Saturday, February 2, 2019

World-Wide Threat Assessment Makes Powerful Case For Border Security - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

Senate hears from leaders of the intelligence community.

Timing is everything. Congress is currently in the midst of debating the construction of a "border wall" or “border barrier” to protect the dangerous U.S./Mexican border as the clock ticks down to another possible partial shutdown of our government if an agreement cannot be reached.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 the Senate Intelligence Committee conducted a hearing on Worldwide Threats that was predicated on a just-released paper, "World-Wide Threat Assessment," that was issued by Daniel Coats, the Director of the Office of National Intelligence, which oversees the U.S. intelligence community.

As we will see, elements of that report addressed issues that have a clear nexus to border security and immigration law enforcement.

However, the leaders of the Democratic Party have thus far made it clear that they will oppose any and all efforts to construct a barrier to block the uninspected entry of aliens and cargo into the United States while simultaneously claiming that they don't oppose border security -- even as some Democrats call for disbanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

While the Democratic Party leaders claim that a wall or barrier on the southern border is a waste of money and find all sorts of other absurd excuses to oppose it, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outrageously and infamously claiming that any such structure would be “immoral,” the leaders of the U.S. Border Patrol as well as the leaders of the Border Patrol Council, the union that represents our valiant Border Patrol agents, have publicly and repeatedly stated that a wall or barrier is essential to help them to secure our nation’s borders.

Clearly the Democrats have no interest in actually securing our borders or in the enforcement of our immigration laws.

Now we come to that hearing conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the report that served as the predication for that hearing.

Inasmuch as the report contains material furnished by all of the elements of the U.S. Intelligence Community, the leaders of these agencies were witnesses at the hearing.

This is the Witness List:

Director Daniel Coats Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Director Christopher Wray Federal Bureau of Investigation

Director Gina Haspel Central Intelligence Agency

Director General Robert Ashley Defense Intelligence Agency

Director General Paul Nakasone National Security Agency

Director Robert Cardillo National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Several areas of concern about national security vulnerabilities addressed in the report have a clear and unmistakable nexus to immigration, border security and related issues.

Page 4 of the report included this paragraph:
Migration is likely to continue to fuel social and interstate tensions globally, while drugs and transnational organized crime take a toll on US public health and safety. Political turbulence is rising in many regions as governance erodes and states confront growing public health and environmental threats.

Page 10 included the following excerpt:
Sunni Violent Extremists
Global jihadists in dozens of groups and countries threaten local and regional US interests, despite having experienced some significant setbacks in recent years, and some of these groups will remain intent on striking the US homeland. Prominent jihadist ideologues and media platforms continue to call for and justify efforts to attack the US homeland.

Page 18 of the report focuses on Transnational Criminal Organizations and provided vital information about drug trafficking and human trafficking.

Here is an excerpt of the material provided in this chapter of the report:
Global transnational criminal organizations and networks will threaten US interests and allies by trafficking drugs, exerting malign influence in weak states, threatening critical infrastructure, orchestrating human trafficking, and undermining legitimate economic activity.
Drug Trafficking
The foreign drug threat will pose continued risks to US public health and safety and will present a range of threats to US national security interests in the coming year. Violent Mexican traffickers, such as members of the Sinaloa Cartel and New Generation Jalisco Cartel, remain key to the movement of illicit drugs to the United States, including heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and cannabis from Mexico, as well as cocaine from Colombia. Chinese synthetic drug suppliers dominate US-bound movements of so- called designer drugs, including synthetic marijuana, and probably ship the majority of US fentanyl, when adjusted for purity.
Approximately 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, a record high and a 10-percent increase from 2016, although the rate of growth probably slowed in early 2018, based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data.
Increased drug fatalities are largely a consequence of surging production of the synthetic opioid fentanyl; in 2017, more than 28,000 Americans died from synthetic opioids other than methadone, including illicitly manufactured fentanyl. The CDC reports synthetic opioid- related deaths rose 846 percent between 2010 and 2017, while DHS reports that US seizures of the drug increased 313 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Other Organized Crime Activities
Transnational criminal organizations and their affiliates are likely to expand their influence over some weak states, collaborate with US adversaries, and possibly threaten critical infrastructure.
Mexican criminals use bribery, intimidation, and violence to protect their drug trafficking, kidnapping-for-ransom, fuel-theft, gunrunning, extortion, and alien-smuggling enterprises.
Gangs based in Central America, such as MS-13, continue to direct some criminal activities beyond the region, including in the United States.
Transnational organized crime almost certainly will continue to inflict human suffering, deplete natural resources, degrade fragile ecosystems, drive migration, and drain income from the productive—and taxable—economy.
Human trafficking generates an estimated $150 billion annually for illicit actors and governments that engage in forced labor, according to the UN’s International Labor Organization.

This is not the first report or the first hearing to provide clear evidence that the porous U.S./Mexico border creates national security, public safety, and public health vulnerabilities for Americans.

I have written a number of articles about this issue; one of my recent articles took on the bogus claim that technology is better than a wall: "Why Trump’s Wall Is A Must" - And why a “virtual fence” will stop no one.

My May 11, 2018 article, "Congressional Hearing: Iranian Sleeper Cells Threaten U.S.," was predicated on a hearing conducted by the House Homeland Security Committee.

A failure to stop the flow of illegal alien workers also undermines the U.S. economy, and costs American and lawful immigrant workers jobs and suppresses their wages. That fundamental fact was the basis for my commentary, "OPEN BORDERS FACILITATE AMERICA’S RACE TO THE BOTTOM" - “Cheap labor” is anything but cheap.

As I have noted ever so many times in my articles and in my Congressional testimony, simply securing the problematic border against the illegal (uninspected) entry of aliens won’t end the immigration crisis but would close one of the major holes in what I have come to refer to as the Immigration Colander. I have come to conceptualize the wall on the U.S./Mexican border as the equivalent of a wing on an airplane. Without a wing the airplane will not fly, but the wing by itself would go nowhere.

The immigration system has never had a meaningful program to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States. The need to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States is commonsense and was noted as an important issue by the 9/11 Commission. The dirty secret is that our political leaders understand just how important interior enforcement is but have intentionally never provided the resources to enforce those laws from within the interior. Consider that, in the wake of the terror attacks of 9/11 President George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS ) and in so doing, broke the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into multiple components that then blended immigration with other agencies such as Customs.

However, while the leadership of neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have been willing to take the necessary measures to finally save the immigration crisis through effective but fair law enforcement, unhinged members of the Democratic Party are now calling for dismantling ICE altogether. They are calling for immigration anarchy even as yet another hearing, involving the leaders of the U.S. intelligence community, are clear about the nexus between threats confronting America and border security and immigration law enforcement.

Meanwhile cities and states that are controlled by the Democrats have created “Sanctuary Cities” and “Sanctuary States” that shield illegal aliens from detection from ICE including criminals, members of transnational gangs and drug trafficking organizations. These jurisdictions also shield international fugitives and terrorists and, in shielding aliens who were smuggled into the United States, protect the human traffickers who smuggled them here.

If these politicians were really concerned about the plight of trafficked aliens, they could cooperate with ICE and make certain that ICE provides these aliens with visas that are available for aliens who cooperate with investigations into human trafficking and major crimes.

As we have seen with the trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, New York City -- the American city with the largest, best-trained and -equipped police department in the United States -- became the hub for the Mexican Sinaloa Drug Cartel that purportedly moved hundreds of tons of drugs including heroin, cocaine, meth, fentanyl, and marijuana into the U.S. across the Mexican border.

The only rational reason that NYC would have been selected as the hub, given the nature and reputation of the NYPD is the fact that NYC is a “Sanctuary City.” This was the focus of my article, "NEW YORK CITY: HUB FOR THE DEADLY DRUG TRADE" - “Sanctuary” policies attract foreign drug traffickers, fugitives and terrorists.

For far too long America has been bleeding red (blood) and green (money). Truly secure borders wold represent a giant step on the road to resolving the immigration crisis. Failure to secure the border costs innocent lives, each and every day.

Michael Cutler


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The Palestinians: Who Really Cares? - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are willing to raise their voices against the mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of their Arab brothers.

  • Protests by the Palestinians in Lebanon are unlikely to draw any attention from the international community, including so-called pro-Palestinian groups that are active especially on university campuses in the US and Canada, among other places.
  • The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are willing to raise their voices against the mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of their Arab brothers. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are prepared to defend the rights of women and gays living under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those that are prepared to advocate for democracy and free speech for Palestinians living under the repressive regimes of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are prepared to condemn Lebanon for its racist and discriminatory measures against Palestinians, living and dead.
  • Hiding at a university campus and spewing hatred against Israel does not make one "pro-Palestinian." Rather, it makes one just an Israel-hater. Will the "pro-Palestinian" groups listen to the urgent messages coming from the people in Lebanon they claim to represent?

A Palestinian who tries to bring a bag of cement or other construction materials into a refugee camp is subjected to arrest, interrogation, trial by military court and a fine. This inhumane and unjust practice is taking place in Lebanon. (Source of construction image: iStock)

A Palestinian who tries to bring a bag of cement or other construction materials into a refugee camp to build a house is subjected to arrest, interrogation, trial by military court and a fine.

Is this happening in the Gaza Strip? No. Is it happening in the West Bank? No. This inhumane and unjust practice is taking place in an Arab country where more than 500,00 Palestinians live: Lebanon.

Moreover, this ban on the entry of construction material is punishing not only the living, but also the dead. Palestinians say that because of the prohibition, they cannot even find enough stones and cement to build graves.

The wretched condition of the Palestinians living in Lebanon is often ignored by both the international community and the Western main stream media. The only Palestinians the international community seems to care about are those residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- those whose grievances can be blamed on Israel.

Most of the Palestinians in Lebanon live in 12 refugee camps, where they suffer from poverty, overcrowding and violence, as well as Lebanon's discriminatory and apartheid laws and measures that deny them basic rights.

The Lebanese authorities claim that the ban on the entry of building materials into the camps is designed to guarantee the Palestinians' "right of return" to their former villages and towns inside Israel. The Lebanese authorities tell the Palestinians, "We do not want you to build new homes in our country: that would compromise your [purported] right of return!"

The Lebanese authorities know full well that Israel will never allow hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to move to Israel as part of a "right of return." For Israel, that would mean that Jews would become a minority in their own country, and that there would then be three Palestinian states: Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.

This minor detail, however, has not stopped Lebanon and other Arab countries that play host to Palestinian refugees and their descendants from continuing to lie to them and feeding them false hopes that one day they will go back to the homes of their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers in Israel.

The prohibition of construction material for Palestinians in Lebanon is only one example of the discrimination they have been facing in this Arab country for the past few decades.

Palestinians in Lebanon are also banned by law from working in selected professions, including medicine, engineering, nursing, accounting, pharmaceuticals and teaching. In Lebanon, Palestinians are considered foreigners and are consequently barred from owning, selling or bequeathing property.

Housing renovations inside Palestinian camps require prior permission from the Lebanese security authorities due to concerns that the material may be used for military purposes. If the permit is granted, the army usually imposes tight measures, such as counting the number of cement bags or checking the quantity of stones that the Palestinian wishes to bring into the camp.

A Palestinian who is caught smuggling construction material into a camp is arrested, interrogated and faces a fine of 100,000 Lebanese pounds ($66).

According to a recent report in the Palestinian Information Center, the ban on the entry of construction material has been in effect for the past 22 years. "This is an inhumane measure," the report said. In 2004, according to the report, the ban was temporarily lifted for a few months before it was reinstated and expanded to additional Palestinian communities in Lebanon.

In addition to cement, the Palestinians are also banned from bringing into their camps water pipes, electrical wires, aluminum, doors, tiles, windows and glass slabs and paint.

In the past two years, the Lebanese authorities began building a concrete wall with watch towers around two Palestinian camps: Ain al-Hilweh and Rashidiyeh. The Lebanese authorities have justified building the wall for security reasons and presumably to prevent the expansion of the Palestinian camps. Palestinians refer to these walls, which have turned their compass into closed ghettos, as the "walls of shame."

Jamal Khatib, secretary-general of the Islamic Factions in Ain al-Hilweh, called on the Lebanese authorities to lift the ban. "Some of the houses have collapsed, and injured women and children," he said.

Mohammed al-Shuli, a Palestinian human rights activist, said that the ban on the entry of construction material has become a "nightmare" for all refugees.

Recently, Palestinians in Ain al-Hilweh were forced to remove stones from their houses to build a grave for a deceased resident, Khaled Zaiter. The man's body was held in a morgue for several days before the camp residents managed to take enough stones from their own homes to build a grave for him.

"Burying a dead Palestinian in Ain al-Hilweh camp has become a painful and traumatic experience," said Abdel Raheem Maqdah, a Palestinian community leader in Lebanon.

Protests by the Palestinians in Lebanon are unlikely to draw any attention from the international community, including so-called pro-Palestinian groups that are active especially on university campuses in the US and Canada, among other places.

The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are willing to raise their voices against the mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of their Arab brothers. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are prepared to defend the rights of women and gays living under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those that are prepared to advocate for democracy and free speech for Palestinians living under the repressive regimes of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real "pro-Palestinian" groups are those who are prepared to condemn Lebanon for its racist and discriminatory measures against Palestinians, living and dead.

Hiding at a university campus and spewing hatred against Israel does not make one "pro-Palestinian." Rather, it makes one an Israel-hater. Will the "pro-Palestinian" groups listen to the SOS messages coming from the people they claim to represent in Lebanon? Probably not. In all probability, they will just continue pushing their anti-Israel agenda as Palestinians in Lebanon continue to cut stones from their own homes to build graves for their dear ones.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.


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Unrest in France: No End in Sight - Guy Millière

by Guy Millière

When Macron lowered the taxes of the wealthiest but increased the taxes of these "peripherals" by means of a fuel tax, it was seen as the last straw -- in addition to his arrogant condescension.

  • The third group is extremely large: it is the rest of the population. The upper class treat them as regrettable dead weight and expect nothing from them except silence and submission. Its members often have a hard time making ends meet. They pay taxes but can see that a growing portion is being used to subsidize the very people who drove them out of their suburban homes.
  • For the moment, Macron does not seem to want to recognize that these people even exist.
  • When Macron lowered the taxes of the wealthiest but increased the taxes of these "peripherals" by means of a fuel tax, it was seen as the last straw -- in addition to his arrogant condescension.
  • "Today, most of those who protest do not attack the police. But instead of acting to bring down the violence, the police are receiving orders pushing them to be very violent. I do not blame the police. I blame those who give them orders". — Xavier Lemoine, the mayor of Montfermeil, a city in the Eastern suburbs of Paris where the 2005 riots were extremely destructive,

Police scuffle with a yellow vest protester on December 18, 2018 in Biarritz, France. (Photo by Gari Garaialde/Getty Images)

Saturday, January 26th 2019. "Yellow vests" protests were being organized in the main cities of France. Mobilization was not weakening. Support from the population had decreased slightly but was still huge (60%-70%, according to polls). The main slogan has remained the same since November 17, 2018: "Macron must resign". In December, another slogan was added: "Citizens' initiative referendum".

The government and French President Emmanuel Macron have been doing everything they can to crush the movement. They have tried insults, defamation and have said the demonstrators were both "seditious people" wishing to overthrow the institutions and fascist "brown shirts". On December 31, Macron described them, as "hateful crowds". The presence of some anti-Semites led a government spokesman (incorrectly) to describe the entire movement as "anti-Semitic".

The Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, ordered the police to resort to a degree of violence not seen since the time of the Algerian war (1954-62). During the two last decades in France, other riots have taken place many times. In 2005, for instance, when the whole country was subjected to arson and riots for weeks, the number of wounded rioters remained low. But violence has consequences. In just the last few weeks, 1,700 protesters were wounded, some seriously. Nineteen lost an eye; four lost a hand. Although French police officers do not use lethal weapons, they do use rubber ball launchers and often fire at protesters' faces -- a target prohibited by the current rules of engagement. The French are also the only police force in Europe to use Sting-Ball grenades.

Macron has never treated protesters as people who have legitimate claims, so he has never paid attention to their claims. He only agreed to suspend the additional fuel tax, which was to have been begun in January, and to grant a slight increase in the minimum wage -- all of which he did only after weeks of protests.

Journalists say that Macron thought the movement would fade away after the end-of-year break; that police violence and desperation would induce the demonstrators to resign themselves to their fates, and that the support of the general population would collapse. Nothing of the sort took place.

It is clear that Macron does not want to meet the main demands of the protesters; that he will not resign, and that he refuses to accept a citizens' initiative referendum. He has apparently decided that if he dissolved the national assembly and called for legislative elections to end the crisis -- as President Charles de Gaulle did it to put an end to an uprising in May 1968, as allowed by the French Constitution -- he would suffer a scathing defeat. He can see that an overwhelming majority of the French people reject him, so apparently he has determined to seek a way out:

Macron called for a "great national debate" to address the problems facing the country. It soon became clear, however, that the "great debate" would be unconventional, to say the least.

Macron wrote a letter to all French citizens inviting them to "participate", but saying explicitly that the "debate" would not change anything, that the government would continue in exactly the same direction ("I have not forgotten that I was elected on a project, on major orientations to which I remain faithful."), and that everything that was done by the government since June 2017 would remain unchanged ("We will not go back on the measures we have taken").

He then entrusted organizing the "debate" and drafting its conclusions to two members of the government, and requested that "registers of grievances" be made available to the public in all town halls.

Macron then launched the "debate" by meeting mayors of many cities, but not in public. He seems to have been concerned that if he organized meetings open to the public, he would be immediately chased away by crowds.

The first two meetings took place in small cities (with 2000-3000 inhabitants), and with mayors whom the organizers -- chosen by Macron -- allowed to come. The organizers also selected the questions to be asked, then sent them to Macron to be answered at the meeting.

The day before each meeting, the selected city was placed under the administration of legions of police. All access roads to the city were closed, and anyone found wearing a yellow vest or carrying one in his car was fined. All protests in the city were flatly forbidden. The police made sure that the road used by Macron's convoy to reach the city was empty of any human presence for several hours before the convoy arrived.

Television news channels were asked to broadcast the entire meetings, which lasted six to seven hours. Only a few journalists, also selected by Macron, had permission to attend.

Several commentators stressed that pretending to "debate" is nonsense, and that entrusting the organization of the "debate" and the drafting of its conclusions to members of the government, and the way the meetings were organized, clearly show that these performances are a sham.

Some commentators pointed out that the term "register of grievances" has not been used since the time of absolute monarchy, that mayors are treated as waxworks and that placing the cities Macron visits in a state of siege is unworthy of a democracy.

A French economist, Nicolas Lecaussin, who grew up in Romania, wrote that these meetings reminded him of those in Romania during communism.

The author Éric Zemmour said that Macron is desperately trying to save his presidency but that the attempt will be useless:
"Macron has lost all legitimacy. His presidency is dead... For three months the country stopped economically; and Emmanuel Macron, to try to save his presidency, inflicts on the country two months of additional economic stagnation, and two more months of demonstrations. When people understand that they have been deceived, anger could increase... France is already a country in very bad shape."
The French economy is, in fact, sclerotic. The Index of Economic Freedom created by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal ranks it 71st in the world (35th among the 44 countries in the Europe region) and notes that "the government spending accounts for more than half of total domestic output". The Index also reveals that "the budget has been chronically in deficit"; that "corruption remains a problem and that "the labor market is burdened with rigid regulations" leading to a high level of unemployment.

France has lost almost all its factories (industrial jobs account for only 9.6% of total employment). Its agriculture is in ruins, despite huge European subsidies: 30% percent of French farmers earn less than 350 euros ($400) a month and dozens commit suicide each year. In the high-tech sector, France is essentially absent.

A brain drain has started that show no signs it will stop.

In parallel, each year, 200,000 immigrants from Africa or the Arab world, often without skills, arrive. Most are Muslim and have been contributing to the Islamization of France.

When a talk show host recently asked Zemmour why Macron is not placing the country's interest higher by taking the reality on the ground into account, the author replied:
"Macron is a technocrat. He thinks he is always right. He was programmed to do what he does. For him, France and the French people do not count. He is at the service of technocracy. He will do exactly what is wanted by the technocracy and a higher class, [who are] totally disconnected from the bulk of the country's population... Those who want to understand have to read Christophe Guilluy."
Guilluy, a geographer, published two books: La France périphérique ("Peripheral France") in 2014, and, just weeks before the outbreak of the uprising, No society. La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale ("No Society. The End of the Western Middle Class"). In them, he explains that French population today is divided into three groups. The first group is a ruling upper class, totally integrated into globalization, made up of technocrats, politicians, senior civil servants, executives working for multinational companies, and journalists working for the mainstream media. The members of this class live in Paris and the main cities of France.

The second group lives in the suburbs of the main cities and in no-go zones ("Zones Urbaines Sensibles"). It consists mainly of immigrants. The French upper class, who rule, recruit people to serve it directly or indirectly. They are poorly paid, but highly subsidized by the government, and increasingly live according to their own cultures and standards.

The third group is extremely large: it is the rest of the population. It is this group that is called "peripheral France." Its members are made up of low-ranking civil servants, blue collar workers and former blue-collar workers, employees in general, craftsmen, small entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, farmers, and the unemployed.

For the ruling upper class, they are useless. The ruling upper class treat them as regrettable dead weight and expect nothing from them except silence and submission.

Members of "peripheral France" have been driven out of the suburbs by the influx of immigrants and the emergence of no-go zones. These "peripherals", for the most part, live 30 kilometers or more from the big cities. They can see that the upper class dismisses them. They often have a hard time making ends meet. They pay taxes but can see that a growing portion is being used to subsidize the very people who drove them out of their suburban homes. When Macron lowered the taxes of the wealthiest, but increased the taxes of the "peripherals" with a fuel tax, it was seen as the last straw -- in addition to his arrogant condescension.

In a recent interview on the British web magazine Spiked, Guilluy said that the "yellow vests" movement is a desperate awakening of "peripheral France". He predicted that despite Macron's efforts to displace the problem, the awakening will last, and that either Macron "will recognize the existence of these people, or he will have to opt for a soft totalitarianism".

For the moment, Macron does not seem to want to recognize that these people even exist.
According to François Martin, a journalist for the monthly Causeur, Macron has placed himself in a stalemate:
"He must make decisions and he can no longer take any decision without making things much worse... Macron should agree to resign, but will not do it, and would prefer to go to the end, and hit a wall... The next three years will be hell for the yellow vests and for the French".
At the end of the protests in Paris on January 26, thousands of "yellow vests" had planned to gather peacefully on one of the main squares of the city, the Place de la République, for a "debate" and to provide responses to the "debate" organized by Macron. The police were ordered to disperse them brutally; they once again used rubber ball launchers and Sting-Ball grenades to do just that.

One of the leaders of the "yellow vests" movement, Jerome Rodrigues, was shot in the face while filming police officers in a square nearby, the Place de la Bastille. He lost an eye and for several days was hospitalized. Other protestors were wounded.

In the spring of 2016, leftists had organized debates in the same locations and were allowed to remain there for three months with no police intervention.

In an article describing the events of January 26, columnist Ivan Rioufol wrote in Le Figaro: "Repression seems to be the only argument of the caste in power, faced with a large-scale protest that will not weaken".

Why today's events are especially ugly, according to Xavier Lemoine, the mayor of Montfermeil, a city in the Eastern suburbs of Paris where the 2005 riots were notably destructive, is that:
"In 2005, the police were clearly the target of rioters, and they showed restraint in the use of force to bring down the violence. Today, most of those who protest do not attack the police. But instead of acting to bring down the violence, the police are receiving orders pushing them to be very violent. I do not blame the police. I blame those who give them orders".
The next day, Sunday, January 27, a demonstration was organized by Macron's supporters, who called themselves "the red scarves". The demonstration was supposed to show that an impressive number of people were still on Macron's side. Organizers said that ten thousand people came. Videos, however, show that the number seems to have been far lower.

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


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Climate Alarmists Reduced to Recycling Discredited Attacks on Skeptics - Marc Sheppard

by Marc Sheppard

This is not a tactic used by people who are winning an argument.

In their tireless effort to silence rational opposing opinion and force premature action to a climate crisis of their own making, Alarmists are ratchetting the doomsday scenarios up and the “time to act” window down. But high on their list of reasons to doubt the doubters of only the most recent “12 years to save the planet” ultimatum, sits an accusation of deception. An accusation based on a lie spoken by Al Gore nearly 12 years ago – a lie which was debunked almost as quickly as it was spoken.

Last week, Esquire Associate Editor Jack Holmes penned a piece accusing The Republican Party (a.k.a. powerful “fossil-fuel interests”) of warping discussions about “the consensus that climate change is happening, and human activity is causing it.” Keeping with the current “12 years to respond” frenzy [PDF], Holmes offered a number of doom-and-gloom articles and reports, painting a shocking portrait of an Earth “uninhabitable” and “devastated by famine and permanent economic collapse, climate plagues, unbreathable air, and perpetual war,” leading to mankind’s inevitable extinction from a “Sun that cooks us” should we “underestimate the climate crisis” and fail to “dramatically change course” within 12 years. 

And this warmist is not entertaining any dissent:
Anyone who continues to question whether [manmade global warming] is happening should be ostracized from the public debate. They should not be invited on cable news or the Sunday Shows to spread misinformation and outright lies. These voices have been granted legitimacy for far too long.
It would appear that Esquire’s Holmes received the same memo as did NBC’s Chuck Todd several weeks ago. And Holmes drew a similar conclusion:
We must drastically reduce the amount of heat-trapping gasses we put into the atmosphere. Anyone who disputes this is misinformed or getting paid to misinform. [emphasis added]
No, in truth -- anyone who disputes this knows that the jury is still out; that more research is necessary to determine (to name a few) -- whether the warming (and associated climate change) measured since 1950 has been dominated by human causes. And whether the human-caused portion of the warming is dangerous or beneficial. Not to mention whether any proposed policy changes substantially reduce climate change and resulting damage and do more good than harm to mankind. And perhaps of greatest importance – Just how much will the planet warm in the 21st Century? And what about that damned Pause?

Plus, even the Alarmists at NASA recognize that as we’ve moved beyond 400ppm (parts per million) atmospheric CO2, the Earth is Greening. Many reports indicate that more CO2 leads to better plant growth through a direct fertilization effect, increased drought tolerance, and better water-use efficiency. Increased crop yields are reported worldwide in soybeans, wheat, rice and especially corn, which has seen a 7-fold increase since the 1930’s.

Nonetheless, accuses Holmes:
[Fossil-Fuel-Interests] and their allies attack climate scientists as alarmists -- or, in more fevered formulations, evil instruments of the "globalist" class. Their allied think tanks pay individual scientists $10,000-a-pop to dispute the consensus with cherrypicked data and studies that have not been subjected to peer review. [emphasis added]
Sure -- realists most certainly do shine reflections upon both “alarmists” and “globalists,” particularly when these words reflect their methods and their motivations, respectively. However, reading accusations of payoffs, one might presume that the author actually possesses evidence that SOP for those they brand as “deniers” includes enticing disreputable scientists to peddle their integrity. Of course, no such evidence is presented. In fact, the supporting source link is to a 12-year-old article originally appearing in a left wing British newspaper; and deserving mention of its own.

In its February 2, 2007 article, surely intentionally released on the same day as the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) and sensationally entitled “Scientists Offered Cash to Dispute Climate Study,” the Guardian was first to promote the deception that (my emphasis):
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today. Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasize the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Greenpeace’s Ben Stewart was quoted, referring to the AEI as the “Bush administration's intellectual Cosa Nostra,” bringing nothing save "a suitcase full of cash" to the table. Not by chance, Greenpeace ran a similar piece the very same day, which called AEI Bush’s “favorite think tank” (in part because Lynn Cheney was 1 of its 85 senior fellows), and its letters invitations to “attack” the UN report.

Responding to these frivolous claims, AEI resident scholars Kenneth P. Green and F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow Steven F. Hayward proved each one of them to be either “false or grossly distorted.” For starters, the AEI does not engage in any form of lobbying. And to imply that the honorarium offered to busy scientists for the time necessary to compile a 7,500-10,000 word analysis of several thousand pages of evolving material is “bribe” (or “bounty”) money is utterly absurd.

Addressing the bumper-sticker-like allegation of being “ExxonMobil-funded,” the two scholars pointed out that the oil company’s donations represented less than 1 percent of AEI’s annual revenue at the time – hardly bought and paid for, as implied. 

Two giants in the realist camp, atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen and physicist S. Fred Singer, to this day are branded by Alarmist-complicit media as “big-oil hacks.” Lindzen, they cry, once charged oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services and Singer has received funding from ExxonMobil. 

In truth, Lindzen had actually accepted a total of $10,000 in expenses and expert witness fees from such interests on the day he ceased such activities nearly 3 decades ago. And Singer has received only $20,000 from ExxonMobil over his entire 94 years of life. Meanwhile, climate realists are out-funded by alarmists by several orders of magnitude, which leads to the artificial expansion of the number of scientists who appear to support alarmist views. Of course, monies paid to either side of the debate have zero impact on the science of whether or not 20th century warming was caused or exacerbated by manmade CO2 emissions. And don’t get me started on carbon-millionaire Al Gore.

Keep in mind that it was last week that Holmes linked to the Guardian hit-piece, knowing that it refers to AEI as an “ExxonMobil-funded thinktank” and likely cognizant that the thinktank - Oil giant link was debunked over a decade ago. This transcends adjective “blunder” and enters the realm of bovine dung.

In regards to the accusations of residing either in the pocket of the Bush administration (or, presumably, any other Right-leaning administration) or big oil, then-AEI president Chris DeMuth adroitly eviscerated them, citing the institute’s distinguished history of alternately criticizing and praising both based solely on merit, adding that:
Our latest book on [global warming], Lee Lane’s Strategic Options for Bush Administration Climate Policy [PDF], advocates a carbon tax, which I’m pretty sure ExxonMobil opposes (the book also dares to criticize some of the Bush administration’s climate-change policies!).
But most significantly, the invitations were sent to a broad spectrum of scientists and policymakers, with no attempt made whatsoever to avoid those with favorable opinions of the IPCC reports. In fact, one of the letters (here’s a PDF) quoted in the Guardian article was written to Professor Steve Schroeder of Texas A&M -- a known proponent of the UN Panel. As explained by DeMuth, candidates were selected by the intrinsic quality and interest of their work rather than whether partisans might characterize them as climate change ‘skeptics’ or ‘advocates.’

In an August 2007 AT piece, Al Gore Slings Bogus Borrowed Charges, I explored this fabrication’s journey from its humble Greenpeace / Guardian origins to its coincidental appearance in a NewsWeek Science Editor Sharon Begley article and finally out the mouth of the Goracle himself preaching cribbed words of conspiracy and consensus in the island city-state of Singapore. Its original working title was “How Greenpeace Gibberish and Newsweek Nonsense became Gore Globaloney.” And now we can add “and Holmes Hooey.”

Immediately challenging these fraudulent ploys is vital, as so much of the debate over climate change hangs on intangibles: Climate Sensitivity to CO2 remains an imprecise value, a theory projected by error-riddled climate models. Reconstructions of Multimillennial Summer Temperatures are only as reliable as the proxy-data they’ve been fed. 

From “adjusted” land-based temperature measurements to “smoothed” temperature trends to spliced proxy/instrument series, to hidden “fudge factors” and disappearing warming periods, each was yet another “trick” to torture facts into compliance with ideology.

And once inscribed into the alarmist playbook, too many accept these fraudulent fabrications as green gospel.

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and data analyst. He’s been a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your feedback.


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China Caves to President Trump in U.S. Trade War - Chriss Street

by Chriss Street

The Chinese must accept that they catastrophically underestimated President Trump’s Trade War resolve to go all-in against China and its multinational corporate fellow-travelers.

China caved to President Trump’s Trade War demands as state-media published plans that foreign investors will no longer be subject to compulsory technology transfers.

As China’s Vice Premier Liu He was holding a televised meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office to announce big increases for U.S. agricultural exports to China, its Xinhua News Agency announced that China’s President Xi Jinping hopes to meet with Trump just before a March 5 vote by China’s National People’s Congress to ratify elimination of rules for foreign investment mandatory foreign technology transfers.

With the clock running down on Trump’s threat to increase a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese exports to a 25 percent tariff on March 1, China is agreeing to meaningful structural trade reforms that the U.S. has been demanding for over a decade.

The move will open a wide swath of China’s internal markets that have been closed to U.S. service industry firms. The breadth of China’s “reform” regime supposedly includes elimination of non-tariff trade barriers such as eliminating state-sponsored cyber-intrusions and converting U.S. intellectual property rights, according to the Epoch Times.
With the draft legislation supposedly setting a goal of guaranteeing equal treatment of foreign companies already reviewed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in December, Xinhua stated: “Once adopted, the unified law will replace three existing laws on Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, non-equity joint ventures (or contractual joint ventures) and wholly foreign-owned enterprises.”

Multinational corporations that massively outsource U.S. production jobs to China have acknowledged that China has run a balance of payments as a percentage of GDP surplus with the United States every year since 1993. But China’s trade surplus peaked at 8.7 percent in 2007 and fell to just 1.7 percent in 2017. That analysis ignores supply chain “value-added” inputs of Chinese parts and subassemblies in products that are “officially” labeled as exports from other Asian nations. 

China assumed President Trump and his populist allies would politically be crushed in a Trade War, because 87 percent of the computer and electronics products hit by Trump’s tariffs are produced by Silicon Valley and other non-Chinese-owned factories, according to research by Syracuse University’s Mary Lovely and Yang Liang

Analysis by the nonpartisan OpenSecrets website reveals that 2018 midterm elections fund-raising led by Silicon Valley and Wall Street Democrats, swamped Main Street and Ag-country Republicans by $385.4 million. Although Democrats successfully regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Trump’s energetic barnstorming campaign increased the Republican’s majority in the U.S. Senate. 

America in early 2019 has enjoyed its strongest domestic job growth since the 1970’s and a parade of U.S. public companies reported record profits. But the Epoch Times tabulated that between January 29th and 30th, 230 public Chinese companies declared fourth quarter losses of at least 100 million yuan ($14.92 million).

The Chinese must accept that they catastrophically underestimated President Trump’s Trade War resolve to go all-in against China and its multinational corporate fellow-travelers. As a long-term player, China must now cut a deal with a relentless adversary, and hopes America elects a more pliable president in the future.

Chriss Street


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A Digital Iron Curtain Descends Over the Internet - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

Why free speech on the web - as we once knew it - will be over within a decade.

A generation of economic pressure failed to regulate the internet. Outraged movie studios and record companies managed to cripple some file sharing pioneers, but broke their teeth on Google’s YouTube. Dot coms like Amazon, Google, Cragislist, eBay and Netflix casually wiped out entire retail industries from the local paper to the video rental place, costing tens of thousands of jobs. And nothing.

No amount of pressure from business interests could close down the internet. Politicians were still too invested in a vision of progress fueled by the growth of something that they did not understand.

"An iron curtain has descended across the Continent," Winston Churchill once warned. A digital iron curtain is now descending over the internet. Free speech as we once knew it will be over in a decade. The internet will still be a noisy place, but it will be a managed noise of echo chambers, a moderated system in which dissenting views will be treated as trolling and purged as quickly as they are identified.

The political causes of both curtain falls are the same. The Soviet Union and the American Left had both triumphed and inherited a large chaotic region that they had to consolidate under their control. The Soviet Union’s triumph had been a military one over physical territories while the American Left had conquered the messaging territories of the old cultural realm, media, entertainment and advertising.

Having won those, it’s expanding its control over big corporations and big government. And to do that, it has to eliminate the independent voices on the internet that pose a threat to its messaging monopoly.

The consolidation of the internet by a handful of monopolies, the politicization of corporate leadership and the panic over Trump and Brexit created a once in a lifetime opportunity. The official pretext for the power grab was “fake news”: a loosely defined term taken to mean misinformation. The fake news panic relied on familiar panics over the internet’s unregulated ability to influence society. But this time it was attached to the Russians, a classic foreign threat, that made free speech too dangerous to maintain.

The fake news crisis argued that foreign influence over the public square was a national security threat. This was a dangerous argument with roots in everything from the Alien and Sedition Acts to the Cold War. A few years ago, the idea of internet censorship to meet a national security threat would have seemed an implausible movie plotline. But the growing cultural power of the American Left allows it to quickly take a bizarre idea and mainstream it into a policy mandate in a matter of months or years.

“Four legs good. Internet censorship better.”

American elections had to be protected from the Russians by regulating, monitoring and censoring the internet. Direct government censorship was still illegal. But the consolidation of the internet under a handful of monopolies made it easy to apply downward pressure on a handful of platforms. Social media companies that had formerly been open were being redefined as publishers tasked to fight “fake news”.

The lack of accountability for user submitted content had allowed companies like Google, its YouTube subsidiary, Amazon and Facebook to grow huge without facing legal sanctions from the companies whose content and rights were being casually violated by their users. It meant that Google’s search engine could index and link to all sorts of copyright violating material. And that Facebook wasn’t held accountable for the pictures that users uploaded to their profiles, even as it profited from them.

This utopia was made possible by the Communications Decency Act, a mostly forgotten piece of legislation from the Clinton era meant to protect children from pornography. The “decency” part of the CDA was quickly struck down by courts as a violation of the First Amendment. But one particular sentence in the CDA, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” has provided an almost limitless level of immunity for dot coms from government regulation.

In plain language, it meant that if you uploaded a snippet from your favorite Marvel movie to YouTube, Google couldn’t be sued by Disney. The providers weren’t responsible for what their users did.

The CDA had been meant to regulate the internet, instead it all but completely deregulated it.

That was why YouTube thrived while Napster died. The CDA helped make the huge dot com monopolies possible by giving them a pass. But that made internet freedom more vulnerable, not less. Google and Facebook got huge without having to worry about government regulation or corporate lawsuits.

But once a powerful political movement in control of the culture decided that it was time to censor the internet, it could quickly impose its will on a handful of internet monopolies that mostly agreed with it.

This time around there would be no government regulation. Social pressure exercised by the Left through media outlets, already heavily motivated to go after the social and search platforms that controlled their traffic, combined with hearings and action by the Europeans would do the trick.

The platforms would be transformed into publishers, and tasked with the obligation, not of serving their free users or even their paid advertisers, but the social good, as defined by the media echo chamber. Their job would be to promote politically good content, such as that of the media, and penalize politically bad content, such as that produced by conservatives. And then the digital curtain falls.

The two driving forces, the cultural consolidation of the American Left, and the economic consolidation of internet monopolies, are colliding and colluding to form a new environment. In that environment, free speech, and any kind of individualism that is outside the trend, is a dangerous phenomenon.

Internet monopolies that measure their user bases in the hundreds of millions and even the billions can only treat users as collective wholes, tracked, measured and shaped by machine learning algorithms into profitable channels. And the American Left, like its Soviet predecessor, believes that while there might be an infinity of genders, there is only one right way to approach any of its many politicized issues.

Big Data and Big Brother both make money and gain power when they can predict what you will do and nudge you to do it. Big Brother offers Big Data techniques for shaping user behavior through peer pressure while Big Data offers Big Brother new ways to track and manipulate human attitudes.

The soul of the internet was once as anarchic as its infrastructure. As the infrastructure consolidated, the internet became a collectivist environment. And individuality came to be seen as “trolling”.

A centralized environment will be inherently collectivist. It’s impossible for it to be anything else. And when a handful of companies control the internet, they become its political and cultural weak point. Any government or totalitarian movement that can compromise them will control the internet.

If we want an open internet, then we must once again envision it as a chaotic environment of competitive companies, none of whom can get so big that they hold its future and ours in their hands.

Government regulation has a meaningful role to play, but not in controlling monopolies, a misguided policy that would inevitably lead to the end of free speech, but in undermining them and breaking them up. The consolidation of a formerly free market under a small number of monopolies is not purely an internet problem, but is being mirrored across vast sectors of American life from health care to finance.

Internet censorship is the manifestation of that larger problem. As is the growing power of the Left.

The Left never feared huge corporations. They’re easy to take over or intimidate. What it feared was a dynamic open society with many rising and falling power centers and no easy levers for total control. It’s built to take over static power structures. When a society is open, then it can’t win.

Free markets are not an abstract idea that can exist in the absence of the dynamic friction of active competition. When a handful of monopolies control your phone service, your internet and your health care, how you pay at the grocery store and where you shop, your freedoms will also be monopolized.

A society of corporate monopolies will inevitably become a society of political monopolies.
The only way to stop the rise of Big Brother is to break up Big Data.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.


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