5780: The year so far.

Germany: 'A 23-year-old Syrian armed with a knife on Friday ran into a Berlin synagogue, and was arrested at the entrance. According to eyewitnesses, the Syrian yelled "Allahu akhbar" and anti-Israel statements. ...' He was questioned and released.

France: 'A staffer at Paris police headquarters who stabbed four colleagues to death on Thursday adhered to "a radical vision of Islam", an anti-terror prosecutor said Saturday, according to AFP. The 45-year-old computer expert had been in contact with members of Salafism, an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam, and defended "atrocities committed in the name of that religion", Jean-Francois Ricard was quoted as having told reporters. ... The assailant, named as Mickael Harpon, was shot dead by a policeman, who was a trainee at the police headquarters. ... Harpon held a high-level "defense secrets" security clearance, which authorized him to handle sensitive information of national defense importance and would have subjected him to regular, stringent security checks.'

Australia: Twelve-year-old Jewish boy harassed, beaten, forced to kiss feet of Muslim boy. 'AFTER term two began, so did the antisemitic name-calling. “Jewish ape”, “Jewish n****r” and “Jewish gimp” were just some of the slurs hurled towards Taylor. He silently took the verbal abuse. ... BUT it was the reaction of the school – both immediately and in the ensuing weeks – that left Karen bemused and ultimately, devastated. They refused to label the incidents as antisemitic. ...'

Canada: 'On 29 Sept., 2019, antifa and allied left-wing protesters rioted outside an event in Hamilton, Ontario featuring Dave Rubin and conservative politician Maxime Bernier. "She was crying, hands were shaking," queer activist Jackson Gates tells me. "She was petrified."' Via my friend Andy Ngo.


Melanie Phillips: The need for a new enlightenment.

Melanie Phillips:
The fact that genocidal Nazism had arisen in Germany, the very heartland of high European culture, dealt a shattering blow to the West’s conception of itself as enlightened. At the same time, Britain became demoralised as a result of its post-war bankruptcy and loss of empire.

Such fundamental loss of self-belief made the West vulnerable to the idea spread by Marxist intellectuals that it was rotten at its core. A new culture was planned that would eradicate division, bigotry and war.

The ideas at the heart of this can be traced back to the 17th century Enlightenment and its great fallacy: the worship of reason that certain powerful European thinkers of the time placed in opposition to Christianity.

Today’s most influential secularists are squarely in that tradition. ...

We need nothing less than a new Enlightenment which conserves and builds rather than destroys.
Go to the link for the whole thing, which is excerpted from a longer (paid access) piece in The Times.

I won't get into the whole "good Enlightenment / bad Enlightenment" debate that is being argued by people much smarter and more knowledgeable than I am, but I do think this piece nails the central weakness of contemporary Western society: a loss of core values, and a self-destructive fear of making any intellectual or moral judgements at all.

Related: Here is Joseph Loconte on the need for a revival of Lockean Liberalism.
Locke’s critics have blinded themselves to the bracing nature of his democratic vision: “But those whose doctrine is peaceable, and whose manners are pure and blameless, ought to be upon equal terms with their fellow-subjects.” Here is the only tenable solution to the challenge of religious diversity: equal justice under the law for people of all faith traditions.

No political doctrine has been more integral to the success of the United States, for no nation has been so determined to regard religious pluralism as a source of cultural strength. America’s experiment in human liberty and equality is profoundly Lockean. It is also, in some important respects, deeply Christian. Locke believed that the gospel message of divine mercy — intended for all — implied political liberalism. The founder of Christianity, he wrote, “opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion.”

That'll teach her.

You might have heard not long ago that Democratic hopeful Marianne Williamson had been quoted as saying that conservatives were on occasion nicer, or at least not worse than, liberals. Now, Eric Bolling has shown her the error of her ways by publicly confronting her with her open-mike statement. Here's Newsweek:
"What does it say that Fox News is nicer to me than the lefties are? What does it say that the conservatives are nicer to me?" Williamson said after an interview with Eric Bolling on Sinclair Broadcast Group's America This Week last week. "It's such a bizarre world," she added.

"I didn't think the left was as mean as the right, they are," the activist and author asserted.

Bolling played the previously unreleased clip ahead of a follow-up Wednesday evening interview with the presidential candidate, confronting her over her criticism. Williamson was clearly caught off guard, explaining that she had previously been told that the clip would not be played.

"Well, what I was told was that if I came on your show, you wouldn't blast it out, and you just blasted it out," she said in response. "I don't even know where to go with that."

Bolling defended his decision to play the clip, despite allegedly saying he wouldn't. Williamson then attempted to explain her candid hot mic remarks.
I love how Newsweek takes every opportunity to attack Williamson's credibility: she "claimed", she "asserted", she "attempted to explain". Still, you've got to give credit to Bolling, and to Newsweek, for giving such a beautiful illustration of exactly what Marianne Williamson was talking about.

"Deplatforming works."


According to this individual 'Milo reveals just how much the far right are struggling after being deplatformed from the main social media sites.' She is, of course, quite pleased at the success of the compliant tech industry in unpersoning Milo.

But the reality is, Milo's situation does not 'reveal' anything about the state of conservative social media. Milo is largely the author of his own problems. He was smart, outspoken, funny, often provocative - but he didn't know when to stop. He alienated a lot of folks on the right.

I hate that Milo gave the left a scalp to claim. But he made his own choices. You've got to know how to pick your battles, how to build leverage, how to work with people, if you want to stay in the game. He never learned.

Milo may be out of the game. But there's Brandon, Blaire, Andy, Sargon, Candace, Laura Loomer, Mike Harlow ... the list goes on and on. One casualty does not lose a war.

Abraham Miller: After 9/11.

Abraham Miller in the American Spectator: You said you wouldn't forget.
The system of competing tribes with different realities only works if there is an overarching sense of community. From the Europe of the Peace of Westphalia, 1648, emerged the idea of the nation state. This was the binding together of similar yet different peoples into a shared identity.

Three-hundred-plus years later, that ideal began to crumble. Devolution became the objective of peoples who found unity artificial. Minus the integrative loyalty of communism, Yugoslavia crumbled into different ethnic enclaves and civil war. Czechoslovakia broke into the Czech and Slovak Republics. The Soviet Union broke up into its pre-imperial past. Many African states devolved into tribalism.

Our strength is most definitely not our multiculturalism. Our strength is a multicultural society that possess a transformative sense of unity. Dramatic events like 9/11 rekindle that purpose. ...

Read the whole thing.

Victor Davis Hanson on the decline of higher education.

VDH on the downfall of the universities.
Overwhelmingly liberal and often hippish in appearance, American faculty of the early 1970s still only rarely indoctrinated students or bullied them to mimic their own progressivism. Rather, in both the humanities and sciences, students were taught the inductive method of evaluating evidence in hopes of finding some common explanation of natural and human phenomena.

Yes, we studied “mere” facts—dates, names, grammar, syntax, and formulae—but deliberately to ground or refute theories with evidence and to illustrate and enhance argumentation. Essays bled red by old masters of English prose style, whose efforts were aimed at ensuring students could communicate effectively but also with a sense of grace. ...

What went wrong? The former students of the 1970s came into power and gradually began to reject the very code of conduct and training of those who taught them. And in turn they taught a new generation who for the first time had little first-hand knowledge of the great campus scholars and icons of the past. ..

Go read the whole thing at the link. I came into early adulthood in the late 1970s and early '80s - probably would not have been a good candidate for college at that point in my life anyway (I was a mess), but in any case the trajectory of my life took a different direction.

What remains for us as adults today is to somehow build the institutions - either by rebuilding the universities, or by creating alternatives - for the passing down of important knowledge, traditions, and the spirit of inquiry.


Eighteen years on.

The battle was never "over there".

It was always here.


The problem with reforms.

Sometimes it happens that there's an injustice in society, and some people see it, and they organize to try to make things better. So far so good, but there's certain things that are gonna happen whether you want them to or not.

(1) People want to hear about what they're going to get, but not about what will be expected of them. So, "You won't be discriminated against anymore!" sounds great. Everybody's fine with getting rights and entitlements. But as for "Equality means equal responsibilities - you'll have to work like everybody else, follow the law like everybody else, no freebies and no favoritism" - nobody wants to hear that part.

(2) People get caught up in the romance of the struggle and can't let go. They look to it for both internal fulfillment and external validation. They get a charge out of marching with signs and chanting slogans, and they bond with others that way. And some become professional activists and actually depend on the struggle for a paycheck. So people become both emotionally and materially invested in it.

(3) The most sinister part is that there will always be people who join the movement caring nothing about the cause or about justice. They don't want to fix things; they want to tear everything down and build a new order on the rubble, with themselves at the top of the pyramid.

If you had explained all this to me when I was younger, I probably would have halfway believed it. Now that I've lived long enough to see it play out, I understand just how inevitable it is.

That doesn't mean don't work for reform. It does mean you need to know what you're getting into.

Jerusalem: Tisha b'Av fast preparations.

Arutz Sheva:
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is preparing the Western Wall area for Tisha B'av, when thousands of Jews flock to the ancient site to mourn for the destruction of the first and second Temples in ancient Jerusalem.

This year, Tisha B'Av actually falls out on Shabbat, but since mourning is not permitted on Shabbat, it will be observed on Saturday night and Sunday instead.

Israel police will guard the crowds both at the Western Wall itself and on its access roads and has stated that all the roads are secure and the public can safely travel to the Western Wall. However, the Old City will be closed to private vehicles and will only be able to be accessed by public transportation. ...


Moving ahead on Covenant Lands blog.

In my previous post I hinted that I was considering shutting down this blog. I've since reconsidered, and I plan to continue posting here at this platform.

I've gone back and culled some of my old posts so that the remaining archived material here is a bit more focused. (With 15 years of history on this blog, that's a fair amount of editing.)

One difference you might notice soon will be the appearance of ads. Since I started posting in 2004, I've done this strictly for my own satisfaction, and I haven't made a penny from it. Now that I'm working full-time (and, as I get older, becoming more conscious of the value of my time in general), I'd like to see if I can generate a little income from posting here. I'm hoping this will also give me an incentive to work harder on producing better quality posts.


Blogging and the future.

I started posting here on Blogspot some 15 years ago, in the spring of 2004.  Originally I named my political blog 'Dreams Into Lightning'; later on I changed the name to 'Covenant Lands'.  Blogging was new, the internet itself was still new, and it was very exciting. A short time later, I inherited a modest annuity, which allowed me to live more comfortably than would otherwise have been possible; so, with an interest in world affairs, time on my hands, and an internet connection, I began to post.  Around 2005 - 2006 I was posting prolifically, and typically getting traffic at around 100 hits a day.

In 2007, I became involved in a full-time relationship that was to last about two years.  She had first contacted me over Thanksgiving weekend of 2006; in early 2007, pregnant from her prior relationship, she became my girlfriend and I became the little girl's daddy.  She would leave this world - leaving behind a daughter - exactly twelve years later.  You can go to my LiveJournal to read her story.

So I was caring full-time for a baby girl from the fall of 2007 on for the next two years, and co-parenting for several years after that.  Around that same time, Facebook and Twitter exploded onto the internet and took a big bite out of long-form blogging.  I yielded to the trend myself, and started posting more frequently on Facebook.  Of course, the 2008 election brought the beginning of the Obama years, during which I saw many discouraging developments in the Middle East and in America.  But I'll come back to politics shortly.

More recently, video blogging and audio podcasts have entered the world of internet debate.  Programs like The Rubin Report proved that you could have a serious, intelligent, long-format talk show on topics of conservative interest, and have success.

Myself, though, I have always felt more at home with the written word.  I'm not particularly shy around people or about speaking, but I can't see myself sitting in front of a webcam.  Expressing myself in writing comes more naturally.

And I like to have the freedom to explore events and ideas at length, referencing multiple sources if appropriate.  This in particular is one thing I find limiting about short-form social media:  it's easy to share a single link on Twitter or Facebook, but decent blogging demands the ability to link and compare multiple sources.  A good blog post never just says "HEY GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW!"

We survived Obama and were spared Hillary Clinton.  I did not know what to make of Trump at first, but was willing to give him a chance.  Suffice it to say that by now I think it's clear he has surpassed all expectations.

But the 2016 election brought panic for the Democrats and their enablers in the left-leaning technology industry - the Masters of the Universe, to use Breitbart's phrase.  The giants of Silicon Valley had done everything they could to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump - and yet Trump still won.  Determined not to repeat the outcome of 2016, they redoubled their efforts to stamp out "hate speech" and "far-right extremism" - meaning anything not conforming to their political agenda - and launched a massive purge of social media which continues to the present moment.

And so, Milo Yiannopoulos, Tommy Robinson, Carl Benjamin, Laura Loomer, Gavin McInnes, Jordan Peterson, and countless other conservative (or non-leftist) voices have been banned from social media outlets, or had their content summarily demonetized.

Nor is it just the newer social media - longtime blogging platform WordPress.com has deplatformed two sites for political reasons.  I am sure it is only a matter of time before Google - on whose platform you are viewing this very post, dear reader - decides to follow suit.

The good news is that there's been a burst of new, underground, free-speech-oriented social media:  Gab, MeWe, Minds, Parler, BitChute, and a forthcoming project backed by Jordan Peterson called ThinkSpot. 

So the bottom line is this:  I'll be looking for a new venue for a long-format blog.  Meanwhile, though, feel free to follow me:

asherabrams at Gab
Asher Abrams at MeWe



Quillette: Journalists covering Antifa often their fans.

Eoin Lenihan at Quillette:
In identifying this group of 15 journalists whose engagement with Antifa is especially intense, our goal was not to accuse them of bias out of hand, but rather to identify them for further study, so as to determine if there was any overall correlation between the level of their online engagement with Antifa and the manner by which these journalists treated Antifa in their published journalism.

That correlation turned out to be quite pronounced: Of all 15 verified national-level journalists in our subset, we couldn’t find a single article, by any of them, that was markedly critical of Antifa in any way. In all cases, their work in this area consisted primarily of downplaying Antifa violence while advancing Antifa talking points, and in some cases quoting Antifa extremists as if they were impartial experts.

These journalists include, for instance, Kit O’Connell, a self-identified “proudly Antifascist” “gonzo journalist,” whose work often reads like an FAQ that one might find on an Antifa web site. In one piece, for instance, he wrote that protestors wear masks so that they may “creat[e] a sense of unity and common purpose [as they] protect other activists from attacks by police and fascists.” ...

'Game of Thrones': two views.

Michael Weingrad: A Jewish view of 'Game of Thrones'.
And it’s not only politics that [George R. R.] Martin treats with bracing realism. His books are shorn of much of our present-day, feel-good notions about the goodness of human nature, the malleability of gender, and other contemporary dogmas. The idealizations he avoids are less chivalric than progressive ones.

At their most compelling, the books and the television series offer characters who see the world and themselves through commitments to family, clan, and nation, rather than our narrow, present-day lens of atomized individuals and their arbitrary desires. “Everything I did, I did for my house and my family,” says Jamie Lannister, an admission echoed at one time or another by most of the show’s characters.

The evident fascination of so many readers and viewers with such thick social connections is worth noting. I happen to live in Portland, surrounded by people indifferent if not hostile to tradition, people who want to live their lives independently of family, religion, canons of art and literature, nationhood, biology, market behavior, and probably the laws of physics. Yet many of them are deeply invested in the continuity of House Stark and House Targaryen.

Unfortunately, the writers of the HBO series seem in the end to have been unable to sympathize with the possibility of a positive identity not reducible to a 21st-century self. This imaginative failure sounded ever louder in the characters’ speech, as when Arya Stark, rejecting her courtly role, explains “It’s not me,” or when Danaerys’s advisors repeatedly proclaim their desire to “make the world a better place” and to “leave the world a little better than we found it.” (Given that the show runners are both Jewish, I was relieved that none of the characters mentioned “tikkun olam,” but it was surely a close thing.) The Starbucks cup inadvertently left on a feasting table in one scene was widely reported as a gaffe, but it wasn’t out of place with the show’s contemporary ethos at that point. ...

Michael Totten: Three cheers for 'Game of Thrones'.
In a world without peaceful transfers of power, the only checks and balances available against tyrants are assassination and war. The Mad King Aerys Targaryen ruled from the Iron Throne in the years before those covered in Game of Thrones Season One. He, too, was a murderous psychopath, burning alive lords who displeased him and advisors who disobeyed him. Half the realm rose up in arms—including Ned Stark and later-king Robert Baratheon. When Tywin Lannister’s army approached the capital, the Mad King ordered his pyromancers to lace enough explosives throughout the city to destroy King’s Landing as thoroughly as a nuclear weapon. “Burn them all!” he screamed. “Burn them all!”

Jaime Lannister, head of his very own King’s Guard, ran a sword through his back in the throne room.

Almost everywhere in Westeros is governed badly, not just by modern standards but by its own. “All I ever wanted was to fight for a lord I believe in,” says the imposing female warrior Brienne of Tarth. “The good ones are dead and the rest are monsters.”

Unlike the Westerosi, modern audiences know the way out: liberal democracy, republicanism, the rule of law, and the separation of powers. Lest we assume these are part of the natural order of things, Game of Thrones—with its echoes of our own distant past—reminds us that they are not, and that maintaining them is as difficult as it is essential.

No Jeffersonian figures inhabit the Game of Thrones universe. Such a modern intrusion would break the spell of epic high fantasy and violate the compact between author and audience. A Jeffersonian wouldn’t make historical sense, anyway. The American Revolution grew out of the European Enlightenment, and no such philosophical movement ever existed in Westeros. Even so, consumers of fiction, whether it’s written or filmed, need someone to identify with, someone who shares at least some of their values. Martin gives us the dangerous yet inspiring Daenerys Targaryen. ...

Go read the rest at the links.


Somalia: Major Fatuma Ali killed in al-Shabaab bomb attack.

Major Fatuma Ali was in the company of her husband 2nd Lt. Bishar Muse headed to a hospital in the city to pick up their admitted baby one of the 9 babies she had bored as a mother. They were stuck at the checkpoint in a queue.

11.04pm a huge explosion hit and destroyed Major Ali's military vehicle. A car suicide bomber had detonated himself at the security checkpoint queue just behind the military vehicle. A huge plume of smoke goes up while on the ground the female career soldier and her husband were seriously hit succumbing to their injuries.

A sad end to the life of a celebrated military officer fondly known as "Fay Ali" a role model to many a female who had sacrificed a lot for peace in a country still struggling to secure it's territory from an ongoing insurgency by militant group Alshabaab.

2nd Lt. Muse was Fay Ali's third husband. She had lost two of her previous husbands to Alshabaab attacks. This time she died alongside the love of her life Muse.

Fay Ali's career goes back a decade ago when she was enlisted into the SNA and deployed in the frontlines in Mogadishu that saw militant group Alshabaab routed out of the capital after years of control in some districts. ...


Soldier, where's your hatred now?


Where's your hatred now?
You haven't any? But you ought to have.
Remember the advice we gave.
Where will you be anyhow
If you forget that you must fight,
That they are wrong, and we are right?
You must make their heads to bow.

"I will fight because I must.
My hatred falters. In the heat of war
The hatred that was once a sore
Festered with a bitter lust,
Becomes a heartache, throbbing deep,
So that I cannot help but weep
Seeing comrades fall to dust."

Why that tear-wet eye?
Your fallen comrades you won't see again?
Remember, this affair is plain:
You may be about to die
Like them; but while you live, be strong,
For right will conquer all that's wrong.
Fight till they for mercy cry.

"You are right, my hatred's gone,
But I remember they are human too -
Those boys who in a sick world grew,
Groping - while afar, the dawn
Awaits to shine on them again
As it has on Freedom's men.
Can I , hating, speed the dawn?"

Spare no love for those
Who try to tear down what we want to save.
They're bestial, and they're not so brave.
Bring conflict to a quicker close:
Destroy their tanks, destroy their planes;
It is this Justice ordains.
Give them death if death they chose!

"I will wreck their tanks and planes
And let their cities fall, for all I care,
And in the name of right, I'll tear
Their bowels out, and smash their brains,
(For you, my country, killed my soul)
And as we approach the goal,
Clamp them in Revenge's chains!"

Bear it for a while,
And if you find no hatred for the foe,
Hate, then, the evil that brought woe.
Hate the greed and hate the guile.
Hate, then, the motive, not the man.
Love the Truth, for if you can,
Soldier, you have won God's smile.

- anonymous soldier of the 136th Field Artillery Battalion



California: Anti-semite attacks Poway Chabad, one dead.

A gunman walked into a Chabad-Lubavitch center outside San Diego during services on the last day of Passover on Saturday morning and opened fire, killing one person and injuring three. The suspect, John Earnest, a 19-year-old white male from San Diego, is in custody.

Around 11:30 a.m., as the congregation had been listening to the biblical verses describing the observance of Passover, the service was abruptly interrupted by gunshots. Once, twice, they rang out from the lobby, fatally striking Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, of Poway and grievously injuring the synagogue’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, who later required surgery on both hands. Six more shots then rang out, injuring 8-year-old Noya Dahan and her uncle, 34-year-old Almog Peretz of Sderot, Israel, who suffered a gunshot wound to the leg as he led his niece and a group of children to safety.

As the terrorist paused to reload, a Chabad regular and U.S. military veteran heroically rushed him. As the shooter fled, an off-duty Border Patrol officer shot and struck the shooter’s vehicle four times. ...
Arutz Sheva:
Multiple people were injured Saturday in a shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue. Poway is approximately 20 miles north of San Diego.

The attack occurred at just prior to 11:30 a.m. local time.

All four of the patients were sent to the Palomar Medical Center.

60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye was identified as the woman who was murdered in the shooting attack. ...
Daily Caller - unarmed combat vet charges shooter:
The man who fired a semi-automatic weapon inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego on Saturday froze, dropped his gun and sprinted to his car when he saw Oscar Stewart come barreling toward him, yelling so loud the priest at a neighboring church could hear.

“Get down!” Stewart yelled, according to his wife and others who were at the scene. “You motherfucker! I’m going to kill you!”

Others who were there later told him it sounded like four or five people were shouting. He thinks maybe an angel was standing behind him and speaking through his voice. When the shooter ran, he immediately gave chase. ...
Jewish Journal - Lori Gilbert-Kayre remembered:
Today at synagogue an anti-Semitic murderer shot and killed my friend Lori Gilbert Kaye z”l, age 60. Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor. You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to save his life. Lori leaves behind a devastated husband and a 22-year-old daughter. ...


Bloody Sunday: Muslim terrorists kill over 200 Christians on Easter in Sri Lanka.

The death toll from the seven explosions that ripped through Sri Lanka’s churches and hotels on Easter Sunday has shot up again to 215 with 500 injured. Among the dead are scores of tourists, believed to be American, British, Dutch, Danish, Chinese, Japanese, Pakistani, Moroccan and Indian. They have not been identified. No organization has taken responsibility for the atrocity. After an emergency cabinet meeting in Colombo, investigators were still groping in the dark, although Indian sources say the multiple attack on Christian worship, including at least two suicide attacks, bears all the hallmarks of the Islamic State,

The cabinet in emergency session initially responded by imposing a night curfew on all parts of Sri Lanka and shutting down access to the social media, in an attempt to restore a semblance of control. By afternoon, the government ordered all universities closed until further notice and the mail rail service suspended, apparently in expectation of more attacks. The defense ministry reported a raid on a home and the arrest of 7 people suspected of planning and executing the terrorist attacks. This report was greeted with general skepticism as an attempt to prove the authorities were in control. ...

Long War Journal:
The Islamic State has released three statements and a video claiming responsibility for the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

The first, a terse statement by Amaq News Agency, offered no details about the operation, saying simply that a security “source” told the group’s media arm that the so-called caliphate’s “fighters” had carried out the attacks.

The Islamic State subsequently released a longer statement, saying that 1,000 people were killed or injured in the orchestrated assault. That statement highlighted the fact that Christians were the intended target, as they are supposedly at war with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s enterprise. The statement also provides the aliases for several of the bombers.

Amaq News then produced a third statement, including a photo of the eight alleged perpetrators standing in front of the flag typically flown by the group. ...

CNN roundup here.


Genesis: Crime and punishment.

Mankind's archetypal crime, Cain's murder of Abel, points to a persistent flaw in human nature: It is always easier to tear the other guy down, than to try to improve yourself.

The consequence in politics is that it is easier to erase the progress of others, so as to give yourself a lower bar by which to be judged. It's hard to stand tall among temples and skyscrapers; easier, on a plain filled with rubble.


G-d showed mercy to Cain, and what's the thanks He got? Mankind devolved into violence. The mark of Cain, meant to protect the killer from arbitrary mob justice, became a status symbol. Four generations later, Lemech could brag, "I've killed a man for wounding me, and a boy for bruising me - if Cain was avenged 7 times, then Lemech for 77." Mankind had perverted G-d's compassion into a literal license to kill. No wonder He's pissed.

After the Flood, G-d decrees that there are going to be some new rules. "Who sheds the blood of man, by man shal his blood be shed."


Edmonton: The end of Gay Pride.

Andy Ngo reports that the 2019 Edmonton Pride Festival was cancelled after a long list of demands from social justice activists. 'They wanted the entire structure & funding to go to centering "QTIBPOC trans folx," including a vigil to victims of colonialism & capitalism.'

Identity politics reaches its logical conclusion.

Gay Pride is officially over. May it rest in peace.

And, really, isn't this how it needed to end?

If you're gay, be gay; if you're straight, be straight; if a woman, be a woman, if a man, be a man. Know who you are and be yourself; respect your fellow humans and expect the same from them. Live honorably and seek responsibility. That's real pride.


North Korea / USA: Trump, Kim meet in Hanoi for summit.

Thousands flocked to see President Donald Trump arrive in Vietnam on Tuesday for the diplomatic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

Trump landed at the Hanoi airport early evening and was welcomed by over a dozen Vietnamese officials and American diplomats.

He traveled about 30 minutes to his hotel, as thousands of people lined the streets to welcome the president, according to reporters. Many of the locals waved U.S. and Vietnamese flags. ...

Austin Bay at StrategyPage on DJT and US/NK diplomacy:

This “first brush” narrative in this section describes ongoing history. It collects illustrative, connected events and actions that occurred from March 2017 to March 2018. When examined in concert, theysketch a concerted effort to wage twenty-first-century “cocktail” warfare by employing and coordinating American power in pursuit of a geo-strategic goal: denuclearizing North Korea. Subsequent events will determine the effectiveness of this particular multi-dimensional operation.

The Coercive Diplomacy narrative actually begins with Donald Trump’s October 24, 1999 Meet the Press interview with Tim Russert.

The interview is a historically illuminating flash forward to his administration’s 2017–2018 “de-nuclearizing” North Korea coercivediplomatic effort. It also adds convincing depth to the US narrativethat “North Korea has gone too far.” ...

Israel / Russia: Netanyahu - Putin summit begins in Moscow.

Arutz Sheva:
The meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow has begun. Netanyahu told Putin: "The connection between us prevented friction between the armies."

The two will discuss Iranian presence in Syria and other regional military concerns

Before his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said they would discuss the Syrian situation and Iran’s military presence in Syria. “We shall carry on with our operations for the removal of Iranian forces from Syria,” he said. Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, is accompanied by Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Nurkin and Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman. DEBKAfile adds: A Russian delegation spent the week in Israel preparing the talks between the two leaders. It was composed of high foreign ministry officials and military officers.

Nigeria: Buhari re-elected over challenger Atiku.

President Muhammadu Buhari has won the 2019 presidential election polling 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest challenger and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Mr Abubakar, who served as vice president between 1999 and 2007, polled 11,262,978 votes to finish as runner-up.

Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), declared Mr Buhari the winner of the election and returned him as duly elected.

"I, Professor Mahmood Yakubu hereby certify that I was the returning officer for the election held on the 23rd of February, 2019. ..."


Portland: Antifa at town hall meeting.

Via Andy Ngo at YouTube. Andy's account of the incident follows:

'On Feb. 22, 2019 at a "listening session" at Maranatha Church organized by the Portland Police chief on policing issues, the public raged at her, the mayor, and conservatives who showed up. The previous week, a slanted report from Willamette Week portrayed Portland Police Lt. Niiya as a "collaborator" with Patriot Prayer, a right-wing protest group. The public and city council expressed outcry, despite the fact that it was the responsibility of Niiya to build rapport with a variety of protesters to gather intel. The intel he gathered was fed directly to the Mayor's office to track protest plans. Niiya has been removed from his position and Mayor Wheeler demanded an investigation into him following the report's release. At the town hall meeting, citizens called police chief Danielle Outlaw a "traitor" to black and brown people, and demanded that Portland Police be disbanded. At one point, Haley Adams, a Jewish right-wing activist, yelled at the panel for allowing the public to mistreat the few conservative speakers (an elderly woman was told to sit down; an elderly man was called 'racist'). Adams was surrounded and called "Nazi Scum." She was kicked out for disorderly behavior.'


Portland: Ristretto Roasters vs. the internet mob.

Nancy Rommelmann on how a former employee destroyed a business.
The career-destroying potential of the internet mob immediately snapped into action. Articles appeared in at least four newspapers and on innumerable websites. People on social media hurried to declare that they would never again spend a penny at Ristretto and were rewarded with approval from like-minded peers. A college-age girl walked into one of the cafes screaming, variously, that the baristas were in danger, and that working for Ristretto somehow posed a threat to the community. Employees who had previously been secure in their jobs became jittery and quit. One of Din’s managers suggested that he sell the company and that I offer a public apology before it was too late.

This was within 48 hours of the first news reports appearing. ...

Israel opens Rwanda embassy.

Arutz Sheva:
Israel opened its first embassy in Rwanda on Friday, offering support to the East Africa nation from health to education and agriculture, as well as communication technology including cyber-security, AFP reported.

"This country shares a lot of similarities with state of Israel and offers a lot of ground for mutual cooperation," new Israeli ambassador Ron Adam said after meeting with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame.

Rwanda, a largely Christian nation, has said it is keen to encourage tourists to the country, especially to see its famous mountain gorillas.

Rwandair, the national airline, has said it will begin direct flights to Israel in 2019. ...

Leaving the hipster ghetto.

Long story short, I moved out of Portland at the end of 2017 for a live/work situation near Scappoose. That didn't work out, and I went back to work last summer (2018) in Beaverton. I'm now living and working in Hillsboro.

I like the Portland area, but it's unlikely that I will move back to Portland proper. When I first moved to the city, I found it walkable, liveable, affordable, and generally nice. Things are different now.

I no longer find Portland endearingly quirky. Between the rent, the crowding, the traffic, and Antifa apparently being given free rein in the streets, I'm content with my nostalgic memories of living downtown.

Follow Andy Ngo on Twitter and on YouTube to keep up with the latest from Portland and the culture wars generally.

Nigeria: Voters to elect president.

The main contenders are the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari of APC, and challenger Atiku Abubakar of PDP.
The decision of who becomes Nigeria's next president will be taken tomorrow by about 72 million persons who have so far collected their permanent voter's cards (PVCs).

According to data released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 72,775,502 million Nigerians have collected their PCVs and now qualify to cast their votes in tomorrow's polls to elect Nigeria's president for the next four years.

They will also be voting in their constituencies to elect legislators in the federal parliament, that is, the Senate and House of Representatives of the National Assembly.
Atiku exhorts voters to "remove Buhari".
Buhari emerged Nigeria's president in 2015 after defeating Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election. Buhari polled 15,424,921, while the incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan polled 12,853,162.

Atiku, who was Nigeria's vice president from 1999 till 2007, has appealed to Nigerians to express their powers by voting out Buhari and elect him president.

"On March 28, 2015, we the people of Nigeria went to our polling units and only with our PVCs and yet we were able to remove an incumbent President from office. That made me very proud to be a Nigerian and very proud to be a Democrat," Atiku said in a video on his twitter handle.

"This Saturday, we will have the opportunity of doing so again. My message to you is simple: Please come out and vote as this election is about your future and the future of our great nation. On election day, we are all equal as no single vote is more important than the other."
Buhari's message to Nigerians.
Here are the key points of the President's broadcast:

1. Democracy is far from the easiest thing to achieve and maintain.

2. Democracy requires "a combination of patience, tolerance, compassion, diligence, wisdom and hope", the traits which exist in Nigerians.

3. No "worldly hand" can deter Nigeria from continuing its democracy.

4. Nigerians were commended for their patience and peaceful conduct so far during this electoral season and especially during this intervening week following the postponement of the February 16 elections.

5. INEC must realise the profound and weighty duty that rests upon it to conduct free, fair and transparent elections. ...
Read the rest at the link.


Kenya: Terrorists attack hotel in Nairobi.

Long War Journal: Shabaab says attack followed Zawahiri guidelines.
In addition to the jihadists’ general opposition to Israel, the name of the operation is also intended to seize upon President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Indeed, Shabaab claims Trump’s decision was “an attempt to confer legitimacy upon the illegitimate Zionist regime.” Trump and “his cohorts granted the Zionist Jews the approval to desecrate the sanctity of one of Islam’s holiest sites with their filth and vile policies of ethnic cleansing,” the al Qaeda arm’s men write.

Shabaab says that its “Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan Battalion” (or Brigade) was responsible for the assault. That same unit, which is named after an al Qaeda veteran who was killed in 2009, has conducted numerous high-profile operations in the past, including the July 2010 bombings in Kampala, Uganda and the Jan. 15, 2016 raid on an AMISOM base in El Adde, among others. Nabhan, who swore allegiance to al Qaeda’s senior leadership on behalf of Shabaab in 2008, was long wanted by the US for his role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings, as well as attacks in Mombasa, Kenya in 2002. The latter operations targeted an Israeli-owned hotel and airliner.

Arutz Sheva: Terrorists cited Trump, Jerusalem recognition.

The group said in a statement picked up by the SITE monitoring group that its fighters stormed the DusitD2 complex on instructions by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

"It is a response to the witless remarks of the US president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel," said Al-Shabaab.

The East African: American 9/11 survivor Jason Spindler among victims.
An American who survived the 9/11 terror attack is among those who were killed in Tuesday’s terror attack at Nairobi’s 14 Riverside Drive.

Jason Spindler’s mother Sarah Sandler told NBC News that her son “was trying to make positive change in the third world in emerging markets.”

Spindler’s brother, Jonathan, also confirmed the family’s tragic loss via Facebook.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that my brother, Jason Spindler passed away this morning during a terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya. Jason was a survivor of 9/11 and a fighter. I am sure he gave them hell!” Jonathan’s post read.


Nigeria: Troops retake Baga.

AllAfrica: Nigerian troops retake Baga from Boko Haram.
The military had repeatedly denied that Boko Haram captured Baga after dislodging soldiers of the Nigeria military, including those of the Multi National Joint Task Force. But in the statement issued by the army spokesman, Sani Usman, said troops were able to reclaim the community after a heated gunbattle.
Daily Trust (Abuja): 'A statement from army spokesman, Brigadier General Sani Usman said the 707 Special Forces Brigade dealt the decisive blow that neutralized several terrorists along that axis. He said, "The Special Forces commenced clearance operations on 28th December 2018, where they cleared Zare, Gudumbali, Kukawa and Cross Kauwa without any resistance from suspected terrorists." Usman said, "Though some of the terrorists attempted to infiltrate troops camp at Monguno, the gallant troops lured them and neutralized many of them and recovered some arms and ammunition."'
This Day (Lagos): 'An Army officer and a soldier were killed while five soldiers wounded as Nigerian military engaged Boko Haram terrorists in a gritty battle that led to the death of over 80 terrorists in different battlegrounds notably in Baga Naval Base, which was recently reclaimed; Cross Kauwa and Monguno in Borno State. This is coming as Nigeria and China signed a N2billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to offer assistance to the Nigerian military in order to strengthen its counter-insurgency measures.'



Nigeria: Town of Baga reported seized by Daesh. Long War Journal: 'The Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) reportedly seized the town of Baga in northeastern Nigeria earlier this week. Reports from the region are often murky, and it is possible that ISWA’s men will not continue to hold the town, if they still do. But the group released a series of images today that purportedly document its advances there. The photos show captured spoils, including military vehicles and weaponry, as well as dead Nigerian soldiers. The Nigerian military issued its own statement on recent events, disputing a media report suggesting that Boko Haram had captured the town and pinned down the Army’s forces. The Nigerian military’s statement did not mention ISWA, which has its own footprint in the region. ...'

Ukraine / Russia: Russian moves continue. ISW: 'Russia continues to build up and prepare its military forces for possible offensive operations against Ukraine from the Crimean Peninsula and the east. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has been warning that Russia could conduct such operations at short notice since December 11, 2018. It remains impossible to assess whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch an offensive or will do so, or whether the visible military preparations are intended to pressure Ukraine and its partners without escalating to additional open conflict. The data suggests that Putin is preparing to attack, although alternative interpretations are possible. One can make reasoned arguments about why it would be unwise for him to attack now (or, indeed, at all). The West should nevertheless focus first on the data itself and the risks that flow from it, rather than on reasoning about Putin’s intentions. ...'

USA / Middle East - analysis: Trump looking for exit. FDD:
... But to say, as Mr. Trump did last week, that IS has been defeated is premature. An estimated 30,000 fighters remain in Syria and Iraq. We must now expect them to revive and rebuild under the leadership of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi whom we’ve not yet tracked down and eliminated.

America’s military presence also has succeeded in preventing Iran’s rulers from establishing a land bridge through Syria into Lebanon – now effectively ruled by Hezbollah, Tehran’s proxy – and on to the Mediterranean.

Useful too: About 90 percent of Syria’s oil lies under territory controlled by the U.S. Those resources will soon replenish Mr. Assad’s coffers, reducing the amount Ayatollah Khamenei spends – an estimated $16 billion annually – to prop up the mass-murdering dictator.

That will leave more money for terrorists and missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads. ...