Friday, April 24, 2020

Usama bin Laden wanted to kill Obama so 'totally unprepared' Biden would be president, declassified docs show - Gregg Re

by Gregg Re

Bin Laden: "Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis"

Usama bin Laden wanted to assassinate then-President Barack Obama so that the "totally unprepared" Joe Biden would take over as president and plunge the United States "into a crisis," according to documents seized from bin Laden's Pakistan compound when he was killed in May 2011.
The secretive documents, first reported in 2012 by The Washington Post, outlined a plan to take out Obama and top U.S. military commander David Petraeus as they traveled by plane.
“The reason for concentrating on them is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President] Biden take over the presidency," bin Laden wrote to a top deputy. "Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour ... and killing him would alter the war's path" in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden specifically wanted fellow terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri to shoot down Obama.

“Please ask brother Ilyas to send me the steps he has taken into that work,” bin Laden wrote to the top lieutenant, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman. Kashmiri wouldn't get too far along in the plot, however; he was killed in 2011 in a U.S. drone strike shortly after bin Laden himself was shot to death by Navy SEALs.


Usama bin Laden said he wanted Joe Biden to be president, according to declassified documents.

Usama bin Laden said he wanted Joe Biden to be president, according to declassified documents. 
Intelligence officials told the Post that bin Laden's plan never progressed past the aspirational stage.

For his part, Biden has sent mixed signals on his role in bin Laden's death, as explained at length in a timeline by The Washington Examiner's Jerry Dunleavy. In late April 2011, Obama gathered together a team that included Biden before making a final decision on whether to strike at bin Laden's suspected compound.

In January 2012, Biden revealed he had opposed to the raid, and claimed that “every single person in that room hedged their bet” except for CIA Director Leon Panetta, who supported striking the compound.

“Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go,” Biden said he told his boss, as reported by The New York Times. "We have to do two more things to see if he's there.'"

But in 2015, Biden changed his mind and said he had told Obama he "should go."


Obama himself verified Biden's opposition to the plan, telling Mitt Romney in a 2012 presidential debate, “Even some in my own party, including my current vice president, had the same critique as you did."

On CBS’s “60 Minutes" in Oct. 2015, Biden tried to clear up the confusion, and insisted everything he said had been "accurate."

“In order to give the president the leeway he needed, I said, ‘Mr. President, there’s one more thing we can do.’ … One more pass to see if it was bin Laden. I said, ‘You should do that, and there’d still be time to have the raid, but that’s what I would do,” Biden said.


SEAL Team Six ultimately landed at bin Laden's compound in two MH-60 Black Hawks, killed the terror leader and seized a fateful cache of valuable intelligence.

Gregg Re


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Fake News and Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth" - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

Today's 'progressive' journalists perpetually reveal their true calling.

President Trump is credited with coining the term “Fake News.”  Fake News reports are not only irritating but have become so pervasive and impactful that it threatens our very democracy.

Fake News has two elements - the use of Politically Correct language and blatant lies.

Americans are among the most compassionate and considerate people in the world.  Today, by turning that virtue into a vulnerability, Americans have been conditioned to use “Politically Correct” language to ostensibly be kind and compassionate.  Under the guise of political correctness, Americans have permitted themselves to accept Orwellian Newspeak that alters their understanding of critical issues.  Humans think with words, consequently language control results in thought control.  

The very term Politically Correct is Orwellian for Newspeak!

I focused on this threat in my article, Language Wars: The Road to Tyranny Is Paved with Language Censorship.

George Orwell understood the power of words and, in his novel 1984, devised Newspeak which exploited manipulation of language that enabled the mythical totalitarian government in his novel to maintain iron-fisted control over the masses.  It was the contradictorily named “Ministry of Truth” that administered Newspeak.

Orwell sagely observed:
Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
Orwell also stated: 
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
The Founding Fathers understood that freedom of expression is at the foundation of our republic’s democratic form of government.  Hence they made such freedom an element of the First Amendment.  

Totalitarian regimes, on the other hand, rigidly impose strict controls on language and on the information provided to their citizens.  What information is provided is thinly disguised propaganda formulated to maintain tight control over the population.

When governments are overthrown, those who stage the coup immediately seize control over the various news media and methods of communication to seize control over the masses.

There was a time when news programs in the United States simply reported on the news.  Obviously folks may view events through a particular prism based on their experiences and inevitable biases, but as a rule, the news reports dealt with facts.

Today, however, the so-called “Mainstream Media” infuse their reports with political bias and subjectivity that turns supposed news reports into blatant political propaganda so seize power.

Donald Trump panicked the political establishment, in both parties, when he decided to seek the Presidency.  As the quintessential “outsider” who did not need the massive campaign contributions that are sought by other candidates, Trump would not be beholden to those who provide the money and hence control most candidates.  Let’s be blunt.  Campaign contributions are all too frequently bribes!

Let’s not be naive.  Some politicians will do whatever it takes to win.  Consider the September 15, 2016 Washington Post headline, Harry Reid lied about Mitt Romney’s taxes. He’s still not sorry.

From the very beginning of his candidacy the Democrats pulled out all the stops to try to stop him.  The campaign was not about different viewpoints and ideology.  It was about doing whatever was necessary to derail his campaign.  The entire bogus “Russian Collusion” travesty was concocted to undermine his campaign and then his administration.

This elaborate hoax that cost millions of dollars, also caused the malicious prosecution of those associated with the Trump campaign / administration and diverted the attention of our political leaders from critically important issues in a particularly dangerous era.

Fake News has spread like a wildfire and can be found in all sorts of areas you would never expect to see it.

Let’s consider two recent articles published by the Defense One website.  I have for some time subscribed to this website which focuses on matters of national security and the military.  It creates the impression of being a reliable source of important information.  A couple of recent articles caused me to dig into this website which, as I discovered, is published by the leftist partner organization, Atlantic Media.

On April 15, 2020 Defense One published the outrageous article, Don’t Be Fooled. Trump’s Cuts to WHO Aren’t About the Coronavirus.  That obvious “hit piece” began with the following excerpt:
Republicans have been hating on international organizations for decades. This is just a convenient excuse to take another shot, and it harms American security.
Don’t be fooled. President Trump and his supporters don’t hate the World Health Organization because of its coronavirus response. The far right hates the WHO because it is an international organization, and hating on international organizations has been a page in the Republican playbook for decades. This is just another opportunity to do it, with the added bonuses of diverting attention from the Trump administration’s slow and chaotic pandemic response and onto China, the enemy du jour
Wow!  So much for objective fact-based reporting! 

As for reporting on the World Health Organization (WHO), on November 29, 2018 the New York Times reported in a hard-hitting article, Cuban Doctors Accuse International Agency of Profiting From Their Work.  That article went on to state:
PAHO, a division of the World Health Organization, made about $75 million off the work of up to 10,000 Cuban doctors who earned substandard wages in Brazil, according to the allegations in a lawsuit filed on Friday in the United States District Court in Miami.
Dr. Matos and three other doctors who defected from Cuba’s contentious medical diplomacy program in Brazil accuse PAHO in the lawsuit of aiding in human trafficking.
The suit is the first against an international agency over compensation from Cuba’s medical mission.
Since President Trump decided to suspend funding WHO, in the wake of its complicity in covering up the China Virus Pandemic, the New York Times published a very different report on April 3, 2020 that was initially published by the Associated Press, Cuban Docs Fighting Coronavirus Around World, Defying US.

What a difference a decision by President Trump makes in how “news” organizations report on an international agency linked to human trafficking! 

On April 16, 2020 Defense One published another report, The Owner’s Manual for Trump’s New Air Force One Cost $84 Million.  

This was also an obvious “hit piece.”  

The term “Air Force One” is the call sign used to describe any airplane on which the President of the United States is on board.  (“Marine One” is used when the President is on board the Marine helicopter).  Generally, the moniker “Air Force One” is associated with a pair of heavily modified Boeing 747’s.  The current pair of those jumbo jets entered on service in 1991 and the new airplanes will never carry President Trump, unless his successor invites him onboard.

When the new planes enter service in 2025 the old ones will be nearly 35 years old.

According to the article, the $84 million manuals will contain more than 100,000 pages and provide instructions on flying, maintaining and servicing those highly complex aircraft.  The price of those manuals, incidentally, was included in the overall cost of additional items that are traditionally included in the cost of such aircraft. 

This story was, as the saying goes, “A big nothing burger”- however, it provided the publication with the opportunity to take a cheap and larcenous shot at the President.

Many years ago the Limbo was a popular dance where the participants would attempt to pass under a vertical bar that was lowered with each pass.  The question was asked, “How low can you go?”

Today “journalists” are doing a different sort of limbo, they dance under the bar of truth and integrity, even as the bar lies on the ground.  For them there is no limit as to how low they will go to undermine the administration or our nation and our freedoms.

Michael Cutler


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From WHO to the UN - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

It's high time for us to distance ourselves from the United Nations.

President Trump is cutting off funding for the World Health Organization, headed by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as a Reuters report notes, “the first director-general in the WHO’s 72-year history not to be a medical doctor” but a favorite of China with a radical leftist past. This is not the first time a Communist regime installed their mouthpiece and deployed an international body for their own purposes.  

The WHO is part of the United Nations, which dates from the waning days of World War II. Stalin’s foreign minister Andrei Gromyko suggested U.S. State Department official Alger Hiss, a Stalinist spy, as the first Secretary General, the first and only time a Soviet leader suggested an American for an international post. Hiss was duly appointed acting Secretary General, so the Communists got the man they wanted.

U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, who had been under the wing of Hiss and Harry Hopkins, delivered a speech to the opening UN conference in San Francisco in May-June of 1945. The speech had been written by Stalinist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, brought to the conference by Alger Hiss. Stettinius was so pleased with Trumbo’s speech that he requested an autographed picture of the screenwriter,  but Stettinius later denied he ever knew Trumbo.

Stettinius became U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, first headed by Norwegian Trygve Lie. The newfound UN did nothing to liberate eastern Europe from Soviet control. When Hungarians rebelled in 1956 the UN, then under Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, stood by as the Soviet Communists crushed the rebellion, as they did the “Prague Spring” of 1968.

The Soviet Union retained control of eastern Europe and from 1972 to 1981, made gains in southeast Asia, Africa and Central America. UN Secretary General at the time was Kurt Waldheim, as the New York Times noted, a former Nazi in a sturmtruppen unit that “executed thousands of Yugoslav partisans and civilians and deported thousands of Greek Jews to death camps from 1942 to 1944.” None of that appears in Waldheim’s official UN biography.

As John Barron and Anthony Paul documented in Murder of a Gentle Land: The Untold Story of Communist Genocide in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge murdered nearly two million people, approximately one-fourth of the population. The Khmer Rouge murdered thousands of babies by smashing their heads against a tree and forced prisoners to dig their own graves before killing them with clubs to save bullets. The UN dithered until 1988 before condemning the Khmer Rouge and utterly failed to establish any kind of tribunal for genocide.

From 1974 to 1987 the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was Amabou-Mahtar M’Bow of Senegal, a Muslim and co-author of Islam and Muslims in the American Continent. On M’Bow’s watch, UNESCO funded the PLO and violent Marxist movements around the world. UNESCO served as cover for a dozen of the 47 KGB spies expelled by France in 1983.

UNESCO promoted the “New World Information and Communication Order,” a Soviet-style offensive to quash free expression and repress journalists. When the French L’Express described M’Bow as a “megalomaniac despot,” the UNESCO boss sued the publication. All told, M’Bow’s excesses prompted U.S. President Ronald Reagan to pull the United States out of UNESCO in 1984. 

The United Nations did nothing about the murderous repressions of China’s Communist government under the genocidal Mao Zedong, a contender with Stalin for worst mass murderer in history. Communist China has occupied Tibet since the 1950s and the UN looks the other way. The UN’s favorite targets are Israel and the United States, the UN’s largest funder.

The United States is also the largest funder of the World Health Organization, now headed by “Dr. Tedros,” the non-doctor who appointed Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe as a WHO “goodwill ambassador.” So no surprise that Tedros serves as the dummy for Communist China’s ventriloquism.

President Trump has pulled the plug on US funding for the WHO, based on its failures during the current pandemic. The president should now turn his attention to the United Nations, a boon for Communist dictatorships, a bust for democratic nations, and like the WHO a bad deal for the United States.

The president might start with some social distancing. As the late Richard Grenier (The Marrakesh One-Two) suggested, Mogadishu would more suitable headquarters for the United Nations, corrupt from the start and a tool for tyrants.

Acting UN Secretary General Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent, but the U.S. government was only able to convict him on perjury charges. See Witness by Whittaker Chambers and Perjury: The Hiss Chambers Case by Allen Weinstein. As the FBI notes, the Hiss case “helped further confirm the increasing penetration of the U.S. government by the Soviets during the Cold War.”

The first question on a State Department job application should be: “Do you believe Alger Hiss was innocent?” Anybody answering “yes,” should be shown the door. 

Lloyd Billingsley


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The Vatican Slant Towards Communist China - Mario Alexis Portella

by Mario Alexis Portella

Why is the Holy See so accommodating to China?

While the entire West has publicly voiced its disapproval of how China hid information about the spread of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, as well as its suppression of its own doctors for “rumors and trying to spread panic,” there has been one world leader who has thus far remained silent: Pope Francis. The Vatican’s present stance towards China has in fact been a favorable one.

Francis had previously praised China’s “great commitment” to contain the coronavirus outbreak -- evidence shows now that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) did the opposite -- and said he was praying for the dead, the sick, and families of victims.

On April 9 the Holy See publicly thanked China for its generosity for its donation of medical supplies to the Vatican Pharmacy as the coronavirus has overwhelmed the Italian peninsula. Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said that the donations are “an expression of the solidarity of the Chinese people… to all those who are committed in assisting people struck by the COVID-19 and in the prevention of the coronavirus epidemic that is underway.” Bruni went on to say that Pope Francis expressed his “gratitude to the bishops, the Catholic faithful, the institutions and all other Chinese citizens for this humanitarian initiative, [and assured] them of [his] esteem and prayers.” 

While the cordiality by the Vatican spokesman is part of diplomatic protocol, the irony is, as reported by the online journal Crux, the Vatican has so far refrained from making any public statements of recognition for Taiwan’s (officially Republic of China) donation of food and 280,000 medical masks on April 14.

Despite being Taiwan’s sole diplomatic allay in Europe -- Beijing insists Taiwan is a Chinese province and has a policy of diplomatically isolating the Taiwanese -- the Vatican sent a strong signal of where its interests lie by acknowledging China and not Taiwan.

It goes without words the Vatican under Pope Francis wants to establish formal diplomatic ties with Communist China. In 2018 Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Piero Parolin engineered a provisional agreement with Chinese officials on the appointment of bishops -- the CCP names bishops for its state Church, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association; the Bishop of Rome approves thereafter. The Vatican had stated: “Pope Francis hopes that, with these decisions, a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics.”

Prior to the Communist takeover of China in 1949, it is estimated that there were about 3 million Catholics in the country. Under the slogan of national unity, notwithstanding being an atheist government, China showed a degree of tolerance towards religion. Eventually, with the goal of placing religion under government control, the CCP subsequently severed ties with the Vatican, deported all foreign missionaries, closed down churches run by foreign bishops and established the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in 1957. In his encyclical Ad Apostolorum principis of July 29, 1958, Pope Pius XII deplored the attitude and activities of the Patriotic Church established by China and declared the bishops who participated in consecrating new bishops selected by the Association to be excommunicated. Since the 2018 agreement, Pope Francis has recognized the legitimacy of seven Chinese bishops, appointed by Beijing without the Vatican’s approval, in addition to favoring it over the “Underground Church.”

In January the Bishop-Emeritus of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has been the leading voice for persecuted Catholics in China, sent a letter to the College of Cardinals imploring them to denounce the recent agreement the Vatican signed with China’s communist government.

Zen, referring to the Vatican document Pastoral guidelines of the Holy See concerning the civil registration of clergy in China of (June 28, 2019), said:
“First of all, I cannot believe that there is such a statement in the agreement, and I do not see it there. (By the way, why must such an agreement be secret, and why is it not granted even to me, a Chinese cardinal, to see it?) But, even more clearly, the whole reality after the signing of the agreement shows that nothing has changed.”

When the press had questioned the Pope on Zen’s appeal, Francis said: “When you make an agreement, both sides lose something. This is the law for both sides. One goes forward, and one goes two steps forward, and months without speaking. And the time of God is like the time of the Chinese. Slowness, the wisdom of the Chinese.”

The Council on Foreign Relations calculates that China is on track to have the world’s largest population of Christians by 2030 with a projection of 247 million. A Pew research estimates that as of 2010, China is home to approximately between 93 to 115 million Protestants in China; Catholics number about 12 million, though it is unclear exactly how many of them are part of the “Underground Church” that exists parallel to state-sanctioned one. While these figures only amount to 5%of China’s population, among the 10 countries with the largest Christian population, China ranks seventh.

Such demographics are alarming to the Chinese government because, according to New York Times correspondent in Beijing Javier C. Hernández, Christianity “promotes Western values and ideals like human rights that conflict with the aims of China’s authoritarian government and Xi’s embrace of traditional Chinese culture and Confucian teachings that emphasize obedience and order.”

We must keep in mind that China is one of the greatest violators of human rights, and despite signing an undisclosed deal with the Vatican in 2018, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China reported that religious persecution has increased religious persecution has increased -- local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increased persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy. The Party-led Catholic national religious organizations also published a plan to ‘‘sinicize’’ Catholicism in China.

Yes, Communist China did send medical supplies to various countries dealing with the coronavirus -- this was in order to save face after it was publicly acknowledged that the CCP had covered up the initial outbreak. If China did care about human lives, it would stop its human rights violations and become transparent. Why then does the Vatican remain silent on that, while applauding the Communist regime for providing it with medical supplies? Perhaps for the same reason it also refused to criticize the intense crackdown and repression of student pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. 

While Vatican diplomacy has always had a long tradition of non-transparency, its silence in comparison to the noise world leaders have made in their criticism of China, has been deafening.

Mario Alexis Portella


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Looks as if the Year of the Metal Rat will not be kind to China - Peter Skurkiss

by Peter Skurkiss

Every 60 years, it seems, China has a really bad year. This is one of them.

The U.S. is not the only country that has realized the folly of having so much of its vital production concentrated in China. Add Japan to the list. In early March, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe proposed at a conference of Japan's leading businessmen that Japan must become less dependent on China so as to better avoid supply chain disruption. Abe went on to say, "Of the products that rely heavily on a single country for manufacturing, we should try to relocate high added value items to Japan. As for everything else, we should diversify to countries like those in ASEAN."

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Abe's words were quickly followed by action.
In its emergency economic package adopted on April 7, the Japanese government called for the re-establishment of supply chairs that have been hit by the [Chinese] virus's proliferation. It earmarked more than 240 billion yen (about $2.2 billion) in its supplementary budget plan for fiscal 2020 to assist domestic companies to move production back home or to diversify their production bases into Southeast Asia.
This has the Chinese extremely worried. The very next day, China's Politburo Standing Committee, the top decision-making body of the Chinese Communist Party, met in Beijing. There, the committee heard Chinese president Xi say the country must get ready for a protracted battle. That is an understatement. The United State and Japan, the world's biggest and third largest economies, are not just talking about moving production out of China. They have actually started the process. This can only throw the Chinese worldview upside-down and ultimately undermine the control the CCP has over China. President Xi knows this.

Another sober analysis is presented by Cary Huang of the South China Morning Post. In a column entitled "The world is waking up to the risks of relying on China for its critical medical supply," he writes:
The pandemic has served to convince policymakers in the West not only of the economic risk of their over-reliance on a single country for critical supplies, but also the geopolitical risk of relying on a nation they call a "strategic rival."
Covid-19 will undoubtedly hasten the efforts of Western nations to not only diversify their supply sources to reduce economic risks, but also to diversify away from China to reduce national security and geopolitical hazards.
Up until now, China has had the best of all worlds. Large companies in advanced countries recklessly dumped much of their manufacturing into this communist country and allowed their technology to be stolen. This was all in the name of higher profits. This allowed China to grow at a phenomenal rate and to create monopolies in many areas. This is now unwinding, and it is hard to see how the CCP can stop it. Putting on a "happy panda face" won't change the dynamics as it has in the past. 

Adding to China's angst is a superstition held by many of its intellectuals. According to the Chinese astrological chart, 2020 is the year of the rat — and not just the year of the rat, but the year of the "metal rat." 

The year of the metal rat cycles every 60 years. Many Chinese feel that it is associated with a big history-shaking incident taking place. Katsuji Nakazawa writing in the Nikkei Asian Review, outlines the history of the year of the metal rat for the last 180 years. He found that in 1840, the Opium War broke out, leading to China's stagnation and its Century of Humiliation. Then, in 1900, the Boxer Rebellion started, resulting in another Chinese defeat and further humiliation. The metal rat next returned in 1960. This coincided with the famine caused by Mao's "Great Leap Forward," resulting in between 18 and 45 million deaths.

Now we're at 2020, and the metal rat is seeming to say the stars are not lining up in China's favor. Other mortals believe the same thing. The question is not if China is going to fall from its current lofty perch, but how far down it will go.

Peter Skurkiss


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Iran's Ayatollahs Will Struggle to Survive the Oil Slump - Con Coughlin

by Con Coughlin

The truth of the matter is, for all the regime's attempts to claim it has everything under control, that the country is teetering on the brink of collapse, and the ayatollahs are fast running out of options to save themselves.

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has tried to put a brave face on the latest setback to hit the regime, claiming that Iran is unlikely to suffer as much as other countries from the oil price drop because it is less reliant than others on crude exports.
  • If that were truly the case, then Tehran would not be asking the IMF for a bailout, and Mr Rouhani, together with Javad Zarif, Iran's Foreign Minister, would not be begging Washington to remove sanctions.
  • The truth of the matter is, for all the regime's attempts to claim it has everything under control, that the country is teetering on the brink of collapse, and the ayatollahs are fast running out of options to save themselves.

(Image source: iStock)

At a time when Iran's Islamic regime is already facing unprecedented pressure over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as its disastrous handling of the economy, the global slump in oil prices could well prove to be the final straw for the ayatollahs.

Even before this week's dramatic collapse in global oil prices, which saw the key gauge of U.S. crude prices, the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, tumble into negative territory for the first time in history, the mullahs were already under intense pressure over their catastrophic running of the country during their four decades in power.

A combination of the regime's clumsy attempts to cover up the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, combined with the disastrous impact the US sanctions are having on the Iranian economy, have resulted in the regime facing the most sustained period of domestic dissatisfaction since the 1979 revolution.

With the collapse in the global oil market, the pressure on the ayatollahs is set to increase even further as they risk losing a vital income stream at a time when the country's economy is already on its knees.

According to recent estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Iran needs global oil prices to reach the highly unlikely benchmark of $195 a barrel just in order to meet its budget requirements for 2020.

With current predictions suggesting oil prices are likely to remain around the $19 a barrel mark, the ayatollahs are facing the prospect of an economic Armageddon: the oil slump means there is little prospect of a revival in the country's economic fortunes for the foreseeable future.

With inflation running at 35%, and the country facing widespread unemployment, the ayatollahs have become increasingly dependent on the country's oil revenues to keep the economy functioning. Their ability to generate revenue from oil sales, though, has already been severely affected by the impact of US sanctions, with Iranian oil exports declining from their pre-sanctions level of two million barrels of oil per day to around 300,000 -- a decline of more than 80%. Now, following this week's slump, even that modest amount is under threat.

The scale of Iran's deepening economic crisis is reflected in the regime's recent decision to seek $5 billion in emergency funding from the IMF, its first request for outside help since the 1979 revolution.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has tried to put a brave face on the latest setback to hit the regime, claiming that Iran is unlikely to suffer as much as other countries from the oil price drop because it is less reliant than others on crude exports.

If that were truly the case, then Tehran would not be asking the IMF for a bailout, and Mr Rouhani, together with Javad Zarif, Iran's Foreign Minister, would not be begging Washington to remove sanctions.

The truth of the matter is, for all the regime's attempts to claim it has everything under control, that the country is teetering on the brink of collapse, and the ayatollahs are fast running out of options to save themselves.

One indication of the growing disconnect between the regime and ordinary Iranians is the claim by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that it has successfully launched a military satellite into orbit for the first time, an undertaking that seems completely inappropriate for a country teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

In times of crisis, the regime has often resorted to stirring up tensions in the Gulf, and elsewhere in the Middle East, as a means of increasing pressure on the US and its allies. To that end, Iran's IRGC have been accused of conducting a number of confrontational operations in the Gulf this month, including the temporary seizure of a Chinese tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, which proved to be deeply embarrassing for Tehran, as China is one of the few countries still buying its oil.

There has also been an increase in Revolutionary Guard patrol boats harassing US warships operating in the Gulf, a development which has prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to order the US Navy "to shoot down and destroy" Iranian gunboats if they continue with their provocative actions.

The ayatollahs may still believe they can survive the current crisis, but the reality is that their prospects of overcoming all the obstacles they face, from coronavirus to the collapse of the Iranian economy, become more challenging by the day.

Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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Coronavirus drug to be tested on patients in Israel - Rossella Tercatin

by Rossella Tercatin 

XPOVIO was developed for treating patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and is already FDA approved for this purpose.

A drug that has shown promising results against coronavirus is going to be tested in four hospitals in Israel as part of a global trial involving some 40 clinical centers.
The drug, Selinexor, or XPOVIO as it is currently marketed in the US, was developed by oncology-focused pharmaceutical company Karyopharm Therapeutics. The company was co-founded by Israeli scientist Sharon Shacham in 2008. It is based in the US but maintains a regional office in Israel.

XPOVIO was developed for treating patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. It is FDA approved for this purpose. However, it has the potential to be a tool to fight the coronavirus, and clinical trials are needed to assess its effectiveness, according to Anat Haas Mizrahi, Karyopharm’s Israel general manager; and Dayana Michel, its senior medical director.
“In our research, we are committed also to develop drugs for additional purposes,” Haas Mizrahi told The Jerusalem Post. “One of the studies was focused on viral diseases, and we tested the drug for several of them. When the coronavirus emerged, we decided to look into our data and information, and we realized that there was an option that could be applicable for treating COVID-19, so we started looking into it.”
About a month ago, the company began to work around the clock on the treatment, realizing that the drug had the potential to disrupt the replication of the virus and to mediate anti-inflammatory effects, including respiratory infections. Tests were carried out on several animal models.
“With XPOVIO we can target COVID-19 both at the antiviral and at the anti-inflammatory levels, which would reduce the disease burden in all aspects important to the patient population,” Michel told the Post.
“In order to verify that our understanding was correct, we carried on two studies on animals whose infection resembles the modeling of human viral infection, and what we have seen is that in two different experiments the production of the virus was inhibited by 90% at a low dosage,” she said.

The clinical trial on patients has started across the US and Europe. It will involve 230 patients, selected by hospitals as suitable and who agree to be part of the test.
“We look for patients who are in serious conditions but not yet intubated, because we believe that this is the window where we can have an impact,” Michel said, adding that the treatment includes taking the drug orally three times a week for two weeks, a period that can be extended up to a month if needed.
Among the Israeli centers involved are Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer and Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba.
“It seems that the innovative mechanism of the drug developed by Karyopharm can affect the viral and inflammatory processes in the body,” said Prof. Nimrod Maimon, a specialist in internal medicine and pulmonology at Soroka.
“I hope it can help corona patients, and I’m eager to see the results of the experiment,” he said, according to a company press release. “Selinexor’s mechanism has proven effective for various diseases, and also in consideration of the high safety profile of the drug, the decision of testing it also in viral disease is right and important.”
Karyopharm expects the clinical trial to be completed in about three months.
It is too early to know what will happen next, Haas Mizrahi said.
“We will need to receive all the data from the trial first,” she said.
The testing was approved by the Health Ministry and the Central Ethical Committee in Israel.
Carrying out the trial in Israel was very important for Karyopharm, Haas Mizrahi said.
“We are very committed to the Israeli community,” she said.
Rossella Tercatin


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What if Cultural Behavior Influences Coronavirus Susceptibility? - Sylvia Thompson

by Sylvia Thompson

Liberals will have none of that, but it could well be true.

Upon hearing the Coronavirus Committee's expression of alarm regarding the disease's disastrous affect in New Orleans, Louisiana, I said to a friend, "I'd bet a lot of that statistic is black people, especially black women."

Several factors play into the statistics, but I would wager eating habits play a large part.

My family's roots are in Texas by way of Louisiana. Most of my ancestry can be traced to that state. An aunt explained that our ancestors were brought from Virginia to Louisiana. After emancipation and many decades later, they moved to Texas in search of employment.

I know the culture, and when one of the culprits in the list of underlying conditions was identified as diabetes, I was further convinced that obesity (a precursor to Type 2 diabetes) in so many black people is a major part of the problem. Fried and fatty foods are a staple of Southern cooking. 

There is an interesting history of eating habits in the South. During earlier periods of the black experience in America, when economic conditions prohibited a typical black family from purchasing what we now know to be healthier foods, cheaper alternatives (especially to meat) were selected, primarily pork. In fact, there was a term for it. Expensive meats were considered "high on the hog." Those parts that were not prime (hog heads, feet, and intestines) were either discarded by meat-packers or sold at cheaper prices. And they were not as dietarily sound.

Even though I was born well past the time when my ancestors were compelled to live off such foods, they were embedded in the culture, so my mother prepared them in meals. As an adult, I had to wean myself away from those foods, because when prepared well, they are very appetizing. Barbecued ribs is a notable example.

Southern culture, however, is not the reason I'm addressing this issue of disparate results in COVID-19 findings. This brief statement of eating habits is to bolster my point.

I want to alert all who are involved in fighting the disease that "culture" will be deemed by progressives of all ethnicities a taboo subject. Any attempts to reveal to black Americans that cultural habits could be killing them will be turned back on the hapless investigators as evidence of their racism and lack of understanding.

The victimhood scam, perpetrated by progressive leftists must be protected at all costs.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the perpetually race-baiting Democrat congresswoman from New York, has already expressed the ridiculous notion that even to suggest that blacks are doing something contrary to their well-being is racist.

Ocasio-Cortez is a very low-intelligence progressive who plays the victim card well. But I don't doubt that some of the more astute among progressives were waiting for the issue of victimhood to raise its ugly head. For them, any behavior is unassailable. T here is no right or wrong, no acceptable or unacceptable. In the name of "inclusiveness," whatever anybody does, no matter the harm it causes, cannot be questioned.

In line with this misdirected notion, blacks are fed the lie that they hold no responsibility for their circumstances. If they eat unhealthy foods and suffer the consequences of those choices, it's not their fault. They are victims of that nebulous "racist system." Progressive Democrats have been masters in force-feeding that lie.

Today's culture advances all sorts of aberrant activities, from forcing acceptance of psychologically disordered behavior (such as homosexuality and transgenderism) to overemphasizing biological disorders (birth defects and other disabilities) in the name of inclusiveness.

My perception is that progressive leftists do not care one whit about individuals suffering from such conditions. Their goal is to erode society's traditional values, to force belief in the concept that every action and every behavior must be embraced. Non-acceptance is branded "hateful." Activist homosexuals have even infiltrated weak Christian churches so as to make the claim that Jesus is on their side, when they know he is not.

I admonish the members of the administration's committee, tasked with looking into COVID-19 findings, to avoid sources of information that are known to be racialist. The aim of those sources is not to help suffering black people, or anybody else, but rather to advance an anti-American, socialist agenda. The committee would be wise to search out black conservative, patriotic individuals and groups. There are many, but the Congressional Black Caucus is not one of them.

When Vice President Pence indicated he had spoken with the Congressional Black Caucus regarding this issue, I imagined how that went — no doubt, a lot of posturing and attempts to put him on defense because he is white.

Too many white leaders tend to pander to racist blacks out of misplaced feelings of guilt over the historical plight of blacks in America. Furthermore, blacks who are suffering under their own self-inflicted victimhood gain a sense of power when they can shame and demean a guilt-ridden white person, even one coming to their aid. I am pleased that President Trump does not pander.

In a situation where we are confronting a deadly virus, where lives are at stake, there is no time for petty people, whatever the ethnicity, who play ideological games.

The solution to achieve positive results is to bring on board bona fide conservative and patriotic black men and women. These individuals can issue that "tough love" needed to open the eyes of the many black people who are sealing their own doom by their behavior.

It will be interesting to see if sanity wins the day.

Sylvia Thompson is a writer and copyeditor, formerly employed with several Silicon Valley, California technical firms. She currently resides in Tennessee and occasionally writes articles on race and culture. Ms. Thompson was born and reared in Southeast Texas during the waning days of legal segregation. She would like very much to see this nation move beyond racialist thinking and perpetual victimhood.

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Turkey: Erdoğan Is Getting Coronavirus Dancing to His Tune - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

In 2020, the collective fear is the coronavirus pandemic. And just as in the previous instances based on fear, it seems to be working in Erdoğan's advantage.

  • One of the laws Turkey's rubber-stamp parliament passed before the recess allowed the release of tens of thousands of common criminals to ease overcrowding in jails and protect inmates from the coronavirus pandemic. The amnesty, however, excluded hundreds of political prisoners including journalists, writers, academics and social media users critical of Erdoğan's authoritarian regime
  • In 2020, the collective fear is the coronavirus pandemic. And just as in the previous instances based on fear, it seems to be working in Erdoğan's advantage.
  • "The people tend to unite behind strong leaders in times of national crisis like war, terror, security threats, disasters or pandemic." — Özer Sencar, president of Metropoll, non-partisan pollster, Hurriyet, April 16, 2020.

In 2020, the collective fear of Turks is the coronavirus pandemic. And just as in the previous instances based on fear, it seems to be working to the advantage of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Pictured: Erdoğan speaks at a press conference addressing the coronavirus crisis in Ankara, Turkey on March 18, 2020. (Photo by Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images)

When a group of military officers attempted a putsch to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016, the Islamist strongman replied with two reflexes: survival, and a vigorous political campaign to make political gains from the failed coup. He succeeded in both.

Most Turks, including Erdoğan's opponents, weary of decades of military coups, united behind him to resist the putsch that ended up killing 250 people and wounded more than 2,000. Erdoğan's approval rating rose sharply from 45% before the failed coup to 67.6% in its aftermath. For many observers, that was not a surprise. Only a year earlier, Erdoğan had gambled over the Turks' collective security concerns and won.

In the general elections on June 7, 2015, Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since it came to power in November 2002.

After the initial shock, and as the AKP was forced into coalition negotiations with unwanted political partners, Turkey was suddenly gripped by a wave of terror attacks, including a suicide bombing in the heart of Ankara that killed more than 100 people -- the worst single terror attack in Turkey's modern history. For a while, bombs exploding here and there became almost part of daily life. Erdoğan refused to open coalition talks with any of Turkey's adversaries and, instead, called a repeat election in November 2015. His gamble paid off: the AKP easily won a parliamentary majority by increasing its national vote by 8.5 percentage points (to 49.5%) within a span of five months. Once again, threatened by a lethal force, the Turks united behind their strong leader.

It is therefore not surprising that, other things being equal, the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to give Erdoğan a similar political boost, although the next presidential and parliamentary elections are three years away. Who else would the Turks turn to in these difficult days of quarantine and curfew?

Erdoğan recently suspended parliament for 45 days, citing a national campaign to fight the coronavirus pandemic. But he did that only after passing bills he had sponsored.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), accused Erdoğan of abusing the coronavirus crisis to tamper with the legislative authority. "The suspension of parliamentary sessions is the result of Erdoğan's one-man rule," he said. "Erdoğan is mistaken if he thinks he can unilaterally resolve any problem or any crisis."

One of the laws Turkey's rubber-stamp parliament passed before the recess allowed the release of tens of thousands of common criminals, to ease overcrowding in jails and protect inmates from the pandemic. The amnesty, however, excluded hundreds of political prisoners including journalists, writers, academics and social media users critical of Erdoğan's authoritarian regime.

In 2015, Turks had a collective scare from terrorists and their bombs. In 2016, they feared their military officers who fired on civilians and bombed the parliament building. In 2020, the collective fear is the coronavirus pandemic. And just as in the previous instances based on fear, it seems to be working to Erdoğan's advantage.

Metropoll, a non-partisan pollster with no ties to the AKP, found that Erdoğan's approval rating rose from 41.1% in February (when no coronavirus cases had been detected in Turkey) to 55.8% in March (when the virus started to spread in Turkey). According to Metropoll's findings, Erdoğan's coronavirus crisis management was approved by 19.6% of (main opposition) CHP voters. Before the coronavirus, only 4.3% of CHP supporters had a favorable opinion of Erdoğan. In March, Erdoğan's approval rating from the opposition bloc was an impressive 25.8% from voters of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party; 23.8% from the center-right IYI Party; and 64.7% from the Islamist Felicity Party.

Özer Sencar, president of Metropoll, explains that with a general tendency to trust Erdoğan's crisis management, "The people tend to unite behind strong leaders in times of national crisis like war, terror, security threats, disasters or pandemic."

Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Cuomo, de Blasio, and New York City Owe Trump an Apology - Rabbi Aryeh Spero

by Rabbi Aryeh Spero

It is not President Trump who has fallen short in doing his job. Rather, it is Governor Cuomo and his sidekick Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City.

Many Americans have witnessed daily briefings in which New York State's governor, Andrew Cuomo, makes repeated demands of the President and exploits his moment in the sun by condemning the President and even maligning him. Instead of constantly complaining, it's about time Cuomo apologized to President Trump and to those Americans across the country who specifically helped NYC during her time of need. It is not President Trump who has fallen short in doing his job, rather governor Cuomo and his side-kick Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City.

Three weeks ago Cuomo was demanding ventilators, masks, gowns, and hospital beds. He made no demands of himself, rather of the President. But now many are asking why the governor had not spent his many years in office accumulating the supplies needed for the emergencies and epidemics that surely transpire. In President Trump's desire to help the country and specifically the state where he was born and raised, Mr. Trump did not haggle over the question of whose responsibility it is to take care of state needs, but instead dove headlong to supply what New York needed. While Cuomo spent his days grandstanding and pontificating, and alternating his made-for-TV attire between informal leather jackets one day, blazers the next, presidential suits, and then sweaters, Mr. Trump was marshaling and corralling every force in this country and around the globe to provide the needs of New York state. Cuomo always looks well rested while Mr. Trump, the heroic workhorse, looks exhausted. We now know why: one is playing soap-opera governor while the other is a minute-by-minute, indefatigable President.

Mr. Cuomo is never satisfied. Like a spoiled prince he upped the ante every time the President fulfilled Cuomo's previous demands. Cuomo spoke of 4,000 ventilators, then 30,000 ventilators, then possibly a million ventilators. The governor of New York had the luxury of extrapolating his demands because it was not he, rather President Trump, who was personally bearing and shouldering the supply-chain responsibility. It turns out that Mr. Cuomo's dramatic and made-for-television hyperboles, wrapped in self-righteous entitlement, were simply hyperbole. In the end, Mr. Trump directed more ventilators to New York than were needed. People outside of New York sweated like crazy to find and send those ventilators. There are tons of ventilators now in New York, yet state and local officials have mismanaged the distribution and many hospitals are still waiting for them. Mr. Cuomo and de Blasio should apologize to the President and all the way down to America's truckers who, in patriotic fashion, rushed to get supplies to New York City.

On another occasion, enjoying the limelight and adulation he was receiving from the media for maligning President Trump, Andrew Cuomo demanded thousands of hospital beds. At the time, many wondered where were the years of expected planning by the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City for an event precisely such as this. After all, the state of New York as well as New York City has a budget for Health Departments exceeding the entire budgets of some American cities.

As is known, New York state and New York City have bragged about their autonomy from the Federal government. Proclaiming their jurisdiction is above federal law, they defied ICE and the Federal immigration laws. Many are now wondering how a city and state that defied federal authority, as well the President of the United States, by declaring themselves Sanctuary cities and a Sanctuary state suddenly have relinquished their state autonomy by demanding the federal government micro manage and pay for all their supplies. Cuomo and de Blasio, the anti-Feds, accept no blame, placing, suddenly, all responsibility on the Feds. On Tuesday Cuomo was at the White House renewing demands and asking the Federal government and Donald Trump to rescue New York. 

Many are asking if the billions of dollars boastfully spent by de Blasio and Cuomo on illegal immigrants, providing corpulent benefits to hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, depleted the city of the reserves necessary to carry on the basic nuts and bolts and supplies needed to properly manage and sustain a city. Some are questioning whether Cuomo and de Blasio's pre-occupation with enacting a leftist social agenda and prioritizing identity and sexual politics took precedence over old fashioned, bread-and-butter management. They seem to have chosen virtue-signaling rule over dry but essential care-taking management. Cuomo and de Blasio made what they call a "moral" decision, namely: that the invitation to and support of illegal aliens is more important than spending on the needs of everyday, native New Yorkers for the inevitable rainy day.

Though Rachel Maddow and so many of the cynics and smug elitists who've come to dominate the New York scene smarmily accused the President of not being able to furnish hospitals beds, Mr. Trump did so. And, the whole nation saw him do it. The ship, named the Comfort, sailed into New York harbor on the Hudson River. It was a mammoth and gleaming, floating hospital with hundreds of beds, surgery rooms, 5,000 units of blood, emergency rooms, lighting, a staff of 1,200, and the most modern moving medical facility in the world. It was brought to New York not by its mayor or governor but by Mr. Trump…in Mr. Trump fashion.

Yet, Cuomo demanded even more beds! So, Donald Trump, the native New Yorker, more acquainted with every square inch of Manhattan real estate than its own mayor and governor, suggested the Javits Convention Center be transformed into a hospital. Mr. Trump supplied the men and women necessary to convert the Center into a 2,500 bed facility. In the end, hardly any of the beds were needed or used. The pompous governor of New York demanded much more from America, from the President, and our patriotic citizens than was actually needed. Mr. Cuomo: Isn't it time you apologized and thanked the President and the thousands of Americans who sweated to deliver beds and make hospitals based on your exaggerated claims? In the end, the President's assessment of need was right, not yours.

Some wonder if New York City big mouths like Rachel Maddow and Joy Behar would extend themselves for victims in Paducah, Kentucky as those from Kentucky have eagerly jumped to help those in New York City. Would the Manhattan/Brooklyn chattering class help the Franklin Graham crowd the way his Samaritans First did when coming to NYC to set up makeshift hospitals in Central Park? 

Even after all this, Mr. Cuomo keeps demanding more, and Mayor de Blasio continues asking for more money. De Blasio especially, still refuses to express any gratitude to Mr. Trump. For too long, both disallowed the ameliorative hydroxychloroquine to patients, simply because Mr. Trump had suggested the legal drug had potential promise. Shame on them.

Many feel that instead of more demands, it is time these men apologized for their arrogance and sense of entitlement, and recognized that much of the catastrophe in New York is due to their lack of preparedness and their incapacity for real management. Many New Yorkers are upset with Mayor de Blasio for not managing the subways and buses in such a way as to lessen the contagion inherent in packed mass transit ridership. Plans such as decreasing ridership per car (social distancing) by adding more cars and by increasing train runs could have been utilized, but were not. No warnings were issued to mass transit riders until way after the contagion had already spread.Many New Yorkers wonder why the Mayor and his Health Commissioner were urging people to go downtown to Chinatown long after President Trump had already prohibited incoming flights from China. New Yorkers are wondering why Mayor de Blasio kept New York City schools open a week after other districts had already closed.

Now New Yorkers are anguishing over the bare shelves in many New York City supermarkets, when the mayor should have coordinated truckers, vendors, and food service suppliers to keep food flowing into New York. The highways and thoroughfares within in the city are wide open for food trucks to flood right in. Where are they? It seems that it is Donald Trump, not they, who plans steps ahead during a crisis. He is always thinking and doing, as opposed to those who gripe and demand and whine....and sermonize.

Many Americans are wondering if New York State's shortfall of money is due to the governor's self-righteous insistence that income producing fracking and shale exploration be prohibited in New York. Americans are wondering why they should bail out New York State's budget woes that, really, pre-date the Covid-19 flu. After all, it is a deficit caused by the state's high taxation policies pushing business out of the state and scaring away achievers for fear of being targeted and penalized by New York State. Why should frugal Americans in other places foot the bill for the obscenely high pensions given to unionized New York state workers? Is Corona being used as a way to fleece America for the high maintenance give-aways that are really behind New York's financial woes? Should America bail out New York again as it did in the 1970s?

We know how Mr. Cuomo feels about the "deplorables", the half of the country who voted for Trump. He has told Second Amendment New Yorkers they don't belong in New York. Yet, he wants the deplorables to pay his bills. He has told those who are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage that their views are anathema and they belong somewhere else, since these are not the values of true New Yorkers. Yet we should pay his bills and we should supply the materials to run his mismanaged state. The elitists believe we should take from our families to financially support them, the "superior" ones, as well as the almost one million illegals invited into New York.

Cuomo, like Hillary Clinton and so many smug, anti-tradition, cosmopolitan "citizens of the world", the snob-set, who have taken over New York City in the last fifteen years, think Trump conservatives are deplorables. Yet, it is those deplorables that outfitted the Comfort ship of salvation now anchored at Pier 90 on Manhattan's West Side.

Rabbi Aryeh Spero is author of Push Back, president of Caucus for America, and a frequent guest on Fox News and Newsmax.


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