The AIPAC convention ended last week and the eighteen-thousand plus attendees returned home hopefully more invigorated, excited and informed about Israel, the challenges facing the Jewish State and the means by which they can best support the State of Israel. Unfortunately that may not be the case. One of the goals of AIPAC over the years has been to continue to be nonpartisan leading to bipartisan support for Israel. This has worked admirably well since 1967 when the United States took an interest in pursuing an actively supportive roll with Israel yet still continued its arms embargo which had been in effect almost immediately after granting Israel recognition in May of 1948 until 1968 when, with strong support from Congress, President Lyndon Baines Johnson approved the sale of Phantom fighters to Israel, establishing the precedent for US support for Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors. This has little effect…
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The Prime Minister was right to say that no Brexit deal is better than a bad one. Those who think leaving is a complex negotiation should grasp that we would not have a negotiation unless we are willing to walk away.
We would have dictation by the other side.
Fortunately the PM understands the strength of the UK position, and understands that No deal would work better for us than for them. It would be a lot better than a punishment deal of the kind some in the Commission have flirted with.
In reality, it need not be a negotiation at all. It is a series of choices for the rest of the EU, where a friendly and positive UK offers them various advantages which they may or may not want to take up.
If they take up none of our offers when we leave we will be like most of the other 160 countries around the world that are not part of the EU. We will trade with the rest of the EU on WTO most favoured nation terms, just as we trade with China, India and the USA today.
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Yesterday, Israel’s government approved construction of a new settlement in Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank). Media outlets CNN, BBC and the NY Times wasted no time publishing stories that distort the truth, if not outright lie. These mistakes range from offering a false impression of reality to actually getting facts wrong. Such elementary mistakes expose the disconnect between mainstream media outlets and basic truths of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
For example, CNN wrote that this is Israel’s ‘first new settlement in Palestinian territory in more than 20 years’. The first part of the sentence is misleading and the second part is false. Israel has not built new communities in Judea and Samaria because it has given numerous chances for the Palestinian leadership to come to the table and reach an agreement. However, the Palestinians continually refused. Instead, the article leads the reader to believe that this is a new policy meant to stifle any chance for a peace agreement.
The second part of the statement asserts that Israel is building in Palestinian territory. This is because CNN incorrectly believes that Israel has no legal rights to the West Bank. Israel’s legal rights to controlling the West Bank and building communities there under international law have been affirmed time and again by respected authorities on the subject, including: Professor Eugene Rostow, Professor Julius Stone , Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Professor Avi Bell and more.
BBC wrote that this new settlement is being built after ‘the largest settlement, Amona, was evacuated by police last month.’ Amona, far from being the largest settlement, was probably one of the smallest settlements existing in the West Bank, approximately 40 families. Yet, this gives the impression that even the largest settlement in the West Bank was evacuated, and thus why not evacuate the entire West Bank.
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As Britons row about Easter eggs, politics continues in Europe. The race for the French presidency hasn’t been the easiest to call. Conservative candidate François Fillon was once the favourite, but now finds his campaign sinking into a mire of corruption allegations as his fellow-right wingers increasingly write off his chances. The latest to do so is Nicolas Sarkozy, who is now cosying up to centrist Emmanuel Macron, a man he previously described as “ androgynous…neither man nor woman”.
Monsieur Macron isn’t just attracting support from the Right, as big-name Left-wingers like former premier Manuel Valls have endorsed him. Polls suggest he is vying with Marine Le Pen for poll position, so will he make it all the way to the Elysee? Quite possibly, although Hillary Clinton and the Remain campaign were in similar positions, before going on to suffer electoral humiliation. Ashley Kirk and Henry Samuel have explored how, as France prepares to vote later this month in its first round of its presidential selection process, that it all depends on if he can get his supporters out to vote.
There could be as many as five million fewer votes in the French presidential election than there were in the last one held in 2012, according to electoral forecasts, with abstentions forecast to reach around 35 per cent in the election. “We are in a major crisis of loyalties. The French no longer know where their political allegiances and loyalties lie; they are totally at sea,” said Pascal Périnneau, political analyst at Sciences Po, who warned of a major rise in wavering voters. Those inclined to vote for the Front National are widely said to be much more likely to turn out, while loyalty among Macron fans is much weaker. If he can’t firm up their support over the coming weeks, we may be heading for another upset.
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As in previous years, the month of Christmas saw an uptick in Islamic attacks on Christians — much of it in the context of targeting Christmas festivities and worship.
The one that claimed the most lives took place in Egypt. On Sunday, December 11, 2016, an Islamic suicide bomber entered the St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo during mass, detonated himself, killed at least 27 worshippers, mostly women and children, and wounded nearly 70. A witness said:
“I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene. I saw a headless woman being carried away. Everyone was in a state of shock. We were scooping up people’s flesh off the floor. There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.”
The death toll and severity of the attack (pictures and videos of the aftermath here) surpassed even the New Year’s Day bombing of an Alexandrian church in which 23 people were killed in 2011. A few weeks before the St. Peter’s bombing, a man hurled an improvised bomb at St. George Church, packed with thousands of worshippers, in Samalout. Had the bomb detonated, casualties would likely have been higher. In a separate December incident, Islamic slogans and messages of hate — including “you will die Christians” — were painted on the floor of the Virgin Mary church in Damietta.
In Germany, Anis Amri, a Muslim asylum seeker from Tunisia, seized a large truck, murdered its driver, and pushed him onto the passenger seat, then drove the truck into a Christmas market in Berlin. Twelve shoppers were killed and 65 were injured, some severely. Four days later, Amri was killed in a shootout with police near Milan. ISIS claimed responsibility despite original reports claiming the man had no ties to Islamic terror groups.
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North Korea’s nuclear program will be high on the agenda when President Donald Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida on Thursday. The U.S. President says Beijing has not done enough to bridle the regime’s aggressive behavior, and on Wednesday Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un gave a perfect illustration: firing another ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
In response, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released an extraordinary statement, saying, “The U.S. has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” This came after Trump told the U.K.’s Financial Times last week that the U.S. would consider unilateral action against North Korea if China refused to help.
“Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” he said. Asked whether the U.S. could tackle North Korea “one on one,” Trump was emphatic: “Totally.”
During his visit to East Asia last month, Tillerson had already raised the temperature by insisting that military action remained “on the table.” In response, a Pyongyang spokesperson warned of “a preemptive nuclear attack … if the U.S. shows even the slightest sign of a preemptive attack on the DPRK [North Korea].”
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In April 2013, when California resident Derick Neal rolled through a red light, it was no surprise that he received a ticket. What did surprise Neal was how much his mistake would cost him. While the base rate for his infraction was $100, he ultimately was on the hook for nearly $500 by the time state assessment fees ($100), county assessment fees ($70), court construction fees ($50), emergency medical-services fees ($20), and more got tacked on.
Neal’s ticket was no isolated incident. Local governments increasingly are using tickets, fines, and fees to generate income, rather than to deter crime or enhance public safety. The funds derived from these sources are treated as part of the annual revenue base, and sometimes even built into governments’ budget baselines. This phenomenon, which has been dubbed “taxation by citation,” has troubling implications. While most citizens understand that penalties and fines are key components of effective law enforcement and public-safety protocols, few are likely aware that governments use citations as a means to enact stealth tax increases.
Examples abound of communities generating immense revenues from tickets and other fines. In Colorado, numerous towns generate anywhere from 30 percent to 90 percent of their yearly revenue from tickets and court fees. Similarly, multiple towns in South Carolina rely on traffic fines for more than 60 percent of their annual budget. Washington, D.C. collects more than $200 per-capita in annual law-enforcement-related fees and has floated proposals to increase certain traffic penalties to $1,000.
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