Monday, March 19, 2018

France: Toward Total Submission to Islam, Destruction of Free Speech

March 19, 2018

After the murders of much of the staff at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015, the hostage-taking and slaughter at a kosher supermarket two days later confirmed what was already obvious: France was a target of Islamic terrorism. A huge demonstration, organized in Paris on January 11, brought together a million and a half people, with politicians from around the world in attendance.

For a brief moment, France seemed to be the country where the multitudes were ready to stand up for freedom of speech, and the government was ready to fight for Western values.

Unfortunately, that impression did not last long.

For years, freedom of speech in France has been in the process of being crushed, particularly regarding Islam and Islamic terrorism. Journalists who said that Islam often did not look much like a religion of peace but more like a religion of war were systematically and harshly prosecuted. Charlie Hebdo's new director and editor-in-chief were also not spared: they were sued as early as 2006, the year the magazine republished the Danish Mohammed cartoons. They were sued again in 2007, 2012 and 2013. The writer Michel Houellebecq was summoned to court in 2010 for saying that Islam is a "stupid" religion. The first judicial sentence against the polemist Éric Zemmour dates from 2011. The website Riposte Laïque was established in 2007 to fight censorship, defend secularism, and preserve the right to criticize Islam. Lawsuits against its founder, Pierre Cassen, immediately became overwhelming.

Judicial harassment against those who still dared to speak "incorrectly" about Islam did not stop after the murders at Charlie Hebdo: rather, they intensified. The terrorist attacks that took place in France in November 2015 and in July 2016 did not lead to any demonstrations; merely to displays of sadness, fear and resignation. French politicians used empty words, spoke of the dangers of "fanaticism" and said that France was "at war" -- but they never named an enemy. Journalists and writers who said that terrorists attacking France were Muslim, and that "Islamism" was not foreign to Islam, had to answer for their words in court and were fined thousands of euros.

Both Éric Zemmour and Pierre Cassen have spent hours on trial providing conclusive evidence -- in vain.

Emmanuel Macron at the fasting dinner of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, in June 2017.
Emmanuel Macron at the fasting dinner of the French Council of the MuslimFaith , in June 2017. Photo Benjamin Cremel. AFP

Since the election of President Emmanuel Macron a year ago, the situation has become worse. On June 20, 2017, at the end of a post-Ramadan iftar dinner he shared with Muslim leaders, President Macron stated that " one should make believe that Islam is not compatible with the Republic"; that " no one should say that France reject Muslim faith" and that "attempt to give Islam the image of a religion condoning murder and terror" must be condemned. Most French critics of Islam got the message and cautiously chose silence. Riposte Laïque did not, but here were consequences.

On January 20, 2018, Pierre Cassen was convicted of "incitement to hatred against Muslims" and a fine of $12,000 was imposed on him. He was also given a three-month suspended prison sentence. He will soon be tried again for repeating the same "crime", and could be sent to prison.

Several European governments have made it clear that criticizing Islam may lead to prosecution and conviction. Recently, BritishDanish and Germancitizens have been handed suspended sentences. If Pierre Cassen is imprisoned, it will be the first time that someone in a Western democracy is sent to jail for criticizing a religion.

Worse, Cassen is not even the author of the article targeted by the judges, and the article only says what is obvious: that extremist Muslims are at war with France and the West, and that incitement to kill infidels is present in the Qur'an. Cassen was sentenced as the editor of Riposte Laïque; since 2012, however, Riposte Laïque has been hosted by Switzerland and has a Swiss editor. Pierre Cassen no longer even has an official role in the organization. He is just easy prey because he lives in France. Pierre Cassen, clearly a victim of prosecutorial abuse, is planning to apply for political asylum in Switzerland.

Two members of the French National Assembly, Gilbert Collard and Marine Le Pen, a former presidential candidate who secured 35% of votes in the May 2017 run-off, were also recently charged with "inciting violence". They did not even publish texts criticizing Islam. After a journalist compared their party (National Front) to the Islamic State, they tweeted photos showing atrocities committed by the Islamic State, and added under the photos: "This is the Islamic State". They are also facing serious fines and prison sentences. The photos they tweeted are not even secret: they are widely available on the internet.

Originally, Collard and Le Pen were protected by parliamentary immunity. Their parliamentary immunity, however, was revoked by an almost unanimous vote in the French National Assembly. This is the first time that members of a democratic Western government risk being imprisoned for publishing widely available photos of Islamic crimes.

French laws are being used more and more often by the French justice system to suppress any criticism of Islam. Furthermore, in a dangerous inversion of reality, critics of Islamic terrorist violence are now systematically presented by French judges as examples of incitement to hatred and violence. The threat of jail time is added to the threat of fines.

Consequently, those who criticize Islam -- or who just show the results of Islamic terrorism -- are victims of fierce prosecution, while hate-filled, racist organizations are never touched. The Islamic "Natives of the Republic" movement, for instance, regularly publishes texts saying that " greedy Jews control the global financial system" and that "Zionists kill Palestinian children for pleasure" but are never condemned. Houria Bouteldja, the spokesperson for the movement, published a book describing Jews as vicious supporters of "Islamophobia", and stating that the Holocaust is "infinitely less than a detail" of history. She recently took part in anti-Israel demonstrations where flags ofHamas and Hezbollah were waved and portraits of murderers of Jews were held up. Jewish organizations expressed their indignation and filed complaints -- to no avail.

The French government and the French justice system claim to treat all religions equally, but they treat Islam as if it were "more equal than others" -- able to enjoy special privileges.

In France, attacks against Islam are benign and rare, but lead to severe convictions: in January 2016, a man dropped slices of ham in front of a mosque. He was immediately sent to jail for several weeks. Attacks against Christianity, however, are countless, sometimes violent, but almost never lead to any conviction. French theaters produce anti-Christian shows almost every year. In a play called "On the Concept of the Face of God," currently on tour throughout the country, for almost two hours, a large portrait of Jesus Christ is insulted and covered with matter that is supposed to be feces. The French Ministry of Culture subsidizes the tour. No theater director, however, would imagine producing an anti-Islam show.

Six to eight million Muslims live in France, and the number is increasing. France's 400,000 remaining Jews have not yet left France, but every year their the numbers shrink. Practicing Christians vanish; churches are often empty.

Polls show that a significant proportion of the French population thinks that Islam is a threat, but French authorities choose to harass those who speak of this threat.

In 2005, the situation was already serious. Muslim riots took place throughout the country. French President Jacques Chirac asked imams to restore calm and began to abandon the French government's sovereignty over many districts. A few years later, President Nicolas Sarkozy claimed to organize an "Islam of France", based on a structure he had created in 2003 when he was Minister of the Interior. He asked French Muslim leaders to call for "moderation". He failed: French Muslim leaders said unanimously that "Islam is not violent" and "does not need moderation". He promised to end "no-go zones" and to take back the districts abandoned under Jacques Chirac. He also failed; in 2006 there were already 751 no-go zones in France, and "as of last count," that number is no different. President François Hollande did nothing and let the situation rot. President Emmanuel Macron now speaks of the need to "reorganize the Islam of France" but instead appears to surrender.

Macron recently said he wants to create the post of "Grand Imam of France", a man who would be the "spiritual leader" of Islam in France. He added that he would like to see the construction of large "cathedral mosques" in every important French city. He also wants the Arabic language to be taught in every high school, to maintain a relationship between Muslims and the language of their religion. He promises affirmative action in favor of Muslims and a more resolute fight against "those who attack Islam". He never uses the words "radical Islam". He speaks of "radicalization", but says that the main danger is the "radicalization of secularism". He does not hide that those who defend secularism -- and a clear separation between the government and Islam (Riposte Laïque, for example) -- are an obstacle on the path he intends to follow. Clearly, the fight against "radicalization of secularism" is in high gear!

Marwan Muhammad, spokesman of the "Collective against Islamophobia in France" said in 2011:
"Who has the right to say that in thirty to forty years, France will not be a Muslim country? No one in this country has the right to extinguish our right to hope for a society that is globally faithful to Islam ".
Every day in France, men such as Marwan Muhammad have more reason to hope.

Prominent Islamic preacher Tariq Ramadan is presently being held at the Fleury-Mérogis prison near Paris: judges could not dismiss the overwhelming charges against him of rape. Some French Muslims still claim he is being unfairly accused. Many others say he is an impostor and seem ready to get rid of him. They say it is urgent to create "authentic French Islamic institutions" fully "recognized by the French government". President Macron could not have said it better. The Islamization of France will not stop.

President Macron recently said he wants a law against "fake news". If the law is adopted, all online magazines in France that do not broadcast what the government defines as "true news" could be subject to immediate government suspension. If they are located outside France, access to them would be blocked. Islamic online magazines and websites are not on the list of "fake news" providers. What online magazines and websites top the list? Those that question Islam.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

History and the Human Condition: Reflections on Kate Bowler’s 'Everything Happens for a Reason'

By Kristen Du Mez
February 22, 2018
Image result for everything happens for a reason kate bowler
I remember the day a couple years back when my Facebook feed was suddenly overtaken with grief. Kate Bowler, the preeminent historian of the prosperity gospel, but more importantly beloved friend to so many in my circle of religious historians, had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. As she broke the news to all her “dears,” with characteristic grace and wit, the sorrow was palpable.
At that time I hadn’t yet met Kate, but for at least a couple of years mutual friends had kept insisting that we really must meet. It wasn’t long before our paths did cross, at an academic conference. What most amazed me wasn’t that Kate was giving a keynote address while battling cancer while raising a toddler while writing two books. But it was Kate herself. She has an uncanny power to make you feel like her best friend. It wasn’t just that we had read each other’s books, or that we both had an academic interest in the caffeine intake of Christian women bloggers. No, she has an enviable and extraordinary way about her that makes you feel smart and cherished and like you’re sharing a joke together, even if only for a minute.
But Kate had cancer. She was no longer a “shiny” person, a person for whom everything had fallen in place in a charmed sort of way. The irony was impossible to ignore. The historian of the prosperity gospel, the author of Blessed, had come up against something that all the positive thinking in the world couldn’t cure.
Kate wrote about this irony, about coming to terms with her prognosis in light of her research, in a New York Times essay two years ago. That essay ended up being one of the most popular essays the Times ran that year, and it’s now been expanded into a beautiful book, Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, just out from Random House.
Having just experienced a loved one’s illness and death, I had been eagerly awaiting the release of Kate’s book. When it arrived, I read it cover to cover.
As a religious historian, I ought to have been drawn to Kate’s reflections on the prosperity gospel, to how her expertise in that tradition shaped her own encounter with catastrophe. And it’s true that her scholarly background brings depth and unique insight to this book.
But in truth, I really just wanted to listen to Kate talk. I’m not sure if her reflections on life and death are more profound because she knows everything there is to know about the prosperity gospel, or if she wrote such a powerful book about the prosperity gospel because she has a depth of insight, because she has a heart for what it is to be human. I think, perhaps, the latter.
I’m not the only one drawn to her work. Her book has shot to #8 on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction books. She’s been on NPR’s Morning Edition, Fresh Air, and I’m sure a host of other places, and her book has been reviewed pretty much everywhere in its first week. Over and over, she’s been peppered with merciless questions: Tell us about dying. Tell us again, this time in more detail. Let’s talk again about your imminent death…
I have to admit that, at a certain point, this started to make me cringe. Why are we all so fascinated with Kate’s story? What are our motives? My motives?
I remember one of her early blog posts, not long after her diagnosis, where she wrote of standing on one side of a glass wall. The rest of the world was on the outside, looking in. I am on the outside. What compels us to stare at those behind the glass? Surely compassion, but perhaps something more? Relief? An almost voyeuristic sense of relief that we are on the outside, that we can walk away when we tire of looking, or when the reality of what we’re glimpsing becomes unbearable?
But mixed with that relief is something more, I think. Deep down, we all know that we are only a stabbing pain, a dreaded phone call away from being relocated to the other side of the glass. In the words of Kate’s doctor, we’re all terminal. Some just have more information.
And so we want to know how to think, what to do, when that day comes. And it’s hard to imagine a better guide than Kate.
At the end of her book, she provides a helpful “short list” of things that should absolutely never be said “to people experiencing terrible times” starting with “Well, at least…” and ending with “How are you really?” Chances are you’ve stumbled into at least one of these, and probably several. I know I have. Happily she also offers another appendix outlining better options.
But more than what to say, the book offers us a guide for how to think, how to feel, in a world that is more broken than shiny.
“What would it mean for Christians to give up that little piece of the American Dream that says, ‘You are limitless’? Everything is not possible. The mighty Kingdom of God is not yet here,” she writes. “What if rich did not have to mean wealthy, and whole did not have to mean healed? What if being people of ‘the gospel’ meant that we are simply people with good news? God is here. We are loved. It is enough.”
We sense the truth in her father-in-law’s words, that “life is a series of losses.” Those who are privileged to live long enough already know that “with age we slowly lose our senses and even our pleasures, our parents and then our friends, preparing us for our own absence.”
Kate helps us see that, whatever our stated theological convictions, we all cling to the illusion of control: “Control is a drug, and we are all hooked, whether or not we believe in the prosperity gospel’s assurance that we can master the future with our words and attitudes. I can barely admit to myself that I have almost no choice but to surrender, but neither can those around me.”
And she puts words to the disorienting reality of grief. “There must be rhythms to grief, but I do not know them,” she concedes. Yet she is able to capture the gnawing pain of grief in just a couple of sentences: “I used to think that grief was about looking backward, old men saddled with regrets or young ones pondering should-haves. I see now that it is about eyes squinting through tears into an unbearable future. The world cannot be remade by the sheer force of love.”
Kate offers us words to live by, too, reminding us not to surrender too much of ourselves to “someday,” because “someday” might come before we’re ready. And, she advises, “Don’t skip to the end.”
The same week I devoured Everything Happens for a Reason, I came across another reflection on death and grief written by a historian. Two days before Kate’s book was released, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an essay by Stéphane Gerson, “History in the Face of Catastrophe.” Gerson’s catastrophe was the tragic death of his son in a whitewater rafting accident. In the aftermath of the tragedy, he found that the enormity of grief changed the way he approached his scholarship. In some ways, the scope of his questions, “their conceptual reach,” and his “engagement with other scholars and students had narrowed.” But in other ways, he found himself “returning to the past with an urgency” he hadn’t possessed before. “Without realizing it,” Gerson writes, “I grieved not only as a father and husband, but also as a historian. And this, I later came to understand, broadened my relationship to history. It made me a different kind of scholar.”
He was no longer concerned with historiographical contributions, with solving questions about “grief across the centuries,” for instance. Instead, he found himself seeking companionship. “I wanted to know these men and women who…kept ‘the uncertainty of this life ever in view.’” In Gerson’s words, “Though history had lost its scholarly luster, it came alive in other ways. The past provided solace and companionship, immediacy and distance, inklings of understanding and a finer appreciation for what I could never understand.”
Gerson goes on to wonder if we might imagine a scholarly practice that “acknowledges that what speaks to us may also be what moves us?” To consider that “the historical actors and events we deem important may be the ones who touch something inside us?”
I wonder, too, if much of the conversation around “Christian scholarship” in recent decades hasn’t missed something vital. Attention to epistemological questions and questions of purpose are certainly valid, but perhaps there’s something to be gained by thinking more broadly about the human condition. How can the past help us speak to that condition, to live in the reality that we inhabit a world where everything doesn’t always happen for a reason, where we can’t control our futures, or hold on to those we love?
In Kate’s words, “Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard.”


Kate Bowler: Things We Learn in the Dark -

Prosperity Gospel Scholar Says Belief That Pain Will Always Bring Reward is a 'Beautiful Lie'-

Kate Bowler: I Reject the Prosperity Gospel but I Still Crave What It Promises-

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Waco: The Untold Story

March 17, 2018

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Smoking fire consumes the Branch Davidian Compound during the FBI assault to end the 51-day standoff with cult leader David Koresh and his followers. Greg Smith/Corbis via Getty

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Waco atrocity, the bloodiest and most expensive law enforcement operation in the history of the United States.  The gun battle, siege, and lethal fire have already been the subject of three commemorative documentaries and docudramas on the subject, with more to come.  The sad fact is that the documentaries to date contain major errors.  I know this because I spent three years in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits in a quest for the truth.
The 1993 operation was begun by the then-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and directed at a religious group sometimes called the Branch Davidians, led by David Koresh.  The basis for the raid was flimsy evidence that the Davidians possessed unregistered machine guns.  On February 28, eighty agents, backed by three borrowed military helicopters, tried to storm the Branch Davidian center near Waco, Texas.  Shooting broke out that left four agents and six Davidians dead and led to a 51-day siege.  The siege in turn ended with a fire that killed more than 80 additional people.
There were, of course, official investigations and congressional hearings.  The documentary films released to date largely parallel the government's "official line" voiced during these.  David Koresh was a government-hating fire-eater, he could not be arrested peacefully, and the fanatic Davidians raked the approaching agents with machine-gun fire.
The FOIA lawsuit turned up evidence contradicting all of this.  Just to take three major points:
The official explanation for why the ATF did not peacefully arrest David Koresh was that he was a paranoid recluse who never left the Davidian building; a sudden, forceful, raid was the only way to root him out.  The ATF had installed undercover agents in a house across the street from the Davidians, but they weren't sure what Koresh looked like and never saw him leave.
This explanation was a complete fabrication.  An ATF "Report of Investigation," filed by the undercover agents in the nearby house, reports how they spent February 19, nine days before the raid.
They had gone shooting.
With David Koresh.
At the outset, the agents had all the guns (until they loaned Koresh a pistol – he was, after all, providing them with ammunition).  The report was approved all the way up to the special agent in charge, who would command the raid.  ATF management knew that a peaceful arrest would have been easy to arrange – if they wanted it that way.
ATF management did not.  At this point, it was a beleaguered agency, wracked by scandals, with a new administration promising to "reinvent government" by doing away with small, inefficient agencies.  The beginning of the ATF's appropriation cycle was under two weeks away.  ATF management desperately needed lots of good publicity, the type that a dramatic raid would generate and a quiet arrest would not.
Second, the official position was that the Davidians had deluged the approaching ATF with machine-gun fire.  At the surviving Davidians' criminal trial, agents testified to being fired at from multiple positions that employed six different types of machine guns, and as a result, five Davidians received long sentences for illegal use of machine guns.
This, too, was a fabrication.  The FOIA lawsuit forced release of an ATF audiotape that picked up sounds of the gunfight.  Only one burst of automatic fire is heard, followed by a radioed message to ATF snipers to shoot, followed by ATF cheers of "Yes!  Yes!  We got the machine gun!"  There had been only one machine gun, and its user was quickly killed; he could not have been among the five Davidian survivors who received 40-year sentences for use of machine guns.
Third, the official position was that when the Davidian residence was consumed by fire, FBI did all it could to rescue those inside.  Regrettably, it couldn't let fire engines approach for fear that the fanatical Davidians would shoot the firemen.
Here the infrared videotapes, made by an FBI aircraft circling the scene, are revealing.  The tapes' soundtrack revealed radio traffic between the two highest-ranking FBI supervisors during the fire.  The one at the scene is shouting, in increasing frustration, for the fire engines to be let through.  "If you have any fire engines, get them out here right now!"  "I want the fire engines up here at the scene!"
His superior, who was detaining the fire engines at a checkpoint a mile away, responds with stony silence; four minutes pass.  Then the superior asks, "Our people focused on the school bus area for the kids – is that what we're doing?"  "That's what we're trying to do" is the reply.
The superior responds coldly, "No one else, I hope."  His tone suggests that he saw the Davidians as cop-killers who were getting what they deserved.  At that, the fire engines were held up for four more minutes, by which time the blazing building had collapsed.  Twenty-four children and fifty men and women had died in the flames.
All this evidence has been available, largely on the internet, for over a decade.  We are left to hope that some journalist or documentarian will pick up the ball.
David T. Hardy is an attorney and a New York Times bestselling author.  He devotes a chapter to Waco in his recent book, I'm from the Government, and I'm Here to Kill You.  The audio and video mentioned in this article can be found at

Friday, March 16, 2018

The High Price of Denial

March 15, 2018

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel (N-TV)

Is it possible that mainstream politicians and the mainstream media are finally recognising what the European public can see with their own eyes? Two recent occurrences suggest that this might be so.

The first is a concession by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who almost half a year after her party's embarrassment in national elections has finally managed to put together a coalition government. Last September saw not only Merkel's party and her erstwhile coalition partners suffer a historic dent in their vote-share, but also saw the entry to Parliament of the five-year old anti-immigration AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, which is now so large that it constitutes the country's official opposition. If German voters meant to send a message, it could hardly have been clearer.

Perhaps it was even listened to. On Monday February 26, Merkel gave an interview to the German broadcaster N-TV. In it she finally admitted that there are "no-go areas" in her country: "that is, areas where nobody dares to go." She continued: "There are such areas and one has to call them by their name and do something about them." The Chancellor claimed that she favoured a "zero tolerance" attitude towards such places but did not identify where they were. Two days later, her spokesman, Steffen Seibert stressed that "the Chancellor's words speak for themselves."

Although the Chancellor chose to use few words, that she said these things at all is significant. For years, German officials, like their political counterparts across the continent, have furiously denied that there are any areas of their countries to which the rule of law does not extend. Denials have also issued forth from officials in, among other countries, Sweden and France. In January 2015, Paris's Mayor Anne Hidalgo threatened to sue Fox News after the station said there were no-go zones in her city. Hidalgo claimed at the time in an interview on CNN that "the honour of Paris" and the "image of Paris" had been harmed. It was a typically extraordinary claim, which ignored that if the "image of Paris" had taken any battering around that time, it might have been due to the massacre of 12 journalists, cartoonists and policemen at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the slaughter of four people in a kosher supermarket two days later. So concessions like Merkel's -- as opposed to cover-ups like Hidalgo's -- are to be applauded, slightly, when they occur.

Just a week later, another strange milestone was reached. The front page of theNew York Times on March 6 carried a story -- also graced with the page's only pictures -- which nobody could have expected the paper to run. Under the heading "Old weapons rattle Sweden," the paper recorded the recent death of a 63-year old man in the Stockholm suburb of Varby Gard. As the paper records, Daniel Cuevas Zuniga had only recently finished a night-shift as an aide for disabled adults, and was cycling home with his wife, when, spotting a spherical object on the floor he stopped and reached out. It was an M-75 hand grenade; its explosive charge and 3000 steel metal balls instantly killed Mr Zuniga and blew his wife off her bicycle.

As the paper conceded, this is not a one-off event but part of an upsurge in violence -- particularly involving hand-grenades -- caused by the influx of foreign gangs and foreign weapons (largely from the Balkan wars of the 1990s) into the Scandinavian country. The paper quoted a Lebanese asylum-seeker who had previously been a commando in a Lebanese militia. Paulus Borisho, in his kebab shop, heard the blast that killed Zuniga. As the paper recorded:
"That a grenade should be found on the sidewalk outside a kebab shop, a few steps from an elementary school, was difficult for him to take in.
"Now when I think of the future, I am afraid" he said. "I am afraid for Europe".
As well he might be. The paper even had the decency to quote friends of the late Mr Zuniga, who reported that he had complained about recent "changes in Varby Gard" and had been "frustrated that the police did not have better control." Again: as well he might.

Of course, the upsurge in gang violence, and specifically grenade violence, in Sweden has been covered in other media outlets in recent years. These have pointed out the Swedish police's often ridiculous ways of addressing this problem. For instance, that Swedish police chief Linda Staaf recently tried to dissuade gangs from using hand-grenades in Sweden by pointing out that grenade-throwing is dangerous because the person who pulls out the pin could "expose themselves to a huge risk." Papers like the New York Times have taken little interest in such problems -- problems which have got so bad that Prime Minister Stefan Löfven even threatened to send the army into certain Swedish suburbs.

Instead, newspapers like the New York Times have tended in recent years towards the same denialism as Angela Merkel about the problems which mass immigration from the developing world is causing in Europe. They have tended to praise the "courage" of suspending normal border controls while covering over or ignoring the terrible consequences of importing millions of people whose identities are unknown. And of course, like Mayor Hidalgo in Paris, they have tended to shoot the messengers more than report the news, dismissing any such stories as "fake news", "alt-right" or "far right" propaganda.

Just last year, when Donald Trump famously mentioned "what happened last night in Sweden", the mainstream media knew what he was referring to. They knew that he was loosely referencing a report that he had seen on Fox news the night before about the increasingly bad situation in that country. The media, however, chose not to address that problem. Instead they chose -- in the main -- to laugh at the President and ridicule the idea that there were any troubles in the Scandinavian paradise.

Back then the New York Times headlined that President Trump's comments were "baffling", while much of the rest of the media simply pretended that Sweden was a land of infinite peace and Ikea which had been sorely slandered by the President.

The surprise that within days of each other, both Chancellor Merkel and the New York Times have become willing to admit facts which they and their apologists have long pretended to be imaginary could be progress of a kind. It may not, however, be a cause for optimism. Rather than being a demonstration that things are getting better, that they are now admitting what is visible to the eyes of ordinary Europeans may be an admission that things have got so bad -- and are so well-known -- that even the Gray Lady and Mutti Merkel are no longer able to ignore them. If so, one thought must surely follow: imagine what might have been solved if the denials had never even begun?
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
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The real Down syndrome problem: Accepting genocide

By George F. Will
March 14, 2018

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Agusta, now age 8, a citizen of Iceland (CBS News)
Iceland must be pleased that it is close to success in its program of genocide, but before congratulating that nation on its final solution to the Down syndrome problem, perhaps it might answer a question: What is this problem? To help understand why some people might ask this question, meet two children. One is Agusta, age 8, a citizen of Iceland. The other is Lucas, age 1, an American citizen in Dalton, Ga., who recently was selected to be 2018 “Spokesbaby” for the Gerber baby food company. They are two examples of the problem.
Now, before Iceland becomes snippy about the description of what it is doing, let us all try to think calmly about genocide, without getting judgmental about it. It is simply the deliberate, systematic attempt to erase a category of people. So, what one thinks about a genocide depends on what one thinks about the category involved. In Iceland’s case, the category is people with Down syndrome.
This is a congenital condition resulting from a chromosomal abnormality. It involves varying degrees of mental retardation (although probably not larger variances than exist between the mental capabilities of many people who are chromosomally normal — say, Isaac Newton and some people you know). It also involves some physical abnormalities (including low muscle tone, small stature, flatness of the back of the head, an upward slant to the eyes) and some increased health risks (of heart defects, childhood leukemia and Alzheimer’s disease). Average life expectancy is now around 60 years, up from around 25 years four decades ago, when many Down syndrome people were institutionalized or otherwise isolated, denied education and other stimulation, and generally not treated as people.
Highly (almost but not perfectly) accurate prenatal screening tests can reveal Down syndrome in utero. The expectant couple can then decide to extinguish the fetus and try again for a normal child who might be less trouble, at least until he or she is an adolescent with hormonal turbulence and a driver’s license.
Lucas Warren with parents Cortney and Jason (Splash/Reuters)
In Iceland, upward of 85 percent of pregnant women opt for the prenatal testing, which has produced a Down syndrome elimination rate approaching 100 percent. Agusta was one of only three Down syndrome babies born there in 2009. Iceland could have moved one-third of the way to its goal if only Agusta had been detected and eliminated. Agusta’s mother is glad the screening failed in her case.
An Iceland geneticist says “we have basically eradicated” Down syndrome people, but regrets what he considers “heavy-handed genetic counseling” that is influencing “decisions that are not medical, in a way.” One Icelandic counselor “counsels” mothers as follows: “This is your life. You have the right to choose how your life will look like.” She says, “We don’t look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended.” Which makes Agusta and Lucas “things” that were not “ended.”
Because Iceland’s population is only about 340,000, the problem (again, see the photos of problem Agusta and problem Lucas) is more manageable there than in, say, the United Kingdom. It has approximately 40,000 Down syndrome citizens, many of whom were conceived before the development of effective search-and-destroy technologies. About 750 British Down syndrome babies are born each year, but 90 percent of women who learn that their child will have — actually, that their child does have — Down syndrome have an abortion. In Denmark the elimination rate is 98 percent.
America, where 19 percent of all pregnancies are aborted, is playing catch-up in the Down syndrome elimination sweepstakes (elimination rate of 67 percent, 1995-2011). So is France (77 percent), which seems determined to do better. In 2016, a French court ruled that it would be “inappropriate” for French television to run a 2½-minute video (“Dear Future Mom”) released for World Down Syndrome Day, which seeks to assure women carrying Down syndrome babies that their babies can lead happy lives, a conclusion resoundingly confirmed in a 2011 study “Self-perceptions from people with Down syndrome.” The court said the video is “likely to disturb the conscience of women” who aborted Down syndrome children.
So, photos of Agusta and Lucas are probably “inappropriate.” It speaks volumes about today’s moral confusions that this — the disruption of an unethical complacency — is the real “Down syndrome problem.”
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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Review: 'The Terminal List' by Jack Carr

By Ryan Steck
November 13, 2017
Image result for jack carr terminal list
A potential new star of the genre emerges in Jack Carr’s debut thriller, which introduces a lethal protagonist in the same vein as other iconic literary heroes such as Mitch Rapp and Scot Harvath. 
While carrying out a high-stakes mission near the Khost Province in Afghanistan, Navy SEAL Commander James Reece and his men inadvertently walk straight into an ambush, and only Reece survives. 
Following the carnage, Reece reflects on the orders that came down the pipe, forcing him and his men into a situation they had little time to prepare for. Noting that he never felt right about the mission from the very beginning, Reece starts asking questions upon returning to Bagram Air Base. Though his initial efforts are stonewalled, Reece–whose never-quit attitude helped shape him into one of the top operators in America’s arsenal of super soldiers–doesn’t give up. Continuing to probe for answers, Reece is given some disturbing personal news that, astonishingly, he then discovers is something the other men on his SEAL team all had in common.  
Sent home to Coronado, California, Reece plans to race off to see his wife, Lauren, and their young daughter, Lucy. Instead, he’s delayed and forced to answer additional questions and see a military doctor before he’s allowed to take off. By the time he finally pulls his Toyota Land Cruiser into his driveway, Reece is horrified to find his house crawling with police officers. Inside, his family lays slain in their living room, their bodies riddled with bullet holes. 
It doesn’t take long for Reece to realize that his getting closer to the truth about what happened to him and his men in Afghanistan caused the deaths of his loved ones. The enemy, by taking away everyone he loved, sent Reece a painful message. At the same time, they just took away the only thing keeping his anger and brutality in check. . . a move they’ll soon regret.
With nothing left to live for, James Reece chases the conspiracy unfolding before him, which reaches all the way to the very top of the United States government. Carefully crafting a list of everyone involved, Reece then sets out to do the one thing he’s exceptionally good at. . . kill everyone who played even a minor role in the deaths of his men and his family. 
The government spent a lot of time and money turning Reece into a killing machine for his country. Now he’s coming after them. 
There have been some really promising new heroes introduced to readers over the past several years, but few have the potential moving forward that Carr’s protagonist radiates from the onset of this exceptional story. On top of the daring, well-written plot, Carr packs in a ton of tradecraft to go hand-in-hand with his above-average character development. Readers will enjoy learning a few tricks of the trade, and the action–though one scene in particular is especially gruesome–is on point. 
Jack Carr proves to be a formidable new voice in the political thriller genre, making a bold statement with his lightning-quick debut novel. The Terminal List is a can’t-miss, must-read, relentless action thriller that reads like a cross between Vince Flynn’s Term Limits and Mark Greaney’s Back Blast
Book Details
Author: Jack Carr
Series: James Reece #1
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1501180819
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10 
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