Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Paris Plages event has been identified as the next potential target for a terrorist attack

They are known as the “Paris Plages,”
writes the Washington Post's James McAuley
three summertime beaches installed on the banks of the Seine and along a city canal, complete with imported sand, potted palm trees and ice cream stands. Children build sandcastles that won’t be swept away by tides; their parents sunbathe in swimsuits that will never get wet.

When the city in 2002 proposed what would become an annual event, the idea was simply to offer a vacation to those who didn’t have the luxury of leaving town for one of their own. But in their 15th summer, the beaches have come to represent more than an urban escape: They offer a vision of the French capital as a shared public space, a testament to civic goodwill that offsets the image of a city encircled by troubled suburbs and torn by racial and economic segregation.

In theory, at least, everyone is welcome at the beaches.

This year, however, in the aftermath of the Nice attack and, on Tuesday, the murder of an 85-year-old priest in a Normandy church, that sense of community is under threat. The Paris Plages have already been identified as the next potential target for yet another attack, after two in the city in January and November. As she officially opened the attraction Wednesday, Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced that concrete blocks, fences and vehicles would be set up along the riverside promenade near the beaches to “prevent a vehicle entering in the style of the Nice attack.”

Her announcement came before the revelation that national police had not necessarily been stationed at the entrance to Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, where Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a 19-ton truck into crowds gathered to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, killing 84 and injuring more than 300.

Hidalgo has gone even further. Several other events associated with summer in Paris — a basketball tournament in the Bois de Vincennes, outdoor film screenings in city parks and the temporary transformation of the Champs-Élysées boulevard into a pedestrian zone — have all been canceled after the Nice attack. This year, it seems, there is just the beach.

And the beaches themselves are an eerie reminder of Nice. The sand and the palm trees evoke the general aesthetic of the French Riviera and the same sense of joie de vivre that was targeted there. The promenade at the Paris Plages, while smaller than the one at Nice, is a similar pedestrian thoroughfare packed with vulnerable passersby who can get away only as fast as their feet can carry them. Above all, there is the specter of Tunisia, the theme of this year’s six-week-long beach event and the home country of the Nice attacker.

According to the Paris prosecutor, three of the other suspects detained in connection with the Nice attack were also either Tunisian or Franco-Tunisian.

The theme, chosen long ago, is an obvious one in some ways. After France's brutal conquest of Tunisia in 1881, the two countries have been inextricably entwined, a tie that has persisted long beyond Tunisian independence in 1956.

 … Despite the French government’s decision to extend the state of emergency it imposed after the Nice attacks, ordinary Parisians have not avoided their city’s summer celebration. Quite the opposite.

“You have to live your life, because it can happen anywhere,” said Justine Roussillon, a 22-year-old student, referring to the type of terrorist attacks that shook the capital last year. She and Florent Scieir, 21, were reclining in two canvas chairs set in the sand. Scieir nodded his agreement.

“Living your life,” he echoed. “It’s better than staying at home.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Ties of American Allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to Osama Bin Laden and 9-11

With friends like Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies?
asks Benny Huang.
Last week we learned that the Saudi government almost certainly played a role in the 9/11 terrorist attack and that our government kept that secret from the public for about fourteen years.

A brief history of the coverup is in order here. In 2002, a joint congressional committee investigated the intelligence failures that led to the attack. That committee found suspicious clues that pointed toward Saudi Arabia—an official “ally” of the United States known for exporting radical Wahhabi Islam across the world. In a 28-page summary, the committee detailed the connections between the 9/11 terrorists and agents of the Saudi government, including Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a friend of the Bush family. When the 9/11 Commission report was released in July 2004, the 28 pages were still classified and thus not included. Robert Mueller, then-FBI director, pushed hard for the findings to remain under wraps. For the next twelve years they sat in a secret vault in the basement of the US Capitol—until last week when they were finally released with some redactions.

The real hero in this sordid tale is former US Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida). Graham, who chaired the Senate side of the investigation, spent years advocating for the documents’ public release. Graham noted that as late as January 2016 the White House was dragging its heels. 

Until the documents were declassified Graham was not able to speak about their contents, though he did promise a “real smoking gun.” He was right. In one FBI memorandum dated July 2, 2002, agents claimed to have found “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government.”

 … Saudi Arabia is clearly the worst ally we have.

But if Saudi Arabia is the worst, Pakistan must be a close second. After Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden’s hideout in May 2011, it became startlingly obvious that the Pakistanis had been his willing hosts for about nine years. For six of those years he was living in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, about a thousand yards from Pakistan’s prestigious military academy. His home was essentially “drone proof” because it fell under the air defense umbrella surrounding the academy.

Further proof of Pakistani government complicity can be found in the fact that government census takers apparently skipped the bin Laden residence. Could census takers have been warned to leave that house alone?

The Pakistani regime’s actions after the raid are also incriminating. Just days after bin Laden’s death, Pakistan claimed that it had had the compound “under sharp focus” since its supposed construction in 2003. How sharp could their focus have been if bin Laden had continued to live there for years? It also claimed to have once searched the compound in hopes of finding an al Qaeda fugitive but came up empty-handed. It didn’t take long for that story to fall apart. According to satellite imagery the compound did not exist until 2005. It seems that someone in the government spun a hasty lie without realizing that the details could be verified.

Pakistan’s treatment of Dr. Shakil Afridi, a physician who assisted the CIA in confirming bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, has been unconscionable. Rather than giving him a medal, as he deserves, they gave him a trial at which he was deprived of legal counsel. After the cursory guilty verdict they tossed him in prison for what will probably be the remainder of his life. Top Pakistani officials called it “payback” for the bin Laden raid. Dr. Afridi was originally sentenced to 33 years in prison though that sentence was later overturned. He remains in prison on an unrelated murder charge that certainly seems contrived.

Osama bin Laden’s sojourn in Abbottabad was likely not the first time that he benefitted from Pakistani protection. After the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States launched seventy cruise missiles, at a cost of about $1 million each, against al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The strike amounted to a costly failure because most of the bad guys, including Osama bin Laden, split the scene. A cloud of suspicion has hung over Pakistan’s intelligence service—the ISI—ever since. A very plausible theory is that the US gave the Pakistanis a heads up to expect cruise missiles passing over en route to Afghanistan and then someone within the ISI tipped off bin Laden.

New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall, who spent twelve years covering Afghanistan and Pakistan, claims to have inside sources that confirm the plot to save bin Laden’s neck.

 … Those are our “friends”—the Pakistanis. They’re as crooked as a corkscrew, though perhaps not as crooked as the Saudis. We really have to learn how to choose better company. Our alliances with these two countries have done us great harm. Have we learned anything? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Liberals love to tell the rest of us what to do, but politicians implicitly admit the unreasonableness of their own demands by exempting themselves from them

American liberals trumpet a “wage gap” between men and women, notwithstanding reams of social science data demonstrating that men’s higher average earnings reflect life choices, not discrimination. White House salaries are published, so analysts have shown that Barack Obama’s own staff manifests the same “pay gap” that Obama and Hillary Clinton decry in private industry. Democrats have no response; as usual, they count on voter ignorance.

It is entertaining to see the same drama play out in the United Kingdom: “Jeremy Corbyn accused of hypocrisy for refusing to publish gender pay gap of Labour staff.”
Thus writes Powerline's John Hinderaker (cheers to Austin Bay).
Politicians love to impose burdens, sometimes impossible burdens, on others, especially business people, but they are much more understanding when it comes to their own conduct. In 1994, Newt Gingrich and his colleagues drafted a Contract With America, a key provision of which was that Congress should live by the same laws it imposes on the rest of us. That proposal was wildly popular, given that Congress had made a regular practice of inserting an exception for itself in legislation.

The basic issue hasn’t changed: liberals love to tell the rest of us what to do, but politicians implicitly admit the unreasonableness of their own demands by exempting themselves from them. (If you haven’t read Peter Schweizer’s Do As I Say (Not As I Do), you should.) This whole phenomenon is an important reason for the rise of Donald Trump.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Echoes of 1984: What "Open-Mindedness" Means, Exactly, to Liberals

George Orwell, call your office.
The Washington examiner's Michael Barone (cheers to Ed Driscoll) links to an article featuring what is perhaps the epitome in Orwellian newspeak:
Prolific blogger Steve Sailer has spotted an Orwellian passage in a New York Times convention week story on the decision of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel to support and speak at the convention in behalf of Donald Trump. The central thrust of Silicon Valley-based reporter Farhad Manjoo's story is that Thiel's Trump endorsement is widely unpopular in Silicon Valley.

"People here pride themselves on a kind of militant open-mindedness," Manjoo writes. "It is the kind of place that will severely punish any deviations from accepted schools of thought."

Got that? Open-mindedness means you severely punish any deviations from accepted schools of thought.

Memo to the literary estate of George Orwell: you may have a cause of action for violation of copyright.
Related: How Harry Potter can make you hate Donald Trump:
Study finds J.K. Rowling books made people more tolerant
and lowered their rating of Republican nominee

Comments Ed Driscoll:
If you’re “more tolerant,” why would you “hate” a political figure you disagree with, instead of attempting a bit of empathy to understand both what makes him tick, and what his supporters admire about him?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Black Man Tells White Leftists a Few Hard Truths About American History

r_bq"> I did my bit today writes Antipodius on Ricochet after seeing this thing of beauty.
I sat with the OR resident leftists- a couple of hearts on their sleeves white folks who keep telling me how horrible Republicans are and why I should agree with them that religious people are the source of every problem in the world, and that American police love to kill black people.

Well, this black man let them have it. I walked them through the history of the Republican party, the speeches and writings of Frederick Douglas… and I was just getting started. I told them who founded the KKK, and which states in the South were for segregation and which party their governments belonged to. I kept going, indices of economy, family stability, education of black people in America and how that has declined since welfare.

Some idiot in the corner piped up about how blacks in WW2 were not educated and welfare and the 60’s had changed all that. Well, I happen to have a picture of a Tuskegee P51 Mustang as my laptop wallpaper…. I waded in with their glorious history. I spoke of the honour and character of the American “Negro” at the height of segregation and contrasted that with the black lives matter hooligans today. I quoted excerpts from Martin Luther King’s speeches and contrasted them with those of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

It was dead quiet. And then, I put on my Texas operating hat… and walked out, but not before saying..
“next time I’m in the tea room… we can really talk about the state of the American black.. and who exactly is to blame for his current state.”
Mic…. consider yourself dropped.