Saturday, February 29, 2020

Islamic Republic is Now Ground Zero for Deadly Coronavirus - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs becomes latest victim of COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, Iran’s Ministry of Health announced that thus far, 26 people infected with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, have died and that there were an additional 245 confirmed cases. The latest victim of the disease is Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs. In 1979, she was the spokeswoman for radical Islamic fundamentalists who invaded the American embassy in Tehran and took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days. On Tuesday, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister was quarantined due to infection. Several other Iranian parliamentarians have become infected as well.  

Globally, the coronavirus has a fatality rate of between 2 and 3 percent. In Iran, if official figures are to be believed, more than 1 in 10 die from the disease. Clearly, Iranian officials are lying about the extent of the disease and its rapid spread throughout the country. The Islamic Republic has also been the source of dozens of cases outside Iran. Countries including Afghanistan, UAE, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan and even Canada, have all traced infected travelers to Iran.

Radio Farda, citing reports by Canadian researchers, reports that the levels of those infected in Iran is much higher than government officials are willing to admit. According to the researchers, it is statistically possible that as many as 18,000 people are infected in the county. That figure is only expected to grow exponentially given the level of obfuscation by the government and the decrepit state of Iran’s healthcare facilities.

Given the dire state of affairs in Iran, one would think that Iranian authorities would take drastic measures, similar to those undertaken by the Chinese Communist government in Wuhan, to contain the spread of the virus. Like China, Iran is an authoritarian state that routinely deprives its citizens of due process. For example, during a two-week period beginning in late November 2019, the Iranian Basij militia, an auxiliary arm of the Iranians Revolutionary Guard Corps, was responsible for murdering 1,500 peaceful Iranian protestors demanding transparency and accountability. Thousands more were jailed without trial.

Yet shockingly, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, informed members of his cabinet that cities impacted by the coronavirus, like Qom, would not be quarantined. Only individuals with confirmed cases would be quarantined. Even more astounding, authorities have yet to shut a shrine in the city of Qom that attracts millions of Shia pilgrims. The pilgrims often kiss and touch the shrine and it is believed that a number of infections spread in this manner.

Rouhani, and the Iranian theocracy he represents is framing the coronavirus health crisis as an American conspiracy to undermine the regime and negatively impact morale. “We must not let the United States attach a new virus to the coronavirus by stopping our social activities through tremendous fear. This is a conspiracy we see today and you see in foreign propaganda,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting. He added, “They are also suffering from coronavirus. Influenza has killed 16,000 people in the United States, but they are not speaking about themselves. Americans better take care of thousands of flu casualties in their own country.”

The Islamic Republic, once a modern, forward-looking nation prior to the 1979 Islamic takeover, is now a third world backwater that sees enemies and conspiracies wherever it turns, and the coronavirus is no exception. Iran's Cyber Police reported that it arrested 24 people for “spreading rumors” about the virus on the internet and warned 118 others that they would be subject to arrest for passing along information. Apparently, in Iran, the only people permitted to disseminate information on the virus are those whose deceit and incompetence led to the outbreak in the first place.

Instead of treating the epidemic as a grave health crisis, the regime is addressing it as coup attempt, provoked and engineered by the “Great Satan.” As a result, the virus continues to run rampant in Iran, infecting common citizens and government officials alike.

The people of Iran have watched as their government isolated itself from the international community by recklessly pursuing a rogue ballistic missile program and weapons of mass destruction. They’ve watched as their government squanders their nation’s wealth on fighting endless proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Yemen. According to US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group alone receives $700 million in aid from Iran. Hundreds of millions of dollars are squandered elsewhere. This is money that could be used to treat those infected with the coronavirus and prevent its spread.

With its continued mendacity and reckless foreign and domestic policies, which border on the paranoid, Iran has dug its own grave. Now it must deal with the consequences.

* * *
Photo by Mostafamiraji

Ari Lieberman


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Gantz, criminal fraud and the Fifth Dimension - Avi Bell

by Avi Bell

A competent police investigation will uncover which members of the failed company were involved in deception fraud, and demonstrate whether Gantz and other senior personnel in the company participated in any alleged wrongdoing.

A little more than a week ago, Israel’s State Attorney Dan Eldar announced a criminal probe into Fifth Dimension, a company that Benny Gantz, leader of Israel’s Blue and White Party, nominally headed (as chairman of the board) during 2015 to 2018. Coverage of the scandal has been confusing, leaving the public unclear on what alleged crimes were committed and why a probe is necessary. 

Here is a roadmap. 

The publicly available information, including a 2019 report by Israel’s comptroller, suggests that Fifth Dimension criminally defrauded the Israeli Police of NIS 4 million (nearly $1.2 million) and valuable intellectual property in a no-bid contract in 2017. According to the comptroller, Fifth Dimension obtained the 2017 contract through a highly irregular procedure (without competitive bidding or any examination of competitors’ products), based on lies about Fifth Dimension’s abilities and track record. The comptroller also reported that Fifth Dimension would have extracted another NIS 50 million ($14 million) from the apparent fraud had Israeli Finance Ministry officials not raised questions about the refusal to look at alternative suppliers. 

The comptroller report notes that Gantz was personally involved in some of the irregular procedures leading to the contract (including an apparently improper meeting with then-police chief Roni Alshech), although the report does not directly charge Gantz with fraud.

As in any criminal case, further investigation may change the picture. 

Perhaps the comptroller was mistaken in concluding that the no-bid contract was the result of Fifth Dimension’s lies. More likely, a competent police investigation will uncover which members of Fifth Dimension were involved in deception, and demonstrate whether Gantz and other senior personnel in the company participated in any alleged wrongdoing.

Indeed, there is a chance that a police investigation could uncover other infractions. The background of the company encourages a closer look at their operations.

Fifth Dimension had a brief and unsuccessful history. It was founded in 2014 by Doron Cohen (formerly of the Mossad) and Guy Caspi; it closed its doors in December 2018. At its peak, Fifth Dimension had raised $40 million and had 100 employees. But despite numerous apparently false claims by multiple clients in Israel and abroad, the company appears never to have had any business other than its single no-bid contract with the Israeli Police. Given that the company never requested the required regulatory clearance to negotiate with foreign buyers, it is possible that it was lying when it claimed advanced negotiations with several potential foreign clients.

Owners of Fifth Dimension announced that they tried to sell the company but couldn’t find a buyer. They also claimed to be interested in selling the company’s tech for pennies on the dollar, even though there was no reported interest in the market. Gantz and other senior figures in Fifth Dimension say they failed to sell the company because one of the investors was Viktor Vekselberg, a controversial Russian businessman under U.S. sanctions.

Curiously, Fifth Dimension is one of two companies created by Doron Cohen and Guy Caspi (and others) in 2014 that sold essentially the same product—artificial intelligence software and data analysis that could analyze big data and predict police/security threats. The other company, Deep Instinct, is still around and apparently has real clients and real revenue.

From the reports, it’s unclear whether Fifth Dimension ever developed a product. The comptroller’s report says that while the company was still working on development, it falsely claimed to the Israel Police that the product was finished. By contrast, Deep Instinct appears to have a fully developed product.

This background leads to a host of questions with criminal implications. Was Fifth Dimension created just in order to get the single no-bid contract with the Israel Police? Was it used to funnel Israel Police data and intellectual property to Deep Instinct? Was it just a vehicle for getting data and money that Caspi and Doron needed to finish developing their software for Deep Instinct? Did it negotiate with foreign buyers without regulatory oversight? Gantz’s role in this potential scandal cannot and should not be taken for granted. Of course, it’s possible that he knew nothing of the alleged crimes. Reports of his work there suggest that Gantz lacked the business and technology acumen to comprehend the dealings of the company, and that he was hired solely to lend the company his own well-known and respected name.

Gantz has dismissed the timing of the announced investigation as political, and he’s not wrong. Since the comptroller’s report of nearly a year ago, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has stubbornly refused to investigate the apparent criminal fraud, despite repeated requests from senior government officials, including Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan. It’s difficult to avoid the impression that what has held back a police investigation for the past year was the desire to avoid embarrassing Gantz during his run for the prime ministership.

Yair Lapid, Gantz’s partner in Blue and White, has been even more dismissive of the investigation, charging that Fifth Dimension’s apparent fraud is nothing more than a “a business transaction that didn’t work well” to be contrasted with the “real crimes” of media outlets attempting to influence decision-makers with flattering coverage. The latter, of course, is at the center of an unprecedented effort by Mandelblit to prosecute Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for violating a newly created crime of soliciting positive media coverage as a bribe.

Lapid has things exactly reversed. A well-functioning law-enforcement system would zealously pursue fraud cases as opposed to seeking to punish media news coverage the prosecutors consider ill-motivated. One hopes that the launching of the investigation into the Fifth Dimension shows that Israel’s law enforcement is finally getting its priorities right. The progress of the investigation will tell.

Avi Bell is a professor of law at Bar-Ilan University and the University of San Diego, and a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum.


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An Imam at a Bernie Rally Had Called for the Destruction of Israel - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

Also honor killings, sex slavery, and chopping off hands.

When Imam Omar Suleiman appeared at a Bernie rally in Mesquite, TX, the hateful Islamist cleric spoke in front of a backdrop of giant American flags and signs urging donations to Sanders. Before Bernie took the stage, he called for an, "America where we uplift our most vulnerable, celebrate our diversity."

The Imam did not mention, as he has before, that he believes that, “Zionists are the enemies of God.”

By “god”, the Imam meant Allah. The occasion for that hateful outburst was Operation Protective Edge which began after Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Jewish teenagers. One of them American.

Earlier in the conflict, Omar had tweeted, “God willing on this blessed night as the 3rd Intifada begins, the beginning of the end of Zionism is here. May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. ameen #48kMarch #3rdIntifada.”

He later tweeted, “The people of #Gaza made us proud. You refused to let terror break you and we refuse to let Zionist media silence you.”

When Sanders announced that he was boycotting AIPAC, Imam Omar Suleiman rejoiced.

While Senator Bernie Sanders has insisted that he couldn’t go to AIPAC because of, “the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights”, he was fine with Omar.

Not only did the Imam speak at his Texas rally, but was repeatedly photographed with Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders was providing a platform for a monster who had called for the destruction of Israel, described Jews as the enemies of Allah, and championed another intifada being waged against Israel.

The Hamas charter had already described what the intifada’s outcome would look like in the infamous Islamic hadith. “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”

Omar has appeared at American Muslims for Palestine events. AMP was founded by Hatem Bazian, the godfather of campus anti-Semitism, and founder of SJP, who had allegedly read that same hadith calling for another Holocaust. AMP has also been linked to a variety of Hamas front groups.

AMP's national director, Osama Abu-Irshaid, had celebrated,  “Hamas, whose youth have been renewed by its commitment to its precise principles for liberation" during Operation Protective Edge.

Suleiman had attended MAYA conferences, a hate group that the FBI had described as, “a conduit for money to Hamas . . . and… a forum where Hamas could promote its ideology and recruit new members.” At one MAYA conference, a Hamas leader had told the audience, “Finish off the Israelis. Kill them all. Exterminate them. No peace ever.”

But Imam Omar Suleiman’s hatred went beyond calling for the destruction of Israel.

A year before his Hamas outrage, Imam Suleiman had claimed in a YouTube video that, “If it was not for Bani Israel, meat would not decay." The hateful cleric was quoting an Islamic hadith which blamed meat going bad on the Jewish people. The Jews had not only beaten Hamas, but had also invented bacteria.

While it’s understandable that Bernie Sanders would be okay with Imam Suleiman’s calls for the destruction of Israel, his campaign has multiple anti-Semitic allies and surrogates, including Linda Sarsour, John Cusack, Amer Zahr, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, but it doesn’t end with the Jews.

It never does.

"When Allah describes homosexuality as a repugnant shameless sin and details his punishment of a people that practiced sodomy, how can anyone who believes in Allah not find it immoral?" Imam Omar Suleiman had also said.

Had those same remarks been made by a Christian preacher, he would have been swiftly banished. But Suleiman’s comments about gays and women, have gotten the same pass as his anti-Semitism.

And his other politically incorrect fidelity to the brutalities of Islamic custom and law.

"Sisters, you know what happens with a really jealous Dad? He kills you and he kills the guy," a smiling Imam Suleiman told Muslim female college students at an Islamist youth event. "Even if they don't have a man who's going to be a real man, Allah has more than any man."

A willingness to honor kill your own daughter is the Islamic measure of a “real man”.

"Society's welfare always takes precedence over the individual's welfare," Imam Suleiman had said, when discussing concubines and sex slaves. "It supersedes the outrage of a woman - the very real possibility that a woman in that situation had that option not been there - would have most likely been put in a situation of prostitution."

And then, making it clear that he was talking about sex slavery of the ISIS variety, he discussed a situation where “a prisoner of war was to come in, if a woman was to come in that situation”.

In Islam, girls and women are captured as “prisoners of war” and raped by Muslim men. As the many Yazidi girls and women raped by ISIS were. As were American women like Kayla Mueller.

Bernie Sanders had campaigned on criminal justice reform. Imam Omar Suleiman has another take.

"The punishment for theft," Imam Omar Suleiman said at a Sharia Council Panel, "which would be the cutting off of the hand, that's not just any theft, Allah wants to protect the life of the one who had stolen... but a skilled thief."

Before defending the Sharia punishment of cutting off the hands of thieves, he had defended stoning men and women for immorality.

But, no one in the media will ask Bernie Sander whether he agrees with Imam Omar Suleiman.

Suleiman has developed a slick routine for American audiences, filled with jokes and pop culture references, even when he’s discussing honor killings and mutilations, but his mentors and theological influences are clerics who defended female genital mutilation and killing Muslims who leave Islam.

Suleiman had called Aid al-Qarni, “one of the greatest scholars and thinkers in the world”.

The Saudi hateful cleric had preached that, "Fighting the Jews and not making peace with them is a religious Islamic duty” and that, "the Jews and the Christians are the enemies of the Muslims and the enemies of Islam." He claimed that the Jews had killed Lincoln, and called them “apes and pigs”.

“Throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered. This is the path to victory, to shahada, and to sacrifice,” he had ranted.

Bernie Sanders was against the Iraq War. So was Suleiman’s inspiring scholar and thinker.
"I praise the Jihad, the sacrifice and the resistance against the occupiers in Iraq. We curse them every night and pray that Allah will annihilate them, tear them apart, and grant us victory over them," he had stormed. "The Jihad in Fallujah is a source of pride."

The Jihadists in Fallujah were the terrorist group that would eventually turn into ISIS.
Good thing Bernie skipped AIPAC.

While Bernie wouldn’t go to AIPAC, he did go to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention alongside Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing, who had declared, "You know what the punishment is, if a man is found with another man? The Prophet Mohammad said the one who does it and the one to whom it is done to, kill them both.”

Imam Omar Suleiman is also a big fan of Wahhaj, calling him, “my beloved Imam” and gushing, “every time I meet him I feel like a little child meeting his hero.”

While Bernie couldn’t go to AIPAC because he falsely accused the liberal group of providing a platform “for leaders who express bigotry”, he’s okay with ISNA’s platform for killing gay people. And everyone.

Bernie's ISNA presidential forum was moderated by Salam Al-Marayati, who had defended Hamas and Hezbollah, and justified Hezbollah’s mass murder of Marines in Lebanon.

Water finds its own level. So did Bernie.

Bernie would not be comfortable in a room full of Jewish pro-Israel liberals. He is quite comfortable with progressives like Imam Omar Suleiman, Linda Sarsour, Amer Zahr, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, and their ilk.

The Vermont socialist, who celebrated Castro and the Soviet Union, is not comfortable among Jews. He is very happy being surrounded by bigots and haters who believe in killing Jews, destroying Israel, and then going on to stone gay people, kill women, chop the hands of thieves, and murder Americans.

There’s no room for Bernie at AIPAC. Or at any Jewish forum. And, if he’s the nominee, there will be no room for Jews in the Democrat Party unless they’re willing to act as accomplices to the murder of Jews.

Just like Bernie.

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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Democrats Demand Open Borders for the Coronavirus - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

Their only hope for victory is infecting America.

Over 90 Chinese migrants were caught by the Border Patrol trying to enter the United States this year.

According to Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), on February 10, three Chinese nationals were apprehended illegally entering Texas with flu-like symptoms, and had to be quarantined. "Luckily they did not have the coronavirus," he said. "But this is a wake-up call."

Border Patrol personnel have been handed respirators and told to isolate the large number of Chinese migrants who are continuing to illegally enter the United States.

According to Todd Bensman of the Middle East Forum, his source in the Border Patrol told him that, “What we cannot ascertain is if they are isolated until they come back negative. A lot of that is 'medical' and some managers treat it like it's personal information. So we are not privy to the results of where they go after."

We know that some of the CDC test kits meant to detect the coronavirus were flawed. It’s possible that migrants carrying the coronavirus have not been properly detected and may be spreading it even now.

Illegal migration from China through the Mexican border rose significantly toward the end of last year, increasing fivefold from October to the end of January, compared to the entire previous fiscal year.

And those are the migrants that the Border Patrol had successfully intercepted. There’s no way to know how many got through. The human smugglers are clever and determined. And anyone who is infected might be desperate enough to try to enter the United States in search of superior medical care.

A few months ago, Border Patrol officers intercepted eleven Chinese migrants at the border hiding inside a washing machine, and a dresser, along with other pieces of furniture inside a moving truck. A month earlier, six Chinese migrants had been caught hiding inside the fake wall of another truck.

And it’s not just by land. In December, a boat tried to smuggle two Chinese nationals into California.

It’s also not just China. As the coronavirus spreads to other countries, outbreaks are popping up in South Korea and Iran. The expansion of the scope of the outbreak means that migrants from more countries pose a potentially deadly risk. The first coronavirus case has just emerged in Latin America.

It’s unlikely that it will be the last.

California is already monitoring 8,400 people for the coronavirus, with 33 known cases, including one that occurred among the general public, resulting in the quarantine of 100 health care workers.

The last thing that the border states need are infected illegal aliens coming through, blending into the population, and spreading the disease to health care workers, and in poor neighborhoods.

But that’s exactly what the Democrats seem to want.

Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that she was introducing a plan to redirect money from the border wall to fighting the coronavirus. Rarely has there been so literal an example of drilling a hole in the boat and then bailing water faster. And while Warren is an extreme case, every Democrat 2020 candidate wants to dismantle border security and enable the rapid entry of migrants into the United States.

That means putting Americans at risk, not just at the border, but also at airports and seaports.

Warren had called for replacing ICE with "something that reflects our values” and infects us with their diseases.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Mayor Bill de Blasio have called for abolishing ICE. Senator Bernie Sanders, as the most radical candidate, wants to abolish ICE, CBP, and stop deportations.

Bernie’s call to abolish the Border Patrol would create open borders for drug cartels, smugglers, murderers, rapists, and any migrants infected with the coronavirus, not to mention other diseases.

Sanders, Steyer, Bloomberg, and Warren all oppose any further border fencing. But Sanders has gone the furthest by essentially calling for an end to immigration enforcement. “Immigration is not a threat to national security,” he insists. The coronavirus once again demonstrates that’s a dangerous delusion.

Imagining a world without borders is also envisioning a world of defenseless nations and peoples. Borders are the immune system of nations. Without an immune system, the body cannot survive. And without borders, a nation cannot exist. Illegal migration is a disease attacking our national body. The Democrats who champion open borders and attack CBP are the disease destroying our immunity.

Border security is the cure.

As nations around the world rally to secure their borders against coronavirus migrants, the Democrats still insist on chanting the mantra of open borders. At the Democrat debate in South Carolina, Senator Amy Klobuchar refused to say that she would close the border to stop the spread of the virus.

None of the CBS moderators asked the candidates about using border security to stop infected aliens.

And none of the Democrats mentioned border security, instead pivoting to calls for more funding. Like Warren, they want to drill a bunch of holes in the boat, and then spend money to bail out the water.

President Trump had asked for $2.5 billion in coronavirus funding. The Democrats want as much as $8.5 billion, with Senator Schumer demanding a $2 billion piggy bank for the states and cities to raid.

Meanwhile those same politicians are determined to starve CBP of the funds it desperately needs. They would rather plow endless billions into an emergency that their own dereliction of duty created than spend a lot less to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to the United States in the first place.

The cynical truth behind this gambit is that funneling money into health organizations builds up the political organizations and infrastructure of the Democrats, while border security is Republican.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents NIH personnel, among many others in the gargantuan portfolio of the country's largest federal union, endorsed Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), which is a subsidiary of the mega-union, endorsed Donald J. Trump. As did the ICE Council.

When replying to AFGE’s questionnaire about overtime pay for ICE and Border Patrol personnel, Senator Elizabeth Warren instead ranted that she would destroy ICE and CPB and focus on stopping counterfeit goods. Democrats, like Warren, care more about protecting fashion brands than stopping a pandemic.

They care more about protecting their political power through open borders than protecting Americans.

Even as the Democrats and their media allies whip up a panic and attempt to blame the coronavirus on President Trump, they continue undermining our front line of defense and our national security.

The Democrats want open borders for drug cartels, human traffickers, and the coronavirus. And if the outbreak and its financial repercussions improves their political prospects, then it’s a win-win situation.

When the coronavirus spreads, when our economy shakes, then the Democrats win.

And that’s how the Democrats became the party of the coronavirus. Their political future is tied to the disease. They’re attacking our immune system because their only hope for victory is infecting America.

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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The China Spy Scandal That Entangled Harvard Could Hit Yale and MIT Next - Michele McPhee

by Michele McPhee

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-charles Bensoussan

A recent Congressional report called the practice a threat to homeland security.

The federal dragnet is so massive that investigators have given the case the code name "Lurking Giants."

This sweeping investigation into academia concerns not Hollywood celebrities who paid tens of thousands of dollars to secure college admission for their kids, but hundreds of millions of dollars that have poured into the country's most prestigious universities as gifts and contracts—unreported—largely from governments hostile to the U.S. The alleged theft of American taxpayer-funded military and scientific research would be a violation of the federal Higher Education Act. A recent Congressional report called the practice a threat to homeland security.

Federal law enforcement sources tell Newsweek that last month's arrest of Charles Lieber, the Chair of Harvard University's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, is just "the first domino to fall."

Federal investigations are targeting "multiple scientists and researchers" at leading universities who have allegedly been enriching their bank accounts by endangering intellectual property paid for by grant monies from the U.S. Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health, several sources told Newsweek.

Lieber was one of those scientists whom federal prosecutors have identified as allegedly putting U.S. secrets at risk by double dealing: collecting $15 million in DOD and NIH grants for his work as a Harvard professor while simultaneously working as a Thousand Talents Program researcher for Beijing. Lieber was grilled about his work for the Chinese earlier this year by both federal investigators and Harvard officials and provided what the FBI called a "series of materially false, fictitious and fraudulent" statements.

Prosecutors say Lieber created a bank account in China to hide the $50,000 monthly stipend he was getting from the Chinese—a violation of his contract with the DOD and with Harvard—and the $158,000 he received for living expenses connected to his travel to the shadow lab he created at the Wuhan University of Technology.

Lieber, who grows bioengineered giant pumpkins in the yard of his home in Lexington, Mass., which is now part of a $1 million cash bail package he signed over to the court to secure his release from a federal lockup, is facing up to five years in prison. He and his wife Jennifer were ordered to surrender their passports. He has retained former Assistant United States Attorney Peter Levitt, who specializes in white-collar criminal defense, to represent him. Levitt declined to comment.

Academic institutions are now anxiously waiting for the next shoes to drop. Other universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are securing legal teams to mitigate the expected fallout from what Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told Newsweek is "additional enforcement" aimed at rooting out academic espionage.

"Through the use of not only traditional intelligence officers, but academics, researchers, and other private citizens, China is engaged in a massive, long-term campaign to steal U.S. research and technology for its own uses," Lelling said. "[The Boston area] is an especially attractive target for this kind of exploitation."

Institutions are required to report any foreign gifts over $250,000 under the Higher Education Act. But in recent months ten schools -- Cornell University, Yale University, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, Texas A&M University, and Carnegie Mellon University -- were found to have taken more than $3.6 billion in foreign gifts, and have since filed the paperwork required under federal law, the Department of Education said. The DOE has ongoing investigations into monies that poured into Harvard and Yale.

In a Feb. 11 letter, Reed Rubinstein, the DOE's principal deputy general counsel, accused Yale President Peter Salovey in a letter of not reporting "a single foreign source gift or contract" from 2014 to 2017. In a letter to Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, Rubinstein said the Department of Education had information that his university "lacks appropriate institutional controls." In 2019 MIT, Cornell, Georgetown, Rutgers, and Texas A&M were also told by the DOE that they were being targeted for being in violation of disclosure law.

A Yale spokeswoman said the university's "oversight" did lead to a four-year gap in the mandated reporting of foreign funding, which the university says has since been rectified. "Yale takes very seriously the importance of ensuring that funding from foreign sources does not in any way compromise American interests, and it respects the Education Department's requirements about reporting of such funding," Karen Peart said in response to a Newsweek inquiry. Yale does not conduct classified research, Peart said. A Harvard spokesman said the university is reviewing the DOE letter and "preparing its response," but would not comment beyond that.

MIT's hiring of a Boston law firm came after one of its biology professors, Jianzhu Chen, was questioned by immigration officials at Boston's Logan Airport after returning from China in May. He said he was asked, "Do you work for a foreign government?" and grilled about his travel to China and a trip to Russia. After the incident Chen remarked, "That's no way to catch a spy," a source close to the researcher told Newsweek.

Weeks after Chen was questioned, MIT President Rafael Reif posted an open letter to the university community that raised questions about whether Chinese scientists were being unfairly targeted by federal investigators. "I am well aware of the risks of academic espionage and MIT has established prudent policies to protect against such a toxic atmosphere of unfounded suspicion and fear."

Reif warned of "serious long-term costs to the nation and MIT."

MIT spokeswoman Sarah Donnelly would not comment to Newsweek on any ongoing federal investigations. She did tell Newsweek: "MIT takes its federal reporting obligations seriously. Over a year ago, MIT identified ways to improve its foreign gift and contract reporting. The Institute is committed to working constructively with federal officials."

The fear of academic espionage is nothing new. In 2018, the DOJ created a federal task force of U.S. Attorneys in Texas, New York, California and Alabama. Known as the "China Initiative," its goal is to root out "foreign agents seeking to influence the American public and policymakers." The primary goal is to identify Chinese military officers embedded in academia, such as two researchers who are currently under indictment in Boston.

On the same day that Lieber was arrested, Lelling's office unsealed a federal indictment against Yanqing Ye, a grad student at Boston University's Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Biomedical Engineering, charging her with visa fraud. Federal prosecutors said Ye hid her position as a top lieutenant of China's People's Liberation Army on immigration forms to facilitate her work conducting "numerous assignments for the PLA," including "assessing US military websites, researched US military projects, and compiled information for the PLA on two US persons with expertise in robotics and computer science." She was, prosecutors believe, an embedded Chinese spy—a military intelligence officer moving within the Boston University system and funneling military secrets back to her PLA handlers.

Ye is now being sought by the FBI. She is believed to have fled to China.

In December, another researcher whose visa was sponsored by Harvard University, Zaosong Zheng, was arrested at Boston's Logan Airport for allegedly stealing 21 vials of biological materials from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, wrapping them in his socks, and trying to smuggle them to China in his checked baggage. On Feb. 28, a federal judge issued a protective order for "sensitive government discovery materials" in Zheng's case. U.S .District Court Magistrate David Hennessy wrote in the ruling: "restrictions are necessary to protect the confidentiality of proprietary business information." Zheng has been held without bail since his arrest in December.

Meanwhile, law firms are fielding calls from concerned university heads and academics.

"Scientists who interact with China, especially in the Boston area and the academic world, are justifiably anxious as to where these ongoing probes will lead," said lawyer Brian Kelly, a partner at Nixon Peabody in Boston.

Kelly, a former assistant U.S. Attorney who was one of the prosecutors in the 2013 murder trial of Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, agreed that Lieber's arrest will not be the last.

"The government is intensifying these investigations into economic espionage cases," Kelly said, and his former colleagues are unlikely to "limit those probes to one particular school."

There are federal prosecutions of academics ongoing across the country.

A UCLA grad student studying electrical engineering was caught trying to smuggle apparatus for war missile guidance. A Chinese student at the Chicago Institute of Technology was charged with helping his country recruit new spies at his school. A chemistry professor at the University of Kansas was charged with duping the U.S. by taking grants for research he had already completed in China.

The arrests have raised concerns about ethnic targeting.

In late February, two Democratic lawmakers who work on civil rights issues, Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and California Congresswoman Judy Chu, sent a letter to the FBI demanding answers on whether Chinese researchers are being ethnically victimized. They wrote: "certainly there are authentic and legitimate cases of espionage that should be investigated," but they pointed to cases where Chinese researchers were arrested only to have the cases against them dropped."

Chu has been outspoken about the China Initiative since its inception, saying that the ongoing investigations have the potential "to paint all Chinese students, scholars, and employees en masse as potential spies for China."

Michele McPhee


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German Court Rejects Attempt to Enshrine Sharia Law - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

The court's landmark ruling effectively smashes a backdoor effort to enshrine Sharia law into the German legal system.

  • "From a constitutional-law perspective, the legislature's decision to establish a duty of neutral conduct with respect to ideological and religious matters for legal trainees must therefore be respected...." — Germany's Federal Constitutional Court.
  • "The proper functioning of the justice system requires that society not only place trust in individual judges, but also in the justice system in general." — Germany's Federal Constitutional Court.
  • "With this groundbreaking decision, the court sent an important signal in favor of the ideological neutrality of state institutions. Especially in today's society, in which people from many countries around the world live with different cultural biographies and also with different religions, the state order must place more value than ever on its ideological neutrality. This is only possible if the state parties to judicial proceedings are not allowed to show religious insignia." — Hesse's Minister of Justice Eva Kühne-Hörmann.

Germany's Federal Constitutional Court noted this week that "The proper functioning of the justice system requires that society not only place trust in individual judges, but also in the justice system in general." (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Germany's Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that the constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms of Muslims can be curtailed if public displays of religiosity — in this case wearing Islamic headscarves in German courtrooms — endanger the ideological and religious neutrality of the state.

The court's landmark ruling effectively smashes a backdoor effort to enshrine Sharia law into the German legal system.

The case involves a 38-year-old German-Moroccan law student who was born in Frankfurt and customarily wears a headscarf in public. In January 2017, she began legal training in the German state of Hesse, where the law bans any expression of religion in its courtrooms for judges, lawyers and legal trainees.

According to the law, legal trainees (Rechtsreferendar) are allowed to wear a headscarf — except when they are performing certain official tasks in which they serve as representatives of the judiciary or the state. This means, for instance, that trainee lawyers are not allowed to wear a headscarf when presiding over a hearing, taking evidence or representing the public prosecution office.

The complainant filed a lawsuit claiming that the headscarf ban interfered with her right to freedom of religion. She argued that she was being forced to choose between performing the intended tasks or fulfilling a religious clothing requirement that she considers imperative.

The Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) ruled that, according to the law in Hesse, legal trainees have a duty to conduct themselves neutrally with respect to religion and that, when wearing a headscarf, the complainant was therefore barred from performing any tasks in the course of which she might be perceived as being a representative of the justice system or the state.

The complainant filed an appeal, which was rejected by the Hesse Higher Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof). She then filed an appeal with the Federal Constitutional Court, which affirmed the lower court rulings. In a statement published on February 27, 2020, the high court explained:
"The principle of the state's religious and ideological neutrality can be considered a constitutional interest that may justify an interference with freedom of religion in this case. The state's duty to be neutral necessarily also entails a duty for public officials to be neutral since the state can only act through individuals. However, when public officials exercise their fundamental rights as private individuals in the performance of their duties, this cannot be attributed to the state in every case. Yet it can potentially be attributed to the state in cases where the state has specific influence on the visible character of an official act — as is the case in the justice system.
"Freedom of religion can be subject to a further constitutional limitation inherent in the Basic Law (Grundgesetz): the proper functioning of the justice system in general, which is one of the essential elements underpinning the rule of law and is firmly rooted in the values enshrined in the Basic Law, given that every court decision ultimately serves to safeguard fundamental rights.
"The proper functioning of the justice system requires that society not only place trust in individual judges, but also in the justice system in general. It is true that it will not be possible to achieve absolute trust among the entire population. However, it falls to the state to improve levels of trust. In the present case, the negative freedom of religion afforded parties to legal proceedings is also an argument in favor of the ban on wearing a headscarf.
"In the justice system, the state exercises public authority vis-à-vis the individual in the classic hierarchical sense, which gives rise to more serious impairments than public authority exercised in interdenominational state schools, which are meant to reflect society's pluralism in religious matters....
"From a constitutional-law perspective, the legislature's decision to establish a duty of neutral conduct with respect to ideological and religious matters for legal trainees must therefore be respected....
"In support of the complainant's position, it must be taken into consideration that to her, the headscarf is not only a sign of affiliation with a certain religious group that could be taken off at any time — like, for example, the cross worn on a necklace. Rather, wearing the headscarf to her means fulfilling a requirement that she considers imperative. As there is no similarly widespread equivalent requirement in the Christian faith, a general ban on manifestations of religious belief has a stronger impact on the complainant than on other religious public officials....
"In support of the constitutionality of the ban, it must be taken into consideration that it is limited to a few individual tasks. The ban applies where legal trainees perform judicial tasks, represent the public prosecution office in trial hearings and take on quasi-judicial roles. In doing so, legal trainees — like civil servants — must represent the values that the Basic Law lays down for the justice system."
Hesse's Minister of Justice Eva Kühne-Hörmann (CDU) described the ruling as "groundbreaking" (wegweisend):
"With this groundbreaking decision, the court sent an important signal in favor of the ideological neutrality of state institutions. Especially in today's society, in which people from many countries around the world live with different cultural biographies and also with different religions, the state order must place more value than ever on its ideological neutrality. This is only possible if the state parties to judicial proceedings are not allowed to show religious insignia."
Islamic head coverings have been a recurring issue in Germany, where the Muslim population has surpassed six million to become approximately 7.2% of the overall population of 83 million, according to calculations by Gatestone Institute.

On February 3, 2020, the Hamburg Higher Administrative Court (Oberverwaltungsgericht) ruled that a 16-year-old German-Egyptian student was allowed to wear a niqab, a garment that covers the face, at a vocational school in Hammerbrook.

Hamburg education officials had ordered the girl not wear the veil at school. In a statement, the court explained that according to the Hamburg School Act as it is currently written:
"Education officials cannot require the student to refrain from covering her face while at school. The student can claim the right to an unconditionally protected freedom of religion. Interferences with this fundamental right require a sufficiently defined legal basis."
Hamburg politicians from across the political spectrum have vowed to change the law to ensure that full-face veils are banned in classrooms. Hamburg's Senator for Education Ties Rabe, who belongs to the center-left Social Democrats, said:
"In school, it is a matter of course that the teachers and the pupils have an open, free face. This is the only way that school and teaching can function. That is why we are going to change the school law quickly so that this is guaranteed in the future too."
Hamburg Deputy Mayor Katharina Fegebank from the Greens party also called for the law to be changed:
"The burqa and the niqab are, for me, symbols of oppression. Successful school lessons need good communication at eye level. For this, it is important to see the face of the other. This is not possible with a full veil. That is why we reject them."
The opposition parties in Hamburg's parliament, the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Free Democrats (FDP) and the conservative AfD, also support banning niqabs and burqas from classrooms.

The student's lawyer, Alexander Heyers, said that while his client "does not see herself as the Greta Thunberg of Islam," a ban would be tantamount to a declaration of war. He has threatened to take the case to the Federal Constitutional Court: "Political questions that have a deep impact on fundamental rights should be clarified before the Federal Constitutional Court."

In the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, which is governed by a coalition of Greens and Christian Democrats, Culture Minister Susanne Eisenmann (CDU) also announced a ban on veils through adjustments to school legislation:
"Religious freedom has its limits — specifically at our schools, when teachers can literally no longer look at each other's faces. We do not tolerate full veiling at our schools."
Other headscarf-related bans in Germany include:
January 29, 2020. The University of Kiel (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, CAU) banned students from wearing face-covering veils while in class:
"The Presidium of the CAU has to ensure that the minimum requirements for communication in research, teaching and administration necessary for the fulfillment of university tasks are ensured. Open communication, which is based not only on the spoken word, but also on facial expressions and gestures, is one of these minimum requirements. Since a face veil hinders this open communication, it must not be worn in courses, exams and discussions relating to study, teaching and advice in the broadest sense."
December 2019. Officials in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) abandoned plans to ban girls under the age of 14 from wearing headscarves or hijabs in NRW schools. Secretary of State for Integration Serap Güler said that after lengthy legal review, she determined that such a ban had no chance of being upheld by the Federal Constitutional Court.

September 2018. The Federal Council of the State of Lower Saxony approved an amendment that prohibits persons involved in court hearing — in particular parties, witnesses and legal representatives — from covering their faces in whole or in part ban on face coverings in courts. Justice Minister Barbara Havliza explained:
"Checking statements for their truthfulness is often of crucial importance in court proceedings. The judges must be able to look those involved in the face because the facial expressions sometimes say more than words. In addition, a face covering can make it difficult or impossible to identify people."
August 2018. The justice ministers of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) presented a draft amendment to the Court Constitution Act (Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz) that would ban face-covering veils in all German courts. NRW Justice Minister Peter Biesenbach (CDU) said:
"Without facial expressions and gestures, a statement is hardly worth anything. If a witness's sweat is on his forehead or his facial features slip away, judges must be able to take this into account when evaluating a statement."
October 2017. The Federal Highway Code (Straßenverkehrsordnung) banned motorists wearing face coverings while driving.

June 2017. The Bundestag banned civil servants and military personnel from covering their faces in public.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.


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Chuck Schumer quietly deletes his tweet criticizing Trump's China travel ban as 'premature' and 'war against immigrants' - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Schumer gets tripped up by his own cynical and deceptive propaganda.

In what amounts to a plea of "guilty" to the charge of being full of crap and criticizing President Trump no matter what he does, Senator Chuck Schumer has deleted his February 5 tweet reading:
"The premature travel ban to and from China by the current administration is just an excuse to further his ongoing war against immigrants. There must be a check and Balance on these restrictions."

Bruce Carroll spotted the deletion and rescued it from Orwell's Memory Hole (hat tip: Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit):
Update: Scott Johnson of Powerline cautions:
My apologies to readers. The allegedly deleted Schumer tweet does not appear in Pro Publica's authoritative list of deleted Schumer tweets. I regret not verifying the authenticity of the deleted tweet before posting this. I'm declaring it a hoax. I plead in mitigation that I trusted Glenn!
I share Scott's apology to readers — and to Schumer — if this is a hoax. I am not sure that I share his level of trust in Pro Publica, and do not know how to discover if the tweet was in fact deleted. In case the tweet existed and was deleted, the rest of my original blog post continues below:
I hope that President Trump ruthlessly mocks Schumer for this. If Schumer had an honest bone in his body, he would acknowledge that Trump did the right thing and that he was wrong to criticize him. Schumer and all Americans should be grateful that President Trump took quick and effective action that has so far limited the impact on us of the epidemic. Had he followed Schumer's advice, the epidemic would have spread here, as it has in Italy.

The stealthy deletion is a low and slow softball right across home plate for Trump to knock out of the park with scathing derision at his next rally. And it is fodder for internet video commercials illustrating why nobody should trust what the Democrats say about the epidemic.

Schumer also once again, in typical Democrat fashion, falsely accuses the president of being anti-immigrant because he is anti–illegal immigration. It is an absurd and malicious charge, especially considering that President Trump has married two immigrants.

My sense is that with their knee-jerk and often hysterical denunciations of President Trump, the media and other Democrats have become background white noise for Americans not afflicted with TDS. Who would bother taking their criticism seriously when Schumer proves that that they don't care about anything substantive and will just criticize everything Trump does?

Thomas Lifson


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