Thursday, February 23, 2017

Today's Tune: Lord Huron - Ends of the Earth (Live)

Health Authorities Continue to Fail Us


We’re told to listen to doctors and qualified professionals—but they’ve been preaching the same advice for 50 years now


February 16, 2017

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For example, there is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Gary Taubes’ seminal The New York Times article, exposing the fraudulent research and advice from Ancel Keys, that saturated fats clog arteries and cause heart attacks. Titled “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” Taubes documented the history of the health advice we’ve been dished since the 1950s, the fact that the low fat dogma was decided by the government, the low fat diet’s increasingly negative impact on the health of the population, and the backdoor deals that provided certain industries with huge profits at the expense of everyone else.
We have since discovered that much of the research demonizing saturated fat—and fat in general—was in fact funded by sugar and cereal companies looking to keep the conversation away from their commodity’s place in everyday diets. Research conducted over the last 30 or so years reveals there is no evidence the consumption of saturated fats causes heart attacks or strokes; cholesterol’s role in developing heart disease is actually much more complex than we’ve been led to believe. In fact, despite constant protests from nutritionists and government authorities, the research actually shows that low carb diets are significantly more effective than low fat diets. And yet, the government’s dietary recommendations have changed very little.
Now, health authorities have attempted to cover up the fact that they are ignoring current research in favor of dated advice. In 2015, science and nutrition journalist Nina Teicholtz penned an editorial in the British Medical Journal criticizing the USDA’s dietary guidelines for failing to reflect the current scientific literature. After a year of scathing criticism from academics and authorities demanding the article be retracted, independent reviewers stood in favor of Teicholtz and her editorial. One of the most damning paragraphs is as follows:
In conclusion, the recommended diets are supported by a minuscule quantity of rigorous evidence that only marginally supports claims that these diets can promote better health than alternatives. Furthermore, the NEL (Nutrition Evidence Library) reviews of the recommended diets discount or omit important data. There have been at a minimum, three National Institutes of Health funded trials on some 50 ,000 people showing that a diet low in fat and saturated fat is ineffective for fighting heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Two of these trials are omitted from the NEL review. The third trial is included, but its results are ignored. This oversight is particularly striking because this trial, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), was the largest nutrition trial in history. Nearly 49, 000 women followed a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains for an average of seven years, at the end of which investigators found no significant advantage of this diet for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer of any kind. Critics dismiss this trial for various reasons, including the fact that fat consumption did not differ enough significantly between the intervention and control groups, but the percentage of calories from both fat and saturated fat were more than 25% lower in the intervention group than in the control group (26.7% v 36.2% for total fat and 8.8% v 12.1% for saturated fats). The WHI findings have been confirmed by other sizable studies and are therefore hard to dismiss. When the omitted findings from these three clinical trials are factored into the review, the overwhelming preponderance of rigorous evidence does not support any of the dietary committee’s health claims for its recommended diets.
Much of the nutrition research occurring even now is still muddying the waters. For example, we hear so often that red meat is bad, but it is almost always studied alongside processed meats and the results extrapolated for both. Look at any study and the actual line is “red and processed meats.” On what planet is it reasonable to consider a piece of salami, cured with nitrates and other preservatives, in the same category as unadulterated, grass-fed steak? Two entirely different meats, considered the same in most studies. That’s not to mention the number of studies relying on self-reporting diets, which is so far from accurate as to be pointless. Trusting someone to track their eating over a period of months, without fudging to make it look more healthy—for the purpose of scientific research no less—is ludicrously inadequate and a waste of funding.
It’s little wonder then that the general population, and anyone who has done a bit of reading, has trust issues when it comes to health advice.
We’re told to listen to the recommendations of doctors and qualified health professionals, but they’ve been preaching the same advice for 50 years with only minor changes over the last decade. Even Dr. Oz, the mainstream TV darling, has been touting that saturated fat “clogs arteries” because he says that sees it during his operations. All of the research contradicts this, and it isn’t surprising considering he is a heart surgeon—not an expert on nutrition or biochemistry. Yet that doesn’t stop Oz from using his platform to overstep his expertise and give advice that doesn’t align with evidence, which his viewers will take seriously because he’s one of the foremost cardiologists in the U.S.
The media certainly has their place in our current predicament as well. When it comes to nutrition, they don’t care what data and research is reliable—they care about what’s going to give them a great headline and arouse emotion in readers.
Who could forget in late 2015, when the WHO announced bacon and other processed meats as a level-one carcinogen in the same category as cigarettes? The news immediately broke everywhere that bacon was as bad for you as cigarettes, when the reality is that 50g of bacon a day is going to increase the absolute risk of cancer by a 0.01 percent—hardly something to get worked up over. Unfortunately, the headline, “Bacon isn’t too great for you as we all suspected, so don’t eat it too often, isn’t as good as, “Bacon is in the same category of carcinogen as cigarettes, so eating it gives you cancer!”
But let’s get back to the boogeyman of the last four decades: saturated fats. We are still recommended to steer clear of them in favor of poly and monounsaturated fats. Yet some of of the foremost cancer researchers in the world, such as Dom D’Agostino, recommend ketogenic diets—20 percent protein, 70 percent fat and 10 percent carbs. Take a look at the below picture of multiple elite powerlifter Mark Bell, who has been on a ketogenic diet while continuing to train at a high level in his sport for a number of years. Are we to believe that the fat he eats is somehow eating away at his insides, clogging his arteries, and increasing his cancer risk, when his physique is better than 99 percent of the population? Health authorities keep telling us to keep the amount of fat in our diet low (RDI for saturated fat is 20g) despite the research showing that isn’t a good idea, yet we have living proof that it works just fine.
This raises the biggest question of all: what evidence is there for any of the current recommended daily intakes of food by health authorities? For instance, we now know there is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day. Why? And why are these recommendations always so absolute? It makes no sense that regardless of whether one is a 50kg, slender female, or a 120kg male athlete that the recommended intake is the same. Whether it’s macronutrients, micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, how is it that we have a single RDI (recommended daily intake) for the entire population? Is this really the state of nutritional science in 2017, that we can’t even distinguish between male and female, manual labour/white collar, and at least a couple of weight ranges as well? We deserve better.
The worst part is the fact that no one seems to want to admit their advice was wrong. Instead, dietitians and nutritionists now speak in a sort of code that voids any culpability for their mistake. I’ve heard nutritionists and dietitians on numerous TV shows saying things like “research is now showing us” when giving dietary advice, while disregarding the full extent of what the research actually shows. Fats are apparently okay now, but only monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fat should still be limited—for what reason is unclear. The National Heart Foundation of Australia, on their own website no less, states that they “maintain there is a clear link between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease, despite ABC media reports questioning the vast evidence base.” So despite all credible research and meta analysis—which they admit is “vast”—showing that there is no evidence to suggest that saturated fat is linked with heart disease, the National Heart Foundation has done the equivalent of stick its head in the sand and act as though nothing has changed.
At the same time they have given their tick of approval to McDonalds.
Of course, no one in the USDA, the AHA, the AMA, or other such authority can admit they got it all wrong, can they? The backlash would be enormous—we’d have class action lawsuits and an entire body of professionals would lose their credibility instantly and completely. If that controversy over fat wasn’t bad enough, we’ve also got the continued push by authorities to have us consume less salt, despite the evidence being at best ambiguous as to its effects. The war on salt would appear to be yet another case of the health authorities giving us one size fits all recommendations without hard evidence, but based on a logical progression that if high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, and salt increases blood pressure, then reducing salt intake would reduce the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, the Cochrane review found actually found an increase in risk when following a low sodium diet such as that recommended by the American Heart Association.
There is, yet again, far more to the story. Fructose consumption increases the uptake of sodium by the kidneys, and by reducing consumption of fructose by 350ml (an average small bottle of soda or juice) blood pressure lowers. Potassium intake is also a factor, with research indicating that the ratio of potassium to sodium a more important marker than absolute level of sodium. So if you eat a diet that mostly consists of fresh, whole foods (not packaged or processed) and don’t eat fruit or drink fruit juice, the insistence that one must reduce salt intake is ludicrous. The take home message once again is that one size certainly does not fit all, and we need specialized recommendations based on our individual makeup, lifestyle, diet, and genetics instead of messages like “you must cut saturated fat to 20g and reduce sodium intake at all costs.”
Considering the above, no one in their right mind would take any kind of dietary advice provided by the authorities at face value. It’s little wonder then that so many are taking matters into their own hands. Thirty years ago, if the USDA, AHA, or AMA told you something was bad for you, you stopped eating it. You didn’t question, because they were the ones with credibility and years of study. It was simply too much trouble for the average person to find the information they needed. Thankfully with the internet, all of the information needed is now available to anyone who wants it. We no longer have to put blind trust in authority figures because we can sift through the information ourselves and ask the right questions. If anything, the glut of information shows that the public’s trust in nutrition advice given by the authorities and media was sorely misplaced.
So who are we to trust then? The list would appear to be getting smaller every day.
Now more than ever the message is clear: if you want to truly be healthy, it’s up to the individual to do their own research and come to their own conclusions. There is a mountain of information out there to go through, and you’ll need to sift through the bias of people selling you diets, fringe groups promoting their social agenda, and the media misinterpreting real research findings.
While it may sound like too much trouble, is your health really of that little importance that you’d trust it to anyone else but yourself?
Pete Ross deconstructs the psychology and philosophy of the business world, careers and everyday life. You can follow him on Twitter @prometheandrive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

LAST NIGHT IN SWEDEN


Problems? What problems?


February 23, 2017


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Well, I knew I shouldn't have said anything. A few days ago I bragged in this space about having overcome my years-long addiction to the New York Times. Then, in the wake of President Trump's remark on Saturday in Melbourne, Florida, about “last night in Sweden,” I noticed on Facebook that the Times had run a “news story” by one Sewell Chan headlined “‘Last Night in Sweden’? Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation.” I couldn't resist. 
As it turned out, of course, Trump hadn't baffled the entire Swedish nation. What had really happened was that a great many members of the Swedish establishment – politicians, journalists, business and academic elites, and so on – had professed that they were baffled. “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” asked former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt. Chan himself maintained that some news media (those, you understand, that lean right and have less rigorous journalistic standards than than the august Times) had presented “numerous exaggerations and distortions” about Sweden, “including false reports that Shariah law was predominant in parts of the country and that some immigrant-heavy neighborhoods were considered 'no-go zones' by the police.” (False reports, min röv.) Chan went on to quote various Swedish officials who roundly denied that Muslim immigrants had had a significant impact on crime and rape statistics. 
To be sure, I was puzzled at first by Trump's reference to Sweden, and rechecked a few news sources to see if I'd missed something. Then I realized he might have been referring to a segment I'd watched the night before on Tucker Carlson Live. One or Carlson's guests was filmmaker Ari Horowitz, who had made a documentary about all those non-existent Swedish no-go zones and all that imaginary crime. Sure enough, Trump later tweeted that this was exactly what he was talking about: he'd been watching Tucker Carlson, too. (Which, incidentally, was nice to know.)
But one article calling Trump out on his Sweden remark wasn't enough for the Times. The next day it ran another. “The Swedes were flabbergasted,” claimed Chan and co-reporter Sewell Baker. Again we heard from Bildt, who this time said: “We are used to seeing the president of the U.S. as one of the most well-informed persons in the world, also well aware of the importance of what he says....And then, suddenly, we see him engaging in misinformation and slander against a truly friendly country, obviously relying on sources of a quality that at best could be described as dubious.” The piece went on to cite this incident as yet another example of Trump alienating “American friend[s]” (something that the Times hadn't been particularly worried about when Obama was sticking his fingers in the eyes of our allies and sucking up to our foes). 
At the Times, of course, as I wrote the other day, “fake news” is old news. And “fake news” about Trump has been a staple at that newspaper ever since he rode down that escalator in Trump Tower. But this new bout of “fake news” about Sweden was even more transparently fake than usual. If everything's fine in Sweden, then why the hell are the Sweden Democrats rising in the polls? Hell, if everything's fine in Sweden, why do the Sweden Democrats exist at all? Chan and Baker interviewed a couple of leading Swedish politicians and other top members of Sweden's cultural elite, but they didn't quote any Sweden Democrats. 
Image result for sweden muslim ghetto
Nor did they quote any ordinary Swedes like my many Swedish friends on Facebook, every one of whom gave Trump a full thumbs-up. (Example: “Trump may be clumsy but it is true that we have a crisis in Sweden. It is not about what happened or what didn't happen on a specific night. It is a crisis which has lead to a complete U-turn in the debate about immigration. The self-proclaimed humanitarian superpower has zealously introduced border checks and tougher asylum laws. Attitudes are changing by the hour.”) They didn't quote anybody from the Australian version of 60 Minutes whose crew was physically attacked last year when they tried to report from one of those non-existent no-go zones (pictured above). They didn't quote the Bosnian immigrant to Sweden who calls himself “The Angry Foreigner” and who has recorded a number of highly informative videos about the Swedish crisis. (On Monday, he posted a new video responding to the whole Trump debacle.) 
They didn't quote Stephen Jerand, chief of police in the Swedish city of Östersund, who three weeks ago urged Swedish women to “adjust their behavior” in order to avoid rape by you-know-who. They didn't quote Swedish police inspector Lars Alvarsjö, who warned last year that the country's police departments and courts were on the verge of collapse because of the crush of immigrant crime. They didn't quote the Swedish cop who told one reporter just the other day that he would never drop his daughter off at the central train station in Stockholm because of the abusive conduct of the Moroccan youths who congregate there. They didn't quote Peter Springare, a police investigator in Örebro, Sweden, who got in trouble with authorities for stating publicly that virtually all of the criminals he deals with are Muslims. They didn't quote Stefan Sinteus, police chief in Malmö, who has complained about the “upward spiral of violence” by Muslim immigrants in that city, Sweden's third largest. They didn't quote any of the other Swedish police officers who last year told Norway's NRK that more than 50 neighborhoods in Sweden were, indeed, no-go areas where “lawlessness reigns.” 
They didn't talk to John Dübeck, who teaches English, considers himself a leftist, and recently reported on Facebook about students of his who admit freely that they want sharia law in Sweden and look forward to a world “where all the whites have been killed.” (Wrote Dübeck: “I know students who've been raped by relatives, but don't dare report it because they're convinced other relatives will kill them....I know students who don't dare remove their hijab because they're afraid of being abused and raped....I know ethnic Swedish students who speak with a [Muslim immigrant] accent, just to avoid being frozen out. I know students who use 'fucking whore' or 'fucking faggot' to address ethnic Swedes.”) They didn't talk to the gutsy Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist, who has powerfully spelled out the truth about Sweden for the Glazov Gang and for Gad Saad. They didn't quote the indispensable Pat Caddell, who in a memorable November 2015 video summed up the Swedish nightmare quite succinctly. 
Nor did they quote any of the dozen-odd pieces I've written on Sweden in the last few years, most recently last week. “Sweden is self-destructing,” I wrote here in December 2013, adding that “even as concerned observers in neighboring Denmark and Norway are sounding the alarm about the fallout of Swedish immigration policies, Sweden's own mainstream media – and the rest of its cultural establishment – are laboring overtime to silence the truth-tellers and keep the rabble from openly questioning the wisdom of their betters.” In the same piece I quoted recent pieces by two savvy Danish Sweden-observers. One of them, Morten Uhrskov Jensen, had published an op-ed entitled “Sweden's Race to the Bottom” in Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's biggest newspaper. It began: “Sweden has chosen to break down.” Jensen proceeded, as I explained, 
to outline the steady slide in the quality of education in Swedish primary schools over the last decade or so...and to link that decline to what Jensen bluntly called the country's “insane immigration policy.” Sweden, warned Jensen, “will have to pay a very high price for its experiment with permitting excessive immigration from dysfunctional states.” 
The other Danish Sweden-observer, Mikael Jalving, published an op-ed headlined “A Land of Ghosts and Shadows,” also in Jyllands-Posten. It was about a new book, The Immigration Cover-Up, that elaborately catalogued the socially, culturally, and economically devastating consequences of Sweden's immigration policy. Jalving called the book “underground literature” and said it was being read “only behind closed curtains.”
On Monday, in the midst of the hullabaloo over Trump's Sweden remark, Tucker Carlson spoke again with Ari Horowitz, who stood his ground. Carlson then interviewed two shameless party-liners: Anne-Sophie Naslund, a U.S. correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Expressen, and Azita Raji, who served as America's ambassador to Sweden under Obama. Both of them served up nothing but nonsense. Listening to them, you'd think this was all fantasy. You'd think there was no such thing as the Sweden Democrats. You'd think Ingrid Carlqvist and all the others were just making stuff up. 
Granted, nothing special took place in Sweden last Friday night. But as it happens, on Monday night quite a bit happened. “Violent riots” (as even Swedish television put it) erupted in Rinkeby, one of the Muslim-heavy Stockholm suburbs whose names have become very familiar to those of us around the world who follow these matters. Locals set cars on fire, threw stones at police, looted stores, and beat people up. One witness called it “a war zone.” But don't worry: this sort of thing happens all the time there. It's just a matter of getting used to it. And learning to deliver Orwellian lies about it to the outside world – learning to insist, smoothly and charmingly and with a genial smile on your face, that war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. All, needless to say, in the name of a higher moral duty. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Omar Abdel Rahman, the ‘Blind Sheikh,’ Is Dead


Abdel Rahman, the Blind Sheikh, was responsible for much of the last quarter century of terrorism.

By Andrew C. McCarthy — February 18, 2017
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(Reuters)

Omar Abdel Rahman, the notorious “Blind Sheikh” who died on Friday night while serving his life sentence in federal prison, was never shy about being a terrorist. As he put it:
What kind of name is this? Why are we afraid of it? Why do we fear the word terrorist? If the terrorist is the person who defends his right, so we are terrorists. And if the terrorist is the one who struggles for the sake of God, then we are terrorists. We . . . have been ordered with terrorism because we must prepare what power we can to terrorize the enemy of Allah and your enemy. The Koran says “to strike terror.” Therefore, we don’t fear to be described with “terrorism.” . . . They may say, “He is a terrorist, he uses violence, he uses force.” Let them say that. We are ordered to prepare whatever we can of power to terrorize the enemies of Islam.
Before there was an al-Qaeda or an ISIS, there was the Blind Sheikh, known to his worldwide following as “the emir of jihad.” And he bears much of the responsibility — he would think of it as the credit — for what followed him. Indeed, bin Laden credited Sheikh Abdel Rahman with the fatwa (the sharia-law edict) that approved the 9/11 jihadist attacks in which nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered. Abdel Rahman had indeed issued such a fatwa:
Muslims everywhere to dismember their nation, tear them apart, ruin their economy, provoke their corporations, destroy their embassies, attack their interests, sink their ships, . . . shoot down their planes, [and] kill them on land, at sea, and in the air. Kill them wherever you find them.
Having been the lead prosecutor in the trial at which he was convicted, I find that barely a day goes by that I don’t ruefully think about this. For all the praise we received for a job well done — and I am immensely proud of the work we did — we only managed to imprison him. We did not stop him.

Abdel Rahman was the central character in a memoir I wrote about the case nearly a decade ago, Willful Blindness. The title has become something of catch phrase describing the wayward American approach to counterterrorism. I meant it as something more than that — a contrast: the steely determination that underlay Abdel Rahman’s clarity of purpose that the world be ruled by Islamic law, versus our own conscious avoidance of the sharia-supremacist ideology that drives the jihadist threat, and diffidence about whether our own liberty culture is worth defending.

He was raised in the tiny Nile Delta town of al-Gamalia, where he lost his sight to juvenile diabetes in 1942, at the age of four. The sickly boy was a prodigy, memorizing the Koran at an early age and developing into a renowned scholar of Islamic jurisprudence — the discipline in which he earned a doctorate, with distinction, at storied al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning since the tenth century. Abdel Rahman was deeply influenced by Ibn Taymiyyah, the 14th-century docent who had come of age in a soul-searching time for Islamic fundamentalism: after invading Mongols routed the Abbasid Caliphate, laying Baghdad to waste. Taymiyyah championed a return to basics: a literalist interpretation of scripture and the notion that the original Islamic communities forged by the prophet Mohammed were the ideal to which all humanity must aspire.

Abdel Rahman was also affected by contemporary followers of Taymiyyah. Interestingly, one was the Shiite jihadist icon, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Notwithstanding their theological differences, Abdel Rahman perceived in Khomeini the possibilities of Islamic revolution and the exploitation of what he saw as American weakness — particularly by Hezbollah, Khomeini’s forward jihadist militia that, among other atrocities, killed 241 U.S. Marines in their Beirut barracks in 1983. “If Muslim battalions were to do five or six operations to the Americans in surprise attacks like the one that was done against them in Lebanon,” the Blind Sheikh urged, “the Americans would have exited [the Persian Gulf] and gathered their armies and gone back . . . to their country.” It was a recruitment speech he delivered hundreds of times.

Abdel Rahman also revered Sayyid Qutb, his fellow Egyptian and a Muslim Brotherhood hero long imprisoned and eventually executed by the hated Nasser regime. From the premise of Taymiyyah’s teaching, and building on the foundation laid by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Bannah, Qutb taught that Islam is “a declaration that sovereignty belongs to God alone”; that the “freedom” God offers is submission to His law, sharia; and that supplanting man’s dominion with Allah’s could never be achieved by “preaching” alone — it would require jihad “to wipe out tyranny” and impose this Orwellian conception of “freedom” on mankind.

Echoing Ibn Taymiyyah, Qutb’s jihad targeted not only declared non-believers but also those rulers who professed to be Muslim but did not adhere to sharia. Qutb also infused his teaching with visceral anti-Semitism, portraying the Jew as the instantiation of all that is anti-Islamic and treacherous. Abdel Rahman drank deeply from this noxious well.

The Blind Sheikh completed his master’s degree in Cairo in 1967, in the aftermath of Qutb’s execution and what Muslims still see as the humiliation of the Six-Day War. By the time he earned his doctorate in 1971, he already had a following of young budding jihadists. By 1973, the firebrand “cleric” (he is better thought of as a sharia jurist) was the emir of a jihadist organization, Gama’at al-Islamia (the Islamic Group). Essentially, it was a spinoff of the Brotherhood, comprised of young Muslims who had been lured into the Brotherhood’s sharia-supremacist ideology but were impatient with the Brotherhood’s methodical pace, which — in their view – too often failed to live up to the militant violence of its rhetoric, and too often played a double game of collusion with the secular regime Muslims were obliged to overthrow.

Abdel Rahman became most notorious for issuing the fatwa relied upon by the jihadists who murdered Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat at a military parade in 1981 — for the unforgivable offense of making peace with Israel. The Blind Sheikh was acquitted at his Egyptian trial when he defended himself with a stirring recitation of Islamic-law principles, exceedingly effective before a hypocritical authoritarian regime that nominally claims fidelity to sharia but does not actually enforce it. As he argued to the court, Allah’s commands hold that society must be governed by sharia; if it is not, it becomes the individual duty of every Muslim to perform jihad against the regime until it either is overthrown or enforces God’s law. This self-evident truth, he elaborated, required no scholarly fatwa. Thus, Sadat’s slayers were performing a sacred duty, and it was pointless to quibble over whether it had been authorized by him or by any man; it was dictated by the Koran.

It was the same defense the Blind Sheikh would later attempt to posit at his American trial. Suffice it to say that it did not have the same traction with a jury of New Yorkers sitting in a courthouse six blocks from the World Trade Center.

Though acquitted in Egypt, Abdel Rahman delighted in claiming credit for Sadat’s murder. Years later, safely out of Egypt and stoking new recruits, he would reflect that, of the “many jihad operations” carried out by his Islamic Group, the “most famous” one was “killing . . . the atheist, the oppressor and the profligate, . . . Anwar Al-Sadat.” But what about the result, someone asked. Hadn’t getting rid of Sadat only given Muslims Mubarak, who was worse?

Abdel Rahman would hear none of it. God “ordered us to eliminate” Sadat, he insisted, “even if this had to be done by killing him[,]” and even though Mubarak proved to be worse. Mubarak — “the third traitor, backstabber who became the loyal dog to America, . . . and was at the forefront of the treachery caravan to give to Israel and then America everything” — would, the Blind Sheikh assured, be dealt with in “another operation.”

While Abdel Rahman never managed to have Hosni Mubarak killed, he spent many years trying — and we ultimately convicted him on a count of conspiracy to murder the then-president of Egypt (one plan included trying to assassinate him near the U.N. in the early 1990s). Abdel Rahman could not fail to be pleased by Mubarak’s overthrow and replacement, in 2011, by a Muslim Brotherhood government whose platform included demanding that the United States transfer their beloved Blind Sheikh back home — a hope that was dashed when the Brotherhood government was ousted.

By the time he settled in the United States in late 1990, Abdel Rahman was a globally recognized . . . menace. He was deeply involved in recruiting and fundraising for the “Arab-Afghan” contingent that joined the anti-Soviet jihad (and to this day regards its service to Allah as responsible for the demise of the Soviet empire). His network of associates included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Afghan warlord and former prime minister to whom much of the funding of the Arab fighters was channeled; Sudanese leader Hassan al-Turabi; and such founding figures of al-Qaeda as Ayman al-Zawahiri (Abdel Rahman’s Egyptian contemporary and sometime rival, who is now the international terror network’s leader) and Abdullah Azzam, the charismatic Palestinian who, like Abdel Rahman, graduated with a doctorate from al-Azhar and taught for a time in Saudi Arabia — where both Azzam and Abdel Rahman profoundly influenced a young student named Osama bin Laden.

Even before he settled in the New York metropolitan area (thanks to a tragicomedy of errors by American immigration authorities, who failed to notice he was on terrorism watch lists), the Blind Sheikh had an ardent following. His acolytes included Sayyid Nosair, Mohamed Salameh, Mahmud Abuhalima, and Nidal Ayyad — to name just a few. They used mosques and Islamic community centers as hubs for recruitment, fundraising, and paramilitary training — including shooting sessions in Calverton, Long Island, and drills involving explosives and close combat in remote areas of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. They would report on their activities in overseas phone calls to Abdel Rahman, which were recorded and used to draw young Muslims to the cause.

In 1990, Nosair murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane, the controversial founder of the Jewish Defense League, at a hotel in midtown Manhattan. On February 26, 1993, Salameh, Abuhalima, and Ayyad, along with Ramzi Yousef, carried out the bombing of the World Trade Center — a plot long in the making, much of which was planned during visits to Nosair at Attica state prison in New York.

By then, for well over a year, Abdel Rahman had been urging jihad against the United States from within the United States. America, he declared, was “the head of the snake,” the world’s leading enemy of Islam. A notebook kept by Nosair and recovered after the Kahane murder contained such teachings as this:
Before announcing the establishing of the state of Abraham in our holy land . . . to break and to destroy the morale of the enemies of Allah. (And this is by means of destroying) (exploding) the structure of their civilized pillars. Such as the touristic infrastructure which they are proud of and their high world buildings which they are proud of and their statues which they endear and the buildings in which gather their heads (their leaders).
In the run-up to the bombing, Abdel Rahman was in constant touch with the plotters. Just a few weeks before the explosion that killed six adults (including a pregnant woman) and caused billions of dollars in damage, he spoke at a jihadist conference, thundering that “God has obliged us to perform jihad,” and thus that “the battalions of Islam and its divisions must be in a state of continuous readiness to hit their enemies with strength and power.” Reminding the crowd that “the enemies at the foremost of the work against Islam are America and its allies,” he continued with one of his favorite themes:
If those who have the right [to have something] are terrorists then we are terrorists. And we welcome being terrorists. And we do not deny this charge to ourselves. And the Koran makes it among the means to perform jihad for the sake of Allah, which is to terrorize the enemies of God and our enemies too. . . . Then we must be terrorists and we must terrorize the enemies of Islam and frighten them and disturb them and shake the earth under their feet.
In the summer of 1993, we arrested the Blind Sheikh and eleven of his followers as they conspired to carry out an even more ambitious plot against New York City landmarks: simultaneous bombing of the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the U.N. complex. Other potential targets under consideration were American military installations — which Abdel Rahman quite explicitly ordered attacks against — and the FBI’s headquarters in lower Manhattan. In October 1995, after a nine-month trial, they were convicted of conspiring to levy a terrorist war against the United States, including the WTC bombing, as well as the additional bombing plots and plans for various political assassinations. The presiding judge, Michael B. Mukasey — a peerless jurist who later served as U.S. attorney general in the Bush administration — sentenced the Blind Sheikh to life imprisonment.

As I said, we imprisoned him, but we failed to put an end to his reign of terror. Besides the fatwa that paved the way for 9/11, Abdel Rahman issued guidance to his Egyptian terrorist organization to end a truce with the Mubarak government. Lynne Stewart, the radical lawyer who had represented him at the trial, was eventually convicted of material support to terrorism for transmitting his directives from jail.

As I recounted in 2012, when the Egyptian press was reporting that the Obama administration was considering transferring Abdel Rahman back to Egypt:
In 1997, Gama’at al-Islamia threatened to “target . . . all of those Americans who participated in subjecting [Abdel Rahman’s] life to danger” — “every American official, starting with the American president [down] to the despicable jailer.” The organization promised to do “everything in its power” to obtain his release. Six months later, Gama’at jihadists set upon 58 foreign tourists and several police officers at an archeological site in Luxor, Egypt, brutally shooting and slicing them to death. The terrorists left behind leaflets — including in the mutilated torso of one victim — demanding that the Blind Sheikh be freed. 
Gama’at subsequently issued a statement warning that its forcible struggle against the Egyptian regime would proceed unless Mubarak met its three demands: the implementation of sharia, the cessation of diplomatic relations with Israel, and “the return of our Sheikh and emir to his land.” In March 2000, terrorists associated with the Abu Sayyaf group kidnapped a number of tourists in the Philippines and threatened to behead them if Abdel Rahman and two other convicted terrorists were not freed. Authorities later recovered two decapitated bodies (four other hostages were never accounted for). 
On September 21, 2000, only three weeks before al-Qaeda’s bombing of the U.S.S. Cole [killing 17 members of the U.S. Navy], al-Jazeera televised a “Convention to Support the Honorable Omar Abdel Rahman.” Front and center were Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (then bin Laden’s deputy, now his successor as emir of al-Qaeda). They warned that unless Sheikh Abdel Rahman was freed, jihadist attacks against the United States would be stepped up. At the same event, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, an al-Qaeda operative who is one of the sheikh’s sons, exhorted the crowd to “avenge your Sheikh” and “go to the spilling of blood.”
Omar Abdel Rahman was physically incapable of doing anything that would be useful to a terrorist organization: He couldn’t build a bomb, hijack a plane, or carry out an assassination. The only thing he could do for a terrorist organization was lead it. His life is a testament to the centrality of sharia-supremacist ideology to modern jihadism and to the broader Islamist movement in which it thrives. His death reminds us why we must fight everything he represented.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

TRUMP, NETANYAHU SEEK COMMON GROUND


Iran emerges as a central uniting issue.


February 16, 2017

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 15, 2017. (AP)
At Wednesday’s White House press conference for President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, both leaders clearly had a lot on their minds—in addition to the matters at hand.
For Trump it was, of course, the Flynn imbroglio. For Netanyahu there were two things. One involves unfortunate, inane investigations to which he’s being subjected in Israel, which could lead to an indictment. One investigation concerns alleged illicit receipt of gifts—cigars and champagne; the other concerns talks he held with a newspaper publisher—which mentioned possible shady deals that were never, however, acted upon.
In addition, Netanyahu is under heavy pressure from the right wing of his coalition—to renounce the two-state solution, to build settlements. At the press conference Netanyahu, in particular, sounded flustered and awkward at times, glancing for succor at his script, speaking without his usual assurance and aplomb.
On substance the two leaders’ words, too, raised problems at times.
The Palestinian issue appears, unfortunately, to have returned to center stage. It’s unfortunate because it remains an issue no more amenable to a solution that at any time in the past.
“The United States,” Trump told the reporters, “will encourage a peace, and really a great peace deal.” He also said, “I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate they’re taught from a very young age. They have to acknowledge Israel. They have to do that.”
The problem is that the Palestinians have “had to” do those things—stop hating; acknowledge the legitimacy of a Jewish political entity—since the Palestinian issue first arose almost a century ago. 
They have “had to,” but are no closer to doing so today than they were in the 1920s; meanwhile the remedy for an entire generation raised in hate—a reality that Netanyahu, in his flustered way, tried to emphasize—is no closer to being found by any of the putative wizards in the West.
Indeed, neither the president nor the prime minister mentioned Gaza—where a leader who is radical even by Hamas standards has taken the helm; as usual, it was not explained how a solution could be found when the Palestinians west of the Jordan are themselves divided into two mutually antagonistic entities. Trump and Netanyahu’s words about a “regional deal” on the Palestinian issue, involving Arab states along with Israel, likewise fail to take into account intractable Palestinian reality.
Instead, Trump engaged in vague talk of “two states” and “one state,” not explaining what a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian issue would be—Israel granting citizenship to at least two million mostly intensely hostile Arabs?—while Netanyahu, desperate to avoid the term “two states,” reiterated his insistence on Israeli security control and Palestinian recognition of Israel, but mainly appeared terrified of riling his right-wing critics at home. 
On a matter vastly more important than the Palestinian issue, Trump’s words—“My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing—I mean ever—a nuclear weapon”—were more encouraging to Israeli ears.
The words appeared to jibe with a report that the Trump administration is working to create a “NATO-like mutual defense pact” of moderate Arab states that would “share intelligence with Israel and the US to counter the rising threat of Iran.” 
Israel’s role, according to an unnamed diplomat, “would likely be intelligence sharing, not training or boots on the ground. They’d provide intelligence and targets. That’s what the Israelis are good at.”
In other words, what sounds like a sophisticated plan—taking regional realities into account—to form a bulwark against Iranian expansionism that threatens to engulf the region in war. 
It can be hoped that, in their hours-long powwow after the press conference, the U.S. president and Israeli prime minister focused much more on the Iranian issue, which is incomparably more urgent and can be resolved with determined action, than on the Palestinian issue, which is relatively minor and cannot—for now—be resolved.
If Trump, nonetheless, has delusions of grandeur on the Palestinian issue, expect Netanyahu to play along with his policy. It will be a relatively small price to pay for dealing with the Iranian menace. 
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. His memoir, Destination Israel: Coming of Age and Finding Peace in the Middle East, is forthcoming from Liberty Island later this year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Former Obama Officials, Loyalists Waged Secret Campaign to Oust Flynn


Sources: Former Obama officials, loyalists planted series of stories to discredit Flynn, bolster Iran deal


February 14, 2017

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National security adviser Michael Flynn resigns
The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump's national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.
The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn's credibility, multiple sources revealed.
The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration's efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.
Insiders familiar with the anti-Flynn campaign told the Free Beacon that these Obama loyalists plotted in the months before Trump's inauguration to establish a set of roadblocks before Trump's national security team, which includes several prominent opponents of diplomacy with Iran. The Free Beacon first reported on this effort in January.
Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon requested anonymity in order to speak freely about the situation and avoid interfering with the White House's official narrative about Flynn, which centers on his failure to adequately inform the president about a series of phone calls with Russian officials.
Flynn took credit for his missteps regarding these phone calls in a brief statement released late Monday evening. Trump administration officials subsequently stated that Flynn's efforts to mislead the president and vice president about his contacts with Russia could not be tolerated.
However, multiple sources closely involved in the situation pointed to a larger, more secretive campaign aimed at discrediting Flynn and undermining the Trump White House.
"It's undeniable that the campaign to discredit Flynn was well underway before Inauguration Day, with a very troublesome and politicized series of leaks designed to undermine him," said one veteran national security adviser with close ties to the White House team. "This pattern reminds me of the lead up to the Iran deal, and probably features the same cast of characters."
The Free Beacon first reported in January that, until its final days in office, the Obama administration hosted several pro-Iran voices who were critical in helping to mislead the American public about the terms of the nuclear agreement. This included a former Iranian government official and the head of the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has been accused of serving as Iran's mouthpiece in Washington, D.C.
Since then, top members of the Obama administration's national security team have launched a communications infrastructure after they left the White House, and have told reporters they are using that infrastructure to undermine Trump's foreign policy.
"It's actually Ben Rhodes, NIAC, and the Iranian mullahs who are celebrating today," said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House. "They know that the number one target is Iran … [and] they all knew their little sacred agreement with Iran was going to go off the books. So they got rid of Flynn before any of the [secret] agreements even surfaced."
Flynn had been preparing to publicize many of the details about the nuclear deal that had been intentionally hidden by the Obama administration as part of its effort to garner support for the deal, these sources said.
Flynn is now "gone before anybody can see what happened" with these secret agreements, said the second insider close to Flynn and the White House.
Sources in and out of the White House are concerned that the campaign against Flynn will be extended to other prominent figures in the Trump administration.
One senior White House official told the Free Beacon that leaks targeting the former official were "not the result of a series of random events."
"The drumbeat of leaks of sensitive material related to General Flynn has been building since he was named to his position," said the official, who is a member of the White House's National Security Council. "Last night was not the result of a series of random events. The president has lost a valuable adviser and we need to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again."
Other sources expressed concern that public trust in the intelligence community would be eroded by the actions of employees with anti-Trump agendas.
"The larger issue that should trouble the American people is the far-reaching power of unknown, unelected apparatchiks in the Intelligence Community deciding for themselves both who serves in government and what is an acceptable policy they will allow the elected representatives of the people to pursue," said the national security adviser quoted above.
"Put aside the issue of Flynn himself; that nameless, faceless bureaucrats were able to take out a president's national security adviser based on a campaign of innuendo without evidence should worry every American," the source explained.
Eli Lake, a Bloomberg View columnist and veteran national security reporter well sourced in the White House, told the Free Beacon that Flynn earned a reputation in the Obama administration as one of its top detractors.
"Michael Flynn was one of the Obama administration's fiercest critics after he was forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency," said Lake, who described "the political assassination of Michael Flynn" in his column published early Tuesday.
"[Flynn] was a withering critic of Obama's biggest foreign policy initiative, the Iran deal," Lake said. "He also publicly accused the administration of keeping classified documents found in the Osama bin Laden raid that showed Iran's close relationship with al Qaeda. He was a thorn in their side."
Lake noted in his column that he does not buy fully the White House's official spin on Flynn's resignation.
"For a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it's strange that Flynn's ‘lie' to Pence would get him fired," Lake wrote. "It doesn't add up."
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated in his daily briefing that "the evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable incidents is what led the president to ask General Flynn for his resignation."
A third source who serves as a congressional adviser and was involved in the 2015 fight over the Iran deal told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration feared that Flynn would expose the secret agreements with Iran.
"The Obama administration knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents around the Iran deal, which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran," the source said. "So in December the Obama NSC started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn."
"After Trump was inaugurated some of those people stayed in and some began working from the outside, and they cooperated to keep undermining Trump," the source said, detailing a series of leaks from within the White House in the past weeks targeting Flynn. "Last night's resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won't be the last."

How Obama is scheming to sabotage Trump’s presidency


February 11, 2017
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Melania Trump, Donald Trump, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama stand on the steps of the Capitol. (Rob Carr/ Reuters)
When former President Barack Obama said he was “heartened” by anti-Trump protests, he was sending a message of approval to his troops. Troops? Yes, Obama has an army of agitators — numbering more than 30,000 — who will fight his Republican successor at every turn of his historic presidency. And Obama will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.
In what’s shaping up to be a highly unusual post-presidency, Obama isn’t just staying behind in Washington. He’s working behind the scenes to set up what will effectively be a shadow government to not only protect his threatened legacy, but to sabotage the incoming administration and its popular “America First” agenda.
He’s doing it through a network of leftist nonprofits led by Organizing for Action. Normally you’d expect an organization set up to support a politician and his agenda to close up shop after that candidate leaves office, but not Obama’s OFA. Rather, it’s gearing up for battle, with a growing war chest and more than 250 offices across the country.
Since Donald Trump’s election, this little-known but well-funded protesting arm has beefed up staff and ramped up recruitment of young liberal activists, declaring on its website, “We’re not backing down.” Determined to salvage Obama’s legacy, it’s drawing battle lines on immigration, ObamaCare, race relations and climate change.
Obama is intimately involved in OFA operations and even tweets from the group’s account. In fact, he gave marching orders to OFA foot soldiers following Trump’s upset victory.
“It is fine for everybody to feel stressed, sad, discouraged,” he said in a conference call from the White House. “But get over it.” He demanded they “move forward to protect what we’ve accomplished.”
“Now is the time for some organizing,” he said. “So don’t mope.”
Far from sulking, OFA activists helped organize anti-Trump marches across US cities, some of which turned into riots. After Trump issued a temporary ban on immigration from seven terror-prone Muslim nations, the demonstrators jammed airports, chanting: “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all!”
Run by old Obama aides and campaign workers, federal tax records show “nonpartisan” OFA marshals 32,525 volunteers nationwide. Registered as a 501(c)(4), it doesn’t have to disclose its donors, but they’ve been generous. OFA has raised more than $40 million in contributions and grants since evolving from Obama’s campaign organization Obama for America in 2013.
OFA, in IRS filings, says it trains young activists to develop “organizing skills.” Armed with Obama’s 2012 campaign database, OFA plans to get out the vote for Democratic candidates it’s grooming to win back Congress and erect a wall of resistance to Trump at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
It will be aided in that effort by the Obama Foundation, run by Obama’s former political director, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, launched last month by Obama pal Eric Holder to end what he and Obama call GOP “gerrymandering” of congressional districts.
Obama will be overseeing it all from a shadow White House located within two miles of Trump. It features a mansion, which he’s fortifying with construction of a tall brick perimeter, and a nearby taxpayer-funded office with his own chief of staff and press secretary. Michelle Obama will also open an office there, along with the Obama Foundation.
Critical to the fight is rebuilding the ravaged Democratic Party. Obama hopes to install his former civil rights chief Tom Perez at the helm of the Democratic National Committee.
Perez is running for the vacant DNC chairmanship, vowing, “It’s time to organize and fight . . . We must stand up to protect President Obama’s accomplishments,” while also promising, “We’re going to build the strongest grassroots organizing force this country has ever seen.”
The 55-year-old Obama is not content to go quietly into the night like other ex-presidents.
“You’re going to see me early next year,” he told his OFA troops after the election, “and we’re going to be in a position where we can start cooking up all kinds of great stuff.”
Added the ex-president: “Point is, I’m still fired up and ready to go.”
Paul Sperry is the author of “The Great American Bank Robbery,” which details the link between race-based housing policies and the mortgage crisis.
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