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March for Science Descending Into Farce

Last thing the March for Science needs, say some agitated folks, is Bill Nye the “Science Guy” co-leading the parade. Why?

Their complaint is not that he’s an error–prone non-scientist, though that’s true. See, Nye is white. And a man. And some organizers are concerned that onlookers will notice Nye is white, and a man, and project his male-whiteness onto science itself. That in turn will cause the gullible to figure science is mostly done by white men.

Which, historically and in many current fields, it was and is. Now this fact may be for good or for bad, but it is a fact. And it’s not likely those who say they are “for” science and reason would be pleased were the contributions from white men removed from science. So long, calculus!

Or maybe they would be. Because it seems organizers believe scientific results are less important than who is producing them. Diversity trumps science.

Proof? Buzzfeed reports that, so far, the March for Science has already gone through “four diversity statements.” So the Twitter account @ScienceMarchDC tweeted (and later deleted) “colonization, racism, immigration, native rights, sexism, ableism, queer-, trans-, intersex-phobia, & econ justice are scientific issues.” The tweet also pictured a black power fist and rainbow flag icons.

Of course, science per se is silent on all these matters. But that’s because natural science alone is mute on every moral and ethical question put to it. Including the question whether to deign to include a white man holding a science baton.

“I love Bill Nye,” said Stephani Page, a biophysicist at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who created the Twitter hashtag #BlackAndSTEM. Page was asked to join the march’s board in February after she tweeted criticism of its approach to diversity. “But I do feel comfortable saying to you what I said to the steering committee: He is a white male, and in that way he does represent the status quo of science, of what it is to be a scientist.”

And being a scientist is not about race and sex. It’s about intelligence, talent, interest, drive, money, and luck. Much the same as what success in most fields require.

The March organizers say nothing about this. They want us to know what they really stand for (emphasis original):

Inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility are integral to this mission and to our overall goals and principles. People have rightly pointed out that some of our own public communications, including social media posts, have not affirmed this stance. …We are actively partnering with and seeking advice from organizations and individuals with expertise in this area. We cannot ignore issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, xenophobia, or any other form of discrimination in the discussion and implementation of science. Nor can we ignore the ways in which science has been misused to harm marginalized communities. The lack of inclusivity and diversity in STEM thwarts scientific advancements not only by limiting who conducts the research, but also by influencing what topics are studied, who participates in the research, and who will benefit from or be harmed by it.

Sound like left wing politics to you, and not science? That was the effect they were going for. Organizers insist, “It was a mistake to ever imply that the March for Science is apolitical — while this march is explicitly non-partisan, it is political” (the original statement was in bold type).

Yet the positions taken by the politicians, activists, and many others involved in the March are rankly partisan. They insist on diversity. That means rigorous, mandatory and monitored balance between people from favored groups. This is not a scientific concept. It is pure politics. And anti-scientific politics, at that.

We observe that men and women have about the same averages on intelligence tests. But more men than women have extreme scores (both low and high). That’s one reason why there are far more men than women in the club of elite research mathematicians. There is also the matter of choice. Far more men than women choose to do theoretical physics.

Marchers call this a “disparity.” The rest of us call it a banal consequence of nature and freedom. Yet marchers insist on the theory of equality, which says that men and women must all be innately equal in all abilities, and must be equally represented in every field.

The march organizers are adamant, though, that theory rules over evidence. They tweeted, “For those wondering, #intersectionality is a core principle of #ScienceMarch, and we will soon be releasing our formal vision.”

Intersectionality is the theory that only trained academics and activists can spot “oppression” of favored political groups. Or it might be better said, as Andrew Sullivan did, that intersectionality is a religion and not just a theory. Except that that insults religion. It’s really a false religion. (For more from the author of “March for Science Descending Into Farce” please click HERE)

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Trump’s Presidency Could Be the Shortest in U.S. History

President Trump seems to be adopting the standard Republican response to criticism from the left-wing media, that is, to act more like a Democrat.

That both justifies and fulfills the media agenda at the expense of the Trump agenda, at least what we thought it was.

That also explains the rise in influence of Jared Kushner, a Democrat, and his Goldman-Sachs globalist team at the expense of Stephen Bannon, a nationalist, whose views reflect those of the people who actually elected Trump.

The President should heed the admonition of English poet John Dryden, “Beware the fury of a patient man.”

That “patient man” is Trump’s base of support, which is now growing impatient. And without that base, the President has no support. None.

The Trump Presidency is at risk because he seems to be operating under a false assumption.

Forgive me for being blunt, Mr. President, but you were elected because of what you promised to do, not for who you are, but largely for who you claimed not to be.

You said it best yourself, Mr. President, in “The Art of the Deal” (1987):

You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.

A recent New York Times opinion article frames the current dilemma:

Stephen K. Bannon, the architect of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency, is a man with a lot of ideas. He believes that Western civilization is locked in an existential battle with the barbarians at the gates, that nationalists must wrest control from the aloof and corrupt globalist elite, and that America is a once great nation shackled by welfare for both the poor and the wealthy…The first few months of President Trump’s term have been an attempt to put all of that theory into practice, and by any reasonable standard, that attempt has failed.

The ideas that carried you to your Presidency, Sir, did not fail – they were sabotaged. And now the agenda upon which your election was based, Mr. President, is withering through intentional neglect in order to replace it with one maintaining the corrupt and dysfunctional political status quo.

It should tell you something, Mr. President, that the same people who denounced and ridiculed you from the day you announced your candidacy, and still do, are now saying “Jared Kushner might save us after all.”

In that case, the “us” to be saved are the Democrats, the left-wing media and the swamp.

Saving them won’t save your Presidency, Sir, but will doom it because the people making such arguments are not those who elected you.

The downsizing of Stephen Bannon and the attacks on other “nationalist” advocates in your administration, Mr. President, are just some of the thousand cuts your enemies hope to inflict to bleed your Presidency white.

It is not a choice between family or friends or a competition between “Nepotism and Nationalism” and certainly not a matter of buttressing the Trump brand.

It is about the President keeping the promises he made to the American people and not diluted versions of them in order to placate those who had always preferred a Trump loss.

In the end, it is really about the survival of representative government.

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The Merits of Trump’s Syria Strike Aside, We Need to Bring Back Congress’ Power Over Declaring War

Amidst the chaos of any sudden use of military force, there are numerous opinions, observations, and pearls of wisdom offered regarding the action. These opinions often fall along non-ideological lines that we are not used to seeing on domestic policy issues. But considering the airstrike against Assad’s airfield last night, there is an opportunity for people on all sides to unite behind the general need for congressional authorization of force. We must move back towards the direction of getting congressional approval at least for protracted engagements that are war in all but name only.

Putting aside any debate over the air strike last night, going forward it is clear both from a political and legal standpoint that any calls for a more protracted engagement in Syria should be backed by a Declaration of War or an Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF). This is a policy that should be enthusiastically embraced by both proponents and opponents of a deeper engagement in Syria.

What the Constitution and the founders said about war powers

It is very clear that our founders, based on the reality of warfare defined in their time, believed that any initiation of offensive action taken against another nation must be approved by Congress. As James Madison said, there must be “rigid adherence to the simple, the received, and the fundamental doctrine of the [C]onstitution, that the power to declare war, including the power of judging of the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature; that the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war…”

George Washington, in a 1793 letter to the governor of South Carolina regarding conflict with the Creek Indians, made it clear that the question to initiate any major offensive war was out of the hands of the president: “The [C]onstitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”

On the other hand, any decisions about the execution of the war thereafter or to immediately repel an invasion were placed squarely in the hands of the president. This arrangement was born out of the Article I Section 8 enumerated congressional power to declare war on the one hand, but the president’s role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces on the other.

This is also why Madison had the convention members alter the original draft of the Constitution, which gave Congress the power to “make war,” to a more limited language of “declare” war, making it clear that all operations beyond the initial declaration would not be subject to the chaotic whims of 100 people.

The question of how to square modern day war fighting, communications, transportation, and logistics of urgency and secrecy with Congress authorizing every use of force is a complicated one. One can make a strong argument that the definition of war has changed and that the need for urgent or clandestine action could be justified under Article II commander-in-chief powers. Clearly, this has guided every president since World War II and the fact that we have special operations ongoing in 140 countries. Without addressing one-time urgent surgical strikes, such as last night’s bombing or the broader use of special forces, it’s important that everyone agree we need to move away from the post-WWII trend of almost never getting authorization from Congress for anything, even protracted commitments that are tremendously costly and consequential.

Congressional buy-in is not just a Constitutional requirement, but a strategic one

Although there are many reasons one can posit why we have failed to win most wars post-WWII, it is no coincidence that our losing streak began when we stopped declaring war. A congressional debate over making such a grave commitment and an ensuing declaration of war is not just a constitutional imperative, it is a political and strategic one.

A declaration of war allows the entire representative body of the people to raise the important questions about our strategic interests, definition of the mission, feasibility, and cost of achieving that mission, and the exit strategy. If Congress votes to pass a resolution, it serves as a definitive guide for defining the enemy, how victory is achieved, and what success looks like. This further serves the purpose of rallying the country behind a defined mission because public support is always needed to achieve such victory. This is what we have been lacking in most engagements since WWII.

Based on the statement put out from the Trump administration, it is very possible that last night’s bombing was limited to deterring the proliferation of WMD and is not part of a broader engagement. But if the administration or Republicans in Congress believe we must further engage in the Syria civil war, a view I personally disagree with, even supporters of such action must agree to the imperative of congressional buy-in.

The same way some may argue that the requirement for a declaration of war for any offensive action by the president, in the modern era, necessarily abrogates his role as commander-in-chief, the continuation of endless protracted ground missions in the Middle East without any declaration from Congress completely overrides the unambiguous dictates of Article I powers. Moreover, it ensures that our troops remain in precarious situations indefinitely without any definitive mission or understanding of how to achieve victory. Thus, the opportunity for a congressional debate over authorizing force is good for both opponents and proponents of any given military engagement.

Yet, there is a dangerous notion being peddled by Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and John McCain,R-Ariz., that the AUMF passed by Congress in 2001 is somehow a retroactive catch-all for any engagement against any conventional or non-conventional adversary in the entire Middle East until the end of time. Such a worldview completely vitiates our Constitution and ensures that every new engagement in the Middle East will result in the same failed outcome to which we have grown accustomed. (For more from the author of “The Merits of Trump’s Syria Strike Aside, We Need to Bring Back Congress’ Power Over Declaring War” please click HERE)

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Gorsuch Is in and the Senate Is More Nuclear. Where Do Conservatives Go From Here?

Neil Gorsuch became the 113th justice of the United States Supreme Court Friday afternoon, following a Republican circumvention of a filibuster with a long-anticipated “nuclear vote” majority.

While the fulfillment of this particular Trump campaign promise is cause for modest celebration for constitutionalists, those who promoted Gorsuch’s nomination need to remain clear-eyed about what this victory really means for our ongoing constitutional crisis.

Now that the dust has settled in the upper chamber, we’re left with a few things: a fulfilled promise from the Trump campaign, the end of the Supreme Court filibuster for the foreseeable future, and at least a nominal return to the balance of the Supreme Court before Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing last year.

It’s hard to imagine how this nuclear-option change doesn’t set the stage for the upper chamber to nuke the legislative filibuster in following suit, thus reaching the natural end of what the progressive populists sought to achieve with the 17th Amendment.

As Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin pointed out on his radio program this week, the roots of this move are over 100 years old and lie at the feet of the Progressive movement. In short, progressives cast the first stones, both on changing the nature of the Senate and politicizing the process (See: Robert Bork, 2013 et al.).

Ironically, what we have seen this week is the natural conclusion of two progressivist forces that simultaneously – if seemingly contradictorily – seek the end of centralization through the means of mob rule. Long story short, when your judiciary and contemplative body — with authority over approving its members — have been so politicized by judicial activism, a hyper-partisan outcome to the system was inevitable.

The nature of Gorsuch’s confirmation has made it painfully clear that there is no longer the prospect of lukewarm talent on the bench. Now the impetus remains on Republicans to go all out and take the Obama strategy of stacking the court with Trump appointees in the lower courts – albeit encumbered by the “blue slip” process . (And remembering all the while that this political football will change hands, leaving Democrats to do the same once again in the future.)

But, nuclear or not, Justice Scalia’s seat has been filled with an originalist and all is right again with the world, right? No. Rather, conservatives ought to keep in mind that this appointment — while a big fulfilled promise to a greatly concerned constituency — will not solve the judicial crisis facing our Constitution and our republic.

At best, the court now stands at the same ideological balance that gave us the Obergefell decision. At worst, we’re a few degrees further away from original intent than we were on Justice Scalia’s last night on this Earth. Either way, hanging all of one’s hopes for the republic, the rights of the unborn, or a list of other issues before the court solely on Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation and then walking away is a fool’s gambit.

Certainly, should Anthony Kennedy step down and offer up a way to halt the pivot on the court’s “swing vote,” or should anyone else on the progressivist side of the bench leave, then it will be incredibly easier to confirm an even more originalist jurist to fill the spot, as Josh Hammer points out at The Daily Wire.

Neil Gorsuch may in fact be “the kind of jurist we need,” as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said before the committee, but there’s ground for healthy skepticism on this front. Daniel Horowitz explains that while Gorsuch is indeed a constitutionalist in a broad sense, and his articulation of the philosophy was both succinct and clear, his history of jurisprudence skews closer to that of an Alito than a Scalia. (And definitely short of a Thomas on the originalism scale.) Only time will tell.

But hope is not a course of action, especially when one branch of our government has so thoroughly co-opted the duties of the other two, as Daniel Horowitz points out in his book “Stolen Sovereignty.” Rather, the problems that so many have sought to fix by finding “better judges” are systemic, and the best answers to them are systemic as well.

The situation we see before us is two-pronged, as is the answer. If we want to see the Senate return to being the Senate again, then it needs to return to its original function prior to the 17th Amendment, while enacting reforms to make the courts themselves less political by nature.

But more important is the need for Congress to depoliticize the process of judicial appointments by depoliticizing the federal courts. Per Article III, the legislative branch has the power to completely reform the black-robed branch of government — as Horowitz and I have written about ad nauseam. And if the Senate’s nuclear outcome doesn’t spur that discussion on both sides of the aisle, perhaps the further politicization of the judicial branch will. Until then, we can only anticipate a more partisan Supreme Court and a more radioactive Senate. (For more from the author of “Gorsuch Is in and the Senate Is More Nuclear. Where Do Conservatives Go From Here?” please click HERE)

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Should We Take out Assad?

Secretary of State Tillerson says that Bashar Assad is guilty of using chemical weapons against his own people. Former senator Ron Paul says there’s no way Assad would do this at this time. A report on Alex Jones’ Infowars claims that Syrian rebels are responsible for the attack. President Trump blames Obama’s inaction for what happened in Syria.

Do we really know what’s going on in Syria? And even if we did, should we try to remove Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad?

According to Rex Tillerson, “There is no doubt in our mind and the information we have supports that Syria, the Syrian regime under the leadership of Bashar al-Assad are responsible for this attack and I think further it’s very important that the Russian government consider carefully their continued support for the Assad regime.”

According to Ron Paul, “[I]t doesn’t make any sense for Assad under these conditions to all of a sudden use poison gasses,” he continued. “I think there is a zero chance he would have done, you know, this deliberately.”

According to Infowars, “the White Helmets, a al-Qaeda affiliated group funded by George Soros and the British government, reportedly staged the sarin attack on civilians in the Syrian city of Khan Shaykhun to lay blame on the Syrian government.”

Who’s right?

Obviously, the Trump administration has far more intel than any of us, and America has already launched its first attack on an airfield in Syria.

But our previous missteps in the Middle East call for caution. We should not act unilaterally until we have a long-term plan.

Remember Iraq

Think back to Iraq.

We may have had the best intentions in removing Saddam Hussein from power. He was guilty of horrific crimes. But his removal created a vacuum of power in the region. This contributed to the rise of ISIS and the terrible persecution of Christians (and others). What happens if we take out Assad?

Right-wing commentator Paul Joseph Watson expressed his concerns in one tweet: “Regime change in Syria = More dead children More terrorism More refugees ISIS taking the entire country Possible war with Russia. Disaster”.

The problem is that the sarin attack is so ghastly that it feels criminal not to act.

Who can forget the images of the gassed children? Who can forget the picture of the father holding his dead baby twins?

If war is hell, the war in Syria has been a special kind of hell, a literal inferno of suffering. Yet this latest attack has crossed yet another line. But that’s why we must act cautiously and carefully, especially now that we have struck our first retaliatory blow.

Letting Atrocities Force Our Hand

Hundreds of thousands of lives have already been lost. Unspeakable atrocities have already been committed. People have been blown to bits, ripped apart, maimed, tortured, and more.

Children have lost their parents and parents have lost their children. Whole families have been destroyed in a single day. The peace-loving have been butchered side by side with the terrorists. And really bad guys are present on all sides of the battle.

In short, while the sarin attack crossed a definite line, other lines have been crossed time and again. (Do you remember President Obama’s red line?) And so we must act, but we must act prudently. The most recent atrocity, as appalling as it is, cannot force our hand.

Pray for Divine Intervention

What then do we do?

First, if we are not 100 percent sure that the Assad regime is responsible for the chemical attack, we must continue gathering information, even after our first strikes. The lasting controversy over WMDs in Iraq serves as a cautionary warning.

Second, we must think through the long-term regional implications of whatever actions we take. We don’t want to add even greater suffering and instability to the region.

Third, we must do what we can to support the best players in this bloody drama (if such players exist) while doing our best to protect and aid the innocent, like Syrian Christians who have been caught in the crossfire.

Fourth, we must pray for God’s kingdom to come to Syria, in the words of the Lord’s prayer. Only divine intervention can bring real healing to that ravaged nation. (For more from the author of “Should We Take out Assad?” please click HERE)

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Why Is the Religious Left Not More of a Force?

Recently in Religion Dispatches Daniel Schultz criticized a Reuters column that claimed that the religious left is becoming a strong political force. Schultz is a United Church of Christ pastor, and very much on the left himself. He’s right that some media mistake slight bouts of liberal religious activism as signs of broader revival. Such stories may highlight a rally of religious leaders wearing clerical collars and robes for show. Do these demonstrators have a popular following among the religious? It’s not clear that they do.

But I don’t think Schultz understands why the religious left has so little influence. He thinks it has too much diversity — ethnic and otherwise — to ever unite and draw on a larger popular base. Perhaps, but I think that misses the larger point.

It’s true that the religious right is largely made up of conservative white evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons and Jews. But the religious left is largely made up of white liberal mainline Protestants, Catholic social justice activists and Jewish groups. It’s been that way for a long time. Black Protestant church leaders sometimes work with the religious left. But their religious and moral differences have hindered full unity.

So why isn’t the religious left more of a force in politics?

The religious left had weight years ago because it was made up of strong mainline Protestant denominations. It had large ecumenical groups like the National Council of Churches. The “God Box” at 475 Riverside Drive in New York was their headquarters. They had hundreds of staffers and millions of dollars. They were protected by church bodies that founded and sustained American democracy.

Most of that old liberal Protestant world is now gone or much deflated. Most of those church agencies have left New York. The old mainline seminaries became the hotbed of the religious left a century ago. Most are now marginalized with far fewer students and reduced funding. A few have closed despite storied histories.

What institutions represent the religious left today? There is Jim Wallis’s Sojourners, the Interfaith Alliance and Faith in Public Life, among a few others. Much of their constituency is the ever-dwindling base of liberal Mainline Protestants. They can organize petitions and small demonstrations. But they don’t have wide, broad-based followings. That’s why the media usually ignore them, as do politicians. The National Council of Churches worked with the Clinton Administration 20 years ago. There was nothing like this during the Obama Administration.

The religious right, in contrast, came about through groups that work with churches, not denominational heads. The right was often headed by well-known evangelicals followed by Christian media. They were supported by mail campaigns. The Moral Majority and later the Christian Coalition were the early models. After the fall of a pastor or advocacy group, there were many early claims that the religious right was dead. But always there are new leaders and new organizations that have popular appeal.

The religious right is inventive while the religious left is still stuck to declining liberal Protestantism. Even now, most lay mainline Protestants ignore their own denominations and vote conservative.

Here’s the twist that most claims about religious left revival ignore or don’t appreciate: religious left activism is almost always the work of elites who have lost touch with their religious base. Take evangelicalism. It is now the largest religious demographic. But many evangelical colleges, relief and other groups have moved left. Many of the evangelical elite tilt left and don’t want to be associated with the conservative base in their own denominations. Most political witness jamborees for young college educated evangelicals are left-leaning. Much of the evangelical blogosphere is left-leaning.

In short, much of evangelicalism is retracing the steps of Mainline Protestantism 100 years ago. As the elites move left, they also lose touch with their religious roots.

This is why the religious left will never have a very wide following. Religion is about keeping traditions and holding fast to teachings that may go against the culture. Religious people are committed to Scripture, family, and real church institutions. They may engage in politics, but it will never be their top concern. The religious left may have religious motives, at least at first. But it’s often more wedded to politics than to the religious convictions of the ordinary faithful. As a result, it slowly loses its religious identity in favor of secular politics and activism.

This cycle at least in American Protestantism never seems to end. Religious liberals may stretch the boundaries of their faith or leave it altogether. Then, a new generation of excited converts rediscover the old orthodoxy and replace those who are content to provide a religious gloss to left wing politics. (For more from the author of “Why Is the Religious Left Not More of a Force?” please click HERE)

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Syria Strikes Signal an End of ‘Leading From Behind’

With his surprise, 180-degree decision to avenge innocents in Syria, President Donald Trump entered the particle accelerator that is foreign affairs.

The barrage of urgencies—inhumanity, chemical weapons, Syrian civil war, North Korean missiles, Russian warships, truck bombings, ISIS—has streamed his focus into a statesmanship that impresses even his detractors. This reminds us of Trump’s speech to Congress in February where he grew visibly into his presidential shoes.

Taking decisive action in Syria indeed was in the U.S. national interest, not only an understandable human response to a human atrocity. How is it in the national interest? Chemical weapons cannot be tolerated a bit. No excuse exists. Any shadow of their acceptability would quickly become a black cloud over a world cowed into suspicion and fear. Our national interest depends upon a world open to itself and to the future.

How else was this in the U.S. national interest? Well, it also re-establishes U.S. credibility abroad. For friends and foes alike the bombing is a North Star reference point to White House foreign policies still in formulation. And certainly, that point is not a line, red or other. That point? No more “leading from behind.”

From military giants to lone wolves, today’s range of actors has expanded up, down, and sideways. And with their real-time access to global affairs, they are weaponizing most anything, be it information, chemicals, national debt, online data, or delivery trucks.

With his action in Syria, Trump chose to weaponize leadership. And he showed that the United States will use it to its best effect. (For more from the author of “Syria Strikes Signal an End of ‘Leading From Behind'” please click HERE)

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Who Gassed the Syrians?

While world leaders are pointing fingers at several possible groups responsible for the recent chemical attacks in Syria, at least one man says a definitive answer on who perpetrated the crime is unknowable.

Who is Responsible for the Chemical Strike?

In an interview with The Stream, Johannes de Jong, director of the Christian Political Foundation for Europe, said people may never know which of the possible perpetrators gassed the city of Khan Scheichun. De Jong cooperates with the Syriac-Assyrians in Iraq and Syria to “support a political solution of the communities in both countries in order to secure their free and safe future.” The chemical weapons killed 86 people, including children, reported The Associated Press. De Jong said that both Assad and Turkey-backed rebels have access to chemical weapons. Either party could have committed the massacre. “At this point, you simply can’t know.”

And it’s because of that de Jong said the world leaders must not react hastily. “The last thing a big actor should do is take action. … The U.S. should be careful regardless of the chatter everywhere,” he said. But there are at least three possibilities that could have happened.

Assad.

“But why?” asked de Jong. “There’s no obvious gain [to Assad]. … The scale of the attack would suggest that he did it.” But we just don’t know for certain, he added.

Infighting.

De Jong explains that there are multiple factions of fighting parties in the area. The area has been taken over by Al-Nusra, a terrorist group. The area has experienced a lot of unrest, particularly in the last few months, he said. It’s possible that rebel factions are using captured chemical weapons against each other.

Turkey-backed rebels.

This group has been producing and using chemical weapons. “We know they’ve committed chemical attacks,” de Jong explained, “When it happened in Aleppo the media wouldn’t cover it.” The group did operate a chemical lab in Aleppo, he said.

Another possibility is that Assad accidentally hit a chemical deposit. “That’s not completely impossible,” De Jong said. “We simply cannot know.”

Partisan Reporting

Part of the problem is that the information coming out of the area is highly partisan. Western journalists who could report nonpartisan information won’t take the chance of getting kidnapped, he said, and the chance of getting kidnapped in that area is very high. Even the churches in the area are not reliable because they depend heavily on the “good will” of the Assad regime. De Jong said they’ve decided, “Let’s go with the devil [we] know.”

The Blame Game … Russia?

But the charges of guilt are flying in every direction. President Trump lays the blame squarely on Assad. In a press conference at the White House on Wednesday, President Trump said that “heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated.” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley suggested that the U.S. may take action, so confident was the Trump administration in Assad’s guilt. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson connected Syrian allies to the chemical attack. “Russia and Iran also bear great moral responsibility for these deaths.”

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called for an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, The Guardian reported yesterday. May said there cannot be a future for Assad in a “stable Syria.” She added, “I call on all the third parties involved to ensure that we have a transition away from Assad. We cannot allow this suffering to continue.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also blamed Assad. “All the evidence I have seen suggests that it was the Assad regime who did it, in full knowledge they were using illegal weapons in a barbaric attack on their own people,” he said at a meeting on Syria in Belgium.

The Russian Defense Ministry posted on Facebook that a Syrian airstrike hit rebel workshops, which produced the gas attack. They also allege that terrorists had been moving the chemicals to Iraq. For its part, Russia said its planes were not in the area at the time of the attack. But this theory was quickly shot down by doctors and experts, who agree that the gas was made up of more than just chlorine. A chemical expert, Hamish de Bretton Gordon, said that Russia’s scenario is “completely untrue.” He said that Russia is trying to protect their allies. “…I think this [claim] is pretty fanciful,” he said. …if you blow up sarin, you destroy it.”

Nerve Gas?

Chemical weapons specialist Dan Kaszeta told CNN that Russia’s story is “highly implausible.” “Nerve agents are the result of a very expensive, exotic, industrial chemical process … it’s much more plausible that Assad, who’s used nerve agents in the past, is using them again.”

The World Health Organization said that victims had symptoms consistent with a nerve agent exposure, reported the BBC.

Jerry Smith, leader of the team that oversaw the 2013 removal of Syria’s sarin stockpiles, said yesterday’s film footage shows no physical or trauma injuries. “There is foaming and pinpointed pupils, in particular. This appears to be some kind of organo-phosphate poison. In theory, a nerve agent. What is striking is that it would appear to be more than chlorine. The toxicity of chlorine does not lend itself to the sort of injuries and numbers that we have seen.”

Syria’s Denial

The Syrian government vehemently denied gassing the residents of Khan Scheichun. Syria’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. blame “terrorist groups” for the massacre. Mounzer Mounzer added that “Syria also reaffirms that the Syrian Arab Army does not have any form or type of chemical weapons. We have never used them, and we will never use them.” ABC News reported that Syria’s military denied it used chemical weapons against civilians because the military is too “honorable” to carry out the “heinous” crimes.

They’ve Done It Before

If it was sarin gas, it wouldn’t be the first time Assad used it on his own people. Smith said that the attack “…absolutely reeks of 2013 all over again,” referring to the gas attacks in Damascus that year. The Washington Times reported that victims of the 2013 attack believed rebels were responsible. Following that attack, Smith’s U.N. team oversaw the removal of sarin from Syria. Many believed that Assad had not declared or surrendered all of the chemical weapon. Tuesday’s strike was the largest chemical attack in Syria since the August 2013 attack.

Rebels Aren’t Capable

Even though Assad denies attacking his own people with chemical weapons, many believe the rebels in the area do not have the capability to either produce the deadly chemicals or drop a bomb. British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said that the U.K. doesn’t believe that rebels have weapons that could cause yesterday’s symptoms, reported The Associated Press. However, in a civil war, rebels often capture government weapons and use them themselves.

Planes Dropped the Bombs

Witnesses and victims believe they saw a chemical attack perpetrated by Assad’s regime. Many claimed to have seen gas bombs dropping from military planes. One hospitalized woman told CNN that she “saw blue and yellow after the plane dropped a … bomb.” Another victim described being overcome with the gas “carried by three rockets.” A teenage girl saw a bomb drop from a plane and land on a building nearby. There was an explosion, then what appeared to be a yellow mushroom cloud. “It was like a winter fog,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. Hasan Haj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, told Reuters, “Everyone saw the plane while it was bombing with gas.”

‘My Son Died Yesterday’

Still, residents of the area aren’t holding out much hope that the latest chemical attack will alter anything. “If the world wanted to stop this, they would have done so by now,” a woman said to The Washington Post. “One more chemical attack in a town the world hasn’t heard of won’t change anything.” She added, “I’m sorry. My son died yesterday. I have nothing left to say to the world.”

Now What?

President Trump, along with leaders from Britain and France, drafted a resolution Tuesday night for the U.N. Security Council. The resolution would condemn the attack and order the Syrian government to “provide all flight logs, flight plans and names of commanders in charge of air operations to … international investigators.”

Just today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that “steps are underway” with an international coalition to remove Assad from power. Fox News reported that President Trump will be briefed Friday in Florida by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on retaliatory options for the chemical strikes. (For more from the author of “Who Gassed the Syrians?” please click HERE)

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Vladimir_Putin_carrying_his_buddy_Donald_Trump

Is the Trump-Putin Bromance Over for Good?

President Trump appears to be following the lead of his predecessors in eventually recognizing that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is no friend to America.

Throughout his campaign for president, Trump entertained the idea that America could partner with Moscow’s leadership to work on mutual goals such as targeting the Islamic State terror group.

On the campaign trail, Trump praised Putin as a strong leader and someone he could possibly “get along” with. “You know that, if Putin wants to knock the hell out of ISIS, I’m all for it 100 percent and I can’t understand how anybody would be against that,” Trump opined.

Upon becoming president, Trump still held Putin as a man who he could partner with, holding off on harsh labels and denouncing the Russian dictator. Moreover, choosing Rex Tillerson — who had very close business ties to Russia as CEO of ExxonMobil — as secretary of state seemed to amplify his commitment to making things work with Moscow.

But now, it appears as if Trump’s attempt for détente with Russia has run into inevitable geopolitical realities. Putin refuses to back away from his support of the Assad regime in Syria and the nuclear weapon-seeking mullahs who rule Iran. On the domestic front, the Russian president’s behavior hasn’t changed, either. (And Putin’s critics continue to end up dead under unusual circumstances.)

This week, Bashar Assad reportedly committed a massive chemical weapons attack against his own people, killing dozens of civilians with weapons of mass destruction. Images and videos emerged showing the horrific aftermath, with bodies of tortured innocents lining the streets. Without Putin’s backing of Assad, such a crime against humanity probably would not have happened. Assad’s staying power in Damascus is largely thanks to boots-on-the-ground military support from Russia and Iran.

Now, it appears as if President Trump has come to the realization that he can no longer bear to entertain an alliance with a man who could support the genocidal campaign against an entire citizenry. Regime forces are responsible for the vast majority of the Syrian civil war body count, which has already killed hundreds of thousands. The chemical weapons attack may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

President Trump described the attack as an “affront to humanity,” noting that it had a “big impact” on him personally.

“My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much,” the president added.

Trump has unleashed U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who on Wednesday tore into the Russian regime for their silence on the Syria massacre. Russia “cannot escape responsibility,” Haley said, adding that Russia has “no interest in peace.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson followed suit, claiming Russia and Iran “bear moral responsibility” for the WMD attack.

President Trump follows his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama in their initial outreach to Putin, only to renege on the idea in the end.

Bush infamously once said of Putin: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul.” Bush would later completely change course due to Putin’s domestic power grab, his reaffirming of alliances with enemies of America, and his military aggression against our allies.

President Obama utilized the services of his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to offer the Russians an actual “reset” in an attempt to set aside differences. Obama personally pledged “more flexibility” to work with the Russians on various issues. This did not change Putin’s behavior. Russia invaded Ukraine (an American ally), continued committing domestic atrocities, and united his country by spewing rally-around-the-flag, anti-American propaganda.

Donald Trump, too, has come to understand that Vladimir Putin is a tyrant. Any illusions Trump had that Putin would possibly come to see the United States as anything other than an enemy nation appear to be over for good. (For more from the author of “Is the Trump-Putin Bromance Over for Good?” please click HERE)

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Constitution_We_the_People (1)

Is There a Constitutional Crisis in the USA No One Is Addressing?

Everyone is so smitten with high tech and other political correctness ‘awareness’ goings on, no one is paying attention to the fact our Constitutional Rights, especially those emphasized in the first ten amendments, aka the Bill of Rights, originally proposed and then written by James Madison, are being overlooked, denied and, basically, thrown to the winds as if they did not exist!

As I hear the drumbeats of what’s going on around the country with regard to all sorts of consumer and taxpayer issues, I think I understand how all these crises are being rolled out simultaneously so everyone thinks they are the new norm. Well, let’s think again! I say. We still have the U.S. Constitution, which is the basic law of the USA, and also we have individual state’s Constitutions which, in most cases, parrot some of the rights in the U.S. Constitution. So, what’s gone wrong, you say?

Well, there are two perfect examples in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first occurs in a sleepy little Borough of Pottstown. Pottstown’s ‘city fathers’ apparently enacted a biannual rental inspections policy requiring rental properties to be inspected, even against the renter’s wishes!

Question: Doesn’t that type of inspection require a warrant based upon probable cause? According to KYW 1060 radio news reports, those inspections can include moving beds, looking into closets—actions which are “off limits for government” unless there is “probable cause.”

Dorothy and Omar Rivera, who rent a home from landlord Steven Camburn, filed a lawsuit against the borough to prevent such inspection. Coincidentally, their landlord also joined in the suit! The Riveras contend such inspections are unconstitutional; they are represented by an attorney with the Virginia-based Institute for Justice.

So, which Constitutional rights are the Riveras concerned about? According to Dorothy Rivera, “I’m a private person. I’ve done nothing wrong, and I don’t want people snooping around my house.” Add to that the fact their landlord says, “Everybody deserves privacy. If there’s no real probable cause, they should not be entering a house that is occupied.”

Meagan Forbes, the plaintiffs’ attorney, says, “People should know about how intrusive these searches are.” However,

In the lawsuit, attorneys claim that Pottstown’s policy is too broad, allowing for inspectors to conduct “highly-intrusive, wall-to-wall searches for compliance with on-the-spot standards that inspectors are free to make up as they go along.”

What’s going on in Pottstown regarding rental property inspections is NOTHING compared with what’s happening to every Pennsylvania utility customer who is supplied electric, natural gas and water with more than 100,000 customers.

Customers’ appliances and usage are being monitored, collected and SOLD to third parties unknown to consumers without their knowledge and consent, nor a legal warrant to collect such personal information. Check out Onzo and what that algorithm does with smart meter data and information.

AMI Smart Meters surveil and collect information, plus interact with customers’ appliances 24/7/365 in total violation of Amendments IV, V, and XIV §2 of the U.S. Constitution, including the Pennsylvania Constitution art. 1 §1.

And the most egregious part about the AMI Smart Meter snooping without a warrant is that AMI Smart Meters and their incessant snooping are mandated ‘supposedly by law’ by an erroneous interpretation of the PA Public Utility Commission’s “belief” interpretation of HB2200/Act 129 (2008), which actually was enacted in reality as an Opt-In Smart Meter bill as publicly published of record in section 2(i) below:

HB2200 §2807(f)7(2)

(2) Electric distribution companies shall furnish smart meter technology as follows:

(i) Upon request from a customer that agrees to pay the cost of the smart meter at the time of the request.

(ii) In new building construction.

(iii) In accordance with a depreciation schedule not to exceed 15 years.

Furthermore, PA State Senator Fumo is on record in PA Senate Journal October 8, 2008 (pp. 2626-2631) stating, “In addition we did not mandate smart meters, but we made them optional.”

However, the piece de resistance is this most damning of admissions by the PA PUC’s Office of Communications’ Dave Hixson in his letter to Thomas A. McCarey dated March 22, 2017 wherein Hixson says:

As I stated in my earlier email correspondence with you, the Commission believes that it was the intent of the General Assembly to require all covered electric companies to deploy smart meters system-wide.

[CJF emphasis added. Thereby supposedly and illegally, the PA PUC made smart meters mandatory—not the state legislature!]

But that’s not all!

Every U.S. state—bar none, except those states which provide opt-outs from AMI Smart Meters—are breaking federal law! Did you know that? The federal law which individual states are violating when they mandate smart meters is Public Law 109-58, The Energy Policy Act of 2005, §1252 Smart Metering. Nothing is said about AMI smart meters being mandated! That would be unconstitutional, I contend, so that’s why “mandated” is not in the language! However, the feds offered a few ‘carrots’ i.e., grants and monetary incentives, to those utilities that would implement AMI Smart Meters. What does that tell you? Follow the money!

In essence, sleepy little Pottstown is “small potatoes” compared with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in denying Constitutional rights to citizens.

What’s going on in your state?

Have you looked into your state’s AMI Smart Meters ‘law’; how AMI SMs are snooping on you; and that you don’t have to have them retrofitted; plus how your constitutional rights are being abrogated? (For more from the author of “Is There a Constitutional Crisis in the USA No One Is Addressing?” please click HERE)

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