Right-wing columnist, commentator and conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin is fully committed to the conspiracy theory that there is a massive global satanic pedophile ring run by high-ranking government officials, powerful business executives and celebrities which regularly engages in the ritual sexual abuse and murder of children. Last week, she appeared on Dave Hodges’ “The Common Sense Show” to promote this theory and claimed that President Trump’s administration has been quietly working to break up this global pedophile cult, but has kept its success under wraps until it can properly prepare the American public to accept the awful truth.
What is happening is “so abhorrent and so horrible and so unbelievable,” Crokin said, that the Trump administration is working to “slowly break the news to the public about how massive and rampant of a problem this is.”
Crokin said that the average person simply cannot comprehend the fact that “one third of the government” is part of a satanic Illuminati cult that sexually abuses, kills and eats children, but “that’s what these people do.”
“The raping of children and the drinking of blood, this is a ritual they do, this is their religion, this is how they believe they obtain power,” she said. “That is very hard for people to believe, but we did learn from the [John] Podesta emails, that is exactly what is going on.”
“That’s very hard for the public to process,” Crokin said, “so President Trump and his people understand that they can’t just come out one day and be like, ‘Oh hey, one third of the government is raping children and sacrificing them and drinking their blood and they’re satanists.’ You just can’t drop that bomb on people; people can’t process that information like that, they need it in doses, they need to be conditioned. So what we have going on behind the scenes is that … the Trump administration is slowly trying to condition the public and try to prepare them for what’s about to go down.”
(JTA) — The umbrella group of French Jewish communities escalated its criticism of authorities’ handling of the slaying of a Jewish woman by her Muslim neighbor, calling it a cover-up.
CRIF made the accusation in a short and poignant statement Wednesday containing four loaded questions concerning the April 4 killing of Sarah Halimi in Paris.
“The murder of Sarah Halimi was 85 days ago already and the investigation is not advancing. Why this silence? Why this omerta?” read the statement, which contained the Italian-language mafia term for a cover-up among accomplices. “What is being hidden? Why this denial of anti-Semitism?”
Prior to this week, CRIF had refrained from openly faulting the handling of the Halimi investigation, saying it was awaiting the conclusion of the police probe. In the past, it has criticized the proliferation of conspiracy theories by some Jewish groups and activists.
But that changed Monday, when CRIF President Francis Kalifat wrote in an op-ed published by Le Figaro that “there is evidence that this is a textbook case of an anti-Semitic murder but it is being covered up by an ‘omerta’ and this heinous crime has not been recognized for what it is.”
Halimi, he added, “was butchered for the sole and only reason that she was Jewish.”
Kalifat vowed to “never relent” and continue to pressure authorities “until the truth comes to light about this sordid murder.”
Halimi, a physician and kindergarten teacher in her 60s, was beaten savagely by Kobili Traore, 27, and then thrown to her death from a window of her third-story apartment.
Traore, whom neighbors testified shouted during the attack “Allah hu akbar,” Arabic for “Allah is the greatest,” was placed at a psychiatric institution as per his temporary insanity defense though he has no history of mental illness. Halimi’s daughter testified that he had called the daughter a “dirty Jew” two years ago.
A draft indictment drawn up against Traore by the public prosecutor’s office of Paris contained no mention of a hate crime, alleging only voluntary manslaughter with no aggravating circumstances. Sammy Ghozlan, a former police commissioner and head of the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, told JTA that the police are not answering his group’s request for information on Traore’s whereabouts.
Many French Jews, including Ghozlan, said they feared justice and police officials, as well as the mainstream media, were trying to avoid drawing attention to the incident because of France’s presidential and parliamentary elections, which began on April 23 and ended on June 18. In those elections, the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won decidedly against Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front far-right party, which critics say is anti-Muslim.
Magali Lafourcade, president of the French government’s National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, said in a radio interview earlier this month that she welcomes the debate over whether authorities downplay anti-Semitism and hate crimes. However, she said “we need to let the judiciary do its job” and detectives need time to review all aspects of the case.
Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.
One of President Donald Trump’s newest appointees is a registered agent of Saudi Arabia earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on the kingdom’s behalf, according to U.S. Department of Justice records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.
Since January, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has paid longtime Republican lobbyist Richard Hohlt about $430,000 in exchange for “advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.”
Trump’s decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president’s vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests.
Trump singled out lobbyists for foreign governments for special criticism, saying they shouldn’t be permitted to contribute to political campaigns. Hohlt is himself a Trump donor, though his contributions came before he registered to represent Saudi Arabia.
“I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” Trump tweeted in October.
Key Advisory Body
The commission is essentially a part-time advisory body responsible for making final recommendations to the president of candidates for the prestigious White House fellowships, which President Lyndon B. Johnson created in 1964.
The candidates are usually accomplished professionals with sterling resumes. Fellows are typically given jobs in the White House and federal agencies. Past White House fellows include Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas and CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.
Hohlt said he is one of 19 commissioners who met over a weekend this month to interview the fellowship candidates — the commission’s only formal duty annually.
Hohlt stresses he has never lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Saudi Arabia, which has aggressively courted Trump since he became president in January.
“That is not my role,” Hohlt said.
What role, then, does he play?
According to Hohlt’s disclosures with the Department of Justice, he registered to lobby for Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry in October and “provides them with advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.” He disclosed no direct contact with government officials on the Saudis’ behalf as of April 30, the date covered by the latest Department of Justice report.
Hohlt said he was largely brought in to offer advice on overarching strategy and how the legislative process works.
He did directly contact some congressional offices in late May and June regarding an arms sale, he said, and those contacts will be disclosed in his next disclosure report, as required.
Hohlt added that he’s working for the Saudis without a formal contract. If the Saudis asked him to lobby for something the Trump administration opposed, “I’d say I’m not going to work on it,” Hohlt said.
For example, he said, the administration was in favor of the arms deal.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s most prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists have been targeted by advanced spyware sold to the Mexican government on the condition that it be used only to investigate criminals and terrorists.
The targets include lawyers looking into the mass disappearance of 43 students, a highly respected academic who helped write anti-corruption legislation, two of Mexico’s most influential journalists and an American representing victims of sexual abuse by the police. The spying even swept up family members, including a teenage boy.
Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person’s cellular life — calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target’s smartphone into a personal bug.
The company that makes the software, the NSO Group, says it sells the tool exclusively to governments, with an explicit agreement that it be used only to battle terrorists or the drug cartels and criminal groups that have long kidnapped and killed Mexicans.
But according to dozens of messages examined by The New York Times and independent forensic analysts, the software has been used against some of the government’s most outspoken critics and their families, in what many view as an unprecedented effort to thwart the fight against the corruption infecting every limb of Mexican society.
“We are the new enemies of the state,” said Juan E. Pardinas, the general director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, who has pushed anti-corruption legislation. His iPhone, along with his wife’s, was targeted by the software, according to an independent analysis. “Ours is a society where democracy has been eroded,” he said.
The deployment of sophisticated cyberweaponry against citizens is a snapshot of the struggle for Mexico itself, raising profound legal and ethical questions for a government already facing severe criticism for its human rights record. Under Mexican law, only a federal judge can authorize the surveillance of private communications, and only when officials can demonstrate a sound basis for the request.
It is highly unlikely that the government received judicial approval to hack the phones, according to several former Mexican intelligence officials. Instead, they said, illegal surveillance is standard practice.
“Mexican security agencies wouldn’t ask for a court order, because they know they wouldn’t get one,” said Eduardo Guerrero, a former analyst at the Center for Investigation and National Security, Mexico’s intelligence agency and one of the government agencies that use the Pegasus spyware. “I mean, how could a judge authorize surveillance of someone dedicated to the protection of human rights?”
“There, of course, is no basis for that intervention, but that is besides the point,” he added. “No one in Mexico ever asks for permission to do so.”
The hacking attempts were highly personalized, striking critics with messages designed to inspire fear — and get them to click on a link that would provide unfettered access to their cellphones.
Carmen Aristegui, one of Mexico’s most famous journalists, was targeted by a spyware operator posing as the United States Embassy in Mexico, instructing her to click on a link to resolve an issue with her visa. The wife of Mr. Pardinas, the anti-corruption activist, was targeted with a message claiming to offer proof that he was having an extramarital affair.
For others, imminent danger was the entry point, like a message warning that a truck filled with armed men was parked outside Mr. Pardinas’s home.
“I think that any company that sells a product like this to a government would be horrified by the targets, of course, which don’t seem to fall into the traditional role of criminality,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, which examined the hacking attempts.
The Mexican government acknowledges gathering intelligence against legitimate suspects in accordance with the law. “As in any democratic government, to combat crime and threats against national security the Mexican government carries out intelligence operations,” it said in a statement.
But the government “categorically denies that any of its members engages in surveillance or communications operations against defenders of human rights, journalists, anti-corruption activists or any other person without prior judicial authorization.”
Still, there is no ironclad proof that the Mexican government is responsible. The Pegasus software does not leave behind the hacker’s individual fingerprints. Even the software maker, the NSO Group, says it cannot determine who, exactly, is behind specific hacking attempts.
But cyberexperts can verify when the software has been used on a target’s phone, leaving them with few doubts that the Mexican government, or some rogue actor within it, was involved.
“This is pretty much as good as it gets,” said Bill Marczak, another senior researcher at Citizen Lab, who confirmed the presence of NSO code on several phones belonging to Mexican journalists and activists.
Moreover, it is extremely unlikely that cybercriminals somehow got their hands on the software, the NSO Group says, because the technology can be used only by the government agency where it is installed.
The company is part of a growing number of digital spying businesses that operate in a loosely regulated space. The market has picked up in recent years, particularly as companies like Apple and Facebook start encrypting their customers’ communications, making it harder for government agencies to conduct surveillance.
Increasingly, governments have found that the only way to monitor mobile phones is by using private businesses like the NSO Group that exploit little-known vulnerabilities in smartphone software. The company has, at times, operated its businesses under different names. One of them, OSY Technologies, paid Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, more than $40,000 to be an advisory board member from May 2016 until January, according to his public financial disclosures.
Before selling to governments, the NSO Group says, it vets their human rights records. But once the company licenses the software and installs its hardware inside intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the company says, it has no way of knowing how its spy tools are used — or whom they are used against.
The company simply bills governments based on the total number of surveillance targets. To spy on 10 iPhone users, for example, the company charges $650,000 on top of a flat $500,000 installation fee, according to NSO marketing proposals reviewed by The New York Times.
Even when the NSO Group learns that its software has been abused, there is only so much it can do, the company says, arguing that it cannot simply march into intelligence agencies, remove its hardware and take back its spyware.
“When you’re selling AK-47s, you can’t control how they’ll be used once they leave the loading docks,” said Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer at Lookout, a mobile security company.
Rather, the NSO Group relies on its customers to cooperate in a review, then turns over the findings to the appropriate governmental authority — in effect, leaving governments to police themselves.
Typically, the company’s only recourse is to slowly cut off a government’s access to the spy tools over the course of months, or even years, by ceasing to provide new software patches, features and updates. But in the case of Mexico, the NSO Group has not condemned or even acknowledged any abuse, despite repeated evidence that its spy tools have been deployed against ordinary citizens and their families.
From Hope to Intimidation
Journalists, human rights defenders and anti-corruption campaigners have long faced enormous risks in Mexico. For decades, they have been followed, harassed, threatened and even killed for their work, occupational hazards more common in authoritarian states than in countries in good standing with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as Mexico is.
But when President Enrique Peña Nieto came into office in 2012, promising to lift Mexico to its rightful place on the world stage, there was an inkling of hope that the nation’s democracy was coming into its own.
His party passed a list of badly needed changes, taking aim at the failing education system and moving to enhance the transparency of Mexico’s bureaucracy. Competition in some core industries, like telecommunications, has increased.
But by 2014, much of the early promise of the Peña Nieto administration was dashed by the crises subsuming it, including the mysterious disappearance of 43 teaching students after a clash with the police, and accusations that the president and his wife got a special deal on a multimillion-dollar home from a government contractor.
The scandals have left an enduring mark on the president’s reputation. After a stunning rise built on a perfectly crafted image — a young, energetic president working across party lines, the embodiment of a new Mexico — Mr. Peña Nieto was suddenly recast as an out-of-touch, corrupt politician with abysmal approval ratings.
In no small part, that fall was thanks to the Mexican journalists who broke news of the scandals, as well as the lawyers and activists who refused to let the country forget about them.
“You have to remember this was a government that went from setting the agenda to being entirely reactive,” said Carlos Loret de Mola, a news anchor for Televisa who has some of the best sources inside the Mexican government.
Mr. Loret de Mola, who received at least eight messages laced with NSO software, added, “They looked at journalists and thought, ‘They are bringing these things out and embarrassing us, so it’s better if we spy on them.’”
Mexico is still a far cry from Turkey, which jails more journalists than any other nation in the world. It is hardly China, an authoritarian state where critics are silenced and a Western-style free press has been cast as a political peril by the government. But Mexico is in crisis on these fronts all the same.
Mourners at the funeral of Javier Valdez, an award-winning journalist based in the drug-infested state of Sinaloa. He was shot and killed in May. Mexico is among the world’s most dangerous places for journalists.CreditRashide Frias/Associated Press
More journalists were killed in Mexico last year than during any other year this century, and 2017 is off to an even worse start. Government critics are routinely harassed and threatened, and now they are being targeted with incredibly sophisticated software.
“The fact that the government is using high-tech surveillance against human rights defenders and journalists exposing corruption, instead of those responsible for those abuses, says a lot about who the government works for,” said Luis Fernando García, the executive director of R3D, a digital rights group in Mexico that has helped identify multiple abuses of Pegasus in Mexico. “It’s definitely not for the people.”
‘About Getting Revenge’
Perhaps no journalist in Mexico has done as much to damage the reputation of the president than Carmen Aristegui. And few have paid as dearly for it.
In 2014, she and her team broke the scandal of the so-called Casa Blanca, or White House, a story of real estate intrigue that involved a special deal handed to Mexico’s first lady, Angélica Rivera, by a major government contractor close to the president.
The story reached a worldwide audience and forced the president’s wife to surrender the house, presenting the Mexican government with the sort of ethical quandary that in a different country might result in a congressional inquiry or the appointment of an independent prosecutor.
Instead, the president was cleared of wrongdoing by a prosecutor who had worked closely with his campaign team, while Ms. Aristegui lost her job. That moment marked the beginning of a sustained campaign of harassment and defamation against her: lawsuits, break-ins at her offices, threats to her safety and the monitoring of her movements.
“It’s been about getting revenge for the piece,” she said. “There’s really no other way to see it.”
So when she began receiving text messages in 2015 from unknown numbers, instructing her to click on a link, she was suspicious. One message asked for her help in locating a missing child. Another alerted her to sudden charge on her credit card. And she received a text message purportedly from the American Embassy about a problem with her visa. Impersonating an American government official is a possible violation of United States law.
When the messages failed to entice her to click on the links and inadvertently download the software, they grew increasingly strident, including one warning that she could be imprisoned. Several came from the same phone number, leaving a record of the spyware operator’s sloppiness.
Still, the spyware operators pressed on. Starting as early as March, they began targeting Ms. Aristegui’s then-16-year-old son, Emilio, who was living in the United States at the time. Some of the texts were similar to the ones she had received. Others were made-up headlines about Ms. Aristegui, sent from what appeared to be a news agency.
“The only reason they could be going after my son is in the hopes of finding something against me, to damage me,” she said.
Ms. Aristegui is the embodiment of the hope — and the crushing limitations — for a free media in Mexico. Though she was fired over what her employer called internal disagreements, she continued publishing on her own, eventually drawing enough of an audience to sustain a team of reporters.
But the work has taken its toll. In one lawsuit, filed by the president of her former employer, a judge cited Ms. Aristegui last November for her “excessive use of freedom of speech.”
Her website, Aristegui Noticias, has been hacked numerous times, including on the eve of publishing a major investigation into the massacre of more than a dozen civilians by the federal police.
And her offices were broken into last November. So brazen were the assailants that they didn’t bother wearing masks. Nor did they steal much — one computer, a watch and a bag hanging from the back of a chair. Their faces and fingerprints were captured on cameras in the office. Still, no one has been caught.
The threats, harassment, even the spying, all of it she channels into work.
“For me, I have opted to believe that my public work is what will best protect me,” she said. “The great challenge for journalists and citizens is that the fear serve us, and not conquer us.”
Texts Laced With Menace
It was Dec. 21, 2015, and Mr. Pardinas was at the beach with his family, trying to enjoy the start of his Christmas vacation. But his phone kept buzzing, at first with calls from lawyers, and then with an odd text message.
It had been a long few months in an even longer campaign: to pass an unprecedented law forcing Mexico’s public servants to disclose their financial conflicts of interest.
In November, he had presented a study on the costs of corruption in Mexico, confirming with facts and figures something that nearly all Mexicans knew in their hearts — that corruption was crippling the country.
He followed it up with media interviews, poking fun at the Mexican government’s embarrassing response to corruption. He joked that it probably spent more money on coffee and cookies than on the office in charge of prosecuting graft.
The study, the interviews, a seemingly endless gantlet of meetings with politicians — it all laid the groundwork for the new law, which Mr. Pardinas, a private citizen directing a public policy group, was helping to write.
So even as Christmas approached and his family relaxed in the coastal town of Puerto Vallarta, Mr. Pardinas was busily consulting lawyers on the final draft, which he had just over a month to submit.
And then a message: “My father died at dawn, we are devastated, I’m sending you the details of the wake, I hope you can come.” Attached was a link.
Mr. Pardinas thought it odd that whoever had sent such a personal text was not even among the contacts in his phone. He showed his wife the message, and decided to ignore it.
Things only picked up from there, both on his proposed law and the odd messages. The government roundly ignored his bill, until he and others gathered more than 630,000 signatures supporting it.
Mr. Pardinas’s tone grew bolder. He told one radio host that “for the government of Mexico, anti-corruption measures are like garlic to a vampire.”
Then came another text message. This one appeared to be from the news outlet Uno TV, which sends daily news headlines to cellphone users across the country. The headline struck him: “The History of Corruption Within the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness.” It was particularly alarming because that was his organization.
He declined once more to click on the link, suspecting foul play. More text messages came, including the next day. Only this time, having failed with Mr. Pardinas, they tried his wife.
The message, sent from the same news headline service, said that leaked videos showed Mr. Pardinas having sexual relations with a member of his staff. It was also sent to a colleague.
Mr. Pardinas called his wife, telling her that she appeared to be part of a broader harassment effort. “Oh, it’s these people again,” she responded.
The campaign to pass the law continued, and the bill made it through Congress relatively unscathed. But the Senate decided to add an extra provision: Everyone who worked for a company that received government money would also have to disclose their interests and assets. That meant the bill would cover more than 30 million people.
The president vetoed the bill, saying it needed more discussion, essentially kicking the can down the road.
Mr. Pardinas continued his broadsides in interviews, naming obstructive lawmakers and well-connected companies that benefited from government money. Few activists go so far as to name names in interviews, but Mr. Pardinas, who holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, plowed ahead anyway.
The initiative seemed doomed. Yet another message arrived, on Aug. 1, this one laced with menace: “Listen, outside of your house is a truck with two armed guys, I took their photo look at them and be careful.”
Mr. Pardinas, who was at work when this message came, once again declined to take the bait. But he did call his wife, again, asking her to look out their window to see if there was a truck parked outside. There was not.
“By the end, my wife had Olympic-style training in this hacking stuff,” Mr. Pardinas said.
‘It Comes With the Territory’
Mario E. Patrón was on edge. The conference table was packed with fellow human rights defenders, including the United Nations commissioner for human rights in Mexico. Everyone was there to discuss the bombshell expected to drop.
The government would be accused of negligence, incompetence, even malfeasance in its handling of the case. Like others in the room, Mr. Patrón, whose organization represents the parents of the missing students, was wondering how the government would respond.
His phone buzzed and he glanced at the screen. “THE GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO GETS OUT IN FRONT OF THE GIEI,” the text message read, using the acronym for the international panel. It seemed like the news he had been waiting for.
He showed the message to his colleague, then clicked on the link. But instead of an article or a news release, it simply redirected him to a blank page. Confused, he left the meeting and raced to his office to begin making calls to see what the government had in store.
And like that, he fell into their trap.
Mr. Patrón is the executive director of the Miguel Augustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, perhaps the most highly respected human rights group in Mexico. The group focuses on the nation’s most serious cases of human rights abuses, making it a nettlesome critic of the government.
In addition to Mr. Patrón, two other lawyers for the group were targeted with the software: Santiago Aguirre, the primary lawyer representing the families of the missing students, and Stephanie E. Brewer, a Harvard-educated American lawyer who has worked for the group since 2007.
“We have always suspected they spied on us and listened to us,” Mr. Patrón said. “But to have evidence that we are victims of actual surveillance — it confirms that we are under threat. And that the government is willing to use illegal measures to try and stop us.”
Beyond the missing students, Centro Prodh, as the group is called, is representing one of the few survivors of a military raid in 2014 in the town of Tlatlaya, where the army stormed a suspected cartel hide-out and killed 22 people.
While pursuing the case, the group unearthed a memorandum ordering the soldiers to kill suspected cartel members, strengthening the argument that the events did not unfold as a firefight, as the military claimed, but were instead extrajudicial executions carried out by the soldiers.
The organization’s clients also include the women of Atenco, a group of 11 university students, activists and market vendors who were arrested by the police more than 10 years ago during protests in the town of San Salvador Atenco and brutally sexually assaulted on the way to prison.
Aside from the grave abuse of power, the case was especially sensitive: The governor who ordered the crackdown on the protesters was Enrique Peña Nieto, now the president of Mexico.
From the very beginning, the case was an uphill battle. Arrested on trumped-up charges, some of the women spent more time in prison than the officers who raped them.
Finding no recourse in Mexico, Ms. Brewer and others appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a regional body outside the Mexican judicial system, to review the case. And they waited — for nearly seven years.
Finally, in 2015, the commission found in favor of the women, ordering the government to investigate the case all the way up the chain of command, a directive that would include Mr. Peña Nieto. Ultimately, the case was sent to the Inter-American Court, an independent judiciary with jurisdiction over Mexico, a major blow to the nation’s presidency.
One evening Ms. Brewer was at home, getting ready for bed when a text message arrived. The date practically coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the assaults on the women, an eerie bookend to their decade-long struggle for justice.
On her phone was a provocative question, a taunt even, asking whether anyone defended the soldiers and members of Mexico’s navy who also suffered abuse.
“And you guys that do human rights against this, what about the dignity of them …” The message contained a link, presumably to a news story or a tip.
Intrigued, Ms. Brewer clicked on it. She was directed to a broken link, a telltale sign of the malware.
“It’s just part of defending human rights in Mexico,” she said. “It comes with the territory.”
Secret documents in the Jerusalem city council show that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has frozen the construction of more than 6,000 apartments in the capital, Army Radio reported Sunday.
The report came despite repeated assertions from Netanyahu that there is no construction freeze.
Army Radio said that it had seen detailed documents, prepared by experts in the planning committees of the Jerusalem Municipality, showing that many projects in the past few years have been blocked by Netanyahu’s government for political reasons.
These include plans for 2,200 apartments in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, thousands of apartments planned for nearby Har Homa and hundreds of apartments in Pisgat Zeev to the north of the city, the radio station reported without giving exact numbers for the last two.
The report provided no further details and it was not clear if the orders to freeze construction followed the election of US President Donald Trump.
The Obama administration had placed significant pressure on Israel not to build in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Israel does not consider these neighborhoods to be settlements, as Israel annexed the area after capturing it in the 1967 Six Day War.
However, the annexation has not been recognized by the international community, which generally says that the Jerusalem issue must be resolved in peace talks with the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem for the capital of a future state.
“Anyone who claims that it was possible to approve more construction in the settlements is not just trying to stretch the rope but to tear it completely, thereby endangering the entire settlement enterprise,” the defense minister said.
“There never was and will not be a government that takes better care of the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria,” Liberman added, using the biblical term for the West Bank. He said settlement building numbers for the first half of 2017 were the highest they have been since 1992.
When they met in Washington in February, Trump asked Netanyahu to limit construction in the West Bank, and, in March, Israel agreed to self-imposed restrictions on new settlement construction in what was seen as a gesture to the Trump administration after months-long negotiations between the two sides failed to yield any formal understanding on the matter.
However, the cabinet recently approved construction of the first new West Bank settlement in 25 years for the former residents of the dismantled illegal outpost of Amona.
More than 500,000 Third World invaders pretending to be refugees have landed in Italy since 2014, and at least 200,000 are still being house in “reception centers” across the country.
Meanwhile, about half of Italians do not want the country to take in more people, pollster Renato Mannheimer told Reuters news agency.
Italy is “accommodating” a rising numbers of African invaders because countries to the north have tightened their borders and some EU states have refused to take part in a plan to relocate 160,000 of the invaders from Italy and Greece.
Just over 20,000 invaders have so far been relocated under the plan and the European Union has begun legal action against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for refusing to accept any of them.
Meanwhile, there has been no let-up in the invasion, with ever-increasing numbers of Africans taking advantage of European liberals in both the state and private sectors, who will now pick them up within five or ten miles of the Libyan coast, and transport them to Italy free of charge.
The number of those who are invading from Africa is up by more than 40 percent compared to the previous year, it has emerged.
On the shores of Greece there are now “only” between 80 and 100 invaders arriving every day, whereas before around 2,500 were landing every day, according to EU border force “Frontex” chief Fabrice Leggeri.
Among those who arrive from Africa via the central Mediterranean and Libya, most come from west Africa. They are Senegalese, Guineans, Nigerians.
According to a recent report by the EU’s law enforcement agency Europol, gangs smuggling the invader-scroungers to or within Europe raked in 4.7 billion-5.7 billion euros ($5.1 billion-$6.1 billion) in 2015.
The funds are sometimes moved openly through money transfer service Western Union, especially in west Africa. In east Africa, traffickers more often use ‘hawala’, an informal system of payment based on trust that is far more difficult to trace than bank transfers.
Invaders from west Africa begin by taking the bus, Leggeri said. The territory of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is somewhat similar to the visa-free Schengen zone, as individuals can travel freely within it for a modest fee of around 20 euros.
Once the scrounging hordes arrive in Niamey, capital of Niger, the illegal activity begins and they must fork out up to 150 euros each to reach the north of the country and the Libyan border.
Then comes the crossing which can cost up to 1,000 euros, depending on the boat.
The east Africa route—which originates from the Horn of Africa and is taken by Eritreans, Somalians and Ethiopians—is more expensive.
The journey is organized by national criminal gangs that work together, so a Sudanese network, for example, will hand over its clients to a Libyan network at the border.
There, the fee can run to 3,000 euros, from the Horn of Africa all the way to Italy.
Ontario has just set a startling precedent with the passage of a new law that could lead to the government seizing children from parents who oppose the “Gender Identity” agenda.
Bill 89, the 2017 Children, Youth and Family Services Act, passed by a vote of 63-23 on June 1. The new law will have jurisdiction over child protective services, and adoption and foster care services.
One of the most notable parts of the bill is that when it comes to the state’s process for deciding which home a child should live in, it takes out the consideration of “the religious faith in which the child is being raised,” and replaces it with the child’s “gender identity” or “gender expression.”
Differences include: the current Act includes the child’s cultural background in this list while the new Act includes the child’s cultural and linguistic heritage; the current Act includes the religious faith in which the child is being raised while the new Act includes the child’s race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, disability, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Campaign Life Coalition, warned that the new law does not just affect parents who are facing the risk of having their children seized by the state, it also affects parents who are looking to adopt.
“With the passage of Bill 89, we’ve entered an era of totalitarian power by the state, such as never witnessed before in Canada’s history,” Fonseca said. “Make no mistake, Bill 89 is a grave threat to Christians and all people of faith who have children, or who hope to grow their family through adoption.”
Another troubling aspect in the new Ontario law can be found in what the government determines to be the “least disruptive course of action.” With Bill 89, it argues for the use of “prevention services, early intervention services and community support services.”
The least disruptive course of action that is available and is appropriate in a particular case to help a child, including the provision of prevention services, early intervention services and community support services, should be considered.
In a press release on the new law, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services described the legislation as helping “children and youth across the province thrive and reach their full potential by strengthening and modernizing child, youth and family services.” It noted that the law will put “a greater focus on early intervention, to help prevent children and families from reaching crisis situations at home.”
John Sikkema, a lawyer with the Association for Reformed Political Action in Canada, criticized the bill’s clause, and said that it could do more harm than good to a child when applied.
“You can imagine a situation where, say, a child’s teacher suspects that a child is gender questioning or something and they’re not being supported in that,” Sikkema said, noting that the teacher would then “actually have a duty to report certain things to a Children’s Aid Society who would look into it further.”
As The Free Thought Project has reported on multiple occasions, the United States has its own share of problems with Child Protective Services seizing children from families whose beliefs don’t align with the state.
However, the idea of basing a child’s safety in a home off of his/her “gender identity” sets a troubling precedent in the province of Ontario, and takes legal government invasion in the home to a new level.
Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. This article first appeared here at The Free Thought Project.
(JTA) — On a recent Sunday, eight far-right activists filmed themselves on what they called a “raid” on the Aurora Jewish community center in Budapest.
Sporting crewcuts and black clothes, the men affixed posters with a crossed-out picture of the Hungary-born Jewish American billionaire George Soros to the entrance of the building, which along with having a Masorti, or Conservative, synagogue, also serves as the headquarters for a gay rights group, a Roma advocacy lobby, a hotline for immigrants and several other nongovernmental organizations with liberal agendas.
The activists then spray-painted the words “Stop Operation Soros” on the sidewalk opposite Aurora’s front door.
“Time permitting, we will say hello again,” read an article published about the action on May 2 on the website of the ultranationalist Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement. The menacing article did not mention Jews, but did note the Roma and gay rights activity at Aurora, which it falsely claimed is financed by Soros.
To Adam Schonberger, a Hungarian Jew who runs Aurora, the raid was an anti-Semitic attack arising from a campaign that is being led in billboards, television ads and speeches by Hungary’s right-wing government against Soros. In recent months Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is critical of the European Union’s federalist and progressive agendas, has flagged as “dangerous” Soros’ promotion of those plans by funding grassroots activism and some higher education frameworks in Hungary.
Occurring in a conservative society that is still struggling with the complicity of its wartime governments in the murder of nearly half a million Jews during the Holocaust, the campaign against a Jewish billionaire has prompted warnings that Orban’s crusade against Soros is anti-Semitic. Earlier this month Frans Timmermans, a senior EU official, suggested that the Hungarian government is channeling anti-Semitic sentiment to delegitimize a powerful critic of its nationalist policies.
That view, however, is not shared by the main leaders of Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish community. In interviews with JTA, its leaders rejected allegations that the government is using anti-Semitic dog whistles consciously. At the same time, they warned that the campaign against Soros may embolden anti-Semites regardless of the government’s intentions.
“Orban is not anti-Semitic. His government is not anti-Semitic,” said Rabbi Zoltan Radnoti, the chairman of the rabbinical council of the Mazsihisz Jewish umbrella group in Hungary. “I believe that Soros was selected as a target because he is a progressive billionaire regardless of the fact that he’s Jewish.”
Yet Orban failed to stop the anti-Soros campaign even after it appeared that the rhetoric “may have a possible anti-Semitic interpretation,” Radnoti added, saying the prime minister “should have known that this campaign of hatred and scapegoating would increase anti-Semitic feelings.”
Soros, an 86-year-old banking and investment magnate who survived the Holocaust in hiding in Budapest, is not particularly known for funding Jewish causes in Hungary — or anywhere else.
In Hungary, Soros has given away approximately $400 million since the early 1990s — part of a $12 billion expenditure, according to the Open Society Foundations, which is Soros’ network of organizations throughout Eastern and Central Europe. Much of the money has gone to supporting progressive causes, including the promotion of minorities and multiculturalism. But other programs offered tuition to needy students – including Orban, who studied at Oxford in 1989 on a scholarship provided by a Soros-funded organization.
Soros is best known in Hungary for opening the Central European University, which he founded in 1991. Orban’s government is promoting legislation that could lead to its closure.
The conflict between Soros and Orban, who have long tried to avoid a collision, escalated in 2015 when the prime minister clashed publicly with leaders of the European Union over Hungary’s refusal to take or let in hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including refugees, from the war-torn Middle East.
Under attack from Brussels over the migrant crisis, as well as his crackdown on foreign funding from Norway and beyond for Hungarian nongovernmental organizations, Orban lashed out at Soros, accusing him of trying to flood Europe with foreigners. Soros hit back with a defiant statement that won him some acclaim, but also deepened resentment toward him on a continent where Muslim immigration and extremism is leading far-right parties to unprecedented gains.
“Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle,” Soros said.
Upping the ante, Orban gave a speech last month at the European Parliament calling Soros a “financial speculator” who is now “attacking Hungary and who — despite ruining the lives of millions of European people with his financial speculations” is nonetheless “received by the EU’s top leaders.” The scathing rhetoric was followed by the appearance in Hungary of posters demonizing Soros, which are widely believed to be printed and distributed by nationalists with the government’s blessing.
And that’s a problem, according to Radnoti, because it risks awakening anti-Semitic sentiments that Radnoti believes Orban neither shares nor seeks to embolden.
“The problem is not that Soros was selected as a public enemy because he is Jewish,” Radnoti said. “The problem is that in a country like Hungary, which has a xenophobia and anti-Semitism problem, the government should have known better than to take someone who happens to be Jewish and make him a public enemy over his globalist politics. It’s not anti-Semitic, it’s just irresponsible.”
Compared to the Hungarian Jewish leaders, Timmermans went too far, said Janos Gado, an editor of the Hungarian Jewish monthly Szombat.
“The leftist, Social Democrat EU politicians are failing to understand the nature of the new right wing to which Orban belongs,” he said. “It’s not dictatorial, it’s authoritarian. It’s not racist, but it is illiberal. So they refer to it in anti-fascist terminology that frankly does not apply to the situation.”
Notwithstanding, Soros has inspired much anti-Semitic rhetoric in Hungary and beyond. In Poland, a far-right nationalist at an anti-immigration rally in Poland set fire to an effigy of an Orthodox Jew that he later said represented Soros. And in March, the American radio host Alex Jones, a Donald Trump supporter, ranted about “the Jewish mafia” that he said was run by Soros.
But Hungary has not seen any significant increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric or incidents since the escalation of the fight between Orban and Soros, according to Daniel Bodnar, chairman of the board of the TEV watchdog on anti-Semitism in the country. The group’s annual report, which was published this month, noted surveys suggesting hostility toward Jews has not increased this year.
“The government’s motivations are definitely not anti-Semitc,” Slomo Koves, the leader of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH Jewish group, told JTA. “So when Jewish community leaders inject themselves into the debate about Soros, they are in a sense appropriating his politics and associating them with the Jewish community. Not only is this a misrepresentation of the spectrum of opinions held by Hungarian Jews, it is also a dangerous game.”
While many Hungarian Jews who support liberal causes view Soros favorably, other Hungarian Jews take issue with some of his positions and actions – including his funding for groups seen as anti-Israel.
In addition to funding Israel-based organizations critical of their country’s policies — notably Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem — Soros’ Open Society Foundations have donated millions of dollars to groups that NGO Monitor, a right-leaning group in Israel, calls anti-Israel. They include Al-Haq and Al Mezan, Palestinian groups that promote boycotts against Israel.
Hungarian Jews were widely critical when Soros’ Central European University extended an invitation in 2015 to Joseph Massad, a Palestinian academic from Columbia University who has said Israel does not have a right to exist as a Jewish state.
“It was absolutely scandalous,” said Laszlo Seres, a Jewish journalist for the Heti Világgazdaság who has written critically about Soros, calling him a “self-hating Jew.”
(In 1995, Soros wrote that “I am proud of being a Jew,” but added that in the past he had “suffered from the low self-esteem that is the bane of the assimilationist Jew.”)
Yet even Soros’ Jewish critics feel uncomfortable in the face of the government-led campaign against him, Seres said.
“First of all, Soros despite all the problems connected to the man has donated to a lot of worthy causes in Hungary,” Seres told JTA. ”And the government’s hysteria around him, well, it’s ugly and counterproductive. It makes it very difficult to criticize him.”
Mats Järlström noticed a flaw in the mathematical formula used to regulate the timing of traffic lights.
His interest was sparked back in 2013, after his wife received a red light camera ticket after driving through the intersection of Allen Boulevard and Lombard Avenue in Beaverton, Oregon. Mats explored how yellow lights are timed. He began writing and speaking publicly about how red light cameras misuse the standard mathematical formula for timing traffic lights, which leads to unsafe driving conditions and unfair tickets when drivers slow down to turn.
People wanted to hear Mats’s ideas. Local news outlets covered his story, and he shared his research at a national conference of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
Mats observed a problem – one that was costing drivers a bundle (his wife was fined $260 for her ticket) and set out to fix it.
Trying to improve driving conditions – while saving drivers money – is something most reasonable people would find honorable.
People, excepting the “authorities” in Oregon – who did not appreciate Mats’s ideas at all.
The problem of traffic light cameras being flawed (in favor of the State, of course) is not new. According to DrivingLaws.org: “In some cases, it has been discovered that municipalities have deliberately shortened the duration of yellow lights in order to increase the odds of running the light (and ratcheting up the town’s traffic enforcement revenue).”
Back in 2014, a local news article referred to Beaverton as “TicketTown”, calling police in the area “ticket-writing royalty, the kings and queens of pulling drivers over in the area”.
One proven way to reduce accidents and improve red-light compliance is to actuate the yellow light sooner and leave it on a little longer. Drivers have more time to notice and react to the yellow light, and most will stop for it. This is not news. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been recommending this technique for decades.
However, if you’re thinking that cities with red-light camera contracts have followed the DOT’s guidelines to reduce accidents and increase compliance, think again. The contracts in place with red-light camera providers often specify maximum yellow light times, and impose financial penalties if the city lengthens the yellow period.
In fact, a 2001 report issued by the Office of the Majority Leader in the United States House of Representatives showed that the typical yellow light time had been reduced by about 25 percent compared to the times prevailing in the mid-1970s.
Naturally, someone had to try to silence Mats and stop him from exposing and interfering with the city’s revenue-generating racket.
Because no good deed goes unpunished, Mats was fined $500 for the unlicensed practice of engineering. If he continued to “critique” traffic lights, he could face thousands of dollars in fines and up to one year in jail for the unlicensed practice of engineering.
Mats has filed a lawsuit against the board, with the help of the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that “litigates to limit the size and scope of government power and to ensure that all Americans have the right to control their own destinies as free and responsible members of society.”
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the state’s requirement that citizens must obtain an engineering license in order to publicly debate anything involving “engineering.”
His story has gotten quite a bit of coverage, including this local news feature:
Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, said of the case:
Criticizing the government’s engineering isn’t a crime; it’s a constitutional right. Under the First Amendment, you don’t need to be a licensed lawyer to write an article critical of a Supreme Court decision, you don’t need to be a licensed landscape architect to create a gardening blog, and you don’t need to be a licensed engineer to talk about traffic lights. Whether or not you use math, criticizing the government is a core constitutional right that cannot be hampered by onerous licensing requirements.”
People should be free to debate any topic, including technical topics like math and traffic lights. But I was fined simply for speaking out and was told that I can’t truthfully call myself an engineer. The board has not only silenced me, it has silenced many other people who want to talk about technical issues.”
If you are aware of how pervasive the police state is – how deeply entrenched it is, even at local levels – then this story may not surprise you very much.
And, you may not be surprised to hear that states don’t want anyone interfering with one of their prime revenue-collecting schemes.
But Mats’s case adds to a growing body of evidence that government’s attempts to suppress free speech (and silence those who attempt to expose corruption) are growing dangerously out of control by the day.
The White House said Thursday that it wants to see money for President Trump’s border wall included in the spending bill Congress must pass next week — a demand Democrats said sours negotiations and makes a government shutdown more likely.
The demands mark a reversal for the administration, which had been saying it found enough money to build prototypes this year and wouldn’t need a major infusion of cash until next year.
But White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that the wall and the money for more immigration agents are priorities.
“We know there are a lot of people on the Hill, especially in the Democratic Party, who don’t like the wall, but they lost the election. And the president should, I think, at least have the opportunity to fund one of his highest priorities in the first funding bill under his administration,” Mr. Mulvaney said.
The White House issued its demand just days after Democrats insisted that the spending bill include billions of dollars to prop up Obamacare. Democratic aides signaled that they wouldn’t accept a bill without the cost-sharing payments intended to keep insurers invested in the health care law.
With Mr. Mulvaney’s demand, both sides now appear to be entrenching.