The Bar to Visit

A man walks into a a bar, drinks a couple of beers, and prepares to leave. The bartender tells him he owes $8.

“But I already paid you. Don’t you remember?” says the customer.

“OK,” says the bartender, “if you say you paid, then I suppose you did.”

The man goes outside and tells the first person he sees that the bartender can’t keep track of whether his customers have paid or not. The second man rushes in, orders a couple beers, and later pulls the same stunt.

The barkeep replies, “OK, if you say you paid, then I suppose you did.”

The customer goes outside and tells a friend how to get free drinks. The third man hurries into the bar and begins to drink highballs.

The bartender leans over and says, “You know, a funny thing happened tonight. Two men were drinking beer, neither paid, and both claimed they had. The next guy who tries that stunt is going to get punched in the — “

The man interrupts, “Don’t bother me with your troubles, bartender. Just give me my change and I’ll be on my way.”

A Prayer Need be on Every Trump Supporter’s Lips

Beyond the Cusp

If one were to take a poll of answers of what prayer and number one concern should preoccupy every Donald Trump supporter’s lips and minds, they would get a wide and varied plethora of answers. Many would say their concern and prayer would focus on his being able to focus on the game plan and path laid out by his handlers and advisors. Others would pray for him to develop discipline as that is the most apparent trait of which Donald Trump has a deficiency. Then there is the general wish for him to stay on message of exclaiming Hillary Clinton’s numerous short-comings. There are those who want the e-mails in slot one with others wanting Benghazi to lead the list while others want the financial shenanigans and the Clinton Foundation misadventures. Some want that she sold State Department and other favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation or to…

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“No Room for the Zionist Entity in the Region”

The dreamers in English still have it: “Hamas and Israel, Israel and Hamas. Maybe one day…who knows.” And then the Arabic-language truth rolls in: “Death to Israel, always!”

Some Arab and Western political analysts have mistakenly interpreted Hamas’s agreement to participate in the Palestinian local and municipal elections, scheduled for October 8, as a sign of the movement’s “pragmatism” and march toward recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

They falsely assume that Hamas’s readiness to take part in the democratic process shows that the leaders of the extremist movement are also prepared to abandon their dream of destroying Israel and abandoning the “armed struggle” against it.

These arguments about Hamas’s purported “pragmatism” and “moderation” were also made back in 2006, when Hamas contested the Palestinian parliamentary election. Then too, many political analysts claimed that Hamas’s decision to run in the election was an encouraging sign that the movement has endorsed a new, moderate approach toward Israel and the peace process.

Reality, however, has proven these assumptions utterly false. Hamas’s victory in the 2006 parliamentary election did not bring about any changes in its extremist ideology. Hamas did not change its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel. Nor did Hamas abandon its murderous terrorist attacks against Israelis.

To recall, here is what the Hamas charter openly states about this issue:

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The Right to Dissent

It would be a fair assessment to conclude that many people consider some statements not what they would like to hear — whether by Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Ingrid Carlqvist, Douglas Murray, Lars Hedegaard, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Theo van Gogh, the Mohammad cartoonists, Stéphane Charbonnier and other editors at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, among others. To say their remarks are sometimes regarded as controversial would be an understatement. Often, they are vociferous and vocal critics of extremist Islam, immigration, censorship and other policies — and they have been accused of Islamophobia, hate speech, and inflaming racial and religious tensions. Several have been threatened with jail and death. Some have been murdered for their warnings.

Importantly, though, none of them has ever directly incited violence against a religion, ethnic minority, or sexual orientation.

Do not these voices, however repellent to some, deserve the chance to be heard without threat of retaliation? Their opinions are often not of the mainstream, but should that lead to censorship, death, or for Wilders and Sabaditsch-Wolff, court trials, for expressing their views?

On May 31, the European Commission announced its decision to control s-called “hate speech.”

As democratic societies, we presumably believe that what strengthens our democracies, and separates free societies from the many authoritarian regimes, is free speech: the ability to air thoughts freely without fear of punishment. There is a saying that the founder of civilization was the first person who threw a word instead of a stone.

Throughout history, it is the minorities or the lone voices that need from the majority to allow everyone to question, comment on and criticize opinions with which they disagree. Freedom to be wrong, heretical or “blasphemous” — as we have seen with Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Darwin or Alan Turing — is the only way that civilisation can grow.

All of us are free not to listen to people with whom we disagree. We are also free to expose their arguments as false. Currently, those who defend free expression are not discussing ideas; they are discussing whether or not one should have a right to speak. Censorship moves debate away from the issues, then the issues remain undiscussed.

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Britain’s Theresa May Finally Sets Out Timetable for Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said the United Kingdom will formally begin the process of departure from the European Union before April 2017, finally setting out a timetable for the process after months of uncertainty.

May said Sunday that Britain would begin the two-year process set out in Article 50 of the E.U.’s Lisbon Treaty in the first quarter of next year. Parliament will be asked to pass a “Great Repeal Bill,” that will remove E.U. statutes from Britain’s laws.

Triggering Article 50 will allow British and E.U. officials to begin talks on what the U.K.’s relationship will be with the remaining 27 members of the political and economic bloc. In a speech to her Conservative Party members at its annual conference, May effectively laid out her government’s opening position in the negotiations to come.

While E.U. leaders have said Britain must accept the free movement of E.U. citizens in order to maintain economic ties with its members, May insisted on Sunday that Britain would regain full control of its borders and forge new, independent trade agreements outside of the E.U.’s single market.

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Visiting My Parents’ Graves—and the Grave of the Woman Who Broke Them Up

Every year as the High Holidays approach, I visit the family plot in Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey. Remembering, honoring, and celebrating loved ones before Rosh Hashanah is a tradition for many Jews, as old as the Talmud. But for me, the visit isn’t exactly “traditional,” because of who’s at the cemetery. My mother is buried there. So is my father. And so is my father’s second wife, Jean, the woman responsible for the breakup of my family.

My parents separated when I was 5. My father moved in with Jean in the Bronx, but my parents told me we would be safer if we pretended my father was still living in our apartment in Queens. “My father isn’t home right now, but he’ll be back soon,” I learned to say, trying to believe the phantom father I saw only on Sundays still offered protection.

But no matter where my father lived, or whom he lived with, my mother remained his wife and we remained his family. My mother didn’t file for divorce because my father said he’d give her more if they stayed married. So, we lived the lie.

Somehow my parents continued to be genuine friends; my mother never said anything bad about my father. And she hardly said anything at all about Jean.

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Iran: Russians Using Iranian Airbases

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council admitted on August 16 that Tehran is permitting Russian military aircraft to stage operations against Syrian rebels from an Iranian airbase.[1] Satellite photography previously confirmed Russian military aircraft on the tarmac of Iran’s Shahid Nojeh Airfield in 2015.

This is the first time, however, that Tehran is publicly confirming that it is allowing advanced Russian long-range bombers to use its main air base in Hamadan Province.

Previously, Russia’s aircraft ran bombing missions from Russian airbases in the Caspian Region and from Syria’s Latakia/Hmyemim (Naval/Air) complex. While the Hmyemim Airfield was adequate for Russian fighter-bomber aircraft such as the SU-24 (Fencer), the SU-34 (Fullback) and Moscow’s attack helicopters, to conduct missions inside Syria, the runway is not long enough to accommodate heavier types of bombers. The runway at Hamadan is 15,000 feet long, permitting Russia’s TU-160 (Blackjack), TU-22 (Backfire), and older Bear (TU-95) long-range bombers to stage operations.[2]

The Kremlin no doubt requested access to Iranian military facilities for similar reasons that the United States sought permission from Turkey to use its base at Incirlik: The bombers would be closer to their targets, which are presumably terrorist formations amidst the anti-Assad rebel groups. Flying Russian aircraft to Syria from Iran’s Hamadan airfield, rather than from Russia, cuts the distance by approximately 1000 miles. With the lessened amount of fuel needed, there is “room” for heavier payloads to use on the targets. Additionally, Hamadan airfield features several hangars for aircraft repair and bunkers for pilot rest and recreation.

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