on: April 14, 2015, 09:59:01 AM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1
|Clinton Campaign Kicks Off as Huma Abedin Probe Begins
Posted By Matthew Vadum On April 14, 2015
At long last the Department of State is investigating why a top Hillary Clinton aide with generational ties to Islamic terrorism was allowed to work in a sensitive government position while simultaneously working for a Clinton-connected private sector consulting firm.
Hillary Clinton and the senior aide, Huma Abedin, apparently conspired to keep the sweetheart working arrangement that the Muslim Brotherhood-linked employee had at Foggy Bottom a secret. Because it involves a Clinton, the story is, of necessity, complex and convoluted. And it’s classic Hillary as she tiptoes through a minefield of ethics violations, conflicts of interests, and potential national security-related breaches.
News of the probe came two days before the Benghazi bungler finally launched her long-awaited coronation parade campaign Sunday on YouTube .
“I’m running for president,” Mrs. Clinton said in the video. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times. But the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion.”
Yes, Clinton is a champion — of Islamic expansionism. She let four Americans die in 2012 so President Obama, in the midst of his reelection fight, wouldn’t have to reconcile the terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya with his dishonest boast that al-Qaeda was on the run under his leadership. That she hired someone of questionable loyalty to the United States shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Until Sunday the Clinton Foundation had served as a de facto campaign headquarters and international shakedown machine for Mrs. Clinton. With her campaign now officially on, the foundation will probably continue functioning as what the Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberly Strassel calls “The Clinton Foundation Super PAC.”
“Most family charities exist to allow self-made Americans to disperse their good fortune to philanthropic causes,” Strassel wrote in a recent column. “The Clinton Foundation exists to allow the nation’s most powerful couple to use their not-so-subtle persuasion to exact global tribute for a fund that promotes the Clintons.”
Abedin herself is a Muslim who is married to disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). Bill and Hillary Clinton are reportedly so close to her that they have called her their surrogate daughter. Abedin, who almost certainly played some kind of a role in the Obama administration’s myriad catastrophic foreign policy failures, currently works at Mrs. Clinton’s personal office in New York City — or at least she worked there as of last week before Hillary launched her campaign.
Very few Republican lawmakers who are critical of Abedin’s working arrangement have raised the alarm about the threat she poses to national security. Some may have been scared away after the grandstanding stunt pulled three years ago by know-nothing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He bristled with indignation when then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and a handful of House lawmakers raised legitimate concerns about Abedin working in such a sensitive government post. McCain thundered: Abedin’s “character, reputation, and patriotism” were unjustly attacked and “these attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit, and they need to stop now.”
State Department Inspector General Steve Linick sent a letter  to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) Thursday advising that the inner workings of the “Special Government Employee Program” at the department are now the subject of a preliminary inquiry by Linick’s office. (The document is available here .)
“This program is meant to be used in a limited way to give the government special expertise it can’t get otherwise,” Grassley said in a statement Friday. “Is the program working the way it’s intended at the State Department or has it been turned on its head?”
Amazingly enough, the Obama-loving media establishment has been on this case of ethical gymnastics and the potential compromise of U.S. national security for a while.
As the New York Times  reported two years ago, under Clinton the Department of State “created an arrangement for her longtime aide and confidante Huma Abedin to work for private clients as a consultant while serving as a top adviser in the department.”
On her mandatory financial disclosure form, Abedin failed to disclose the setup or how much she was paid. “[T]he picture that emerges from interviews and records suggests a situation where the lines were blurred between Ms. Abedin’s work in the high echelons of one of the government’s most sensitive executive departments and her role as a Clinton family insider.”
In a July 2013 letter the State Department indicated Abedin was employed full-time from January 2009 to June 2012. It also indicated she did not disclose outside employment when ending her full-time status. The department kept her on as an adviser-expert at the hourly rate of $74.51 with maximum pay of $155,500 per year.
When Abedin returned from maternity leave in mid-2012, her role as deputy chief of staff to Secretary Clinton ended and she became what’s called a special government employee, or consultant. A State Department official told the Old Gray Lady “that change freed her from the requirement that she disclose her private earnings for the rest of the year on her financial disclosure forms. Still, during that period, she continued to be identified publicly in news reports as Mrs. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.”
It goes without saying that the Clintons have long believed that rules and laws are for the little people, not them. They live by the maxim that it is better to ask for forgiveness after the fact than seek permission before doing something awful.
In the second half of 2012 while working at State as a consultant, Abedin also worked for Teneo, a high-flying consultancy established by Doug Band, who was an adviser to President Clinton. Teneo advised MF Global, the failed brokerage of Democrat Jon Corzine, former governor of New Jersey and former U.S. senator.
“At the same time, Ms. Abedin served as a consultant to the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation and worked in a personal capacity for Mrs. Clinton as she prepared to transition out of her job as secretary of state,” the newspaper reported. (The foundation has since changed its name to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.)
The head of the liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) at the time, Melanie Sloane, engaged in Monty Pythonesque understatement when she described Abedin’s special working arrangement as merely unusual. “If she was being held out as a deputy chief of staff, it would be highly unusual for her to be a part-time employee or a consultant,” Sloane said. “Being a deputy chief of staff at the State Department is generally considered more than a full-time job.”
So Abedin was double- or even triple-dipping, working on sensitive issues in the Obama administration while at the same time working as a consultant at Teneo and the Clinton Foundation.
Political commentators might be more outraged over the Abedin affair but for the fact that the Clintons have always been shady operators. It’s scandal fatigue.
Pick a scandal, any scandal. There’s Whitewater, Juanita Broaddrick, Troopergate, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Elizabeth Gracen, Monica Lewinsky, Bill lying under oath and being disbarred for doing so, Filegate, the senseless slaughter of religious non-conformists at Waco, Texas, and many, many others.
There are so many Clinton scandals that Wikipedia had to create an index page  to list them all. Clinton-watching is an exhausting hobby that will turn into a full-time job for multitudes of talking heads, journalists, columnists, and activists should the Clintons take up residence in the White House again.
In the meantime we are left to wonder what role Abedin played in a long list of irregularities, mishaps, scandals, and America-weakening events while serving at the Department of State.
What role, if any, did Abedin play in:
*the Benghazi massacre and the coverup of it
*the State Department’s accountability review board failing to blame Clinton for Benghazi
*the failure of the Obama administration to disclose the cause of death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens who was reportedly tortured and sodomized to death by Muslim terrorists
*the Obama’s administration’s perverse embrace of America’s longtime enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran whose leaders can’t go a day without screaming “Death to America” (and “Death to Israel”)
*Iran’s conquest of its neighbors
*the ousting of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi
*the rise of Islamic State
*the removal of longstanding ally Hosni Mubarak as president of Egypt followed by the installation of Muslim Brotherhood favorite Mohamed Morsi in the position
*the conversion of NASA into a Muslim outreach agency
*the odious, lie-strewn “A New Beginning” speech President Obama gave at Cairo University in 2009
All these things that happened on then-Secretary Clinton’s watch. And they happened while the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Foundation reportedly raked in millions of dollars in donations from the governments of Muslim countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Algeria.
Call them anticipatory bribes thrown over the transom in case Mrs. Clinton secures the presidency. (Statistics wiz Nate Silver says  Clinton is a virtual shoo-in for her party’s nomination but gives her roughly a 50/50 chance of winning the general election.)
As Hillary was screwing up America’s foreign policy, Bill was giving highly remunerative speeches in the Islamic nations of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Turkey, according to Judicial Watch.
For what it’s worth, President Obama’s Cairo speech came on the heels of his worldwide apology tour in which he begged forgiveness from the countries of the world supposedly oppressed for so long by the U.S.
The oration was a major propaganda victory for Islamism that has emboldened fanatics and terrorists worldwide. It was also jam-packed with falsehoods, according to academics Mary Grabar and Brian Birdnow .
The address, of course, is a breathtaking work of fiction  that whitewashes the blood-drenched history of Islam and falsely attributes accomplishments such as printing, navigation, and medicine to the Islamic world.
Obama gave Islam credit for un-Islamic things such as the Enlightenment and religious tolerance. Islam “carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for European Renaissance and Enlightenment,” and “has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality,” Obama said.
Grabar and Birdnow counter that in fact “the intellectual Renaissance began when Byzantine scholars, mostly Greek, fled the advancing Turks in the 14th century and settled in Italy. The Enlightenment was openly anti-theistic and would have been anathema to most practicing Muslims.”
Moreover, they add, “Muslims wiped out Zoroastrianism, they battled Hinduism and Buddhism for centuries, and they levied a special tax on Christians and Jews in their domains.”
The lies in the Obama speech would no doubt be embraced by Abedin’s family. Born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Abedin’s connections  to the Muslim Brotherhood run deep.
Her mother is Saleha Mahmood Abedin , widow of the late Zyed Abedin, an academic who taught at Saudi Arabia’s prestigious King Abdulaziz University in the early 1970s. The year after Huma was born, Mrs. Abedin received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a founding member of the Muslim Sisterhood, a pro-Sharia organization consisting of the wives of some of the highest-ranking leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 1978 Mr. Abedin was hired by Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA), a Saudi-based Islamic think tank created by Abdullah Omar Naseef. Naseef was a Muslim extremist with ties to al-Qaeda. In 1983 he became secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), a militant organization with links to Osama bin Laden.
The elder Abedins both became members of the editorial board of IMMA’s publication, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. According to Andrew C. McCarthy, IMMA’s “Muslim Minority Affairs” agenda is “to grow an unassimilated, aggressive population of Islamic supremacists who will gradually but dramatically alter the character of the West.”
Mrs. Abedin became an official representative of MWL in the 1990s. When her husband died in 1994, Mrs. Abedin became the IMMA’s director. She currently serves as editor-in-chief of its journal.
Mrs. Abedin is also a member of the board of the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief (IICDR), which has long been banned in Israel because it has ties to Hamas. (In Arabic, dawah, or dawa, means the proselytizing or preaching of Islam.) She also runs the Amman, Jordan-based International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child (IICWC), a Muslim World League affiliate that self-identifies as part of the IICDR. The league, according to Andrew C. McCarthy, “has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.” Huma Abedin was an intern in the Clinton White House between 1997 and some time in 1999, she was a member of the executive board of George Washington University’s radical Muslim Students Association (MSA). The MSA has extensive ties to al-Qaeda. From 1996 to 2008, she was employed by IMMA as assistant editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.
Someone with Abedin’s background shouldn’t be anywhere near the levers of power in Washington. Yet Hillary Clinton trusted her with vital secrets of state and then surreptitiously deleted their electronic correspondence.
Were Secretary Clinton’s dealings with the foreign governments that gave money to the Clinton Foundation discussed in the emails that she deleted from her now-infamous private email server? We may never know.
There is, nonetheless, some reason for hope. Yes, it is depressing that even as evidence continues to accumulate that Mrs. Clinton’s cavalier approach to state secrets put U.S. national security in jeopardy, the shady background of Abedin is barely acknowledged on Capitol Hill.
Republican lawmakers seem for the most part unaware of Abedin’s ties to the world of Islamic terrorism, or like John McCain, remain stubbornly in denial.
But with the State Department Inspector General’s investigation set in motion, there is at least a possibility something will be discovered about Abedin that will spark the interest of the party whose elected officials now dominate both chambers of Congress.
The exposure of Huma Abedin is vitally important to the national security of the United States.
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Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://www.frontpagemag.com
URL to article: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/matthew-vadum/clinton-campaign-kicks-off-as-huma-abedin-probe-begins/
URLs in this post:
 YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=0uY7gLZDmn4
 sent a letter: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/04/10/program-that-benefited-clinton-aide-under-review-by-inspector-general/
 here: http://www.grassley.senate.gov/sites/default/files/judiciary/upload/Response%20Letter%20to%20Chairman%20Grassley%20Ltr%20on%20State%20Email%20-SGE%204-8-15%20Sign....pdf
 New York Times: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/05/17/nyregion/weiners-wife-huma-abedin-failed-to-disclose-consulting-work-done-while-a-state-dept-aide.html?referrer=&_r=0
 an index page: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Clinton_administration_controversies
 says: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/clinton-begins-the-2016-campaign-and-its-a-toss-up/
 Mary Grabar and Brian Birdnow: http://www.amazon.com/New-Beginning-Revised-Past-Barack/dp/0986018309
 a breathtaking work of fiction: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/matthew-vadum/obamas-benghazi-propagandist/
 Abedin’s connections: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2556
 Saleha Mahmood Abedin: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2557
 Click here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref%3dnb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=david+horowitz&rh=n:133140011%2ck:david+horowitz&ajr=0#/ref=sr_st?keywords=david+horowitz&qid=1316459840&rh=n:133140011%2ck:david+horowitz&sort=daterank
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on: April 14, 2015, 09:17:54 AM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Important maps for understanding this article athttp://www.wsj.com/articles/china-expands-islands-in-disputed-waters-photos-show-1429011466
MANILA—China is expanding two islands it controls in the disputed Paracel Islands, east of Vietnam, even as it builds seven new islets in the South China Sea, satellite imagery published on Tuesday shows.
Woody Island and Duncan Island have both expanded significantly as a result of recent land reclamation work undertaken by China, according to images taken a month ago by satellite-imaging company DigitalGlobe and published today by the Diplomat, an Asian current-affairs website. Vietnam says it owns both islands, although Woody Island is home to China’s largest South China Sea settlement—Sansha City, which has a population of 600 people.
China Expands Island Construction in Disputed South China Sea (2/18/15)
China claims about 90% of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. All the claimants apart from Brunei have populated settlements on disputed islands under their control, but China has made a concerted push in recent months to expand its footprint in the contested region, drawing persistent complaints—but little collective action—from its neighbors.
Satellite pictures published by the Philippines and others have charted the speedy construction of at least seven islands by China in the Spratly Islands group through the use of dredgers to dump sand on top of shallow reefs. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying said earlier this month that the artificial islands would be used for “military defense,” as well as a range of civilian purposes.
Vietnamese officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday. Diplomatic relations between Beijing and Hanoi became strained a year ago when a Chinese drilling platform was deployed to disputed waters east of Vietnam, though ties have largely recovered since the rig was removed in July.
Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday that “the Paracels are an inherent part of China,” when asked about the reclamation projects there. Chinese officials have consistently waved away complaints about the country’s island-building program on the grounds that China is entitled to undertake construction projects within its own sovereign territory.
President Barack Obama waded into the South China Sea row last week, saying that China “is not necessarily abiding by international law and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.”
“Just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” Mr. Obama said during a visit to Jamaica on Thursday, when asked about China’s island-building program.
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral Harry Harris last month dubbed the Chinese reclamation program in the South China Sea the “Great Wall of sand,” saying that Chinese dredgers had created 4 square kilometers of artificial landmass in the disputed sea over the past few months.
On Monday, the Philippine government said China’s island-building program would cost the region’s littoral states $100 million a year through damage caused to the local ecosystem and the degrading of fish stocks.
—Dinny McMahon contributed to this article.
Write to Trefor Moss at Trefor.Moss@wsj.com
on: April 14, 2015, 09:15:13 AM
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Middle East Christians Trapped by Islamist Extremists Forge Alliances With Former Foes
Without the protection of functioning states, many Christians face difficult choices
On Palm Sunday, Christians in the Lebanese village of Al-Qaa depended on army troops to shield them from nearby ISIS militants. Another source of protection: Shiite militants in Hezbollah, which backs their decade-long enemy, the Syrian regime.
April 13, 2015 10:34 p.m. ET
AL-QAA, Lebanon—Three decades ago, plainclothes Syrian agents went door to door in this border village seeking out young Christian men, who were abducted and killed in a notorious chapter of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.
The village’s nearly 2,000 Christians now find themselves siding with the same Syrian regime they blame for what many call the 1978 massacre.
That is because a few miles away, hundreds of Islamist extremists tied to al Qaeda and Islamic State stalk the porous border region separating Lebanon and Syria. Standing between the militants and the village are Lebanese troops aided by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, whose men are also fighting for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Yes, I prefer the Syrian regime over these terrorist groups,” a 45-year-old Al-Qaa resident said, but it is a choice “between the bitter and more bitter.”
Here and throughout the Middle East, many Christians, under attack and without the protection of functioning states, face difficult choices amid the region’s roiling sectarian conflicts.
Some are taking sides, others are taking up arms. In Iraq and Syria, for example, Christians fight alongside Kurds against Islamic State, even though some Christians accuse the Kurds of seeking to one day incorporate them and their land into Kurdish-controlled territories.
While both Christians and Muslims suffer from the violent extremism engulfing the region, the stakes and consequences differ, said the Rev. Fadi Daou, a Lebanese Maronite Catholic priest and professor of Christian theology.
In Lebanon and Iraq, Shiite Muslims rely on Hezbollah and other militias backed by Iran. Sunni Muslims, while threatened by the Shiite forces, constitute the region’s majority and are backed by insurgents, Father Daou said.
Christians in Lebanon, meanwhile—long viewed as the region’s most empowered and assertive—“are 10 times weaker than they were in 1975,” said Father Daou, who is also chairman of Adyan, a Western-backed organization that promotes cultural and religious diversity across the Middle East.
Lebanon’s symbolic post of president, which must be occupied by a Christian in accordance with the country’s sectarian power-sharing system, has been vacant for nearly a year.
Few Christians in Lebanon, Father Daou said, believe they can repeat what they did at the onset of the Lebanese civil war 40 years ago when they organized themselves into militias to battle armed Muslims.
With the government barely functioning, Christians here see few options: They can emigrate; depend on Hezbollah for protection; or simply pray that regional and world powers will prop up Lebanon’s armed forces and shield the country from falling into sectarian war.
Next to Al-Qaa, in the village of Ras Baalbek, a Christian commander of the Resistance Brigades, a Hezbollah-affiliated unit made up largely of non-Shiites, is rallying residents to take up arms against Sunni extremists because, he said, the army alone can’t protect local Christians.
In early August, the Lebanese army arrested a Syrian Islamist rebel leader tied to Islamic State on the outskirts of Arsal, a predominantly Sunni town near Al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek. Islamist militants then stormed Arsal and nearly 150 people died in the battle with army troops. Militants abducted Lebanese soldiers and security forces. Eventually, eight were released and four killed, two by decapitation. The army sent reinforcements and the skirmishes continue.
“The entire world knows that Lebanese army posts collapsed during the so-called Arsal raid by militants,” the bearded Christian commander said. “So it’s my natural right to make alternate arrangements.”
The Lebanese Army chief, Gen. Jean Kahwaji, said last month that his troops, with the help of the U.S. and other countries, were capable of protecting the country from militants.
Following the demise of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the French carved out the State of Greater Lebanon in the Levant, envisioning it as a haven for Christians. The idea of Christians needing the West’s protection lingered after the country gained independence in 1943.
Some Christians in the Middle East, particularly church leaders, believe secular, authoritarian-ruled states offer the best protection. They say regions beset by tribalism and prone to Islamic fundamentalism are ill-prepared for Western-style democracy.
“We do not need lectures from the U.S. about democracy and morality,” said Ignatius Youssef Younan III, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syriac Catholic Church. He favors democratic reform in Syria but not Mr. Assad’s removal.
Many Christians in Egypt, home to the largest Christian population in the Middle East, have embraced the military coup led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, now president, saying they felt threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mr. Sisi’s predecessor, Mohammed Morsi.
Pope Tawadros II, spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, had urged followers last year to vote for Mr. Sisi, calling him the country’s savior.
Vivian Fouad, former director of the Cairo-based Coptic Center for Social Studies, said most Copts supported Mr. Sisi. But many resented their pope’s foray into politics, she said: “Our best protection is active participation in the rebuilding of Egyptian political life and civil society.”
On Palm Sunday last month, Lebanese soldiers stood guard in front of the Mar Elias Catholic church in Al-Qaa, as families dressed in their finest walked behind a priest, and children carried palm branches in the traditional procession that marked the start of Easter week. Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday.
Antoun and Therese Nasrallah, who brought their four children to church for Palm Sunday, are among the Lebanese Christians who fear an attack by Islamist militants.
Mr. Nasrallah has an AK-47 assault rifle at home and his wife keeps a hunting rifle close. “People will fight until the very end if they have to,” she said.
At night, Mr. Nasrallah goes on patrol with other villagers, including those loyal to the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. They face a common enemy but the alliance is difficult for Mr. Nasrallah, he said.
Mr. Nasrallah, 44 years old, was a child when Syrian agents arrested his three uncles, who were schoolteachers, and two other family members. The men were among 26 Christians taken from Al-Qaa and two nearby villages.
The next day their tortured and bullet-riddled bodies were found in a nearby field—killings that triggered an exodus of local Christians, Mr. Nasrallah said. He was at his grandparents’ house after they heard the news on the radio. “My grandmother was pulling her hair and slapping her face,” he said, “and my grandfather took to the village streets shouting, ‘The boys are gone.’ ”
Like other villagers here, he and his wife believed the goal of Syria at the time was to drive out Christians and others who lived close to the border and who were seen as hostile to the regime.
At the start of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975, many Christians here said they welcomed Syrian soldiers as protectors against Muslim forces. Eventually, though, Syria was seen as a dreaded occupation force.
Al-Qaa residents say they once more feel they are fighting for their existence. This time, the enemy is Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, whose militants have driven away Christians and other minorities from towns and villages in Iraq and Syria over the past year.
With their focus on survival, longtime opponents of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah speak of having to band together, despite their animosity, against Islamic State.
“We were praying each day for the toppling of the Syrian regime and for its figures to be put on trial for all their crimes, especially the Al-Qaa massacre,” said Bashir Matar, who lost his father, an uncle and two other family members in the 1978 killings.
“The regime has been saved because our focus now is on the imminent danger—ISIS,” said Mr. Matar, a lawyer who heads the local branch of the Lebanese Forces party.
In northern Iraq, Basim Bello faced a similar choice in the Christian town of Al-Qosh. Before Islamic State captured the nearby city of Mosul and surrounding Christian villages last June, Mr. Bello was a vocal critic of leaders in the semiautonomous Kurdistan region.
At the time, Kurds controlled the region known as the Nineveh Plain and backed only Christian clergy and politicians who favored Kurdish control. Kurdish leaders say the area has historically been theirs to govern.
Today, most Christians displaced from Islamic State-controlled areas are sheltered in the Kurdish region, and Christian men fight alongside Kurds against the militants, backed by the U.S. and its Western allies.
“It’s like having your hand stuck under a rock. Today, the enemy is ISIS, but I know Kurds still covet our areas,” said Mr. Bello who heads a political coalition seeking to establish a self-rule area in northern Iraq for Christians and other minorities.
Christians in the Lebanese village of Al-Qaa remember a time when citizens of the newly independent countries of the Middle East dreamed of living in pluralist democracies that respected all faiths.
The era is preserved in the abandoned stone-and-mud rooms that once belonged to the Nasrallah brothers, the schoolteachers who were among the Christian men seized by Syrian agents in 1978. George, Milad and Riyad Nasrallah are remembered here as intellectuals and passionate political activists.
Their books, photographs and political pamphlets are now thickly coated in dust. One tome is titled the “Dawn of Islam.”
—Dana Ballout contributed to this article.
Write to Sam Dagher at firstname.lastname@example.org
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on: April 14, 2015, 08:22:42 AM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Russian Missiles for the Ayatollah
Vladimir Putin blows a raspberry at Obama.
April 13, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET
Vladimir Putin blew a geopolitical raspberry at the Obama Administration on Monday by authorizing the sale of Russia’s S-300 missile system to Iran. The Kremlin is offering the mullahs an air-defense capability so sophisticated that it would render Iran’s nuclear installations far more difficult and costly to attack should Tehran seek to build a bomb.
Feeling better about that Iranian nuclear deal now?
The origins of this Russian sideswipe go back to 2007, when Moscow and Tehran signed an $800 million contract for delivery of five S-300 squadrons. But in 2010 then-President Dmitry Medvedev stopped the sale under pressure from the U.S. and Israel. The United Nations Security Council the same year passed an arms-embargo resolution barring the sale of major conventional systems to the Tehran regime.
That resolution is still in effect, but the Kremlin no longer feels like abiding by it. With the latest negotiating deadline passed and without any nuclear agreement in place, Moscow will dispatch the S-300s “promptly” to the Islamic Republic, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
So much for the White House hope that the West could cordon off Russia’s aggression against Ukraine while working with Mr. Putin on other matters. Russia and the West could disagree about Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the thinking went, but Washington could still solicit the Kremlin’s cooperation on the Iranian nuclear crisis.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki dismissed news in February that Russia’s state-run weapons conglomerate Rostec had offered Tehran the Antey-2500—an upgraded version of the S-300 system. “It’s just some reports,” she said. White House spokesman Josh Earnest similarly boasted in March of how “international unanimity of opinion has been critical to our ability to apply pressure to Iran.”
Now Mr. Obama wants to delegate responsibility for enforcing his nuclear deal with Iran to the United Nations, which means that the Russians will have a say—and a veto—there, too. Think of this missile sale as a taste of what’s to come.
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on: April 13, 2015, 08:59:18 PM
Started by DougMacG - Last post by Crafty_Dog
The Rubio Run
The 43-year-old is strong on foreign policy, less so on taxes.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) announces his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday. ENLARGE
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) announces his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Joe Skipper
April 13, 2015 7:16 p.m. ET
Marco Rubio on Monday joined Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in the run for the Republican presidential nomination. It must be more than coincidence that the first three declared candidates are first-term members of the U.S. Senate. Aside from reducing the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body to a trampoline, the eager trio reflect the undercurrent of impatience these days in Republican politics—with the incumbent President, with Washington and with each other.
Like Ted Cruz, Senator Rubio is the son of Cuban-American immigrants. As a mere fact of biography, this speaks well of the American political system and the Republican Party that produced them.
Of the three, Senator Rubio has the most political experience. Despite his 43 years, he is essentially a lifetime politician, starting out as a city commissioner of West Miami and rising to become Speaker of the Florida House. Mr. Rubio gained his Senate seat in 2010 by defeating former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, one of the worst career politicians of the last generation.
To his credit, Mr. Rubio has used his Senate office as more than a planning headquarters for his presidential run. From his seat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Rubio, with Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, has become one of his party’s most visible and best-informed critics of President Obama’s foreign policy in Ukraine, Iran and a Middle East beset by Islamic State.
His opposition to Mr. Obama’s Cuba opening is well known, but as noteworthy has been his effort to keep in public view the Venezuelan government’s assaults on its democratic opposition.
More so than Senators Cruz and Paul, Mr. Rubio has shown a willingness to work with colleagues, notably the Senate’s immigration reform in 2013. Mr. Rubio showed a measure of political courage in grabbing that issue, though he became notably silent as the debate moved to the House, where reform died.
He has immersed himself in the details of the country’s fiscal and social problems and offers some thoughtful reforms, such as consolidating the myriad federal anti-poverty programs into a single grant sent to the states with fewer strings. It’s an idea that deserves discussion.
His recently announced tax-reform plan, introduced with Utah’s Senator Mike Lee, reflects the tensions inside the GOP. It proposes dropping the corporate rate to 25%, a consensus figure. But it proposes remarkably timid reductions in marginal tax rates for individuals, leaving the top rate at 35% on relatively modest incomes. Instead the plan’s centerpiece is a large, new tax credit—$2,500 per child.
With this proposal, Senator Rubio makes himself the party’s most visible ally of the “new” Republican idea that the Reagan tax-cutting agenda is a political dead end, and that the party now must redistribute revenue directly to middle-class families. It’s not clear how Candidate Rubio would hope to win a tax-credit bidding war with Hillary Clinton, who’d see and raise on the size of the credit and make it refundable to non-taxpayers. The Rubio tax credit looks like an obvious political gambit with no economic growth payoff.
The Senator nonetheless has the rhetorical gifts to make a compelling case for himself. His message is aspirational, and he offers a generational contrast with Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Rubio’s biggest challenge will be convincing primary voters that this precocious energy adds up to something better than voting for one of the successful Republican Governors with a record of real accomplishments.
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on: April 13, 2015, 08:56:37 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
April 13, 2015 7:33 p.m. ET
Sometime in the 1990s I began to understand the Clinton way of lying, and why it was so successful. To you and me, the Clinton lies were statements demonstrably at variance with the truth, and therefore wrong and shameful. But to the initiated they were an invitation to an intoxicating secret knowledge.
What was this knowledge? That the lying was for the greater good, usually to fend off some form of Republican malevolence. What was so intoxicating? That the initiated were smart enough to see through it all. Why be scandalized when they could be amused? Why moralize when they could collude?
It always works. We are hardly a month past Hillary Clinton’s Server-gate press conference, in which she served up whoppers faster than a Burger King burger flipper—lies large and small, venial and potentially criminal, and all of them quickly found out. Emails to Bill, who never emails? The convenience of one device, despite having more than one device?
It doesn’t matter. Now Mrs. Clinton is running for president, and only a simpleton would fail to appreciate that the higher mendacity is a recommendation for the highest office. In the right hands, the thinking goes, lying can be a positive good—as political moisturizer and diplomatic lubricant.
What the Clintons pioneered—the brazen lie, coyly delivered and knowingly accepted—has become something more than the M.O. of one power couple. It has become the liberal way of lying.
Consider this column’s favorite subject: the Iran deal. An honest president might sell the current deal roughly as follows.
“My fellow Americans, the deal we have negotiated will not, I am afraid, prevent Iran from getting a bomb, should its leaders decide to build one. And eventually they will. Fatwa or no fatwa, everything we know about their nuclear program tells us it is geared toward building a bomb. And frankly, if you lived in a neighborhood like theirs—70 million Shiites surrounded by hundreds of millions of Sunnis—you’d want a bomb, too.
“Yes, we could, in theory, stop Iran from getting the bomb. Sanctions won’t do it. Extreme privation didn’t stop Maoist China or Bhutto’s Pakistan or Kim’s North Korea from building a bomb. It won’t stop Iran, either.
“Airstrikes? They would set Iran back by a few years. But even in a best-case scenario, the Iranians would be back at it before long, and they’d keep trying until they got a bomb or we got regime change.
“Fellow Americans, how many of you want to raise your hands for more Mideast regime change?
“So here’s the deal with my deal: It never was about cutting off Iran’s pathways to a bomb. Let’s just say that was an aspiration. It’s about managing, and maybe slowing, the process by which they get one.
“I know that’s not what you thought I’ve been saying these past few years—all that stuff about all options being on the table and me not bluffing and no deal being better than a bad deal. I said this for political expedience, or as a way of palliating restive Saudis and Israelis. You feed the dogs their bone.
“But if you’d been listening attentively, you would have heard the qualifier ‘on my watch’ added to my promises that Iran would not get the bomb. And what happens after I leave office? Hopefully, the Supreme Leader will be replaced by a new leader cut from better cloth. Hopefully, too, this marathon diplomacy will open new patterns of U.S.-Iranian cooperation. But if neither thing happens we’d be no worse off than we are today.
“That’s why getting a deal, any deal, is more important than the deal’s particulars when it comes to sanctions relief, inspections protocols and so on. The details only matter insofar as they make the political medicine go down. What counts is that we’re sitting at the table together, speaking.”
A speech along these lines would have the virtues of intellectual integrity and political honesty. It would improve the quality, and perhaps the tenor, of our foreign-policy discussions. The argument might well lose—the U.S. tool kit of coercion is not so bare, the benefit of diplomacy isn’t so great, the threat of a nuclear Iran isn’t so manageable and Americans aren’t that eager to roll over for the ayatollah. But at least we would have a worthwhile debate.
Question for Mrs. Clinton: Does she think the U.S. should gently midwife Iran’s nuclear birth or violently abort it? If she wants to be president, our former top diplomat could honor us with a detailed answer.
In the meantime, let’s simply note what the liberal way of lying has achieved. We are on the cusp of reaching the most consequential foreign-policy decision of our generation. We have a deal whose basic terms neither side can agree on. We have a president whose goals aren’t what he said they were, and whose motives he has kept veiled from the public.
Maybe the ayatollah will give him his deal, and those with the secret knowledge will cheer. As for the rest of us: Haven’t we learned that we’re too stupid to know what’s for our own good?
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on: April 13, 2015, 08:52:39 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
The Alinsky Way of Governing
What happens when those in power adopt ‘rules for radicals’ to attack their less powerful opponents.
By Pete Peterson
April 9, 2015 6:50 p.m. ET
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, recently caused a stir by sending letters to seven university presidents seeking background information on scientists and professors who had given congressional testimony that failed to endorse what is the conventional wisdom in some quarters regarding climate change. One of the targets was Steven Hayward, a colleague of mine at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy.
Though the congressman lacked legal authority to demand information, his aggressive plan, which came to light in late February, should not be a surprise at a time when power holders from the White House on down are employing similar means against perceived enemies.
Mr. Grijalva left a clue about how he operates in 2013 when the magazine In These Times asked about his legislative strategy. “I’m a Saul Alinsky guy,” he said, referring to the community organizer and activist who died in 1972, “that’s where I learned this stuff.”
What sort of stuff? Mr. Grijalva sent his letters not to the professors but to university presidents, without (at least in the case of Mr. Hayward) the professors’ knowledge. Mr. Hayward was not even employed by Pepperdine at the time of his congressional testimony in 2011.
But targeting institutions and their leaders is pure Alinsky; so are the scare tactics. Mr. Grijalva’s staff sent letters asking for information about the professors, with a March 16 due date—asking, for instance, if they had accepted funding from oil companies—using official congressional letterhead, and followed up with calls from Mr. Grijalva’s congressional office. This is a page from Alinsky’s book, in both senses of the word: “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have,” reads one tip in his 1971 “Rules for Radicals.”
Yet adopting Alinsky’s tactics may not in this case fit with Alinsky’s philosophy. This is Alinsky with a twist. Despite myriad philosophical inconsistencies, “Rules for Radicals” is meant to empower the weaker against the stronger. Alinsky writes: “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”
In a similar vein, the political philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain supported Alinsky’s work in getting disengaged communities—typically in lower socio-economic strata—to assume the difficult responsibilities of citizenship. As a way of challenging “big government,” even conservatives such as former House Majority Leader Dick Armey have recommended Alinsky’s tactics (minus his professed hatred of capitalism, etc.).
But what happens when Machiavelli’s Prince reads and employs “Rules for Radicals”? In 2009 President Obama’s friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett was asked on CNN about media bias, particularly at Fox News, and she responded: “What the administration has said very clearly is that we’re going to speak truth to power.” I remember thinking: “Wait a minute, you’re the White House. You are the power.”
In that sense President Obama’s election was both the climax of Alinsky’s vision and an existential crisis for that vision. Alinsky promoted the few tactics available to the downtrodden: irreverence, ridicule and deception. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” he wrote. So the rise to power of the world’s most famous community organizer raises a question: Should Alinskyite tactics be employed by those in power, or should they be reserved for those without?
Mr. Grijalva’s campaign against seven academics serves as a cautionary tale of what can happen when power adopts these strategies to suppress opposition. The congressman’s office arranged additional pressure by notifying national and local media that these professors were under “investigation.” On the day the letters went out, the Washington Post blared: “House Dems: Did Big Oil seek to sway scientists in climate debate?”
After receiving a call from a Grijalva staffer, our local Malibu Times obliged with the front-page headline, “Pepperdine Professor Investigated by Congressman.” The online Delaware News Journal, the hometown newspaper for David Legates at the University of Delaware, wrote: “UD’s David Legates caught in climate change controversy.” Alabama’s Huntsville Times had a piece under the headline: “Arizona congressman asking questions about outside funding for UAH climate expert John Christy.”
To their credit, several editorial boards came to the defense of the professors. The Arizona Republic, the home-state newspaper of Mr. Grijalva and targeted Arizona State University professor Robert Balling, wrote that Mr. Grijalva’s campaign “fits the classic definition of a witch hunt.” Rep. Grijalva on March 2 acknowledged to National Journal that some of the information he demanded from the universities was “overreach” but defended his demand for information about funding sources.
How did it come to this? The inability of politicians to confront another’s argument, much less to attempt to persuade the other side, has become standard operating procedure. Now this toxic approach is extending to the broader world of policy—including scientific research. Instead of evaluating the quality of the research, opponents make heavy-handed insinuations about who funds it—as though that matters if the science is sound. And now just about every climate scientist employed by an American university knows that Washington is watching.
More broadly, what has happened is that a generation of American politicians who came of age during Saul Alinsky’s lifetime has moved into positions of institutional power that he so often derided as “the enemy.” They are showing an inability to leave behind Alinsky’s tactics that were intended for the weak against the strong. Civil discourse and academic freedom suffer while the “Prince” becomes more powerful.
Mr. Peterson is the executive director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy.
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on: April 13, 2015, 12:35:37 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Russia Lifts Its Ban on Delivery of S-300 Missiles to Iran
The Kremlin removes ban implemented by Dmitry Medvedev in 2010
By Paul Sonne
Updated April 13, 2015 12:13 p.m. ET
MOSCOW—The Kremlin has lifted its ban on deliveries of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, setting the legal groundwork for Russia to resume its plans to sell a powerful air-defense system to Tehran.
A decree by President Vladimir Putin posted on the Kremlin website Monday formally removed the Russian ban which has been in place since 2010. The move comes ahead of a June 30 deadline for world powers including the U.S. and Russia to strike a final deal with Iran over the dismantlement of its nuclear program.
Russia signed a contract worth about $800 million to deliver S-300s to Iran in 2007. But the U.S. and Israel pushed the Kremlin to drop the deal, expressing concern that Tehran could use the sophisticated air-defense system to protect its nuclear facilities from an attack.
Russia relented three years later when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a Kremlin decree prohibiting the delivery of any Russian S-300 missiles to Iran. The 2010 order brought Russia in line with United Nations Security Council sanctions passed that year, which established an arms embargo on Iran in an attempt to further impede its nuclear progress.
“At this stage, we believe the need for this kind of embargo, and a separate voluntary Russian embargo, has completely disappeared,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday. “I note that the S-300 air-defense missile system, which is exclusively of a defensive nature, is not suited for the purposes of attack and doesn’t threaten the security of any governments in the region, including, of course, Israel.”
U.N. sanctions don’t restrict the supply of air-defense weapons to Iran, Mr. Lavrov said. Russia applied the S-300 ban in September 2010 as a goodwill gesture to stimulate progress in nuclear talks with Tehran and form a united front with other world powers taking part in negotiations, he said. The recent framework agreed with Iran to eliminate its nuclear program has now removed the need for the ban, Mr. Lavrov argued.
“Taking into account the very tense situation in the surrounding area, modern air defense systems are very important to Iran,” Mr. Lavrov added.
Moscow’s decision comes nearly two months after Russia’s top Russian defense industry executive told reporters that Russia had offered to sell Iran a powerful air-defense system in the S-300 family, but had yet to strike a deal.
Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of the Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec, said in February Iran was still considering Russia’s offer to supply Antey-2500 anti-ballistic missile systems but had not yet made a decision, according to Russian state news agency TASS. Rostec didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I don’t hide it, and everyone understands that the more conflicts there are, the more weapons are bought from us,” Mr. Chemezov said at the time, noting that Russia’s foreign weapons sales had totaled $13 billion in 2014. “Our volumes continue to grow, despite sanctions. In particular it is Latin America and the Middle East.”
Mr. Chemezov, a friend of Mr. Putin, is among those sanctioned by the U.S. over the crisis in Ukraine.
Write to Paul Sonne at firstname.lastname@example.org