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TBR News May 24, 2018

May 24 2018

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C. May 24, 2018:”There are a number of reasons why President Trump is both capricious and assertive. One is a medical analysis and the other can best be described at the person discussed in Juvenal’s Second Satire. The medical one has been, and is being, discussed in private among many psychologists and the second one is well-known inside the Beltway and is one of the reasons the FBI strongly felt that Trump would be a liability as President. Truth will out but Trump is known to threaten the media with vague punishments if they dare to contradict him so the outing will be delayed. But like night and death, it will come.”

 

Table of Contents

  • EU to ditch US partnership: Tusk says Europe must fly SOLO in shock threat to Trump
  • Trump cancels summit with North Korea scheduled for next month
  • US may recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights – Israeli minister
  • Pompeo’s 12 Demands For Iran Read More Like A Declaration Of War Than A Path To Peace
  • Parkland survivor David Hogg aims to ‘create the NRA – except for the opposite issues’
  • Zuckerberg set up fraudulent scheme to ‘weaponise’ data, court case alleges
  • When the CIA Infiltrated a Presidential Campaign
  • Lesley Stahl: Donald Trump Said He Attacks the Media “So When You Write Negative Stories About Me, No One Will Believe You”
  • Israel lobby group spreads hoaxes to whitewash Gaza massacre
  • Top Israeli Rabbi Believes Trump Will Build Third Temple in Jerusalem
  • Why The Dome Of The Rock MUST Come Down.
  • Hezbollah eyes bigger role in next Lebanon government

 EU to ditch US partnership: Tusk says Europe must fly SOLO in shock threat to Trump

Donald Tusk has sent a jaw-dropping threat to US President Donald Trump, decrying the American’s lack of reliability in the face of a number of threats to global security and prosperity.

May 16, 2018

by Joe Barnes, Brussels Correspondent

express

The European Council President kicked off the latest European summit, held in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, telling reporters Mr Trump had become a far from useful ally who acts with “capricious assertiveness”.

Washington and Brussels have been at loggerheads over a number of issues since Mr Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, most recently a trade war of aluminium and steel tariffs and the Iran nuclear deal.

Speaking to reporters in Sofia, Mr Tusk said the US President had “made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you all find one at the end of your arm”.

The Council President urged Europe to ditch its American partnership and go alone as the EU faces up to global challenges because of Mr Trump’s unreliability.

Mr Tusk said: “Besides traditional political challenges, such as the rise of China or the aggressive stance of Russia, we are witnessing today a new phenomenon: the capricious assertiveness of the American administration.

“Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think: with friends like that, who needs enemies?

“But frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful for President Trump because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions.

“He has made us realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.”

He added: “Europe must do everything in its power to protect, in spite of today’s mood, the transatlantic bond, but at the same time we must be prepared for those scenarios where we have to act on our own.

“We have enough potential to rise to the challenge, but what we need is more political unity and determination.”

European leaders will gather in Sofia to mainly discuss the EU’s commitment towards enlargement talks focused around Western Balkan regions, but the US President’s actions have seemingly hijacked the agenda

The bloc’s leaders will hope to present a united front against Mr Trump in response to his decision on the Iran nuclear deal and trade tariffs.

Theresa May will travel to the Bulgarian capital where she will join a working dinner with her fellow European leaders, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

There is likely to be little or no Brexit discussions as the British Prime Minster alongside Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron will “present their assessment of the situation” surrounding the Iran nuclear deal, according to Mr Tusk.

 

 

Trump cancels summit with North Korea scheduled for next month

May 24, 2018

by Joyce Lee

Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday called off a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, even after North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels at its nuclear test site.

Referring to a scheduled June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump said in a letter to the North Korean leader: “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long- planned meeting.”

Trump called it “a missed opportunity” and said someday he still hoped to meet Kim.

Earlier on Thursday, North Korea repeated a threat to pull out of the unprecedented summit with Trump next month and warned it was prepared for a nuclear showdown with Washington if necessary.

In a statement released by North Korean media, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui had called U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a “political dummy” for comparing North Korea – a “nuclear weapons state” – to Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi gave up his unfinished nuclear development program, only to be later killed by NATO-backed fighters.

A small group of international media selected by North Korea witnessed the demolition of tunnels at the Punggye-ri site on Thursday, which Pyongyang says is proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing.

The apparent destruction of what North Korea says is its only nuclear test site has been widely welcomed as a positive, if largely symbolic, step toward resolving tension over its weapons. North Korean leader Kim has declared his nuclear force complete, amid speculation the site was obsolete anyway.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Writing by Josh Smith and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Robert Birsel and Bill Trott

 

US may recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights – Israeli minister

The US could soon recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said in interviews. The move would follow the US recognizing Jerusalem as capital and exiting the Iran nuclear deal.

May 24, 2018

by Nicole Goebel

DW

Yisrael Katz told the Reuters news agency that the endorsement of Israel’s 51-year occupation of the Golan Heights is “topping the agenda” in current talks with the US and that Washington could make a decision within a few months.

The White House has neither confirmed nor denied the comments. Such a move would follow the Trump administration’s widely criticized decisions to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and leave the Iran nuclear deal

What Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said

In an interview with Reuters he said:

He thinks “there is great ripeness and a high probability this will happen,” referring to US possibly recognizing Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights.

Asked if it would happen this year, he said “yes, give or take a few months.” It would be “a perfect time” for such a move.

“The most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognize Israel’sGolan sovereignty, with an American statement, a presidential proclamation, enshrined (in law).”

In a subsequent interview with Israeli news service ynet he said:

There is “great support for this idea in many wide circles in the US,” both in Congress and in the executive.

“American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan is the best answer to Iran’s attempts to establish a military front against Israel.”

White House noncommittal

The White House declined to confirm or deny the report, telling Reuters “We meet with Israel on a wide range of issues.”

What are the Golan Heights? The western two-thirds of Syria’s Golan Heights were captured by Israel in the 1967 war. It has since had control over the region, but Israeli sovereignty has never been internationally recognized. In 2000, Israel and Syria held their highest-level talks over a possible return of the Golan and a peace agreement, which ultimately failed. Today, Israel argues that the civil war in Syria and Iran’s support for Syria means Israel needs the Golan Heights as a strategic plateau.

What Israel wants: Israel is keen to contain its arch-enemy Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of sovereignty over Golan with US President Donald Trump last spring. Trump agreed to put it on the agenda. Israel is hoping that the fact that the US exited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – or the Iran nuclear deal — and its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will provide further momentum for Golan and its fight against Iran.

 

Pompeo’s 12 Demands For Iran Read More Like A Declaration Of War Than A Path To Peace

The United States has effectively called for Iran to surrender all of its interests without explaining what happens when they don’t.

May 21, 2018

by Joseph Trevithick

The Drive

According to the Department of Treasury, the United States will begin reimposing those economic and other restrictions in two tranches, one within 90 days and another no later 180 days after Trump’s announcement. Pompeo’s comments seemed to suggest there would be additional sanctions on top of the ones that had been in place prior to the JCPOA coming into effect in 2015, but he offered few specifics on what they might entail.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are complete,” Pompeo said. “After our sanctions come into full force, [Iran] will be battling to keep its economy alive.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States will end still-unseen crippling sanctions against Iran if the regime in Tehran effectively capitulates to the U.S. government and agrees to a dozen demands. America’s top diplomat offered little detail on any overarching strategy the U.S. government has to extract these concessions, but strongly implied that Iranian authorities needed to comply or risk some sort of American-backed push for regime change.

Pompeo announced the 12 points in a speech at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 2018. This came nearly two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump had announced his administration would no longer abide by the multi-national Iran Deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Under that deal, Iran had gotten relief from existing sanctions in exchange for certain limits on its nuclear activities.

The Secretary of State said the United States would halt these plans if Iran met its demands, which are as follows:

  • “First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.”
  • “Second, Iran must stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor.”
  • “Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.”
  • “Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.”
  • “Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges.”
  • “Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah [Hezbollah], Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
  • “Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.”
  • “Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.”
  • “Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.”
  • “Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior Al Qaida leaders.”
  • “Iran, too, must end the IRG [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Qods Force’s [Quds Force’s] support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.”
  • “And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyberattacks.”

None of these demands are new or necessarily unreasonable individually or when one considers them in a vacuum. It goes without saying that since it agreed to the JCPOA, Iran has developed increasingly longer-range ballistic missiles that implicitly threaten its neighbors, exported either some of that technology and expertise to state and non-state actors who have gone on to strike American partners in the region, continued to bankroll terrorists and other militant groups in countries such as Syria and Yemen, committed gross human rights violations against its own people, and called for the total destruction of Israel.

But while these demands are definitely in the United States’ own interests, if Iran were to comply with these points, it would effectively be ceding all of its interests to the U.S. government. The regime in Tehran could quite rightly question how the United States can demand it respect the sovereignty of other nations when Pompeo’s speech calls for total Iranian submission American policies.

A number of Pompeo’s specific stipulations are particularly notable in this regard, with some even calling for steps that would limit Iran’s domestic civil development in addition to its ability to exert influence in the Middle East and beyond. Many of them also place the onus entirely on Iran for complex geopolitical realities.

The first and second demands essentially call for Iran to abandon any domestic nuclear ambitions whatsoever. Under these parameters, if Iran were to pursue civil nuclear power in the future, it would have to source the fuel for those reactors from external sources, rather than producing it itself. Under the JCPOA, Iran continued to produce low-enriched uranium to support a peaceful nuclear energy program, which it has the right to as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Pompeo’s third stipulation also continues to places the blame on Iran for limiting access to potentially nuclear-related sites, even though it was the IAEA that had refused to inspect the Iranian military base at Parchin for possible violations of the Iran Deal. The U.N. nuclear watchdog consistently said the U.S. government had failed to provide the necessary evidence to support its request that inspectors go to that location.

For Iran, the fifth demand might seem odd given the Trump administration’s conciliatory tone toward North Korea over the release of three Americans earlier in May 2018. “We want to thank [North Korean premier] Kim Jong Un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people,” Trump himself, who is eager to meet with Kim to try and extract concessions over its nuclear and missiles programs, said during a press conference at Andrews Air Force Base along the former prisoners.

The seventh and ninth points effectively call on the governments of Iraq and Syria to break ties with Iran. It goes without saying that the United States has little if any leverage to compel Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad to eject his Iranian allies and their proxies, who have been essential to the stability of his regime, from his own country. At the same time, on May 21, 2018, Syria’s government declared it had just reestablished complete control over the capital Damascus and its suburbs for the first time in years, yet another example that Assad is firmly in power for the time being.

In Iraq, a political bloc led by the firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada Al Sadr, a long time adversary of the United States and friend of Iran, won the country’s recent parliamentary elections. The U.S. government lauded those polls as evidence of Iraq’s progress. It’s worth noting that Sadr traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2017 to meet with that country’s rising start, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, but there was no indication that he was willing to break his own personal connections with Iran or those of Iraq’s existing government.

When it comes to the remaining points, its impossible to say that Iran might not change course under the right conditions. It also seems clear that the ruling regime in Tehran views many of these activities, including supporting regional proxies and the development of long-range weapons, as key to its survival against the threats it perceives – real or imagined – from the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other potential opponents.

Most importantly, Pompeo made no indication that the United States had been working with allies and partners on a unified effort to enforce sanctions and goad Iran into changing policies. Beyond that, he only outlined vague plans to “work closely with the Department of Defense and our regional allies to deter Iranian aggression” and “advocate tirelessly for the Iranian people.”

That latter point, which he underscored by mentioning Iran’s crackdown on women who had defied the regime’s morality code and protested rules regarding the wear of hijab, is somewhat undermined by similar actions in Saudi Arabia. Despite glowing reports of reforms under the growing influence Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the government in Riyadh arrested a number of prominent activists on the eve of Ramadan, accusing them of treason and seeking to undermine the country’s monarchy.

Even more worrisome, from Pompeo’s remarks, it appeared that the U.S. government had not only abandoned plans to try and work on a new strategy to tackle Iran with the other parties to the Iran Deal – including American allies the United Kingdom, France, and Germany – but had also made no serious attempt to garner international support for its still largely undefined sanctions packages before announcing them. The Trump Administration has stressed its intent to sanction any country, allied or otherwise, that continues to engage with Iran.

“You should know that we will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account,” Pompeo said. “Over the coming weeks, we will send teams of specialists to countries around the world to further explain the Administration’s policy, discuss the implications of sanctions re-imposition, and hear your concerns.”

Despite Pompeo’s bluster, the United States has already essentially acknowledged that there’s now too much US-Iranian engagement to reimpose sanctions overnight. Parties have three to six months at least to investigate alternative methods of continuing their business activities, either within the United States or by moving their operations to another country. So far, major U.S.-based companies, which are increasingly eager to placate Trump to ward off a late-night flurry of Tweets that could send their stock price crashing, have been the ones to most publicly begin cutting ties.

In an era of multi-national commerce and trade, sanctions only have a chance at working if there is broad support from other parties to take similar action. Many of America’s major allies disagree with its actions and have already announced plans to try and assure Iran’s economy will continue to operate at its present level in hopes of saving the Iran Deal. And in an attempt to ease fears among allies over the possibility of additional sanctions, the Trump administration has already exempted nearly a dozen states from those threats of economic restrictions in exchange for plans to steadily reduce interactions with Iran, especially the import of oil.

Russia and China have made it clear they intend to continue business as usual with the country. China may even increase its trade, further helping to offset the impact of sanctions. For its part, Iran has already taken another opportunity to drive a wedge further between the United States and its traditional allies over the issue. After Pompeo’s remarks, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Tweeted out that the threats, which he said were “dictated by a corrupt Special Interest,” a likely reference to Israel, would not stop his country from working on a “post-U.S. JCPOA” type deal.

In addition, in pulling out of the Iran Deal, the United States has now closed itself off to many potential alternative avenues to seek the concessions it wants from Iranian authorities. Notably, in Syria, as the situation stabilizes for Assad, his allies are finding themselves increasingly at odds.

On May 17, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has become increasingly close with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, implied that Iran should begin withdrawing its forces and demobilizing its proxies from Syria. Iran has since rejected that demand, saying it will stay as long as the Syrian government asks it to remain. So far, the United States does not appear to be able to take advantage of this rift and drive a wedge between the two countries.

The War Zone’s own Tyler Rogoway had already noted just how much the Trump Administration’s attitude of maximalist demands could backfire more broadly earlier in May 2018, writing:

Is Iran a bad actor in the  Middle East? Absolutely, no news there. Has the magnitude of their reach increased since 2015? Yes, it has. But that ship has sailed. If the White House wants to deal with Iran’s extra-territorial activities or ballistic missile programs than it can make a case for doing so without ripping up the nuclear deal unilaterally and injecting massive quantities of uncertainty into a region that is already far from stable.

Now that the U.S. has acted, if Iran moves to immediately reconstitute their nuclear program, other increasingly powerful players in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are sure to follow with the spinning up of their own nuclear programs. In fact, moving toward a mutually assured destruction model by acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities may be invited at this point as the word of the United States is now deeply in question even when it comes to its very own non-proliferation deals. In other words, for Saudi Arabia, which is also increasingly assertive in the region, just getting its own nukes and not having to depend on the U.S. to contain Iran is likely a welcome prospect at this point.

Beyond how this decision impacts the North Korean nuclear weapons issue and the security situation in the Middle East in the longer-term, we now have to wait to see what shorter-term actions will occur as a result.

The U.S. government seems to be drawing the wrong lessons from its North Korea model of “maximum pressure” and is trying to apply them, but without any of the same multi-national support, to Iran. Iran, which is far less isolated than the regime in Pyongyang on an international level, has far less reason to acquiesce to the United States’ demands in general.

And seeing the U.S. government’s demands for Iran may only cause further pushback from North Korea, which seems to be increasingly angry about the Trump Administration’s public pronouncements about the likelihood of it abandoning its nuclear arsenal and making other concessions. It is clear that Kim and his regime see themselves as negotiating from a position of strength in regards to the planned summit with Trump and are incensed at the possibility of being treated as anything less than equals when they arrive in Singapore in June 2018.

Taken together, in its apparent divergent approaches to North Korea and Iran, and its lack of international support even from many of its own allies with regards to the latter, the United States risks isolating itself and damaging its credibility as a reliable negotiating partner. By attempting to pursue both sets of policies at once, the U.S. government is stretching its resources thin and also increases the potential for at least the appearance of contradictory double standards.

All told, the vague strategy Pompeo outlined, coupled with the laundry list of demands that Iran would almost certainly reject out of hand, seems to be a prelude to an argument for military action rather than a realistic approach to negotiations. The Secretary of State did not use the phrase “regime change” in his speech or during the following question and answer session, but it’s hard to see how his proposal calls for anything else.

“We are working certainly diplomatically in the lead, but Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, each of us has the same mission from President Trump,” Pompeo said. “I can’t put a timeline on it. But at the end of the day, the Iranian people will decide the timeline [for meeting these demands].”

For American policies, regarding either Iran or North Korea, to be successful, they need to be grounded in a clear, concise, and most importantly realistic strategy that does its best to elicit international support. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen so far is less a diplomatic path forward and more a potentially disastrous set of ultimatums.

 

Parkland survivor David Hogg aims to ‘create the NRA – except for the opposite issues’

Rather than head to college, Hogg plans to hit the campaign trail in key districts to increase the youth voter turnout rate

May 24, 2018

by Lois Beckett in New York

The Guardian

In the past three months, David Hogg has helped organize a protest march that mobilized hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He and his younger sister have written a book about the birth of a new, youth-led gun control movement after the school shooting at their high school in Parkland, Florida. And when a Fox News host mocked him for not getting into college, the 18-year-old sparked an advertiser boycott of her show.

But the real impact of Hogg and his fellow Parkland students’ activism will depend almost entirely on what happens in November’s midterm elections – whether he and other teenage gun violence prevention activists can deliver on their vow to get National Rifle Association-backed candidates voted out of office.

That’s why Hogg is looking at voter data in places like Republican congresswoman Mia Love’s district in Utah.

“The youth voter turnout rate is around 6%. Six!” Hogg said in an interview with the Guardian on Monday in New York, where he was accepting an award for his advocacy. Love, he said, had received about $63,000 from the NRA. “If we can double the turnout rate, we could probably change the election, and get someone that’s not supported by the NRA elected,” Hogg said. His full goal: for youth turnout in Utah to be “80%. At least.”

Hogg wasn’t necessarily going to be focusing on Love’s district, he said. “It’s just a case example.”

Over the summer, Hogg and other March for Our Lives organizers will be working on what they hope will be “the largest voter registration push for youth ever in American history”. Rather than heading to college after he graduates from high school later this spring, he said: “I’m going to be working on a candidate basis over the fall in key congressional districts.”

To break the stalemate of the gun control debate – a stalemate upheld by Republican lawmakers’ belief that the NRA can mobilize crucial votes for or against them – Hogg and his fellow teenage activists need a targeted strategy, one that mirrors the focused, reliable political activism of the NRA.

Hogg, a skinny teenager with a stern face, speaks with the unshakable confidence of a high school debater, moving swiftly from issue to issue, peppering his comments with statistics and citations. As he prepares to graduate, he is constantly on the move, in New York one day meeting with a voter registration group, lobbying in DC the next, using his Twitter feed, which reaches nearly 800,000 followers, to push supporters towards a constantly growing set of campaigns and initiatives. His future travel plans are always in flux. “I need a secretary,” he said at one point, not joking.

It’s not enough for the Parkland activists to tweet links about voter registration, or broadly encourage young people to head to the polls, as they have been doing. To change legislators’ voters on gun control laws, they need wins. What the March for Our Lives activists are finalizing right now, with just over five months to go before the midterms, is their strategy for picking their battles.

Most of the details are not yet public. But they will be focusing on a “large number” of districts, Hogg said, using “multiple sources of voter turnout data” looking for races where youth voters could have “the largest impact but vote the least” and also in places “where students and young people in general are disproportionately affected by gun violence”.

On Monday, the former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Hogg with an award for citizen activism from the Common Good, a non-profit founded by entertainment industry leaders. Bloomberg, a billionaire gun control advocate who funds the country’s largest gun violence prevention group, Everytown for Gun Safety, was previously one of the NRA’s most reviled opponents. Bloomberg called Hogg “an inspiring young man”. He also presented Hogg with a check for $2,500 to go towards his future college tuition. His advice to the 18-year-old, Bloomberg said, was to “start out by finishing high school and then go to college”.

Later, in a room outside, another well-wisher had different advice: he urged Hogg to run for Congress in Florida “right now, when you’re hot”. (Americans must be 25 years old to serve in the House of Representatives.)

A poll earlier this spring found that nearly a quarter of respondents believed that the Parkland students were “being manipulated by outside groups” rather than advocating for issues they really believe in. In a wide-ranging interview on Monday at Manhattan’s University Club, Hogg spoke for 40 minutes without a single adviser or strategist hovering nearby. He jumped quickly from issue to issue, touching on summer campaign trail goals, a protest in Washington he’s hoping to organize against the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and the non-partisan behavioral interventions that prevent gun violence, like the Cure Violence model, that he believes both Democratic and Republican politicians ignore.

“If you look into it,” he said, “what we need to create is the NRA – except for the opposite issues.”

While the March for Our Lives students have long focused on the money the NRA gives to elected officials, “the reason why they’re effective isn’t just because they spend a lot of money,” Hogg said. “What they’re effective at is in mobilizing people to go to their congressman’s office and say: ‘I’m not going to vote for you if you vote this way on this bill.’”

Even as he makes plans to hit the campaign trail, Hogg hasn’t given up on passing gun control legislation in Washington. He’s outraged at Ryan for continuing to block a vote on legislation to mandate universal background checks on gun sales.

“I’ve flooded Paul Ryan’s phone lines and jammed them because so many people were calling. That didn’t work. People have written letters to him, people have constantly called him out on Twitter, and he still hasn’t done anything.”

Hogg wants to gather support for a discharge petition, a way to force a vote on legislation even if congressional leaders oppose it. “If that means getting 5,000 kids to DC, I’ll do it,” he said. “It’s going to look really bad for House Republicans if there are 5,000 students that come to DC, flood the halls of Congress and get a discharge petition because they couldn’t fucking do it.”

Why hasn’t he organized this protest already?

“Been too busy,” he said. “I have to graduate high school.”

The Parkland students’ activism has been lower-profile in recent weeks.

Why? “It was prom,” Hogg explained. “I’m still in high school – you only get to go to prom once, [and] I was going to do that with my friends. Because I still can. I was lucky enough to survive.”

Asked why he has been the focus of particular frustration from gun rights advocates, Hogg said: “Because I scare them. Because I know what I’m talking about, and they know that the young people will win.”

Even as Hogg and his fellow activists have vowed “Never Again” in response to school shootings, they have watched mass shootings happen again, and again, most recently at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that left 10 people dead.

“It’s disturbing,” he said. “It feels like I’m getting stabbed again and again and it’s like, just scars are forming around that at this point.

“It’s almost like you get kind of numb to it,” he said, then adding: “You never get numb to these things, but I feel like American society gets kind of desensitized.”

 

 

Zuckerberg set up fraudulent scheme to ‘weaponise’ data, court case alleges

Facebook CEO exploited ability to access data from any user’s friend network, US case claims

May 24, 2018

by Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison

The Guardian

Mark Zuckerberg faces allegations that he developed a “malicious and fraudulent scheme” to exploit vast amounts of private data to earn Facebook billions and force rivals out of business.

A company suing Facebook in a California court claims the social network’s chief executive “weaponised” the ability to access data from any user’s network of friends – the feature at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

A legal motion filed last week in the superior court of San Mateo draws upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg. He is named individually in the case and, it is claimed, had personal oversight of the scheme.

Facebook rejects all claims, and has made a motion to have the case dismissed using a free speech defence.

It claims the first amendment protects its right to make “editorial decisions” as it sees fit. Zuckerberg and other senior executives have asserted that Facebook is a platform not a publisher, most recently in testimony to Congress.

Heather Whitney, a legal scholar who has written about social media companies for the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said, in her opinion, this exposed a potential tension for Facebook.

“Facebook’s claims in court that it is an editor for first amendment purposes and thus free to censor and alter the content available on its site is in tension with their, especially recent, claims before the public and US Congress to be neutral platforms.”

The company that has filed the case, a former startup called Six4Three, is now trying to stop Facebook from having the case thrown out and has submitted legal arguments that draw on thousands of emails, the details of which are currently redacted. Facebook has until next Tuesday to file a motion requesting that the evidence remains sealed, otherwise the documents will be made public.

The developer alleges the correspondence shows Facebook paid lip service to privacy concerns in public but behind the scenes exploited its users’ private information.

It claims internal emails and messages reveal a cynical and abusive system set up to exploit access to users’ private information, alongside a raft of anti-competitive behaviours.

Facebook said the claims had no merit and the company would “continue to defend ourselves vigorously”.

Six4Three lodged its original case in 2015 shortly after Facebook removed developers’ access to friends’ data. The company said it had invested $250,000 in developing an app called Pikinis that filtered users’ friends photos to find any of them in swimwear. Its launch was met with controversy.

The papers submitted to the court last week allege Facebook was not only aware of the implications of its privacy policy, but actively exploited them, intentionally creating and effectively flagging up the loophole that Cambridge Analytica used to collect data on up to 87 million American users.

The lawsuit also claims Zuckerberg misled the public and Congress about Facebook’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal by portraying it as a victim of a third party that had abused its rules for collecting and sharing data.

“The evidence uncovered by plaintiff demonstrates that the Cambridge Analytica scandal was not the result of mere negligence on Facebook’s part but was rather the direct consequence of the malicious and fraudulent scheme Zuckerberg designed in 2012 to cover up his failure to anticipate the world’s transition to smartphones,” legal documents said.

The lawsuit claims to have uncovered fresh evidence concerning how Facebook made decisions about users’ privacy. It sets out allegations that, in 2012, Facebook’s advertising business, which focused on desktop ads, was devastated by a rapid and unexpected shift to smartphones.

Zuckerberg responded by forcing developers to buy expensive ads on the new, underused mobile service or risk having their access to data at the core of their business cut off, the court case alleges.“Zuckerberg weaponised the data of one-third of the planet’s population in order to cover up his failure to transition Facebook’s business from desktop computers to mobile ads before the market became aware that Facebook’s financial projections in its 2012 IPO filings were false,” one court filing said.

In its latest filing, Six4Three alleges Facebook deliberately used its huge amounts of valuable and highly personal user data to tempt developers to create platforms within its system, implying that they would have long-term access to personal information, including data from subscribers’ Facebook friends.

Once their businesses were running, and reliant on data relating to “likes”, birthdays, friend lists and other Facebook minutiae, the social media company could and did target any that became too successful, looking to extract money from them, co-opt them or destroy them, the documents claim.

Six4Three alleges up to 40,000 companies were effectively defrauded in this way by Facebook. It also alleges that senior executives including Zuckerberg personally devised and managed the scheme, individually deciding which companies would be cut off from data or allowed preferential access.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook initially focused on kickstarting its mobile advertising platform, as the rapid adoption of smartphones decimated the desktop advertising business in 2012.

It later used its ability to cut off data to force rivals out of business, or coerce owners of apps Facebook coveted into selling at below the market price, even though they were not breaking any terms of their contracts, according to the documents.

A Facebook spokesman said: “When we changed our policy in 2015, we gave all third-party developers ample notice of material platform changes that could have impacted their applications.”

Facebook’s submission to the court, an “anti-Slapp motion” under Californian legislation designed to protect freedom of speech, said: “Six4Three is taking its fifth shot at an ever expanding set of claims and all of its claims turn on one decision, which is absolutely protected: Facebook’s editorial decision to stop publishing certain user-generated content via its Platform to third-party app developers.”

David Godkin, Six4Three’s lead counsel said: “We believe the public has a right to see the evidence and are confident the evidence clearly demonstrates the truth of our allegations, and much more.”

Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower who has testified to the UK parliament about its business practices, said the allegations were a “bombshell”. He claimed to MPs Facebook’s senior executives were aware of abuses of friends’ data back in 2011-12 and he was warned not to look into the issue.

“They felt that it was better not to know. I found that utterly horrifying,” he said. “If true, these allegations show a huge betrayal of users, partners and regulators. They would also show Facebook using its monopoly power to kill competition and putting profits over protecting its users.”

A trial date for the case has been set for April 2019.

 

When the CIA Infiltrated a Presidential Campaign

Trump’s allegations about FBI surveillance may be baseless. But it actually happened to Barry Goldwater.

May 22, 2018

by Steve Usdin

Politico

President Donald Trump seems to believe that FBI agents infiltrated his presidential campaign for political purposes, and has tweeted that the bureau’s actions could amount to a scandal “bigger than Watergate.”

Trump hasn’t provided evidence to support these allegations, but regardless of their veracity, there is precedent for an American intelligence agency spying on a presidential campaign. It happened in the summer of 1964; the target was Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and the perpetrator was the CIA, not the FBI.

A CIA officer named E. Howard Hunt—later made infamous for his role in the Watergate break-in—was in charge of the operation. Hunt’s role in the Goldwater caper can be traced back to his involvement in the CIA’s disastrous attempt to depose Fidel Castro by landing a ragtag group of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. Like many agency officers associated with the fiasco, he was put in a kind of purgatory, assigned to a desk job that lacked the excitement or career-advancement potential of foreign clandestine operations.

In Hunt’s case, the CIA tasked him with oversight of clandestine operations with cryptonyms like WUBONBON and WHUHUSTLER that produced and disseminated propaganda for consumption in the United States and internationally. One such propaganda project was a CIA front company called Continental Press, which operated as a news service based out of an office in the National Press Building in downtown Washington. Run by a former Associated Press reporter, Continental Press fed news and propaganda to obscure newspapers in developing countries, and provided cover for CIA operatives in Africa, India and elsewhere.

Over a six-week period in the late summer of 1964, Hunt deployed Continental Press staff to undertake a new type of project: infiltrating the presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater on behalf of President Lyndon Johnson.

There is some dispute about whose idea this was. In a memoir published in 2007, Hunt claimed the idea to spy on Goldwater originated in the White House. Johnson, had, Hunt claimed, “become obsessed with obtaining his competitor’s plans.” Having come to office through tragedy, and deeply resenting suggestions that he wasn’t up to the job, Johnson yearned for a blow-out victory in 1964’s presidential race.

In 1975, then CIA Director William Colby told the House Select Committee on Intelligence that spying on Goldwater had been the brainchild of Tracy Barnes, head of the CIA’s Domestic Operations Division. According to Colby’s version of events, Barnes proposed it to Chester L. Cooper, a CIA officer working in the Johnson White House on temporary assignment to the National Security Council.

According to a CIA memo Colby provided to Congress, in 1973 Cooper told a member of the CIA Office of Inspector General that in 1964 Barnes had asked him “if he would like to have copies of [Goldwater’s] speeches and would it be useful to have them before he (Cooper) read them in the newspapers.” The memo concluded: “There is no question that Mr. Cooper was serving the White House in the political campaign while on the CIA payroll and that he was assisted, in part, by a member of the Agency’s Domestic Operations Division.” The CIA didn’t say why Barnes offered to spy on Goldwater. He may have been seeking to enhance the agency’s stature at a time when President Johnson had a strained relationship with its director.

In blaming Barnes and saying that he hadn’t informed anyone more senior about the operation, Colby created a convenient dead end: by the time the Agency pinned responsibility on Barnes, he had been dead for several years.

Whether the impetus came from the White House or Langley, it is clear that Hunt arranged the infiltration of the Goldwater campaign headquarters. “My subordinates volunteered inside, collected advance copies of position papers and other material, and handed them over to CIA personnel,” Hunt wrote. Hunt’s assets included a secretary on Goldwater’s campaign staff who provided advance copies of speeches and press releases. A female CIA employee who worked from the Continental Press offices would pick up the material and deliver it to Cooper.

LBJ wasn’t squeamish about using the inside information, and he did so in a blunt fashion that must have made CIA officers cringe. Goldwater campaign staff noticed that the Johnson campaign had the unnerving habit of responding to points in their candidate’s speeches before he had delivered them. Johnson didn’t seem to care that his actions made clear to Goldwater that he was being spied on.

One of the most glaring incidents took place on September 9, 1964, after Hunt’s operation delivered to Cooper an advance copy of a speech Goldwater was slated to deliver that evening in Seattle. The Republican planned to announce formation of a Task Force on Peace and Freedom headed by former Vice President Richard Nixon that would advise Goldwater on foreign affairs. The idea was to calm fears that Goldwater had insufficient foreign-policy experience and that he would pursue a radical international agenda.

Johnson swung into action and called a “flash” press conference. While Goldwater was on an airplane and unable to respond, LBJ announced the formation of a task force of his own: a “panel of distinguished citizens who will consult with the president in the coming months on major international problems facing the United States.” Johnson’s ploy worked perfectly: news of his advisory panel was widely reported, including on the front page of the New York Times, while Goldwater’s announcement received little attention.

The disparity caught the attention of the journalist Arthur Krock, who in a nationally syndicated column suggested that Goldwater had “forfeited a chance to name his ‘task force’ first, and then represent the President’s as another instance of ‘me too.’”

Krock presented the situation as a triumph for Johnson and an example of the natural advantages a sitting President had in an election campaign. “Among advantages a president in a campaign to succeed himself has over his opponent is command of the channels of publicity,” he told his readers. Goldwater was hopelessly outmatched when going up against the full weight of the presidency, Krock wrote: “The President of the United States in the classic décor of his oval office at the White House; his helplessly scooped opponent in the modernistic carnival setting of the Coliseum that was built for the Seattle World’s Fair.”

The CIA’s surveillance of Goldwater didn’t alter the outcome of the election—Johnson was up big, and won in a landslide. But, at least in Hunt’s mind, it eventually led to the downfall of a president—just not the president involved.

Hunt retired from the CIA in 1970 and was hired by the White House in 1972 to lead a unit known as the Plumbers that was dedicated to plugging leaks within the Nixon administration, playing dirty tricks on Nixon’s opponents and obtaining political intelligence. Years later, Hunt justified his actions by comparing them to the CIA’s spying on Goldwater. His logic was that if it was OK to use surreptitious methods to obtain political intelligence on behalf of one president, it was acceptable to do the same for another president. “Since I’d done it once before for the CIA, why wouldn’t I do it again [inside Watergate in June 1972] for the White House?” Hunt explained to the New York Times in late December 1974.

In 1973, Judge John J. Sirica imposed a provisional 35-year prison sentence on Hunt for his role in planning the Watergate break-in, and said he would reduce the term only if Hunt cooperated with government investigators. Traumatized by prison, grieving the death of his wife in a December 1972 plane crash, and feeling the government had betrayed him, Hunt decided to talk. On December 18, 1973, on a closely guarded excursion from a federal penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, Hunt met with Senator Howard Baker, Jr. and the staff of a Senate committee that was investigating CIA abuses of power.

Hunt told Baker that he’d been disturbed by the order to spy on the Goldwater campaign. This wasn’t because he had any hesitation about conducting what was obviously an illegal violation of the CIA’s charter, which imposes strict limits on the agency’s domestic operations.Rather, it was because Hunt was one of the few Goldwater supporters in the agency. “However, as distasteful as I thought it was, I performed the duty, accepting White House orders without question,” he recalled. A year later, news of Hunt’s testimony leaked to the New York Times.

In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in 1975, CIA Director William Colby indicated that he also found Hunt’s activities distasteful. “I certainly would not countenance picking up speeches by another candidate and giving them to the White House,” Colby said.

After Hunt’s revelations were leaked to the press, Sen. Goldwater told Washington Postreporters that during the 1964 campaign, he had come to believe he was being spied on. “I just assumed it was one man or two men assigned at the direction of the President… It never bothered me,” he said. “I guess it should have, but knowing Johnson as I did, I never got upset about it.” Goldwater never suggested that the CIA’s spying had cost him the election.

Even in the heat of the ’64 campaign, as he thought he was being spied on, Goldwater never mentioned his concerns publicly, and even insisted that his aides kept quiet. Going public with the allegations would have distracted attention from his agenda, and absent any proof that surveillance was actually happening, complaints about being spied upon would’ve likely reinforced the common perception that he was paranoid.

It’s a very different course of action than the one President Trump is taking today.

 

Lesley Stahl: Donald Trump Said He Attacks the Media “So When You Write Negative Stories About Me, No One Will Believe You”

May 22, 2018

by Jon Schwarz

The Intercept

In an appearance Monday night at the annual Deadline Club awards dinner in New York City, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl said that President Donald Trump privately told her just after the 2016 election that he attacks the media as part of a conscious strategy to protect himself from damaging coverage.

Stahl stated that the conversation took place in Trump’s office at Trump Tower before she spoke to him for “60 Minutes” in his first post-election interview. According to Stahl, there were three people present: herself, her boss, and Trump.

Trump, she said, attacked the media during the meeting, and she asked him why he was continuing to do so even after he’d won. Trump responded: “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

Stahl made the remarks during a conversation with fellow journalist Judy Woodruff:

WOODRUFF: How do you deal – I mean, you had the first interview with Donald Trump after the election, big scoop, everybody wanted this interview.

STAHL: I’m happy I got it.

WOODRUFF: I mean, how did you deal with it?

STAHL: Before the interview I met with him in Trump Tower. And he really is the same off camera that he is on camera, exactly the same. And at one point, he started to attack the press. And it’s just me and my boss and him – he has a huge office – and he’s attacking the press. And there were no cameras, there was nothing going on. And I said, “You know, that is getting tired, why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over and it’s boring, it’s time to end that, you’ve won the nomination [sic], and why do you keep hammering at this?” And he said: “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.” He said that. So put that in your head for a minute.

The Stahl and Woodruff conversation at the Deadline Club can be watched in full here. The section about Trump begins at about 21:00.

Stahl did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Stahl’s remarks were first reported by The Intercept’s National Security Editor Vanessa Gezari on Twitter.

 

Israel lobby group spreads hoaxes to whitewash Gaza massacre

May 23, 2018

by David Cronin

Electronic Intifada

Burying the truth is accorded a high priority when states commit atrocities.

On 30 January 1972, the British Army shot dead 13 unarmed demonstrators during a civil rights march in Derry. Edward Heath, then prime minister, was determined that the ensuing inquiry into Bloody Sunday – as the massacre became known – would be a whitewash.

“It had to be remembered that in Northern Ireland, we were fighting not only a military war but a propaganda war,” Heath told a judge tasked with “investigating” what happened.

It was a bloody Monday in Gaza last week. Dozens of unarmed demonstrators were shot dead. And – like the British authorities more than 40 years ago – Israel’s supporters launched the latest salvo in their propaganda war.

Europe Israel Public Affairs – a Brussels-based lobby group – alleged that Hamas had manipulated the media coverage of the killings. Journalists had been lured into “the sinister world of Hamas,” the group suggested.

The “sinister world” was, according to Europe Israel Public Affairs’ latest newsletter, one “where 62 innocents turn out to be overwhelmingly terrorists” and where photographs and videos are “doctored.”

The first segments of such videos – depicting an injured youth being carried on a stretcher – get sent to major broadcasters, the group claimed. Yet the full video, it added, shows “the teenager apparently having made a miraculous recovery and high-fiving his friends for the deception, all caught on camera.”

I contacted Europe Israel Public Affairs asking for an example of the photographs or videos to which it referred. It sent me two links, both videos.

One appeared to show a young man being carried on a stretcher through a fog of tear gas before standing up again. The video was uploaded to YouTube on 5 May – nine days before last week’s massacre.

It was titled “Gaza Pallywood” – a racist term implying that Palestinians are faking the pain inflicted on them by Israel.

The video had been uploaded by Legal Insurrection, a right-wing website. Legal Insurrection has helpfully named the source for the video: a tweet from the Israeli army.

That raises major questions about the video’s credibility..

An army which routinely violates human rights should not, to put it mildly, be regarded as an objective provider of information. Israel’s army has often told lies about Palestinians as part of its propaganda war.

Nor does the grainy 27-second video – which appears to have been edited – show precisely what is claimed. The man on the stretcher is never seen walking – as Legal Insurrection alleges.

What it appears to show is simply a person in a condition that made him unable to run being evacuated to an area deemed safer, and then standing up.

Since it appears the Israelis filmed it from a distance, it is unclear what incentive Palestinians would have to fake such an incident – especially since everyone involved would have been at very real risk of being shot. Israeli snipers have not spared anyone, including journalists and paramedics.

Distracting from the facts

An even more outrageous claim made by Europe Israel Public Affairs was that videos have emerged of “dead people under Hamas blankets coming back to life.”

The example which the group gave me of such a video was, it claimed, from 2014. In actual fact, the video was from a year earlier and had been filmed in Egypt, not Gaza.

It featured what activists call a “die-in” at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University.

No one looking at the video in good faith could conclude that it is anything other than what it appears to be: a demonstration – and the title of the original 2013 video describes it as such.

An October 2013 report in El Badil, the publication that uploaded the video to YouTube on the same day, describes the event as a student protest against the military coup in Egypt earlier that year. The students seen in the video are wearing shrouds bearing the names of people who had been killed in incidents around the country, according to El Badil.

The same video has also been deployed in efforts to discredit reports of atrocities during the war in Syria.

Europe Israel Public Affairs is led by Alex Benjamin. He is a former member of staff with Britain’s Conservatives, the party once led by the aforementioned Edward Heath.

One day after last week’s massacre, Benjamin wrote on Facebook that Iran is “seemingly paying Hamas to fund these protests with tragic consequences.”

Benjamin was almost certainly referring to press reports based on briefings from Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet. The Israeli media has acknowledged that Shin Bet has not provided any concrete evidence of Iranian involvement in the protests.

That story was published by some outlets last Monday – around the same time that news of the massacre in Gaza was breaking. The insinuation that Gaza’s protesters are effectively mercenaries for Iran looks like a desperate attempt to distract from incontrovertible facts – like how Israel has been deliberately killing and maiming Palestinians demanding basic rights.

Hypnotized by Hamas?

Contrary to what Europe Israel Public Affairs claimed, there is no reason to believe that Western media were hypnotized by Hamas last week. Much of the coverage repeated fallacious motifs about “clashes” on the “Gaza border.”

Israeli spokespeople were invited to take part in typically softball interviews. The BBC reported that the “only issue” at stake related to “proportionate force.” If Israel had chosen a more gentle form of “crowd control” – a euphemism for repression – then there would be nothing to worry about, the broadcaster implied.

Predictably, the pro-Israel lobby has pounced on a boast by one Hamas official that 50 of those killed last week were affiliated to the organization. The boast has not been verified and is ultimately irrelevant to the patent illegality of Israel’s conduct.

Long before last week, Israel had declared Gaza a “hostile entity.”

That designation is unknown in international law. It offered no more than a flimsy pretext for suffocating one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

The Great Return March represents a concerted effort to embrace an unarmed form of resistance. The tactics and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi are being practiced in Gaza.

Huge courage has been displayed in the face of snipers’ bullets. And the response of Israel’s supporters has been to blame and besmirch the victims.

Ali Abunimah contributed research.

 

Top Israeli Rabbi Believes Trump Will Build Third Temple in Jerusalem

May 22, 2018

dnz

US President Donald Trump’s unabashed support for the Jewish state and his public recognition of Jerusalem as its capital have many Israelis electrified.

The current American leader’s positive attitude toward Israel seems nearly illogical, especially after decades of far more hostile trends.

A prominent Israeli rabbi believes the reason for this unprecedented (at least in modern times) shift is that Trump has a big role to play in the building of the Third Temple and the coming of Messiah.

Rabbi Yosef Berger is the rabbi in charge of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, and the son of a widely revered Hasidic leader.

In remarks to Breaking Israel News, Rabbi Berger cited a medieval rabbinical source that predicted that while the first two temples were built by Israel, the third would be built by the “descendants of Edom,” a phrase that in some later rabbinical literature is a euphemism for the Christian world.

This is so that the Christians, and the ancient peoples they have come to represent in rabbinical thought, can make restitution for millennia of wrongdoing toward the Children of Israel.

Rabbi Berger explained: “No leader in history has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jews and Israel. [Trump] has already created a great tikkun (reparation) for the Christians through his unprecedented relationship with Jerusalem. Trump is the representative of Edom that will perform that final historic reparation for his entire nation by building the Temple.”

 

Why The Dome Of The Rock MUST Come Down.

May 24, 2018

Israel Shield

Many have said  I am starting World War 3 by posting this, but I disagree. You don’t start a war by posting a blog post and you don’t start a war by building houses, synagogues or kindergartens. Wars are started with weapons, with terrorism and most importantly with an ideology that has the word Jihad as part of its basic beliefs.

This is how wars are started!

Let’s get something straight. Israel has given up land, taken security risks and even transferred Jews out of their homes to appease the Arabs. Every time Israel offered a peace deal to the Arabs, they chose war. From 1948 through the Gaza pullout, the Arabs have always chosen death over life and war over peace.

I believe it was Abba Ebin who said,

“The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

There is one place in Israel that does not allow for freedom of religion. In fact the location I am about to reveal is completely closed to prayer when it comes to a specific religion. There are roadblocks and checkpoints that are set up strictly to expose a persons religion as well as Police and even a private brute squad that make sure none of the people from a specific religion dare visit this site. Even when they are allowed in, if they dare whisper a prayer they are immediately arrested.

Believe it or not, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is off limits to JEWS! Although this is the holiest place to the Jewish religion, Jews who attempt to pray are immediately arrested and thrown out! The Mufti’s brute squad stand around starring down Jews making sure they don’t utter a prayer and if they do, the Mufti’s men jump in to action and kick the Jews out.

Don’t misunderstand me, I have no interest in this mosque that sits on the ruins of the Jewish Tempe of Jerusalem. In fact the Muslims don’t use that building and it is there only as a trophy of the conquering of the Jewish Temple Mount.

The mosque Muslims pray at is the small one to the left of of the gold dome

When it comes to the Jews, we have always faced Jerusalem for prayer and it is mentioned over 500 in Tanach! (Torah & Prophets) Furthermore, the temple mount was home to the Jewish temple before Islam ever existed. It was the Romans who occupied Israel from the Jews and stole the Temple artifacts and destroyed the Temple.

So why the gold dome?

Fanatic Muslims did what they do best and that is conquer and destroy. The dome is built on what is called the Temple Mount and was built where the Jewish Temple once stood.

Some Muslims say the Temple never existed while others say it did but no where near the Temple Mount.

Let’s forget about all the Jewish sources and let’s take a look at Islam. When it comes to Israel the Quran clearly states that Israel belongs to the Jewish people.

When it comes to Jerusalem, no where in the Quran does it say the city of Jerusalem is holy to Islam. In fact Jerusalem is NOT mentioned in the Quran at all!  When it comes to the mosque on the Temple Mount, it was named by Muslim sources, (you ready for this! ) Bayt al-Muqaddas.

Where did they get that name from?

Here’s a hint. The Jewish Temple was called Bet Hamikdash! Bayt Al – Muqaddas lieterally means the House that is built on the Mikdash (Temple)

They Muslims named the mosque after what was already there before they stole it!

What Does All This Mean?

It means the Muslims are illegally occupying the Temple Mount! I wonder if the UN is going to come to support our call to end the Islamic occupation of the Temple Mount!

In fact, Muslims are occupying many parts of Israel, but we, the Jews, are not trying to blow them up for it, we actually wish they would just live in peace. (What a crazy idea!)

Then there are the “practical” people who say the situation is what it is and it now belongs to Muslims. I am a religious Jew and maybe my idea of HOLY is different than theirs, so you be the judge.

Does this look like they are treating the area as a holy place or as a battle ground for a holy war?

Perhaps Muslims giving the middle finger and attacking Jews who just came to pray is an Islamic holy thing to do.

This happened this year!

What Should Be Done?

Well if you’re pro Israel and do NOT fabricate history, the answer is clear. Even IF you’re anti Israel and you think the Jews should “Get the hell out of Palestine” as was suggested by the wicked witch of the Obama house, at least be consistent. If you think an occupied people have a right to demand their land back, the conclusion is obvious; it’s time to give back what was taken from the Jews. It’s time we the Jews, who were occupied and our Temple burned, take back what’s rightfully ours!

It’s time to rebuild the Bet Hamikdash!

Ron Dermer – Israel’s Ambassador to the United States was assured, personally, by President Donald Trump on April 20, 2018, that he “fully approves” of the destruction of the alien Dome of the Rock and is “100% in support of the plan to erect the Third Temple on the site.”

The President further promised that “America’s military might” would be in “total support” of Israel in the event that deranged Muslims dared to oppose this move. It is now expected that the clearing of the site for the new temple will begin in July of 2018 and the IDF is making plans to build up their forces in the vacinity to deal with civil disturbances.

 

Hezbollah eyes bigger role in next Lebanon government

May 23, 2018

by Laila Bassam and Tom Perry

Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Iran-backed Hezbollah aims to move beyond its traditional backseat role by assuming more influence in Lebanon’s next government to help it counter an escalating U.S. campaign against Tehran and its regional ascendancy.

A parliamentary majority for the Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah and its allies is expected to be reflected in a new coalition government that Western-backed Saad al-Hariri will now try to form, weakened by the loss of more than a third of his MPs.

The May 6 election underlined how Lebanon’s political landscape has tilted in Hezbollah’s favour in recent years, and is part of a bigger picture of expanding Iranian influence that Washington wants to counter.

“Hezbollah will strengthen its presence more than at any previous time,” a senior Lebanese official familiar with the group’s thinking told Reuters. “Now it has two ministers. It will have three – and three party members, known leaders – as clear as the sun. Shi’ites,” the senior official said.

The group, which has to date held only marginal cabinet posts, is also seeking more significant service-providing ministries in the new cabinet, according to the official and other sources familiar with Hezbollah thinking.

Any expansion of Hezbollah’s role in government could pose new questions for Western policy in Lebanon.

The country has been a big recipient of aid to help it cope with 1 million Syrian refugees on its soil, and its military has been armed and trained by the United States, which deems Hezbollah a terrorist group.

Analysts expect the new government to expand ties with the Hezbollah-allied Syrian government that is shunned by the West.

That would further erode Lebanon’s stated policy of regional neutrality that Beirut has claimed to uphold even with Hezbollah fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. administration has made Hezbollah a target of its new policy to counter Iran after pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal, a move welcomed by U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia that view Iran and Hezbollah as a regional threat.

While Hezbollah’s arsenal has long made it the most powerful group in Lebanon, it has always limited its role in state institutions that are divided out among sectarian groups.

Hezbollah has in the past foregone some of the ministries to which it was entitled and ceded them to allies, the senior official said. This election marks a break with that approach, the official said, though Hezbollah is not seeking to dominate.

In the outgoing government, it held the ministries of youth and sport, and industry. A second senior source familiar with Hezbollah’s thinking said the group was eyeing the ministries of public works, health, social affairs or telecoms.

These service-providing ministries could boost Hezbollah’s political capital, analysts say.

In addition, Hezbollah believes one of its Sunni Muslim allies should be assigned a ministry to reflect gains they made at Hariri’s expense in the election, the sources say.

Hezbollah is not seeking any of the so-called “sovereign” ministries – finance, interior, defence and foreign affairs. But it wants the finance ministry to remain with its close ally, the Shi’ite Amal Movement, the senior official said.

U.S. SAYS LEBANON’S POWER BALANCE NOT GOOD

Hezbollah, groups and individuals that support its possession of arms won at least 70 of parliament’s 128 seats in the election. That was a reversal of Lebanon’s last general election in 2009, when an anti-Hezbollah coalition led by Hariri and backed by Saudi Arabia won the majority.

Hariri’s “March 14” coalition disintegrated after 2009. Saudi Arabia has turned its focus to countering Iran in other parts of the region since then, leaving Hariri weaker.

The collapse of his Saudi-based construction business hit the finances that had supported his Future Movement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that Iran must end its support for Hezbollah as one of Washington’s conditions for Tehran to avoid tough new sanctions.

Speaking to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Pompeo said there were “certainly changes” in Lebanon’s election but Washington assessed the “overall balance of power won’t be materially changed as an outcome of that”.

“That’s good and bad. The existing balance of power is not a good one in its own right,” he said.

He added that Washington should review its assistance, including to the Lebanese army, “to make sure that we’re using American taxpayers’ dollars right, and supporting the groups that can most likely achieve our outcome there”.

The U.S. administration has issued new financial sanctions targeting the leadership of Hezbollah, which was set up by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982.

Lebanon’s government has previously lobbied Washington to avoid sanctions that would hit its banking system as a whole.

Hariri has said the new sanctions may accelerate the formation of the new government.

But analysts see a tough time ahead in the cabinet talks, noting parliamentary gains by the staunchly anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces, which roughly doubled their representation to 15 MPs and wants a bigger slice of cabinet.

“It’s difficult to see this process wrapped up quickly,” Mohanad Hage Ali of the Carnegie Middle East Center said.

Additional reporting by Angus McDowall and Ellen Francis; editing by Mark Heinrich

 

 

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