Latest Analysis and Commentary

Killing Free Speech in Switzerland

by Judith Bergman  •  June 6, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • ECRI's monitoring of Switzerland, since its first report about the country was published in 1998, is an illustrative example of the organization's persistent efforts -- and considerable success -- over the past two decades in limiting free speech in Europe.

  • Already in its first report on Switzerland, in 1998, ECRI -- despite admitting that "a decrease in manifestations of racism and intolerance has been noted over the last 2-3 years" and that "overt manifestations of [racial prejudices and xenophobia] are rather rare," told the Swiss media to promote specific narratives...

  • "ECRI is concerned that a climate of intolerance or xenophobia towards non-citizens and those who are different from the native Swiss population appears to persist". No substantial documentation was offered as basis for the allegation -- ECRI even criticized in the same report that "little information is systematically collected in Switzerland regarding the extent of racism and discrimination" -- but none seemed to be needed, as ECRI's motivation appeared to be political...

  • Throughout the years, ECRI has stressed the media's central role in promoting specific, politicized agendas.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recently published its sixth monitoring report on Switzerland.

ECRI is the human rights monitoring body of the Council of Europe -- not to be confused with the European Union. The Council of Europe calls itself the "continent's leading human rights organization."

ECRI was founded in 1994 by the heads of state of the Council of Europe with the mandate, among other things, to "review member States' legislation, policies and other measures to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, and their effectiveness".

The organization is composed of "members designated by their governments... on the basis of their in-depth knowledge in the field of combating intolerance". They should have ... expertise in dealing with racism... and intolerance. ECRI's members are nominated in their personal capacity and act as independent members".

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Palestinians in Turkey: What Erdogan Says vs. What Erdogan Does

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  June 5, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • While Erdogan is paying lip service to the Palestinian cause and praising Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by the US, EU, Canada and Australia, Palestinian refugees who fled to Turkey from Syria are complaining of discrimination and mistreatment by the Turkish authorities.

  • According to Palestinian sources, there are about 10,000 Palestinian refugees in Turkey who are suffering from discrimination and living in dire conditions.

  • The suffering of the Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria begins the moment they arrive at the border with Turkey, Thuri Tamim, a Palestinian refugee, told the Palestinian Refugees Portal, an independent website covering news related to Palestinian refugees.

  • If Erdogan really wants to help the Palestinians, he can start by ordering his government to stop arresting and harassing Palestinian refugees. If he really wants to help the Palestinians, he can stop playing host and cash cow to Hamas, a terrorist group that has brought nothing but misery to Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and assured him of Turkey's "solidarity" with the Palestinian cause, pledging to support the Palestinians in "all fields." But instead of welcoming the Palestinians fleeing from the civil war in Syria, Erdogan is humiliating them and trying to throw them into prison. Pictured: Erdogan (right) hosts Abbas in his palace in Ankara on January 12, 2015. (Photo by Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan excels at making statements in support of the Palestinians. His actions, however, suggest quite a different attitude about the plight of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled to Turkey from Syria in the past two years.

For a start, Erdogan does not even recognize these refugees as Palestinian -- although they carry ID cards issued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) as well as other documents defining them as Palestinian.

Erdogan considers these refugees Syrian, not Palestinian, because they arrived from Syria and their temporary travel documents were issued by either the Syrian government or UNRWA.

All the same, recently Erdogan chatted on the phone with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and assured him of Turkey's "solidarity" with the Palestinian cause. Erdogan reportedly told Abbas that Turkey will continue to support the Palestinians in "all fields."

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May 4th Movement and June 4th Movement

by Wei Jingsheng  •  June 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Wei Jingshen, chairman of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

The May 4th Movement in 1919 and the June 4th Movement in 1989 have many similarities and differences. The first similarity is patriotism, both campaigns were under the banner of patriotism. But the patriotism of the May 4th Movement was a patriotism against foreigners, while the patriotism of the June 4th Movement wasn't. In 1919, it was foreigners who bullied China during the May 4th Movement; in contrast, during the June 4th Massacre, people found out that it was the Chinese government that bullied the Chinese people.

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Iran's New Terror Network in Latin America

by Con Coughlin  •  June 4, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • The recent upsurge in Iranian activity in Venezuela certainly needs to be taken seriously by the Trump administration if Tehran is to be prevented from strengthening its terrorist activities on America's southern flank.

  • To date Mr Trump, having last year threatened to launch military action in support of Juan Guaido, the country's charismatic opposition leader, now appears to have backed away from any further entanglement with Caracas, a move that might explain Washington's disinclination to act over Iran's recent oil shipments.

  • But that could change if, as now seems likely, the White House comes to realise that Iran's real intention is to expand its terrorist network in Latin America rather than simply offering economic help to another rogue regime.

The recent upsurge in Iranian activity in Venezuela certainly needs to be taken seriously by the Trump administration if Tehran is to be prevented from strengthening its terrorist activities on America's southern flank. Pictured: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visits Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iran on October 22, 2016. (Image source: Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran)

The arrival in Venezuela this week of the last of five Iranian tankers carrying gasoline to the oil-starved socialist state is not just about Iran seeking to help a fellow nation stricken by the effects of U.S. sanctions.

It is all about strengthening Tehran's long-standing terrorist infrastructure in Latin America so that it can be used to expand Iran's terror operations throughout the globe.

Of particular concern is the possibility that Tehran may be tempted to use groups such as Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group that has been operating in Venezuela for many years, to conduct missions against the U.S. and its allies at Iran's behest.

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India to Lead Efforts to Cure the World Health Organization

by Jagdish N. Singh  •  June 4, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • Fortunately, India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, a physician, is the new chairman of the 34-member World Health Organization Executive Board. He and his colleagues on the board could prevail upon the WHO Director General to take steps aimed at implementing the resolution of the World Health Assembly.

  • One, however, is not sure if and when [WHO Director General] Tedros will pay attention to implementing this resolution. He does not seem enthusiastic about the probe. He would, he said in his opening remarks at the WHA, "initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment."

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the WHA any inquiry should wait until the virus was contained -- an outcome that could, of course, take years, if ever. Xi also pledged $2 billion over two years to the WHO, to control the spread of Covid-19, presumably including control of the WHO along with it.

  • Vardhan and others in the WHO executive board cannot procrastinate. All serious allegations against China and the WHO must be investigated and made transparent to the world without delay.

India is positioned to play a leadership role in seeing to the implementation of the World Health Assembly resolution calling for an independent inquiry into the current pandemic outbreak. Fortunately, India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (pictured) is the new chairman of the 34-member World Health Organization Executive Board. (Photo by Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images)

It is heartening to note the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly (May 18-19, 2020) approved a resolution calling for an independent inquiry into the current pandemic outbreak and the World Health Organization's role in responding to it.

The resolution -- brought forward by the European Union, moved by Australia and supported by more than 116 nations -- including India and Japan -- demands that WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus "identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population..." The resolution also calls for an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation into the WHO-coordinated international health response to the pandemic.

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Why Western Media is Biased Against Israel

by Bassam Tawil  •  June 3, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • Many foreign journalists seem to see the conflict along the lines of "good guys (Palestinians) versus bad guys (Israel)." They wake up every morning and search for any story that reflects badly on Israel. The foreign correspondents then hire Palestinians to assist them in spreading lies about Israel.

  • What is particularly disturbing about the dismissal of Hamad is that the Associated Press knew one of its Palestinian workers was engaged in anti-Israel activities, but failed to stop him. Hamad even ignored repeated warnings from his employers against pursuing political activities.

  • If Hamad had "repeatedly" violated AP policies by engaging in anti-Israel political activities, why was he allowed to continue covering Palestinian affairs even though his anti-Israel sentiments were known to his employers and everyone else?

  • The incident also shows that international news organizations evidently have no problem hiring anti-Israel activists as reporters and cameramen.

  • The AP evidently knew that Hamad was engaged in political activities. It nevertheless chose to turn a blind eye because Hamad was directing his hate only against Israel. As far as the AP is concerned, the moment Hamad spoke out against the brutality and repressive measures of the Palestinian Authority security forces, he crossed a red line. That is when he was informed of the decision to terminate his employment.

  • The problem is, there are many more Palestinian journalists like Hamad working for the international media in the Middle East. These journalists see themselves as soldiers serving the Palestinian cause, and their as duty bashing Israel on a daily basis.

What is particularly disturbing about the dismissal of Eyad Hamad is that the Associated Press knew one of its Palestinian workers was engaged in anti-Israel activities, but failed to stop him. Hamad even ignored repeated warnings from his employers against pursuing political activities. Pictured: Hamad (center) following exposure to tear gas during a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on May 4, 2017, in Bethlehem. (Photo by Musa al Shaer/AFP via Getty Images)

When Palestinian journalist Eyad Hamad criticized Israel, his employers at the Associated Press (AP) summoned him for a hearing, which ended only with a warning.

When Hamad criticized the Palestinian Authority, however, he received a letter from the AP informing him that "your employment has been terminated."

The dismissal of the 63-year-old Hamad from the AP -- an act that enraged Palestinian journalists as well as human rights and media groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- did not surprise those familiar with the way the foreign media has been covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Erdoğan's Libya Campaign: Another Neo-Ottoman Design

by Burak Bekdil  •  June 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • Erdoğan knows that every political adventure outside Turkish borders increases his popularity, especially at a time when economic hardships could prune his approval at home.

  • Further escalation may turn Libya into a second proxy for Turkey's war theater, after Syria. There, Turkish and Russian interests remain deeply conflicting. Turkey wants to overthrow President Assad and to replace his regime with Sunni jihadists; Russia wants Assad in power and is fighting Sunni jihadists.

  • Libya is fast becoming another challenge for a man who loves military challenges -- but tends to lose most of them.

  • A military confrontation between Turkey and Russia in Libya would be too risky a venture even for a ruler who does not want to miss a single opportunity to revive his country's once glorious imperial past -- especially at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently wishes to seal his country's imperial dream of having a permanent presence in the Mediterranean -- in Syria and Libya.

  • For Turkey, the Libya campaign is part of a sectarian (pro-Sunni) war. Erdoğan wants a loyal, Turkey-friendly regime in Libya, one that could be useful for restoring to power in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood, another Islamist Erdoğan ally, like Hamas

  • Russia's Putin also appears keen to have his second permanent military presence in the Mediterranean after Syria.

As hostilities between the two sides in the Libyan civil war escalated recently in favor of Erdoğan's man in Tripoli, Turkey's proxy involvement has become less covert. Pictured: Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord parade a Russian-made Pantsir air defense system in Tripoli on May 20, 2020, after it was knocked out by armed Turkish drones and captured at al-Watiya airbase. (Photo by Mahmud Turkia/AFP via Getty Images)

Ironically, even during the Ottoman era (from early 16th century to 1912) Libya was divided into two parts: one linked to Tripoli in the west and the other linked to Benghazi in the east. Even then, the country largely resembled today's division between an internationally-recognized government in Tripoli and its adversaries in the east.

More than a century after the last Ottoman soldiers left Libya following an Italian invasion in 1911, Turkey's neo-Ottoman leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has apparently long harbored dreams of reviving the Ottoman Empire, at least revived the Libyan war theater with Turkish soldiers fighting a proxy war in the desert.

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EU: Trade with China Trumps Freedom for Hong Kong

by Soeren Kern  •  June 2, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • The British government announced that it was considering granting citizenship to the nearly three million residents of Hong Kong. The move infuriated China, which fears a massive brain drain from Hong Kong that would jeopardize the city's role as a global financial and trading hub.

  • Germany, which takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency on July 1, has announced that it will prioritize relations with China. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is particularly determined to proceed with a major EU-China summit to be held in the German city of Leipzig in September. She is reportedly under intense pressure from German automobile manufacturers, who are concerned about maintaining their access to the Chinese market.

  • "Europe can and should respond more forcefully than it has so far.... [If Germany cancelled] its looming summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Leipzig in September 2020 unless Beijing withdraws its national security legislation.... That would send a strong signal that it will not be business as usual..." — Noah Barkin, a senior fellow in Berlin at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

  • "German Chancellor Merkel does not seem to fully appreciate how continued Communist Party rule endangers peace, security and public health, not just in China, but around the world." — Andreas Fulda, a senior fellow at the University of Nottingham's Asia Research Institute.

  • "The European Union... has the choice. Should we make a pact with an authoritarian regime or should we work to strengthen a community of free, constitutionally governed market economies with liberal societies? It is remarkable that German politics, with its love of moralizing, seems to throw its values out the window when dealing with China.... If current... policy on China continues, this will lead to a gradual decoupling from America and a step-by-step infiltration and subjugation by China. Economic dependence will only be the first step. Political influence will follow. In the end, it is quite simple. What kind of future do we want for Europe? An alliance with an imperfect democracy or with a perfect dictatorship? It should be an easy decision for us to make. It is about more than just money. It is about our freedom..." — Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, Europe's largest publishing company.

The EU has issued a predictably weak and equivocal declaration on China's growing interference in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the British government announced that it was considering granting citizenship to the nearly three million residents of Hong Kong. The move infuriated China, which fears a massive brain drain from Hong Kong that would jeopardize the city's role as a global financial and trading hub. Pictured: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Photo by No 10 Downing Street via Getty Images)

The European Union has issued a predictably weak and equivocal declaration on China's growing interference in Hong Kong. European leaders, apparently fearful of retaliation by Beijing, have signaled that economic interests will take priority over the EU's much-trumpeted founding values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Europe's continued appeasement of China indicates that the EU will be a weak link in efforts by Western democracies to confront the leadership in Beijing.

On May 29, the foreign ministers of EU member states met by video conference to discuss a common European response to China's plans to impose a sweeping law that would ban all activities in Hong Kong that are deemed to endanger China's national security.

Pro-democracy activists and lawmakers say the law, aimed at crushing political dissent, would effectively end the autonomy the city enjoys from Beijing under the "One Country, Two Systems" arrangement.

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Turkey: Where Criticizing Islam Can Land You in Prison

by Uzay Bulut  •  June 2, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • According to the Koran and the recorded sayings (hadith) and biographies (sira) of Islam's founder, "To leave Islam, to insult Muhammad or Allah, to deny the existence of Allah, to be sarcastic about Allah's name, to deny any verse of the Koran" or to commit other acts of blasphemy are all punishable by death.

  • More alarming is that these pressures and bans come not only from governments. Many of the people in the countries mentioned above also appear enthusiastically to support strict or even deadly blasphemy and apostasy laws.

  • According to a 2013 Pew survey, overwhelming percentages of Muslims in many regions -- Southeast Asia (84%), South Asia (78%), the Middle East and North Africa (78%), and Central Asia (62%) -- favor making sharia, or Islamic law, the official law of the land. According to sharia, blasphemy and apostasy are punishable by death.

Critics of Turkey's government and Islam continue being targeted by the country's authorities. (Images source: iStock)

Critics of Turkey's government and Islam continue being targeted by the country's authorities.

On May 17, Turkish photographer Fırat Erez, a former supporter of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party, was arrested in the city of Antalya after saying "Islam is immoral" on his Twitter account.

"This is not hate. It is a decision," he wrote. "Islam is immoral. His Prophet, Allah, his disciples could not protect it. Islam has not overcome the moral barrier. It cannot. You cannot find the truth by bending over five times a day. Plain, clear and painful."

Erez was detained by Antalya police for "insulting religious values" and "provoking hatred or hostility in one section of the public against another section".

Twitter has since suspended Erez's account, and those who visit his Twitter feed today only see the following notification: "Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules".

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China: What We Must Do, What We Must Not Do

by Gordon G. Chang  •  June 1, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • The truth is that the United States is defending more than just its position in the international system. We are defending the international system itself, the system of treaties, conventions, rules, and norms.

  • Unfortunately, Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler, does not believe in that system. He is trying to impose China's imperial‑era notions of the world.

  • In short, Chinese rulers believed that they had the mandate of heaven over tianxia, meaning "all under heaven." Recently, his pronouncements have become unmistakable.

  • In the last few months, Xi Jinping has seen an historic opportunity because the United States has been stricken by the disease that China itself has pushed out... What must we do? First, let us talk about what we must not do. We must not save Chinese communism again. In the past, American presidents, when China has been stressed, had ridden to the rescue of the Chinese state.

  • On May 13 of last year, Beijing declared a "people's war" on the United States. This means the contest with China is existential. There is going to be one survivor. It is either going to be the Peoples' Republic of China or the United States of America, but not both.

  • What should we do? In my call for action, there are eight items. First, we need to cut off trade with China. Now, I know a lot of people think we should not do this, or this would be unfortunate. Yes, this is unfortunate, but the point is that China's communism cannot be reformed, so the only way we can protect American society and Americans is to reduce our exposure to China and our great exposure, of course, is trade... we should not be enriching a hostile state with the proceeds of commerce with the United States.

  • China's Communist Party does not have sovereign immunity.... We have the Global Magnitsky Act.

  • We need to "rip and replace" all the equipment in our telecom backbone that has been supplied by Huawei Technologies... China has been using that company's equipment to spy on others. We should have no Huawei equipment in our backbone

  • Also, we should be turfing out even more Chinese journalists. Those "journalists"... work for China's intelligence services.

  • Unfortunately, China does not believe in comparative advantage, it does not believe in being a responsible member of the international community. Unfortunately, the only thing we can do is what many people think is unthinkable, and that is to cut our ties with China.... We cut our ties until... the Communist Party no longer rules [and] the Chinese people govern themselves.... I believe the Chinese people eventually will get this right.

The truth is that the United States is defending more than just its position in the international system. We are defending the international system itself, the system of treaties, conventions, rules, and norms. Unfortunately, Xi Jinping, the Chinese ruler, does not believe in that system. He is trying to impose China's imperial‑era notions of the world. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

China has attacked America with coronavirus. At this moment, more than 100,000 Americans have been killed. We brace ourselves for the deaths to come.

Today, I'll do two things. First, I'll talk about the nature of that attack. The second thing, what we must do to protect ourselves.

First of all, China is not, as many people will tell you, just a competitor. It is an enemy. China is trying to overthrow the international system, and in that process, it is trying to make you subject to modern-day Chinese emperors.

I know this sounds as if it cannot be true, but we must listen to what Chinese leaders say. When we do that, we realize that to defend the American republic and defend our way of life, we are going to have to decouple from China.

On May 6, President Donald J. Trump said that China's attack was worse than Pearl Harbor, worse than the World Trade Center. "There's never been an attack like this," he said, and he is right.

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White House Iran Policy Is Hitting Tehran's Terror Allies Hard. Now Let Us Try for Harder.

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  June 1, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • Since President Trump was elected, and the US administration took a tougher stance towards the mullahs, Iran's oil exports dropped to approximately 200,000 barrels per day -- a number that represents a decline of more than 90%.

  • Now it is incumbent on other governments -- specifically the European Union -- to join the US in pursuing its (almost) "maximum pressure" policy against the ruling mullahs.

  • The policy may not be really "maximum" -- everyone has carefully been tip-toeing around the words "regime change" -- which, bluntly, would be a boon to (almost) everyone -- but at least until then, sanctions are helping more than nothing, and definitely more than US pallets of cash.

The Trump administration's (almost) "maximum pressure" policy against the Iranian regime is apparently forcing Tehran to rein in some of its forces in the region as well as cut funding to its allies. Pictured: President Donald Trump addresses the media from the White House on January 8, 2020, following Iranian missile attacks that targeted American soldiers in Iraq the night before. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Thanks to the re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran by the Trump administration, the Iranian regime seems to have suffered a significant loss of revenue.

The Trump administration's (almost) "maximum pressure" policy against the Iranian regime is apparently forcing Tehran to rein in some of its forces in the region as well as cut funding to its allies.

According to the latest report, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has withdrawn some of its forces from Syria, and reduced its financial assistance to Syria's regime.

The US special envoy for Syria policy and the fight against the Islamic State, James Jeffrey, recently pointed out:

"We have seen the Iranians pulling in some of their outlying activities and such in Syria because of, frankly, financial problems... the Trump administration's sanctions policies against Iran [are] having a real effect in Syria."

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"Such Things Should Not Happen": Persecution of Christians, April 2020

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  May 31, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • "What is the crime of these innocent people against Fulani herdsmen?... For how long shall we continue to beg the government and the security agencies to come to the aid of our people?" — Local resident of one of the villages that was ravaged, Morningstar News, April 9, 2020, Nigeria.

  • "The insurgents have so far mainly targeted isolated villages, killing more than 900 people... The unrest has forced hundreds of thousands of locals to flee...." — The Guardian, April 22, 2020, Mozambique.

  • On April 21, Christian convert and human rights activist Mary Mohammadi was sentenced to three months in prison and flogging [10 lashes] — above and beyond what she had already experienced — due to her criticism of the regime's violations against human rights.... During her hearing, the judge harassed her about her conversion to Christianity even though charges against her had nothing to do with religion. — The Christian Post, April 22, 2020, Iran.

  • As occurred during the height of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, "jihadist rebels" continue to confiscate Christian properties in the name of "sharia." — Al Masdar News, April 25, 2020, Syria.

On April 14, Osama El Hannouny, a man with a history of anti-Christian hate crimes, tried to burn down Sacred Heart Church in Palos Hills, Illinois. Surveillance tapes indicate that he knew the church was occupied. Firefighters quickly managed to extinguish the flames. (Image source: Mike F./Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The following are among the abuses Muslims inflicted on Christians throughout the month of April 2020:

The Slaughter of Christians

Nigeria: The first two days of April opened with machete-wielding Muslim Fulani herdsmen murdered at least 13 Christians. "[W]e woke up to bury seven people burnt to death ... from an overnight attack," one source said. Those killed "are mostly elderly Christians who were unable to escape as members of the community ran into surrounding bushes during the attack."

Then, on April 7, Muslim Fulani herdsmen slaughtered a pastor and three members of his congregation, including a 10-year-old boy. The pastor, Matthew Tagwai, who was murdered in his home, is survived by a pregnant wife and two small children.

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China is Sending Mixed Signals

by Amir Taheri  •  May 31, 2020 at 4:00 am

  • [I]t is clear that Beijing is frightened of the contagion of democracy not only from Hong Kong but also from Taiwan, which has shown that a highly prosperous and reasonably democratic "China" need not remain a pipedream.

  • Trouble is that the US does not have a coherent, strategically meaningful, policy towards China.... Imposing largely symbolic sanctions is like parking your car because you don't know where you want to go.

At last week's annual session of China's National People's Congress (pictured), President Xi Jinping reasserted his leadership with Premier Li Kepiang as his sidekick. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Is China frightening or is it frightened?

An examination of decisions made in last week's annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), reveals that she may be both. Or to put it another way, as on occasions in the past decades of Communist rule, China could become frightening because it is frightened.

Billed as a parliament in the Western media, the NPC is a strange beast.

It is certainly meant to approve draft laws submitted by the leadership and, in theory at least, could weigh on policy debates and act as watchdog over the general state of things in the People's Republic.

However, equally certainly, it cannot be regarded as a parliament in the generally accepted sense of the term. Yet, it is not as some Sinpohobes assert, a mere rubber-stamp either. It may be a small aquarium compared to the huge ocean that is China, but it does provide an opportunity to see the fish allowed to swim in it, and to assert the size of each.

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"Victimhood Culture" UK - Except for Victims of Terrorism

by Judith Bergman  •  May 30, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • "There is currently no specially allocated government funding for victims of terror. While they can claim money.... survivors of the Manchester terror attack say that they are forced to wait years for funds to come through..." — Gabriella Swerling, The Telegraph, March 18, 2020.

  • It is paradoxical, to say the least, that in the era of "victimhood culture" -- in which a multitude of identity groups compete for the prize of most victimized -- where even subjectively perceived slights are registered by UK police as "non-criminal incidents" -- victims of terror, who have suffered severe physical and psychological life-disrupting injury as the result of actual manifested hatred, have to fight for their rights.

  • The paradox becomes especially striking when compared to the care taken by British authorities not to offend Muslim communities from where the various suicide bombers have emerged.

  • There appears to be little in the way of a similar level of concern for the trauma, alienation and isolation that terror victims experience after losing their hearing, their sight or the use of their limbs in terrorist attacks motivated by extreme hatred of which they were unfortunate enough to become victims.

The recent conviction of Hashem Abedi, for his role in the May 2017 bombing attack at the Manchester Arena, brought back into focus the plight of the survivors of terrorism and their relatives, as the victims of the Manchester bombing spoke to the press about feeling "abandoned" by British authorities. Pictured: Emergency response vehicles parked at the scene of the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017. (Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

In March, Hashem Abedi, the brother of Salman Abedi, who carried out the suicide bombing attack at the Manchester Arena in May 2017 was convicted for his role in the terrorist attack. Twenty-two men, women and children, aged eight to 51, were killed in the attack; 264 "were physically injured", and 670 have "reported psychological trauma as a result of these events", according to bbc.com.

The conviction brought back into focus the plight of the survivors of terrorism and their relatives, as the victims of the Manchester bombing spoke to the press about feeling "abandoned" by British authorities.

"After the bomb, the government said we would get all the help and support we need, but we've not had anything...When you're a victim of terror, you can't just be signposted to normal services. We need specialised trauma help... like soldiers and police officers," said Martin Hibbert, who was paralyzed in the Manchester Arena bombing.

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Russia's Arctic Empire

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  May 29, 2020 at 5:00 am

  • These Russian claims have not yet been adjudicated by international law courts, the United Nations, or by any bilateral or multilateral treaty.

  • Russia's blanket claims of territorial sovereignty pose a direct challenge to "Law of the Sea" conventions such as the "Freedom of Navigation" (FON) principle, championed by the U.S. and other Free World navies.

  • The aspirations of the five polar nations -- Russia, Denmark, Norway, Canada and the U.S. -- may also have to contend with the ambitions of the People's Republic of China.

  • Perhaps a prudent path for the U.S. and Free World countries to adopt in the Arctic, given Moscow's comprehensive advance and the China-Russia tandem, would be to maintain its nuclear submarine superiority while closely monitoring Russia's own Northern Fleet based in the Arctic base of Murmansk. NATO successfully carried out this mission during the Cold War.

Moscow sent a spectacular message last month to the world's other Arctic powers: Russia is determined to dominate the region. Pictured: Russia's nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika in Saint Petersburg on December 14, 2019. (Photo by Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)

Moscow sent a spectacular message last month to the world's other Arctic powers: Russia is determined to dominate the region. Russian transport aircraft, breaking the record for the highest altitude jump ever, parachuted a group of their Spetsnaz (Special Forces) over the Arctic from a height of almost 33,000 feet (Mt. Everest is 29,000 feet). Russian paratroops then executed a military exercise operation before reassembling at the Nagurskoye base, the northernmost military facility in Russia.

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