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  • Jack 3:11 am on December 14, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

    Fake Truth 

    The most effective way for the media to have refuted Donald Trump’s 24/7 accusations of “fake news” would have been to publish disinterested, factually based accounts of his presidency. The Trump record should have been set straight through logic and evidence.

    So one would think after a year of disseminating fake news aimed at Donald Trump (Melania Trump was leaving the White House; Donald Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the West Wing; Trump planned to send troops into Mexico, etc.) that Washington and New York journalists would be especially scrupulous in their reporting to avoid substantiating one of Trump’s favorite refrains.

    Instead, either blinded by real hatred or hyper-partisanship or both, much of the media has redoubled their reporting of rumor and fictions as facts—at least if they empower preconceived and useful bias against Trump. But after the year-long tit-for-tat with the president, the media has earned less public support in polls than has the president. It is the age-old nature of politicians of every stripe to exaggerate and mislead, but the duty of journalists to keep them honest—not to trump their yarns.

    A Dangerous Tic

    Last week, ABC News erroneously reported that Michael Flynn, in a supposed new role of cooperation with the prosecution, was prepared to testify that Trump, while still a candidate, ordered him improperly to contact (and, by inference, to collude with) Russian government officials.

    For a while, the startling news sent the stock market into a fall of over 300 points. Was the purported pro-business Trump agenda shortly to be derailed by “proof” of a possible impeachable offense? A little while later, however, ABC was forced to retract that story, to suspend Brian Ross (the reporter involved), and to offer a correction that Trump actually had been president-elect at the time of the contact and completely within his elected purview to reach out to foreign governments.

    Reuters, likewise eager to fuel the narrative of a colluding Trump, asserted that the Mueller investigators had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records of Trump and his family. Again, the leaked inference was that the inquiry suddenly was coming near to hard evidence of Trump wrongdoing and was thus entering its penultimate stage. In truth, Mueller has more routinely subpoenaed the records of Trump associates, not Trump himself or his family.

    In the most egregious example of peddling fake news, CNN reported that candidate Trump had once received an email entrée to unreleased Wikileaks documents—again suggesting some sort of collusion with Russian or pro-Russian interests. But that narrative was soon discredited, too. CNN failed to note that the email was sent 10 days later than it had originally reported, and instead referred to information already released into the public domain by Wikileaks.

    In this same brief period, Washington Post reporter David Weigel, perhaps eager to suggest that Trump’s popularity among his base was at last waning, tweeted a sardonic captioned photo of half-empty seats at a Trump rally in Pensacola, Florida. He soon offered a retraction and noted his tweeted image wrongly showed the venue well before the actual start of the event—a fact he surely must have known.

    The mainstream media has developed a dangerous tic: the more it warns about the dangers of Donald Trump deprecating the press for its fake news accounts, the more it cannot help itself in rushing out another news story about Trump that is poorly sourced and not fact-checked—and thereby substantiating his original accusation. The more it accuses Trump of exaggeration and prevarication, the more it fails to double- and triple-check its very accusations.

    Lies Live On

    Other unfortunate symptoms of the current epidemic of false assertions are the now familiar rounds of accusations of prejudice and bias in reporting of “events” that are soon revealed to be manufactured or staged. Next come the sometimes strange reactions to such retractions and corrections. In September, five cadets at the Air Force Academy alleged that racist threats were posted on their doors. That prompted Superintendent Lt. General Jay Silveria to lecture the student body with the stirring admonition, “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.” Silveria became a virtue-signaling rock star when his YouTube sermon went viral—only later to learn that the cadets themselves had staged the supposed hate threats.

    Not much later, Marquie Little, a seaman on a U.S. aircraft carrier, posted photos that seemed to show his bed on the George H.W. Bush covered in trash and racial slurs. “I proudly serve the Navy and this is what I’m receiving in return,” Little lamented in a post. Later, Navy officials revealed Little himself had likely concocted the harassment.

    The late Michael Brown likely never uttered the refrain “Hands up, don’t shoot”—a veritable rallying cry that persists for a variety of social justice movements. The Duke lacrosse players were not, as alleged, racist rapists. A University of Virginia fraternity was not a den of jock sexual predators, as Rolling Stone reported. Nor was Lena Dunham, as she wrote, sexually traumatized by a right-wing assaulter while a student at Oberlin.

    What accounts for the latest epidemic of fake news and false allegations of prejudicial behavior? Examples above have preceded Trump’s presidency, but recently the trend has been reenergized by it.

    The singular media hatred of Trump’s style and agenda have galvanized wider elite resistance, in which a willingness to achieve perceived noble ends of removing Trump should justify almost any means necessary. In such a larger climate of “the Resistance,” we have witnessed a new assassination chic of threatening the president, coupled with sometimes vulgar attacks on the Trump family. A spate of supposed racial harassment fosters a narrative of renewed intolerance in the age of Trump.

    Fake news also channels the resistance of universities, Hollywood, and political operatives. And just as we have witnessed efforts to sue to overturn the tally of voting machines, and to nullify the Electoral College, or witness a House vote on impeachment, talk of invoking the 25th Amendment, and calls to sue under the emoluments clause, so, too, the media has substituted its original mission of disinterested reporting to keep everyone honest for one of trying to nullify the 2016 presidential election. Journalists such as Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times and Christiane Amanpour of CNN have at least confessed that, in such trying Trump times, journalists of character can no longer easily remain merely disinterested reporters.

    Second, for over a generation, postmodernism in the universities has seeped into the larger culture. The new relativism has postulated absolute facts and uncontested “truths.” do not exist as anything other than “social constructs.” Assertions of truth instead reflect the efforts of a race/class/gender-based hegemony to construct self-serving narratives. (Never mind that asserting there is no truth is, itself, an assertion of truth.) Today, the elites believe that a cadre of mostly white, male, and rich sanctions its narratives with uncontested and unearned authority, through which it further oppresses in insidious fashion the relatively powerless “Other.”

    “Truths” Bigger Than Facts

    Instead, “truth” consists of endless “my truth” claims versus “your truth” claims. Competing stories are then adjudicated by respective accesses to power—the ultimate arbiter of whether one particular narrative wins authority over another.

    In this context, if a sailor or cadet concocts a racist attack, what great difference do rather insignificant details of narrative make in the wider scheme of social justice and equality, given the larger and historical “true” canvass of racism?

    Upon the revelation that the cadets at the Air Force Academy faked their stories, Gen. Silveria seemed not especially bothered by it. Instead, he renewed his calls for increased awareness of racism at the academy—as if the fake news account could (or even should) have been true and thus an occasion for remediation: “Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed . . . You can never over-emphasize the need for a culture of dignity and respect—and those who don’t understand those concepts aren’t welcome here.” A noble sentiment to be sure, but are words written in falsity just as valid as those written in truth?

    When Brian Ross constructed a falsehood, or David Weigel concocted a fantasy about poor attendance at a Trump rally, the details apparently did not matter so much as the attention to the larger “Truth”: Trump surely must have collided with the Russians, or Trump by this point certainly must have been losing crowd appeal, so it does not matter all that much how reality is conveyed.

    On the one hand, larger “truths” exist of cosmic social justice; on the other, bothersome so-called “facts” are largely predicated on the prejudices and resistance of the powerful who unduly give them authenticity. In such a postmodern environment, the “truth” that Donald Trump is purportedly a reactionary sexist and bigot is what mostly matters, not the bothersome details of counter-progressive narratives or stories that in one-dimensional fashion claim to follow rules of evidence, but instead serve an illiberal reality over a liberal one. What do a few dates on the calendar matter, concerning when Michael Flynn consulted with the Russians—given the larger truth that they surely once sought to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency?

    In our brave new world, fake news is the truest news. Staged oppressions serve to remind us of the real ones. The higher “good,” not the lower facts, is all that matters.


    See Also:

    (1) Fake News Firehose: Science Proves Media Are Not Making ‘Honest Mistakes’ About Trump

  • Jack 3:11 am on December 14, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: edmonton sun, , , , ,   

    Bad Judgement 

    It’s as if even the Wynne Liberals know it’s time to stick a fork in them, cause they’re done.

    That after 14 years in power, they’ve lost touch with ordinary Ontarians, most of whom work in the private sector.

    Take last week’s bizarre defence of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minimum wage hikes by Barrie Liberal MPP Ann Hoggarth, who served up this gem:

    “If you’re going to go out of business on the backs of your employees because you can’t afford to pay them this, then perhaps you should reassess your business plan and reassess whether you should be an employer at all.”

    Hoggarth was no doubt drawing on her vast experience running a small business as a career elementary school teacher and past president of the Simcoe County Elementary Teachers Federation, before entering politics.

    Since my late father did run a small business — Al’s Men’s Wear on Yonge St. — and I was a teenager before I realized not all fathers worked six days a week, for at least 60 hours and often more, let me suggest what Hoggarth doesn’t understand.

    First, it’s not that Wynne hiked the minimum wage that has the Ontario Legislature’s Financial Accountability Office predicting it will put at least 50,000 jobs at risk, while the TD Bank says 90,000 and the Keep Ontario Working Coalition, an employers’ group, 185,000.

    It’s that Wynne announced a 31.6% hike to the minimum wage out of the blue in May, increasing it from $11.40 an hour to $15 in 15 months, from Oct. 1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2019.

    Hoggarth apparently doesn’t understand hiking the minimum wage doesn’t just increase the payroll costs to small businesses for minimum wage workers, but for those earning more than the minimum wage as well.

    For example, when government raises the minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 over 15 months, small businesses also have to increase the salaries of employees who were earning $12 to about $17 an hour before the minimum wage hike was announced, in a similar time frame, if they want to keep good staff.

    A government that understood the vital importance to small businesses of cost predictability would have increased the minimum wage gradually over the Liberals’ 14 years in power, not hit them with massive hikes — particularly the increase from $11.60 on Oct. 1, 2017 to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018 — less than six months before the June, 2018 election.

    Does Hoggarth know anyone who has seen their salaries increase 31.6% over 15 months?

    If not, how does she expect small businesses to increase their revenues enough to cover a 31.6% hike to the minimum wage over that period?

    Because if you can’t increase revenues that quickly, then the only option is to reduce expenses by cutting back on labour costs.

    Finally, in addition to the minimum wage, Wynne is increasing the costs faced by small businesses for employee vacations, emergency leave, part-time and temporary work and shift cancellations.

    That’s to say nothing of the escalating costs small businesses have faced under Liberal policies to pay for such things as skyrocketing electricity bills and increasing natural gas costs, the latter caused by Wynne’s cap-and-trade carbon pricing scheme.

    On Monday, Wynne rejected calls from the Progressive Conservatives for Hoggarth to apologize for her arrogant and ignorant remarks.

    More proof the Liberals shouldn’t be in the business of government at all.



  • Jack 3:39 am on December 12, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

    Sincere Advice 

    The American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an inspired move and the Canadian government’s decision to respond judiciously is very commendable. Nothing useful in the Middle East peace process has occurred in 25 years, but the correlation of forces in the region and the ambitions of the Arab powers have evolved. For decades, Israel’s most fanatical enemies were Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the first two countries have disintegrated and Saudi Arabia is now an Israeli ally with Egypt and against Iran. The Arabs dislike the Palestinians at least as much as they dislike the Jews and the Lebanese Christians — all are considered commercial elites where they have been minorities in Arab countries, and as there are no more Jews and very few Christians in Arab countries, that animosity has abated. For decades the Arab powers used the Palestinian question as a red herring to enflame the Arab masses and distract them from the chronic misgovernment the Arab rulers were inflicting on their peoples. Now, for the first time since the British relinquished Palestine, and Jordan and France vacated Lebanon and Syria, 70 years ago, there is a physical encroachment on the Arab world, from their ancient Persian enemy.

    The Arab Spring was nonsense — the notion that democracy can easily take hold where it has never been and no institutions exist to promote it was a fantasy worthy of George W. Bush, whose aggressive championship of democracy handed Lebanon to Hezbollah and Gaza to Hamas, and contributed to the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, where it had been the 900 pound gorilla in the Arab house for 75 years. (By the dumb luck of the Brotherhood’s incompetence, the West dodged the bullet and the Egyptian army took back the government.) The only way forward is authoritarian government seeking economic growth and gradual social progress. This was essentially the course followed by the Shah of Iran, the most enlightened ruler Persia has had since Alexander the Great’s transitory regime 23 centuries ago, and he lost control of events to mad medieval theocrats. Saudi Arabia, a state that has been a joint venture between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi radical Islamic leadership, is now modernizing and becoming a benign and more secular dictatorship, leading the resistance to Iran. The new government of Saudi Arabia has proposed to the Palestinians a settlement of its affairs with Israel less generous than the Israelis have themselves offered, and it implicitly acknowledges that Jerusalem is Israeli.

    There will be no significant opposition to this move, apart from festive burnings of American flags and pictures of Donald Trump in the West Bank and Gaza. The Arab masses don’t care what happens to the Palestinians or Jerusalem (and the U.S. will presumably put its embassy in an uncontested section of Western Jerusalem). The Chinese and Russians object because they consider themselves rivals to the United States and are happy when the United States is mired in Middle Eastern conflicts as a prolonged, low-key Vietnam, as it was for 13 years under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. China has no dog in that hunt, and Russia fancies it has a role to play as champion of factions in several of the fictional or failed states in the region. The Western Europeans object because they think they have a role there as former colonial powers. In fact, there has never been a West European post-Second World War policy in that region except to await the American position and then stake out something more favourable to the Arabs.

    We have just observed the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which Jews, or at least Israel, have generously celebrated as the first recognition of Israel’s right to a Middle Eastern homeland. In fact, and as I have had occasion to remark in the British House of Lords (I am a member of it), the British, more than any other country, created this mess by selling the same real estate to two buyers at the same time, and inciting the right to possession of both, with the professed ambition to create “a Jewish homeland” without compromising the “rights of the Palestinians.” This was moonshine and Britain checked out, leaving the new Jewish state, established on the motion of Stalin’s U.S.S.R. at the United Nations, seconded by President Truman’s America, to fight for its life. The Jewish people effectively faced a second attempt at annihilation just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

    While the Arab sections of Israel have been under-served, the Arabs enjoy liberties they cannot exercise in any predominantly Arab country and have a large representation in the Israeli Knesset and full civil rights. To some extent, Israel has carried out the second part of the Balfour Declaration and observed Palestinian rights, difficult though it is when the official policy of the Palestinian leadership is the eviction or extermination of the Jews, yet again, and as so often before. It ill behooves Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, to say that President Trump has been “unhelpful.” The British dalliance in the Middle East was a disaster, except for British Petroleum, and ended in the ignominy of Suez in 1956, where Lester Pearson and Louis St. Laurent, with American encouragement, did what they could to salvage any decorum for Britain and France.

    This recent and contemporary bunk about Israel as an apartheid state is the last gasp of the useful idiots of primeval anti-Semitism. The Jews are the majority, unlike the Afrikaaners; the Arabs have substantial rights; and Israel was not just admitted to the United Nations as a territory and jurisdiction, like Canada and the United States and other existing countries in 1945 were, but was created by the United Nations as a Jewish state. It is the ultimate, legitimate country. The agitation about Jerusalem as capital is nonsense — the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are there and Russia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April of this year, which makes their disapproval of Trump’s move this week a bit rich, even by the unvaryingly cynical standards of the Kremlin. Prior to 1967, when the Jordanians ruled East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jews could not pray at the Western wall, could not attend the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus or be treated at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, which Jews had founded decades before, and they could not live in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, where their ancestors had lived for 200 generations. Trump has undone the shame of Obama allowing the United Nations last year to condemn Israeli possession of these sites as “a flagrant violation of international law.”

    All has changed in the Middle East. The Palestinians no longer benefit from the patronage of the Arab leaders to keep the pot boiling with Israel — they were happy to be cannon fodder, to prevent the improvement of the wretched settler camps or the resettlement of their inhabitants, as long as it made them personally rich and world famous. They could have had a Palestinian state any time in the last 40 years if they had been prepared to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, its raison d’être. They preferred celebrity and violence and some of their leaders have called for a new Intifada this week; presumably, this time, the population will have the intelligence to resist the call — it’s not as if the last two Intifadas were a howling success. They have been abandoned by their former patrons and Israel is geometrically stronger than it was even 20 years ago, not at all isolated, and not threatened by Iraq and Syria.

    The answer has been obvious since the Taba meetings in January 2001: the West bank becomes narrower and the Gaza Strip thicker and the Palestinians have a secure road between them. It isn’t Israel, which is primarily for the Jews, or Jordan, which is majority Palestinian but ruled by the Bedouins and the Hashemite kings, but it is a state, and with foreign assistance, which would be plentiful, and Palestinian tenacity, which is proverbial even by local standards, it would flourish. There are 198 countries in the world — not every newly created state can expect to be a Canada, Australia, or Brazil.

    Donald Trump has recognized realities and done the Palestinians a favour, if they and their ancient terrorist leadership aren’t too punch-drunk to recognize the facts: the Palestinians were used and are no longer useful. Donald Trump is a realist and is not overly concerned with the American Jewish vote, which is now infested with Jew-hating Jews anyway. The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can get it.

    National Post


  • Jack 3:39 am on December 12, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , tom cotton, trial by media,   

    Moore Backup 

    MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) backed up GOP candidate Judge Roy Moore in an interview with the Associated Press as allegations against Moore crumble amid revelations of forgery.

    In the interview published on Saturday, Cotton compared the frivolous allegations against Moore to the frivolous allegations that came out against President Donald Trump before his landslide victory over Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. Cotton said the voters would decide the veracity of the claims just like they deemed Trump to not be guilty last year, and that the news media should not determine whether or not people are guilty.

    Here is an excerpt from a much longer interview Cotton did with the Associated Press on multiple topics:

    Cotton declined to say whether he thinks equal standards apply in all cases against Franken, Moore and Trump, who has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct and was recorded by “Access Hollywood” bragging about touching women without their consent. All three men have denied details of the accusations, if not the claims outright.

    On Moore and others, Cotton said, voters “are going to make that decision, just like the people of this country made their decision last year on Donald Trump.”

    He added that women should be able to complain of sexual assault and the accused should be able to defend themselves.

    “We shouldn’t have trial by newspaper,” he said.

    Cotton’s comments come as on Friday night in Pensacola, Florida, President Trump urged all Alabamians to vote for Roy Moore in the special Senate election Tuesday—and cast more doubt on the allegations against Moore amid the revelation that one accuser forged part of the inscription in her yearbook that she and her attorney, activist Gloria Allred, both originally attributed to Moore.

    “So did you see what happened today? Do you know the yearbook? Did you see that? There was a little mistake made. She started writing things in the yearbook,” Trump said. “Oh, what are we going to do? Gloria Allred, any time you see her, you know something’s going wrong.”

    Moore towers over radical leftist Democrat Doug Jones in the latest polling just days before the all-important election here. Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, is coming back to Alabama on Monday night for a closing rally in Dothan after campaigning with Judge Moore this past week in Fairhope. In his AP interview, Cotton also signaled support for Bannon’s worldview on U.S.-China relations.

    “Cotton appears to be much more in line with Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser who has called for the United States to be ‘maniacally focused’ on an economic war against China to narrow the trade deficit and pull manufacturing jobs back to the United States,” the Associated Press wrote.

    Cotton’s comments also seriously undercut Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to undermine Moore’s campaign. After spending more than $30 million in a failed effort to defeat Moore in the primary and runoff, McConnell then orchestrated an effort to push Moore out of the race after these allegations surfaced in the Washington Post. Within minutes of the Post story, first posted weeks ago, McConnell rallied his fellow establishment GOP senators to push Moore to “step aside.” McConnell and the GOP establishment failed. Moore is still standing and is poised for victory on Tuesday.


    See Also:

    (1) Steve Bannon to Campaign with Roy Moore Election Eve in Dothan, Alabama

    (2) Klein: Doug Jones is a George Soros-Tied Radical Leftist Rebranding Himself as Moderate

    (3) Most Alabama Republicans say they are voting for Roy Moore

    (4) More Clinton ties on Mueller team: One deputy attended Clinton party, another rep’d top aide


  • Jack 3:26 am on December 10, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , michael taube, , , wilfred laurier university   


    Many Americans lament the decline of the university. The treasured concept of academic freedom has become a rusty, broken-down relic in less than a generation. Meanwhile, the cherished principles of free speech and intellectual discourse on campus have been replaced by political correctness and the hurt feelings of the snowflake brigade.

    Yet the frustrating experiences of American students may actually pale in comparison to a recent incident at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

    Shepherd showed this debate during her tutorials. Students were apparently interested and engaged during this discussion, and the conversation was lively. But afterward, an unnamed student reportedly launched a complaint, and Shepherd was accused of violating the university’s gender and sexual-violence policy. This led to a meeting with Professor Nathan Rambukkana, who serves as her supervisor, Professor Herbert Pimlott, and Adria Joel, who manages the institution’s Gendered Violence Prevention and Support program.

    Shepherd recorded this conversation (publicly, not covertly) and later released the audio for public consumption. Here are several bizarre moments:

    • Peterson is accused of being part of the alt-right. He’s not, and considers himself an adherent to classic British liberalism.

    • Peterson was also accused of holding intolerant points of view. This doesn’t seem to be the case but, like many things in life, it’s often a matter of interpretation.

    • The clip is said to have contravened university policy by causing harm to “trans students” and creating a “toxic climate.” No proof is provided to back up that charge.

    • Her decision to show the video is said to have violated Section C-16 in Canada’s Human Rights Code with respect to hate propaganda and gender identification. A fascinating analysis, since this section has nothing to do with either transgender pronouns or discussions in university classrooms and tutorials.

    Here’s the real kicker. On the recording, Shepherd asks her supervisor, “But can you shield people from those ideas? Am I supposed to comfort them and make sure that they are insulated away from this? . . . Because to me, that is so against what a university is about. So against it. I was not taking sides. I was presenting both arguments.” These questions aren’t really addressed by her interlocutors, but when she goes on to suggest that “in a university all perspectives are valid,” Rambukkana responds, “That’s not necessarily true” and says her decision not to take sides was “like neutrally playing a speech by Hitler.”

    That’s right: Shepherd’s inquisitors argued that she should have been an active participant rather than a silent moderator because an imaginary line can somehow be drawn between an outspoken university professor and Adolf Hitler. This is what our universities have come to.

    A new, baffling twist in this story has just developed. National Post columnist Christie Blatchford wrote yesterday that well-known Toronto employment lawyer Howard Levitt, “who represents Shepherd pro bono,” contacted the university’s hired legal representative, Rob Centa, to find out more about the original complaint. This is part of what Centa sent to Levitt: “I do not believe there is a document that contains a ‘complaint’ made about Ms. Shepherd nor is there anything I would describe as a formal complaint under any WLU policy.”

    Fortunately, one good thing came out of this insane episode: The vast majority of right-leaning and left-leaning Canadians both recognized that Rambukkana, Pimlott, and Joel had made a mockery of free speech.

    Championing free speech and expression is a two-way street. You have to consistently defend speech that you fundamentally agree with as well as speech that you completely oppose. While you don’t have to defend an opposing point of view, you must support a person’s right to hold such a position in a free and democratic society.

    Wilfrid Laurier University was humiliated in the public eye, and was forced to apologize. Shepherd wisely questions the sincerity of this apology, and appears to be looking at this issue in a very different light. As for the future of free speech on Canadian university campuses, it is much like what one sees on American university campuses: a dimming light growing fainter by the minute.

    — Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.


  • Jack 3:25 am on December 10, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , unesco,   

    Is UN Dying? 

    Hit by the departure of the United States and Israel, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently welcomed its new Director-General, former French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay. Those who care about cultural diversity and Western civilization hailed her election, because the representative of Qatar’s Islamist regime had come close to winning UNESCO’s leadership race. But the real problem is that UNESCO has been abandoned to Islamist dictatorships. A battle to save the organization has begun.

    Among the critics of UNESCO there is a tendency to dismiss this agency as “irrelevant“. Yet, so long as UNESCO exists, the West cannot allow repressive regimes to dominate the world’s highest body supposedly in charge of culture, science and education. Richard Hoggart, the British scholar who served as UNESCO’s assistant director general from 1970 to 1977, once asked: “Should Unesco Survive?“.

    The UN agency is currently dominated by the most oppressive regimes in regards to education and culture. There is China, which in July let writer, poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo die an agonizing death in prison, where he was serving an 11-year jail sentence for his support of human rights and democracy. Then there is Iran, where a dean of journalism, Siamak Pourzand, committed suicide to avoid more persecution by the regime. Last week, the assistant director for Education of UNESCO, Qian Tang, was in Iran to advance “cultural cooperation” with the Islamic Republic, but the issue of cultural freedom in the Iran was not even raised by the envoy of the UN agency. There is also Pakistan, a country that has sentenced to death essentially for being a Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, whose condition has never even been questioned by UNESCO. There is Qatar, where a poet, Rashid at Ajami, was sentenced to three years in prison for a poem critical of the emir Hamad bin Khalifa at Thani.

    UNESCO has become a grotesque forum, hosting shows such as that orchestrated by Cuba. Last June, Cuba complained of a minute of silence for Holocaust victims, but was able to hold another one for the Palestinians. At the opening of UNESCO’s 39th General Conference in Paris, the United Arab Emirates’ delegation placed a box containing a medal on the desk of each foreign delegation in honor of the UAE having sponsored the renovation of the conference hall. No box, however, was placed on the desk of Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen. These farces are nothing new at UNESCO. And they must end. The UN agency cannot allow the “uncivilized regimes“, as Shama-Hacohen called them, to continue to bully and vandalize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.

    Islamic regimes launched a takeover bid for UNESCO by investing massive financial resources and political lobbying at the UN cultural agency. Qatar, the wealthiest state in the world per capita, provided extremely generous financial support. That is why a Qatari representative, the former Minister of Culture Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kawari, for days led the recent race for the leadership of UNESCO. The Simon Wiesenthal Center charged Qatar with bribing countries to win votes for the UN agency post. The Wiesenthal Center then launched an appeal to prevent Iran from becoming the head of UNESCO’s executive board. Meanwhile, Turkey, another country with an Islamist regime that bullies culture and freedom, joined the executive board.

    This “lobbying” has enabled those Islamic countries to form the most powerful bloc at UNESCO. As Denis MacEoin has previously explained:

    “Of UNESCO’s 195 member states, 35 are fully Islamic nations, another 21 are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and four are OIC observer states. That makes 60 who represent a bloc favourable to Muslim-inspired resolutions.”

    Qatar has been pivotal in sponsoring anti-Semitic resolutions. There was UNESCO’s resolution denying Jewish history in Jerusalem, Islamizing historically Biblical holy sites by magic wand legerdemain, as Islam did not even exist until 600 years later. In a speech to the UNESCO General Assembly last week, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama Hacohen said :

    “UNESCO has been hijacked and abused as a tool for the persecution of Israel and the Jewish people, while concocting fake facts and fake history, meant to erase our history in Jerusalem and rewrite global history.”

    The Islamists’ takeover of the agency does not affect only Israel. It undermines the universal noble goal of this UN agency, which should be the protection of cultural diversity, especially where it is endangered.

    The Preamble of UNESCO’s Constitution says: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. UNESCO is knowingly betraying its own message. It is allowing regimes that massacre the minds of men to take over the UN agency that claims to be precisely in charge of “defenses of peace”.

    Last March, UNESCO’s then Director-General, Irina Bokova, expressed appreciation for Qatar’s support with a $2 million loan as part of a commitment by the Qatari authorities to donate $10 million to UNESCO. UNESCO’s headquarter in Paris hosted a forum sponsored by Saudi Arabia on “cultural and religious diversity“. It was a capitulation to barbarism; Saudi Arabia tortures bloggers such as Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison. UNESCO also held a three-day event entitled “Saudi Cultural Days” with Saudi art, food, customs and dances. Saudi King Abdallah Ibn Abdul Aziz donated $20 million to the UNESCO Emergency Fund. Donations to UNESCO have been promised by other Islamic countries, such as Algeria, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Qatar and Turkey.

    The United Arab Emirates gave $6 million to UNESCO, while Kuwait gave $5 million. UNESCO now hosts the presentation of books such as The Foundations of Islam along with ISESCO, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, whose director Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri met Flavia Schlegel, assistant director general of UNESCO, to advance the cooperation between the two agencies.

    At its headquarters in Paris, UNESCO also promoted a project, “Fighting Islamophobia through Education“. As the French author Pascal Bruckner explained:

    “The concept of Islamophobia masks the reality of the offensive, led by the Salafists, Wahhabis, and Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and North America, to re-Islamize Muslim communities — a prelude, they hope, to Islamizing the entire Western world.”

    Under UNESCO’s previous Director-General Irina Bokova, the organization allowed the “State of Palestine” to join as a memver, despite its not being a state and despite the Palestinians’ clear failure to protect holy sites. Palestinians destroyed the Jewish holy shrine of Joseph’s Tomb and attacked the holy site known as Rachel’s Tomb, while Palestinian terrorists invaded the Christian holy site of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity. UNESCO also kept silent when Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist terror group governing Gaza, destroyed the ancient Anthedon Harbor, which includes the ruins of a Roman temple and archaeological remains from the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras.

    UNESCO’s concern for “endangered sites” — a travesty of language used by these regimes to mask the Islamization of Hebron’s Jewish cemeteries at the UN — quickly disappears when it comes to Christian churches in the Islamic world. Hagia Sophia, the great cathedral of Christianity in Istanbul, was re-Islamized by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The muezzin’s call to prayer resounded for the first time in 85 years since the country’s former leader, Ataturk, turned the cathedral into a museum. If UNESCO is really serious about reforming itself, it should immediately issue a statement against the Islamization of Hagia Sophia, a UN World Heritage Site.

    Novelist and filmmaker Zulfu Livaneli, Turkey’s goodwill ambassador to the UNESCO, resigned in 2016; he accused the UN agency of hypocrisy for ignoring the destruction of a heritage site in Diyarbakir during clashes between the Turkish army and militants in his country’s mainly Kurdish southeast. “To pontificate on peace while remaining silent against such violations is a contradiction of the fundamental ideals of UNESCO,” said Livaneli, who had held the goodwill post to promote UNESCO values since 1996. More officials and personalities should take the same position protesting against UNESCO’s silence on many other destructions.

    New UNESCO chief Azoulay said last week that the US “empty chair” cannot last. The American boycott, however, is not a matter of time, but of substance. The US and Israeli boycott will last until UNESCO returns to its original mission.

    When Pablo Picasso painted the famous frescoes at UNESCO’s headquarter at Place de Fontenoy in Paris, UNESCO’s founding fathers dreamed of the rebirth of Western culture after the horrors of the Holocaust and Nazism. Now the West, intimidated by physical terror and political ransom, is allowing UNESCO to be seized by regimes that hang dissidents, lash women, execute gays, imprison Christians and leave their own people illiterate.

    When did the West cynically decide that education and culture were worth less than a barrel of oil?

    Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.


  • Jack 3:06 am on December 9, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Trumpophobic Idiocy 

    It is hard to believe that Trumpophobic idiocy can plumb depths more profound than it has reached in the last few days. Just as the Russian-collusion argument, which was never supported by anything except Hillary Clinton’s sulky evasions of her own responsibility for her electoral defeat, was sinking beneath the ripples the Trump-hating media had strenuously created for it, the Flynn indictment came. To anyone with any legal insight, such as Alan Dershowitz, Trey Gowdy, and Andy McCarthy (one of them should be the attorney general), it was the barefaced admission by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that, after nine months in charge of an investigation that had already been under way for eight months, he has absolutely nothing to justify continuing this charade within its original mandate to explore a Trump-Russian connection. Flynn was indicted for precisely the reason President Trump dismissed him as national-security adviser: lying about discussions with the Russians.

    The relief of the anti-Trumpers when the Flynn indictment gave them a lifeline to keep the impeachment dream alive in the minds of the fervent was inflated by ABC News’s bulletin that Flynn had alleged that Trump had told him to contact the Russian government before the election. This in itself would not have been worrisome — anyone can speak to Russians if they want — but it led to window-rattling ululations of Trumpophobic joy. Typical of it was the action of semi-comedienne (about as humorous as Al Franken) Joy Behar (whose book, The Great Gasbag, is, surprisingly, not autobiographical): She burst into applause and generated a standing ovation from the studio audience of her daytime television program. But it was fake news: Flynn claimed nothing of the kind. The reporter who produced the story, Brian Ross, had previously been reprimanded for suggesting that a mass murderer in Colorado several years ago was a member of the Tea Party when there was no evidence for that; and, in 2001, he suggested that Saddam Hussein was behind anthrax attacks in the U.S. when there was no evidence for that, either. Last week he was forced to recant and to withdraw his story, and was suspended without pay for four weeks. Ms. Behar was left with one hand clapping. The president, as has been his custom for two years, vehemently attacked fake news, with accuracy and effect. He debunked CNN by Twitter, eliciting the righteous falsehood of the egregious Wolf Blitzer that that network had served truth to the world for “nearly four decades.” Media solidarity fragmented on that whopper, as it was pointed out by several commentators that CNN had whitewashed Saddam, in order to maintain its bureau in Baghdad after other Western media had fled or been expelled by the Iraqi tyrant in 2003. Competitor Rupert Murdoch hit home when he claimed about 15 years ago that CNN’s Havana correspondent was Fidel Castro.

    When the president tweeted on the weekend that Flynn had been fired for lying to the FBI as well as to the vice president, he succeeded in stirring up another hornets’ nest of absurd confected outrage. Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal (the latter of whom had campaigned in 2010 referring to his service in Vietnam, a complete fabrication) torqued themselves up to agitation about a possible prosecution of the president for violating the Logan Act, and for obstruction of justice. The Logan Act of 1799, which prohibits private citizens from unauthorized attempts to conduct U.S. foreign policy, is nonsense constitutionally, and has never yielded a conviction or even been invoked since 1852. It does appear to have been a bugbear of official anti-Trumpism, having been bandied about for some time by many Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and the beleaguered John Conyers. There has been some speculation that its potential violation was the pretext used by the Obama administration to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign, an activity which, when revealed by Trump in March, led to much derision. It is a contemptible, nonsensical insinuation. No one officially complained when Senator Teddy Kennedy asked Soviet leader (and former KGB head) Yuri Andropov to join sensible Americans in opposing President Reagan’s foreign and defense policy, or when former special prosecutor Archibald Cox wrote every government in the world asking them not to cooperate with President George H. W. Bush in the Gulf War in 1991. MSNBC’s synchronized foamers-at-the-mouth, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, tried to breathe new air into the flat tire of the 25th Amendment for replacing mentally and physically incompetent presidents.

    Launched on slightly sturdier legs was the claim that Trump had obstructed justice, because, if he knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI, his statement to Comey on January 27 that he hoped the FBI director would be able to avoid prosecuting Flynn was an attempt to obstruct justice, compounded by his subsequent dismissal of Comey. As Representative Gowdy explained in a television interview — having read all of Comey’s memos over the period — if Comey had thought he was being tampered with by the president, he withheld that from himself (and Comey has publicly stated that he did not feel that).

    The anti-Trumpers have been engaged in a demeaning mousetrapping exercise for a very long time. The Justice Department (in the person of subsequently fired deputy attorney general Sally Yates) apparently asked to interview Flynn, and specifically asked him about conversations with the Russians, only to check his responses against what they had already ascertained from tapping into telephone conversations of the Russian ambassador, seeking a discrepancy. Flynn was so relaxed about it that he was not accompanied by a lawyer — unusual for someone who might be accused of treason — and he probably mistakenly forgot the conversations (as the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, claimed he did with the same ambassador). But Flynn pleaded guilty to lying as a single count, presumably to get rid of the expense and strain of Mueller’s persecution in exchange for a shoestring to the special counsel to keep this sham investigation going.

    The Democratic retreat was impossible to disguise. Virginia senator Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who nine months ago was claiming there were a thousand Russian agents planting anti-Clinton comments in swing states in the election campaign, and that Russia had won Wisconsin for Trump (complete falsehoods), and claimed until recently that the Steele dossier was “taken seriously by Britain, our ally,” bumbled almost incoherently out of our television screens on the weekend about obstruction of justice. This must be the last trench of defense for this bedraggled cabal of myth-makers and slanderers. Allegations about Trump’s tax returns, the infamous Clinton-commissioned Steele dossier, the whole collusion nonsense, and the 25th Amendment foolishness have all crumbled, and we are left with a statutory relic from John Adams and an obstruction scenario that Trump described persuasively as “more fake news about another Comey lie.” This rubbish can’t have been much consolation in a week when Trump got his tax bill through the Senate; the Supreme Court allowed his immigration executive order to proceed, pending determination of the main issue; it came to light that Mueller had had to fire an overt Trump-hater, Peter Strzok (who had helped push Comey into letting Hillary Clinton go unprosecuted for more serious lies to the FBI than Flynn committed); and Roy Moore regained the lead in the Alabama Senate election.

    It is difficult to know whether President Trump deliberately pours gasoline on the fires of Democratic and conventional-media frustration with provocative tweets, or is just reckless; the most likely option is a combination of tactics and insouciance. His enemies almost always overreact and crunch their teeth into another nothingburger. He is clearly winning the long battle: Almost the entire congressional Republican caucus now accepts his leadership and is working to enact the Trump agenda that most of them opposed up to the election, and, as the tax bill shows, he is breaking through; the Democrats will shut the government down at their peril. But as he takes hold, the president should consider whether he doesn’t owe the country and his great office a de-escalation of the tweet-wars. By all means, communicate with the vast Trump constituency and ignore the dishonest media — but he could graciously forgo answering the most insignificant critics (like the ungrateful father of the basketball player he sprang from prison in China) and throwing raw meat in the faces of the Maddows, Blitzers, and Scarboroughs, entertaining though it is.

    It is also time for the visceral snobs and deranged Trump-haters to subside and allow a serious opposition to arise, that offers alternatives and does not start swinging before the ball is pitched and strike out every time. America deserves a dignified chief and a loyal opposition.

    © 2017 Conrad Black

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  • Jack 3:06 am on December 9, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , mikheil saakashvili, , , , , ukrainian politics, , ,   

    Loose Cannon 

    Even interventionists are regretting some of the wars into which they helped plunge the United States in this century.

    Among those wars are Afghanistan and Iraq, the longest in our history; Libya, which was left without a stable government; Syria’s civil war, a six-year human rights disaster we helped kick off by arming rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad; and Yemen, where a U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign and starvation blockade is causing a humanitarian catastrophe.

    Yet, twice this century, the War Party was beaten back when seeking a clash with Putin’s Russia. And the “neo-isolationists” who won those arguments served America well.

    What triggered this observation was an item on Page 1 of Wednesday’s New York Times that read in its entirety:

    “Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia, led marchers through Kiev after threatening to jump from a five-story building to evade arrest. Page A4”

    Who is Saakashvili? The wunderkind elected in 2004 in Tbilisi after a “Rose Revolution” we backed during George W. Bush’s crusade for global democracy.

    During the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, Saakashvili sent his army crashing into the tiny enclave of South Ossetia, which had broken free of Georgia when Georgia broke free of Russia.

    In overrunning the enclave, however, Saakashvili’s troops killed Russian peacekeepers. Big mistake. Within 24 hours, Putin’s tanks and troops were pouring through Roki Tunnel, running Saakashvili’s army out of South Ossetia, and occupying parts of Georgia itself.

    As defeat loomed for the neocon hero, U.S. foreign policy elites were alive with denunciations of “Russian aggression” and calls to send in the 82nd Airborne, bring Georgia into NATO, and station U.S. forces in the Caucasus.

    “We are all Georgians!” thundered John McCain.

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    Not quite. When an outcry arose against getting into a collision with Russia, Bush, reading the nation right, decided to confine U.S. protests to the nonviolent. A wise call.

    And Saakashvili? He held power until 2013, and then saw his party defeated, was charged with corruption, and fled to Ukraine. There, President Boris Poroshenko, beneficiary of the Kiev coup the U.S. had backed in 2014, put him in charge of Odessa, one of the most corrupt provinces in a country rife with corruption.

    In 2016, an exasperated Saakashvili quit, charged his patron Poroshenko with corruption, and fled Ukraine. In September, with a band of supporters, he made a forced entry back across the border.

    Here is the Times’ Andrew Higgins on his latest antics:

    “On Tuesday … Saakashvili, onetime darling of the West, took his high-wire political career to bizarre new heights when he climbed onto the roof of his five-story apartment building in the center of Kiev…

    “As … hundreds of supporters gathered below, he shouted insults at Ukraine’s leaders … and threatened to jump if security agents tried to grab him.

    “Dragged from the roof after denouncing Mr. Poroshenko as a traitor and a thief, the former Georgian leader was detained but then freed by his supporters, who … blocked a security service van before it could take Mr. Saakashvili to a Kiev detention center and allowed him to escape.

    “With a Ukrainian flag draped across his shoulders and a pair of handcuffs still attached to one of his wrists, Mr. Saakashvili then led hundreds of supporters in a march across Kiev toward Parliament. Speaking through a bullhorn he called for ‘peaceful protests’ to remove Mr. Poroshenko from office, just as protests had toppled the former President, Victor F. Yanukovych, in February 2014.”

    This reads like a script for a Peter Sellers movie in the ’60s.

    Yet this clown was president of Georgia, for whose cause in South Ossetia some in our foreign policy elite thought we should go to the brink of war with Russia.

    And there was broad support for bringing Georgia into NATO. This would have given Saakashvili an ability to ignite a confrontation with Russia, which could have forced U.S. intervention.

    Consider Ukraine. Three years ago, McCain was declaring, in support of the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, “We are all Ukrainians now.”

    Following that coup, U.S. elites were urging us to confront Putin in Crimea, bring Ukraine, as well as Georgia, into NATO, and send Kiev the lethal weapons needed to defeat Russian-backed rebels in the East.

    This could have led straight to a Ukraine-Russia war, precipitated by our sending of U.S. arms.

    Do we really want to cede to folks of the temperament of Mikhail Saakashvili an ability to instigate a war with a nuclear-armed Russia, which every Cold War president was resolved to avoid, even if it meant accepting Moscow’s hegemony in Eastern Europe all the way to the Elbe?

    Watching Saakashvili losing it in the streets of Kiev like some blitzed college student should cause us to reassess the stability of all these allies to whom we have ceded a capacity to drag us into war.

    Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war.

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  • Jack 3:05 am on December 9, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: "peter pan", , , , , , , , terry glavin, trudeaupia   

    Dolts or Thieves? 

    It should tell you something about just how deeply the rot has spread that the Liberal Party of Canada was well represented at the Chinese Communist Party’s three-day “dialogue with world political parties” that was wrapping up just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was arriving in Beijing on Sunday, and that among the 300 delegates who lauded Xi Jinping’s regime “as the core in pushing forward the building of a community of a shared future for mankind and of a better world” was none other than Jean Chretien. The former Liberal prime minister is nowadays employed by Denton’s Canada LLP, the ugly little stepsister of the global conglomerate Beijing Dacheng.

    It should also tell you something about just how run-of-the-mill these kinds of obscenities have become that barely a whisper has been heard in the House of Commons following last week’s revelations about the generosity the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department and its related overseas influence-peddling agencies have been lavishing upon Canadian politicians.

    Along with pro-Beijing lobby groups headquartered in Canada, the Chinese Communist Party’s “soft power” brokers have picked up the costs of dozens of getting-to-know-you trips to China over the years for several Liberal and Conservative MPs and senators. All by himself, John McCallum, the cabinet minister Trudeau appointed ambassador to China last year, racked up freebie trips to the value of $73,300.

    But what the hell. A drop in the bucket. Xi Jinping’s increasingly imperialistic regime spends an estimated $18 billion a year on subversion and overseas propaganda, which in its Canadian content is now practically indistinguishable from the boilerplate produced by the Office of the Minister of International Trade and the Canada-China Business Council.

    We are all supposed to be somehow impressed, for instance, or at least surprised, that Trudeau’s purportedly principled insistence on gender, labour and environmental provisions in a free trade agreement with China was the cause of some hullabaloo in Beijing this week. It’s a handy storyline. Even Trudeau’s noisiest critics will settle for it. What a dolt! Dolt or not, the proposition that it’s a big deal falls apart on the fiction that there is some important distinction to be drawn between proceeding with “preliminary negotiations” as expected, and advancing to “high level exchanges” on free trade instead.

    Never mind for the moment that “free trade” isn’t even possible with a police state, let alone the sort that has lately rededicated itself with relish to the thuggery necessary to the enforcement of a command-and-control economy – which Xi Jinping has explicitly articulated as a matter of fundamental state policy. Trudeau can at least be confident that he can persist in his cringe-inducing infatuation with the Chinese regime, and that Beijing will continue to return the compliment with the flattery that he obsessively craves.

    But Trudeau’s advisors know full well that they can’t be quite so sanguine. You never can tell when public disgust will reach a tipping point. So a bit of high drama comes in handy. High comedy, too, however unintentional.

    One is left to wonder what sort of gender-parity provisions Canada would put on the table in talks with a despotism overseen by a standing committee to which no woman has ever belonged, which is nominally “elected” by a 25-member politburo with only two women at the table, overseeing a 376-member party central committee that has permitted only 33 women in its ranks.

    Okay, “the environment,” then. While Canada lathers on the praise for Beijing’s alleged commitment to the Paris Accord on global warming, China has no obligation to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions under the accord until 2030. The shelved plans for those 500 new Chinese coal plants, then? China is opening that many coal mines overseas, mostly in Africa.

    Labour standards? All China has to do is ratify and implement longstanding international standards set by the International Labour Organization – which Beijing refuses to do, because the ILO rules prohibit forced labour and discrimination against migratory workers, and the rules insist on collective bargaining rights and the rights of workers to independent unions, which Beijing will not tolerate.

    No “free trade” deal with Canada will change any of this, and while this week’s theatrics in Beijing were all very gripping, one would have to be stone deaf to irony and wholly blind to Trudeau’s hypocrisy to be impressed.

    Before he jetted off last weekend, this was a key pretext in Trudeau’s pre-boarding announcement: “A closer relationship also means more opportunity to hold regular, frank dialogue on human rights issues like good governance, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.”

    Hold the laughter about human rights and good governance and the rule of law for a moment. Freedom of speech? Seriously? Trudeau’s first big gig in Beijing was to play the marquee celebrity-endorsement role at a huge marketing and publicity event hosted by Sina, the parent company of Weibo, China’s vigorously state-patrolled social media platform. Here’s the promotional blurb: “Why would this great leader, famous for his good looks and youth, choose to visit Sina first?”

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Singh Bains as they meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

    Good question. Why would the prime minister of a liberal democracy serve as a branding and public-relations gimmick for a mammoth communications corporation controlled by an executive Communist Party committee that employs more than 1,000 people just to spy on citizens and monitor their messages for banned ideas so that dissenters can be more efficiently reported to the authorities?

    It is commonplace to describe Weibo as a micro-blogging platform that is more popular than Twitter. It is, but that’s at least partly because Twitter is blocked in China, along with the social media sites Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr and Periscope. The news media sites blocked in China – not least the New York Times, Bloomberg, Le Monde and the Economist – are just as numerous.

    So much for free speech, then. As for the possibility of free trade with China, it’s a propaganda fiction, and we would all do well to call it what it is.

    Now that Xi Jinping has consolidated his stranglehold on power following the recent 19th Party Congress, there is no turning back. Article 19 of the Company Law of the People’s Republic of China stipulates that all companies doing business in the country must incorporate a party committee into its management structure. In the case of joint ventures, the party is now demanding that the company’s party secretary be the board chairman. By the Chinese regime’s own calculations, nearly three-quarters of the 100,000-plus foreign-invested companies in China already have the tumour of a party committee thriving inside them.

    Does any of this matter to Canada?

    It does when you look at what Canadians are getting in return, and for a glimpse of that, it’s worth noticing that China’s ruling princelings have already secured a shadowy free trade zone for themselves in Metro Vancouver real estate. Last month, the International Housing Affordability Study identified Vancouver as the least-affordable city in North America, while the corruption watchdog Transparency International reports that Vancouver has emerged as a major transnational money-laundering hub.

    Dirty money is pouring through Metro Vancouver casinos, and the region’s housing stock is increasingly owned by shell companies, trusts, anonymous beneficiaries, or nominees who list their occupation as “housewife” or “student.” It’s gotten to the point that B.C. Attorney General David Eby reckons there is simply no relationship between house prices in Metro Vancouver and taxable income reported to Revenue Canada “until you get out to the distant suburbs.”

    Since the return of the Liberal Party to power in October 2015, Ottawa and Beijing have signed at least 50 “important bilateral collaborations,” to borrow the Chinese Communist Party’s terminology. The collusion includes national security files, military exchanges, education, consular affairs, and “cybercrime.”

    It’s one little capitulation after another.

    It matters.


    See Also:

    (1) Any “Free Trade” Deal With China Must Be Decided By A National Referendum

  • Jack 3:24 am on December 8, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , joel pollach,   

    Big Deal 

    President Donald Trump is announcing Wednesday that the U.S. officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will begin the process of moving the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

    It might be unclear at first why that policy change is so important. Jerusalem is, after all, the de facto capital of Israel. The Israeli parliament (Knesset) is there, as are the prime minister’s office, the president’s residence, the Supreme Court, and all of the executive agencies. Israelis consider Jerusalem their capital whether or not the U.S. recognizes it as such. As a practical matter, the change is symbolic. But as such, it is still extremely important.

    To understand why, it is important to understand the history of the city. The Old Testament describes in 2 Samuel 5 how King David conquered the city and made it his capital, over 3000 years ago. It later describes in 1 Kings 8 how David’s son, King Solomon, built the Holy Temple and installed the Ark of the Covenant there. Since then, Jews have always faced Jerusalem in their daily prayers. It is the center of the Jewish faith and the core of Jewish history.

    The Bible also tells the story of how the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and later returned to rebuild the Temple. Another exile happened after 70 A.D., when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and the city itself. Still, many Jews remained, and Jews worldwide prayed for 2,000 years for a return to “Zion.” Jews have been the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem for nearly 200 years, and a majority since the mid-nineteenth century.

    Jerusalem is also holy to Christians and to Muslims, though it is less central to either. And under Israeli sovereignty, all religions have enjoyed the freedom to worship at their respective holy sites. The Temple Mount — or Haram ash-Sharif, to Muslims — has only been closed when there are imminent security threats, as radicals have sometimes used that holy site to attack Jews worshipping at the Western Wall — the last remnant of the Temple — below.

    Jews began returning to the region in large numbers in the late nineteenth century as part of the Zionist movement, which aimed to re-establish Israel as a modern state, and as a refuge for the persecuted Jews of Europe. In 1917, the British government backed the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in what was then called Palestine (though the Arabs of the region did not call themselves Palestinians), in lands under British control since World War One.

    The Jewish community of Jerusalem had, by then, expanded beyond the Old City and developed neighborhoods to the west. In 1947, the United Nations voted to approve the partition of Palestine west of the Jordan River into two states — one Jewish, one Arab. Jerusalem was to be an international city, not under the control of either side. The Jews accepted the plan and declared independence in 1948; the Arabs rejected the plan and declared war instead.

    During that war, Arab forces fought to sever the connection between the Jewish community in Jerusalem and the Jewish communities further west. There was only one road to Jerusalem, and it was constantly under attack. In the Old City, Jewish fighters were eventually overrun by Jordanian troops — which, trained by Britain, were the Arab world’s best. Jordan occupied the Old City and flattened the Jewish quarter, ethnically cleansing its inhabitants.

    From 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was divided into two parts. On the western side, Israel established its capital amidst a modern city. On the eastern side, Jordan governed the Old City and the surrounding Arab neighborhoods of the West Bank. There was never any discussion of establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank or a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. Jews were denied access to the holy sites of the Old City, especially the Western Wall.

    In the Six Day War of 1967, Israel — under direct threat of destruction by the surrounding Arab states — won a surprise victory and took control of the Sinai peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Israeli troops also conquered all of Jerusalem, reuniting it and liberating the Old City. But the Arab states still refused to negotiate with Israel, and most countries declined to place their embassies there for fear of antagonizing the Palestinians.

    In the 1990s, when formal negotiations began between Israel and the Palestinians, Jerusalem was one of the most difficult issues — more difficult than the questions of borders and Palestinian refugees. Though Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, it gave the president the power to sign a waiver every six months delaying the embassy move. The idea was to preserve the status quo in Jerusalem so as not to jeopardize ongoing peace talks.

    But as administration officials explained to reporters on Tuesday, after more than two decades, it was clear that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was not a real obstacle to peace. It was clear to all that the western part of Jerusalem, at least, would be under Israeli sovereignty in any conceivable peace agreement. The idea that all of the city would be up for negotiation was little more than a concession to the most extreme Palestinian demands.

    As such, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy there is just a recognition of reality. But it is also a courageous decision, showing that the U.S. will stand with our allies regardless of terrorist threats.

    President Trump’s decision also represents a guarantee of Israeli sovereignty in at least part of Jerusalem. As such, it represents the fulfillment of thousands of years of Jewish prayer, and over a century of Zionist efforts to establish and protect a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

    It is no exaggeration to say that for Jews, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an event of almost Biblical significance. And we are witnesses to it.


    See Also:

    (1) Trump to Abbas: Negotiate

    (2) #NeverTrump on Jerusalem, Embassy Decision: ‘Good for Trump’

    (3) The Impending Death of Multiculturalism


  • Jack 3:23 am on December 8, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , tammy bruce, , ,   

    Not Helpful 

    We know the Nov. 5 Texas church shooting massacre should never have happened. Because we can never expect a moral position from a monster who would do that, as a nation we have regulations and laws in place that should have prevented the previously convicted domestic batterer from buying his firearms.

    But those laws failed when bureaucrats in the military failed to do the thing that bureaucrats are supposed to do best: follow procedure.

    Now we know the Air Force’s failure to submit shooter Devin Kelley’s court-martial to the FBI was not a one-off mistake; instead, it is apparently quite common for the military as a whole.

    A Department of Defense Inspector General report released Monday has revealed the extent of the incompetence of the military, in general, to report relevant courts-martial to the FBI.

    “U.S. military services collectively failed to submit reports on hundreds of qualifying court-martialed service-members to the FBI, a Monday Department of Defense Inspector General report examining procedures between 2015 and 2016 found,” the Daily Caller reports.

    “The military is required by law to submit both fingerprint cards and ‘final disposition reports’ to the FBI for certain court-martialed offenses. ‘Overall, of the 2,502 fingerprint cards required to be submitted, we identified 601 (24 percent) that were missing. Of 2,502 required final disposition reports required to be submitted, 780 (31 percent) were missing, the damning report concludes for just a single calendar year,” the Daily Caller notes.

    After the recent mass shootings, we have a replay of liberals demanding more regulations and more government involvement to stop the senseless murders. Yet, as in the aftermath of the deadly Texas shooting, we are reminded our society is willing and has been implementing controls intended to protect people from the beasts among us.

    But then we see the same gigantic, unaccountable and bureaucratic government we’re relying on to implement those rules making a deadly mockery of the entire effort.

    For anyone who still thinks we need more regulations and bigger government to implement them, consider this gem: Last year, the FBI tasked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with seizing 4,000 firearms from people who did not pass background checks.

    The New York Post reports, “Gun owners who were targeted by the feds were either barred from purchasing a firearm due to their criminal backgrounds, mental health issues or other various problems.

    ” ‘These are people who shouldn’t have weapons in the first place, and it just takes one to do something that could have tragic consequences,’ former ATF official David Chipman told USA Today. ‘You don’t want ATF to stand for “after the fact.” ‘ […] In total, the FBI referred 4,170 gun purchases to the ATF last year for seizure, up from the 2,892 requests that were made in 2015,” the paper reports.

    Despite this reality, liberals continue to call for more regulations, and more bureaucratic government, when it’s clear the very thing they’re arguing for does, in fact, make social problems worse.

    But then again, the goal of liberals isn’t to actually keep people safe while also protecting the constitutional rights; it’s to use chaos as the excuse to implement their unicorn-and-rainbow collective via even more government control over the American people.

    Just like how liberals and Hollywood crowed about being champions for women then ended up exposed as their victimizers, they also don’t really care about gun violence. For the left, every tragedy is simply a good crisis to be used to further their goal of a collective fascist state.

    Take, for example, the result of the Kate Steinle murder trial. A jury of San Franciscans agreed with a public defender from San Francisco and acquitted an illegal alien felon, the confessed shooter, of all crimes of violence — murder, assault and manslaughter. He was found guilty only of illegal possession of a firearm.

    What a revelation about San Francisco liberals — here they had the admitted killer, and they refused to punish him in any fashion for gun violence that took the life of a young woman.

    This columnist contends that the liberal sanctuary city policy and national debate is having more of a negative impact than we realized. The national hectoring by liberals about how illegal aliens need to be protected from the big, bad American rule of law, I contend, is contributing to a conditioned mindset among liberals that criminal illegal aliens simply should not be held responsible for anything they do.

    Their refusal to convict a man who used a firearm to kill a woman, even if not initially intended, is at least involuntary manslaughter. But no, San Franciscans let that slide, providing another example of the gobsmacking depth of liberal hypocrisy and fraud.

    Whether it be their liberal “feminist” political donors in Hollywood sexually assaulting women, or their romanticized and illegal alien criminals protected in “sanctuary cities, a” liberal leadership and policies continue to place all of us in existential danger.

    • Tammy Bruce, author and Fox News contributor, is a radio talk show host.


  • Jack 10:44 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , hugh hewitt, , , , , , public anger, , , , , , washington post   

    Action Required 

    The Post reported that a former top FBI official, Peter Strzok, who had been assigned to and then removed from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, had “exchanged politically charged texts disparaging [President] Trump and supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton” and that Strzok was “also a key player in the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.”

    This is a blockbuster revelation, carrying the possibility of shattering public confidence in a number of long-held assumptions about the criminal-justice system generally and the FBI and the Justice Department specifically. The Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate Strzok’s actions as soon as possible.

    The Strzok report comes on the heels of the widely derided Justice Department investigation into IRS discrimination against conservative groups, including the disposition of allegations against IRS senior official Lois Lerner, and after the wildly erratic behavior of then-FBI Director James B. Comey during 2016. It also follows the vote to hold then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress — the first ever against a sitting member of the Cabinet — with 17 Democrats voting in support. Mix into this battering of the Justice Department’s and FBI’s reputations the still-murky charges and counter-charges of abuse of “unmasking” powers during the waning days of the Obama era.

    As a result, a large swath of responsible center-right observers are demanding a full review of the investigation and prosecution powers wielded by the Obama-era Justice Department and FBI. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote in National Review on Saturday that President Trump should call for a second independent counsel to investigate abuse of the counterintelligence authorities under President Barack Obama, abuses he suggests were undertaken to protect the controversial Iran deal on nuclear weapons.

    This is an excellent idea. The new special counsel could also review Strzok’s texts and, more crucially, his conduct throughout 2015 and 2016. Strzok may be completely innocent of everything except an offhand joke that the straight-laced Mueller deemed necessary to punish in a display of a “Caesar’s wife” sort of purity of purpose. But if his texts to FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal a partisan animus toward Trump or admiration for Clinton, then the bureau and the department have a huge problem on their hands and not just with Strzok and Page.

    When FBI Special Agent Robert Hanssen was revealed to have committed espionage against the United States, it didn’t mean that even one other member of the bureau was guilty of Hanssen’s sins, but it did require a painstaking review of all of Hanssen’s activities and inputs, as all of them had to be reconsidered in light of his treasonous behavior.

    If Strzok’s texts reveal deep animus toward Trump or an operational effort to tilt one or more investigations, then all of his actions have to be reviewed to assure the public’s confidence in the bureau. That one or two agents or officials of the bureau are discovered to have been acting from improper motives would be bad enough. To try and sweep those activities under the rug would be worse. Against the backdrop of other recent controversies, it would be disastrous.

    Step one is a quick publication of the questionable texts. All of them. The public has a right to know what the predicate for Mueller’s extraordinary action was. The public also deserves a detailed account of Strzok’s (and Page’s) duties and authorities during the years in question. If an NBA official was discovered to have purposefully thrown even one game, every game in which he had carried a whistle would be under the microscope. That’s how it works.

    Unless there’s a coverup.

    Nevertheless, just as Hanssen was “one bad apple” who didn’t spoil the bunch, so even an out-of-bounds Strzok doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the FBI beyond him. To get to the truth, and restore confidence in federal law enforcement, a special counsel should conduct an inquiry, bring any necessary charges and make a report — someone without ties to the president or his opponents.

    They do exist, such men and women. Former federal judges make excellent candidates. But we need one appointed right now.


    See Also:

    (1) Robert Mueller’s credibility plunging as Donald Trump probe implodes

    (2) The Incredible Tale of a Reckless, Partisan FBI Agent and Our Partisan Bureaucracy

    (3) Exclusive–Former Independent Counsel Slams ‘Brazen and Blatant Political’ Investigation of President Trump

    (4) Discovery of FBI Official’s Political Bias Clouds Hillary Clinton and Mike Flynn Investigations

    (5) Enough: FBI and Justice Department Corruption Needs to End

    (6) Is Flynn’s Defection a Death Blow?

    (7) Why weren’t Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills charged when they lied to Peter Strzok and the FBI?

    (8) Another One! Mueller Deputy Was Personal Attorney of Ben Rhodes, Represented Clinton Foundation

    (9) Mueller deputy praised DOJ official after she defied Trump travel ban order: ‘I am so proud’

    (10) Report: House Intelligence Committee to Begin Writing Contempt Resolution for FBI, DOJ Officials


  • Jack 3:24 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: burak bekdil, eu-turkey relations, , , , , turkey-world relations   


    Turkey’s strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may have exhibited all possible features of political Islam since he came to power fifteen years ago, but at least he has been bold and honest about his understanding of Islamism: There is no moderate Islam, he recently said again.

    This comment does not mark any U-turn, or a radical deviation from his earlier freshman-self back in the 2000s. The problem is that his Western “allies” have stubbornly preferred to turn a blind eye to his poster-child Islamism. Worse, they still do.

    Several years ago, Erdogan’s ideological-self clearly stated that “Turkey is not a country where moderate Islam prevails.” In the same speech, his pragmatic-self — the one that wanted to look pretty to a chorus of Western praise — added that, “We are Muslims who have found a middle road”. But which “middle road?”

    In the several years that followed, Erdogan proudly exhibited another feature of Islamism in a make-believe assertion: Muslims never do wrong; if a Muslim does wrong then he is not Muslim.

    In 2009, when Sudanese paramilitaries committed acts of genocide against the population of Darfur, and Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, was guilty of the crimes for which he was indicted by the International Criminal Court, Erdogan simply said: “It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide.” Instead, he said, Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza are worse than anything that has taken place in Sudan . As he said that, victims in Sudan had already numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

    In February, at a meeting in Ankara, Erdogan slammed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phrase “Islamist terror”. He angrily said to his guest, “Islam means ‘peace,’ it can’t come with ‘terror'”.

    When Erdogan (then prime minister) famously claimed that “there is no Islamic terror” in 2010, the satire website Zaytung fabricated a story, the lead paragraph of which read: “Erdogan’s claims that ‘There is no Islamic terror’ have left several Islamic terror organizations heart-broken. A press release from al-Qaeda’s press office read: ‘The prime minister’s remarks are very discouraging. We are doing our best!'”.

    In 2011, when Hamas’ charter called for the annihilation of the State of Israel by means of violence, Erdogan claimed that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.” Instead, he said: “I don’t see Hamas as a terror organization. Hamas is a political party — it emerged as a political party that appeared as a political party. It is a resistance movement trying to protect its country under occupation”.

    In a similar show of ideological wishful thinking, Erdogan has often come out in defense of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, despite international pressure against the movement, particularly from the United States, which has debated listing the group as a terrorist organization. Erdogan said he did not consider the Brotherhood one because “it is not an armed group, but is in actual fact an ideological organization”.

    The Obama administration sounded as if it were trying to deal with the Turkey it wished it had, instead of dealing with the Turkey it had.

    In a 2010 interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Obama referred to Turkey as a “great Muslim democracy”. Obama should have seen that a democracy is a democracy — without any religious prefix. He would see in later years the difference between a democracy and a Muslim democracy.

    But it took Obama many years to see that. In 2011, Tom Donilon, Obama’s former national security advisor, said that the U.S. president regarded Erdogan as “a man of principle, and also a man of action.” In a 2012 Time interview, Obama named Erdogan as one of the five world leaders with whom he had the strongest bonds.

    Seven years after Obama’s pathetic diagnosis about the kind of democracy Erdogan brought to an otherwise secular country, the Turkish president said that “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. There is only one Islam.” Worse, he claimed that the term “moderate Islam” had been fabricated by the West in order to weaken Islam. From the Muslim democracy to the former U.S. president, with love…

    The U.S. ambassador to Ankara from 2003 to 2005, Eric Edelman, said, “We basically have turned a blind eye to Erdogan’s drive towards an authoritarian, one-man system of rule in Turkey”. The journalist Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in The Atlantic’s April 2016 issue:

    “Early on, Obama saw Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey, as the sort of moderate Muslim leader who would bridge the divide between East and West — but Obama now considers him a failure and an authoritarian…”

    The Trump administration has two options: It can either deal with the Turkey it has or the Turkey it wished it had.

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


    See Also:

    (1) Israel Sends Unmistakable Message to Iran by Bombing its Base in Syria

  • Jack 3:24 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , palestinian poitics, ,   


    Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas continues to mouth his “desire” to achieve peace with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution. Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and PLO partners, however, evidently have a different agenda: to wage war on Israel until the “liberation of all of Palestine.”

    In a speech delivered on his behalf by Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, on November 30, Abbas repeated his commitment to a two-state solution based on international law and the 1967 “borders.”

    Abbas called on the UN “to force Israel to recognize the State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders as the basis for a two-state solution, and to agree on a demarcation of borders in line with the resolutions of the international community.”

    Abbas’s claim to a commitment to the “two-state solution” is a staple of his talks to the international community. It is just not clear who Abbas represents when he talks about the Palestinians’ commitment to a “two-state solution.”

    In addition to his title as president of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas also holds the jobs of chairman of the PLO and Fatah, his ruling faction in the West Bank. Do Abbas’s statements regarding peace with Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel represent any of three these bodies? Hardly.

    Abbas’s four-year term in office (as president of the Palestinian Authority) expired in January 2009. Since then, he is widely considered by Palestinians as an illegitimate president who does not have the authority to sign any peace agreement with Israel on behalf of a majority of his people. Many Palestinians will legitimately reject any agreement he signs with Israel on the grounds that the 82-year-old Abbas, who is now in his 12th year of his four-year term in office, is not a lawful leader.

    Against this backdrop of zero confidence, any agreement Abbas signs with Israel would not be worth the paper it is written on.

    Besides, the Palestinian Authority that he heads has no jurisdiction over the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or millions of Palestinians residing in Arab countries and elsewhere around the world. At the very most, the PA would be able to implement such an agreement only on those parts it controls in the West Bank.

    That is concerning to the PA, a self-ruled body that was established in accordance with the 1993 Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO.

    As for the PLO, of which Abbas is chairman, it is worth noting that it is an umbrella organization made up of various Palestinian factions. With the exception of Fatah, the largest faction (also headed by Abbas), the remaining groups are emphatically opposed to a peace process with Israel. Even worse, the other PLO groups continue to advocate an armed struggle against Israel.

    Take, for example, the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a famous PLO terror group that does not believe in Israel’s right to exist and continues to engage in terrorism. The PFLP never misses an opportunity to state its support for violence and rejection of any peace agreement with Israel.

    Here is what the PFLP thinks about efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel:

    “The PFLP confirms its categorical rejection of all international and Arab projects and ‘solutions’ that attempt to undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees and principally, their right of return, in the interest of proposals consistent with the Zionist vision if this fundamental issue.”

    The PFLP, like Hamas and other Palestinian groups, makes no secret of its goal to “liberate Palestine, from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea.” All should be commended for their honesty. If anyone has any doubts, their plan means the total destruction of Israel.

    Another PLO terror group, the Leninist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), for example, is equally dangerous and rejects any peaceful settlement with Israel. This is what the group had to say in a recent statement marking the 69th anniversary of the “Nakba” (the “catastrophe,” a reference to the establishment of Israel in 1948):

    “Let’s make the 69th anniversary of the Nakba a year to liberate our cause from the Oslo compromising ties, a year of national salvation and mobilization of our national forces against the Zionist project on every single inch of Palestine land.”

    Some may argue that both the PFLP and DFLP are relatively small groups within the PLO, and that their words are insignificant. However, it is the actions of the terror groups, not only the rhetoric, that matters. With a long history of terrorism against Israel, the PFLP and DFLP will never accept any peace agreement with Israel. How can they accept any agreement when they are already calling for the abrogation of the Oslo Accords?

    The PFLP and DFLP are not the only PLO terror groups opposed to any peaceful settlement with Israel. Among the other PLO terror groups are: The Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestine Liberation Front, the Arab Liberation Front and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front. Their shared ideology: rejection of Israel’s right to exist and commitment to terrorism as a way of “liberating all of Palestine.”

    Thus, as chairman of the PLO, Abbas cannot say that he represents the entire organization. He has no leverage with the PFLP, DFLP and the remaining terror groups operating under the umbrella of his PLO. These terror groups would never — ever — sign on to a peace agreement between Abbas and Israel.

    That leaves us with Abbas’s dominant Fatah faction. And now we come to the million dollar question: Does Abbas really represent all of Fatah? The answer is simple and clear: No.

    Over the past few decades, Fatah has witnessed sharp divisions and disputes, resulting in a number of splinter groups that broke away and are now openly challenging Abbas’s leadership and policies.

    Does Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas really represent all of his Fatah faction? No. Over the past few decades, Fatah has witnessed sharp divisions and disputes, resulting in a number of splinter groups that broke away and are now openly challenging Abbas’s leadership and policies. Pictured: Abbas (center) meets with the Central Committee of the Fatah movement July 13, 2014 in Ramallah. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

    Tensions within Fatah have intensified markedly in recent years, especially with the revolt spearheaded by Abbas’s arch-rival, Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan, a former Fatah official and security commander ousted by Abbas, is currently based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and enjoys the backing of many Palestinian cadres, especially in the Gaza Strip. Dahlan and his supporters are working hard to remove Abbas from power with the help of the UAE and some Arab countries.

    Moreover, Abbas’s two-state solution remarks and his avowals of opposition to terrorism also fail to reflect the views of some of Fatah’s top officials and media. A report presented by Palestinian Media Watch to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East details Fatah’s ongoing incitement and glorification of terror against Israel.

    The divisions within Fatah are not limited to the political echelon only; they also extend to the faction’s various armed groups. This means that Abbas also does not represent all the armed groups of the faction that he is supposed to be heading under Fatah.

    Here, for example, is what one of Fatah’s armed groups, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — Battalion of Martyr Nidal Al-Amoudi thinks about Abbas’s two-state solution and peace with Israel: “We promise our people to pursue the path of armed struggle and the pure rifle until the liberation of all Palestine and its holy sites.” That statement by Abbas’s terror group was issued in the Gaza Strip on December 2. The occasion: Launching a “training” camp for Fatah terrorists named after Yasser Arafat.

    Let us get things clear: While Abbas is making noises about a peace process, his own Fatah faction is inciting violence and calling for the destruction of Israel. While Abbas is talking about his interest in achieving a two-state solution, his partners in the PLO, including the PFLP and DFLP, are openly calling for the destruction of Israel and advocating an armed struggle. While Abbas is claiming that he is the legitimate president of the Palestinians, many Palestinians, including senior officials in his Fatah faction, are legitimately stating he has no mandate from his people to sign any agreement with Israel.

    Abbas is a failed leader who has missed opportunity after opportunity to shepherd his people toward a better and dignified life. While his words may sound good to some Israelis and many in the international community, we are left with the burning question: Exactly who does he represent and on behalf of whom is he exactly talking? The answer is that Abbas is a single-strategy demagogue whose one goal is to hold onto the power to sell mirages to the world until his last breath.

    Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


    See Also:

    (1) Did the partition resolution change history?

    (2) Zionist Organization of America Blasts Jared Kushner’s Middle East Remarks

    (3) Six Reasons Jared Kushner is Dangerously Delusional on the Middle East

    (4) Religious Hate Crimes, USA.: Jews, Not Muslims, Still Key Victims

    (5) Israel, European Nations to Ink Gas Pipeline Deal

  • Jack 3:24 am on December 6, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: bitcoin, , monopoly money, political nightmare, richard rahn,   

    Losing Control 

    After two centuries of government monopoly money, private monies are re-emerging and will likely come to dominate ultimately. Back in 1976, Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek published his little classic, “Denationalization of Money.” In essence, Hayek argued that money is no different than other commodities, and it would be better supplied by competition among private issuers than by a government monopoly. His book detailed the problems with government monopoly money and how most of these problems could be overcome with private competition.

    Even though many agreed with Hayek’s argument, it was not clear until now how the government monopoly on money would be broken. As with so many other things, technology has come to the rescue. We are now witnessing the beginnings of the development of practical, private, digital cryptocurrencies, the best known being bitcoin. Bitcoin and most of the other new currencies enable users to make transactions from person to person without going through a bank or other intermediary. This is accomplished through the use of a “blockchain.” Before the development of the blockchain, those who had developed cryptocurrencies were not able to solve the double-spending problem to keep people from copying or counterfeiting the digital coin, and the “Byzantine general’s problem” of how to keep a malicious party from intercepting and changing the transaction before it reached its intended recipient.

    The blockchain, by using what is called a distributed ledger, solved those problems. As a result, developers of cryptocurrencies now have the capability to exchange value in a frictionless way, without regard to national borders, censorship and other laws, or institutions. It re-establishes much of the financial freedom, which has been lost, to the consternation of those who want more government control.

    What really frightens the government regulatory class is that blockchains also allow and make unstoppable the development of “smart contracts.” A smart contract refers to computer code that will automatically execute contractual duties when a trigger occurs. As an example, if collateral of some sort is kept in a blockchain network, and if the debtor has not paid by a certain date, the computer will automatically transfer the collateral to the creditor, which guarantees certainty of performance. The smart contract can remove all human discretion in the execution and enforcement of contractual duties, and cannot be interfered with by third parties, including officers of court.

    Bitcoin is not money in the true sense of the word, because it is only unit of account and a method of exchange, and not a store of value. Combining claims on real assets such as gold, silver, aluminum, wood, wheat, oil and other commodities with blockchains will create true cryptomoney. Some of these are likely to be superior in a number of ways to government monies, particularly those that are afflicted with high rates of inflation or overregulation.

    Government officials who are concerned about money laundering and other illegal activities fear the new blockchain cryptocurrencies, because they enable a much higher degree of anonymity than traditional account-based transactions. That, coupled with the near instantaneous settlement of transactions, makes it almost impossible to know who has sent and who has received payment. There is no obvious way for regulators to overcome these problems without destroying the open internet.

    At present, the burden of almost all financial regulation, including anti-money laundering requirements, is placed on banks and other financial institutions. They are responsible for “knowing their customer” and the parties to a transaction. If they are suspicious of a transaction, they must report it to government authorities and not execute the transaction. Banks are also required to report all cash deposits and withdrawals above $10,000. The cost, both to the financial institutions and to the government of these tens of millions of reports (almost all of which are on innocent people and transactions) and related regulations, is enormous and places a much bigger relative burden on small financial institutions. This has caused banks to be much more restrictive in allowing people to open bank accounts and for fees to rise to a discouraging level. As a result, many, particularly low-income people, can no longer obtain bank accounts and other bank services and are forced to go elsewhere, often to black markets. The regulations have also slowed down many transactions, particularly foreign ones.

    When there is a market need, entrepreneurs always step in to try to solve the problem, either through legal or illegal ways — that is what is driving much of the effort to develop the best cryptocurrency. The energy and the intelligence are on the side of the entrepreneurs, not on the side of the government regulators. Ultimately, government central banks and financial agencies are going to lose this battle. They will be forced to go back to traditional methods of law enforcement that will still enable them to catch bank robbers, kidnappers and terrorists — as they did before 1986 when Congress passed the first anti-money laundering law.

    The courts are increasingly ruling that many of the invasive financial and other regulations violate the Fourth Amendment (“against unreasonable searches”). The choice is a world with much greater financial freedom and efficiency as a result of private cryptomoney, or a poorer and more oppressive world.

    Richard W. Rahn is chairman of Improbable Success Productions and on the board of the American Council for Capital Formation.


  • Jack 11:21 am on December 5, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: alan m. dershowitz, , , , lt. gen. michael flynn, , , , , , ,   

    Legal Opinion 

    The charge to which retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty may tell us a great deal about the Robert Mueller investigation.

    The first question is, why did Flynn lie? People who lie to the FBI generally do so because, if they told the truth, they would be admitting to a crime. But the two conversations that Flynn falsely denied having were not criminal. He may have believed they were criminal but, if he did, he was wrong.

    Consider his request to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., to delay or oppose a United Nations Security Council vote on an anti-Israel resolution that the outgoing Obama administration refused to veto. Not only was that request not criminal, it was the right thing to do. President Obama’s unilateral decision to change decades-long American policy by not vetoing a perniciously one-sided anti-Israel resolution was opposed by Congress and by most Americans. It was not good for America, for Israel or for peace. It was done out of Obama’s personal pique against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rather than on principle.

    Many Americans of both parties, including me, urged the lame-duck Obama not to tie the hands of the president-elect by allowing the passage of a resolution that would make it more difficult to achieve a negotiated peace in the Middle East.

    As the president-elect, Donald Trump was constitutionally and politically entitled to try to protect his ability to broker a fair peace between the Israelis and Palestinians by urging all members of the Security Council to vote against or delay the enactment of the resolution. The fact that such efforts to do the right thing did not succeed does not diminish the correctness of the effort. I wish it had succeeded. We would be in a better place today.

    Some left-wing pundits, who know better, are trotting out the Logan Act, which, if it were the law, would prohibit private citizens (including presidents-elect) from negotiating with foreign governments. But this anachronistic law hasn’t been used for more than 200 years. Under the principle of desuetude – a legal doctrine that prohibits the selective resurrection of a statute that has not been used for many decades – it is dead-letter. Moreover, the Logan Act is unconstitutional insofar as it prohibits the exercise of free speech.

    If it were good law, former Presidents Reagan and Carter would have been prosecuted: Reagan for negotiating with Iran’s ayatollahs when he was president-elect, to delay releasing the American hostages until he was sworn in; Carter for advising Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to reject former President Clinton’s peace offer in 2000-2001. Moreover, Jesse Jackson, Jane Fonda, Dennis Rodman and others who have negotiated with North Korea and other rogue regimes would have gone to prison.

    So there was nothing criminal about Flynn’s request of Kislyak, even if he were instructed to do so by higher-ups in the Trump transition team. The same is true of his discussions regarding sanctions. The president-elect is entitled to have different policies about sanctions and to have his transition team discuss them with Russian officials.

    This is the way The New York Times has put it: “Mr. Flynn’s discussions with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, were part of a coordinated effort by Mr. Trump’s aides to create foreign policy before they were in power, documents released as part of Mr. Flynn’s plea agreement show. Their efforts undermined the existing policy of President Barack Obama and flouted a warning from a senior Obama administration official to stop meddling in foreign affairs before the inauguration.”

    If that characterization is accurate, it demonstrates conclusively that the Flynn conversations were political and not criminal. Flouting a warning from the Obama administration to stop meddling may be a political sin (though some would call it a political virtue) but it most assuredly is not a crime.

    So why did Flynn lie about these conversations, and were his lies even material to Mueller’s criminal investigation if they were not about crimes?

    The second question is why did Mueller charge Flynn only with lying? The last thing a prosecutor ever wants to do is to charge a key witness with lying.

    A witness such as Flynn who has admitted he lied – whether or not to cover up a crime – is a tainted witness who is unlikely to be believed by jurors who know he’s made a deal to protect himself and his son. They will suspect that he is not only “singing for his supper” but that he may be “composing” as well – that is, telling the prosecutor what he wants to hear, even if it is exaggerated or flat-out false. A “bought” witness knows that the “better” his testimony, the sweeter the deal he will get. That’s why prosecutors postpone the sentencing until after the witness has testified, because experience has taught them that you can’t “buy” a witness; you can only “rent” them for as long as you have the sword of Damocles hanging over them.

    So, despite the banner headlines calling the Flynn guilty plea a “thunderclap,” I think it may be a show of weakness on the part of the special counsel rather than a sign of strength. So far he has had to charge potential witnesses with crimes that bear little or no relationship to any possible crimes committed by current White House incumbents. Mueller would have much preferred to indict Flynn for conspiracy or some other crime directly involving other people, but he apparently lacks the evidence to do so.

    I do not believe he will indict anyone under the Logan Act. If he were to do so, that would be unethical and irresponsible. Nor do I think he will charge President Trump with any crimes growing out of the president’s exercise of his constitutional authority to fire the director of the FBI or to ask him not to prosecute Flynn.

    The investigation will probably not end quickly, but it may end with, not a thunderclap, but several whimpers.

    Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of “Trumped Up: How Criminalizing Politics is Dangerous to Democracy.”

    Reprinted from The Hill with permission. Copyright 2017 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.


    See Also:

    (1) ABC News president excoriates staff over Brian Ross’ Michael Flynn error

    (2) Why is Robert Mueller even investigating the presidential transition?

    (3) Instapundit makes notes…

    (4) Trump calls Flynn treatment ‘unfair,’ claims Clinton ‘lied many times’ with impunity

    (5) Exclusive: Trump lawyer claims the “President cannot obstruct justice”

  • Jack 11:21 am on December 5, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Cruel Bullies 

    Observers look for some sort of common denominator that would make sense of the daily news blasts of nonconsensual sexual escapades of media, political, and Hollywood celebrities.

    No sooner are these lists of the accused compiled than they have to be updated, hourly. Long hushed, covered-up, or even forgotten sexual IEDs suddenly go off without warning and blow up a career.

    Weirder still, the now-outraged often overnight can become the outrageous.

    One moment Richard Dreyfuss expressed furor when he learned that gay actor Kevin Spacey long ago had groped his own son under the table (while the three were working on a script). The next minute, Dreyfuss himself was accused of an earlier repulsive unwanted sex act or advance toward a female subordinate.

    New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush condemns the bad behavior of journalist Mark Halperin — and then finds himself accused of similar coerced sexual behavior. Senator Al Franken’s often sanctimonious outrages over the Fox News harassers would soon apply just as easily to his own behavior. We forget that the original context of Juvenal’s famous quip “Who will police the police?” was the insidiousness of sex.

    Note these latest scandals are different from the age-old stories of consensual adultery. They are mostly not consensual affairs in the workplace, supposedly initiated by grasping subordinates or by oppressive bosses in midlife crises. Nor are they the connivances in dating and courtship — all the sort of consenting unions gone awry that are the stuff of novels and films.

    Instead, in nearly all these examples of sexual harassment, there is inherently a beauty-and-the-beast asymmetry, male arrogance — and spitefulness. What repels is not just unwanted or coerced sex acts — but the gratuitous cruelty that so often surrounds them.

    So what are the common pathologies to all these male icons — who are falling as fast as Confederate statutes a few months ago, in our earlier manifestation of collective moral frenzy?

    Was it male-menopause desperation on the part of these middle-aged men?

    Did fear of aging or death drive them to use their assumed power to get sex (of various sorts)?

    Did the terror of fading away bring Charlie Rose’s proverbial “crusty paw” out of his sleeve? His targets were almost always younger, less experienced, and attractive professional women.

    Few such women would probably have willingly consorted with someone like the septuagenarian Rose or the off-putting Weinstein (who had an uncanny resemblance to the late gruff American actor Kenneth McMillan, who played the creepy Baron Harkonnen in Dune)?

    Or were the prominent culprits more often liberals and progressives? Men of the Left assumed that their loudly professed feminist credentials earned them indulgences and exemptions to covet as they pleased.

    Many progressive predators assumed that if they were caught, most of the victimized women would weigh the damage that might be done to the liberal cause if they took out one of the good guys on their side. (Remember Bill Clinton’s progressive, “feminist” defenders of the 1990s.)

    Is the fuel of these accusations, then, loss of deterrence: Once a man of influence and power believes that his abstract morality can cloak his private immorality, there are few restraints left in our postmodern secular age to restrain his setting libido?

    Or was the catalyst for harassment age-old ego and narcissism?

    Being before the cameras and in the spotlight befuddled these celebrities into the delusional thought that their name recognition and petit fame meant that women — all women of every age and station — secretly wished to be part of their inner circle.

    Did they assume, despite their targets’ clearly expressed uninterest or outright resistance, that women “really” wished a Matt Lauer or Mark Halperin would flirt or make advances?

    Or was the problem occasionally rooted in the proverbial “revenge of the nerds” factor? The perpetrators were neither in their salad days nor athletes or physically robust. But mostly they were the former nerds of high school and college, who had been ignored by the dating crowd and who later excelled in writing, talking, making money, or administering.

    Once they found that their intellectual, artistic, or political niches worked like a narcotic on the naïve, perhaps they sought to make up for lost time. In other words, they would somehow do in their fifties, sixties, and seventies what they had failed to do in their twenties and thirties — now coercing with the brain and tongue what they had once failed to win with their biceps.

    Or were they just workaholic players who wished to engage in quickie impersonal sex? Their modus operandi was to skip the preliminaries and just crudely get down to business. And their warped logic was that for every ten targets that were repulsed by phallic exhibition, groping, or potty talk, there might be one who was some kindred demented spirit.

    All of the above may explain a similar pattern of behavior. But one ingredient seems missing in these analyses: gratuitous cruelty.

    Almost every allegation contains some theme of male orneriness.

    Think of the smirk on Al Franken’s face when he posed for the camera while fondling the breasts of a sleeping Leeann Tweeden. Why the need for a smile of triumph in humiliating an unaware target?

    Think of Matt Lauer’s purported sicko game of asking fellow grandees whether they would wish to marry, have sex with — or kill — his various female co-hosts? In what category would Lauer himself have fit, had his female subordinates played the same game about their bosses?

    Think of Bill Clinton allegedly smirking as he stalked out of a hotel room, advising the bleeding Juanita Broaddrick to “put some ice” on her lip that Clinton had just reportedly chewed.

    Think of Glenn Thrush fabricating stories of role reversal, to depict the victimized women as vixens for their supposed pursuit of him. Are we really to take seriously the claim of a dorky Garrison Keillor that he was groped dozens of times by nymphomaniac women, a victimhood apparently that offsets his victimizing?

    In the most macabre sense, think of the doomed Mary Jo Kopechne thrashing about in a sunken car, fighting for her young life, as the drunken driver and perpetrator — Ted Kennedy — sulked about on shore, worrying only about losing his Camelot career.

    Think of Charlie Rose’s victims who described the “fury” of his advances and his “animalistic” tactics. One victim said that Rose grabbed her hair and twisted her neck; another found herself trapped in his country house without transportation home, crying as Rose grew angry that she had not welcomed his sexual exhibitionism.

    Think of the similar sick exhibitionism of a Conyers or Weinstein. Both deliberately walked about in their underwear or in open robes, glaring at their grossed-out targets as they reacted negatively to their phallic exposure. (After how many terms in office, or after how many hit movies, did Conyers or Weinstein decide it was now an uplifting experience for a female subordinate to catch sight of his male organ?)

    Think of a Mark Halperin allegedly pressing a woman against a window, or masturbating behind a desk as he leered at her.

    The streak of malice is so frequent in all these allegations that it becomes a theme.

    Did the callousness result from the idea that such important men had a strict timetable, with not a second to be wasted by romance or even rudimentary expressions of professionalism and friendship? But why did they not even feign liking the women they coerced?

    Are feminist theoreticians on to something when they say that in these cases of sexual assault, physical gratification is only part of the equation (sometimes a small part) — that the real impetus might be the sadism of nastily humiliating someone judged weaker?

    I grew up on a farm and live there now, and for over half a century, I’ve at various times been surrounded by dogs, donkeys, horses, cows, and wild animals ranging from hawks to coyotes. One notices over the decades how animals eat and couple.

    They are utilitarian and in the human sense selfish to the core. The animal does not know where its next meal comes from, and so he bites, growls, and attacks any rival who gets too close as he almost instantaneously gulps down or swallows whole his meal.

    In matters of sex, the male animal, after an occasional rudimentary display of intention, simply approaches his target and attempts to mount; if he faces too much opposition, he tries again later or approaches another target. There is, of course, a Darwinian explanation for animal behavior. But humans are supposed to have developed over the centuries a civilized culture to repress our innate selfishness and cruelty in matters of food and sex.

    These men seemed to have enjoyed reverting to their premodern reptilian selves. Do they revert all the more easily to their instincts also because there are few marshals to take them down?

    In the old days, for every Weinstein or Charlie Rose, there would have been a get-even husband, outraged dad, family friend, big brother, or furious boyfriend who would have cornered the cowardly assaulter (called out as a “punk” or “bully”), and either knocked his block off or dressed him down. I once saw a tough old World War II veteran walk up and grab a stunned prominent local judge, raise him over his head, shake him good a few times, and say, “Listen, knock it off bothering my wife.”

    But is all that “toxic” masculinity now passé — killed off by the chaos of the Sixties and the assurances that the deep state could handle harassment? Women, we are told, don’t need deluded Gary Coopers or condescending Jimmy Stewarts around to open doors, pick up the tab, or play their historic chivalrous roles in protecting women from the cruel men among them.

    But the malicious men currently in the news knew that too often the slow-coach Human Resources Department would merely catalogue their assaults and weigh the costs and benefits of endangering the careers of rich, powerful, famous predators.

    Given that fact, lots of cowards like Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, or Harvey Weinstein did what all cruel bullies do. They attacked and humiliated the vulnerable without worry of repercussions — and they did so with wanton meanness apparently as sick relish.


  • Jack 2:58 am on December 5, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , dan walters, , , , , , mercury news   


    Twice each year, once in January and again in May, Gov. Jerry Brown warns Californians that the economic prosperity their state has enjoyed in recent years won’t last forever.

    Brown attaches his admonishments to the budgets he proposes to the Legislature – the initial one in January and a revised version four months later.

    Brown’s latest, issued last May, cited uncertainty about turmoil in the national government, urged legislators to “plan for and save for tougher budget times ahead,” and added:

    “By the time the budget is enacted in June, the economy will have finished its eighth year of expansion – only two years shorter than the longest recovery since World War II. A recession at some point is inevitable.”

    It’s certain that Brown will renew his warning next month. Implicitly, he may hope that the inevitable recession he envisions will occur once his final term as governor ends in January, 2019, because it would, his own financial advisers believe, have a devastating effect on the state budget.

    A new report from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, however, hints that the downturn may have already started.

    The BEA releases state-by-state economic data each quarter and its reports for the first and second quarters of 2017 are not good news for California.

    Last year was a very good one for the state’s economy. The 3.3 percent gain in economic output in 2016 was more than double that of the nation as a whole and one of the highest of any state.

    However, California stumbled during the first half of 2017. California’s increase was an anemic six tenths of one percent in the first quarter compared to the same period of 2016, and 2.1 percent in the second quarter, well below the national rate and ranking 35th in the nation.

    The report revealed that almost every one of California’s major sectors fell behind national trends in the second quarter, with the most conspicuous laggard being manufacturing.

    The only big California sector showing robust health was “information,” reflecting the unfortunate truism that the Silicon Valley-centered technology industry continues to prop up an otherwise lackluster overall economy.

    It may be only a hiccup in California’s $2.6 trillion economy, the fifth or sixth largest in the world were it a nation. But maybe not.

    Were the oft-predicted recession to finally hit, the most obvious effect would be on the state budget. It is highly dependent on income taxes paid by a handful of high-income Californians, particularly on their investment gains and particularly in the tech-heavy San Francisco Bay area.

    The last recession a decade ago revealed just how that dependency backfires in recession.

    The state is even more dependent now, thanks to voter-approved increases in marginal tax rates, so a new recession would have even harsher fiscal effects.

    Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter.

    However, the impact would not be confined to the budget. We could see unemployment, which has been at record-low levels recently, skyrocket as it did a decade ago with collateral impacts on housing, retail sales and virtually every other economic activity.

    We would also see a new debate over whether California’s high taxes, high labor and housing costs and high levels of regulation have, as critics allege, made the state less attractive to job-creating investment and more vulnerable to recession.

    Will it happen? Yes. A recession is inevitable as Brown warns. What we don’t know is when and whether it would seriously impact the high-tech industry. It is so vital to California’s overall economic health that were it to falter, an otherwise mild recession could be devastating.


  • Jack 3:36 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , patrick brown, ,   


    We applaud Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s promise to scrap the Liberals’ 2009 Green Energy Act if he wins the June, 2018 election. This badly flawed and dictatorial legislation has cost Ontarians a fortune. It is the legal underpinning of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s, and before her premier Dalton McGuinty’s, disastrous and ruinously expensive plunge into green energy. Green energy — primarily wind and solar power — that was never needed to eliminate Ontario’s use of coal-fired electricity, which was actually done with nuclear power and natural gas.

    The Green Energy Act, plus the fact the Liberals ignored the advice of their own energy experts, are the reasons Ontarians today are locked into paying for unneeded, expensive, unreliable and inefficient wind and solar power for 20 years. Power Ontario has to buy first, regardless of whether it’s needed, which makes the entire electricity system run less efficiently as a result. Power we don’t need, because Ontario has a massive energy surplus. That means the public has to subsidize electricity being sold at a loss to neighbouring jurisdictions like Michigan and New York, or dumped, with zero compensation, known as curtailment, because there’s no buyer for it, even at cut-rate prices.

    In 2015, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk reported Ontarians were paying twice as much for wind power on average as American energy consumers and 3.5 times as much for solar power, a total of $9.2 billion more than necessary over 20 years. Small wonder Brown accurately calls the Green Energy Act the “bad contracts act.” Brown can’t unilaterally break these contracts without incurring huge financial penalties. But he says he will use every legal means available to exit from as many as possible, by taking advantage of cancellation clauses, if this is financially beneficial for the public. Beyond the waste of money this has led to, the Green Energy Act never delivered the jobs the Liberals promised, as reported by former auditor general Jim McCarter in his 2011 report on their renewable energy policies.

    The legislation also took away local planning rights in deciding where industrial wind farms would be located. In this, the Green Energy Act was, and is, fundamentally undemocratic. It resulted in rural communities across Ontario having industrial wind farms rammed down their throats, with no ability to impact the outcome. Instead of acting as an impartial mediator in deciding where industrial wind farms would go, the Liberal government often sided with wind developers, many of whom donated money to the Liberal party, against the local community. Simply put, the Green Energy Act was fundamentally flawed and dictatorial legislation, passed by the Liberal government at a time when it seemed far more interested in getting praise from global warming guru Al Gore than doing right by the people of Ontario. Brown is fully justified in scrapping it if he wins in June.


  • Jack 4:22 am on December 3, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , david zukerman, , , new york times   


    The Times, in its lead editorial, December 1, 2017, “Help Wanted: Top Diplomat,” is troubled about rumors that CIA director Mike Pompeo may succeed Rex W. Tillerson as secretary of state. For the Times, Pompeo “may be too chummy” with President Trump. To boot, he is “a Tea Party conservative and a climate change skeptic.” And more, he is accused of “mixing politics with intelligence”!

    Of course, the Times has no difficulty with mixing politics and intelligence when the mix involves former Obama intelligence figures like John Brennan and James Clapper. After all, isn’t “Dossiergate” all about mixing up intelligence with politics for the purpose of forcing President Trump from office?

    The Times editorial also expresses difficulty with the rumored appointment of Sen. Tom Cotton to replace Mr. Pompeo as CIA director. Among Cotton’s faults, as perceived by the Times, he “has mocked the idea that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the presidential election.” Perhaps even worse for the Times, Cotton “has also been Congress’s most aggressive opponents of the Iran nuclear deal[.]” That is to say that we have a president who intends to staff his administration with officials who reflect America’s legacy of liberty in foreign as well as domestic policy.And consider this added criticism: the appointments of Pompeo and Cotton “would add two more white men to a cabinet dominated by them[.]” (It would be more precise, arguably, to note that “white men” would replace, not add to, other white men.)

    Behold the desperation of the swamp in its frenzy to retain dominance in U.S. politics: play the Russia card, add innuendo of right-wing extremism, and never forget to hurl the race card as well. Congressional Republicans should stand with the Trump administration in its commitment to drain the swamp and, thereby, restore to the people our legacy of liberty – and the idea of American greatness.


  • Jack 4:22 am on December 3, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: canadian doctors, , canadian insurance industry, cathy tomlinson,   

    Injury Industry 

    He seldom treats patients, but Howard Platnick still brings in as much as $800,000 a year working as a doctor.

    The Toronto practitioner makes his living compiling reports on accident victims for auto-insurance companies. A review of about three dozen of Dr. Platnick’s cases by The Globe and Mail shows he usually finds the injuries suffered by claimants aren’t significant.

    In a good year, Dr. Platnick has said, he gets roughly 1,500 bookings, which suggests he assesses six accident victims in an average workday. Approximately 300 of those are “paper reviews” in which he’s sent a person’s file and evaluates their condition without ever seeing them.

    Dr. Platnick is among a raft of physicians whose reports have been rejected by judges and arbitrators – some repeatedly – for being inaccurate, unfairly biased against the injured person, or written by someone else. And yet those doctors continue to get work.

    Case records show Dr. Platnick talked another doctor into altering her report in an insurance company’s favour, then had her back-date it to when she wrote her initial assessment. In another instance, he made no mention of two car crashes the victim actually had, but referenced an earlier accident that never happened.

    He declared a truck driver could go back to work, after noting the man could no longer handle driving long distances.

    Rules governing doctors stipulate any such assessment should be independent and unbiased. However, records show State Farm e-mailed Dr. Platnick last year, thanking him for “co-operating with us” to get a claim settled, saying “your involvement was essential to our efforts.”

    In Ontario and B.C. alone, hundreds of Canadian doctors take in roughly $240-million a year collectively, putting their names to accident injury assessments for the auto-insurance industry. Insurers primarily use those reports as leverage, to limit or cut what they pay for treatment and other benefits.

    Laura Carpenter found out how seriously those practices affect victims, after Dr. Platnick wrote a brief “summary” for her insurance company declaring there was “consensus” among a team of doctors that she was not catastrophically injured. He came to that conclusion without ever meeting her. That is a common, accepted practice among doctors doing these assessments.

    TD Insurance ended Dr. Carpenter’s coverage, a month after it received Dr. Platnick’s summary. A family doctor herself, Dr. Carpenter then went five years without full treatment for her injuries, before she had a chance to show TD – at a long-awaited arbitration hearing – the “consensus” his report cited didn’t exist.

    “Because I did not receive as much treatment as I needed, I believe that my injuries and impairments worsened significantly,” Dr. Carpenter said in an affidavit.

    Dr. Platnick was paid though Sibley and Associates, one of several assessment companies that hire the doctors on behalf of insurance firms, then edit and polish the medical reports. Those middlemen take a cut of the fees, which come from premiums paid by drivers.

    According to an 85-page report by another doctor on the team that examined her for Sibley, Dr. Carpenter couldn’t work or even get around without a walker, had chronic pain all over and was in “constant distress” – from injuries that had been “inadequately treated.”

    Some days the pain was so bad she sent her children to school in a cab.

    Records buried in her files and later obtained by Dr. Carpenter’s lawyer include several e-mails from a Sibley administrator to members of the medical team, asking them to remove or alter sections of their assessments. Key changes were then made, some of which watered down or omitted their opinions on how seriously Dr. Carpenter was injured.

    Two of the doctors pushed back, however, telling Sibley they would not alter their reports or sign Dr. Platnick’s “consensus.” One called the pressure to do so “offensive and insulting.” Yet, Dr. Platnick’s opinion prevailed and was the only one TD heard.

    Confronted years later with the missteps in her case, TD quietly settled with Dr. Carpenter. She is now suing Dr. Platnick and others for $7.75-million in Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

    In his defence filing, Dr. Platnick said the assessment company that hired him should have taken the term “consensus” out of his summary, when other doctors didn’t sign on, before sending it to TD without his knowledge. He also claims the dissenting doctors’ assessments didn’t fit with Ontario insurance rules.

    Dr. Platnick said he finds it “incredible” that an accident victim “turned a minor fender bender into a catastrophic impairment case,” calling it “unfair” that she is now suing for millions, despite already receiving a “gratuitous windfall” settlement from TD.

    In its statement of defence, Sibley says it had input on the doctor’s assessments but claims it didn’t change their “substance.”

    Sibley declined The Globe’s request for an interview. Dr. Platnick’s lawyer said his client would “be happy to speak” about this, but couldn’t for legal reasons. Through her lawyer, Dr.. Carpenter also declined to comment.

    Tatiana Nemchin, a former yoga studio owner, suffered from PTSD after an accident, but the psychatrist who examined her told the insurance company that her PTSD wasn’t serious. Ms. Nemchin fought in court, where the psychiatrist was exposed not only for writing things about her that were wrong, but for misrepresenting his credentials. Read more about Ms. Nemchin’s case below. Photo by: JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Edward Tanner, shown in his home in Sarnia, Ont., lost his benefits from insurance company Allstate based on a neurologist’s report. Mr. Tanner fought for five years to have Allstate pay for treatment of his brain injury, and during that time, he says, he got addicted to prescription opioids and also began selling them to pay his bills. Read more about his case below. Photo by: CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Damaged vehicles at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s salvage yard in New Westminster. Canada’s auto-insurance system has helped a little-known but growing industry of ‘independent medical examinations’ to thrive. DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS Photo by: DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS


    The lucrative, little-known growth industry that generates “independent medical evaluations,” or IMEs as they are called, has gone largely unchecked in recent years. It is a byproduct of an auto insurance system that even the Insurance Bureau of Canada says is “broken,” at least in Ontario.

    That became clear in case after case, as the Globe and Mail scoured more than 300 court and arbitration rulings on car accident cases in Ontario and B.C., where most doctors who write those reports are based.

    Injury lawyers working on behalf of accident victims also hire IME doctors, to help bolster the claimants’ cases, while insurance companies view every claimant but the most seriously injured as a possible exaggerator or fraudster. That starts an expensive, drawn-out game of what the insurance bureau calls “duelling assessments,” by numerous doctors, working both sides.

    Legitimately injured accident victims caught in the middle are the most profoundly affected, and report being shocked and devastated or at least baffled when doctors for hire conclude they are not seriously hurt. Sometimes their injuries get worse, instead of better, as they go months or years without adequate, goal-oriented treatment. Some get hooked on strong painkillers while being sent to numerous doctors for assessments.

    Normally, when doctors treat patients, the law says they owe them a “duty of care.” Not so with these assessments. IMEs are done outside those rules, so the doctors are beholden to whoever hires them, not the accident victims they assess.

    Injury lawyers say claimants up against unfair or incorrect doctor reports end up feeling intimidated and exhausted, so many of them settle – for less treatment coverage than their own doctors feel they need.

    The bureau says even the insurers who use IMEs have “long-standing concerns” over their “impartiality, quality and costs.” Questionable practices are so rampant, even the organization representing doctors who do IMEs has cited “arrogance and lack of formal training” as a problem. The Canadian Association of Medical Evaluators has written to members, warning “amateurism, bias and fraud will be tolerated less and less in the future.”

    The vast majority of cases remain hidden from scrutiny, however, because more than 95 per cent of claimants settle out of court and their files are kept under wraps. Complaints about doctors to their regulators are also not made public. The Globe uncovered several where doctors were criticized or cautioned by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario for questionable practices, but none has been disciplined.

    I just thought, oh my God. I have such obvious injuries. I’ve worked so hard to get better and then it was just thrown back in my face. It’s a terribly broken system. There is no accountability for these doctors.

    What Stacey Taylor went through represents the most common and perhaps worst-case scenario: The legitimate, seriously injured accident victim who goes up against seasoned IME doctors working for insurance companies, and who loses and can’t comprehend why.

    “You don’t realize how the system is set up against you until you are in it,” she said.

    Ms. Taylor doesn’t remember the crash in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., that ended life as she knew it. Her car was broadsided, shoving her leg bone into her hip and smashing it beyond repair. That put Ms. Taylor, a federal archeologist, in a wheelchair for months, trying to walk as her hip joint deteriorated.

    Pembridge Insurance started sending her to doctors, among them Dr. Platnick, to get assessed, she said, while she was still in hospital.

    “These people are trying to prove you are lying – and you know you are not,” said Ms. Taylor. “They would try to move my leg until I would scream because the bone was hitting bone.”

    Her doctor said she was too young for a hip replacement at the time. As painful arthritis and other complications set in, Ms. Taylor fought to recover, exhausting her basic coverage. Pembridge then stopped paying, when she was in the middle of her treatment, because Dr. Platnick – who’d never met her – declared her injuries not serious enough to warrant long-term benefits.

    “I just thought, oh my God. I have such obvious injuries. I’ve worked so hard to get better and then it was just thrown back in my face,” Ms. Taylor said. “It’s a terribly broken system. There is no accountability for these doctors.”

    Dr. Platnick had summed up reports from other assessors, also paid by Pembridge, and concluded she was not catastrophically injured – in contrast to her doctors’ views. Ms. Taylor’s last chance was at arbitration, where she said she limped in, using a cane. Dr. Platnick’s report carried the day.

    “It would just make you cry because you knew that this was ridiculous and you were in a system that you couldn’t beat,” she said, while choking back tears.

    In his report on Ms. Taylor’s case, the arbitrator upholds Dr. Platnick’s findings that she was not catastrophically injured.


    Another doctor on the team paid by Pembridge to assess Ms. Taylor was Lawrie Reznek, an Ontario psychiatrist.

    His reports have been rejected by judges and arbitrators in at least 10 cases over the years for “serious flaws,” “cherry picking,” “impartiality found wanting,” “a number of problems,” “incorrect” assumptions and “superficial” interviews.

    In case after case, Dr. Reznek used what he’s admitted are unique, unproven tests on accident victims. He would tell a joke and if they laughed he would report they seemed fine. He’d have his assistant knock on the door and, if the noise didn’t startle the person he was interviewing, he would conclude they weren’t seriously affected by their accident.

    Dr. Reznek often concludes people are “malingering,” which essentially means they’re faking injuries. In a small minority of court cases, his testimony has helped insurers get dubious claims thrown out, which may explain why the industry continues to hire him as an expert.

    He’s testified he makes more than $100,000 a year, just assessing auto insurance claimants. In one case this year, he charged $14,000 for a single day in court.

    “You have paid insurance for so many years and you trust doctors … but then you see them and you realize they have an agenda,” Ms. Taylor said. “You respect them and you listen to their opinion. You don’t think they are not going to have your best interests at heart and line their pockets.”

    Dr. Reznek declined The Globe’s request for an interview, but pointed to a recent case where an injury lawyer asked a judge to disqualify him as a witness, because of his history. The judge refused, ruling even though he is “zealous” in defending his opinions, that doesn’t prove he’s biased.

    The fact they succeeded – that totally destroyed me. The picture they presented to the jury was not me.

    IME doctors are allowed to testify repeatedly, despite questionable track records, because most Ontario judges won’t allow injury lawyers to challenge them about past testimony. Precedent-setting case law says that just because an expert is discredited in one instance doesn’t mean he or she won’t be credible in another.

    Maria Parra is a Toronto realtor who learned the hard way how much power and influence those doctors have, even after they’ve been criticized numerous times.

    “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But the longer I went, the more I realized – this is a business,” Ms. Parra said.

    She took her case to trial, she said, because she was in constant pain after being rear-ended and had lost her $200,000 annual income. The other driver’s insurance company opted for a jury – as injury lawyers say they usually do – and the verdict left Ms. Parra with nothing.

    She believes the jurors were persuaded by doctors, including Toronto physiatrist Rajka Soric, hired by the insurer. (A physiatrist is a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehab.)

    “The fact they succeeded – that totally destroyed me,” Ms. Parra said. “The picture they presented to the jury was not me.”

    Unbeknownst to the jury, Dr. Soric has been taken to task by judges over the years, for misreading an accident victim’s medical history, claiming to do tests that were “not documented,” testifying about non-existent injuries, making reporting mistakes, “ignoring” her expert duty to be fair and being an “advocate” for insurance companies.

    Dr. Soric told The Globe she believes that judicial criticism was simply the result of injury lawyers trying to discredit her, over irrelevant details that made no difference to her opinion. “They are taking things out of context. My reports would say exactly the same thing – even if they didn’t find small mistakes, my conclusions would have been the same,” she said.

    “I really resent the way the expert witnesses are handled. The process is very adversarial. Cross examination does not focus on professional opinion of the witness … instead, they really try to undermine your professional and personal credibility.”

    Dr. Soric has testified she’s made as much as $470,000 a year, most of it from doing IMEs for insurance companies. She said she hasn’t done more work for accident victims because injury lawyers almost always decide not to hire her when she doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.

    “I am asked to give them a call and if they find my report is not in their favour, they will say please don’t write a [final] report,” Dr. Soric said. “They say: ‘Thank you very much but this is not helpful to my case. Please submit an invoice and don’t write a report.'”

    In Ms. Parra’s case, the judge took the unusual step of making a post-verdict ruling that rejected the testimony of the doctors on the insurance side, including Dr. Soric, who had played down the effect of the accident.

    The court then declared Ms. Parra’s injuries were catastrophic after all, which meant she still got nothing but wasn’t stuck with the insurer’s legal bills.

    “I am still paying, though. I am still suffering. I am still having expenses and I am still struggling with my life,” Ms. Parra said

    In a 2016 ruling, Ontario Justice John Sproat rules that Ms. Parra suffered a serious injury from her car accident.


    Dr. Martin Grypma’s office is in a hangar at the Langley airport in suburban Vancouver, where he keeps a private plane. In the past eight years, he has direct-billed B.C.’s public auto insurer $1.8-million. Photo by: JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Another criticism of doctors who do independent medical evaluations has to do with their credentials, or lack thereof. Accident victims such as Ms. Parra say they’ve been surprised to find some doctors they are sent to for IMEs haven’t treated patients for years.

    The Globe obtained physician rosters from those companies that tap doctors to do IMEs across Canada. Hundreds of doctors are listed, and several have been licensed for more than 30 years. Many are at or past retirement age.

    One orthopedic surgeon, Martin Grypma, known for getting chastised by judges, gave up his full licence seven years ago. Nine years before that, an Alberta court found him negligent for botching routine back surgery on a patient, leaving her permanently disabled.

    His practice is now restricted to conducting IMEs only.

    Dr. Grypma works out of a hangar at a suburban Vancouver airport, where he keeps his private plane. Over the past eight years, he billed B.C.’s public auto insurer $1.8-million, which hired him directly, not through a middleman firm. He also earns more, by working for at least three of the assessment companies.

    Not only is Dr. Grypma not a fully licensed doctor, his reports have been rejected by the courts more than a dozen times. Judges have called him out for being “deliberately or grossly careless” in one case and “misreading” an accident victim’s records in another, while being “argumentative,” “incorrect” and “an advocate.” Another judge called his evaluation “ill-considered and superficial.”

    Excerpts from two B.C. Supreme Court rulings in separate cases, in 2016 and 2013 respectively, question the credibility of evidence brought forward by Dr. Grypma.


    B.C.’s College of Physicians and Surgeons told The Globe that when a doctor is criticized by a court a “file would be opened for investigation.” However, it confirmed none of the IME-related probes it did in the past five years stemmed from court rulings, which would include those involving Dr. Grypma. He declined The Globe’s request for an interview.

    In Ontario, one neurosurgeon listed on a roster of IME doctors has been a physician since 1954 – 63 years – but is still on call to do IMEs for two assessment companies.

    “I think anybody who practices for this long, it’s time to retire,” Dr. Soric said. “I am not sure that every single one of them is fully qualified to perform these assessments because you have to simply be aware of all the possible medical complications from injuries.”

    The physician rosters show most of them never meet the people they assess. Those doctors are only available to do “paper reviews” of accident victims’ records, which can be sent to them electronically, wherever they are. However, other doctors told The Globe they would never assess a person’s injuries without seeing them in person.

    In Tatiana Nemchin’s case, an Ontario psychiatrist was exposed in court, not only for writing things about her that were wrong, but for misrepresenting his credentials, by giving the impression he had a full-time practice, when he didn’t.

    “It was shocking, finding out basically his whole practice is doing this for insurance companies,” said Ms. Nemchin, a former yoga studio owner, who added the reports had “inaccuracies and quotes of words I never use in my life [in his report]. The first thing is disbelief. You are like, what? And then you think, is this the right file?”

    Tatiana Nemchin said the anxiety and effort of taking her case to trial made her feel worse. ‘You just never get time for your nervous system to stop and heal.’ JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL Photo by: JACKIE DIVES/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Richard Hershberg has been a psychiatrist for 36 years. He met Ms. Nemchin once and then reported to the insurance company her PTSD from the accident couldn’t be that bad, because she was able to move to B.C. from Ontario to live on her own.

    Two years after writing that, he conceded in court she had never moved out west and he actually “didn’t nail it down,” along with other mistakes and omissions. The CV he put into evidence stated he was a “senior psychiatrist” at a local clinic. In court, he admitted that was inaccurate and that he earned 90 per cent of his income – at $600 an hour – doing IMEs.

    If Ms. Nemchin hadn’t taken her case all the way to court, none of that would have been discovered.

    Dr. Hershberg said his mistakes had no bearing on his opinion of Ms. Nemchin’s condition. “Those are basic mistakes. I am sitting here now, I have nine binders for a case. Often, it’s not a case of not getting enough information; it’s having a lot of information to go through,” he told The Globe.

    He said he often finds accident victims’ aches and pains are made worse by aging or other problems, then prolonged when they don’t get back on their feet.

    “It’s not fraud. It’s people in their own way that are suffering,” he said. “They are struggling with life – not so much as with pain.”

    Ms. Nemchin said her biggest struggle was having to go to trial, which she described as an exhausting ordeal no one should have to endure. “It was hell sometimes … I can totally understand why people give up because your integrity is questioned. Everything you do is questioned. The story of your life becomes not what it is,” she said.

    “You just never get time for your nervous system to stop and heal. The process the insurance company puts you through makes your stress worse … you pay for insurance and it shouldn’t be that difficult.”

    I took time out of my life and my practice to say, ‘if you are going to beat me up I’m going to do something about it.’ People have to take the time to stand up for themselves. But – I was in a better position than most.

    Only the colleges that license doctors have the power and mandate to hold them accountable. Those regulators all have set standards, which stipulate doctors should be accurate and unbiased when they write IMEs.

    Despite regular criticism in the courts and complaints “every year” from accident victims, the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons said it couldn’t find one doctor in the past five years who has been formally disciplined.

    In B.C., the College said it has concluded 26 IME-related investigations since 2012 but only one doctor received “low level criticism.”

    The Globe found eight instances where Ontario doctors have been quietly advised or cautioned, however, over inaccurate or inappropriate reports. That criticism is not posted on the doctors’ online history, so if anyone checks their college records they will find nothing.

    Neurologist Luis Morillo, who is only allowed to teach, was caught doing insurance assessments without a licence.

    Occupational medicine specialist Katherine Isles was “cautioned” for writing an “inadequate and inaccurate report.” The College said Dr. Isles disregarded how serious an accident was and got basic details wrong, which was “indicative of the absence of almost any factual content.”

    Psychiatrist Leslie Kiraly was advised to stop calling his assistant “doctor,” because he had him do a psychiatric evaluation on an accident victim, after introducing him as a physician.

    Only unlicenced Dr. Morillo was told to stop doing IMEs, while the others carried on without the public knowing they’d been criticized.

    Some have faced more than one College complaint, such as physiatrist Alborz Oshidari, who has been investigated at least four times. Another doctor reported him to the regulator a decade ago, after finding errors in Dr. Oshidari’s assessment of his injuries, from an accident he said he was lucky to have survived.

    “I was fortunate enough to be a doctor and recognize his unfair examination and the College saw it my way,” said Ontario general practitioner Michael Madonik.

    “I took time out of my life and my practice to say, ‘if you are going to beat me up I’m going to do something about it.’ People have to take the time to stand up for themselves. But – I was in a better position than most.”

    Four years later, Lynn Logtenberg complained about Dr. Oshidari, for concluding she was not catastrophically injured, even after she called him out for misreading medical reports and misquoting her doctors. The College told Dr. Oshidari to be more accurate in the future, but that didn’t help Ms. Logtenberg, who was still left fighting her insurance company for benefits.

    Godwin Jogarajah filed his case just last year, after he had to push Dr. Oshidari to correct several mistakes in a report about his injuries. The College took no action. In the fourth case, the College found the physiatrist left out details about an accident victim’s condition, but didn’t criticize him for it.

    Dr. Oshidari’s opinion has been disregarded by arbitrators in at least four other insurance cases, some because he never saw the claimants.

    In one case, he concluded a 58-year-old man who spent months in a wheelchair was not seriously injured, because he didn’t need surgery. The only reason the man didn’t need surgery, though, was because no operation could fix his injury.

    Dr. Madonik doesn’t understand why insurers keep relying on those reports. “To repeatedly go to these doctors when they have been discredited, there is something wrong with that. It’s almost played like a game but it shouldn’t be a game.”

    Dr. Oshidari declined the Globe’s request for an interview.

    ‘They dragged it out and it drove me crazy – and so I was doing stupid stuff,’ Edward Tanner says of his battle to get treatment for a brain injury. ‘I was on medication and I was losing my mind.’ Photo by: CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


    Some legitimately injured accident victims suffer and deteriorate for years without money for proper treatment, while insurers send them to a merry-go-round of doctors, all well paid to keep challenging them on whether they are really injured. Many turn to opioid painkillers.

    The Globe found several cases where people were made to see more than a dozen physicians. If they refuse to go, even when they are feeling too ill, the insurance company can close their file. Doctors and assessment companies also charge insurers or accident victims as much as $6,000 for any missed or cancelled appointment.

    One judge noted an accident victim had been sent for at least 17 medical assessments by a “small army” of doctors, including five neurologists and four neuropsychologists. The court ruled sending her to any more would be “oppressive” and a “fishing expedition.”

    Edward Tanner suffered through five years of countless appointments, which the arbitrator called a “deplorable amount of time,” before he won a fight against Allstate Corp. to pay for treatment.

    In those years that he struggled with no income and a brain injury, Mr. Tanner said he got hooked on prescription opioids, which he also sold on the street to pay the bills.

    “They dragged it out and it drove me crazy – and so I was doing stupid stuff. I was on medication and I was losing my mind,” said Mr. Tanner, a former carpet installer. “My wife left me. I lost money. I borrowed money and it put me in the hole. Yeah, I sold some of my pills – to survive.”

    Allstate had cut him off years earlier, based on a report by Adrian Upton, who has been a neurologist for 43 years.

    “I was really upset when I was in his office,” said Mr. Tanner of Sarnia, Ont. “I remember him saying to me, ‘You don’t have a head injury. You can go back to work. You can do whatever you want in life.'”

    Another accident victim, who was cut off based on Dr. Upton’s assessment, fought his insurance company for six years, before an arbitrator ruled in his favour. By then, though, he was in a deep depression and it was too late to salvage his music studies.

    Dr. Upton has been investigated by the Ontario College at least once, for allegedly misquoting medical records, but he faced no repercussions. An appeal board sent the case back for re-investigation this year, however, because College investigators failed to look at the records, to actually check if Dr. Upton had quoted them incorrectly.

    Arbitrators have questioned or rejected Dr Upton’s opinion a handful of times, going back 30 years, but he’s also helped insurers win tough cases. One woman with a dubious brain injury claim fought eleven years for benefits, before Dr. Upton’s report helped the insurer get her case thrown out.

    Dr. Upton’s office didn’t respond to requests by The Globe for an interview with him.

    I think the public is in the dark. Like I was. I would have never known this unless I went through this accident. They made their money and they are still making money, because of other people’s suffering.

    It’s not simply insurance companies who are working closely with IME doctors. The other side to all of this, according to insurers and physicians who work for them, is that injury lawyers also hire IME doctors who bolster or exaggerate their clients’ cases, resulting in the phenomenon of “duelling assessments.”

    For example, court records show Allstate hired both Dr. Hershberg and Dr. Reznek to fight a questionable injury claim from a bagel maker, after the man hired a lawyer and “manufactured” his symptoms to get a payout because his bakery had gone out business.

    The baker suddenly tapped Allstate for benefits three years after his car accident, while he was being chased for back taxes and facing charges for trafficking in marijuana. He claimed the accident made him mentally ill for life.

    Psychiatrist Mortimer Mamelak, hired by the baker’s lawyer, said he had “motor vehicle accident injury syndrome,” which is not a recognized condition. Dr. Hershberg and Dr. Reznek testified he had no diagnosable disorder and the arbitrator believed them, so Allstate was able to close the file.

    Ontario insurers have “long been concerned that assessments could be used to inflate claims for bargaining purposes,” said Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesman Andrew McGrath.

    “Going back more than a decade, the insurance industry has called for a serious examination of the effectiveness of existing structures,” he said.

    All drivers are getting hit with the huge price tag.

    In Ontario, with the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada, medical assessments ordered by insurance companies eat up approximately $200-million annually, paid to doctors and assessment companies. And that’s just one province.

    “I think the public is in the dark. Like I was. I would have never known this unless I went through this accident,” said Ms. Parra, the injured Toronto realtor. “They made their money and they are still making money, because of other people’s suffering.”

    Some doctors are charging both government and patients privately in illegal double-dipping practice Regulators are doing little to stop doctor-owned clinics from quietly making desperate patients open their wallets to bypass long lines for everything from simple appointments to major surgery, a Globe investigation found.

    Canadian patients, advocates speak out about illegal doctor double-billing Patients and advocates come forward after a Globe and Mail investigation found unlawful extra billing by doctors through private clinics.


    B.C. doctors warned that charging patients as well as public system is illegal This past summer, the province’s regulator sent a letter to private-clinic physicians warning them against the practice of overcharging.

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