... The average age of the 90,000 dams in the United States is 56 years. By 2025, seven out of ten of them will be more than half a century old. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) warns that "many dams are not expected to safely withstand current predictions regarding large floods and earthquakes". Overall, says the society, $4.6 trillion will be needed by 2025 to bring US infrastructure to an acceptable standard. Less than half that amount has so far been allocated for the work. Earlier this month the ASCE published its quadrennial report card on the nation's infrastructure, awarding the US a grade of D+ on a scale of A to F - no change from its previous report in 2013 - and warning that continuing on the present path would cost the US $3.9 trillion in lost GDP and 2.5 million jobs over the next eight years.
... As we reconsider Orwell's work, however, it's worth reevaluating what we know about the man himself, around whom many misconceptions and legends have grown up over the years ... Orwell was a socialist, but he was also a realist. He thought that in 1940, after the British defeat at Dunkirk, Britain was on the brink of revolution. Instead, the moment passed, and at the end of the war he threw his support behind the Labour Party, whose policy was one of sober gradualism rather than violent revolution. In other ways, he was an outright traditionalist: His attitude toward women and gay people was boorish and retrograde ... Orwell also opposed modern urban sprawl and machine technology. And most of his fiction, as well as his nonfiction, reveals a yen for Edwardian England, though stripped of some of its cruelties and inequalities.
... Were the ancient Greeks and Romans of North European stock? Most classical historians today are silent on the subject ... A hundred years ago, however, Europeans took it for granted that many Greeks and Romans were the same race as themselves. The famed 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, published in 1911 ... added that the early Greeks, or Hellenes, were Nordic, one of “the fair-haired tribes of upper Europe known to the ancients as Keltoi.” ... Thus, classical Greece was a fusion, both cultural and racial, of these two types of whites. Some city-states, such as Thebes and Sparta, were predominantly Nordic. Others, such as Athens, were predominantly Mediterranean, and still others were mixtures of the two.
Did you watch the outpouring of official support for Israel at the annual Washington conference of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)? Washington is bitterly divided over every issue from climate change to health care to tax reform to the legitimacy of the presidency. But on Israel, there is no breakage – yet. ... “Foreign aid to Israel is sacred, we know that. That is sacred,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said when discussing budget cuts ... The fervor was matched in Christian terms by Vice President Mike Pence. He boasted of his faith and pledged, “President Trump and I stand without apology for Israel and we always will.”
Israeli leaders hoping Donald Trump would be a rubber stamp for the Jewish state are hearing plenty of reassuring rhetoric at this week's annual AIPAC gathering, including a sweeping pledge by Rep Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
In a clearly intended rebuke to former US president Barack Obama, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer told a packed crowd at the annual AIPAC policy conference that President Donald Trump’s administration has brought a level of closeness between the two allies that has eluded his predecessors. “For the first time in many years, perhaps even many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments,” he said. Dermer also told the confab’s opening session Sunday that there was a “meeting of the minds” between Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump during the prime minister’s meeting in Washington last month.
Jared Kushner, presidential son-in-law and senior adviser, has been given yet another new role in the Trump administration, with the announcement that he will now head a new White House Office of American Innovation. ... What exactly does Kushner do, or rather, what does he not do? For those keeping count, the president has already floated his son-in-law as a possible broker of Middle East peace, bruited about naming him as his chief of staff, and used him to defuse tensions with Mexico as a sort of shadow ambassador ... So what’s the deal? Does Trump need to find more people to rely on? Or is it hunky-dory that Kushner, who has no prior history of public service experience, seems to be running much of the federal government? Doubtless the palace intrigue will continue and the questions about Kushner’s White House role will swirl.
More than half of British people are unaware of the “forgotten war” underway in Yemen, despite the Government’s support for a military coalition accused of killing thousands of civilians. A YouGov poll seen exclusively by The Independent showed 49 per cent of people knew of the country’s ongoing civil war, which has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million more and left 14 million facing starvation. The figure was even lower for the 18 to 24 age group, where only 37 per cent were aware of the Yemen conflict as it enters its third year of bloodshed ... “The crisis in Yemen has been forgotten about or ignored completely,” said CEO Othman Moqbel.
A sobering portrait of less-educated middle-age white Americans emerged Thursday with new research showing them dying disproportionately from what one expert calls "deaths of despair" — suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related diseases. The new paper by two Princeton University economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, concludes that the trend is driven by the loss of steady middle-income jobs for those with a high school diploma or less. The economists also argue that dwindling job opportunities have triggered broader problems for this group. They are more likely than their college-educated counterparts, for example, to be unemployed, unmarried or suffering from poor health. "This is a story of the collapse of the white working class," Deaton said in an interview. "The labor market has very much turned against them."
... The master of such fighting during the American Revolution was Francis Marion, and the irony is that he likely would not pass a modern recruitment physical. Some soldiers in the ranks of the American Continental army snickered when Marion and 20 or so followers came to a camp in North Carolina in 1780 to join the fight against the British. A South Carolinian, Marion was "a diminutive, forty-eight-year-old man who, at around five-foot-two and 110 pounds, possessed the physique of a thirteen-year-old boy ...” ... The mission of Marion and his rag-tag militia band -- Scotch-Irish farmers, for the most part--was to raise havoc in the British rear, keeping the superior force of Gen. Charles Cornwallis off-balance ... Statistics bear out the savagery of fighting in South Carolina.
The recent arrest of a 19-year-old Israeli with dual American citizenship who is accused of issuing bomb threats to more than 100 Jewish institutions around the world exposed a blind spot in our understanding of anti-Semitism ... So many of us, myself included, initially traced the source of the JCC threats to the ultra-white nationalists who have emerged “out of the sewers,” to use former Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman’s words, since last year’s shameful presidential campaign. It made eminent sense to see those threats on a continuum ... Jews are used to viewing the world as “us” versus “them.” It’s an understandable impulse, ingrained by teachings, admonitions and raw experience.
Following Israel’s arrest of a Jewish teenager accused of masterminding dozens of anti-Semitic threats, the discussion Friday turned to the impact of the case, with US President Donald Trump’s response to anti-Semitism at the forefront. Marc Zell, chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel, said US Jewish leadership owed Trump an apology ... Trump received significant criticism from Jewish Americans for his perceived slow response to the uptick. He even suggested some of the threats might be false to discredit his movement. He later explicitly condemned anti-Semitic threats. Far-right groups claimed vindication that attacks previously blamed on right-wingers and alleged hatred resulting from Trump’s election may actually have been carried out by a young Jewish American Israeli.
The nomination and election of Donald Trump has caused a record spike in anti-Semitism. That is the narrative many Jewish groups and the media have promoted since the Republican primaries. Here’s an unfortunate fact for those continuing to press this narrative: it keeps on being proven false ... Other cases of vandalism made famous post-election turned out to be hoaxes as well ... Despite what we know about many of these attacks on the Jewish community over the course of the last months, Jewish groups like the ADL and the Anne Frank Center on Mutual Respect, inexplicably refuse to back down from their claims that Trump’s election fueled a supposed surge in anti-Semitism.
Aiming to prove their commitment to Israel, senior US lawmakers are backing bipartisan legislation that would slap Iran with new sanctions while maintaining rigorous enforcement of the landmark nuclear deal. The measures, unveiled ahead of the opening of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, seek to build consensus among Republicans and Democrats who are so often bitterly at odds on domestic issues ... The House bill, which is co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, targets Iran's "illicit" ballistic missile development program. The measure would shut out of the international financial system Iranian and foreign companies involved in the missile program ... On Iran's missile program, however, Trump has expanded U.S. sanctions.
A bipartisan slate of senators has introduced new sanctions targeting Iran for its missile testing and destabilizing actions days before AIPAC’s national conference. The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 was introduced Thursday by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Overall, 14 senators, from both parties, co-sponsored the measure. The act establishes new sanctions targeting Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles and its backing for terrorism, and also seeks to block the property of any entity involved in the sale of arms to or from Iran. It does not reintroduce sanctions lifted from Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
An anti-Semitic YouTube video titled “Jews admit organizing White Genocide” does not constitute hate speech, a top Google executive told British lawmakers on Tuesday, according to a Times of London report. While the video — narrated by ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke — is “deeply offensive and shocking,” it does not violate YouTube rules against hate speech and will remain on the site, Google Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Peter Barron (Google owns YouTube) said at a House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee hearing. The hearing, the report said, marked the start of a parliamentary inquiry into online hate ... Barron said the video — which was uploaded in October 2015 and has garnered more than 92,000 views — was “right on the borderline.”
... Britain’s House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has summoned executives from Google, Twitter and Facebook for a hearing in order to slam the social media giants for failing to block 'hate speech' and 'anti-Semitic' content from their platforms. It seems that Labour MP Yvette Cooper took issue with the refusal of YouTube to remove a video in which David Duke accused Jewish people of “organizing white genocide” and Zionists of conducting ethnic cleansing. I’m left wondering, what it is that motivates British MPs to launch a war against freedom of speech? Can MP Yvette Cooper or any other British MP for that matter, tell us, once and for all, what exactly are the boundaries of our freedom of expression? Is calling Israel an ethnic cleanser a crime in the UK? But what if Israel is an ethnic cleanser? Is truth not a valid legal defence in modern Britain?
A diary kept by President John F Kennedy as a young man travelling in Europe, revealing his fascination with Adolf Hitler, is up for auction. Kennedy, then 28, predicted "Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived". "He had in him the stuff of which legends are made," he continued. Kennedy wrote the entry in the summer of 1945 after touring the German dictator's Bavarian mountain retreat. It is thought by historians to be the only diary every kept by the 35th US president. The original copy will be auctioned for the first time on 26 April in Boston by longtime owner Deirdre Henderson, who worked as a research assistant for Kennedy while he was a US senator with White House ambitions.
A new book out in Germany reveals how President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis ... Kennedy’s travelogues and letters chronicling his wanderings through Germany before WWII, when Adolf Hitler was in power, have been unearthed and show him generally in favour of the movement ... On August 21, 1937 ... he wrote: 'The Germans really are too good - therefore people have ganged up on them to protect themselves.' ... Having visited Hitler's Bavarian holiday home in Berchtesgaden ... he declared; 'Who has visited these two places can easily imagine how Hitler will emerge from the hatred currently surrounding him to emerge in a few years as one of the most important personalities that ever lived.'
In late July and early August 1945, just weeks after the end of the war in Europe, the 28-year-old John F. Kennedy visited war-devastated Germany … These diary entries show the youthful Kennedy's wide-ranging curiosity and eye for telling detail … Kennedy wrote a remarkable commentary in his diary, dated August 1, 1945, about Hitler and his place in history: "After visiting these places, you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived …”
“The senator from Kentucky,” said John McCain, speaking of his colleague Rand Paul, “is working for Vladimir Putin … and I do not say that lightly.” What did Sen. Paul do to deserve being called a hireling of Vladimir Putin? He declined to support McCain’s call for a unanimous Senate vote to bring Montenegro into NATO as the 29th member of a Cold War alliance President Trump has called “obsolete.” ... The vote that needs explaining here is not Rand Paul’s. It is the votes of those senators who are handing out U.S.-NATO war guarantees to countries most Americans could not find on a map. Is no one besides Sen. Paul asking the relevant questions here? What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in who comes to power in Podgorica, Montenegro? Why cannot Europe handle this problem in its own back yard?
A teenager with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The suspect, whose identity remains sealed pursuant to a court order, is 18, Jewish and a dual U.S.-Israeli national, a police spokesman said. The teenager's alleged motives were not immediately clear ... U.S. federal authorities have been investigating a surge of threats against Jewish organizations, including more than 100 bomb threats in separate waves over the past three months targeting Jewish community centers (JCCs) in dozens of states. The threats prompted criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump for what some Jewish groups saw as an inadequate response from his administration.
Many Jewish groups blamed white supremacists, emboldened by Donald Trump’s campaign, for the bomb threats that have plagued Jewish institutions since the beginning of this year. It appears the groups were wrong. The news that one Jewish teen — an Israeli, no less — was behind most of the approximately 150 bomb threats that have hit Jewish community centers since the start of 2017 is a shocking twist in light of months in which the Anti-Defamation League and other groups pointed their collective finger at the far right ... Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, noted that this isn’t the first time that Jews have committed anti-Semitic acts ... “It is a reminder that we have to be very careful before we talk about a whole wave of anti-Semitism,” Sarna said.
South Africa was supposed to be a powerful example to the world of how a country could move past racial divisions and become a “rainbow nation.” But with Nelson Mandela long dead and a worsening economy, it looks more likely South Africa is on the way to becoming another Zimbabwe. One author says it’s time for the United States to start admitting white South Africans as refugees to the United States – before things escalate to genocide. International journalist Alex Newman, a onetime resident of South Africa and the author of “Crimes of the Educators,” says South Africa has reached a critical turning point in recent weeks ... South Africa is already facing an economic crisis ... Racial tensions are increasing ...
... What would war between the US and North Korea mean? A very grim scenario if it occurs. The US has nearly 80,000 military personnel in South Korea and Japan, as well as more war-fighting units in Guam, which the US conquered from Spain in 1898. The US 7th Fleet patrols the region, armed with tactical nuclear weapons. US nukes are also based in South Korea and Guam ... The US and South Korea could certainly win such a war but it would be very bloody and expensive. There would be the threat of Chinese military intervention if it appeared the US was about to occupy North Korea. Russia is right next door. Secretary Tillerson, please leave war threats to the generals and start practicing some active diplomacy with the North. If ever a war was not needed, it’s here.
A chilly climate isn't keeping Norway from basking in the glow of being named the world's happiest country on Monday. The Scandinavian country surged from fourth place in last year's UN assessment all the way to the top spot, according to the World Happiness Report 2017. Other top countries on the list included Nordic neighbors Denmark and Iceland, as well as Switzerland ... The report found that "all of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance." Rounding out the top ten were Finland, in fifth place, The Netherlands (6), Canada (7), New Zealand (8) and Australia and Sweden tied for 9th ... The United States slipped to number 14 because of less social support and greater corruption ...
Happiness in the US is declining and is expected to continue on a downward path ... The US has slipped to 14th place in the World Happiness Report 2017, produced by the United Nations. The world’s economic superpower is well behind top-ranked Norway, although it remains above Germany in 17th place, the UK in 19th, and France in 32nd ... The UN report, which is based on Gallup polls of self-reported wellbeing as well as perceptions of corruption, generosity and freedom, this year has a special focus on the “story of reduced happiness” in the US ... Other studies highlighted by the authors show how rapidly the country has slid down international rankings on wellbeing. The US has fallen to 19th place in happiness rankings of rich countries, compared with third place just over a decade ago, the report states.
Widespread social unrest will ignite when Donald Trump’s base realizes it has been betrayed. I do not know when this will happen. But that it will happen is certain ... There are no institutions left that can authentically be called democratic ... Trump is emblematic of what anthropologists call “crisis cults.” A society in terminal decline often retreats into magical thinking. Reality is too much to bear. It places its faith in the fantastic and impossible promises of a demagogue or charlatan who promises the return of a lost golden age. The good jobs will come back. The nation will again be prosperous. The decrepit cities will be rebuilt. America will be great again.
... Perhaps it is an opportune time for Mexico to confront its own historical responsibility for xenophobic and exclusionary policies. Almost a century ago, Mexico experienced a dramatic rise in xenophobia against immigrants from China, resulting in exclusionary policies and outright violence ... Mexico has an oft-ignored history of discriminating against Chinese immigrants ... An anti-Chinese movement emerged during the Mexican Revolution and attained peak influence before and during the Great Depression ... Perhaps the most violent single episode occurred in 1911, when Mexican revolutionary forces massacred over 300 people of Chinese descent in the city of Torreón.
... Ah, heritability. A term that is much maligned in disciplines like criminology and often serves as a wellspring of confusion. Humans differ in height, weight, personality style, and behavioral tendencies — not everyone is nice and outgoing, just like not everyone is as tall as a professional basketball player. But here’s the important part, heritability has to do with the origins of these differences. To say that something is heritable is to say that genetic differences play a role in creating observable differences ... The effects of genetic differences make some people more impulsive and shortsighted than others, some people more healthy or infirm than others, and, despite how uncomfortable it might be to admit, genes also make some folks more likely to break the law than others.
The head of a Lebanon-based United Nations agency that promotes development in Arab countries resigned Friday, after the body she led was ordered by the UN secretary-general to remove from its website a controversial report that charged Israel has established an “apartheid regime” guilty of “racial domination” over the Palestinians. Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian who served as executive secretary of the Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), announced her resignation at a hastily arranged press conference in the Lebanese capital ... The document, published earlier this week by ESCWA, which comprises 18 Arab countries, drew swift and vociferous criticism from US and Israeli officials.
A United Nations rights expert issued a scathing report criticizing Israel's policies Monday, just a few days after the world body withdrew a report that accused Israel of “apartheid” against Palestinians after U.S. and Israeli pressure. In the report, Michael Lynk, the U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, charged Israel with "the subjugation of humanity" in Palestine and intensifying a crackdown on human rights campaigners. Lynk made the claims in a report presented to the U.N. human rights council during the Geneva-based body's mandated session on Israel ... He decried how Israel's "illegal settlement enterprise has moved at an alarming pace" since Donald Trump assumed the U.S. presidency in January, calling the practice a "flagrant violation" of international law.
... The US national debt: As of the end of October 2016, $19,805,716,000,000. That's right, just over 19.8 trillion dollars. And still growing. The annual interest expense on this astronomical debt is over $400,000,000,000 (fiscal year 2015). For those who can't decipher the zeros, that's 400 billion dollars per year. And that's with historically very low interest rates. Yowza! Let's put that 400 billion dollars in perspective. Ready? The US defense budget for fiscal year 2015 was just under 600 billion dollars. And the defense budget is 54 percent of all discretionary spending. More perspective? Veterans' benefits budget is about one-sixth of interest expense at just over $65 billion ... And while the magnitude of our national debt and its carrying cost is absolutely stupefying, there's more. Much more.
Former Nazi collaborationists and Waffen SS members marched through the Latvian capital to mark Legion Day [March 16], an unofficial holiday in the Baltic country that honors those who died fighting on the German side during World War II. The veterans, along with hundreds of their nationalist supporters, gathered at the Cathedral of St. John in Riga before marching to Dome Square and then on towards the Freedom Monument, where they commemorated the Latvian Legion’s deployment against the Red Army near the Russian town of Pskov in 1944 ... The Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS was created in 1943 on the orders of Adolf Hitler, and almost 150,000 Latvians served in its two divisions.
Why do so many citizens of a small Baltic country defy harsh international criticism to honor the young men who fought with the “Nazi” Waffen SS during World War II? Who were the Latvians who fought in German uniform along with so many other Europeans against the Allies? Why is March 16 the commemoration day of the Latvian Legion? Runtime: 7:13 mins.
... A recently published study in the Journal of Public Economics concludes that the attractiveness of a candidate does correlate with their politics. They find that politicians on the right are more good looking in Europe, the United States and Australia ... The results suggested that politicians on the right are more beautiful on all three continents ... In elections that give voters a lot of information – like parliamentary elections when candidates are well covered by TV news and in the newspaper – politicians’ appearance matters equally to voters regardless of party or ideology. In low-information city elections, a beauty increase of one standard deviation attracts about 20 percent more votes for the average candidate on the right and about 8 percent more votes for the average candidate on the left, the study finds.
A German newspaper was forced to remove the name of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from a list of the world’s craziest leaders following diplomatic pressure. Hamburger Morgenpost had included Netanyahu in a list of “The Seven Craziest Leaders in the World” because he promotes settlement policies and because he tried to convince former US President Barack Obama to attack Iran. As a result, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a complaint to the German government and the Israeli embassy in Berlin criticised the newspaper and said in a statement that this is an “anti-Semitic” act. ... The newspaper was then forced to remove Netanyahu from the list and apologised for including him.
A Canadian man convicted of spreading anti-Semitic material online was sentenced Monday and banned from posting publicly on the internet, but will not serve any jail time. Arthur Topham, a 70-year-old former teacher and miner from Quesnel in British Columbia, was found guilty in 2015 of promoting hatred against an identifiable group on his website, Radical Press. Topham has run the website, described as anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, since 1998 and was first charged in 2012. Topham was given a six-month conditional sentence barring him from publicly posting online, as well as a curfew. At the sentencing hearing, attended by several of his supporters, Topham told the court that the website had already been taken down ...
In the weeks preceding the fall of the centuries-old Russian monarchy, the air was thick with discontent: it was a cold winter – even by Russian standards – the exhausting World War I was still ongoing, supply trains were failing, prices were going up, and bread rationing had been introduced. Protests in the capital, St. Petersburg – then called Petrograd – broke out on March 8 ... Betrayed by the army and officials he wrote in his diary: “All around me there is treachery, cowardice and deceit.” Nicholas abdicated in favor of his brother, Mikhail, who refused the crown, bringing to an end three centuries of the Romanov dynastic rule. The Russian Empire was no more ... The figures on casualties in the February Revolution differ greatly, from several hundred to over 1,000.
The abdication of Russian Tsar Nicholas II on March 15, 1917, was met with a fair share of optimism and even rancor in many Western capitals and newspapers ... The United Kingdom welcomes the news and hopes that the revolution in Russia will help the Allies in World War I, which is its third year ... Announcement that Russia had overthrown the autocratic government and joined the ranks of progressive nations was received here with unmixed joy,” the New York Tribune reports from London ... Although Russia is part of the Allied Forces at war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, the Russian Tsar and his entourage face criticism from British and American media who accuse the Romanovs of pro-German sentiments.
A prominent Polish historian presented evidence Wednesday about Polish villagers’ widespread killing of Jews fleeing Nazis during World War II, touching a raw nerve in a country still grappling with its role during the Holocaust. The research is likely to irk the nationalist Polish government, which has taken aim at those seeking to undermine its official stance that Poles were only heroes in the war, not collaborators who committed heinous crimes. In launching the English-language version of her 2011 book, “Such a Beautiful Sunny Day,” Barbara Engelking details dozens of cases of everyday Poles raping Jewish women and bludgeoning Jews to death with axes, shovels and rocks. ... But since the conservative and nationalistic Law and Justice party consolidated power in 2015, it has sought to stamp out discussion and research on the topic.
France’s far-right National Front (FN) party suspended its top official in the southeastern city of Nice today after he was secretly filmed denying the extent of the Holocaust. In a documentary to be aired on French television later yesterday, Benoit Loeuillet is heard discussing the mass killing of Jews during World War II, saying “I don’t think there were that many deaths. There weren’t six million.” After being shown selling books by Adolf Hitler and Holocaust-denying writer Robert Faurisson, he continues: “There weren’t mass murders as it’s been said.” The comments come less than six weeks before presidential elections in which FN leader Marine Le Pen is a frontrunner after spending years trying to improve the party’s image.
The map and balance of power of Europe was changed irrevocably on 24th October 1648, with the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia. It brought an end to the Thirty Years War, a three decade long series of conflicts on the continent that had wrought a path of massive destruction and upheaval ... Much of the fighting took place on German soil, and the effects were devastating. Massive armies moved across the region, taking resources to support themselves and destroying others to prevent them falling into the hands of their enemies ... Often, cities and villages were looted and burnt as the soldiers looked for anything of value as payment. By 1648 around 20 percent of the German population had been killed. Meanwhile, towns and villages were left wrecked, devastating manufacture, agriculture and trade in the region.
A U.N. agency published a report on Wednesday accusing Israel of imposing an "apartheid regime" of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, and said it was the first time a U.N. body had clearly made the charge. Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman likened the report, which was published by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), to Der Sturmer -- a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic. The report concluded "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole." ... U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the "first of its type" from a U.N. body that "clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people".
Over 100 Holocaust remembrance institutions, scholars and educators called on President Donald Trump to maintain a government office dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism following a report that he was considering nixing it. The 120 signatories — among them Holocaust museums, anti-genocide groups, Holocaust studies programs, and Holocaust scholars and educators in the United States and Europe — released a statement Monday calling on Trump to strengthen the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, which fights anti-Jewish sentiments abroad. The signatories also urged Trump to create a new office to combat anti-Semitism in the United States.
A bipartisan group of 167 Capitol Hill lawmakers signed an open letter to US President Trump Monday urging him to appoint a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism through the State Department. The letter called the appointment of such an official “crucial in documenting human rights abuses against Jewish communities abroad as well as developing and implementing policies designed to combat anti-Semitism.” The letter comes amid a sustained uptick in anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States ... Trump is considering eliminating the position of anti-Semitism envoy among other envoy positions as part of a planned cut to federal agencies, Bloomberg reported last month.
One of the promises that President Trump has kept is to get tough on Iran ... Mattis and the rest of the Trump administration have based this canceled operation and other plans to get tough on Iran on a number of myths about the Islamic Republic. But the myths are not unique to the Trump team; the myths are widely embraced across Official Washington, repeated by Republicans and Democrats alike. Myth One: Iran Is or Was Developing a Nuclear Bomb ... The bottom line is that no one seriously — not the United States, not Israel, not the I.A.E.A. – ever really believed Iran was developing nuclear weapons. It was just a useful myth for politicians to use to justify continued hostilities toward Iran and keep open the possibility of military strikes.
... It should seem obvious that the reason Iran is opposed to the United States has much to do with the fact that the United States has acted as its enemy. Moreover, as will be pointed out shortly, throughout the 20th century, Iran has been victimized by the great powers ... In sum, Iran is acting no differently than a country of its size, power, security interests, and historical experience would be expected to act. However, there is no apparent reason that Iran would be a threat to American interests, even if these interests are viewed from the traditional foreign policy establishment’s globalist perspective ... Trump, unfortunately, holds an opposite position – that the U.S. needs to take a more belligerent stance – and in this he has been reinforced by Mattis and McMaster.
Not long ago, a democratizing Turkey, with the second-largest army in NATO, appeared on track to join the European Union. That’s not likely now, or perhaps ever ... Turkey, a powerful and reliable ally of the U.S. through the Cold War, appears to be coming unmoored from Europe and the West, and is becoming increasingly sectarian, autocratic and nationalistic. While anti-immigrant and anti-EU parties across Europe may not take power anywhere in 2017, theirs is now a permanent and growing presence, leeching away support from centrist parties left and right.
Seventy percent of American voters see anti-Semitism in the country as a “very” or “somewhat serious” problem, up from 49 percent a month ago, according to a new poll. The responses differed by party identification, with an overwhelming majority of Democrats, 87 percent, seeing anti-Semitism as a “very” or “somewhat serious” problem, and slightly more than half of Republicans, 53 percent, seeing it as such, according to the poll released Thursday. The survey was conducted by Quinnipiac University at the beginning of March ... The poll also found that 63 percent of American voters think hatred and prejudice has increased since Trump’s election, while two percent say it has decreased and 32 percent say it has stayed the same.
What do you call an organization that teaches children an exclusive religious or ethnic nationalism and promotes war and other forms of violence to get its way? Many people would say an extremist group or a right-wing cult ... We are talking about a group the Canada Revenue Agency finds worthy of awarding tax-deductible status for “charitable” donations. The Jewish National Fund would also deny “brainwashing” children, but there is no doubt it tries to convince young minds of its exclusivist worldview ... The registered “charity” offers various youth education initiatives promoting Zionism, Israel’s state ideology ... The JNF has long promoted an expansionist vision of the “land of Israel” ... JNF Canada has described 2016 as “our best year yet.” More than $21 million was raised.
The Jewish member of Iran’s parliament called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an “insane vampire” for saying that Iran seeks the annihilation of the Jews, just as ancient Persia did in the Purim story. “Netanyahu is an insane vampire drowned in crimes from head to toe, and the recent remarks made by the racist Israeli prime minister is not surprising to me,” Siamak Mareh Sedq, who represents the Jews of Iran in the government, said Tuesday during an open session of parliament, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported. Mareh Sedq also asserted that in contradiction to Netanyahu’s statements against Iran, anti-Semitism and racism have never been witnessed in the Iranian culture.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposal to deport all eleven million immigrants living in the country illegally, along with their U.S.-born children, sounds far-fetched. But something similar happened before. During the 1930s and into the 1940s, up to two million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were deported or expelled from cities and towns across the U.S. and shipped to Mexico. According to some estimates, more than half of these people were U.S. citizens, born in the United States ... It was the Great Depression, when up to a quarter of Americans were unemployed and many believed that Mexicans were taking scarce jobs. In response, federal, state and local officials launched so-called "repatriation" campaigns. They held raids in workplaces and in public places, rounded up Mexicans and Mexican-Americans alike, and deported them.
The new version of the Trump administration’s travel ban won’t include Iraq, which further undermines the argument for having the ban at all: “Taking Iraq off does harm the case for the travel ban,” said Jonathan Meyer, who was deputy general counsel at DHS in the Obama administration. “It hurts the argument that these countries are being selected based on objective analysis of the danger their citizens pose.” ... The ban makes no sense overall, but in the case of Iran it is especially ridiculous ... In the cases of many of the other countries included on the list, it is penalizing citizens of those countries because of the instability and upheaval that U.S. policies have directly or indirectly caused.
... I’m convinced that President Trump’s talk of rebuilding the U.S. military and “winning wars again” has been deeply influenced by the kind of iconography that was commonplace in Victory at Sea and the war movies of his youth. Consider his comments on February 27th, when announcing that he would request an extra $54 billion annually in additional military spending. “We have to start winning wars again,” he declared. “I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. We never lost a war, remember?” Now, recall that when Trump was growing up, the United States was not winning wars -- except on the TV screen and in Hollywood.
There will be no mention of the first woman to fly a helicopter, Hanna Reitsch, at a celebration of women in aviation in Quebec this weekend, after the mayor of Lachute announced Thursday [March 9] his town wouldn't allow the event to proceed if it glorified someone with a Nazi past. As many as 800 women and girls are expected to gather at a municipal airfield in Lachute, 80 kilometres northwest of Montreal, on Saturday for the Women of Aviation Worldwide (WOAW) event — just one of many events taking place across four continents. This year marks the 80th anniversary of Reitsch's first helicopter flight, and as CBC first reported Wednesday, organizers planned to celebrate that accomplishment with videos of Reitsch in action and posters about her.
After organizers bowed to pressure, a Nazi pilot who was the first woman in the world to fly a helicopter will not be featured at a March 11 event in Quebec intended to attract girls and women to aviation. The Vancouver-based Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide (IWAW), a non-profit organization, had resisted a call from B’nai Brith Canada earlier in the week to not honour the achievements of Hanna Reitsch, an apparently unrepentant Nazi who died in 1979. The IWAW changed its mind after a demand March 9 from the mayor of Lachute, Quebec, north of Montreal – where a key Canadian event of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, an IWAW initiative, took place – that there be no celebration of a Nazi in his town.
A diminutive blonde with bright blue eyes and a ready smile ... She was the world's first female test pilot, the first woman to fly a glider over the Alps, the first woman to fly a helicopter, the first woman to be named a flight captain, the first woman to pilot a rocket plane and jet fighter, and the first and only woman in German history to be awarded the Iron Cross, first and second class. After setting more than 40 distance and altitude records as Germany's leading woman glider pilot in the 1930s, she tested all types of fighters, bombers, and transports for the German Air Force, and flew the last airplane out of Berlin before Soviet forces captured the German capital in the spring of 1945 ... She was a brave and tireless aviatrix who won universal respect.
... With the outbreak of war in 1939 Hanna was asked to fly many of Germany's latest designs. Among these were the rocket-propelled Messerschmitt Me 183 Komet, and several larger bombers, on which she tested various mechanisms for cutting barrage balloon cables. She became Adolf Hitler's favourite pilot and was one of only two women awarded the Iron Cross First Class during World War II ... In 1961 Reitsch was invited to the White house by US President John F. Kennedy. From 1962 to 1966 she lived in Ghana, where she founded the first black African national gliding school ... "I am not ashamed to say I believed in National Socialism [she said in an interview]. I still wear the Iron Cross with diamonds Hitler gave me."
Hanna Reitsch (1912-1979) was a German aviator and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Combined Pilots-Observation Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II. Reitsch was the first woman to fly a helicopter, a rocket plane, and a jet fighter. She set over forty aviation altitude and endurance records during her career, both before and after World War II, and several of her international gliding records are still standing to this day. Runtime: 3:35 mins.
Last week President Trump significantly escalated the US military presence in Syria, sending some 400 Marines to the ISIS-controlled Raqqa, and several dozen Army Rangers to the contested area around Manbij. According to press reports he will also station some 2,500 more US troops in Kuwait to be used as he wishes in Iraq and Syria. Not only is it illegal under international law to send troops into another country without permission, it is also against US law for President Trump to take the country to war without a declaration. But not only is Trump’s first big war illegal: it is doomed to failure because it makes no sense ... President Trump’s escalation in Syria is doomed to failure. He is being drawn into a quagmire by the neocons that will destroy scores of lives, cost us a fortune, and may well ruin his presidency.
Although the Syrian army, with its ally Russia, has made significant gains against ISIS over the past week or so, the Washington Post is reporting tonight [March 8] that President Trump has for the first time sent regular US military personnel into that country in combat positions. This is an unprecedented escalation of US involvement in the Syrian war, and it comes without Congressional authorization, without UN authorization, and without the authorization of the government of Syria. In short it is three ways illegal ... The United States is making a military bid for a very large chunk of sovereign Syrian territory. Something even Obama with his extraordinarily reckless Middle East policy would not dare to do.
We are now moving rapidly into stage II of Levantine Madness as the US boosts its intervention in the war-torn Mideast. Five thousand US troops are back in Iraq to bolster the shattered nation’s puppet regime that is propped up by American bayonets ... Meanwhile, thousands of US troops and Special Forces are now also engaged in Syria though just whom they are battling remains confused. Syria has become a mad house of warring factions backed by outside powers ... The US Navy is now threatening to impose a naval blockade on war-torn Yemen, another joint US-Saudi warfare enterprise that has gone terribly wrong. History shows it’s also easy to lie, flag-wave and bluster into war but awfully hard to get out. Trump, whose main information sources appears to be Fox fake TV news, does yet seem to understand this verity.
The Trump administration is making its first radical policy change in the Middle East by escalating American involvement in the civil war in Yemen. Wrecked by years of conflict, the unfortunate country will supposedly be the place where the US will start to confront and roll back Iranian influence in the region as a whole ... Despite Saudi allegations, there is little evidence that the Houthis get more than rhetorical support from Iran and this is far less than Saudi Arabia gets from the US and Britain. There is no sign that the Saudi-led air bombardment, which has been going on for two years, will decisively break the military stalemate.
... Once touted as the world’s best, our [California] highway system today is more deplorable than laudable. The decline happened gradually, taking the better part of 40 years. Many roads and bridges are now near the end of their useful life, their demise hastened by a lack of upkeep. Others simply cannot handle the growing needs of the state’s residents, visitors, and businesses. Two-thirds of local roads and streets now require major, expensive rehabilitation ... Our past inaction has caught up with us: Caltrans estimates that it will need $57 billion to fix state highways, and cities and counties say they’ll require another $78 billion to fix local streets and roads. The key questions are: Will California make roads a priority again?, and, Where will the money come from?
... The Western world is having a breakdown. The symptoms are the recent rise of socialist Bernie Sanders, Trump’s election, the Brexit vote, and the spread of anti–European Union parties across Europe. But these are desperate folk remedies, not the cause of the disease itself. The malady instead stems from our false notion of elitism. The public no longer believes that privilege and influence should be predicated on titles, brands, and buzz, rather than on demonstrable knowledge and proven character. The idea that brilliance can be manifested in trade skills or retail sales, or courage expressed by dealing with the hardship of factory work, or character found on an Indiana farm, is foreign to the Washington Beltway, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley.
It’s hard to say what’s worse: the outrageousness of the Southern Poverty Law Center in pinning the label “white nationalist” and “extremist” on anyone who bucks the prevailing politically correct narrative, or the credulity of the mainstream media in treating the SPLC as a neutral source ... The SPLC is quite upfront about its lack of interest in the hate activities of, for example, the militant “anti-fascists” who trashed the University of California-Berkeley campus in February in order to prevent Milo Yiannopolous from speaking there. The SPLC “monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right,” its web page says ... The idea that the SPLC offers neutral expertise on extremism is laughable ... Reporters should be ashamed of treating it as an arbiter of respectability.
... There is no reason that, more than 70 years after World War II, the United States should continue carrying the main burden for ensuring European security. Unfortunately, this isn't just a question of money. America's justified demand comes right in the middle of an internal crisis in the West so deep that nobody knows how much of the West will be left in the end ... And are we really ready to stand at America's side if Trump goes to war against Iran, North Korea or some other country? ... The era in European history when the Continent could delegate its security to a partner across the Atlantic has passed, irrevocably. That will remain true even after Trump is no longer in the White House. Trump, after all, is a symptom of the crisis in the West, not its cause. America remains a possible partner for Europe, but it is no longer a reliable one.
... What became colloquially known as the “Mexican repatriation” efforts of 1929 to 1936 are a shameful and profoundly illustrative chapter in American history, yet they remain largely unknown — despite their broad and devastating impact ... “Getting rid of” America’s Mexican population was a random, brutal effort ... The so-called repatriation effort was, in large part, a misnomer, given the fact that as many as sixty percent of those sent to “home” Mexico were U.S. citizens: American-born children of Mexican-descent who had never before traveled south of the border ... Each state handled the raids differently — sometimes federal agents were involved, sometimes it was social workers and local law enforcement who targeted people for removal ... He feels confident in his citation of 1.8 million people deported.
One of Donald Trump's most vocal riffs during his campaign was "rip it up." He was referring, of course, to the Iran agreement that is meant to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the ayatollahs for at least a decade. Candidate Trump boasted he would rip up the agreement, then renegotiate a much better document ... But you don't hear that "rip it up" language any longer. And you won't. ... The fact is that Trump will not be touching that Iran nuclear agreement. And, it seems, the Israelis are not unhappy about this -- at least for the moment. There are several interesting reasons for this.
Amid growing speculation about a Trump administration’s intentions regarding the Iran nuclear deal, a new poll has found that nearly two-thirds of the U.S. public opposes withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated 18 months ago between Iran and the P5+1. The poll, part of a much larger survey by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC) about public attitudes about the U.S. role in world affairs, was released Thursday ... It included 2,980 respondents and was conducted December 22-28. “Though President-elect Trump campaigned on ripping up the deal and seeking to negotiate a better one, the majority of Americans would rather continue with the deal as long as Iran continues to comply with its terms,” said PPC’s director, veteran foreign-policy pollster Steven Kull.
The US government has thwarted many funding projects and deals in Iran during the past months, a London-based daily says. Citing European banks’ sources, Asharq al-Awsat said many visits by European delegations to Tehran since the lifting of sanctions on Iran in January 2016 had failed to bear fruit. The sanctions were removed under a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, but Washington has imposed new penalties under numerous pretexts, including over Iran’s missile defense program. The paper said European investors had to forgo most projects because their operations fell foul of sanctions imposed on a number of Iranian entities blacklisted by US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
In spite of a basic hostility between Third Reich Germany and international Jewry, German National Socialists and Jewish Zionists shared similar views about ethnicity and nationhood, and worked together in the years 1933 through 1940-41 for what each group believed was in its own best national interest. The Hitler government vigorously promoted Zionism and Jewish emigration to Palestine. In collaborating with the Zionists for a mutually desirable and humane solution to a complex problem, Third Reich Germany was willing to make foreign exchange sacrifices, impair relations with Britain, and anger Arabs. Runtime: 49 mins.
... Psychological differences among human populations (demes, ethnic groups, races) are almost always attributed to cultural and sociological forces in the relevant literatures. However, there are strong reasons to suspect that the hypothesis of a panhuman nature is incorrect. Humans migrated out of Africa at least 50,000 years ago and occupied many different ecological and climatological niches. Because of this, they evolved slightly different anatomical and physiological traits ... It is likely that humans also evolved slightly different psychological traits as a response to different selection pressures in different environments and niches ... Frank discussions of such differences among human groups have provoked strong ethical concerns in the past.
... The so-called “conflict” in Israel-Palestine, a tragedy that has dragged on for so long that it feels static, indeed almost normalised. But unlike other deadly conflicts, this one is wholly in our power to stop — “our” meaning the United States and Europe. It is in our power to stop it, because we are the ones empowering it. We are now approaching the centennial of the British Original Sin in this tragedy, the Balfour Declaration ... Israel has one of the world’s largest militaries, but its most powerful weapon, the one without which all its others would be impotent, is its Narrative, its creation myth, its auto-biography ... Criticise Israeli terror, you will instead hit this three-word human shield — ‘The Jewish State’ — that Israel hides behind.
An Israeli television host used the final episode of his late-night show to sharply criticize the country’s treatment of Palestinians, comparing settlement efforts in Gaza and the West Bank to South Africa’s apartheid era. Assaf Harel, the host of the nighttime comedy show “Good Night With Assaf Harel,” used his final monologue to condemn Israelis for their “amazing ability to ignore what’s happening mere kilometers away.” The show wasn’t renewed for another season and ended this month ... “Ever since the right-wing took power, more and more voices are warning of apartheid. Are you kidding? Apartheid has been here for ages. Ages. It’s just that we’re on the good side, so it doesn’t really bother us.” The video has spread across social media and comes at a crucial political time for the region.
Those of us who voted for Donald Trump in hopes that he would turn out to be the peace candidate are facing disappointment. He has increased the already bloated military budget by $54 billion and has appointed an outspokenly anti-Russian and anti-Iranian active duty general as his National Security Advisor. A retired general with pretty much the same views heads the Pentagon. President Trump meanwhile vows to “extinguish” ISIS without presenting any plan regarding how exactly that might be accomplished ... If we are heading into yet another round of Israel-centric foreign policy we will be inevitably involved in new wars, starting with Iran which has always been Netanyahu’s enemy of choice.
President Donald Trump holds a net unfavorable rating among Americans, though his favorability rating is still higher than Congress, both major political parties, former rival Hillary Clinton, and the media, according to a new poll. The poll, conducted over the course of last week by USA Today, shows 45 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Trump, while 47 percent view the president negatively ... Trump is the first modern president not to enjoy a majority approval at such an early point in his administration ... Despite of the personal disapproval of Trump, Americans seem more optimistic about the country’s future with him at the helm.
A decision not to prosecute a far-right activist with links to Nazi sympathisers is to be re-examined, the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Campaigners called for action against Jeremy Bedford-Turner [Jez Turner] after a speech at London's Cenotaph in 2015 was filmed. A judicial review of the CPS decision not to charge him with incitement to racial or religious hatred, and its refusal for a review, was to be held. The CPS says it had new advice about its original decision-making process. According to a transcript of the video of the speech, Mr Bedford-Turner told his followers, among other things, that the French Revolution and both world wars were massacres perpetrated by Jews, and demanded: "Let's free England from Jewish control."
Gilad Atzmon highlights the arrogance and hypocrisy of the effort to criminally prosecute British activist Jez Turner for non-violent expressions of opinion. The “Campaign Against Anti-Semitism” (CAA), a Zionist group in Britain, seeks to suppress expressions of basic civil rights. A campaign supposedly meant to fight anti-Jewish sentiment, says Atzmon, is actually promoting just the opposite. Prominent Jews acknowledge and sometimes even boast about Jewish-Zionist power and influence in today’s world. But non-Jews who point out this reality, and seek to counter this power, are targeted by Jewish groups that work to silence them. This Jewish campaign is an expression of “racial supremacy,” he says. Atzmon, who was born in Israel and now lives in Britain, is an author and an acclaimed musician. Runtime: 5:32 mins.
... China’s premier has warned the world is entering a period of profound political and economic upheaval as the specter of the Trump presidency loomed over the opening day of the country’s annual National People’s Congress ... Per capita income saw a 26-fold expansion since 1985, while as many as 600 million people, twice the population of the US, were lifted out of poverty. There is a sense of real pride among the Chinese, even as they criticize their country’s shortcomings, that within two generations, it became the world’s leading trading nation and looks set to be the biggest economy ... Slower growth in China, and 6.5 percent is considered slow, will be accepted, even welcomed if the twin scourges of pollution and ever-increasing debt can be tackled.
In the past month, a wave of articles has been published around the world criticizing Amazon for selling Holocaust denial books. To my knowledge, Amazon offered no public response, seemingly ignoring the growing chorus asking why denial literature was on sale through the world's largest online bookseller. So imagine my surprise when last night [March 7] I tried searching for Kindle updates to the 'Holocaust Handbooks' series on amazon.co.uk and found ... nothing. Not only were the Kindle editions of every book by Carlo Mattogno, Germar Rudolf and every other 'Revisionist' author published in the 'Holocaust Handbooks' series gone, it also became apparent that Amazon no longer offered the print editions, either ... By my count, at least 45 English-language and 27 German-language 'Revisionist' books and Kindle ebooks have been removed ...
World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer on Thursday thanked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for removing several Holocaust-denial books flagged by the WJC on multiple occasions since 2013, and as recently as earlier this month, as being in violation of Amazon’s guidelines prohibiting the sale of material that “promote or glorify hatred.” In a letter to Bezos, Singer offered the WJC’s assistance in helping to identify and flag other offensive material in similar violation of Amazon’s standards.
Ukrainian Jews protested the attendance at an international symposium on the Holocaust by a state historian who praised a Nazi collaborator whose troops killed Jews. Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, last week condemned the planned attendance of Volodymyr Vyatrovych, director of Ukrainian National Memory Institute, at a conference planned for Paris this week under the title: “Holocaust in Ukraine – New Perspectives on the Evils of the 20th Century.” ... The veneration of Nazi collaborators and attempts to equate Nazism with communism have proliferated in Eastern Bloc countries in recent years.
... We are hearing increasing reports that the military will recommend sending thousands of US troops into Syria and Iraq ... The president told a political rally in Florida over the weekend that he was going to set up “safe zones” in Syria and would make the Gulf States pay for them. There are several problems with this plan. First, any “safe zone” set up inside Syria, especially if protected by US troops, would amount to a massive US invasion of the country unless the Assad government approves them ... Second, there is the little problem of the Russians, who are partners with the Assad government in its efforts to rid the country of ISIS and al-Qaeda. ISIS is already losing territory on a daily basis. Is President Trump willing to risk a military escalation with Russia to protect armed regime-change forces in Syria?
WikiLeaks on Tuesday published thousands of documents purportedly taken from the Central Intelligence Agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence, a dramatic release that appears to expose intimate details of America's cyberespionage toolkit. It was not immediately clear how WikiLeaks obtained the information, which included more than 8,700 documents and files. The CIA tools, if authentic, could undermine the confidence that consumers have in the safety and security of their computers, mobile devices and even smart TVs ... WikiLeaks said the data also include details on the agency's efforts to subvert American software products and smartphones, including Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft Windows.
Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks on Tuesday published what it said were thousands of pages of internal CIA discussions about hacking techniques used over several years, renewing concerns about the security of consumer electronics and embarrassing yet another U.S. intelligence agency. The discussion transcripts showed that CIA hackers could get into Apple Inc iPhones, Google Inc Android devices and other gadgets in order to capture text and voice messages before they were encrypted with sophisticated software. Cyber security experts disagreed about the extent of the fallout from the data dump, but said a lot would depend on whether WikiLeaks followed through on a threat to publish the actual hacking tools that could do damage.
... It’s sickening watching the arrant hypocrisy and windbaggery in Washington over alleged Russian espionage and manipulation. The US has been buying and manipulating foreign governments since 1945. We even tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. This week Wikileaks issued an intercept on CIA spying and manipulation of France’s 2012 election. We live in a giant glass house. The Russians are not our pals. Nor are they the evil empire. We have to normalize our thinking about Russia, grow up and stop using Moscow as a political bogeyman to fight our own internal political battles. Right now, I’m more worried about the far right crazies in the Trump White House than I am about the Ruskis and Vlad the Bad.
The UK arm of Amazon removed three titles from sale because they deny the Holocaust, after requests from Yad Vashem and a UK Jewish group. The Board of Deputies, the umbrella body of British Jews, had asked the bookseller to withdraw the books which it claimed were “highly inappropriate for a reputable bookseller to stock.” The titles were: “Holocaust: The Greatest Lie Ever Told,” by Eleanor Wittakers; “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry,” by Arthur R. Butz and “Did Six Million Really Die?” by Richard Harwood. This week, Amazon UK confirmed that these books had been withdrawn from sale.
The online retailer Amazon has stopped selling three Holocaust-denial books after Jewish groups voiced growing frustration that the website was giving a platform to antisemites. Amazon has been criticised for years over the revisionist titles for sale on its website, but the recent upsurge in antisemitism across America promoted Robert Rozett, a senior official at Yad Vashem, to write to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last month calling for immediate action. On Wednesday morning, the three titles that Mr Rozett had complained about were unavailable for purchase ... This was the case for both US and UK stores. Mr Rozett said the company had taken a “positive first step” which showed that they were listening to him and other Jewish groups that echoed his demand, such as the World Jewish Congress.
All across Indian Country [in the USA], Native Americans are being evicted from their tribes, with little warning and little legal recourse. Take, for example, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, a federally-recognized tribe of Luiseno Indians living on a reservation in Temecula, California, part of the territory where their ancestors lived for 10,000 years. If you want to be a member, you must prove direct lineage to one or more of the original ancestors forced onto the reservation in the early 1880s ... Disenrollment is an epidemic in reservations across Indian country. Cuevas tracks these cases on his Original Penchanga website: So far, 11,000 Indians have been exiled from dozens of tribes ... As it turns out, this and the majority of other disenrollment cases are about money.
The Crown Prosecution Service is reconsidering whether to prosecute a far-right activist for alleged antisemitism on the eve of a highly unusual legal challenge to its decision to let the case drop. Government lawyers were due at the high court in London on Wednesday for judicial review proceedings brought by the Campaign Against Antisemitism. The case challenged the CPS decision not to charge a prominent far-right activist, Jeremy Bedford-Turner, for allegedly making antisemitic comments at a demonstration in July 2015. A judge in the judicial review proceedings said in January that the case raised “potentially important issues for society in this growing area of racist and religious hate crime”.
Israel's parliament on Monday passed a law barring foreigners who publicly support an anti-Israel boycott from entering the country. "In recent years calls to boycott Israel have been growing," parliament said on its website after the law was approved. "It seems this is a new front in the war against Israel, which until now the country had not prepared for properly." Individuals or representatives of groups publicly calling for a boycott - excluding Israeli citizens and permanent residents - will not be granted visas, according to the law ... Israel has long decried groups like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement who want to isolate Israel over policies toward the Palestinians.
... As for interfering in elections, how clean are our hands? Our own CIA has a storied history of interfering in elections. In the late ’40s, we shoveled cash into France and Italy after World War II to defeat the Communists who had been part of the wartime resistance to the Nazis and Fascists. And we succeeded. But we continued these practices after the Cold War ended. In this century, our National Endowment for Democracy, which dates to the Reagan era, has backed “color revolutions” and “regime change” in nations across what Russia regards as her “near abroad.”
This remarkable footage captures the day David Lloyd George cosied up to Hitler during a pre-war trip to Germany before hailing him as 'the greatest living German'. The grainy black and white film shows the politician and his entourage travelling around Germany in 1936, where they dined with the Nazi ruler and rode together on new autobahns ... Following the visit, Lloyd George described Hitler as a 'remarkable personality' and lauded him as 'one of the greatest I have ever met in the whole of my life'. Hitler added that he was pleased to have met 'the man who won the war', prompting Lloyd George to call Hitler 'the greatest living German'.
... The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, at a time when its economy was in total collapse, with ruinous war-reparation obligations and zero prospects for foreign investment or credit. Yet through an independent monetary policy of sovereign credit and a full-employment public-works program, the Third Reich was able to turn a bankrupt Germany, stripped of overseas colonies it could exploit, into the strongest economy in Europe within four years, even before armament spending began ... The centerpiece was Germany's Work Creation Program of 1933-36, which preceded its rearmament program. Neo-liberal economists everywhere seven decades later have yet to acknowledge that employment is all that counts, and living wages are the key to national prosperity.
Immediately after taking power, Hitler and his new government launched ambitious programs to do deal with the massive unemployment and economic paralysis of the Great Depression. These innovative and comprehensive policies proved remarkably successful. Within three years unemployment was banished and Germany’s economy was booming. As historian Mark Weber explains here, this remarkable achievement is little known and rarely acknowledged. He also takes a look at the Third Reich’s economic and taxation policies, and their impact on people’s lives, as well as the ideology and social-economic principles on which they were based.
They think Jared can do everything.” A State Department official said Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a high-level White House advisor, has such a sprawling portfolio that he’s starting to usurp the roles of trained diplomats, according to an article by Julia Ioffe in the Atlantic. “It’s reminiscent of the developing countries where I’ve served,” the official said. “The family rules everything, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows nothing.” In January, then president-elect Trump said in an interview with the Times of London that Kushner would work on making a peace deal in the Middle East. He’s also working on trade deals, and is involved in negotiations with Mexico. Kushner has no experience in diplomacy or government ...
... Shanghai's magnetic levitation train connects Pudong International Airport to the city's metro system, hitting speeds of 430kph, faster than one-third of the speed of sound. As the only publicly accessible maglev in the world, it’s a technological wonder you'd expect to find in a theme park, not on a transit map ... Instead of running on wheels, maglevs glide, eliminating the drag of friction. And the science is surprisingly simple ... The train immediately accelerated, and, like a high-tech drag racer, it kept accelerating. In no time, the speedometer reached 100 kph, then 200 ... A moment later, we topped out at 431kph, hovering there just long enough to bask in the wonder.
... Mr. Onfray is one of the latest popular authors to join France's booming decline industry, a spate of books and articles (with a handful of TV shows) that explore the country's (and the West's) failings and France's obsession with those failings. (Last year, the word “déclinisme,” or "declinism," entered France's Larousse dictionary.) It's a phenomenon that cuts across the political spectrum and has picked up velocity in recent years by tapping into an anxious national mood. And its loudest voices are intellectuals with platforms in the national news media ... “The French Suicide," by the conservative journalist Éric Zemmour, has sold 510,000 copies since it appeared in 2014; it argues that immigration and feminism have contributed to French decline.
... Nationalism is an idea whose time has come again. Those “old ties of blood, and race, and sectarianism” do seem everywhere ascendant. But that is a reality we must recognize and deal with. Deploring it will not make it go away. But what are these “universal values” McCain is talking about? Democracy? The free elections in India gave power to Hindu nationalists. In Palestine, Hamas. In Lebanon, Hezbollah. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, then overthrown in a military coup welcomed by the world’s oldest and greatest democracy. Have we forgotten it was a democratically elected government we helped to overthrow in Kiev? ... Today, the United States is confronting Russia, a huge and natural ally, over a peninsula that had belonged to her since the 18th century and is 5,000 miles from the United States.
During his first few weeks in office, US President Trump expanded sanctions against Iran, and threatened the country with war after it tested a missile. In this contentious and revealing interview, an Iranian scholar responds to recent US rhetoric and measures against his country, and defends Iran’s policies in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, speaks with BBC’s “Hardtalk” host.
One of the most enduring myths of our age is the story that the Nazis set the Reichstag building on fire as a “false flag” operation to generate popular support for measures of the Hitler government to suppress dissent and consolidate power. Even some prominent historians have accepted the often repeated smear, which was invented and vigorously promoted by Communists, that Goering and other Nazi officials set the German parliament building ablaze on Feb. 27, 1933, and then cynically blamed the crime on enemies. Runtime: 50 mins.
... Thus was born one of the great myths of modern history -- that the Nazis set fire to their own Parliament to provide an excuse for curbing the activities of the Communists ... The trial of Van der Lubbe and the other suspects should have dispelled any suspicion of Nazi guilt. It was a scrupulously fair trial which resulted in the acquittal of all the defendants except Van der Lubbe himself ... When considering the facts, it seems incredible that the myth of Nazi responsibility for firing the Reichstag could ever have been accepted at all. Yet it was, and by reputable historians ...
President Donald Trump began his address to Congress Tuesday night by calling attention to the recent nationwide wave of anti-Jewish threats and attacks. “Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains,” Trump said. “Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.” ... In his speech, Trump also noted how his administration “reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the state of Israel” by recently imposing “new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program” ...
Donald Trump has spoken against antisemitism days after another wave of bomb threats targeted Jewish centres around the country. “Anti-semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop,” he told MSNBC. He continued that antisemitism was "age-old, and there's something going on that doesn't fully allow it to heal. Sometimes it gets better and then it busts apart. “But we want to have it get very much better, get unified and stay together." The President was speaking at the National Museum of African American History, which he said was “doing tremendous numbers" of visitors and "getting that divide and bringing it much closer together.” His first remarks on the subject follow another wave of bomb threats on Jewish community centres around the US, following similar threats in January.
The end of the Second World War is often considered the defining moment when the United States became a global power. In fact, it was another war forty years earlier, a war that ended with America having an empire of its own stretching thousands of miles beyond its continental borders. The Spanish-American War [of 1898], which lasted five months, catapulted the United States from provincial to global power ... As a result of the war the United States annexed the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico, and occupied Cuba until 1903. Although Washington granted Cuban independence, it retained a say in Cuban affairs. The Spanish-American War made the United States a global power ... Like many conventional state-on-state conflicts, the Spanish-American War upset the old order and set the stage for a new one.
The year 1898 was a landmark in American history. It was the year America went to war with Spain – our first engagement with a foreign enemy in the dawning age of modern warfare. Aside from a few scant periods of retrenchment, we have been embroiled in foreign politics ever since ... Against this tidal wave of public elation, one man spoke out. He was William Graham Sumner – Yale professor, famed social scientist, and tireless fighter for private enterprise, free trade, and the gold standard. Now he was about to enter his hardest fight of all ... With the war against Spain and the philosophy behind it, we were letting ourselves in for the old European way, Sumner declared – "war, debt, taxation, diplomacy, a grand governmental system, pomp, glory, a big army and navy, lavish expenditures, political jobbery – in a word, imperialism."
The journey of the MS St. Louis lasted only a period of a few weeks, and yet for many, it has come to symbolize American indifference to the desperation of German Jews seeking safety from Nazi oppression ... As it turns out, the actual history of the St. Louis is far more complicated than this account allows. When understood correctly, it is less an example of how the United States responded to the Holocaust than it is one an illustration of the extent to which this difficult period is misunderstood and misrepresented ... The United States in this era permitted more refugees to enter than did any other country. The St. Louis was not “turned back” because the passengers were Jews, as popular wisdom holds ...
The United States has its worst heroin and opioid crisis in more than 60 years. In 2015, mostly due to the heroin and opioid painkiller epidemic, more than 52,000 deaths in the U.S. were related to drug overdoses, the highest number in U.S. history, according to the State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released Thursday. Ambassador William Brownfield briefed reporters on the release. The Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs said that the incredible demand is domestic, but that 100 percent of all heroin, and the great majority of all synthetic drugs that are used and abused in the United States, come from other countries.
Did you know that the Trump administration almost went to war with Iran at the start of February? ... Maybe you missed the story because the New York Times bizarrely buried it in the midst of a long piece on the turmoil and chaos inside the National Security Council. Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to the paper, had wanted the U.S. Navy to “intercept and board an Iranian ship to look for contraband weapons possibly headed to Houthi fighters in Yemen … But the ship was in international waters in the Arabian Sea, according to two officials. Mr. Mattis ultimately decided to set the operation aside, at least for now. White House officials said that was because news of the impending operation leaked.” ... Am I exaggerating? Ask the Iranians.
The United States is adding new sanctions on Iran over that country’s alleged misdeeds, and nearly all of those allegations are either out-and-out lies or half-truths. It has a familiar ring to it, as demonizing Tehran has been rather more the norm than not since 1979 ... Ignoring the fact that Iran cannot actually threaten the United States or any genuine vital national interests, the warning and follow-up action from the White House also contradict Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to avoid yet another war in the Middle East ...
Iran has held its first conference in six years supporting Palestinian uprisings, a forum that it says drew hundreds of delegates from 80 countries, reflecting the country’s resurgent clout on the world stage. The two-day Sixth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada ended Wednesday [Feb. 22] in the Iranian capital, Tehran, with Iran’s president pledging more aid for Palestinians fighting against Israel ... The Central Bank of Iran has said the country posted economic growth of 7.4 percent in March to September 2016 compared with the same period in the previous year ... Delegates to this week’s Tehran conference included members of Palestinian militant factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — all designated by the United States as terrorist organizations.
The international conference held in solidarity with the people of Palestine has been wrapped up in the Iranian capital, Tehran. Hundreds of foreign guests, including senior Palestinian leaders and officials of Muslim nations, took part in the two-day event. This Sixth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising), continued for a second and last day on Wednesday morning with the motto of “Together Supporting Palestine.” Around 700 foreign guests from dozens of countries and representatives of pro-Palestinian organizations took part in the conference ... Ayatollah Khamenei called the issue of Palestine the top priority of the Muslim world and all freedom seekers, and urged all-out support for Palestinian resistance.
Calling Israel a “cancerous tumor,” Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday expressed support for a “holy intifada” to eradicate the Jewish state, arguing that the international community is headed toward confrontation with the “Zionist regime.” In the opening address of the regime’s sixth international conference in support of the Palestinian violent uprising against Israel, Ayatollah Khamenei hailed the “resistance” against the “cruel occupation,” which he described as the worst case of oppression against one particular people recorded in history ... Addressing some 700 delegates in a Tehran conference center [on Feb. 21], the supreme leader denounced what he called “compromise strategies” — referring to the Palestinian Authority’s endorsement of a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines — and called instead for “all-out resistance.”
... America’s elites still praise FDR for partnering with one of the great mass murderers of human history, Stalin, to defeat Hitler. They still applaud Nixon for going to China to achieve a rapprochement with the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century, Mao Zedong. Yet Trump is not to be allowed to achieve a partnership with Putin, whose great crime was a bloodless retrieval of a Crimea that had belonged to Russia since the 18th century. The anti-Putin paranoia here is astonishing ... Where Russians saw hope with Trump’s election, they are now apparently yielding to disillusionment and despair. The question arises: If not toward better relations with Russia, where are we going with this bellicosity?
... The Southern Poverty Law Center is a thriving business. The Alabama-based "nonprofit" firm has become a font of riches for founder Morris Dees and his associates ... To me and to other observant conservatives, the Southern Poverty Law Center is a clever scam, relentlessly cultivating for profit the fear that this nation is filled with Klansmen and rife with people eager to perpetrate genocide ... “Hate crimes," as trumpeted by the likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center, are a questionable legal construct used almost exclusively against whites. Hateful or not, interracial violent crime is overwhelmingly black on white or black on Asian.
The [Israel government’s] Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has called on the online retailer Amazon to remove books that deny the Holocaust from its websites. Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem Libraries, sent an email last week to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, requesting that he immediately remove the books from the sites. “It has been clear for many years now that Holocaust denial literature is freely available for purchase over Amazon. Many of the items appear with glowing readers’ reviews and recommendations for further reading in the same vein,” Rozett wrote in the letter, The Jerusalem Post first reported ... Amazon has removed books that deny the Holocaust from online stores in countries where Holocaust denial is illegal, but they remain available in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Life expectancy at birth will continue to climb substantially for residents of industrialized nations — but not in the United States, where minimal gains will soon put life spans on par with those in Mexico and the Czech Republic, according to an extensive analysis released Tuesday. South Korean women and Hungarian men are projected to make the largest overall gains (with South Koreans second among males) ... Not so in the United States ... The reasons for the United States' lag are well known. It has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any of the countries in the study, and the highest obesity rate. It is the only one without universal health insurance coverage and has the “largest share of unmet health-care needs due to financial costs,” the researchers wrote.
“Bitter Harvest,” the first major movie about the genocidal artificial famine engineered by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, comes to cinemas in Ukraine and the U.S. in February 2017. “Bitter Harvest” tells the story of two villagers, Yuri and Natalka – lovers, whose peaceful life is destroyed by the Soviet authorities, and who battle to survive the artificial famine, known in Ukraine as the Holodomor. In times when a person could go to jail just for stealing a single ear of corn, Yuri becomes a key figure in the resistance against the Soviet oppressors ... The estimated number of people in Ukraine who starved to death in 1932-1933 varies from two million to ten million. Most Ukrainian historians believe that the Holodomor was Stalin’s attempt to strangle Ukraine’s nationalist movement and anti-Soviet protests by villagers.
At least Bitter Harvest’s release date is relatively timely, given the recent focus in the news on Russia’s brutally aggressive, expansive ambitions. Putin may be accused of killing, but he’s got nothing on Joseph Stalin, who instigated the genocide via famine of some ten million Ukrainians in 1932-33, an atrocity now known at the Holodomor. This drama by director/co-writer George Mendeluk is one of the very few western films to address the subject, and while one may applaud the intention, the execution is markedly uneven. Max Irons stars as Yuri, a Cossack’s son with dreamy eyes and notable daddy issues who deeply loves feisty local beauty Natalka (Samantha Barks).
When Ukraine resisted Soviet attempts at collectivization in the 1920s and '30s, the Soviet Union under Stalin used labor camps, executions, and starvation (Holodomor) to kill millions of Ukrainians ... While there is disagreement over how many lives the genocide claimed, Gradenigo's figures have turned out to be rather accurate. In Harvest of Sorrow, historian Robert Conquest, considered by many the leading authority on the famine, put the toll at 14.5 million. About half of these deaths represent the liquidation of the kulaks, via execution and slow death in gulags, while the famine itself claimed the lives of approximately seven million, including three million children.
If you had to choose one plane that defined Soviet airpower in World War II, there can be little doubt it was the Il-2 Sturmovik “Flying Tank,” an armored ground-attack plane that hammered Nazi Germany’s tanks and troops from the opening days of Operation Barbarossa to the fall of Berlin. Despite sustaining horrifying losses to opposing fighters and flak guns, Soviet industry fed tens of thousands of the sturdy warplanes into the struggle, making it the most extensively produced military aircraft type ever ... However, the Sturmoviks sustained devastating losses as faster German fighter planes swooped around to hit their unarmored rears ... Thousands of Sturmoviks supported the Red Army through the end of World War II, even pounding the last entrenched defenders outside of Berlin in the massive four-day Battle of the Seelow Heights.
... You know from personal experience that talent plays some essential role in mastery. Perhaps you, at the mercy of a tiger mom, put a thousand hours into violin practice and still had trouble playing a note. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones, who picked up a flute and flew past your peers with a minimum of blood, sweat and tears. A new study vindicates these observations by highlighting the importance of genetics — roughly analogous to “talent” for our purposes — in determining both whether people will practice music and whether they’ll benefit from practice. ... That discovery alone is enough to shake the foundations of the practice-perfect assumption. In one case, the difference in practice between twins was more than 20,000 hours — and still there was no measurable difference in their performance on the proxy tests.
... Liberals love to pretend that Muslim no-go zones — Muslim neighborhoods to which even the authorities are afraid to venture and in which Sharia law is the rule and non-Muslims are attacked on sight — are little more than a figment of paranoid conservative imaginations. But as Horowitz would find out for himself, they are very much a horrifying reality ... There are neighborhoods like Husby scattered across Europe. These “no-go” areas stand as a damning testament to the utter devastation wrought on Europe by multiculturalism and mass Muslim migration. While it is nearly impossible to gauge the full extent of the no-go zone problem, it is safe to say there are hundreds of no-go areas scattered throughout Europe. A March 2016 report published by the Hungarian government found 900 areas across Europe.
In February Express.co.uk reported the Scandinavian country has seen a huge surge in crime since the start of the migrants crisis in Europe with a rise in sex assaults, drug dealing and children carrying weapons. The force's increased lack of control in the country was revealed in a report by Sweden's National Criminal Investigation Service, where attacks on officers were detailed, including police cars being stoned by masked groups. At the time around 50 areas were put on a "blacklist" which are then divided into three categories from "risk areas" to "seriously vulnerable". The figure has now been increased to 55 as the Swedish police force are facing a crisis, with three officers handing in their notice every day ... Malmö in south Sweden was one of the cities which was flagged as a particularly hit area in the liberal country.