Archive for the ‘International’ Category

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

The Antagonists

The Antagonists

I think it was Winston Churchill who reminded us that the “supreme virtue” of government is action. In fact, the greatest of  modern British prime ministers, who often marked his staff memoranda in red with the words “Action This Day,” counseled that ” I never worry about action, but only inaction.” Action in recognizing problems. Action in mobilizing support and action in addressing the causes of human suffering and improving the lives of those over whom you have power and authority.

On this side of the Atlantic, the framers understood this seemingly obvious facet of government. Jefferson wrote, “The purpose of government is to maintain a society which secures to every member the inherent and inalienable rights of man, and promotes the safety and happiness of its people.” Protecting individual  rights and promoting the security and happiness of those individuals is the essential business of government. Not “either-or” but both.

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220px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesWe have long discussed the erosion of civil liberties in the United States, including the attacks on privacy and other rights by the Obama Administration. It appears that we are not alone in those concerns. A new Gallup poll shows a record drop in the satisfaction of Americans over their freedoms. The massive drop is matched in such countries as Egypt, Pakistan, and Venezuela.

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Hessy Taft was a gorgeous baby by any measure in 1935. Her picture was so adorable it was reportedly selected by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels as the cover for the Nazi family magazine Sonne ins Hause as the very ideal of an Aryan child. The problem is that Hessy is Jewish, a story that is both hilarious and unnerving. Goebbels’ perfect Gerber baby proved an elegant rebuttal to Nazi fanaticism.

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1024px-Eustache_Le_Sueur_003There is an interesting complaint that has been filed against a church in New Zealand that touches on an issue that we previously discussed. In the United States, it is common for religious figures to claim to faith heal and recently we have seen some religious business suggest that they have divinely inspired products or services to sell. We have discussed whether such pitches constitute false advertising. Now the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is the subject of a formal complaint for advertising a prayer session to heal health problems including “incurable diseases.”

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225px-HaggisIf I ever write my own “Mommie Dearest” book, Chapter One will be “The Night She Made Me Eat Haggis.” It was actually both parents but the evening still makes me wake up at night screaming. Given this traumatic childhood encounter, you can understand my alarm with the news story that Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has come to the United States to seek the ban that was imposed on the importation of haggis in 1971. The “Return of the Haggis” could soon come to a restaurant near you. I just fail to understand. We have always been so nice to the Scots and this is how they repay us. Isn’t it enough that we have tried so hard to like soccer this year?

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150px-muslim_woman_in_yemenWe have been following the continuing plight of girls and women in some Muslim countries, particularly the occurrence of “honor killings” where relatives murder women for simply seeking to marry the men who they love or refusing become child brides after payment to their families. This long litany of cases has left few delusions but a new case in Pakistan still shocks the conscience. Sajjad Ahmed, 26, and Muawia Bibi, 18, were murdered in northeastern Pakistan for getting married without the approval. The two newlyweds were tied up and then decapitated by their relatives.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy

abuAhmed Abu Khatallah’s boat docked yesterday and the reputed Benghazi attacks mastermind was met with a contingent of U.S. Marshals, Navy security and a phalanx of Justice Department types all eager to hear his gilded version of events and to usher him to a US federal courtroom near the White House where the processes of the US justice system could start slowly grinding now in earnest. He pled not guilty for anyone interested. Before his arrival, however, a cacophony of Republican lawmakers decided to weigh in on his treatment aboard the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the USS New York, provided by the Navy.

As many know, Abu Khatallah was captured in a clandestine operation conducted by US special ops aided by shadowy figures from both inside and out of the Libyan power structure who lured him to a villa where US forces made the arrest. Abu Khattallah, designated by the State Department as a global terrorist, was regarded as a prime suspect due to his affiliation with a group he helped to found and known as the Ansar al-Sharia. A fundamentalist militia group that rose to power after the fall of Gaddafi, it has claimed responsibility for the attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, leading the Tunisian government to declare it a terrorist organization. The group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Not exactly the kind of guys you bring home to dinner.

Abu Khatallah’s capture was coup for an administration looking to change the dialog on the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead including US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Criticized for everything from the response (or lack thereof) to the attack by US security forces as well as even the characterization of  the attack itself, the administration has been attempting to change the narrative since 2012. In his new book, Blood Feud, excerpted by the New York Post, author Edward Klein claims President Obama pressured then Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton to issue a release stating the attack was a spontaneous uprising relating to an obscure internet video criticizing Islam.  Knowing the attack coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil, Clinton bristled.  According to Klein, Clinton said, “Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.” But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.” (more…)

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

meriam-yehya-ibrahim-apostasy-sharia-law-sudanWe have discussed the plight of Meriam Ibrahim who endured a trial and subsequent death sentence imposed in a Sudan sharia court alleging apostasy and adultery. A Christian woman, she was considered formerly to be Muslim by virtue of her father’s religion though raised by her mother in an Orthodox faith. Having married her husband, a Christian man with American citizenship, triggered the charges. Previous discussion can be read HERE and HERE.

After an international outrage over her arrest and conviction, an appeals court struck down the convictions and released her, and a child born to her while in prison.

As she was preparing to leave Sudan, Meriam again faced the authorities at an airport alleging she had false documentation allowing her departure from Sudan. Once again arrested, she has since been released and has taken refuge in the American Embassy in Khartoum. Yet it seems her ordeal will not be over.

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FSA_FighterPresident_Barack_ObamaAs both Iraq and Afghanistan meltdown after spending $4 trillion and losing thousands of lives, the Obama Administration wants to pour $500 million into training and equipping the Syrian rebels. Ignore the fact that the Syrian rebels have been accused of human rights violations and atrocities (as has the regime). The government insists that U.S. weapons and money will go to the “right” forces — just ignore all those pictures of ISIS rebels driving around with U.S. equipment in Iraq.
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200px-Coat_of_arms_of_Saudi_Arabia.svg300px-Dira_SquareJustice Minister Mohammed Al-Eissa gave the world a chilling lesson on the blind faith that underlies the medieval Sharia system imposed by Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. Al-Eissa warned that questioning the Sharia system was akin to questioning God and “Any attack on the judiciary will be considered an attack on the Kingdom’s sovereignty.” That certainly simplifies things. Most people harbor a notion that they can criticize their legal system and call for reforms but Al-Eissa pointed out that their legal system comes from God and is therefore not subject to change on its most controversial parts. “Justice” will continue to be meted out in “Chop Chop Square” (Deera Square, right) in the name of Islam.

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kim-jong-unMV5BNTE3NjkzNDQzMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTA4MDk5MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_There are bad reviews and then there are bad reviews that push a nation to the brink of war. North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un clearly does not like “The Interview.” The movie about a talk show host and his producer killing Kim Jong-un seemed a bit too counterrevolutionary so the government has declared its release to be an act of war and threatened a “merciless” response.

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FAA logogavel2There is a major decision out of Oregon where U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has ruled that the government’s no-fly list is unconstitutional since there is no meaningful way to contest inclusion of the list barring you from commercial flights. Brown issued a 65 page ruling with the holding that the “inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel.” It is a refreshing opinion from the federal courts which tend to be highly deferential to the government in this area.

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220px-R212F1Mubarak Bala, 29, has been institutionalized against his wishes for mental illness. Bala’s nightmare began when he admitted to relatives in the mainly Muslim state of Kano, Nigeria that he did not believe in God. His Muslim relatives took him to a doctor who explained that he was just fine. They went ahead and forcibly medicated him and found a second doctor to say that his atheism is part of deep mental illness.

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250px-Charaxes_brutus_natalensis220px-Apis_mellifera_TanzaniaThere is new research showing that neurotoxic pesticides are not just responsible for the catastrophic decline in the world’s bee collapse but are also devastating the world’s population of butterflies, worms, fish and birds. The four-year assessment was carried out by The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, which advises the International Union for Conservation of Nature has found that neonics are “imperilling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem.” It is simply beyond belief that these pesticides have caused such worldwide damage but, due to the powerful pesticide and agribusiness lobby, there has been no serious regulation to curtail the use of these products.

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800px-SaddamHussein_in_court_2004July01_DF-SD-05-03944There are reports this week that Judge Raouf Abdul Rahman, who sentenced former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to death by hanging in 2006, has been killed by rebels in retaliation for the execution. It is the nightmare of judges who could find themselves called to account for prior rulings by a mob. In this case, Rahman could see the steady territorial gains of the Sunni ISIS militants and must have known that he was at great risk.

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