Latest Analysis and Commentary

Palestinians: More Missed Opportunities

by Bassam Tawil  •  July 2, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • It was Palestinian who hurt themselves: When Israelis were not able to hire Palestinian workers, they simply turned to foreign workers, prefabricated construction and other industrial innovations.

  • If the boycott of goods made in the settlements is successful, thousands, if not tens of thousands of Palestinians will find themselves unemployed, hungry, and ripe for radicalization.

  • The world will never give up its computing, medical, agricultural and start-up products for us. The Israelis will continue to prosper. They have already found other markets.

  • Mahmoud Abbas is afraid of Hamas and afraid to enter the Gaza Strip. As a result of rumors that Hamas was working privately to reach a cease-fire agreement with Israel, Abbas is threatening to dissolve the national unity government.

Let's agree not to try to kill each other...
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) shakes hands with Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, during negotiations in 2007 for a short-lived unity government. (Image source: Palestinian Press Office)

We Palestinians continue to miss one opportunity after the other. Now, we are about to miss yet another opportunity for peace.

The geographic and political reality of the Middle East does not smile on the Palestinians. The countries that, until the Arab Spring, exerted the most pressure on Israel to negotiate with us have become weak. Some of them are disintegrating and others, in this world of strange bedfellows, consider the Israelis partners in the struggle against their common enemy, Iran.

Our Arab brothers now consider us a nuisance, marginal to their struggle to survive in the face of the threats from the Ayatollahs' increasing nuclear power in Iran and radical Islamists such as ISIS.

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Extremism and Censorship

by Samuel Westrop  •  July 1, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • There are obvious shortcomings in the British government's demand that all "beliefs" deserve "mutual respect." While it is important in a free society to tolerate beliefs we dislike, we should not be required to "respect" them.

  • If the government would stop funding and backing religious separatism, and start using existing laws to prosecute preachers who incite violence and promote terrorism, these measures would go a long way to preventing extremists from operating with impunity. Censorship, on the other hand, will harm everyone.

Islamic preacher Abu Usamah at-Thahabi of Birmingham, England: "Take that homosexual man... and throw him off the mountain. If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that's my freedom of speech, isn't it." The Racial and Religious Hatred Act and various Public Order Acts prohibit incitement to violence, but, despite advocating murder, Thahabi has never been charged. (Image source: Green Lane Mosque video screenshot)

On May 27, a few weeks after the elections, Queen Elizabeth II addressed the British parliament with a speech that laid out a number of important proposed bills, including changes to immigration and the welfare system; a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, and, most importantly, a series of new measures to tackle Islamic extremism.

The "Extremism Bill," the government has announced, will "unite our country and keep you and your family safe by tackling all forms of extremism." It will also "combat groups and individuals who reject our values and promote messages of hate."

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Turkey's Wrong Bet on Syria

by Burak Bekdil  •  July 1, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Today, instead of the free movement of labor and capital, there is, around the border area, the free movement of bombs and bullets.

  • Ankara considers the real security threat from Syria as not the jihadists, but the secular Kurds who fight the jihadists.

  • Turkey has worked so hard to create a "Peshawar" (Afghanistan) across its border with Syria -- hoping instead to create a Muslim Brotherhood zone.

Hundred of Syrian Kurds gathered along the border with Turkey in the hope of crossing over, as Kurdish militias battled ISIS in nearby Tel Abyad, June 13, 2015. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

It was supposed to be Turkish gambit: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's days in power were numbered; the Nusayri (Alawite) man would be toppled by Syria's Sunni majority in a popular revolt. The Sunni majority would set up in Damascus a Muslim Brotherhood type of regime that would be subservient to Ankara, and Turkey's southern border with Syria would be now be a borderless Sunni "Schengen" zone; cross border trade would flourish with the free movement of labor and capital. Peace would prevail along the 900-km border, and Turkish and Syrian Sunni supremacists would advance their agenda in the not-always-so-Sunni lands of the Middle East.

Today, instead of the free movement of labor and capital, there is, around the border area, the free movement of bombs and bullets. Turkey's miscalculated foreign policy on Syria has led to the creation of a neighboring Peshawar (Afghanistan) across its border.

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Palestinians: Why Salam Fayyad Lacks Popular Support

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  June 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • It is no secret that several senior Palestinian officials see themselves as potential successors to Abbas. Like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Abbas has stubbornly refused to share power with anyone. And like Arafat, he continues to run the Palestinian Authority as if it were his private fiefdom.

  • In Palestinian culture, it is more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from the University of Texas in Austin. A Palestinian who carries out an attack on Israel has more credentials among his people than one who studied at Harvard or Oxford universities.

  • It took Salam Fayyad too long to realize that no matter how many good things he does for his people, in the end he will be judged on the basis of his contribution to the fight against Israel, and not how much humanitarian and financial aid he provides.

Former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, pictured on January 25, 2013 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Image source: World Economic Forum)

In a surprise move, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has frozen the bank account of a non-profit organization headed by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

The decision is seen in the context of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's effort to undermine and discredit Fayyad. Abbas believes that Fayyad, who resigned in 2013, is seeking to replace or succeed him as president.

Following his resignation, the US-educated Fayyad established a Ramallah-based group called Future For Palestine. According to Fayyad, the group's mission is to "enhance the resilience of Palestinian citizens in their homeland, especially in marginalized and severely impacted areas, by providing the basic development requirements."

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership did not like the idea from the beginning. Ever since Future For Palestine was established in August 2013, they have been working toward undermining the group and its founder, Fayyad.

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The Strategic Consequences of "Grexit"

by Peter Martino  •  June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Last January, ISIS revealed that it is smuggling terrorists into Europe by hiding them among the immigrants leaving Turkey.

  • "If Europe leaves us in the crisis, we will flood it with immigrants, and it will be even worse for Berlin if in that wave... there will be some jihadists of the Islamic State, too." — Panos Kammenos, Defense Minister of Greece

  • Greece is a member of NATO. The whole world witnessed how the Defense Minister of one NATO country was threatening other NATO members with unleashing Islamic terrorists on them.

  • A Greek exit will lead to a power vacuum in the southeastern corner of Europe, which Russia (and China) will be only too eager to fill. The Chinese are currently negotiating with the Greek government to acquire an even larger part of the port of Piraeus.

Across Greece, people have been lining up to withdraw money from cash machines, most of which have run out of money, after the government ordered banks to close for six days starting Monday. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

Last weekend, Greece failed to reach an agreement with its three creditors, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. A bankruptcy of the Hellenic Republic is now imminent. If it materializes, a so-called Grexit will follow: Greece will be forced to leave the Eurozone -- the group of 19 European Union (EU) member states that use the euro as their common currency. Leaving the Eurozone automatically means that, under the EU treaties, Greece will also have to leave the EU.

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UK: Belfast Pastor Faces Prison for "Grossly Offending" Islam

by Soeren Kern  •  June 28, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • James McConnell's prosecution is one of a growing number of examples in which British authorities — who routinely ignore incendiary speech by Muslim extremists — are using hate speech laws to silence Christians.

  • "My church funds medical care for 1,200 Muslim children in Kenya and Ethiopia. I've no hatred in my heart for Muslims... I believe in freedom of speech. I'm going to keep on preaching the gospel. I have nothing against Muslims, I have never hated Muslims, I have never hated anyone. But I am against what Muslims believe. They have the right to say what they believe in and I have a right to say what I believe." — James McConnell, Pastor.

  • "Since the Islamic State took over, it [Mosul] has become the most peaceful city in the world." — Raied Al-Wazzan, Executive Director, Belfast Islamic Center. Al-Wazzan is now trying to leverage the controversy over McConnell's remarks to shame local politicians into providing him with free public land to build a mega-mosque.

Pastor James McConnell of Belfast: "I have no regrets about what I said. I do not hate Muslims, but I denounce Islam as a doctrine and I make no apologies for that. I will be pleading 'not guilty' when I stand in the dock in August."

An evangelical Christian pastor in Northern Ireland is being prosecuted for making "grossly offensive" remarks about Islam.

James McConnell, 78, is facing up to six months in prison for delivering a sermon in which he described Islam as "heathen" and "satanic." The message was streamed live on the Internet, and a Muslim group called the police to complain.

According to Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS), McConnell violated the 2003 Communications Act by "sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive."

Observers say that McConnell's prosecution is one of a growing number of examples in which British authorities — who routinely ignore incendiary speech by Muslim extremists — are using hate speech laws to silence Christians.

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Turkey and Israel: Starting Over?

by Burak Bekdil  •  June 28, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Sinirlioglu, a career diplomat, happens to be one of President Erdogan's most senior confidantes -- a smart diplomat with no Islamist sentiments.

  • If the terribly destroyed fences between Ankara and Jerusalem are to be mended, this is a good time to start the work.

The Israeli press last week reported that Israel's Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold (R) held a secret meeting in Rome with Turkey's top career diplomat, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu (L).

For Turkey's Islamist government, breaking up with Israel, a credible regional ally until 2009, was a calculated move. Then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's famous Davos tirade against Israel's then President Shimon Peres was the beginning of Turkey's willing road accident with the Jewish state: a systematic campaign based on anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric and action that would capture votes at home and help Turkey powerfully emerge with its neo-Ottoman ambitions on the Arab Street. It did, leaving no appetite in Ankara for détente -- at least, until June 7, 2015.

When the Turks went to the ballot box on June 7, they did not know that the way they voted would not only deprive the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002, but that it could also forcefully remind the government that it might be about time to revise its nearly bankrupt foreign policy, including relations with Israel.

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Who is Responsible for the Atrocities in the Muslim World?

by Uzay Bulut  •  June 27, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • If colonialism were the main problem, Muslims, too, still are, colonizers -- and not particularly "humanitarian" ones, at that.

  • Islamic jihad and Islamic violence; the sanctioning of sex slavery; dehumanization of women; hatred and persecution of non-Muslims have been commonplace in the Islamic world ever since the inception of the religion. Deny everything and blame "the infidel."

  • But is it America that tells these men to treat their wives or sisters as less than fully human? If we want to criticize the West for what is going on in the Muslim world, we should criticize it for not doing more to stop these atrocities.

  • Trying to whitewash the damage that the Islamic ideology has done to the Muslim world, while putting the blame of Islamic atrocities on the West, will never help Muslims face their own failures and come up with progressive ways to resolve them.

The family of a Nepalese migrant worker, who died in Qatar, prepares to bury him. Nepalese laborers in Qatar are forced to work in dangerous conditions, and die at the rate of one every two days. (Image source: Guardian video screenshot)

Every time the ISIS, Boko Haram, Iran, or any terrorist group in the Muslim world is discussed, many people tend to hold the West responsible for the devastation and murders they commit. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Blaming the failures in the Muslim world on Western nations is simply bigotry and an attempt to shift the blame and to prevent us from understanding the real root cause of the problem.

When these Islamic terrorist groups abduct women to sell them as sex-slaves or "wives;" conduct mass crucifixions and forced conversions; behead innocent people en masse; try to extinguish religious minorities and demolish irreplaceable archeological sites, the idea that this is the fault of the West is ludicrous, offensive and wrong.

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Behind the French "Peace Initiative"

by Bassam Tawil  •  June 26, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • It is a desperate attempt by the French government to buy a few more days of quiet from its Muslim community, especially from the members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist organizations to which it gave birth -- all waiting for the order to run riot through the streets of France.

  • If it succeeds, may Allah prevent it, it will lead to an ISIS and Hamas takeover of every inch of Palestinian soil from which Israel withdraws if coerced by the initiative.

  • It is evidently too frustrating and unrewarding just to sit in the U.N. and not think of some project supposedly to spread beneficence that could make your country look important to the other 190 members -- even if this beneficence is lethal to its recipient.

  • When the Byzantium fell to the Ottoman Empire, the churches, including the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, were turned into mosques; that is the dream of the Islamists today, to turn the Vatican into a mosque.

  • Currently, Qatar is currently investing millions to overthrow the Egyptian regime. It is investing millions to finance incitement among Muslims around the globe by means of its Islamist network and da'wah, the cunning preaching of the Muslim Brotherhood's variety of Islam.

  • The Arabs always secretly believed that anyone who hated their mutual enemies, the Jews, as deeply as the Europeans did, and who actually tried to achieve their total physical destruction during the Second World War, would be their ally and help to expel them from occupied Palestine.

  • Apparently, the commonly-held hatred between the Europeans and the Arabs was not enough to halt the Jews, so now the Arabs pay huge sums to bribe the leaders of Europe to help them get rid of the Jews now.

Now where did that envelope of cash go...?
Joseph "Sepp" Blatter (R), then president of FIFA, is pictured patting his jacket pocket a moment after awarding the hosting of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (L), on December 2, 2010. (Image source: PBS Newshour video screenshot)

The latest missile to split the skies over the Middle East is not a rocket; it is the French "peace" initiative.

No one in the Middle East has the slightest doubt that whatever its objective may be, it will not promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is a desperate attempt by the French government to buy a few more days of quiet from its Muslim community, especially from the members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist organizations to which it gave birth -- all waiting for the order to run riot through the streets of France.

We, the Palestinians, have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the creation of the Islamist terrorist organizations within the Palestinian Authority territory; it is they who keep us from reaching a peace agreement with the Jews.

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Sweden: "A Place to Islamize"
One month of Islam in Sweden: May 2015

by Ingrid Carlqvist  •  June 25, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • "Sweden, to a much larger extent than other countries, allows hate preachers to enter the country and give lectures to spread their message. Sweden should deal with this." — Haras Rafiq, President of the Quilliam Foundation.

  • Every year, about 60,000 Swedish passports are reported stolen or lost. Police estimated last year that about 180,000 Swedish passports are touring the world. There are people who have "lost" up to 20 passports, yet have no problems acquiring new ones. One cannot but wonder why people should be allowed to have three passports issued over a five-year period.

  • Stockholm's politicians want to "include" homecoming jihadis into Sweden's "infidel" society by giving them health care, jobs, welfare benefits and housing.

  • Despite Foreign Minister Margot Wallström's promises, when Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine, assuring everyone that this move would give Sweden more leverage to make demands on the Palestinians, Sweden continues to send money their way with no strings attached.

Swedish Security Service chief Anders Thornberg revealed that the recruitment of Swedish youths to violent Islamism threatens to overwhelm the security service.

On May 2, journalist Per Gudmundson revealed in his blog, where he monitors violent Islamists, that a Swedish-Iraqi named Jasim al Tib was killed in combat against ISIS. The man apparently fought for al-Hashd al-Shaabi (People's Mobilization), an umbrella organization mainly for Shiite militia groups. The group was founded in June 2014 by the Iraqi government. Its forces are said to number about 100,000 men, and its purpose is apparently to fight the Islamic State.

On May 5, Haras Rafiq, president of the Quilliam Foundation, a British think tank that tries to stop young Muslims from becoming radicalized, aimed harsh criticism at the Swedish government's indulgence of Islamists: "Sweden, to a much larger extent than other countries, allows hate preachers to enter the country and give lectures to spread their message. Sweden should deal with this."

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Erdogan's Fake Campaign to Save Morsi

by Burak Bekdil  •  June 25, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • As always, the protests were an Islamist show, rather than a liberal, pro-democracy rally to condemn capital punishment.

  • That is typical Erdogan. He speaks against the "death sentence," while ignoring the number of people executed every year in the homeland of his Saudi friends, never even hinting that Sisi's Saudi friends might help as well.

  • If Erdogan is serious about saving his friend, Morsi, he should first speak to the Saudis instead of constantly blaming the fall of a Muslim Brotherhood leader on the Christian West.

Those were the days...
Egypt's then President Mohamed Morsi (left) poses with Turkey's then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before Morsi was overthrown and jailed in 2013. Erdogan recently said, "For me, Morsi is Egypt's president, not Sisi."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's fierce campaign to help out his ideological next-of-kin, Egypt's former President Mohamed Morsi, is not doing any favor to the Muslim Brotherhood man. Morsi, who was deposed by General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in 2013, was recently sentenced by an Egyptian court to both death and life imprisonment, for separate crimes.

Once again, Erdogan is more motivated by ideological rhetoric -- aimed at boosting his popularity at home and on the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas streets -- than serving a democratic purpose, which, in this case, should be to save Morsi at least from his death sentence.

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Muhammad Cartoons shown on Dutch TV

by Geert Wilders  •  June 25, 2015 at 3:00 am

  • "You can't draw me," says Muhammad.

  • "That's why I draw you," says Bosch Fawstin, the winner of the cartoon contest.

  • That says it all. What is not allowed by Islam and by the violence of terrorists, we will do it anyway. And we call that: Freedom of speech.

Bosch Fawstin's winning entry in the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, held on May 3, 2015. (Image source: Bosch Fawstin)

A few weeks ago, I was in Garland, Texas, at a conference and an exhibition of Muhammad cartoons. Shortly after I had spoken, a terrorist attack took place. Islam and the terrorists do not want us to show these cartoons. But terror and violence may never defeat freedom of speech. That is exactly the reason why we should do what the terrorists want to prevent us from doing.

I asked the Board of the Dutch Parliament if I could show the cartoons in their building. They refused. And yet it is very important that we show them. That is the only way to assure that the terrorists do not defeat freedom of speech. That is why I show them to you today.

"You can't draw me," says Muhammad.

"That's why I draw you," says Bosch Fawstin, the winner of the cartoon contest.

That says it all.

What is not allowed by Islam and by the violence of terrorists, we will do it anyway.

And we call that: Freedom of speech.

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The Scorpion, The Frog and The Pope

by Susan Warner  •  June 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Despite attempts by post World War II popes to reconcile with the Jews, Pope Francis has, perhaps inadvertently, taken the first steps to disassemble any progress toward that goal.

  • The Pope's declaration inspires the already hate-infested Palestinians to commit murder with a symbolic pontifical blessing.

  • It might be premature to assign the term "anti-Semitism" to Pope Francis's current "missteps." However, it does not push the envelope too far to suggest that the Pope's view of the Jews and Israel is a product of a lifetime of Catholic and Replacement Theology bias.

  • At this momentous time, the Pope's repentance would be a welcome acknowledgement of Israel's right to exist.

Pope Francis approaches the separation barrier near Bethlehem, May 25, 2014. (Image source: Al Jazeera video screenshot)

Pope Francis recently declared Palestine to be a state. Thus, he writes a new chapter in the divisive history between Catholics and Jews.

The history of the Catholic Church is a two-thousand year old story of anti-Judaism, conspicuous by frequent massacres, murders, forced conversions, torture, pogroms, expulsions, demonization and other unspeakable acts of violence and offense.

The fable of the Scorpion and the Frog illustrates the notion that certain acts are not merely random chance but are as predictable as a "DNA" profile.

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?"

The scorpion says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

So they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

The scorpion replies: "Because it is my nature; it is what I do...."

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Al Jazeera Reporter Endorses Terrorists

by Rachael Hanna  •  June 24, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Zaidan's comparisons should raise concerns about whom the Obama administration designates as terrorists -- or even chooses as strategic partners: If these groups are not America's enemies, who is?

  • Whatever sympathies he may have for the Al Nusra Front, Zaidan's loyalty to the ethics of his profession and his responsibility to his readers evidently do not outweigh his loyalties to a terrorist organization.

Ahmad Zaidan, Al Jazeera's Islamabad bureau chief, is shown here reporting from Damascus, Syria. (Image source: Al Jazeera video screenshot)

Why is Ahmad Zaidan, Al Jazeera's Islamabad bureau chief, tacitly endorsing a terrorist organization?

In an op-ed for Al Jazeera's English website on June 2, entitled "Nusra Front's quest for a united Syria," Zaidan writes that the Islamist militant rebel group in Syria is distancing itself from Al-Qaeda and "positioning itself as the natural heir of jihadi ideology."

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Establishing a Palestinian Islamist State

by Bassam Tawil  •  June 23, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • The United Nations' verdict of guilty to Israel, in its "Schabas Report," issued yesterday, was written even before the trial began.

  • Only the wide-eyed West still does not believe that Mahmoud Abbas is telling the truth when he assures the Palestinians of his intent to destroy Israel.

  • All public opinion polls in the Palestinian Authority (PA) indicate that if elections were held today, Hamas -- whose only openly-stated reason for existing is to destroy Israel -- would win in a landslide, as in 2006. Gaza has already been lost to Hamas and perhaps soon to ISIS. All evidence reveals that to establish a Palestinian state now would turn it into an Islamist terrorist entity.

  • Abbas thought that forming a Unity Government with Hamas would give the PA a unified front with which to harvest more money and diplomatic concessions from Europe. But last summer, Abbas was informed of a Hamas murder plot against him.

Hamas supporters march during a student council election rally at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, on April 20, 2015. The overwhelming Hamas victory in the student council elections should have been a wake-up call to the U.S. and Europe.

The Middle East is at it again. At the top of the list, no one, it seems, is even thinking of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability -- and by extension at least several other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.

First, It is dangerous enough for any openly expansionist regime, theological or not, to have nuclear weapons; Iran has recently shown itself to be nothing if not expansionist. Second, and, if possible, worse, several of the countries around Iran -- who correctly feel in its crosshairs, have already announced that they will be building or buying nuclear weapons as well; and have probably already started. The Islamic State (ISIS) is also rumored to be on the market for a nuclear warhead; you too can apparently buy one for around $400 million. So we shall all have uncontrolled and uncontrollable nuclear proliferation to look forward to.

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