Thursday, May 31, 2018

U.S. Thwarted in Bid to Change U.N. Rights Council’s Approach to Israel

U.S. Thwarted in Bid to Change U.N. Rights Council’s Approach to Israel

Some diplomats fear the United States might now exit the council.

Nearly a year ago, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, issued an ultimatum to the U.N.: reform the U.N. Human Rights Council with a view to easing its criticism of Israel, or face an American walkout.
But a diplomatic campaign by Washington to bring about such a reform ran aground this month, as key European allies said they would not support a vote at the U.N. General Assembly on ending the rights council’s special scrutiny of Israel.
The development leaves Haley diplomatically isolated on a key American priority and increases the likelihood that the United States will withdraw from yet another international institution that enjoys the backing of Washington’s key allies, according to several U.N.-based diplomats.
“They seem to be headed for the exit,” said one European diplomat involved in the discussions with the United States.
Kelley Currie, the U.S. representative to the U.N. for social and economic affairs, hosted two meetings at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations with a group of Western governments earlier this month to detail U.S. plans.
She presented a copy of a U.S. draft General Assembly resolution that would eliminate a special category of rights violations — known as Agenda Item 7 — committed in occupied Palestinian territories. No other part of the world has its own agenda item. The U.S. resolution is part of a broader streamlining effort that would also make it easier to expel countries that abuse human rights from the council. There were no takers.
The initiative prompted pushback from European governments and human rights advocates, who fear it could inflict long-lasting damage to the world’s principal human rights agency and undermine efforts to expose human rights violations elsewhere.
Specifically, European diplomats fret that the United States may lose control over negotiations in the General Assembly, where any state has the right to add spoiler amendments to the U.S. draft. Countries such as China and Russia, they warn, would likely exploit the negotiations to push back on other provisions favored by the United States, including annual reviews of country’s human rights records, and the establishment of commissions of inquiry that probe human rights abuses in places like Syria and North Korea.
There would also be nothing to prevent Muslim countries from introducing their own amendment preserving Israel’s status as the lone country subject to special treatment.
“We’d be stuck with a weakened council without the United States,” the European diplomat said.
The Human Rights Council was established in 2006, replacing the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, whose credibility had been tainted by the presence of member states with abysmal rights records.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, John Bolton, helped persuade then-President George W. Bush not to join the newly established rights council, arguing that it fell short of American expectations.
“We want a butterfly. We don’t intend to put lipstick on a caterpillar and call it a success,” the now-national security advisor said at the time.
But former President Barack Obama reversed the decision within months of his inauguration, reasoning that the United States could help strengthen the institution and protect Israel by working within it.
President Donald Trump and Haley have repeatedly warned that the United States would withdraw if it couldn’t get the changes it seeks, particularly the provision on Israel.
Human rights proponents warn that forcing a showdown in the U.N. General Assembly could expose deep fissures in the world’s attitude towards the importance of human rights.
“Our organizations are deeply concerned that proceeding with a draft resolution being circulated by the United States … may weaken rather than strengthen the Human Rights Council,” according to a letter signed by 17 human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights.
“It is highly likely that the resolution will be subject to hostile amendments that would seek to weaken the council.”
Human rights advocates say they support many of the U.S. aims to strengthen the council, including by eliminating the agenda item singling out Israel. But reopening the council’s charter for fresh negotiations risks blowing up the entire enterprise, they warn.
They say the United States would have more leverage in defending Israel’s interest by remaining a member of the council.
During the council’s earliest years, including before the United States joined, the council’s delegates devoted 15 percent of its time debating Israel’s rights record. That figure fell by nearly half, to 8 percent, for the period from 2012 to 2016, when the United States served on the council.
“There’s no question that the Human Rights Council could be strengthened, but overall its proven to be an excellent forum for naming and shaming countries that commit egregious rights violations like North Korea, Syria, Burma, or the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen,” said Louis Charbonneau, the U.N. representative for Human Rights Watch. “But bringing it to the General Assembly could open a Pandora’s box.”
U.S. allies say Washington has yet to inform them whether it will continue to press for a vote, or withdraw its resolution and avoid an embarrassing outcome that highlights its isolation. But some still hold out hope that the United States can be persuaded to stay. “We don’t take the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Human Rights Council for granted,” said a second European diplomat.

Sam Bee To Win Award For ‘Advancing Social Change’ After Calling Ivanka ‘Feckless C**t’

Sam Bee To Win Award For ‘Advancing Social Change’ After Calling Ivanka ‘Feckless C**t’

On today’s episode of The Daily Daily Caller Podcast…
The day after Roseanne Barr was fired by ABC for sending an offensive tweet about former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, liberal comedian/activist Samantha Bee launched her own offensive attack against a presidential adviser. This time it was Ivanka Trump, with Bee calling her a “feckless c**t” on her show last night over President Trump’s stance on illegal immigration. Tonight, Bee is scheduled to receive an award from the Television Academy for “advancing social change.” Were it not for double standards…
Listen to today’s show here:
She also implied incest between Ivanka and her father because that’s what passes for funny these days with leftists. Whatever happened to comedy? Remember when it was about telling jokes? Now it’s about spewing left-wing politics and insulting anyone who doesn’t share them to a like-minded audience ready to applaud on cue like barking seals hoping to have fresh herring tossed to them if they balance the ball on their nose long enough. Roseanne blamed Ambien for her tweet about Valerie Jarrett; will Sam Bee blame being Canadian? Or maybe just being a jackass? We play you the audio and dissect it on the show.
Poor Jim Acosta. The CNN White House correspondent was very upset yesterday that President Trump called out the president of Disney, the parent company of ABC, for hypocrisy after the company head called and apologized to Jarrett for Roseanne’s tweet. Trump wanted to know where his apology was for all the things employees of Disney, like Keith Olbermann and Joy Behar, have said about him. This caused Jimmy to clutch his pearls and demand Trump apologize for everything he’s said that the “journalist” found offensive. In the process, Acosta angrily complained that Kim Kardashian was at the White House to talk about criminal justice reform. Jim, apparently, forgot completely about his own elevation of a celebrity on the very same issues just three years ago. We explain and mock.
Screen captures from Twitter
Not all the news yesterday was bad. President Trump signed into law the “right to try,” giving terminally ill patients the option to take experimental drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This bipartisan law will bring hope to the people who need it most and is proof that every once in a while the federal government can get out of the way and let people make important choices for themselves. But only every once in a while…
The Daily Daily Caller Podcast is a daily show that mocks the news and newsmakers from a conservative perspective. Hosted by Derek Hunter, it is available in audio form Monday-Thursday and will have a video option on Fridays.
Derek Hunter is a columnist and contributing editor for The Daily Caller and author of “Outrage, INC: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood” from HarperCollins, available June 19. Pre-order a copy here. Send compliments and complaints to or follow him on Twitter at @derekahunter.

Now why would the NY Times underestimate attendance at a Trump rally? Because they will sacrifice all ethical standards to harm him

Trump: ‘Dishonest’ New York Times reported lower crowd size at rally. So fire department weighs in.

UPDATE 8:42 a.m. May 31: The New York Times offered the following update to its article about President Donald Trump’s rally in Nashville:
Original story below
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the New York Times reported a much lower number of attendees at his Nashville, Tennessee, rally Tuesday night than were actually there.
“The Failing and Corrupt @nytimes estimated the crowd last night at ‘1000 people,’ when in fact it was many times that number — and the arena was rockin’,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “This is the way they demean and disparage. They are very dishonest people who don’t ‘get’ me, and never did!”
While the Times reported an “audience of about 1,000,” a spokesman for the Nashville Fire Department said the number of those in attendance at Municipal Auditorium was much higher than that.
“Our Fire Marshal’s office counted around 5,500 people who attended the rally last night,” Joseph Pleasant told The Tennessean.
Bob Skoney, general manager of the auditorium, told the paper that capacity for Tuesday’s event was 7,500 to 8,000, although it normally holds 9,900. Many seats were blocked off to make room for crowd risers and “massive American flags behind the stage where the president spoke,” The Tennessean added.

What else did Trump say?

The paper reported that during a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn before the rally, Trump said he heard “we have 12,000 people” waiting to get inside the auditorium — and gave a higher number of seats than the venue holds.
“They have 12,000 seats. We have 12,000 people,” the president said, according to the Tennessean, which cited an audio record obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee.
“We have a lot of people … we can’t get them in. Unless the fire marshal really treats us good,” Trump continued, the paper said. “I will say that we do, we have over 12,000 people standing trying to get in, and most of them are in now but I’m going there to make a speech.”
Here’s a clip from Trump’s speech:

This story has been updated.

Millions were donated for a recount of the 2016 election – where did it go?

Millions were donated for a recount of the 2016 election – where did it go?

Millions were donated for a recount of the 2016 election – where did it go?
Former Green Party candidate Jill Stein responded to a report that millions of dollars of donations to a recount effort for the 2016 presidential election were misused or unaccounted for. (Image Source: YouTube screenshot) 

Green Party candidate Jill Stein is coming under renewed scrutiny after a Daily Beast report details that millions donated to a 2016 presidential election recount have been squandered in the years since.

Here’s what the report said

The Daily Beast reported that the campaign had last filed an official monthly account of the money spent in the recount campaign in November 2017. The report says that “ongoing litigation, travel costs, and staff salaries” are whittling down what is left of the donations.
“It is strange that they would just stop filing reports given they were a legitimate, professional campaign, and despite still having more than a million dollars in cash on hand,” said Andrew Mayersohn at the Center for Responsive Politics.
The FEC has also warned the campaign that it was violating campaign finance laws by not accounting for the spending since November.
“The failure to timely file this report may result in civil money penalties, suspension of matching funds, an audit or legal enforcement action,” said a letter from the FEC to the Stein campaign finance director.

Stein tweets a response

Stein responded to the report with a link to an informal accounting that indicated only $932,178 was left of millions donated to the effort.
She claimed that the money was being spent “fighting for a voting system we can trust.”

Here’s an interview with Jill Stein from 2016:

Tweets for donations

After the 2016 election, Stein appealed to those on the left who were stunned by the results to donate to a campaign fund meant to pay for the fight to recount the votes that led to President Donald Trump’s shocking victory.
“The Stein campaign will fight for a statewide recount in PA,” she tweeted at the time. “We are committed to protecting the civil and voting rights of all Americans.”

Stereotype much? Chris Matthews: Republicans ‘all programmed a certain way’

Chris Matthews: Republicans ‘all programmed a certain way’

Chris Matthews: Republicans ‘all programmed a certain way’
Hardball's Chris Matthews is taking heat again for stereotyping Republicans. (Image source: YouTube screencap) 
Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball asked a panel on Tuesday: “Is there a cultural problem with the Republican Party as opposed to most Americans?”

He kept talking, didn’t he?

Matthews continued: “Republicans are told to ‘read the Wall Street Journal, play golf, and talk about pro sports.’ The men especially are all programmed a certain way. They don’t have too many outliers, Republicans. They all behave basically the same, right?”
Then he reiterated the stereotype further, saying, “(Republicans) must play golf, you don’t play tennis. You must watch sports and talk about the NFL. And what else? Read the Wall Street Journal and believe the op-ed page.”

Is this guy really serious?

Fox’s The Five had a good time responding to Matthews’ bold assertions, with Greg Gutfeld, Geraldo Rivera, and Kimberly Guilfoyle all proclaiming that they’re Republicans who don’t fit the profile lined out by the Hardball host.
Gutfeld made it clear that he’s not a golfer, doesn’t own khaki’s, has a libertarian view on some drugs and plays punk and death metal music.
Rivera said, “When you start stereotyping, that’s [a] problem.” And Guilfoyle quipped that there “must be something in the air conditioning” in Rockefeller center that prompts Matthews’ outlandish comments.

It isn’t the first time either, right?

Chris Matthews is infamous (notorious) for making statements that raise eyebrows from anyone leaning even slightly away from the left politically. Back in February, he accused the Republican Party of symbolically “goose-stepping” for President Trump in the same way North Korea’s army serves to please their leader, Kim Jong Un.

Comrade come see the joys of socialism in Venezuela

Life In Caracas

There’s No Traffic or Road Rage and It’s Awful: Life in Caracas

Noisy, smoggy commutes used to grind the city to a halt. Now, that daily headache would be a sign of better times.
Editors Note: There are few places as chaotic or dangerous as Venezuela. “Life in Caracas” is a series of short stories that seeks to capture the surreal quality of living in a land in total disarray.
One of the things I miss about the old days is how being 45 minutes late was so generally accepted as being on time. The traffic jams were great equalizers, preposterous messes of cars and trucks and buses going mostly nowhere that made everybody’s commutes miserable. Even if you weren’t in a vehicle, you couldn’t avoid the exhaust and the noise.
Now it can be almost serene at rush hour. And as lovely as it is to walk down Francisco de Miranda Avenue in the morning and actually hear the wild parrots squawk, I’m nostalgic for the hair-pulling gridlock. The fact that a taxi can speed me from La Castellana to the city center in under 15 minutes just reminds me of how Caracas is emptying out, how impossible it is for mechanics to find spare parts, how the world’s cheapest gasoline doesn’t matter if you don’t have a tank to pour it into.
Traffic at rush hour on Francisco Fajardo Highway in Caracas. Amid the growing crisis, fewer vehicles are seen on the streets.
Photographer: Manaure Quintero/Bloomberg
The motos are disappearing along with the bottlenecks. For me, Caracas used to be best navigated on two wheels. Barreling between lanes and against traffic—on sidewalks when necessary—motorcycle taxis were awesome alternatives. Traffic signals are mere suggestions in moto world. I loved it, for the thrill and the sometimes-successful bids for punctuality.
Now, “there’s no traffic, no cash, no nothing,” said Pastor Colmenarez, 41, the head of a moto stand in east Caracas. His outfit is another casualty of the economic meltdown. Last year, his line boasted 15 motorcyclists; there are four today. Many quit driving because they couldn’t maintain their bikes or because business went south—or they simply quit the country to emigrate to Argentina or Chile or Colombia or Peru.
Insane inflation has, oddly, made bolivars scarce commodities, so most of the moto guys I know who are still trying to make a go of it depend on bank transfers from a limited roster of regular clients. You can hail a ride and pay with packs of cigarettes or staples such as plantains and corn flour. Really, though, there’s no need to risk your life to get across town. These days, folks may still show up late, but only out of cultural habit.
Colmenarez said he’s going to stick it out, though—since someone stole his bike’s battery—he’s had to launch every trip with a running start. He’s committed but knows it can’t last.
“Soon enough,” he said, “we’ll all be walking.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Socialism "Many voters went directly from the voting booth to nearby "Red Spots," where the government checked their IDs and handed out food rations."

Venezuela's Road To Serfdom 

Venezuela trudged further down its road to serfdom when a sham election on May 20 returned Nicolas Maduro to the presidency for another six-year term. Venezuela's experiment with democratic socialism has now run its course from early optimism through economic dysfunction and now ever-closer to political tyranny.
A mere 20 years ago Hugo Chavez ran for president on a populist campaign promising socialist economic policies. He won the 1998 election with 56.2% of the vote in what was considered a fair election overseen by international observers, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Venezuela quickly became the poster child for successful socialism. Unlike the other socialist governments, Venezuela's was democratically elected and political freedoms were maintained. Incomes rose; poverty, illiteracy, and inequality all fell. Venezuela seemed to deliver socialism's promise unlike anywhere else in the world.
Leftists in the United States praised Chavez after his death in 2013. claimed "Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving."
Bernie Sanders, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore and many others praised Chavez for his leadership and Venezuela's economic achievements.
Except it was all a mirage. Venezuela sits atop the world's largest proven oil reserves and Chavez cashed in on strong global oil prices. His socialist policies, meanwhile, caused dysfunction throughout the economy.
A 2016 study by economists Kevin Grier and Norman Maynard, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, compared Venezuela's economic performance under Chavez to what it "likely" would have been if Chavez "had not been elected to the Venezuelan Presidency in 1998" and the existing policies had remained in place.
Their conclusion: "Although average incomes rose somewhat during his time as president, they lagged far behind where they might have been if Chavez had not taken office."

Venezuela Dies

The same held true in other key measures, such as life expectancy, infant mortality and poverty. Life expectancy improved, but by less than it should have. Infant mortality and poverty decreased, but by no more than would have been expected without Chavez's policies.
Venezuela's economic mirage collapsed when oil prices tanked and revealed an economy incapable of feeding itself.
The average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds last year — 19 the year before. Agricultural production is way down: rice, corn, and coffee by 60% over the last decade.
The cattle herd decreased 38% over the last five years. When Chavez came to power, there were more than 800,000 private businesses. Today, fewer than 230,000 remain.
Chavez's successor, Maduro, has resorted to the printing press to "pay" for import supplies. As a result inflation is skyrocketing. In March and April alone, inflation registered 18,000%.
Meanwhile, price controls make it unprofitable to produce anything. The result is the downward spiral Venezuela finds itself in.
It's hard to imagine any sitting president anywhere getting reelected when voters are literally starving amid hyperinflation. Yet Maduro claimed victory with a record 68% of the vote.
Not surprising, since the government had banned the largest opposition parties and had violently repressed anti-government protests. The election was a fraud.
Many voters went directly from the voting booth to nearby "Red Spots," where the government checked their IDs and handed out food rations.
The connection was not lost on them. It's hard to maintain your political independence when the ruling party hands out your food and determines your economic future.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek spelled out the intimate connection between economic freedom and political freedom in his 1944 book, "The Road to Serfdom."
He argued that only within a capitalist system is democracy possible and that when a country "becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself."
Venezuela's democratic socialism is no more. Its socialist policies created economic dysfunction while curtailing economic freedoms. Now its citizens are losing their political freedoms while Venezuela joins the long list of totalitarian socialist regimes.