of pain.”

“Many people assume that emotional well-being is something that happens to you,” Murthy said, “rather than something you can proactively cultivate.” He told the story of a California middle school that implemented a meditation program for students and teachers. The program had a transformative effect on the school, dramatically reducing suspensions, teacher absenteeism and other problems, which in turn helped raise students’ grades, test scores and sense of safety. “If we want to reduce violence, we should be having these conversations about emotional well-being,” Murthy said.

I would definitely want to verify exactly what happened at that school, before walking with Murthy any further down such a path.  But even without specific verification, I think we can say that this is an impressionistic — perhaps even a lyrical — but not an empirical passage.

Later in the evening, Murthy seemed to endorse creeping impressionism in the work of public health policy:

Asked about his time as an undergraduate at Harvard College, Murthy admitted, “I wish I’d taken more arts and humanities courses. Science doesn’t explain everything!” He added, “Storytelling is at the heart of medicine in a lot of ways.”

It’s quite true that science doesn’t explain everything.  Science does seem to be a better basis for medicine and public health policy than deeply-held, logic-resistant beliefs about “gun control.”

Murthy also spoke in November of the opioid crisis and “widespread social isolation” being public health issues.  Which is interesting; but in light of his selective dismissal of “science,” rather unnerving.

Given his penchant for jumping back and forth between science and imaginative belief, it’s probably better, henceforward, to not have Dr. Murthy watching over our social connectedness — or gun rights — as a “public health issue.”  Enough of the U.S. government is already engaged in activities of that kind.  We don’t need a surgeon general who has forgotten the most famous maxim of his profession: “First, do no harm.”

Justice Department violated free speech through burdensome demands for disabled access

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 5:05pm

In March, the University of California at Berkeley began removing 20,000 college lectures from the Internet. It did so in response to the Justice Department telling Berkeley that posting the lectures violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, because they were not fully accessible to the blind and deaf.

The Americans with Disabilities Act says that services do not have to made accessible to the disabled if doing so would impose an “undue burden” on the provider. The Obama Justice Department paid only lip service to this provision in its August 30, 2016, letter telling Berkeley that it was in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It claimed there was no “undue burden” in forcing Berkeley to make all of those lectures available to the blind and deaf, even though the cost apparently would have exceeded $1 million, a prohibitive amount for a free web site that does not make a profit. Moreover, it claimed there was no “fundamental alteration” of the service required, even though the Justice Department’s demands for accessibility required more than just verbatim captioning or transcription, effectively requiring Berkeley to create new content. This gave short shrift to limits on the reach of the ADA, which does not require regulated entities to “fundamentally alter” their programs and services to accommodate the disabled.

In response, Berkeley announced that it will:

…cut off public access to tens of thousands of video lectures and podcasts in response to a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the educational content accessible to people with disabilities…On March 15, the university will begin removing the more than 20,000 audio and video files…a process that will take three to five months — and require users sign in with University of California credentials to view or listen to them.

A third-party digital library copied the lectures from Berkeley’s web site, and plans to make them available to the public on its web site, but it remains to be seen whether this will trigger intellectual-property takedown demands or lawsuits.

As the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson noted last year, Berkeley’s removal of its internet content could harm disabled people with mobility impairments: “Even if the welfare of disabled persons is treated as the only important outcome, the application of the ADA is probably going to do harm, because online alternatives to classroom instruction are particularly valuable to disabled persons, notably those with impaired mobility.”

Reason magazine argued that by effectively defining “equal access” as “no access for anybody,” the Obama Justice Department put itself in the role of “the Handicapper General” from the satirical and dystopian science fiction story Harrison Bergeron.

The Justice Department’s demands exceeded its authority under the Americans with Disabilities Act, by effectively reading words like “undue burden” out of the statute. They also trigger First Amendment scrutiny because they restrict the flow of information to willing listeners. See Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 763-64 (1976) (commercial speech is protected because “the particular consumer’s interest in the free flow of commercial information, that interest may be as keen, if not keener by far, than his interest in the day’s most urgent political debate”).

Such demands can also burden the free-speech rights of speakers (college professors), by barring them from posting their speech, unless they first translate it into modes of expression that the blind and deaf can comprehend. The burden of doing so can in turn reduce their willingness and ability to disseminate their speech, especially when the speech is difficult to convey to a blind person, and additional commentary must be added. (See, e.g., Paul Taylor, The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Internet, 7 B.U.J. Sci. & Tech. L. 26 (2001); Ali Abrar & Kerry J. Dingle, From Madness to Method: The Americans with Disabilities Act Meets the Internet, 44 Harvard C.R-C.L. L. Rev. 133, 167 (2009)).

For example, the Justice Department’s letter to Berkeley complained that “in one video lecture, a professor pointed to and talked about an image and its structure without describing the image, making it inaccessible to individuals with vision disabilities,” and “Approximately half the videos did not provide audio description or any other alternative format for the visual information (graphs, charts, animations, or items on the chalkboard).” It also complained that “Some visual content presented in the slide presentations had low color contrast. For example, two video lectures referenced computer code on the screen that had insufficient color contrast, making it difficult for an individual with low vision to discern. Another video lecture used different colored lines on a graph, but the colors could not be differentiated by an individual with low vision.”

These demands to “provide textual translations of graphical images” violate the ADA’s statutory limits, which do not require regulate entities to incur an undue burden, or fundamentally alter the service provided. (See Charles D. Mockbee IV, Caught in the Web of the Internet: The Application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to Online Businesses, 28 S. Ill. U. L.J. 553, 571-73 (2004) (“Many disability advocates argue that Title III requires websites to provide textual translations of graphical images,” which would fundamentally alter “an art website into an art commentary website”; “If a court did interpret Title III to require business websites to supply textual or audible descriptions of complex graphics, such an interpretation would possibly violate the limits of the ADA.”); Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 442 U.S. 397 (1979) (stating that entities don’t have to make “substantial” or “fundamental” changes to their services, or engage in “affirmative action”; later Supreme Court decisions have drained these limits of some of their meaning)).

Forcing a speaker to disseminate unwanted speech can violate the First Amendment. See, e.g., Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241, 256-58 (1974). That case involved a Florida “right of access” statute wherein a newspaper that published criticism of political candidates was forced to print the candidate’s response at no cost to the candidate and in the same type and space as used to print the original criticism. The Supreme Court held that the statute violated the First Amendment because it operated as a command to newspapers to publish that which “‘reason’ tells them should not be published . . . .” The Court held that the statute exacted a content-based penalty due to the cost of printing the reply and because the reply took limited space that could have been devoted to preferable material.

The Justice Department’s restrictions on web pages are not so content-discriminatory as the right-of-access statute in the Tornillo case (since its interpretation of the ADA mostly requires “translation” of content, rather than additions to it, much less rebuttals), but they likewise could be seen as exacting a “penalty” on speakers whenever they choose to relay certain types of information that defy ready. The penalty includes devoting additional space on a web server to accommodate the extra information required to create handicapped accessible content.

Even if the ADA’s application to Berkeley’s web sites is not viewed as content-based (despite DOJ’s demand to create additional speech to describe “media-rich” content such as images, see Ali Abrar & Kerry J. Dingle, From Madness to Method: The Americans with Disabilities Act Meets the Internet, 44 Harvard C.R-C.L. L. Rev. 133, 136, 167 (2009)), it still triggers at least intermediate scrutiny under the First Amendment. In Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622 (1994), the Supreme Court reviewed a regulation requiring cable television systems to carry local broadcast television stations under so-called “must-carry” provisions. Though the regulation was content-neutral, the Court applied intermediate scrutiny, rather than rational basis review, in holding that the provisions could be sustained only if: (1) the law corrects an actual, rather than merely posited, harm; (2) the restrictions are “no greater than is essential” to the furtherance of the government’s interest; and (3) the importance of correcting the harm justifies the degree to which the law inhibits speech. These would likely be the minimum requirements the government would have to meet in order to uphold application of Title III to a private Internet site under the First Amendment. The regulations in Turner were upheld on a 5-to-4 vote, but only because they “do not produce any net decrease in the amount of available speech.” Id. at 647.

In contrast to the regulations upheld in Turner, Berkeley’s removal of the 20,000 lectures and videos obviously could produce a “net decrease in the amount of available speech.” Removing thousands of videos previously available to everyone just because a few disabled people could not fully access their content is like “burning the house to roast the pig.” See Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 882 (1997).

Here, DOJ only paid lip service to the idea that accessibility will not always be required regardless of cost in its letter to Berkeley. After first conceding that “UC Berkeley is not, however, required to take any action that it can demonstrate would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of its service, program or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens,” it asserted without any explanation that “UC Berkeley has not established that making its online content accessible would result in a fundamental alteration or undue administrative and financial burdens.” See The United States’ Findings and Conclusions Based on its Investigation Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of the University of California at Berkeley, DJ No. 204-11-30 (Aug. 30, 2016), at pp. 8-9.

The fact that Berkeley chose to remove thousands of videos despite the fact that this “process…will take three to five months,” tends to bely this claim that making the content accessible would not be burdensome — as does the fact that making them accessible would have required additional services that legal commentators have viewed as being an undue burden or fundamental alteration. (See, e.g., Charles D. Mockbee IV, Caught in the Web of the Internet: The Application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to Online Businesses, 28 S. Ill. U. L.J. 553, 571-73 (2004)).

While the Justice Department’s Berkeley findings involved Title II of the ADA (which deals with public entities and transportation), not Title III (which deals privately-owned public accommodations), it has also demanded that private entities make web sites accessible to the blind or deaf, such as in a legal settlement with a private educational consortium, edX. See Justice Department Reaches Settlement with edX Inc., Provider of Massive Open Online Courses, to Make its Website, Online Platform and Mobile Applications Accessible Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, May 12, 2015.

Hmm: Major power outages in NYC, LA, and SF, all on the same day?

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 4:01pm

[Ed. – Not crazy to at least investigate the possibility that this was a dry run for widespread sabotage.]

A series of subsequent power outages in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City left commuters stranded and traffic backed up on Friday morning. Although the outages occurred around the same time, there is as of yet no evidence that they were connected by anything more than coincidence.

The first outage occurred at around 7:20 a.m. in New York, when the power went down at the 7th Avenue and 53rd Street subway station, which sent a shockwave of significant delays out from the hub and into the rest of the subway system. …

Later in the morning, power outages were reported in Los Angeles International Airport, as well as in several other areas around the city. …

By far the largest outage of the morning happened in San Francisco, where, as of 1 p.m., it appears that the majority of the city is out of commission. …

The massive outage is closing BART stations, shutting down traffic signals, and affecting office buildings. Residents and workers in the area are calling it “totally surreal.”

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Genius: Trump to hold rally on night of Correspondents Dinner

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 3:46pm

[Ed. – No matter how hard the media try, they won’t be able to prevent Trump from sucking up all the oxygen in the infosphere.  Who but the dutiful Washington Post will even notice who’s arriving for the Nerd Prom?  Which is the 29th, BTW.  One reason it’s hard to fault Trump in this is the certainty that if he went, the media would be tacky and rude about Melania, who has done nothing to deserve the ill treatment they’re according her.]

President Trump will hold a rally in Pennsylvania the night of the White House Correspondents Dinner, he said Saturday.

“Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2017

The announcement comes after Trump decided earlier this year that he would skip the annual dinner in Washington, D.C., breaking with longtime political tradition of the president attending the event alongside lawmakers and celebrities.

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Latest college hate hoax perpetrated by angry non-student

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 3:09pm

Hate hoaxes on college campuses are becoming so routine that I have found myself tempted to repurpose an extant post, changing the name and age of the perpetrator and location.

But a hoax committed this past week at the University of Southern California boasts a novel twist in that the perpetrator wasn’t a student of the school but merely a neighbor with an axe to grind.

According to The Tab, a student newspaper, a sign reading “No Black People Allowed,” emblazoned with a Confederate flag and the hashtag #MAGA (short for Donald Trump’s campaign slogan), was taped to the gate of a house rented by students.

The residents of the house, who are USC students, said the sign was taped to their gate by a neighbor, a black male who is not affiliated with the university, after a disagreement. According to [the university’s Department of Public Safety] DPS, a camera placed in the area by the university caught it on tape. DPS was able to identify and find the man who made the sign.

The students removed the sign after they found it.

The College Fix has learned additionally that the individual responsible will not face charges since there was “no crime committed.” It’s an interesting development insofar the university would almost certainly have taken stringent disciplinary action against the students if they had placed the sign. According to the website of USC’s Department of Student Affairs:

All incidents of bias, hate crimes, and hate incidents are considered a serious breach of our community expectations (Principles of Community) and need to be reported allowing for appropriate investigation and response.

The Horrifying Death Throes of Venezuelan Socialism, Captured in 28 Headlines

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 12:24pm

I wrote last year that Venezuela was entering the “fourth circle of statist hell.”

How else, after all, can you describe a government that is so venal and incompetent that it resorts to confiscating toys in an effort to strengthen its hold on power?

I also wrote last year that Atlas was “shrugging” in Venezuela.

But shrugging may soon turn to shrugged. It’s hard to see how Maduro’s despotic regime can hold power much longer. Consider this collection of horrifying stories.

The Washington Post reported:

With inflation spiraling out of control, food and medicine supplies dwindling and violent crimes on the rise, women as young as 27 are seeking out surgeons to avoid unwanted pregnancies. A study by PLAFAM, the biggest family planning clinic in the country, estimates that about 23 percent more Venezuelan women are being sterilized today as compared to four years ago, said the clinic’s director, Enrique Abache. “The financial crisis is one of the main causes for this,” he explained. Years of government mismanagement have fueled what is now a full-blown humanitarian crisis in a country where infant mortality has almost doubled in recent years. …mothers often spend whole days searching for milk powder or diapers. Those who can’t find them are simply forced to go without.

From a story in CapX:

How serious is Venezuela’s crisis? Bad enough that, in 2016, Venezuelans became the top US asylum-seekers… Venezuelan asylum claims increased by 150 per cent from 2015 to 2016. Though Venezuela does not publicly circulate emigration information, estimates suggest that between 700,000 and two million Venezuelans have emigrated since 1999. …Sometimes, from here, it can seem as though the entire population – fed up with shortages of medicine and food, with crime and with the political trajectory of the nation – wants to leave.

Some grim news from the Japan Times:

Julio Noguera…spends his evenings searching through the garbage for food. “I come here looking for food because if I didn’t, I’d starve to death,” Noguera said as he sorted through a pile of moldy potatoes. “With things like they are, no one helps anyone and no one gives away meals.” Across town, unemployed people converge every dusk at a trash heap on a downtown Caracas sidewalk to pick through rotten fruit and vegetables tossed out by nearby shops. They are frequently joined by small business owners, college students and pensioners — people who consider themselves middle class even though their living standards have long ago been pulverized by triple-digit inflation, food shortages and a collapsing currency. …Nearly half of Venezuelans say they can no longer afford to eat three meals a day, according to a recent poll.

The Wall Street Journal opines:

cities around the country…have been hit hard by police, national guard troops and the regime’s paramilitary forces as the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro tries to contain a wildfire of rebellion. …The government is running out of money to buy imports, and since it has crippled domestic production, privation is growing more profound. …Roving bands of government-sponsored militias terrorize civil society as they have for more than a decade. …a 16-year-old girl politely informed Mr. Maduro that students in her school often faint from hunger. …Mr. Maduro was pelted with stones as he left a military rally in Bolívar state… Meanwhile, Mr. Maduro is doubling down on centralized control of a shrinking food supply. …Those who do not support the regime can be cut off.

The thuggery will worsen according to the Washington Free Beacon:

The socialist leader of Venezuela announced in a speech to regime loyalists his plan to arm hundreds of thousands of supporters after a years-long campaign to confiscate civilian-owned guns. …The Venezuelan government justified the gun bans and confiscations by saying they were needed to combat the country’s violent crime and murder epidemic. However, statistics reported by the nonprofit Venezuelan Violence Observatory show the murder rate in Venezuela increased from 73 murders per 100,000 inhabitants the year the gun ban was instituted to 91.8 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016. …As protests and unrest increase in Venezuela, Maduro’s regime has created a landscape where civilians are disarmed but his supporters are not. The latest round of mass demonstrations in the streets of Caracas have already claimed five lives.

Even zoo animals are suffering, as reported by the Miami Herald:

An apparently malnourished African elephant in a Venezuelan zoo — her ribs showing through her sagging skin — has become the latest symbol the deep economic crisis in what was once one of Latin America’s most prosperous nations. …Ruperta is suffering from diarrhea and dehydration after zoo officials only had squash to feed her for several days. According to the newspaper, when neighbors tried to bring food to the elephant over the weekend, the donations were turned away by zoo officials… in a nation where a grinding economic crisis is forcing many to skip meals and go hungry, Ruperta’s fate has touched a nerve. …Román Camacho, a local reporter who broke the story, said a whistle-blower within the park service alerted him that Ruperta had grown so hungry that she collapsed last Thursday. …Also last year, a horse at a local zoo was reportedly butchered by hungry Venezuelans.

The New York Times has noticed:

Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s economic powerhouses… A growing number of Venezuelans are going hungry in a food shortage, and dying from treatable ailments in squalid, ill-equipped hospitals. …Until political prisoners are released, the prospects for a restoration of democratic rule are very dim. …Inflation has soared to an estimated 700 percent, while people in this oil-rich nation are left digging through piles of trash for scraps of food.

Productive people are escaping, Bloomberg reports:

For Venezuelan exiles with money, Madrid has become a home away from home. They are increasingly turning to the Spanish capital as a place to invest as their home country falls further into economic chaos and the political mood turns more sour in U.S. havens such as Miami. The number of Venezuelans arriving in Spain rose more than 50 percent in 2015, according to the Spanish statistics office.

The monetary system is also a disaster reports the New York Times:

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela made a baffling announcement…, saying that his government intended to yank the 100 bolívar note from circulation… Venezuelans, who have endured months of chronic food and medicine shortages, mobbed banks and A.T.M.s in a desperate attempt to offload their stacks of the highest denomination bill, which has become so devalued it is now worth roughly 3 cents in American dollars. …the Maduro government…has spent years…imposing arbitrary currency controls that have made a once prosperous economy one of the world’s most dysfunctional. …Venezuela was expelled from the regional trade bloc Mercosur in early December.

The outflow of people is staggering according to Fox:

Along with basic food, medicine and even toilet paper, Venezuela now lacks the materials to meet to the soaring demand for new passports – making it almost impossible for those few Venezuelans with the monetary means of escaping the troubled Latin American nation to do so. While estimates of how many passport requests the socialist government received last year vary from between 1.8 million to 3 million, only 300,000 of the elusive documents were doled out. Everyday, hundreds of people line up outside the passport agency, known as Saime, in the capital of Caracas in the hopes of obtaining one. It’s an ironic, and yet sad situation, for a country that used to be one of Latin America’s wealthiest and one that was used to seeing people flock to, not away from. …Adding to the overall misery are a drastic rise in violent crime – especially in the capital city of Caracas – rolling blackouts and widespread and often times bloody protests against the government. …since Chávez took power in 1999 nearly 2 million Venezuelans have fled the country and hundreds of thousands are marking their time until they obtains the funds and the passport that will allow them to leave.

Government insiders are getting rich, as noted by the New York Post:

Venezuela is no longer a country with a government, institutions and a civil society. It’s a geographic area terrorized by a criminal enterprise that pretends to govern, with a civil society made up of two sets of people: accomplices and victims. More than 30 million of the latter. …The Hugo Chavez-led looting spree began in 2000. …More than $1 trillion has disappeared… Loving parents are putting their children up for adoption because they have nothing to feed them; the elderly are starving; patients with treatable conditions are dying in hospitals that lack basic medicine like insulin and oxygen, where vital equipment has been pilfered and emergency rooms operate without electricity. …Meanwhile, those in power can focus on what they do best: looting the country’s natural-resource wealth and manufacturing and trafficking illegal narcotics. In fact, Maduro just upped his game by appointing Tareck el-Aissami, a drug kingpin, as vice president.

CNN shares some bad news:

Venezuela only has $10.5 billion in foreign reserves left, according to its most recent central bank data. For rest of the year, Venezuela owes roughly $7.2 billion in outstanding debt payments. In 2011, Venezuela had roughly $30 billion in reserves. In 2015, it had $20 billion. The trend can’t persist much longer, but it’s hard to know exactly when Venezuela will run completely out of cash. …The thinning reserves paint a scary financial picture as the country faces a humanitarian crisis sparked by an economic meltdown. Venezuelans are suffering massive food and medical shortages, as well as skyrocketing grocery prices. Massive government overspending, a crashing currency, mismanagement of the country’s infrastructure and corruption are all factors that have sparked extremely high inflation in Venezuela. Inflation is expected to rise 1,660% this year and 2,880% in 2018, according to the IMF.

A dour column from Real Clear World:

Socialist economic policies and government corruption have destroyed a once-thriving economy sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves. …Index of Economic Freedom…looks at the economic freedom of countries throughout the world. In that period of time, Venezuela’s score has declined the most out of any country, going from 59.8 to 27.0 (on a scale of 1-100). It is now in second-to-last place, right behind Cuba and better only than North Korea. …The World Health Organization estimates that there are shortages for 75 percent of necessary medications and medical supplies such as antibiotics, vaccines, and scalpels. Blackouts resulting from a crumbling energy infrastructure are a daily occurrence. The death of newborns has become a common phenomenon… All the while, Venezuelan government officials have been using oil revenues to line their own pockets.

The Washington Post opines on the disaster:

Venezuela, which was once Latin America’s richest country, has become an unwilling test site for how much economic and social stress a modern nation can tolerate before it descends into pure anarchy. …Venezuelans have struggled with mounting shortages of food, medicine and other consumer goods, as well as triple-digit inflation that has rendered the national currency, the bolivar, worthless. … President Nicolás Maduro, an economically illiterate former bus driver, …also closed Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil, on the theory that traders were hoarding currency in those countries. …the president is doing his best to blame the United States for the fiasco… Venezuelans no longer believe such nonsense. A survey released this month by pollster Alfredo Keller showed that only 1 percent said the United States was to blame for the country’s crisis, while 76 percent blamed Mr. Maduro and the regime founded by Hugo Chávez. …Only 19 percent said they still supported the regime.

Investor’s Business Daily piles on:

Want to lose weight fast? …Just move to Venezuela. There, the new Socialist Diet has caused the population to lose millions of pounds in 12 months. Unwillingly, of course. …A new study of Venezuela’s stunning decline under Hugo Chavez’s socialist model…reports that the average Venezuelan lost 19 pounds in the last year. Today, the 2016 Living Conditions Survey finds, 32.5% of Venezuelans eat only once or twice a day, up from 11.3% just one year ago. And 93.3% of all people don’t earn enough to buy sufficient food. …Bring socialism to your country, and you bring misery. It’s the one thing that socialism produces an abundance of. …formerly middle-class Venezuelans scavenge for food — some even stooping to dumpster diving and eating formerly beloved pets just to stay alive — socialists allied with Maduro have changed nothing. …rule of law has been rejected for the rule of one tyrant. Children aren’t spared; they’re dying by the hundreds from curable diseases, a lack of medicine, electricity outages and no incubators for newborns.

Some heartbreak from the New York Times:

Kevin Lara Lugo…died on his 16th birthday.He spent the day before foraging for food in an empty lot, because there was nothing to eat at home. Then in a hospital because what he found made him gravely ill.Hours later, he was dead on a gurney, which doctors rolled by his mother as she watched helplessly. She said the hospital had lacked the simplest supplies needed to save him on that day last July. … Inflation has driven office workers to abandon the cities and head to illegal pit mines in the jungle, willing to subject themselves to armed gangs and multiple bouts of malaria for the chance to earn a living. Doctors have prepared to operate on bloody tables because they did not have enough water to clean them. Psychiatric patients have had to be tied to chairs in mental hospitals because there was no medication left to treat their delusions. Hunger has driven some people to riot — and others into rickety fishing boats, fleeing Venezuela on reckless journeys by sea. But it was the story of a boy with no food, who had gone searching for wild roots to eat but ended up poisoning himself instead, that seemed to embody everything that had gone wrong in Venezuela.

Peak socialism, as reported by Foreign Policy:

A fleet of rundown Venezuelan oil tankers carrying some 4 million barrels of oil and other fuels is wallowing in the Caribbean Sea. Not because of bad weather, or mechanical problems, but because Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA, doesn’t have the cash to get them to their final destinations. …it’s doubly bad news for Venezuela, a country in dire economic straits and full-fledged crisis, with a political impasse, looting, dangerous food and health supply shortages, and massive protests. Venezuela is massively reliant on oil exports to bankroll government services. But the cash-strapped country can’t even find the money to service the vessels that carry its exports. …Venezuela, once Latin America’s most powerful petrostate, is on the brink of collapse after decades of economic mismanagement.

More on insider corruption, exposed by the Washington Post:

Formerly a stable, sophisticated, middle-income country awash in oil wealth, Venezuela has experienced a dizzying downward spiral over the past two years. Today, Venezuela’s is arguably the world’s worst-run economy. Food shortages are pervasive, and food prices are rising fast — a deadly combination that has left millions unable to find enough to eat. …Why doesn’t the army rebel? …we have the genuinely shocking answer: Far from rebelling, Venezuela’s armed forces actively profit from their countrymen’s hunger.This year, President Nicolás Maduro granted the armed forces virtually unlimited authority over the nation’s food imports and distribution. Domestic food production is down sharply in the wake of a botched land reform program, meaning imports now account for most of the nation’s food. But putting the military in charge of this delicate domain has led to an explosion of corruption, as well-connected officers mercilessly prey on every part of the distribution chain, from the initial contracts and the foreign currency needed to fund them to storage, transportation and distribution. …A government that bills itself as radically pro-poor in fact drips with contempt for the poor.

More tragic sadness, this time from Reuters:

Struggling to feed herself and her seven children, Venezuelan mother Zulay Pulgar asked a neighbor in October to take over care of her six-year-old daughter, a victim of a pummeling economic crisis. …”It’s better that she has another family than go into prostitution, drugs or die of hunger,” the 43-year-old unemployed mother said… With average wages less than the equivalent of $50 a month at black market rates, three local councils and four national welfare groups all confirmed an increase in parents handing children over to the state, charities or friends and family. …the trend highlights Venezuela’s fraying social fabric and the heavy toll that a deep recession and soaring inflation are taking on the country with the world’s largest oil reserves. …most economists pin the responsibility on socialist policies introduced by former president Hugo Chavez, which his successor Nicolas Maduro has doubled down on… Two-thirds of 1,099 households with children in Caracas, ranging across social classes, said they were not eating enough in a survey released last week by children’s’ rights group… In some cases, parents are simply abandoning their kids. Last month, a baby boy was found inside a bag in a relatively wealthy area of Caracas and a malnourished one-year-old boy was found abandoned in a cardboard box in the eastern city of Ciudad Guayana, local media reported. …There are also more cases of children begging or prostituting themselves

Even Vox is aware of the problem:

…new data capturing the woes of the once well-heeled South American nation is shocking: According to new results from an annual national survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents reported losing an average of 19 pounds between 2015 and 2016. …Shortages of food, medicine, and many basic items abound in what was once the richest country in South America per capita in the 20th century. Malaria is ravaging a country that was the first in the world to eliminate the disease in its populated areas. Now there’s evidence that the economic chaos is translating into a malnutrition crisis… Alejandro Velasco, a scholar of Latin American history at New York University, believes Chávez’s model of socialism…”strangled the already meager productive apparatus of Venezuela,” he explained during an interview in January. …Chávez’s spending regime also left the country acutely vulnerable to emergency. Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Center for International Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School, notes…that Chávez’s government.. “over-spent and quintupled the public foreign debt.”

The Economist has given up on Venezuelan statism:

Every weekday morning, a queue of several dozen forlorn people forms outside the dingy headquarters of SAIME, Venezuela’s passport agency. As shortages and violence have made life in the country less bearable, more people are applying for passports so they can go somewhere else. …As desperation rises, so does the intransigence of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian” regime, whose policies have ruined the economy and sabotaged democracy. The economy shrank by 18.6% last year, according to an estimate by the central bank, leaked this month to Reuters… Inflation was 800%. …In 2001 Venezuela was the richest country in South America; it is now among the poorest.

Venezuela is even begging at the UN according to the Associated Press:

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has asked the United Nations for “help” boosting medicine supplies as he struggles to combat crippling shortages. …acknowledging that Venezuela needs outside help is a telling sign of how far the nation sitting atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves has fallen under Maduro. …Venezuelans…have been suffering from widespread shortages and triple-digit inflation… OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro is pushing to expel Maduro’s government from the group for breaking the country’s democratic order and violating human rights. Maduro’s government disavowed a landslide loss to the opposition in legislative elections in 2015, and then suspended a recall campaign seeking to force him from office before the 2018 election.

Bloomberg notes that an oil-rich nation even has shortages of gas:

…drivers lined up at filling stations amid a worsening shortage of fuel. While Petroleos de Venezuela SA says the situation is normalizing and blamed the lines on transport delays, the opposition says the company has had to reduce costly fuel imports as it tries to preserve cash to pay its foreign debt. …As the company’s crumbling refineries fail to meet domestic demand, imports have become a financial burden because the country buys fuel abroad at market prices only to sell it for pennies per gallon at home. … “It’s unbelievable that this is happening in an oil producing country.” …The hunt for gasoline is just the latest headache for consumers after years of severe economic contraction and triple-digit inflation have produced shortages of everything from bread to antibiotics.

The Miami Herald reports the government is making it even harder for hungry people to get fed:

Facing a bread shortage that is spawning massive lines and souring the national mood, the Venezuelan government is responding this week by detaining bakers and seizing establishments. In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country. …The government said bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves, or pan canilla, with government-imported flour. …The notion that bread could become an issue in Venezuela is one more indictment of an economic system gone bust. The country boasts the world’s largest oil reserves but it has to import just about everything else. …President Nicolás Maduro launched “Plan 700” against what he called a “bread war,” ordering officials to do spot checks of bakeries nationwide.

And there’s always more bad policy, as Reuters reports:

Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro announced on Sunday a 50 percent hike in the minimum wage and pensions, the fifth increase over the last year… “In times of economic war and mafia attacks …we must protect employment and workers’ income,” added Maduro, who has now increased the minimum wage by a cumulative 322 percent since February 2016. …critics say his incompetence, and 17 years of failed socialist policies, are behind Venezuela’s economic mess. They say the constant minimum wage hikes symbolize Maduro’s policy failures… Venezuela’s inflation hit 181 percent in 2015, according to official data, though opponents say the true figure was higher. There is no official data for 2016, but…inflation was more than 500 percent in 2016, while the economy shrank 12 percent.

Which means, per the AP, more people want to leave:

Venezuelans for the first time led asylum requests to the United States as the country’s middle class fled the crashing, oil-dependent economy. Data from the U.S. government’s Citizenship and Immigration Services show that 18,155 Venezuelans submitted asylum requests last year, a 150 percent increase over 2015 and six times the level seen in 2014. …The vast majority leaving are middle-class Venezuelans who don’t qualify for refugee status reserved for those seeking to escape political persecution, according to Julio Henriquez, director of the Boston-based nonprofit Refugee Freedom Program, which has been drawing attention to the trend. “The pace at which requests are increasing is alarming,” said Henriquez, whose group obtained the still-unpublished data in a Feb. 8 meeting between U.S. officials and immigration lawyers.

And the government is engaged in more looting, MSN reports:

General Motors said it has been forced to stop operating in Venezuela on Wednesday after one of its plants was illegally seized by local authorities. The seizure, in the country’s industrial hub of Valencia, comes amid a deepening economic and political crisis that has sparked weeks of deadly street protests. …The auto giant did not provide any details about its plant being seized, other than saying it “was unexpectedly taken by authorities, preventing normal operations.” It said other assets, “such as vehicles,” had also been stripped from the site. …Venezuela’s car industry has been in freefall, hit by a lack of raw materials stemming from complex currency controls and stagnant local production, and many plants are barely producing at all. Venezuela’s government has taken over factories in the past. In 2014 the government announced the “temporary” takeover of two plants belonging to U.S. cleaning products maker Clorox Co.

Last but not least, here’s a column from the Week:

Venezuela cannot wake up from its socialist nightmare. …across the country, people are starving. Venezuela, a beautiful, oil-rich country, once one of the wealthiest nations in the Southern Hemisphere, is only sinking further into economic devastation and chaotic, corrupt authoritarianism. …Meanwhile, the economy keeps rotting. Venezuela has topped Bloomberg‘s Economic Misery Index, a benchmark whose title is self-explanatory, for three years running. The economy shrank by 18 percent last year, with unemployment at 25 percent, and inflation slated to be 750 percent this year and 2,000 percent the next…there are outbreaks of scabies, a disease easily prevented with basic hygienic practices; hospitals are running out of even basic drugs. Caracas is the murder capital of the world. Corruption has infected the country wholesale even as it has created a new class of kleptocratic oligarchs linked to the security services. …The whole of Venezuelan society is breaking down at a fundamental level. …It is truly heartbreaking. …And I blame socialism. …And now it’s Venezuelans, especially the poorest and more marginal among them, who are paying the price for this madness.

Let’s close with a video on the tragic situation in Venezuela.

I wonder if Bernie Sanders still thinks this is a system worth supporting?

American Airlines flight attendant dares angry passenger to take swing at him

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 12:06pm

An American Airlines flight attendant has been removed from duty after a shocking video emerged showing him challenging a passenger to a fight after allegedly hitting a woman in the head with a metal stroller during boarding.

The upsetting footage, filmed before Flight 591 departed from San Francisco on Friday afternoon, shows the airline staff member goading a passenger and saying, ‘hit me’.

The clip was uploaded by passenger Surain Adyanthaya, who explained he started filming after the flight attendant ‘violently took a stroller from a lady with her baby on my flight, hitting her and just missing the baby’.

Adyanthaya went on to explain: ‘They just involuntarily escorted the mother and her kids off the flight and let the flight attendant back on, who tried to fight other passengers. The mom asked for an apology and the AA official declined.’

In the video, a distraught woman, who was flying from Argentina according to Q13 Fox, is seen standing at the front of the plane holding a child.

Continue reading →

Sanctuary city activists urge officials to ignore illegal immigrants’ gang and terror ties

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 11:41am

Sanctuary city advocates are advising local officials across the country to ignore evidence in government databases linking illegal immigrants to vicious criminal gangs or terrorist groups, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

The advice is included in a 72-page step-by-step manual on thwarting federal immigration laws and regulations. The manual was published in March by the New York-based Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), a left-wing tax-exempt political advocacy group.

The “toolkit” in the Protecting Immigrant Communities manual urges city and county officials across the country to adopt CPD’s “model legislation” or similar ordinances designed to weaken federal efforts to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

Its “model legislation” seeks to protect illegal immigrants who are linked to gang activity or ties to terrorism, saying “the (proposed) ordinance should not exclude people with criminal convictions, or people who appear in law enforcement databases that attempt to track gang activity and terrorism.”

The handbook was compiled in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement of tough enforcement policies on illegal immigrants, which require local governments to obey the law or face the loss of federal funding.

“In the face of these threats, a large and growing movement of advocates, organizers and local governments are developing strategies to support their immigrant communities,” the manual declares.

The CPD is a non-profit first started by unions, including the AFL-CIO. In 2014, the last year financial data is available, the group attracted $11 million in contributions. Fifteen organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the immigrant-rights group CASA, contributed to the manual, and Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, once served as CPD chairman.

The manual provides specific legal language to undermine federal laws, with particular emphasis urging local governments to stop using data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and to bar any arrests based on NCIC data.

“In order to protect immigrant communities from unlawful arrests … localities should consider including language prohibiting NCIC arrests in their sanctuary legislation,” the manual recommends.

It assails the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, especially agents assigned to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CPB), agencies on the front-line of Trump’s initiative. It seeks to bar or limit ICE agents from local jails and to end of local government contractual agreements with ICE for the use of local prisons.

“Local governments can significantly limit ICE’s ability to use the criminal justice system for deportation by simply denying ICE access to jail facilities and to individuals incarcerated locally for violations of criminal law,” the guide states.

Neither the CPD nor Townsend responded to multiple request for comment from TheDCNF.

But Ian Prior, a Department of Justice spokesman, told TheDCNF failure to deport criminals living among immigrant communities puts the nation at risk.

“As the Attorney General has said, when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe. Failure to deport aliens who are convicted for criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk – especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators,” Prior said.

GOP Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner , chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, echoed a similar theme in a statement to TheDCNF:

Special interest groups that encourage enforcement officials to ignore the law and look the other way in order to harbor illegal aliens – particularly those who have committed crimes against the United States or its citizens – undermine the authority of Congress and threaten the safety and prosperity of our entire nation.

The time is long overdue to ensure that our immigration laws are enforced and that the rule of law is restored. This cannot stand, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and President Trump to solve this serious problem.

Robert Law, government relations director of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said people can’t pick and choose which laws to enforce.

“This is basically a manual for how to violate federal law and cherry pick which laws you enforce,” he told TheDCNF.

An executive order signed by Trump imposes financial penalties for cities or counties that don’t cooperate with ICE requests for information on local illegal immigrants.

An immigration statute invoked by Trump prohibits local and state governments from enacting laws that limit communication with ICE or CPB about “information regarding the immigration or citizenship status” of individuals.

The CPD manual, however, points to a loophole to get around the prohibition. Officials are encouraged to not collect data on local immigrant communities because the law “does not require local governments to take any affirmative steps to gather information about immigration status, policies that prohibit the gathering of such information do not violate federal law.  Local governments should take advantage of that fact in developing policies on data collection.”

The manual also encourages city and county officials to bar ICE agents from entering local jails.

While often overlooked, policies restricting access to jails and to persons in local custody can create a powerful disruption in one of ICE’s most expansive deportation programs. In most jurisdictions, keeping ICE out of the local jails will end up preventing more deportations than all of the other sanctuary policy provisions combined,” the manual states.

The guide further urges local prosecutors to “deviate” from normal prosecutorial procedures with illegal immigrants to minimize charges they may face.

Prosecutors “may use their discretion to deviate from general practice in deciding whether and how to prosecute, settle or otherwise dispose of any case…related to a defendant’s immigration status,” the manual advises.

FAIR’s Law told TheDCNF that CPD’s focus on criminal behavior among illegal immigrants underlines their “hypocrisy. They continue to perpetuate the myth that illegal immigrants are otherwise law abiding.”

But, Law said, “if that’s true, why would these documents encourage these jurisdictions to not rely on criminal databases? They are basically admitting that these illegal aliens are committing additional crimes in addition to their immigration violations.”

The manual justifies the protection of criminals and potential terrorists because the U.S. criminal justice systems “are themselves oppressive, overly punitive and fraught with racial bias.”

They also claim that “the mere fact that an individual is unlawfully in the U.S. is not a criminal offense.”

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

13 most ridiculous predictions made on Earth Day, 1970

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 11:26am

Saturday is Earth Day — an annual event first launched on April 22, 1970. The inaugural festivities (organized in part by then hippie and now convicted murderer Ira Einhorn) predicted death, destruction and disease unless we did exactly as progressives commanded.

Sound familiar? Behold the coming apocalypse, as predicted on and around Earth Day, 1970:

  1. “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — Harvard biologist George Wald
  2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
  3. “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.” — New York Times editorial
  4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich

Continue reading →

Founder of Earth Day murdered and then composted his girlfriend

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 11:20am

[Ed. – Remember to recycle.]

Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the “composted” body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk.

A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and ’70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie. With his long beard and gap-toothed smile, Einhorn — who nicknamed himself “Unicorn” because his German-Jewish last name translates to “one horn”  —advocated flower power, peace and free love to his fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania. He also claimed to have helped found Earth Day.

But the charismatic spokesman who helped bring awareness to environmental issues and preached against the Vietnam War — and any violence — had a secret dark side. When his girlfriend of five years, Helen “Holly” Maddux, moved to New York and broke up with him, Einhorn threatened that he would throw her left-behind personal belongings onto the street if she didn’t come back to pick them up.

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Second doctor, wife arrested in genital mutilation case

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 11:15am

[Ed. – A followup to this story.]

Federal agents arrested a second doctor and his wife Friday in a widening conspiracy involving female genital mutilation and members of a Muslim sect.

Dr. Fakhruddin Attar is accused of letting Dr. Jumana Nagarwala perform mutilations at his Burhani Medical Clinic on Farmington Road. His wife, office manager Farida Attar, also was arrested and is accused of helping Nagarwala perform the mutilations, according to a 14-page complaint unsealed Friday in federal court.

The arrests are the latest development in the nation’s first female genital mutilation case, which is providing insight into a small, insular Muslim community in Metro Detroit and an illegal procedure performed on young girls.

The complaint solves a mystery stemming from the case by pinpointing where Nagarwala allegedly mutilated two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota earlier this year. The complaint also describes a conspiracy involving at least Nagarwala, Attar and his wife — all three are members of the Dawoodi Bohra religious community based locally out of a Farmington Hills mosque.

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Shame on Trump if he supports right-wing extremist Le Pen for French president

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 11:06am

For the second time in recent weeks President Donald Trump has acted, alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin and ISIS terrorists, to help far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen become the next president of France in the election that begins with the critical first round of voting on Sunday.

After the terror attack in Paris on Thursday, Trump tweeted Friday morning that the terror attack would have a significant influence on the French election. This was widely viewed as Trump offering some form of tacit support for Le Pen, who was politically exploiting the terror attack at the very moment Trump was suggesting it would help her campaign.

Several weeks ago, Trump publicly insulted the city of Paris by saying that Paris is no longer Paris, in what was obviously a reference to Muslims living in the city. This comment from Trump created a firestorm in France and drew virtually unanimous condemnation across the spectrum of French opinion.

…Le Pen, who leads the far-right National Front Party in France … is aggressively anti-EU, hostile to NATO, against the euro and pro-Vladimir Putin.

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Rachel Maddow tries to connect protests in Venezuela to (wait for it!) Donald Trump

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 10:54am

How desperate is the Left to defame and — in their wildest dreams — unseat President Donald Trump? Ask MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Last night, Maddow did a segment on the unspeakable humanitarian crisis in Venezuela whose people have endured food shortages so severe that they were eliterally eating scraps from garbage cans until the “supplies” began to dwindle last month. LU has extensively chronicled the decline in the quality of life in that South American nation under the clenched fist of “President” Nicola Maduro, who assumed control after the death of his boss, Hugo Chavez in 2013.

If Venezuela is a microcosm of anything at all it is the tendency of socialism to breed dictatorships. That is not, however, the message that Maddow has taken away from the fever pitch that the popular revolt there has finally reached. Here, rather, is what she had to say about the riots and their cause. The relevant portion of the 7-minute commentary begins at around 5:23:

Yes, you heard right. Maddow believes that a $500,000 donation to the Trump inauguration fund by the head of a state-run Venezuelan oil company is a factor in the unrest. Never mind that Trump’s predecessor was a friend and supporter of Hugo Chavez.

Fraternal affection. Obama and Chavez meet in April 2009. (Image via VenezuelaAnalysis.com)

It is worth recalling a portion of Obam’s eulogy for the despot:

At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government. As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.

By the way, lest you think that Rachel Maddow has been dismissed as a kook, her ratings have shot up dramatically since the election of President Trump.

After losing the ‘Battle for Berkeley,’ Antifa wants combat training and firearms

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 9:31am

Last week supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with members of the leftist group known as Antifa (short for anti-fascist) in Berkeley California. The meeting of the two groups soon erupted in violence, with Antifa using mace, M80’s, and various other weapons to attack Trump supporters.

According to Rebel Media’s Lauren Southern, Trump supporters were told by police not to bring any weapons, as police would protect them. Upon Anitfa’s arrival, the police retreated, leaving the Trump supporters to utilize whatever weapons they could get their hands on. Regardless, the Trump supporters routed Antifa after one of their members threw a smoke bomb, not realizing the wind was blowing in Antifa’s direction.

This loss prompted Antifa members to begin discussion about how they could better prepare themselves for future skirmishes against Trump supporters.

In the subreddit r/anarchism, one Anitfa member acknowledged the loss, and suggested that members find a way to become “better organized and better trained.” Another member agreed, saying that too many of their “comrades” went into battle “no combat training,” and suggested they start “seminars or something of that sort.”

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Palestinian Authority official: Terrorists who murder Americans are ‘victims’

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 9:25am

A top official from the Palestinian Authority (PA) told reporters Thursday that convicted Palestinian terrorists who receive cash benefits from the PA are “victims of Israeli terrorism.”

Riyad Mansour, the “Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine [sic] to the United Nations,” was asked to comment on the PA’s payment of benefits to the family of the terrorist who murdered an American tourist last year.

The Taylor Force Act, a bill under consideration in Congress that would cut U.S. aid to the PA over the payments, is named after the U.S. Army veteran and Vanderbilt graduate student who was killed.

The PA spends approximately $300 million a year on payments to convicted terrorists and their families, money that originates largely from aid donations by western countries. The terrorism benefits program, which comprises around eight percent of the PA budget, has emerged as a significant point of contention in U.S.-Palestinian relations.

“I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to,” Mansour responded, before claiming that the PA is against the killing of civilians. The reporter repeated his query about Taylor Force.

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Dems, tell Hillary to go back to the woods

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 9:20am

Before Hillary Clinton puts more miles on her comeback tour, Democrats should let her know she’s done enough damage and it’s time to pack it in. That won’t stop her, since even after losing to Donald Trump she fancies herself some misunderstood martyr, but it might slow her down a bit.

While they crawl out of the wilderness that both Clinton and President Obama left them in, any moments Democrats spend amusing their failed 2016 nominee as she tries to find a way back to some sort of relevance is more than wasted energy — it’s self-sabotage.

Last week Clinton sat in sanguine reflection at a carefully timed interview at a Women in the World Summit event and blamed everyone but herself for her staggering loss five months ago. After telling New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof that personally she’s just fine, but that “as an American, I’m pretty worried,” she listed the causes for her loss: WikiLeaks, for publishing real emails about her campaign; Russia, for interfering in the campaign; FBI Director James Comey; and misogyny.

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Journalism professor: NRA more dangerous than ISIS

Liberty Unyielding - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 9:16am

What is it with “professors” these days?  In an unhinged rant published at the Missourian on Thursday, George Kennedy, a former managing editor at the Missourian and professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism, argued that the NRA is more dangerous than ISIS, the radical terror group known for beheading everybody in its path.

After asking, “Which organization is more dangerous to Americans — ISIS or the NRA?” Kennedy wrote:

As you know, ISIS is the acronym for The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It is a terrorist organization founded in 1999, headquartered in Syria and feared around the world.

The NRA is the acronym for the National Rifle Association, founded in 1871*, headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, and feared by politicians across America.

What makes ISIS so feared is its willingness to kill in pursuit of its goal of creating a fundamentalist caliphate.

What makes the NRA so feared is its willingness to spend heavily and campaign aggressively in pursuit of its goal of removing all restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone.

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