Politics & Democracy

Vladimir Putin says liberalism is "obsolete"

In an interview with the Financial Times prior to leaving for the G20 summit in Japan this weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin said "the liberal idea” that has underpinned Western democracies for several decades had "outlived its purpose" as the public turned against immigration, open borders, and multiculturalism, calling these ideas "no longer tenable".

The four term President pointed to the waves of immigration from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East which had fostered crime and social strains, in turn fuelling an anti-establishment backlash in Europe, saying, "[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone," and that liberalism conflicted with "the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population."

He criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for allowing large numbers of refugees to settle in Germany as a “cardinal mistake” saying, "This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. That migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected."

President Putin said, “Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.” Likewise, President Putin praised United States President Donald Trump for trying to stop the flow of migrants and drugs coming through and from Mexico.

President Putin praised President Trump as a "talented person" who knew how to relate to voters. Regarding the US-China trade war and geopolitical tensions in the Gulf between the US and Iran, President Putin said the situation had become “explosive” and stem from American unilateralism and the lack of rules underpinning world order.

Despite a struggling economy, President Putin has sought to establish Russia as a counterweight to the liberal Western order. His remarks carry weight since the liberal order that was established in the wake of the World War Two is starting to crack apart. Western nations have experienced the failures of liberalism in a rapid succession of events over the last decade from an ongoing financial crisis, Brexit and the undemocratic nature of the European Union, the rise of China as a major economic force, and an American President who wants his nation to prioritize its own citizens.

President Putin said liberal governments had not acted to reassure citizens but instead pursued a mindless multiculturalism embracing, among other things, sexual diversity. “I am not trying to insult anyone because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia. But we have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish,” he said. “But some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles.” The President added, “Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.”

Facebook gives user data to French courts over ‘hate speech’

In the first instance of a social media company formally collaborating with governments, Facebook has agreed to hand over to judges the identification data of French users who are suspected of so-called ‘hate speech’ on its platform.

According to Parliamentary Undersecretary for Digital Affairs Cedric O, the decision by the world’s biggest social media network comes after successive meetings between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and French President Emmanuel Macron, who want to take a leading role globally on the regulation of hate speech and the spread of false information online. Last week, Undersecretary O met with Facebook’s head of global affairs, former Deputy Prime Minister for the United Kingdom Nick Clegg. In a following interview, Undersecretary O said, “This is huge news, it means that the judicial process will be able to run normally. It’s really very important, they’re only doing it for France.”

Prior to this, Facebook had cooperated with French justice on matters related to terrorist attacks and violent acts by transferring the IP addresses and other identification data of suspected individuals to French judges who formally demanded it.

Undersecretary O, whose father is South Korean, was formerly an aide to socialist Minister Dominique Strauss-Khan. He is one of President Macron’s earliest followers and has been influential in shaping the President’s thinking on Big Tech as an advisor at the Elysee in the first two years of Mr. Macron’s presidency. Since his appointment in March, Undersecretary O has made the fight against hate speech online a key priority through regular contacts with Facebook’s top executives, including founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Last year, the discussions began on how to best regulate tech giants with a meeting between Mr. Zuckerberg and President Macron, which was followed by a report on tech regulation last month that Facebook’s founder considered could be a blueprint for wider EU regulation.

France’s parliament, where President Macron’s governing party has a comfortable majority, is currently debating legislation that would give a new regulator the power to fine tech companies up to 4 percent of their global revenue if they don’t do enough to remove hateful content from their network.

Undersecretary O also supports French startups being bought by larger American companies, saying, “My only goal is to spur the creation of a lot of companies. I have no problem with the fact that some of them are bought by U.S. companies, as long as they don’t have critical technology.” Undersecretary O is against the idea of breaking up Big Tech monopolies of companies such as Facebook or Google, whose size, weight on the Internet, and financial firepower have turned them into systemic players just as much as big banks.

Sonia Cisse, a counsel at law firm Linklaters, said, “It is a strong signal in terms of regulation. Hate speech is no longer considered part of freedom of speech, it’s now on the same level as terrorism.” With Facebook’s latest move, France is now a clear frontrunner in the quest to regulate big social media outlets, and other platforms might follow suite, Ms. Cisse said.

YouTube now censors political parties, starting with Spain’s Vox

In Spain’s national election in April, the new nationalist Vox Party (translated, ‘vox’ means ‘voice’) earned record gains and YouTube's parent company Google noted search enquires for Vox were three times higher than searches for the both left wing Socialists and Popular Party. In its latest purge this week, YouTube deleted the Spanish Vox Party’s entire channel as the Google-owned platform continues to target and censor right-leaning and conservative political content.

Vox demanded an explanation YouTube as to why their account has been closed or suspended without any explanation. The party tweeted, “The decision to remove the channel is a serious attack on the freedom of expression and dissemination of a political party.”

Later, they tweeted, “The three people who have denounced us are left-wing activists… We have found that other political parties and progressive channels use the same audiovisual resources without being denounced for it.

In another tweet, Vox said, “We call on these platforms, who claim to fight online abuse, to pursue groups of progressive trolls who report in an organized manner and for ideological reasons to all those accounts that do not conform to their unique thinking.

The Vox party later used the blacklisting to accuse YouTube of bowing to the demands of left-wing activists, saying, “We take advantage of this fact to show our outrage at the arbitrary actions of Twitter, Facebook and Google; hypersensitive to the requests of activists of totalitarian Marxism and the establishment. We show our support to all those who, like us, have been affected by these arbitrary actions by those responsible for these social networks in recent months.

Earlier this month, YouTube announced it was imposing a major crackdown on “hate speech”. Days before the election in April, Facebook removed numerous large pro-Vox pages which had a combined reach of millions at the request of Avaaz, a left-wing non-governmental organization (NGO) that is funded by George Soros.

In April’s general election, the Vox Party won 24 seats in the Spanish parliament, obtaining around 10 percent of the nationwide vote, as well as three MEP’s in May’s European Parliamentary Elections.

UK comedian ‘jokes’ about throwing battery acid instead of milkshakes on opponents

On an episode of the BBC’s Heresy, British comedian Jo Brand said, “Certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate. And I’m kind of thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?” She added, “That’s just me. I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy. But I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry.” Ofcom said it had received 19 complaints, as well as the Metropolitan Police about the BBC Radio 4 comedy programme, which has resulted in an investigation being launched.

The BBC defended Ms. Brand’s comments on their panel show, which "challenges established ideas and questions received wisdom", in an episode dedicated to subject of Brexit and the trend of 'milkshaking' politicians such as Nigel Farage. Mr. Farage, Tommy Robinson, a UKIP candidate, and even a war veteran at a polling station had milkshakes thrown over them by protesters leading up to the recent European Parliament elections.

The live audience for Tuesday night’s show reacted with laughter. The host, Victoria Coren Mitchell, said at the end of the broadcast that Heresy was a series set up “to test the boundaries of what it’s ok to say and not say”. A BBC spokesman said: “Heresy is a long-running comedy programme where, as the title implies and as our listeners know, panellists often say things which are deliberately provocative and go against societal norms but are not intended to be taken seriously.”

Mr. Farage was not impressed with Ms. Brand’s comments, tweeting, “This is incitement of violence and the police need to act” and “This is way above any norms of free speech - it is appalling and the fact that the BBC spends £177 million a year on light entertainment and comedy… this was a pre-recorded programme which they still chose to put out.” He described the comments as “completely and utterly disgusting. Can you imagine if I was to tell a story like that, about somebody on the other side of me, an Anna Soubry or someone like that? I reckon the police would knock on my door within 10 minutes. I think it’s appalling.”

In response, Ms. Coren Mitchell replied, “Nigel! I’m genuinely disappointed. We don’t agree on everything, but I would totally have had you down as a free speech man. Especially when it comes to jokes,” and added that “all people should be free to make jokes about anything.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the BBC to explain why it had approved the joke for broadcast, suggesting that it “normalised” violence against politicians, as in the case of Labour MP Jo Cox ‘s murder. There is an increasingly hostile environment for politicians requiring the need for bodyguards, when until recently the only politicians in Britain who required a security detail were the Prime Minister and Home Secretary. Mr. Farage has required private bodyguards for at least five years, which says something about the climate of intolerance that he faces.

For several years comedians have refused to have shows for fear of their retribution, pointing to the violent behaviour on college campuses. The far-left have set the standards for what is acceptable to say and think and who receives punishment by way of censorship and harassment. In the case of Ms. Brand’s comments, the tables are turning on them in their own game.

No charges for Julian Assange over CIA WikiLeaks

The United States Justice Department has decided not to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Espionage Act charges for his role in exposing some of the CIA’s most secret spying tools. WikiLeaks was responsible for publishing one of the CIA’s most potent arsenals of digital code used to hack devices, called Vault 7. The leak was one of the most devastating in CIA history and both essentially rendered those tools useless for the CIA and gave foreign spies and rogue hackers access to them.

Following the recent decision by the Ecuadorian embassy in London to hand over Mr. Assange to the authorities, for whom there was an arrest warrant for by the US government, prosecutors’ aggressively set upon the WikiLeaks founder on controversial Espionage Act charges. Some legal experts said these charges would not hold up in court.

There were two central factors preventing prosecutors from pursuing the charges against Mr. Assange. The government is running out of time to extradite him to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he is being held. Extradition laws require the US to bring any additional charges against Mr. Assange within 60 days of the first indictment, which prosecutors filed in March, accusing him of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning hack into military computers. Prosecutors were also worried about the sensitivity of the Vault 7 materials and legal experts said broaching such a classified subject in court risks exposing even more CIA secrets. The CIA has never officially confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents, even though analysts widely believe them to be authentic. The Justice Department will instead pursue charges against Mr. Assange on one count for allegedly assisting Ms. Manning and the 17-count Espionage Act indictment. Ms. Manning is in jail over her refusal to testify before a grand jury in the Assange case. Her lawyers have argued that if the Justice Department does not intend to bring further charges against Mr. Assange, the previous need for her testimony should be rendered moot.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for national security at the Justice Department until 2017 Mary McCord said, “There is no question that there are leak cases that can’t be prosecuted against the leaker or the leakee because the information is so sensitive that, for your proof at trial, you would have to confirm it is authentic. So, the irony, often, is that the higher the classification of the leaked material, the harder it is to prosecute.

Press freedom activists have warned that charges against Mr. Assange could criminalize everyday journalistic behavior, such as soliciting sensitive information from government sources. Federal officials insist they have a strong case, arguing that Mr. Assange is not a journalist and intentionally published the names of confidential sources in war zones over the objections of national security officials.

WW2 veterans commemorate 75th anniversary of D-Day

Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944, the largest ever seaborne invasion that made western Europe's liberation from Nazi Germany in the Second World War possible.

Leaders from every country that fought alongside the United Kingdom on D-Day joined Queen Elizabeth II in Portsmouth for the first day of the anniversary events. The Queen paid tribute to the "heroism, courage and sacrifice" of those who died to 300 veterans, who were then waved off on the cruise ship MV Boudicca as it headed to the Normandy commemorations.

On Thursday, the leaders of France, Britain, and the United States paid tribute to the sacrifice of the veterans and of those who died in the D-Day landings, drawing to a close two days of commemorations. Wreaths were laid, a minute's silence was held, and veterans linked arms and sang, before watching an RAF flypast.

D-Day was the largest combined land, air, and naval operation in history where 156,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy, France across five beaches. Approximately 7,000 ships and 10,000 vehicles comprised the landing that took the lives of 4,400 Allied men, 4,000 to 9,000 Nazi’s, and thousands of French civilians.

58,000 Americans landed on Utah and Omaha beaches, 54,000 British on Gold and Sword beaches, and 21,000 Canadians on Juno beach. The Kieffer commando, a group of 177 French "green berets", also landed on Sword Beach, integrating with the British Royal Marines. The airborne assault included 23,000 men (13,000 Americans and 10,000 British) who landed by parachute or glider in Normandy or on the Cotentin Peninsula. By comparison, the Nazi’s 7th army were outnumbered with 150,000 men spread throughout all of Normandy.

Almost 12,000 tonnes were bombed in one day. By the morning of June 7, there were 3,000 civilians dead in Normandy, by September 1944 the death toll had risen to 20,000, and 150,000 were forced to flee their homes.

Governments fall in Austria and Israel

In further fallout from the ‘Ibizagate’ scandal, the Austrian Parliament voted in favour of a measure proposed by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) to oust Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his Austrian People’s Party (OVP) in a vote of no-confidence. President Alexander Van der Bellen has appointed the current President of Austria’s constitutional court Brigitte Bierlein as interim Chancellor until the September election.

A poll last week showed most Austrians did not want to see Mr. Kurz removed from office. In European Parliament elections on Sunday, the FPO finished first in Austria with 35 percent, followed by the SPD at 24 percent, and the FPO at 18 percent. Despite stepping down as leader of the FPO, Heinz-Christian Strache also won his seat with 33,000 ‘preference votes’, in which the system enables voters to specify their preference for a candidate on a particular party list. It remains unclear whether Mr. Strache will accept his seat.

Mr. Strache has filed a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor's office in Vienna against "three persons identified as possible accomplices" involved in the leaked Ibiza video footage that forced him to resign. It is too early to tell whether the FPO will make gains in the September election, as there are unverified suspicions that Mr. Kurz or the OVP may have had knowledge or involvement in the Ibiza setup, which may impact voter decisions.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has failed to form a governing coalition by the deadline and on Wednesday the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and hold an election seven weeks after the last. This is the first time in 71 years of statehood that Israel has had to repeat an election due to a failure by the chosen party leader to form a government.

The new election will take place on September 17. Friction between Yisrael Beiteinu (YB) Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and the Hassidic faction of ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism (UTJ) prevented coalition government negotiations from being successful.

Mr. Lieberman submitted a draft bill last term that would require yeshiva students, who are currently exempt from Israel's otherwise mandatory conscription, to draft to the Israeli military. Mr. Lieberman's condition for joining the coalition was that the draft law pass as-is, whereas UTJ would not join if the law was not amended. PM Netanyahu failed to mediate between them before the deadline given to him by the president, making it impossible for him to form a coalition.

PM Netanyahu Likud party put forth a bill to dissolve the Knesset, whose passage enabled the government to circumvent the possibility of President Reuven Rivlin giving the mandate to form a government to a different candidate.

Switzerland refuses to sign EU treaty

Opposition from Switzerland’s four-party, seven-member Cabinet means the Swiss government will not sign a draft treaty with the European Union next month. For a decade, Brussels has sought to pull the economically rich and direct democracy nation into the EU and is applying increased pressure ahead of European Parliament elections. The rapid surge in support for nationalist parties that reject the loss of sovereignty EU membership entails will dominate the future direction of the bloc. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has urged the Swiss to do a deal while he is still in office, but this looks increasingly unlikely.

The treaty would require non-EU member Switzerland to routinely adopt EU single market rules and have EU citizens in Switzerland enjoy the same rights as in their home countries. It would open the possibility of new trade deals, such as for an electricity union combining Swiss and European utilities. The EU has ruled out renegotiating the treaty.

Opponents range from the nationalist Swiss People’s Party, which calls the treaty an unacceptable infringement of sovereignty, to the left-wing Social Democrats, who reject diluting Swiss rules that protect Europe’s highest wages from cross-border competition. Only Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis of the Liberal party actively supports the treaty, which has been negotiated over four years. A Swiss government spokesman said only that the cabinet discussed the situation regularly and would communicate its decision by summer.

The EU claims the lack of an agreement would risk ties with Switzerland, its biggest trading partner, and potentially disrupt trade and cross-border securities deals. The EU accounts for 60 percent of Switzerland’s foreign trade by volume, but the Swiss appear unconcerned and unwilling to be pushed around.

The Swiss Cabinet is currently focused on a domestic campaign to end the free movement of EU citizens in their country in a referendum next year. Though Switzerland is not part of the EU, it is part of the Schengen Zone. The referendum is considered to be Switzerland’s Brexit.

Unlike EU members states, Switzerland has 120 sectoral accords that govern their ties with the bloc, which would remain in place in the absence of a new treaty. The European Commission has threatened not to extend beyond mid-2019 the recognition of Swiss stock exchange rules that lets EU investors make trades there.

Bosnian War’s Serbian leader will spend the remainder of his life in prison for genocide and war crimes

In one of the last remaining cases from the break-up of Yugoslavia, judges in The Hague upheld the 2016 convictions against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide in the Srebrenica massacre and war crimes in the 1990s.

The 73-year-old Mr. Karadzic is already serving his 40-year prison sentence, which the judges upped to life imprisonment due to the "sheer scale and systematic cruelty" of his crimes, saying the original jail term did not reflect his role in the worst bloodshed in Europe since the Second World War.

Head judge Vagn Joensen said the judges at the original trial "underestimated the extreme gravity of Mr. Karadzic's responsibility for the gravest of crimes committed during the period of conflict, noted for their sheer scale and systematic cruelty" as he and the panel of appeals judges imposed the further sentence.

Appeals judges repeatedly dismissed Mr. Karadzic's claims that he was not aware of orders by Bosnian Serb forces to eliminate Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, and to indiscriminately target civilians in Sarajevo. They rejected his claims that he did not know a military directive he drafted and signed on the fate of Srebrenica called for Bosnian Serb forces to create an "unbearable situation with no hope of further survival" for inhabitants.

Mr. Karadzic was arrested in 2008 in Belgrade after nearly 13 years on the run during which he posed as a new age healer called Dragan Dabic. In 2016, Mr. Karadzic was found guilty on 10 counts including orchestrating a nearly four-year siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, where more than 10,000 people died in a campaign of sniping and shelling. He was also found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops slaughtered more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in eastern Bosnia, which was supposed to be under UN protection, and buried their bodies in mass graves. Prosecutors said Mr. Karadzic and others including his military alter-ego, former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, wanted to "permanently remove Muslims and Croats" from territory claimed by Bosnian Serbs at the time.

Mr. Karadzic's case still bitterly divides the country he helped drive to war, with widows of Srebrenica hoping he dies in prison even as Bosnian Serbs have honoured him with a university dorm in his name.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou sues Canada over arrest in her United States extradition case

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers have filed a notice of civil claim with British Columbia’s Supreme Court against members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP, and the federal government. It alleges "serious violations" of Ms. Meng constitutional rights, accusing officers of detaining and questioning her for three hours before notifying her of her arrest. The lawsuit also seeks damages for false imprisonment based on multiple alleged failures of government officials to comply with the rule of law upon her detention, search, and interrogation at the Vancouver airport on December 1.

The claim says, "This case concerns a deliberate and pre-meditated effort on the part of the defendant officers to obtain evidence and information from the plaintiff in a manner which they knew constituted serious violations of the plaintiff's rights." It alleges that RCMP officers and/or representatives from the United States Department of Justice arranged for Canadian border officials to delay the immediate execution of the arrest warrant "under the guise of a routine border check." The court document says that when Ms. Meng exited her plane at Vancouver airport, border officials checked each passenger's passport on the jetway and after identifying Ms. Meng, brought her to an inspection area.

The claim says border officers prohibited Ms. Meng from speaking with her travel companion or anyone else, including a lawyer, and the officers "did not promptly inform the plaintiff of the reason for her detention, afford her an opportunity to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay, or inform her of her right to do so under the charter.” Instead, they directed Ms. Meng to surrender all of her electronic devices and computers, as well as her passwords. The claim alleges officers opened and viewed contents on her devices and also searched her luggage.

Canada is proceeding with an extradition hearing for Ms. Meng following her December arrest at the request of the U.S., where she is wanted on fraud charges for allegedly misleading banks about the company's dealings with Iran. Last Friday, the Canadian Department of Justice gave the go-ahead for an extradition case against Ms. Meng, marking the formal start of the high-profile process that has put Canada in an uncomfortable position between the United States and China. The U.S. Department of Justice has laid out 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against Huawei and Ms. Meng, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said it is "utterly dissatisfied" with Friday's decision, calling the case "a political persecution against a Chinese high-tech enterprise." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly maintained Canada is simply following the rule of law.

In the latest move against Canada, the Government of China has put a stop to canola shipments from Winnipeg-based company Richardson International. According to Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, Canada shipped CAD $2.6 billion in canola product to China last year, and CAD $1.82 billion came from Saskatchewan. Minister of Agriculture David Merit said, “China is our number one customer of canola seed and we’re concerned about it.

China's foreign ministry claimed the reason it is blocking some imports of Canadian canola is due to fears of insect infestation. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China suspended canola imports from a Canadian company "in accordance with laws and regulations and international practice." The provincial government says it has offered to help the federal agriculture minister work to resolve the issue with China.

‘Caravan of Hope’ will illegally migrate 10,000 Syrians into Germany in March

Arab news channel Hadiabdullah.net is reporting that thousands of Syrians currently living in Turkey will move across the Turkish-Greek border headed for Germany in the middle of March, organized and funded by a group called "Caravan of Hope". The "Caravan of Hope" is coordinating its plans using the messenger app Telegram, on which Islamist terrorist organizations plan attacks, in addition to Messenger, a messaging app owned by Facebook.

Many Syrians are dissatisfied with the living conditions in Turkey and have been promised better in Germany. They now trust that international relief organizations and NGOs will ensure a smooth organization until the "caravan" has reached its destination. The migrants will leave Turkey in mid-March to travel altogether from Greece to Germany with the Caravan of Hope. Habiadullah writes that the migrants "seek a secure and stable life after the collapse of their country." It seems to be mainly Syrians who want to make the illegal crossing across the Turkish-Greek border. A caravan coordinator appealed to all organizations and humanitarian organizations operating in Turkey and abroad to help the refugees in Turkey reach the Greek mainland.

According to the "convoy coordinators", the number of registered migrants rises hourly and had 10,000 registrations by February 28. The NGOs have already pledged their help and say they are urgently needed for everyone to reach Europe safely. Whether this should be done by water, land, or air, the organizers deliberately leave open. Five days prior to the caravan setting out, the migrants and coordinators will all know the time and place of departure. From conversations in the Telegram chat, they insist this information should be kept secret from the public. Since anyone can register with the Telegram group, former groups have succeeded using fake accounts under Arabic names.

In 2016, the European Union signed a controversial deal with Turkey, brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara. The agreement aims to close the main route by which a million migrants and refugees poured across the Aegean Sea to Greece from 2015 to 2016 before marching north to Germany and Sweden. Under the pact, Ankara would take back all migrants and refugees, including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally across the sea. In return, the EU would take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with more money, early visa-free travel and faster progress in EU membership talks.

As public hostility grows towards Syrian refugees in Turkey, the authorities there have been accused of forcing Syrians back across the border. By United Nations estimates, Turkey is currently sheltering 3.6 million Syrians at a cost to the government of about €25 billion.

Ankara has avoided a strategy for integration of the Syrians for two main reasons: to encourage Syrians to return home as soon as possible, and it fears there would be a public backlash if it appeared to accept that the Syrians were staying permanently. There are many indications hostility towards the newcomers has been growing steadily for some time. Especially in cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – violence against refugees is increasingly common. Perceptions that Syrians represent competition for public services and employment continue to cause resentment. In one survey by the Center for American Progress, eighty percent of people thought Ankara was spending too much money on refugees.

Domestic pressure has forced President Erdogan to do a complete policy flip and now "Erdogan would like best to be rid of the refugees as fast as possible," according to Germany’s Der Spiegel's Istanbul correspondent, Maximilian Popp. The Turkish regime has simply closed a number of refugee camps ostensibly to save money, Maximilian Popp claims, while many Syrians are also being encouraged to return home voluntarily or coerced into signing statements saying they are returning of their own free will.

Whether deportations are real or only rumored, it is people smugglers who would benefit. The more Syrians are desperate to avoid being forcibly returned, the greater the demand for smugglers to help them get to Europe instead. This creates even more of a problem for Ankara, since under its agreement with the EU, Turkey is supposed to make sure no migrants enter the EU irregularly across its borders. For this, Europe gives billions in aid so that Turkey can support its refugees. The other problem for Turkey, if it is deporting Syrians, is that it would be breaking the law against refoulement by sending refugees back to war zones.

 

Einstein, Gandhi, and Dr. Gene Sharp: the Politics of Nonviolence

How can we hold our established democracies to account, and how can we ensure the change we want is long-lasting?

You’re likely familiar with the names Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, leaders who advocated for and led their movements by the philosophy of nonviolence. At least as equally deserving of widespread recognition is a man named Dr. Gene Sharp.

Dr. Sharp, who passed away in 2018 at the age of ninety, had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times during his career for articulating and advancing the cause of nonviolent action for change. His first book, Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power, was published in 1960 and included a Foreword by Albert Einstein, with whom Dr. Sharp corresponded with during his nine-month imprisonment in New York, having been arrested for civil disobedience against military conscription during the Korean War. Dr. Sharp’s books and publications on nonviolent struggle, power, political problems, liberation struggle, dictatorships, and defense policy have been published in over forty languages, most notably his 1973 three-volume The Politics of Nonviolent Action, a pragmatic political analysis of nonviolent action as a method for applying power in a conflict, and his 1993 handbook, From Dictatorship to Democracy, which has influenced resistance movements across the world.

In 1983, Dr. Sharp founded the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization that continues to support research and policy studies on strategic nonviolent action, and is committed to the defense of freedom, democracy, and the reduction of political violence through the use of nonviolent action. The Institution has consulted with resistance and pro-democracy groups across the world, from Asia to Eastern Europe to the Middle East. Dr. Sharp’s works are the ideological underpinning of the work for the Serbian-based nonviolent conflict training group, the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), which helped to train key activists in youth movements in the Eastern European color revolutions and the protest movement that toppled President Mubarak of Egypt in 2011.

Once people decide to be free, nothing can stop them.
— Desmond Tutu
Dr. Gene Sharp with Jamila Raqib, Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution

Dr. Gene Sharp with Jamila Raqib, Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution

How Nonviolent Action Works

It’s important for Millennials to have the tangible tools and tactics needed to design and execute our plans for lasting, positive change. When we understand how the game is played, we are equipped to rewrite the rules and change the game.

The following information are key highlights from Dr. Sharp’s book, How Nonviolent Struggle Works, to understand the dynamic between the grassroots and government.

In Dr. Sharp's view, all effective power structures have systems by which they encourage or extract obedience from the people they rule, and states, in particular, have complex systems for keeping people obedient. These complex systems include specific institutions, such as the police, courts, and regulatory bodies. They can also include cultural dimensions that inspire obedience by implying that power is monolithic, such as the dignity of a political office, or moral or ethical norms and taboos. Through these systems, people are presented with a system of sanctions, including imprisonment, fines, and ostracism, and rewards including titles, wealth, and fame, which influence the extent of their obedience.

Yet, a great strength can transmute into a great point of weakness in the face of contextual change. Dr. Sharp’s basic political assumption of nonviolent action is when people refuse to cooperate, withhold help or participation, and persist in their disobedience and defiance, they deny their opponents the basic human assistance and cooperation which any government or hierarchical system requires. When people do this in large enough numbers for a long enough period of time, that government or hierarchical system will no longer have power.

Where traditionally people have believed their options as either passive submission or violent action, Dr. Sharp presents a third alternative – struggle by means of nonviolent action, resting on the belief that the exercise of power depends on the consent of the ruled who, by withdrawing that consent, can control, and even destroy the power of their opponents.

Throughout his research, Dr. Sharp has observed the following demonstrable features of nonviolent action: as a technique, it occurs despite the absence of attention to the development of the technique itself; its practice is part spontaneous, part intuitive, and part vaguely patterned after a known case; it is usually practiced under highly unfavorable conditions; it is usually practiced with a lack of experienced leaders or participants; there are almost always no advance preparations, training, or consideration of strategy and tactics; and, its practitioners usually have little understanding of the technique or its history as there were no sources of information available to them to consult.

 

Why Nonviolence

A 2011 study by American researchers Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan found that out of 323 civil resistance campaigns around the world, between 1900 to 2006, 53 percent of nonviolent campaigns were successful, whereas only 26 percent of violent campaigns were. Of regime changes that resulted in a functioning democracy, 42 percent came from nonviolent campaigns, and only 4 percent from violent ones.

Opponents prefer violence. Resistance violence is seen to “legitimize” violent oppression. The opponents may provoke violence by very severe repression, or they may employ spies and agents provocateurs. If it is publicly revealed that the opponents have acted in these ways, the news could disastrously undermine some of their usual support and power position. Disciplined nonviolent resistance will help to expose any such agents.

The requirement that movement supporters maintain nonviolent discipline is rooted in the dynamics of the technique of nonviolent action. Without nonviolent behaviour, the opponents’ repression will not rebound to undermine their power through political jiu-jitsu and the mechanisms of change will not operate. Nonviolent behaviour is likely to contribute to achieving a variety of positive accomplishments. Four of these are: winning sympathy and support; reducing casualties; inducing disaffection and even mutiny of the opponents’ troops; and, attracting maximum participation in the nonviolent struggle.

The introduction of violence by resisters will reverse the process which produces strength in nonviolent action, and will increase the effectiveness of the opponents’ control measures. Violence by resisters shifts attention to the violence itself, away from the issues, and away from the courage of the resisters and the opponents’ own, usually much greater, violence. The introduction of violence into a nonviolent struggle movement may weaken nonviolent discipline, contribute to a shift to violence, and even lead to the collapse of the movement. The use of violence by the grievance group tends to unleash disproportionately severe repression by the opponents and to reverse any sympathy for the resisters which may be developing inside the opponents’ group. Success requires that only nonviolent “weapons” be used.

Understanding Political Power

 

Importance of power

  • Power is inherent in practically all social and political relationships.

  • Its control is the basic problem between political theory and political reality.

  • It is necessary to wield power in order to control the power of threatening adversaries.

  • Social power is the totality of all influences and pressures which can be used by and applied to groups of people, either to attempt to control the behaviour of others directly or indirectly, or to accomplish a group objective or group action.

  • Political power is that kind of social power which is wielded for political objectives, especially by governmental institutions or by people in opposition to or in support of such institutions. Political power this refers to total authority, influence, pressure, and coercion which may be applied to achieve or prevent the implementation of the wishes of the power-holder.

Nature of political power

  • The monolithic view of power sees people as dependent upon the goodwill, the decisions, and the support of their government or of any other hierarchical system. It perceives power as emanating from the few who stand at the pinnacle of command. It considers powers to be self-perpetuating, durable, not easily or quickly controlled or destroyed.

  • The social view of power sees governments or other systems to be dependent on the people’s goodwill, decisions, and support. It sees that power as continually rising from many parts of the society. It views political power as fragile, always dependent for its strength and existence upon a replenishment of its sources by the cooperation of a multitude of institutions and people – cooperation which may or may not continue. Therefore, political power can most efficiently be controlled at its sources.

  • Established democracies function on the premise of the social nature of power. Yet, in practice, elites and bureaucracies have entrenched their spectrums and silos of power to levels of reduced transparency and accountability. In all democratic nations, people power is decreasing, and monolithic power is increasing, most clearly demonstrated in the European Union. People in established democracies have fewer options and decreased ability to exercise social power.

Therefore, it’s important to discern what your opinion is of the role of government, and why the translation of this belief has created “left-wing” and “right-wing” politics. The political left favours greater government involvement, and the political right favours less. Libertarians favour managing the basics. Millennials favour the basics led by community consciousness.

Sources of political power

  • Authority, voluntarily accepted by the people and therefore is present without the imposition of sanctions.

  • Human resources, the number of people who obey them, cooperate with them, or provide them with assistance.

  • Skills, knowledge, and abilities of these people, in relation to the skills, knowledge, and abilities the opponent needs.

  • Intangible factors, the psychological and ideological habits and attitudes, and the presence or absence of a common faith, ideology, or sense of mission.

  • Material resources, the degree to which the opponent controls property, natural resources, financial resources, the economic system, communication, transportation, and so on, that helps determine the limits of their power.

  • Sanctions, the enforcement of obedience, which may be violent or not.

Why do people obey

 Obedience is the heart of political power, and all government is based upon consent. The explanation for why people obey are multiple, complex, and interrelated:

  • Habit

  • Fear of sanctions

  • Moral obligation

  • Self-interest

  • Psychological identification with rulers

  • Indifference

  • Absence of self-confidence

Freedom is not something which opponents “give” their subjects. It is something achieved in the interaction between society and government. Pacifism doesn’t work, for this reason, because freedom is dependent on this relationship, this interplay. Freedom requires action for its own existence. Without it, dictatorships, communist, and fascist governments take hold because of the default consent they’ve been allowed by the people.

Structure of resistance

Withdrawal of consent becomes politically significant, and the opponents’ will is thwarted, in proportion to the number of disobedient subjects and the degree of the opponents’ dependence upon them. The key question then becomes how to implement this insight into political power. While individual acts may at times be scarcely noticed, the defiance of organizations and institutions – churches, trade unions, business organizations, the bureaucracy, neighborhoods, villages, cities, regions, and the like – may be pivotal. The ability of the population to wield effective power and to control that of its opponents will be highly influenced by the condition of these non-state organizations and institutions. It is these “places” where power operates that provide the structural basis for the control of the opponents. Where these independent bodies are strong, the capacity to control the opponents will be strong. When these are weak, so will be the controls over the opponents’ power. It is through these bodies that people can collectively offer noncooperation and disobedience.

Divisions and policy confusion in Brazil’s new government

In his government’s first week, Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro faced divisions between his political and economic teams over plans to overhaul a messy tax code and costly pension system to bring a high budget deficit under control.

President Bolsonaro’s comments in interviews and Twitter posts have been at odds with senior aides, which has supposedly concerned investors who expected the government to arrive focused on a swift pension reform to shore up its finances before tackling an array of hot-button social issues and foreign policy proposals. President Bolsonaro told reporters he was increasing the tax on financial operations and cutting the highest income tax rate, prompting a quick denial from an undersecretary to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, with Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni later, saying the President was mistaken.

Investors had been pleased at the team of orthodox economists assembled by Minister Guedes, many of whom are fellow alumni of the University of Chicago’s free-market school of economics. Investors fear the government will turn first to the social issues dear to President Bolsonaro’s conservative electoral base, burning political capital needed for the unpopular pension reform.

Brazil's stock market has been one of the best performing in the world over the past six months, with the benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP climbing 25 percent as President Bolsonaro won election in October and appointed his market-friendly cabinet. Wednesday saw a record high for the Bovespa. “Optimism about the new Brazilian government is adding to the global scenario,” the President said on Twitter.

President Bolsonaro had proposed in an interview with the SBT television network that the new minimum retirement age would be 62 for men and 57 for women, higher than now but lower than ages proposed by the previous government. Investors read that as a sign that he could water down the bill written by the prior government to limit the political costs, easing passage through Congress but requiring further legislation down the road. Minister Guedes has said he favors a tougher proposal that may be politically difficult but would make a larger and more lasting impact on public debt, which has soared to 77 percent of gross domestic product.

The political and economic teams are at odds. There is a lack of cohesion and even coordination between President Bolsonaro’s closest aides,” said Leonardo Barreto, head of Brasilia-based political consultancy Factual. He also said Minister Guedes is taking an all-or-nothing approach to fiscal reforms, while Chief of Staff Lorenzoni has signaled he would make concessions to lawmakers to shore up political support. The contradictions highlight broader tensions in Bolsonaro’s government, which brings together statist former military officers, right-wing nationalists, the Chicago-trained economists, and Christian evangelicals, all of whom have different priorities within the coalition.

Free speech policies are now in effect at Ontario’s colleges and universities

Last August, after incidents on campuses across North America where speakers faced protests, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton told colleges and universities they needed to implement free-speech policies and have them in place for January 1, 2019.

Institutions will be monitored and have been told they could face funding cuts for failing to comply with principles outlined by the provincial government. These include ensuring that universities and colleges are "places for open discussion and free inquiry," that they "should not attempt to shield students from ideas or opinions that (those students) disagree with or find offensive;" and that "members of the university/college ... may not obstruct or interfere with the freedom of others to express their views."

Ontario has experienced protests and arrests since Wilfrid Laurier graduate student and teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd showed a video to her class of University of Toronto professor Dr. Jordan B. Peterson on TVO challenging federal legislation regarding gender-neutral pronouns that imposes restrictions on freedom of speech. Ms. Shepherd was unfairly disciplined by faculty and staff and recorded the meeting. She and Dr. Peterson are now suing Laurier University for defamation.

Of the new standard policy adopted in mid-December by all publicly-funded colleges, President of Colleges Ontario Linda Franklin said people on campus have to know there are "speakers that you may not like or who support your world view," and open dialogue is essential, adding, "We're committed to the open discussion of diverse ideas and respecting everyone's rights to express their opinions." The University of Toronto has a free-speech policy that has been in place for more than twenty-five years. Queens University in Kingston approved its new policies so December 18, stating that the "failure to explore or confront ideas with which we disagree through disciplined and respectful dialogue, debate, and argument, does society a disservice, weakens our intellectual integrity, and threatens the very core of the university."

Minister Fullterton said the government is "constantly" hearing that free speech is being stifled on Ontario campuses, adding "We heard that from students, we heard that from faculty — it was a message that we heard consistently during the campaign and after. So we know [it was an issue]." She continued, "I think what (the free speech policy) will do is create some certainly around expectations, and we want to make sure that there's an environment of respect, of open debate, respectful dialogue and that's really the foundation. We don't want to see hate speech — we will not tolerate hate speech — that is not permitted. Anything that is against the law already, there will be repercussions."

“Islamic Party of Ontario” registers with Elections Ontario

Many argue Islam, based on the Qur’an, is incompatible with democracy, and the increase in migration from Muslim countries to the West alongside the introduction of Islamic political parties intent on furthering Sharia law has increased anxiety and fears for the future of Western civilizations.

In 1974, Algerian dictator Houari Boumédiène said in his speech to the United Nations (U.N.): “One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.”

Representing three elected members with intentions to run in the 2019 spring European Union elections, Islam Party of Belgium President Abdelhay Bakkali Tahiri said, “We have every right to impose sharia here in Belgium, in the way we want.” Now, following Belgium and several other Western countries that have allowed Islamic political parties, Canada’s Elections Ontario has officially reserved the name of The Islamic Party of Ontario, the first step toward full registration as a political party. The Islamic Party of Ontario plans to run in the next Ontario provincial election.

 

Warnings for Democracy

Nonie Darwish, author of Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, is a former Muslim who became a Christian after moving to the United States from 30 years living under Sharia law in Egypt. Ms. Darwish says Muslims in Arab countries as well as some born and bred in the West are aggressively pushing to impose Sharia law, or Islamic law, in Western countries. While most of her book is devoted to explaining the tenets of Sharia, Darwish is clear from the beginning that she wrote the book to warn Western nations, especially the United States, about the threat of Islamic law. "The West must unequivocally declare that Sharia is totally incompatible with democracy and human rights and that it is 'cruel and unusual punishment,'" says Ms. Darwish.

In the West, Canada allowed Sharia family arbitration from 1991 to 2006, and Great Britain allows it on a limited scale. She says the "West must never allow even limited Sharia marriage and family laws to be practiced in any Western democracy, simply because it is against basic principles of human rights and equality between the sexes. Sharia strips a woman of her God-given right to be a human being,” adding, "Bringing such laws to the West will be the beginning of the end of true Western democracy."

At a campus debate, when confronted with explanations from Sharia supporters that all Muslim countries have failed to be a true Sharia state and that the United States could be the first country to properly apply the law as Allah intended, Ms. Darwish explains, "Muslims are often unhappy with their Muslim countries of origin, but instead of looking within to make them better, they want to force an 'ideal' Muslim state on other civilizations, especially those that are unsuspecting and peaceful." She says the "most troublesome" problem with terrorism is not as much the terrorists attacking from the outside, but more so "the attack on democracy from within. They have lived in Western democracies most of all their lives and have developed a disconnect from the reality of life under Islamic Sharia."

It is true, however, that the majority of Muslims in the world are not violent and would not want to live under Sharia, Ms. Darwish writes, that most Muslims are moderate and practice the ritualistic side of Islam and "barely know what is in their scriptures" however “The West has been warned of the Islamist intentions, but so far it is in denial, relying on the hope that Islam will eventually reform."

Criminalizing Debate in Canada

In 2018, the Canadian government’s Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Iqra Khalid’s proposed “Motion M-103, Systemic racism and religious discrimination,” a so called “anti-Islamophobia motion,” to curtail public criticism of Islam and stifle free speech debates about Canadian society.

The term “Islamophobia” was introduced about a decade ago, originally to denounce the harassment and inconveniences average Muslims faced in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. However, Islamophobia soon morphed into a catch-all phrase to silence rational critics of political Islam including denouncing extremism, Sharia law, or terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

As for “racism and religious discrimination”, M-103 singles out Islamophobia by but fails to mention, for example, anti-Semitism. It calls on the Heritage Committee to commence a study on eliminating Islamophobia, which could then recommend laws. If they do, based on the Motion’s goals, it’s likely these laws will criminalize anyone who speaks critically about orthodox Islam.

The Islamic Party of Ontario’s Guiding Principles

Jawed Anwar, the founder of the Islamic Party of Ontario, is operating his new party out of Thorncliffe, a neighborhood in Toronto, which is the same neighborhood where Faisal Hussein, the ISIS terrorist who opened fire and killed two people and injured 13 more, was living and became radicalized

On December 8, 2018 The Islamic Party of Ontario published their constitution and party principles on their website, which are solely based in Islamic teachings. Denying that Islam is a religion but rather “the only way to attain peace and justice and provides laws without any prejudice”, The Islamic Party of Ontario claims Islam to be the native religion of Canada and that because the Canadian Constitution recognizes the “supremacy of God” all laws in Canada must be in accordance with the Islamic faith. Their party principles state that “to achieve the objective [IPO policies], the Islamic Party of Ontario will follow the peaceful and democratic means provided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.”

Most of The Islamic Party of Ontario party policies outlined on their website go against Canada’s Judeo-Christian foundational social culture, legal tradition rooted in English Common Law, democratic political system, and capitalist economic system.

Notably:

  • We understand and believe that Islam is the native DEEN of Ontario and Canada."

  • Islamic Party of Ontario sets its policy of governance, economy, social justice, human dignity, healthcare, family life, environment, and justice, etc. according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.”

  • Islamic Party of Ontario believes in the rights and freedoms of all faith and religious beliefs to practice their faith in their private lives, and the establishment of places of worship with full protection of life, wealth, and dignity.”

  • The last principle is a moot point within context of: “All the books were revealed: Vedas (oldest scripture after the flood that destroyed whole world except Noah and his followers) probably revealed to Noah, Tawrāt (or Torah) revealed to Moses, Zabūr (or Book of Psalms) revealed to Daud, Injil (or Gospel), revealed to Jesus, and finally Qur’an, revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon all of them) are from the same source, Allah (God) … All other Books of God are now obsolete after the final revelation of God, the Quran.” (emphasis added)

  • To achieve the objective, Islamic Party of Ontario will follow the peaceful and democratic means provided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

  • The relationship established under a marriage contract is a sacred union between a man and a woman. God made Adam and Eve –not Adam and Steve.

  • Interest-free capital and worker partnership economy; neither capitalism nor communism.”

  • Freedom of the individual, including freedom of speech, religious practices, worship, and assembly.

Once the Islamic Party of Ontario is registered as a political party, they will be able to receive contributions and issue tax receipts, finance the party’s political activities in a campaign period, be reimbursed for campaign expenses, have constituency associations and candidates.

Controversial Policy Highlights

Social

  • “Marriage is a sacred union between a man and woman. The birth of babies of next generation and survival of human species depends on this institution. Majority of Ontarians and Canadians living as single moms and dads are affecting the sound healthy growth of children. If the situation continues, this society will rely hundred percent on immigrants and from the nations where the traditional family system is protected. The Canadian family system and marriage institution must be restored for the survival of coming generations.”

  • “The sexual relationship is only between men and women. This relationship should be protected with a marriage contract by clearly defining rights and responsibilities of both man and woman. They must have to take responsibility for family care and children nourishment. The government should be supportive of this responsible family. They should be given privilege and affordable housing for healthy living and nourishment.”

  •   “Allah has created two genders: men and women. Any physical defect in any organ of a person doesn’t change one’s gender identification and sexual orientation. All the communities of all the faiths believe in it; modern science proves it. The concept of “gender identity” or “seven-colour gender” is a false concept.”

  • “The relationship established under a marriage contract is a sacred union between a man and a woman. God made Adam and Eve –not Adam and Steve.”

  • “No artificial and irresponsible approach to stop the birth of children at any stage should be allowed. We believe in a complete ban on abortion except in a situation when a mother’s life is in danger.”

  • “Measures should be taken to stop suicide, including doctor-assisted suicide of patients. All life is precious and trust of God. No one has the right to take his own or another’s life due to depression or disease. It is only God who gives life and can take back the life whenever He wants.”

  • “Obscenity, vulgarity, nudity, and perversion must be checked.”

  • “Liquor, drugs, adultery, gambling, etc. should be banned in society.”

Education

  • “The experience and surveys show that “boy only” and “girl only” schools produce much better results. We will support a gradual transition from co-education to gender-specific schools.”

  • “Government funding to all faith-based schools with the freedom of conscience and religion (guaranteed by Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom) must be granted.”

Economy

  • A just economic system; neither capitalism nor communism.”

  • “In a just society, it is not possible that one section of the society is super rich and other section of the society is super poor. Please check Qur’anic principles of spending: sadqah (charity), and interest-free economy.”

  • “Interest-free economy: Interest is the main source of exploitation. It sucks the blood of the poor (labor, worker) to establish a class of super-rich. Islamic economy facilitates to balance it and provides a culture of charity and human brotherhood and sisterhood. A person who has more than his/her needs will be encouraged to give to others to develop private businesses. If a person is not ready to give, then he or she should share (justifiable) in profit and loss but should never lend money on interest.”

  • “Recession and slowing in the economy will only be avoided in an interest-free economy and capital-worker partnership finances, where circulation of money will never be stopped.”

  • “The finances of businesses and banks will be managed with labour-capitol partnership and share in profit.”

  • “Ontario is the second largest province in area in Canada, and Canada is the second largest country in area in the world. It has vast unused land. Despite this fact, the majority of people don’t have their own homes. Laws should be made to break the chain of controls that maximize the price of the home.”

Justice & Rights

  •  “Justice is not just crime and punishment. It includes the protection of life, property, dignity, and places of worship of all religious faiths and non-faith.”

  • “Democratic and human rights of a person in his individual life will be protected unless it transgresses the rights of life, property, and dignity of others.”

  • “A strict law will be suggested to ban blasphemy of any religious (all) symbols and personalities.”

Environment

  • “The rights of animals are to be maintained. These include the right for wildlife to live in a natural, unpolluted environment, and the right to be free from trophy hunting and other “sports” hunting that exploit the animals for vain reasons. Food animals have the right to be maintained in natural, humane, and ethical conditions (Arabic tayyib) instead of cruel factory farms. They have the right to be slaughtered in the halal fashion, which causes less trauma to an animal than the massive horror of cruel mass-slaughtering houses, and which causes an animal to faint and then bleed out in a matter of seconds. All animals –whether pets, wildlife, or food animals— have the right to live without abuse and exploitation.” (emphasis added)

Energy

  •  “Choose a path to achieve 100% renewable energy in Ontario.”

Read the full Policy Document on The Islamic Party of Ontario’s website

Malaysia's King abdicates after two years on throne following his wedding

Malaysia’s 49-year-old King Muhammad V abdicated on Sunday after two years on the throne, the National Palace said in a statement, with the resignation taking effect immediately. This marks the first time in Malaysian history that a monarch has stood down since the country gained independence from Great Britain in 1957, and no reason was given. Following two months of medical leave, the King had resumed his duties for less than a week before his resignation.

Images seemingly show the King getting married in Russia to a former Russian beauty queen, 24-year-old Oksana Voevodina, in photos that appeared on social media in December 2018. The palace did not respond to requests for comment on the photos or reports of a marriage. Photographs show a smiling Ms. Voevodina sitting next to King Muhammad in a white wedding dress, while he is clad in national robes. She is said to have converted to Islam in April of last year and has told friends:  "I think that the man must be the head of the family and of course shall not earn less than a woman."

The New Straits Times reported there had been tensions between the palace and the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who led the opposition to an election win in May. PM Mahathir, known for challenging royalty during his past 22-year tenure, said in a blog post last week that everyone “from the Rulers to the Prime Minister and Ministers, to the civil servants and ordinary citizens” are subject to the law but did not elaborate.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and the king assumes a largely ceremonial role, including as the custodian of Islam in the Muslim-majority country. However, the king’s assent is needed before the appointment of a prime minister or senior public officials. Malaysia has nine royal households, who typically take turns to sit on the throne, and the selection of the next king is decided by a vote in the Council of Rulers, made up of all nine royal households.

The palace did not indicate when the Islamic rulers would meet to pick the next king; during the King’s leave of absence, the ruler of western Perak state had been carrying out his duties. Portraits of the King and Queen adorn government buildings throughout the country. The King is also the symbolic head of Islam in the nation, as well as chief of the military.

President Trump’s new strategy to improve U.S. - Africa relations

United States (U.S.) National Security Adviser John Bolton presented the Trump administration’s new Africa strategy last week at The Heritage Foundation. The strategy focused on three priorities:

  1. Enhancing U.S. trade and commercial ties with African nations through arrangements that benefit both the United States and Africa. According to Mr. Bolton, “We want our economic partners in the region to thrive, prosper, and control their own destinies. In America’s economic dealings, we ask only for reciprocity, never for subservience.”

  2. Countering the threat of Islamic terrorism. Specifically, Mr. Bolton announced, “ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates all operate and recruit on the African continent, plotting attacks against American citizens and targets. Any sound U.S. strategy toward Africa must address this serious threat in a comprehensive way.”

  3. Ensuring that the U.S. allocates its foreign assistance efficiently and effectively to advance U.S. interests. In particular, Mr. Bolton emphasized, “The United States will no longer provide indiscriminate assistance across the entire continent, without focus or prioritization. And, we will no longer support unproductive, unsuccessful, and unaccountable U.N. peacekeeping missions.”

With the strategy announcement, the Trump administration demonstrates its recognition that development is far less dependent on foreign assistance than it is on the willingness of African governments to adopt market and investment – friendly policies. The Trump administration wishes to “pursue modern, comprehensive trade agreements on the continent that ensure fair and reciprocal exchange between the United States and the nations of Africa.”

Analysts at the Heritage Foundation have strongly urged the U.S. to focus on and counter Islamic extremism in Algeria, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, and other countries in the region, which the administration focuses on as part of its strategy for the region. Mr. Bolton also said, “The predatory practices pursued by China and Russia stunt economic growth in Africa; threaten the financial independence of African nations; inhibit opportunities for U.S. investment; interfere with U.S. military operations; and pose a significant threat to U.S. national security interests.”

The Trump administration’s new foreign assistance strategy will improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid, which requires an overhaul of America’s foreign assistance programs that are, in the words of Mr. Bolton, “designed to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War” and “fight terrorism after 9/11” rather than on today’s priorities. In particular, U.S. foreign assistance will “move recipient states toward self-reliance, and prevent long-term dependency” with less needy recipients graduated from foreign assistance and reductions in aid to countries “making poor policy decisions.” U.S. aid will “target resources toward areas where we have the most impact to ensure efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

In line with the strategy’s emphasis on the responsible use of taxpayer money, Mr. Bolton criticized the kleptocratic and violent South Sudanese regime that has misused American aid and expressed skepticism that the same leaders who led that country into war can lead it to peace. “Countries that repeatedly vote against the United States in international forums, or take action counter to U.S. interests, should not receive generous American foreign aid,” said Mr. Bolton. He also underscored the important effort to review all United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping operations to ensure they are fit for purpose and focused on resolving conflicts.

Though recent administrations have talked a big game about shifting the U.S. and Africa away from a benefactor-supplicant relationship toward a true partnership, the Trump administration’s strategy outlines a path to realize that goal.

Bipartisan win for Americans and President Trump as U.S. Senate passes a landmark Prison Reform Bill

This week, the United States (U.S.) Senate approved the most sweeping prison reform bill in decades, voting to cut sentences of tens of thousands of inmates while also boosting access to programs designed to keep them from ending up back behind bars again. The measure cleared with an 87 – 12 vote and marks a major bipartisan victory for President Trump, who had pressured Republican leaders to pass it this year, before lawmakers closed down Congress. The bill still needs approval in the House, where a vote is expected before the end of this week.

Called the First Step Act, the legislation will expand prison programs designed to reduce recidivism and allow some prisoners to earn credits toward early release by taking part in those programs. The bill also reduces some maximum mandatory sentences, such as ending the three-strikes life-in-prison penalty and replacing it with a 25-year maximum. Backers said the credits would earn inmates a faster opportunity to enter a halfway house or be put on home detention.

Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican who had made a crusade out of reforming sentencing, said “This prison and sentencing reform bill is a much-needed first step toward shifting our focus to rehabilitation and re-entry of offenders, rather than taking every person who ever made a mistake with drugs, locking them up, and throwing away the key.

The core of the deal was written by Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Richard Durbin, a senior Democrat. The bill applies only to federal prisons, which hold far fewer people than state prisons. It includes new rules on keeping inmates in facilities close to their homes where possible and pushes for them to be put in home confinement for the maximum time allowed.

An early version of the bill would have released an average of 53,000 federal inmates a year over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which is more than a quarter of the current inmate population.

Hong Kong and Singapore lead the world in economic freedom: report

Hong Kong and Singapore have again been ranked as the most economically free jurisdictions in the world, with the United States (U.S.) back in the top ten, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report for 2018. The Fraser Institute produces the annual Economic Freedom of the World report in cooperation with the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes in nearly one hundred countries and territories. It’s the world’s premier measurement of economic freedom.

While Hong Kong is still the most economically free, there is a valid concern that interference from mainland China—which ranks 108th in economic freedom—will ultimately lead to deterioration in Hong Kong’s top position, particularly in rule of law, which helps ensure equal freedom for all,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom with the Fraser Institute.

Rounding out the top ten are New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland, the United States, Georgia, Mauritius, the United Kingdom, and Australia and Canada tied at tenth place. The United States is ranked at sixth, entering the top ten most-economically free countries for the first time since 2009.

The report measures the economic freedom—the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions—by analyzing the policies and institutions of 162 countries and territories. These include regulation, freedom to trade internationally, size of government, sound legal system and property rights, and government spending and taxation. The 2018 report is based on data from 2016, the last year of available comparable statistics.

Where people are free to pursue their own opportunities and make their own choices, they lead more prosperous, happier and healthier lives,” Mr. McMahon said.

Read the full report

European Union wants member states to be climate neutral by 2050

The European Union’s (E.U.) executive branch has proposed the bloc should cut its emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050, a measure some scientists say needs to be adopted worldwide in order to avoid catastrophic global warming. The European Commission is the first major economy to set its sights on achieving climate neutrality in the next three decades. However, its plan, announced days before a global climate summit being held in Poland, is far more ambitious than the national targets set or even closely achieved to date by many of the E.U.’s twenty-eight-member nations.

The Commission cites scientists who say ending the use of fossil fuels, a process known as decarbonization, is one of the most important measures needed to achieve the 2015 Paris climate accord’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Net zero emissions mean that any greenhouse gases emitted need to be soaked up by forest growth or new technologies that can remove carbon from the atmosphere.

The Commission’s proposal, which was welcomed by environmental groups, isn’t binding, and adds pressure on E.U. nations that have resisted setting tighter goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is expected to miss its goals for 2020 and Chancellor Angela Merkel has objected to raising the nation’s emissions reduction target for 2030 from 40 percent to 45 percent.

Symbolically, the 24th Conference of the Parties, or COP24, is being held on the site of a Katowice mine in Poland that was closed in 1999 after 176 years of coal production. World leaders are gathering to agree on the fine print at the climate summit, held between December 2 and 14, three years after the global climate deal in Paris. “Looking from the outside perspective, it’s an impossible task,” said Poland’s deputy Environment Minister, Michal Kurtyka.

Top of the agenda will be finalizing the so-called Paris rulebook, which determines how countries have to count their greenhouse gas emissions, transparently report them to the rest of the world, and reveal what they are doing to reduce them. Many participants believe the Paris goals can only be met by cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. However, the Paris agreement let countries set their own emissions targets, and most nations are far off the mark from their targets.

Convincing countries to set new, tougher targets for emissions reduction by 2020 will entail a transformation of all sectors of each nation’s economies, including a complete end to burning fossil fuel. Poor nations want rich countries to pledge the biggest cuts, claiming they are responsible for most of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, which is factually inaccurate, as developing nations are the greatest polluters without rigorous environmental regulations. Rich countries say they are willing to lead the way, but only if poor nations play their part as well.

The United States (U.S.) under President Donald Trump recently withdrew from the Paris agreement, signed up former President Barack Obama. Brazil and Australia appear to be heading in the same direction.