Sweden is arguably the most "European" of European countries by virtue of its historically cohesive nationhood ("one big family"), militaristic and socialist legacies, untrammeled immigration, unmatched political correctness, and its supercilious claim to the status of a "moral superpower." These features also make it perhaps the most alien of European countries to an American conservative.
In this context, I offer a summary and paraphrase of my discussion held with two senior members of the permanent bureaucracy in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) during a recent visit to Stockholm. Our affable but pointed discussion focused on the Middle East, on which we agreed on almost nothing; I might as well have been in Sudan or Syria's MFA.
The following contains the seemingly sober officials' more colorful statements, then my responses. First, we discussed the Iranian nuclear program: more >>
In a brief, nationally televised announcement on August 7th regarding the Islamic State, which invaded the multicultural, northern Nineveh Province of Iraq this summer, President Obama observed "these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yazidis."
The brutal persecution of Iraq's non-Muslim religious groups is part of a human rights atrocity that is as grave as it is overlooked in American foreign policy. The president's eight-and-a-half-minute speech hardly scratched the surface. In fact, what the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, is undertaking in Iraq, as part of its effort to establish an Islamic caliphate, is a religious cleansing intended to eradicate the entire presence of the country's non-Muslim citizens. Nor is this campaign restricted to Iraq. Similar campaigns are under way in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. They are being carried out by a multitude of extremist groups and directed against a variety of minorities, although they are directed most commonly and with special zeal against Christian communities that in some cases have coexisted with Muslims for more than a thousand years. Militant groups such as the Islamic State are mostly to blame, but extremist influences have also gained official footing within some governments. In most places where religious oppression of Christians is taking place, Christians and other targeted religious communities find that their governments typically turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to their plight.
In Iraq and Syria, for example, the two-thousand-year-old Christian communities are facing an intense wave of religious persecution that has led to a panicked exodus of their members from the region. Even before this past summer's attack by the Islamic State on the Christian centers of Mosul, Qaraqosh, and all other Nineveh towns, leaders of the Iraqi church reported that one million, or between one-half and two-thirds of their community, have fled the country since 2003. more >>
Brad Pitt's new WWII film Fury is violent, vulgar, maybe not entirely realistic, but also inspirational. He's a veteran tank commander pushing against heavy German resistance during the war's final days. Inflicted with a dangerously raw recruit for his experienced tank team, Pitt compels him to shoot a German prisoner caught wearing an American's coat. Trying to harden the young clerk typist, at one point he points to a burning German village, and he explains that the reality of the world is violence. Later, having passed the corpses of German civilians, including children, hanged by the SS for refusing to resist the Allies, Pitt orders the shooting of a captured SS officer whom a civilian identifies as the culprit.
Amusingly, one of Pitt's tank crewmembers that likes to quote Scripture (and use the F word) confronts the new recruit with, "Are you saved?" The young novice responds, "I am baptized," provoking the Bible quoter accurately to surmise, "You're a Mainline Protestant, aren't you?" It turns out later that the Pitt character also knows the Bible, chapter and verse, which is likely true for the real Pitt, who hails from a Pentecostal background.
The day after watching Fury I sat at a luncheon next to a distinguished 91-year-old retired U.S. Army general that as a young officer commanded an infantry platoon in France and Germany during the war's final year. I told him about the movie scene in which Pitt compelled shooting a German prisoner. The old General recalled some of his men didn't want to take prisoners but as an officer it was his duty to restrain him. I also asked if soldiers then used the F word like a machine gun as most modern movies like Fury portray. Absolutely not, he insisted, they sometimes cussed but not like that. I asked if he knew before the war's end how evil the Nazis really were. He said no, they were just enemies who needed killing, until his unit came across one of the death camps. more >>
Americans across the country will be observing Veterans Day on Tuesday, a federal holiday dedicated to those who've served in the United States Armed Forces, regardless of the era, or branch of service.
While now dedicated to American soldiers of all wars, Veterans Day has its roots in the end of World War I.
"On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War," noted history.com. more >>
A former CBS News investigative reporter is claiming that CBS News executives kept hidden part of a "60 Minutes" interview with President Barack Obama following the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012 that could have hurt the president's reelection campaign.
Sharyl Attkisson, who resigned from CBS News earlier this year due to her frustration with what she claimed was the network's liberal bias and lack of dedication to investigative reporting, said in interviews with two news networks on Sunday that CBS News executives "kept secret" an exclusive 60 Minutes interview where Obama refused to label the attacks on the US compound in Benghazi as an "act of terror."
During the 2012 election, Obama had to defend himself when Republican challenger Mitt Romney said during a presidential debate that it had taken Obama 14 days to declare the attacks on Benghazi, which killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens, as an act of terrorism. Obama replied saying that he had declared that the attack was an "act of terror" in his initial remarks the day after the Benghazi attack at a press conference held at the White House Rose Garden. more >>
His face has become a symbol for resistance against oppression, a marker for those who demand accountability and in the minds of some – anarchy. In the modern day, the Guy Fawkes mask has been a way for people to anonymously stand against an entity.
Guy Fawkes Day is observed Wednesday in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. Also known as Bonfire Night, the holiday has been given special attention with such cultural items as the famous "Remember, Remember the Fifth of November" poem and the film and graphic novel "V for Vendetta." The date marks the anniversary of when a group of Catholic Englishmen attempted to blow up Parliament in response to the Protestant-led body enacting anti-Catholic laws.
"Catholic dissident Guy Fawkes and 12 co-conspirators spent months planning to blow up King James I of England during the opening of Parliament on Nov. 5, 1605," noted Jesse Greenspan in an entry on the History Channel's website. more >>