Friday, May 15, 2015

Palestinians' Anti-Peace Campaign - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Protestors chanted slogans condemning the Palestinians who hold meetings with Israelis as traitors.
  • The "anti-normalization" and Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements are, in fact, anti-Palestinian, anti-Israel and anti-peace campaigns that cause more damage to the people they claim they are trying to help. They have much in common with Hamas and other terror groups working to destroy any chance of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Palestinians need to distance themselves from those who seek to impose their will on them through intimidation and terror. Boycotting Israelis, especially those Israelis who support Palestinians, is not in the Palestinians' interest.
Palestinian activists on May 11 broke up a conference in east Jerusalem where Israelis and Palestinians met to discuss the two-state solution. The activists belong to the "anti-normalization" campaign, which aims to thwart meetings between Israelis and Palestinians.

The conference at the Ambassador Hotel was organized by the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a non-governmental organization (NGO) think tank based in Jerusalem. It has been working towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Entitled, "Is The Two-State Solution Still Relevant?," the conference was supposed to include a discussion on the issue from the perspectives of the Palestinian side and the Israeli Left.

Organizers said the event was made possible by the support of the Government of the Netherlands.

The Israeli side was represented by Dr. Alon Liel, former Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to South Africa. The identity of the Palestinian representative was not announced before the discussion, apparently to avoid pressure from the "anti-normalization" activists.

Liel is an outspoken critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Two years ago, he told The Times of Israel that he supports cultural boycotts of Israel, and that he himself started boycotting goods produced in the settlements to protest the lack of progress in the peace negotiations.

But all this did not stop the "anti-normalization" activists from disrupting his speech and forcing him to abandon the podium at the Ambassador Hotel.

Shortly after the discussion began, scores of Palestinian activists, many of whom are affiliated with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, stormed the conference room and chanted slogans denouncing "normalization with Israel."

The protesters also chanted slogans condemning the Palestinians who hold meetings with Israelis as traitors. In addition, they chanted, "Jerusalem is Arab!" and "Palestine is free!"

One of the protesters announced that he and his friends came to express their opposition to "normalization meetings" between Israelis and Palestinians. Another protester explained: "This is not the first time that such meetings take place in Jerusalem and the West Bank. This phenomenon has to stop."

That some of the activists are affiliated with Fatah did not stop them from condemning the PA leadership for maintaining security coordination with Israel in the West Bank.

Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist and is opposed to any meetings with the "Zionist entity," was quick to praise the activists who broke up the meeting in east Jerusalem.

"The foiling of the normalization conference in occupied Jerusalem is a sign of the great awareness of the Palestinian youths and the determination of our people to deal with the occupation as an enemy that should be fought against and not accepted," commented Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran. "We salute the free youths who carried out this national act."

Hamas's response shows that the activists who stormed the conference hall are actually serving the interests of the Islamist movement, which feels emboldened by such attacks. By failing to condemn the attack against Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, the PA and Fatah leadership are also promoting Hamas's agenda and ideology.

This was not the first time that "anti-normalization" activists targeted Israelis and Palestinians who try to get together to talk peace. In recent years, the activists disrupted and broke up a number of meetings in east Jerusalem and the West Bank on the pretext that they were designed to promote normalization with Israel.

Last year, another Israeli-Palestinian conference held in the same hotel was called off after anti-Israel activists stormed the hall and started shouting, forcing participants to flee.

Palestinian "anti-normalization" activists disrupt an unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace conference last year, in Jerusalem's Ambassador Hotel.

A few weeks later, "anti-normalization" activists attacked two events in Ramallah. The first was a performance by an Indian dance troupe. The protesters accused the Indian Classical Dance Performance, Kathak, of appearing before members of the Indian community in Tel Aviv, arguing that this was a form of normalization with Israel. PA security forces used force to disperse and arrest some of the activists.

The activists were arrested because they had embarrassed the PA, which hosted the Indian dancers, not because of the "anti-normalization" campaign.

Another event targeted by the "anti-normalization" activists took place at City Inn Hotel in Ramallah, where Israelis and Palestinians met under the banner "People Make Peace." The event was organized by the organization Minds of Peace, founded in 2009 by an Israeli peace activist, Sapir Handelman. The Israeli participants were rushed to Palestinian police vehicles that drove them to the nearest Israel Defense Forces checkpoint.

The Palestinian "anti-normalization" campaign is part of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is especially active in the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, South Africa and other Western countries. Its first objective is to intimidate and threaten Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and who believe in the two-state solution. Its second objective is to delegitimize and isolate Israel in the international community. In this regard, both groups have much in common with Hamas and other terror groups that are working to destroy any chance of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinians need to distance themselves from those who seek to impose their will on them through intimidation and terror. Boycotting Israelis, especially those who support the Palestinians, is not a Palestinian interest. The "anti-normalization" and BDS movements are, in fact, anti-Palestinian, anti-Israel and anti-peace campaigns that only cause more damage and suffering to the people they claim they are trying to help.

Khaled Abu Toameh  - Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter


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Czechs stopped potential nuclear tech purchase by Iran - Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

Earlier this year, Czech Republic thwarted attempted Iranian purchase of large shipment of sensitive technology usable for nuclear enrichment after false documents raised suspicions • Incident adds to Western concerns about whether Iran can be trusted.

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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Meet the Italian Imam With a Plan to Defeat Anti-Semitism - Ari Soffer

by Ari Soffer

Influential Imam says western governments making a fatal mistake in embracing groups like the Muslim Brotherhood to combat ISIS.

Imam Yahya Pallavicini
Imam Yahya Pallavicini
Ari Soffer
Among the hundreds of participants at the 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Imam Yahya Pallavicini cut an unlikely figure.

A scholarly and softly-spoken individual, Pallavicini is an influential leader in the Italian Muslim community. Apart from heading the Al-Wahid Mosque in Milan, he is Vice President of the Islamic Religious Community of Italy (known by its Italian acronym, COREIS), and serves as an adviser on Islamic Affairs to the Italian interior ministry.

Pallavicini is also a longtime counter-extremism activist, who has been battling the rise of Islamism within his own and the wider European Muslim community for many years. Given the prime role played by Muslim extremism in the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, his participation in the Forum provided an important perspective on how moderate Muslim scholars can be mobilized to undercut the narrative of "political Islam" that is fueling the hate.

It is a mark of recognition of his work that Pallavicini was invited personally by the foreign ministry to take part in the biennial conference.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, he explained how in his view the rise of Islamism is being aided by the "narrow-mindedness" of many western leaders, who have naively sought to empower "soft" Islamist groups - such as the Muslim Brotherhood - in an attempt to weaken the draw of jihadist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

It's an approach which has long been criticized by counter-extremist groups throughout the west, who challenge that since 9/11 western governments have actually strengthened the hold of extremists over Muslim communities by assuming that if it's not Al Qaeda (or ISIS), it's "moderate." In fact, in doing so they have simply helped construct an efficient conveyor belt to terrorism, giving legitimacy and even funding to nonviolent extremist groups to brainwash a new generation of European Muslims, an increasing number of whom then move on to commit acts of terrorism and other forms of violence, including anti-Semitism.

That poses a threat not only to European Jews, but to European civilization as a whole, Pallavicini warned.

"The purpose of being here is to strengthen our cooperation, because we are both challenged by this threat," he explained. "There is no excuse for any kind of narrative that is just an alibi for violent extremism."

"If anti-Semitism increases this is something which threatens to destroy the basis of civilization and religion at every level."

But his opposition to anti-Semitism also comes from a recognition and appreciation of the theological and historical contribution played by Jews to both Muslim and European thought and civilization.

"As a Muslim theologian I believe that Judaism and the history and theology and doctrine of the Jews is part of my roots, part of my European citizenship, is part of my spiritual beliefs," he said.

Pallavicini called on European leaders to recognize the threat before it's too late.

"Radical Islam - or political Islam - is increasing prejudice and discrimination against Jews. But there is also a narrow-minded misinterpretation of European politicians where, in order to face the threat of ISIS for example, they legitimate the discourse of other radical groups," he said.

"They say: let's give legitimacy to the Muslim Brotherhood, or other political Islamic ideologies - which is wrong."

He urged politicians to "avoid any kind of apologism" towards Islamism in any form, insisting that emboldening such an aggressive and anti-western movement "goes against the basics of civilization and dialogue."

But he also said moderate Muslims need to do more to make their voices heard.

"On the other side, moderate Islam has a problem - it is too 'moderate'!" Pallavicini lamented. "They are not outspoken enough to defend against and prevent Islamism."

One of the main reasons for this is not necessarily a lack of will (many more moderate Muslims equally fear and resent the dominance of extremists within their communities), but to a large degree stems from "a lack of skills" to effectively compete with the well-organized and well-funded Islamist movements. 

To combat that problem, Pallavicini says young, educated Muslim leaders must step up to the plate to challenge the often unqualified but persuasive Islamist ideologues.

"We need authentic Muslim leaders, who know the roots of their own doctrine but also know how to implement that doctrine. Theologians with practical skills to engage with Jews and Christians to create a counter-narrative," he said.

It's a quest which takes up much of his time in Italy, where in his role as imam of Al-Wahid Mosque he is involved in training new Italian clerics.

"We need to train a new generation of leaders, preachers, believers from Muslim backgrounds and try to develop a consciousness of, as well as the skills to implement, an effective counter-narrative," he stated. 

Furthermore, he said a "network" of moderate Muslims was required to challenge the vast network of Islamist groups which currently exist throughout Europe.

He also called on Jews and Christians, as well as Muslims, to move away from purely abstract "interfaith dialogue," and focus as much or more so on practical strategies to combat extremism, including "creative programs which help prevent students being brainwashed by ideological extremism."

Interfaith activities are often utilized by Islamist groups to get the best of both worlds: engaging in benign, meaningless talks with other faith groups in exchange for government funds and legitimacy in the name of "interfaith activities," while simultaneously continuing to peddle their messages of hate within their own communities.

In that regard, non-Muslim community leaders have a responsibility as well to insist on only sharing platforms with true moderates, he cautioned.

"The only way to engage in positive and wise policies is to give and share platforms with authentic religious leaders, and not those who are using religion for their own personal or political legitimacy."

Ari Soffer


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Israel-Hating Biology Prof. to Teach Course on Zionism - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

Smith [the proposed instructor], who labels Zionism as “beyond redeemable” and “intrinsically irredeemable from the start,” subscribes to every single modern day calumny against the Jewish State.

university of missouriImagine for a moment that a university decides to offer a new course called “Perspectives on the American Civil Rights Movement.” Imagine further that the professor slated to teach the course lacks any degree applicable to the subject, never visited any of the historical sites associated with the subject and never published anything noteworthy on the subject that would indicate a particular expertise. Instead, the professor maintains a degree in biology and his writings on the course subject matter are limited to interactive “talkback” commentary and a few op-eds in fringe or obscure online blogs. Imagine further that this professor is highly critical and even hateful of the civil rights movement and his opinions on the subject reflect a visceral animosity toward anything or anyone who attempted to advance the cause of civil rights in America. Now substitute the word “Zionism” for “American Civil Rights Movement” and this ridiculous and unimaginable charade instantly turns into an ugly reality at the University of Missouri.

In the fall of 2015, students at the University of Missouri will be offered a one credit “honors tutorial” called “Perspectives on Zionism.” George P. Smith – more on this character later – is slated to be the course lecturer. According to its description, the course will be limited to “the history of Zionism from the turn of the 20th century to the present day.” Of course, a true understanding of Zionism – the Jewish expression of the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel – and its roots requires an examination of the millennia-old Jewish cultural, spiritual, historical, religious and geographical nexus to the Land of Israel. Smith on the other hand, would have his students believe that the Zionist movement emerged from a vacuum and is merely a modern-day phenomenon that resulted in the displacement of the area’s “true indigenous inhabitants.”

Smith oddly describes himself as a “Jew-in-law,” because as he puts it, “my wife is Jewish, our kids are both bar-mitzvahed (sic), and we’re active in the congregation though not religious.” He’s also been known to describe himself as a “Nakba Jew-in-law,” borrowing the phrase that Arabs routinely employ to describe the “catastrophe” that befell the “Palestinian” Arabs following Israel’s rebirth and military victory in 1948.

Smith, who labels Zionism as “beyond redeemable” and “intrinsically irredeemable from the start,” subscribes to every single modern day calumny against the Jewish State. He is a supporter of the anti-Semitic “Boycott Divestment Sanctions” (BDS) movement. He has on multiple occasions referred to Israel as an “Apartheid state” despite the fact that Israel, unlike any other nation in the Mideast, maintains an electoral system that grants all of its citizens, irrespective of gender or ethnicity, the right to vote.

Smith is perhaps also ignorant of the fact that one of Israel’s past presidents (on an acting basis) was a Druze Arab. Moreover, it was an Israeli Arab who, while sitting on a 3-member judicial panel on Israel’s highest court, found Israel’s disgraced president, Moshe Katzav, guilty of misconduct. It would have been unthinkable for black judge to have been appointed to the top judicial court in Apartheid-era South Africa, let alone one with the power to sentence South Africa’s president to a lengthy prison term. But a hate-driven, myopic partisan like Smith will not allow facts to alter his skewed narrative.

At a recent event featuring an IDF soldier and his personal accounts and observations, Smith, sitting in the front row, repeatedly interrupted the speaker hurling groundless accusations. He accused Israel of committing “ethnic cleansing” and of provoking last summer’s Gaza war using the kidnapping-murder of three Israeli teens as the necessary pretext. Absent from Smith’s account are the rockets and terror tunnels employed by Hamas to inflict mass civilian casualties. Smith routinely employs narratives that omit relevant facts necessary for context and proper understanding of the conflict and that by itself renders him dishonest and unsuitable to lecture on the subject of Zionism or related fields.

If Smith had a shred of honesty in him, he would rename the course, “Perspective on Zionism,” in singular tense because he is clearly uninterested in allowing the expression of any narrative favorable to Zionism to filter into the classroom. His repeated attacks against Israel – where he subjects Israel to double standards, demonizes the Jewish State and denies the fundamental right of Israel to exist as a sovereign Jewish nation – places him squarely within the parameters of Natan Sharansky’s 3-D paradigm for determining anti-Semitism. Smith’s self-proclaimed title of “Jew-in-law,” which he utilizes as a fig leaf to spew the vilest anti-Semitic canards, fails to insulate him from this disparaging reality.

It is no secret that anti-Semitism on college campuses, spearheaded by the student hate group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) continues to surge. More disconcerting however, is the emergence of an unholy alliance between college officials and the SJP. The instant case involving Smith’s hate course at the University of Missouri represents but one example of many.

At Brooklyn College, the political science department co-sponsored an event with the SJP that featured BDS activist and notorious anti-Semite, Omar Barghouti. Four Jewish students were tossed from the event under the false pretense of causing a disruption. The forcible removal of the students occurred in full view of senior college officials including Milga Morales, Vice President for Student Affairs. A Daily News reporter who was wearing a Yarmulke was also removed from the event. A subsequent investigation by outside counsel concluded that the Jewish students had not caused any disruption and were removed without just cause.

At Northeastern University, economics professor Shahid Alam told his students to be proud of being called “anti-Semites.” He then spoke approvingly of how the student body has turned against Israel over the years and that those students who are still supportive of Israel are afraid to speak their minds. Like all good fascists, Alam is supportive of free speech when that speech is consistent with his hateful narrative but gives the nod of approval to intimidation tactics when confronted with challenge.

At San Francisco State University, Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, an Associate Professor of “Ethnic Studies/Race and Resistance Studies” used university and taxpayer funds to finance an overseas trip to meet with terrorists and leaders of xenophobic Muslim supremacist groups. In addition, there was strong evidence suggesting that Abdulhadi misled university officials regarding the purpose of her excursion but there were no ramifications for her malfeasance. In essence, SFSU’s silence was a form of acquiescence to her collaborative efforts with known terrorists and incongruous use of taxpayer funds.

At UC Riverside, a course is being offered on “Israeli Apartheid.” The course will be taught by student leader of SJP. The course syllabus includes material that rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Protests by students and leading Jewish groups that the course is anti-Semitic and violates the school’s own prohibition against political indoctrination in the classroom have made no impact on administration officials, who insist that the course meets requisite academic standards.

And at Connecticut College, a distinguished professor of philosophy, Andrew Pessin, became the victim of an intellectual pogrom after Lamiya Khandaker, a former student and SJP leader initiated a hate campaign based on spurious allegations involving the convoluted misreading of a single 7-month old Facebook post. Without analyzing the facts and acting with extreme haste that bordered on gross negligence, administrated officials and faculty sided with khandaker thus further tarnishing Professor Pessin’s good name and scheduled events featuring virulently anti-Israel films and speakers that included terrorist supporters. Khandaker, who chairs the college’s Diversity & Equity panel, later came under scrutiny herself when it was revealed that she posted offensive comments with anti-Semitic overtones on Facebook.

The University of Missouri’s collaboration with an academic, who openly seeks Israel’s destruction and wishes to politically indoctrinate his students with poison, represents the latest outrage. I wrote to MU Chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, seeking clarification on the course, its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel overtones and Smith’s qualifications for teaching such a subject given his abject lack of academic credentials in Mideast studies or related fields. I have yet to receive a response and doubt one will ever be forthcoming.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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Bankruptcy Court Rulings Uncover Historic Government Securities Fraud - Michael Bargo, Jr.

by Michael Bargo, Jr.

As public spending increased and public sector pension debt mushroomed, these and other city governments were unable to keep up with public pension plan expenses.  One fix they attempted was to borrow money from investors by issuing municipal bonds.  But these bonds only created more debt.

Since 2009 Barack Obama and his Party have created eight trillion dollars of public debt.  What most Americans and investors are not aware of is that another eight trillion of government debt was created over the past forty years, mostly by Democrats. This is the accumulated unfunded public pension and municipal bond debt.  And unlike the national debt, which is easily found and exists on government books, this second amount of debt is not widely known.  What is more unsettling is how this debt was created and how it impacts all Americans. 

Its origin has been revealed through the bankruptcy court hearings of Stockton, California; Detroit, Michigan; and the financial situation of Chicago, IL. 

As public spending increased and public sector pension debt mushroomed, these and other city governments were unable to keep up with public pension plan expenses.  One fix they attempted was to borrow money from investors by issuing municipal bonds.  But these bonds only created more debt.

Say a muni bond is purchased for ten thousand dollars.  The buyer of the bond usually receives an interest payment from the issuer twice a year.  If the bond is a ten-year bond, then after ten years the buyer gets paid back the entire ten thousand dollar price at termination.   The interest payments made twenty times during those ten years are the interest income.

But Chicago, Stockton and Detroit came to the point where they could no longer afford to make those biannual bond and termination payments. To get through this financial squeeze cities began using financial engineering to remake debt, also issuing muni bonds and other instruments.

As larger cities filed for bankruptcy, the Securities and Exchange Commission set out to review how muni bonds are regulated.  Their 2012 report1 is not only very unsettling but proves government-sponsored securities fraud.

Here’s how the SEC set up this national securities fraud scheme.  Ordinarily, bond investors need to have valid information from the issuer regarding three topics: 1) revenue flow, 2) financial liabilities, and 3) market value of assets.  It’s important to note while SEC regulations require private sector corporate bond issuers to accurately disclose this information, the SEC intentionally wrote different disclosure regulations regarding muni bonds.

For example, muni bond revenue flow disclosures allowed assumptions of an 8% return on investments, which haven’t been seen in reality in many years.  And future revenue flows are distorted through fuzzy revenue flow reporting methods. The GASB through rule 65 is now recommending changes to how future revenues2 are reported.   The biggest factor was that unfunded pension liabilities which now total over $4.6 trillion3 did not have to be reported. 

In plain terms, muni bond issuers were allowed to cook the books; exaggerate revenue flows, overvalue assets and paper over debt4 through financial engineering.  SEC Commissioner Gallagher stated on May 29, 2014:
“In the private sector the SEC would quickly bring fraud charges against a corporate issuer and its officers for playing such numbers games. And, we would also pursue and punish the so-called fiduciaries who recklessly seek yield to meet unrealistic accounting expectations.”
Commissioner Gallagher did not explain why the SEC treated the public sector differently. 

While there does not seem to be a data set that lists the most fraudulent muni bonds, it is true to say they were all issued under the same regulations, and all the cities so far filing for bankruptcy have issued muni bonds under these regulations. 

Recent SEC efforts to change these practices have met with pushback and been called “controversial.”

So muni bond buyers, 72% of whom are retail (individuals), did not, and still do not, know what they are getting into.

Even though muni bonds were sold through fraud, both bankruptcy court Federal Judges, Judge Klein in Stockton, CA and Judge Rhodes in Detroit, ruled that some muni bond investors would lose up to 90% of their original investments.  Instead of getting 100% of their original investment back at termination, the muni bondholders are only getting 10% back.  The public sector pensions were given preference and allowed to keep virtually all of their benefits.5

If an American investor heard of a nation that was issuing muni bonds with shady disclosure rules and stole 90% of investors’ principal they would think the nation was some Third World banana republic.  But these are U.S. cities under Democrats. 

Since 2003, Illinois has allowed a number of financial engineering tactics to be practiced with these muni bonds.  Chicago’s use of these tactics such as interest rate swaps are only now being revealed through forensic financial analyses as written by Culpepper.

These financial shenanigans have one thing in common with the 2008 mortgage meltdown: they were brought about because government regulators didn’t follow private sector rules.  And while the 2008 meltdown revealed how the federal government changed the mortgage rules, the muni bond fraud reveals that the SEC always had a different set of rules for muni bond issuers.

Remarkably, the SEC still has not significantly changed the rules.  The Dodd-Frank Bill still did not correct the liability disclosure issue, and only recommended that a “commission” possibly look at the topic.

U.S. unfunded pension plan and muni bond debt now totals over $8.3 trillion dollars. This is equal to the entire U.S. national debt in 2006.  This includes one million muni bonds valued at $3.76 trillion and $4.6 trillion of unfunded public pension debt.  This is larger than the $5.25 trillion of subprime home purchase and refinance originations enabled from by the GSE Act from 1997 to 2007 which lead up to the 2008 mortgage meltdown.7  By comparison, the combined GDPs of Germany and Japan, the third and fourth largest economies on earth, totaled $8.6 trillion in 2014. 

The SEC has hired only six people to chase down violators.  These six have gone after New Jersey and San Diego but ignored Chicago, which has the most unfunded pension and bond debt.  Illinois was charged with securities fraud in 2013 but no one was punished.

The reason the unfunded pension fund liabilities should be added to the muni bond debt is that they are financially linked.  Muni bonds enable and support public pension debt because muni bonds are both secured through and paid for by property taxes. Every week Chicago and the state of Illinois add tens of millions more of pension debt which creates a demand for more muni bonds and higher property taxes.  In Chicago property taxes only go to pay for public pensions and bond debt.  They do not go for city services, in spite of what politicians say. 

In fact each household in Chicago now “owes” the city and state $88,000 for their unfunded public pension debts.  In effect the city and state are using every household as collateral to finance their retirement fund borrowing -- without their knowledge or permission.

The Federal government used the SEC to intentionally reject private sector bond regulations in order to institutionalize bureaucratic growth, underwrite patronage job pensions and redistribute debt to future taxpayers. 

  4.    See numerous embedded links
  6. Note 1, Ibid.
  7. pp. 37, 38.

Michael Bargo, Jr.


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Yazidi Artist Ammar Salim Documents ISIS Massacres - MEMRI


In a TV interview, Yazidi artist Ammar Salim talks about his paintings, in which he portrays the tragedies suffered by the Yazidis at the hands of ISIS. Despite death threats, "Ammar stresses that he will continue to paint in order to make the voice of the Yazidis heard and to keep their ordeal on peoples' minds," according to the report, which aired on Sky News Arabia on April 26, 2015. 
Following are excerpts: 

Reporter: "Since ISIS gained control of wide swathes of Iraq, members of the Yazidi minority are among the victims of this organization. Yazidis have been killed, captured, wounded, and forced to become refugees. This is the only thing said about the Yazidis in the international media. Ammar Salim is a Yazidi artist, trying to break this stereotypical view of the Yazidis by means of art.


"Ammar works diligently in his small apartment, which he converted into a studio after fleeing from his home in Bashiqa. Ammar has entered a phase of intensive work, as can be seen by the paintings on the walls of this small room in the city of Duhok, in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. He says that he was inspired by the atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State against the Yazidis."

Ammar Salim: "[My paintings] speak of the annihilation of the Yazidis, of the justice. Perhaps in a little while, I will paint the [Camp] Speicher massacre. Whatever ISIS does, I will oppose them. I document everything I see in my paintings."

Reporter: "Despite all the tragedies that the Yazidis have suffered, Ammar's art is not limited to painting [the troubles] of his own sect. Ammar, who suffers from a lack of financial resources, tries to paint with cheap materials, if he can get his hands on them. That is not the only thing he suffers from. Ammar says that he has received death threats since his paintings have appeared on many social networks.

Ammar Salim: "After one painting, I received threats through Facebook. They sent me a message: 'If you do not burn that painting, we will kill you. We know where to find you.'"

Reporter: "But despite the threats, Ammar stresses that he will continue to paint in order to make the voice of the Yazidis heard, and to keep their ordeal on people's minds."



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Why is Castro's Cuba Suddenly Pro-Gay? - Paul Kengor

by Paul Kengor

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote of the “abolition of the family.” Their destructive attacks on family and the institution of marriage were picked up by subsequent Marxists in the many decades thereafter. Fidel Castro was one of them.

“More than 1,000 gay, lesbian and transgender Cubans marched through Havana on Saturday,” reports Reuters, “proudly displaying their truest selves.”

This once-unthinkable display in Cuba was no less than its eighth annual “March Against Homophobia and Transphobia.” This one took on extra special meaning for 20 couples who “symbolically exchanged” wedding vows, even as same-sex marriage remains illegal in Cuba, but obviously not for long. If this can happen under the dictatorial nose of despots Fidel and Raul Castro, then it’s already permissible.

Gay Cubans erupted into a celebratory parade, banging conga drums and waving rainbow-colored banners. The special day is regularly celebrated just after May Day, the high holy day for the communist state.

One gleeful gay man called the celebration “a dream we never thought would have been possible.” A lesbian participant agreed: “In the interior of the country, you couldn’t even dream about an event like this.” She exchanged vows with her partner, and added: “It’s a unique event and surprising for gays who can show their faces without having to hide from anyone.”

That’s for sure. Castro’s Cuba once hauled off homosexuals to prisons and nuthouses. They were considered mad, dangerous perverts who needed to be isolated or dispatched from the island. Mere decades ago, this kind of event would not have been tolerated. The marchers would have been immediately handcuffed and beaten and carted to the loony bin.

Not anymore. There has been a fundamental transformation in Cuba.

If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be. I’ve followed this for quite some time. I document it in my coming book, Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.

Why is the once-viciously “homophobic” Cuba suddenly embracing the gay agenda?

The ringleader is Mariela Castro, Fidel’s niece and daughter of current President Raul Castro. She serves in Cuba’s non-democratic National Assembly and heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. The communist-state-“trained sexologist” is a gay-rights zealot.

Mariela has been spearheading the gay agenda in Havana for several years, with an intriguing measure of assistance from the United States, specifically the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. She adores President Obama and has lavishly commended his support of gay marriage.

Mariela even claims that her uncle, the great gay-basher, actually favors same-sex marriage, “but he has not made it public.” She contends that he has personally “done some advocacy work” on “sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Really? One could chalk up Mariela’s personal crusade for gay marriage to an addiction to American sitcoms or social media, but what about this remarkable conversion by her uncle? 
Does it make any sense?

Yes, it does. There’s a more sinister factor at work here that explains Fidel’s newfound love for the gay agenda.

We must understand that there has been a two-century-long effort by the far left, from communists like Marx and Engels to early socialists like Charles Fourier, Robert Owen, Albert Brisbane, and many more radical leftists throughout the 20th century, from Frankfurt School cultural Marxists like Herbert Marcuse and Wilhelm Reich to ‘60s radicals like Kate Millett and even Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn and the Weather Underground, to fundamentally transform marriage and family -- with or without gays. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote of the “abolition of the family.” Their destructive attacks on family and the institution of marriage were picked up by subsequent Marxists in the many decades thereafter. Fidel Castro was one of them.

As soon as Castro seized Cuba in 1959, he immediately began undermining the family. The worst blows came from a devastating assault on religion accompanied by a complete liberalization of divorce and abortion laws, which in turn generated an unprecedented explosion in Cuban divorce and abortion rates. In all, the cornerstone of Cuban society that was the family was annihilated. For decades now, Cuba has been plagued by some of the planet’s worst levels of divorce and abortion.

Fidel’s sudden ideological marriage to the current gay agenda should be interpreted within this context; likewise for communists generally. For communists, from Cuba to (here at home) Communist Party USA and its house organ, People’s World, today’s gay agenda has become a matter of faith. They’re unequivocally on board.

In gay marriage, communists have finally found their long-awaited tool, their Trojan horse, to take down marriage and family. Even more delicious to them, gay marriage offers a magnificent opportunity to further excoriate the one enemy they have always hated most: religion. And most stunningly perfect of all, gay marriage is accepted by the mainstream -- by non-communists. Thus, for the first time ever, communists have found a culturally accepted vehicle to attack family and religion. In the past, communists never had public support for any of their insane ideas for undermining family and marriage. Now, at long last, they have one, and they are beside themselves in amazement and joy. The masses are at long last with them.

For a onetime devout atheistic communist like Fidel Castro, gay marriage is a great blessing. For Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist tyrant, faced with a conflict between his penchant for persecuting the family/marriage and for persecuting gay people, the communist war on traditional morality and faith and family easily wins out, thus dictating an embrace of gay marriage. Communists will do whatever they need to destroy the family. Even in Castro’s Cuba, then, gay marriage will work nicely for the larger purpose.

Fidel no doubt relishes the prospect of yet more children raised in yet more Cuban homes lacking a mom or a dad. Gay marriage further perpetuates his longtime goal of the state as mother or father.

Karl Marx had characterized the “abolition of the family” as revolutionary, as “the most radical rupture with traditional relations.” Fidel’s niece, Mariela, gets it. She speaks of this new cause as “revolutionary.” It will smash the “patriarchal family” that old Marxist-feminist forerunners like Kate Millett and Betty Freidan and Alexandra Kollontai had looked to demolish. As Mariela notes, gay marriage for Cuba is “hugely important.”

It certainly is. And Mariela and her tyrant uncle are ecstatic to see that millions of Americans are -- finally -- cheering them on. At long last, they’re on the same side.

Paul Kengor, Ph.D., is the bestselling author of over a dozen books, including The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, the Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century. His next book, forthcoming from WND Books, is Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.


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PA Honors Terrorists Who Lynched Israeli Reservists - Itamar Marcus

by Itamar Marcus

Karake has stated that Palestinians have an unequivocal right to “resistance” and “struggle” – PA euphemisms for violence against Israel. He calls the murderers of Israelis “heroes.”

Reprinted from Palestinian Media Watch

Last week, Palestinian Authority Member of Parliament and Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake visited the families of three of the terrorists who took part in the lynching and murder of two Israeli reservists in 2000. Karake honored these murderers by giving their families “plaques of honor.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 9, 2015]

Karake has stated that Palestinians have an unequivocal right to “resistance” and “struggle” – PA euphemisms for violence against Israel. He calls the murderers of Israelis “heroes.”

On Oct. 12, 2000, a Palestinian mob brutally murdered and mutilated the bodies of two Israeli reservists who had accidentally entered Ramallah. A well-known picture from the gruesome murder showed a Palestinian raising his bloodied hands heroically, showing the crowd his hands covered in the blood of his victims. The bodies of the two Israelis were thrown out of the window, and the mob dragged them through the streets of Ramallah. (Photo credit: Agence France Presse)

Palestinian Media Watch has documented the PA and Fatah’s glorification of terrorists, their policy of rewarding imprisoned murderers with salaries in prison as well as numerous statements by Karake in which he has honored and glorified murderers of Israelis.

The following is an excerpt of the official PA daily’s report on MP Karake and the PLO’s glorification of the terrorists involved in the Ramallah lynch and murders:
“Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs [and PA Parliament Member] Issa Karake…  [visited the] families of prisoners sentenced to life, together with a delegation of the commission… The visit began at the home of prisoner Muhammad Hashem Nawarah, 31 years old, who has been imprisoned since 2001… Karake also visited the family of prisoner Jawad Abu Qara, 42 years old,who has been imprisoned since 2001 and is now in Rimon prison. Abu Kara is married and has four sons, who grew and came of age without him being able to raise them and show them fatherly feelings because of the occupation. The visit ended at the home of the family of prisoner Habes Bayyoud, 42 years old, who has been imprisoned since 2002… Karake awarded plaques of honor to the prisoners’ families.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 9, 2015]
Muhammad Nawarah, Habbes Bayyoud and Jawad Abu Qara – serving prison sentences for participating in the Ramallah lynching on Oct. 12, 2000, in which a Palestinian mob brutally murdered two Israeli reserve soldiers, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami, who had accidentally entered Ramallah. Nawarah is serving one life sentence, Bayyoud is serving two life sentences, and Abu Qara is serving 25 years.

Itamar Marcus


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Where Did the Islamic State Come From? - Elliot Friedland

by Elliot Friedland

Meet the man whose ultraviolent philosophy came to define the Islamic State - the group's founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Screenshot from one of the Islamic State's propaganda movies.
Screenshot from one of the Islamic State's propaganda movies.

Last summer the Islamic State shocked the world with its lighting conquests of swathes of Iraq and Syria.

But the group is much older than that. It has its roots in Al-Qaeda and the global jihadist movement that developed from the 1980s onwards.

What is now the Islamic State began as a group called Jamaat al-Tahwid wa-i-Jihad (JTWJ), founded in 1999 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who first became a jihadi in Afghanistan.

Abu Musab al-ZarqawiAbu Musab al-Zarqawi

He met Osama Bin Laden in 1999 and the two always had a fractious relationship, which sowed the seeds for the later dispute between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Zarqawi was brash, abrasive and from a poor background. Bin Laden on the other hand was rich and did not feel the need to fight on the front lines.

Initially, JTWJ focused on trying to overthrow the monarchy in Jordan, but after the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States, Zarqawi joined the insurgency in Iraq against American forces.

An American M1 Abrams tank in Tal Afar, Iraq, 2005. (Source: Wikicommons)An American M1 Abrams tank in Tal Afar, Iraq, 2005. (Source: Wikicommons)

He became famous for his ferocity and personal brutality as well as for his battlefield successes.  

Zarqawi’s personal hatred for Shiites remains an integral part of Islamic State ideology. He called them "a sect of treachery and betrayal ... the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion"

Zarqawi led his jihadis in many high profile terrorist attacks. Some of the most brutal were an August 2003 attack on the UN compound in Baghdad that killed 22, including UN Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, then considered the most likely successor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Relief workers search through the rubble for survivors in the aftermath of the 2003 attack on the UN Office of Humanitarian Coordinator Building in Baghdad, IraqRelief workers search through the rubble for survivors in the aftermath of the 2003 attack on the UN Office of Humanitarian Coordinator Building in Baghdad, Iraq

In February 2004 the group killed 150 people in simultaneous attacks in Baghdad and the Shiite holy city of Karbala during the holiest day of the Shiite year: the Ashura festival. Zarqawi was also known for his ferocity, in a particular his preference for carrying out beheadings personally.

In September he decapitated hostages Eugene Armstrong (American), Jack Hensley (American) and Kenneth Bigley (British) and broadcast the footage to the world.

The beheading of Eugene ArmstrongThe beheading of Eugene Armstrong 
In 2004 JTWJ formally became an Al-Qaeda affiliate when Zarqawi swore allegiance to Bin Laden

The group then changed its official name to Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers (the Tigris and the Euphrates). Most people called it Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq built up its own network of supporters and fighters during the Iraq insurgency. Although it was technically subordinate to Al-Qaeda central, in practice it did what it wanted.

It was in these early years in Iraq that Zaraqawi developed his ultraviolent brand of jihad that defines the Islamic State.

The founder of the group that became the Islamic State, Zarqawi’s example is followed by the Islamic State today. He is quoted on the first page of every issue of the Islamic State propaganda magazine Dabiq and honored by them with the title Sheikh.

The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify – by Allah’s permission – until it burns the crusader armies in Dābiq

 Zarqawi was killed by a United States airstrike in 2006.
For more information see Clarion Project's Special Report: The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL)

Elliot Friedland


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