"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Lack of Compassion in India as it Clamps Down on Christians

By: Eric Metaxas

Why would India block foreign donations to help poor children? The answer is Hindutva.

On January 13th, Compassion International told the sponsors of 130,000 Indian children that, barring an unlikely turn of events, it would cease operations in India in mid-March.

The announcement came a year after the Indian government told the organization that “it could no longer receive funding from outside the subcontinent.”

While the news dismayed Compassion’s donors, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to those familiar with the deteriorating state of religious freedom in India.

Compassion’s announcement comes shortly after Open Doors International released its “World Watchlist,” which ranked the worst countries in which to be a Christian.

North Korea, of course, ranked first again. The next twelve countries are either overwhelmingly Muslim or, like Nigeria, are suffering from an Islamist insurgency—in this case, Boko Haram—that targets Christians.

Then at #15, just behind Saudi Arabia, is India. Why? India is neither Islamic nor a repressive dictatorship like North Korea or China.

David Curry, the CEO of Open Doors, told Morgan Lee and Mark Galli of Christianity Today that the situation in India reflects the rise of what he calls “ethnic nationalism,” in which what it means to be an Indian is defined in religious—in this case, Hindu—terms. An Indian who is a Christian or, for that matter, a Muslim, is regarded as less than truly Indian, because Hinduism is at the heart of what it means to be an Indian.

This ideology goes by the name “Hindutva,” which literally means “Hinduness.” It’s an ideology that belies the western image of India as a land of Gandhi, gurus, and nonviolence. There’s nothing peaceful or tolerant about Hindutva. On the contrary, the man who assassinated Gandhi was an adherent of Hindutva and felt that Gandhi had betrayed the Hindu community.

The current ruling party in India, the BJP, is ideologically committed to the idea of Hindutva. As Vice News put it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in addition to being implicated in the 2002 massacre of 2,000 Muslims while governor of Gujarat, has also been “accused of promoting India's majority religion of Hinduism to the detriment of Christianity, Islam, and other faiths.”

Conversion to Christianity banned

The ruling party’s commitment to Hindu supremacy is perhaps best reflected in the various laws prohibiting religion conversion. Six Indian states have enacted laws in the past several years that effectively ban conversions from Hinduism to Christianity or to Islam.

This is the political and cultural context in which Compassion’s decision must be seen. The Indian government knows that the money coming from outside of India is highly unlikely to be replaced by donations from within India.

It also knows that it can use all the help it can get: 44% of Indian children under five are underweight and 72% of its infants suffer from anemia.

And more than 50% of children are sexually abused!

So why block Compassion International? Because nationalism in the form of Hindutva trumps helping malnourished children.

Of course. Children have no voice! They don't vote! But it seems to always be the children who suffer from man's evil and folly.

What can we do about it? The good news is that, unlike North Korea or Somalia, we do have some political leverage. India wants to increase its annual trade with the USA five-fold “over the near term.” Christians should let the Trump administration know that such increases must be accompanied by a greater respect for religious freedom on the subcontinent.

And of course we should pray. Curry told Christianity Today that he would feel “much better” if he felt that the “American church” was “at least praying” for persecuted believers.

At least, indeed.

Drug Makers Sued over Insulin Price-Fixing

It is so clear now that pharmaceutical companies are mostly concerned about profits and have little concern whether their customers suffer, live or die. It is time to remove the company's right to fix their own prices. 

© Klaus Ohlenschläger

Eleven diabetes patients have filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Massachusetts accusing three big pharmaceutical companies of inflating the prices of lifesaving drugs by 150 percent and harming patients in the process.

Diabetes sufferers, who need daily doses of insulin to survive, watched as Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly jacked up the price of insulin from $25 per prescription to as much $300-400 over five years, according to the complaint filed Monday.

Drug manufacturers usually rationalize drug price increases by claiming the high costs of research and development. In this instance, the plaintiffs claim, manufacturers admitted their price hikes were neither related to such costs nor any jump in production expenses.

In other words, it is simple greed! What does this mean for 3rd world countries? Do they get insulin much cheaper, or do they go without, suffer and die?

The suit referred to a February 2016 op-ed written by an endocrinologist in the New York Times, which revealed the price hike had nothing to do with production costs.

The lawsuit cites examples of how the opaque drug-pricing system left many people unable to afford their insulin treatment, which can cost some patients up to $900 a month.

Patients have resorted to injecting themselves with expired insulin or starving themselves to control their blood sugar. In another instance, a patient intentionally slipped into diabetic ketoacidosis – one step short of a diabetic coma – in order to get insulin from hospital emergency rooms.

“People who have to pay out of pocket for insulin are paying enormous prices when they shouldn’t be,” said Steve Berman, a lawyer whose firm represents the patients and is seeking to have it certified as a class action suit, according to the New York Times.

The complaint said the price hikes were the result of “a scheme and enterprise among each Defendant and several bulk drug distributors.”

In the scheme, drug makers set two prices for insulin treatments: a public price and a distributor price. While the lawsuit accuses the benefit managers of being complicit, Berman said the lawsuit focused on the drug makers because “they are playing the game, and they are the ones who publish the list price.”

Plaintiffs contend that “business is booming” for bulk drug distributors, (PBMs), with the three biggest distributors – Express Scripts, CVS Health, and OptumRX – “bringing in more than $200 billion a year in revenue. They also control over 80% of the PBM market, covering 180 million insured people.”

The suit argues these drug distributors, acting as middlemen, negotiate medicine prices with drug manufacturers on behalf of insurers, setting up “tiered formularies for their clients” which insurers then use “to determine how much of their members’ drug costs they will cover.”

Under those tiered formularies, distributors can exclude a more expensive drug, removing it from a formulary presented to health insurers. In turn, the insurance companies refuse to cover the more expensive drug, “giving them (PBMs) enormous control over drug purchasing behavior.”

The suit alleges PBMs also pocket the difference between the benchmark price and the undisclosed real price they secure, which are “wildly inflated.”

Drug companies were quick to declare they were law-abiding and the allegations lacked merit.

“We strongly believe these allegations have no merit, and will defend against these claims,” Sanofi said in a statement.

Lilly said it had followed all laws, adding, “We adhere to the highest ethical standards.”

A spokesman for Novo Nordisk said the company disagreed with the allegations in the suit and would defend itself.

“At Novo Nordisk, we have a longstanding commitment to supporting patients’ access to our medicines,” the company said.

In December, attorneys general in 20 states accused several drugmakers, including Teva Phamaceuticals and Mylan, of price fixing.

Mylan was cited for hiking the prices of the Epipen, a life-saving tool for severe allergy sufferers.

Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed on Monday to a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related settlement after the Justice Department accused the company of bribing officials in Russia, the Ukraine and Mexico to increase profits for the company’s generic pharmaceutical drug, according to Legal News Online. The company agreed to pay $519 million in penalties and follow a compliance program laid out by the DOJ.

President Donald Trump has pledged to address the matter and said the industry was “getting away with murder.”

“I'll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market,” Trump said in a meeting with pharmaceutical executives on Tuesday. “That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.”

Trump also urged big pharmaceutical companies to move back to the US. 

“And I want you to manufacture in the United States. We're going to be lowering taxes, we're going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary,” he said.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Katie Hopkins: 'Why Do Muslim Refugees Go To Christian Countries?'

Katie Hopkins spoke to caller Aman about why Muslim refugees go to Christian countries, and not other Muslim countries

The LBC Presenter had earlier praised Trump's executive action, which severely restricts immigration from seven mainly Muslim countries.

She asked her listeners about whether they agree and if not, she urged them to challenge her. 

Aman phoned Katie to give his take on the subject and was on hand to answer Hopkins's burning question: Why do Muslim refugees go to Christian countries and don't flee to other Muslim countries? 

She said: "Why is it, help me understand, always help me, why is it we see Muslims running from Muslim countries to Christian countries for a better life? 

"Does that not tell us something about Muslims, the religion of Islam? Why is it always Christian countries that need to save Muslim countries, help me understand."

Been wondering about that for years? They come desperate for a rescue, then they bring the garbage with them that they need rescuing from? Does that make any sense to you?

Soros-Funded NGOs Aiming to Bring Down Hungarian Gov't – Foreign Minister

George Soros © imago stock&people / www.globallookpress.com

The activities of organizations funded by US billionaire investor George Soros in Hungary are “anti-democratic,” as they want to undermine the government in Budapest, the foreign minister of Hungary told RT.

Soroswould like this government to fail, he would like to kind of fire this government because he doesn’t like our approach, doesn’t like our policies,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze.

“We find it very anti-democratic if someone from abroad would like to influence Hungarian voters on whom to vote for,” he asserted.

Several days before the interview, the Hungarian parliament began to discuss a bill allowing authorities to audit NGO executives and request detailed reports on their foreign donations.

Earlier in January, chairman of the ruling Fidesz party Szilard Nemeth said that “these organizations must be pushed back with all available tools, and I think they must be swept out, and now I believe the international conditions are right for this with the election of the new president [Donald Trump].”

Last September, Nemeth, who is also the deputy chairman of Hungary’s National Security Committee, submitted a list of 22 NGOs “connected to the Soros network for the purpose of having these organizations screened.”

Foreign Minister Szijjarto said it is obviously the right of his country to be protected from foreign influence. “This is what we have heard a lot from the US for the last months – that external influence is so dangerous… So, it’s a good reason – if this is the American position, it can be our position as well.”

Hungary, which lies at the very heart of Europe, last year became a main passageway for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees eager to reach northern European countries. The government, led by right-wing President Viktor Orban, responded by erecting fences along Hungary’s borders and introducing strict border controls. Budapest has consistently refused EU-backed mandatory resettlement quotas, calling them a blow to member states’ sovereignty.

Szijjarto cited intelligence reports alleging that “there were organizations which helped illegal migrants find ways to Hungary, to find where they could violate our border, to find out how to apply for asylum status, and these reports have said that George Soros was in the background of these organizations.”

video 26:18

Countries to Hungary’s east and south are concerned about Soros’ operations, too. In Macedonia, an organization called Stop Operation Soros (SOS) has been launched. Its founder, Nikola Srbov, accused Soros of hijacking civil society, calling upon followers to “fight against one-mindedness in the civil sector, which is devised and led by Soros,” according to Vecer newspaper.

Russian prosecutors branded the Open Society Foundation (OSF), a major Soros asset, and Open Society Institute’s Assistance Foundation threats to the country’s constitutional order and national security in 2015, and banned them from providing grants to Russian partners.

Groups run by Soros have also been accused of meddling in Ukrainian affairs and supporting the 2013 Euromaidan protests that led to the ouster of democratically-elected President Viktor Yanukovich.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

At least 5 Dead in Quebec City Mosque Shooting


At least five people have been killed after gunmen opened fire in a mosque in Quebec City on Sunday, the mosque’s president told reporters. Witnesses told Reuters there were three gunmen involved and 40 worshippers were inside at the time of the shooting.

The shooting took place at Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec (Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center) on Sainte-Foy Street. There’s been conflicting reports over the number of perpetrators involved in the attack.

Two suspects have been arrested in the ongoing police operation, according to a Québec police spokesman. An investigation into the attack has been launched.

Le Soleil reported there were at least two shooters and one of them was wielding a AK-47 assault rifle. One of the attackers is believed to be a 27-year-old man.

Up to three shooters were seen by a witness cited by Reuters.

Reports of “many” people injured have appeared in the media.

Police have sealed off traffic in the area and have so far declined to comment.

Montreal Gazette

Police in Quebec City say shots have been fired at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on Sainte-Foy St. and five people are reported dead.

Multiple gunmen opened fire during evening prayers, killing five people, according to Reuters.

“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui, told Reuters.

Witnesses say about dozen people were wounded and some reports state two of three suspected gunmen have been arrested.

A live video feed on a Facebook page of a mosque showed images of multiple police vehicles and yellow police tape.

Quebec City police confirmed deaths and injuries, and said suspects have been arrested.

Last June, worshippers at the same mosque discovered the severed head of a pig left in front of one of the doors, wrapped in cellophane with bows and ribbon, and a card that said “bonne appétit.”

video 8:04

The 'Candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood': France in Primaries

The French Left has been flirting with radical Islamists since the 1980s. The full extent of this complicity has emerged in Socialist Party primaries

Benoit Hamon (Photo: Flickr)

The French Left has been flirting with radical Islamists since the 1980s, when it realized that the growing Muslim population could replace its dwindling indigenous working-class voter base to whom it failed to deliver on its promise of reducing unemployment under the presidencies of François Mitterand (1981-1995) and François Hollande (2012-2017).

The full extent of this complicity has emerged in the current Socialist Party primaries. The first round was held on January 22 and was won by Benoît Hamon, who garnered 36.83% of the 1,600,978 votes cast. The runner-up was ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls with 31.9%. The second round will be held on January 29.

One of the issues on which the candidates differ substantially is radical Islam. While Valls took a tough stance during his term as Prime Minister and staunchly defended the secular principles of the French Republic, Hamon is more ambiguous and is seen by some as a fellow-traveler of Islamist lobby groups such as the CCIF (Collective Against Islamophobia in France).

The CCIF was set up in 2003 during the controversy on the banning of the hijab in French schools. It went from campaigning on this single issue to a range of missions, the main one being to denounce and file criminal lawsuits against journalists and intellectuals for “Islamophobic” statements. It publishes statistical reports documenting “Islamophobia,” inflating the figures through including closures of Salafist mosques and deportation of Islamic terrorists.

The CCIF website includes practical advice on how to respond to airport identity checks on veiled women, wearing of full-length skirts at school and halal dietary demands in school canteens. There is also a dedicated guide for Islamists whose homes are raided by the police due to the state of emergency law.

There is no doubt that the CCIF has close ties with radical Islam. Founding President Samy Debah is a former preacher of Tablighi Jaamat, the global Sunni Islamic revivalist movement. In November 2015, the CCIF signed a press release condemning the police raids that followed the November 2015 attacks in Paris.

Spokesman Marwan Muhammad has shared platforms with radical Islamists such as Imam Hassen Bounamcha and Salafist preachers Nader Abou Anas and Rachid Abou Houdeyfa.

The CCIF diverts attention from its real goal of advocacy for Islam by couching its operations in terms of human rights, individual liberty and discrimination, thus enabling it to fraternize with the French Left including a potential candidate in the 2017 presidential election, Benoît Hamon.

Evidence emerged this week showing that Hamon’s campaign spokesman, MP Alexis Bachelay, attended a CCIF fund-raising dinner in May 2014 with fellow Socialist Party MP and spokesman Razzy Hammadi. In June 2015, Hammadi sponsored a bill in parliament to introduce class action lawsuits, which are not permitted under French law.

The CCIF published a statement on its website backing the bill and urging its supporters to lobby lawmakers to vote in favor, arguing that it would be a formidable weapon in its war on Islamophobia.  “Class action is a legal tool that could for example be used to great effect in cases of discrimination against young girls who wear long skirts to school.”

Hammadi suffered considerable embarrassment in December 2013 when a video posted on Twitter and YouTube showed him involved in a late-night street brawl in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris. In the clip he can be heard shouting racist insults and threating to bring out “toutes les cités de Montreuil,” i.e. the gangs from the local housing projects.

Bachelay also has close links to Marwan Muhammad and in December 2015, they exchanged messages of mutual support on their Twitter accounts in which Bachelay stated, “We have to stick together, times are hard.”

Aside from his campaign spokesman rubbing shoulders with members of an organization that is a satellite of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamon himself has made statements that could be construed as pro-Islamist.

Questioned as to his position on the revelation that women are effectively barred from cafés in some Parisian suburbs, he replied, “Historically, there were no women in working-class cafés,” apparently justifying the gender segregation imposed by radical Islamists."

In a radio interview on January 23, he went even further, saying, “What I do not accept is that behind the expression ‘religious separatism,’ there is the assertion that Islam is incompatible with the French Republic. That is not true. It is unacceptable that people continue to make the faith of millions of our fellow-citizens a problem in French society.”

In a 2016 interview with the left-wing Libération newspaper, Hamon said the debate on the place of Islam in French society following the terrorist attacks amounted to “dangerous political hysteria” and explained the attraction of jihadism to young French Muslims by the failure of the French state to deliver equality to all its citizens. More dangerously, he offered a rationale for the ideology of Islamic State, saying:

“For my part, I try to understand why young Muslims are motivated by the narrative of Islamic State, whose message incarnates values that are absent from our public debate: unity, represented by the Caliphate; dignity, offered to young people in quest of recognition; purity of faith in an impure world; and salvation, that gives meaning to their death, having failed to find it in life.”

OMG - Dignity? Purity of faith? Salvation (through murder and martyrdom)? Are you serious? The things we will sell our soul for!

Hamon is also in favor of bringing in religious educators from states he describes as “cradles of Islam” to train French Imams. In other words, he supports the import of the Salafist ideology that has radicalized an entire generation and resulted in the current wave of Islamic terror.

He has proposed a tax on halal meat that would be used to fund the construction of mosques, suggesting that the money be allocated by the CFCM (French Council of the Muslim Faith), an organization that sued Charlie Hebdo for caricaturing the prophet, thereby “humiliating and provoking 2 billion Muslims.”

A Socialist Party minister has described Hamon as “the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood,” an accusation that may not be as outrageous as it appears. The links between the CCIF and the left wing of the Socialist Party echo the strategies of coalition, absorption and co-operation outlined in the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic plan to Islamize the USA.

Leslie Shaw is an Associate Professor at the Paris campus of ESCP Europe Business School and President of FIRM (Forum on Islamic Radicalism and Management).

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Big-Time Spy Thriller Playing Out in Public in Russia

Russia charges four top intelligence officials
with treason
By Eric DuVall 

Russian President Vladimir Putin's government arrested four top intelligence officials and charged
them with treason. U.S. analysts speculated the treason charges could be in response to Russian
cooperation with an investigation by U.S. officials into whether Russia intentionally meddled in
the presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump. Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Russian government arrested four men for treason after an investigation that U.S. intelligence officials speculated was in response to their own inquiry about Russia's hacking of the U.S. presidential election.

The men arrested include three high profile leaders of its intelligence agency and a contractor working for the cyber security office of the Russian national intelligence agency FSB, the successor to the KGB.

U.S. officials said they could not be certain whether the arrests are in response to U.S. officials citing with "high confidence" that Russia intentionally interfered with the election to help Donald Trump win. However, for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to make the proclamation the U.S. government is as close to certain as it can be of Russia's role in hacking Democratic groups and Hillary Clinton's campaign, it likely would require human intelligence in addition to Russia's electronic fingerprints.

If the United States did obtain confirmation about Russian hacking from a mole inside the FSB, it would have had to been a source high up in the power structure because knowledge of such an operation would likely not have spread beyond the senior-most officials there.

U.S. analysts cautioned it was also possible the FSB was using the existence of a potential leak to the United States as cover to purge itself of members involved in an internal power struggle.

Though the reason for the arrests remains unclear, one thing appears certain: The Russian government wanted news of the charges to become public. As opposed to handling the matter internally, the arrests were reported almost simultaneously by multiple Russian media outlets on Thursday.

Russian officials went so far as to arrest one of the suspects, Sergei Mikhailov, a deputy director of the Center for Information Security, in a scene that could have been torn out of a spy novel. They barged into a meeting between senior intelligence officials, put a bag over Mikhailov's head and hauled him out of the room, according to multiple accounts in the Russian media.

The arrests are believed to have taken place in early December, just days after the U.S. intelligence report was published.

Analysts told The New York Times there could be several reasons the Kremlin would want the information public. If the arrests are indeed tied to the U.S. intelligence report, it would be a tacit acknowledgment Russia successfully meddled in a U.S. presidential election -- a way to take credit and show other foreign governments the Kremlin has the ability to do so again. Analysts also speculated a public treason trial could serve as a venue to air more potentially damaging information gleaned about the United States -- and new President Donald Trump -- without using back channels such as the website WikiLeaks to make it public.

Or, it could be a way for Putin to distance himself from the mess. Who knows. But it should be fun finding out.

40% of Refugees in Austria put Religion Above Law – Study

Some interesting statistics, but nothing terribly surprising

© Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters

A new study from the Austrian Academy of Sciences shows that:

40 percent of refugees in Austria believe religious commandments take precedence over the nation’s laws, prompting the country’s foreign minister to push for a rigorous new integration package.

The survey, which was conducted on behalf of the country’s Department of Integration (Integrationsressort), found that:

90 percent of officially recognized Austrian refugees believe democracy is an ideal form of government. The study also found that 
80 percent believe in the equality of men and women, and 
83 percent have no problem with other religions, Austrian Die Presse reported this week. 

40 percent of the same people questioned for the study said that religion is a more reliable guide for behavior than secular state law, with 
80 percent supporting adherence to religious law in the public sphere. At the same time, only 
61 percent admitted to being religious, while 
45 percent don’t believe all religions are equal.

OK, 'a more reliable guide' does not exactly indicate that a person would choose Islam over state laws if it came to one or the other. Just trying to be fair here.

Some 900 Austrian refugees – 

43 percent Syrian, 37 percent Afghan, and 20 percent Iraqi – took part in the survey during the summer and autumn of 2016. Slightly more than half were 18 to 30 years old, and 80 percent were male.

About half of those surveyed thought the lifestyles of Western people are too liberal and that they have too much freedom. In addition, despite the majority acknowledging women and men as equals, nearly all wanted to see Muslim women covering up in Austria. Some 37 percent also said they wanted separate gym classes and swimming lessons for boys and girls in schools, and one in five even said women should not be allowed to work.

88 percent of the interviewees said they accept the living habits of the Austrians in general, but
38 percent admitted that they were too free-wheeling for them.

The obviously contradictory findings prompted Sebastian Kurz, who is both Austria’s Foreign Minister and Minister of Integration, to push for expanding integration courses for refugees at the second international integration conference – ‘Vienna Future Talks’. Though these courses have been vehemently criticized since being launched in the beginning of 2016, Kurz said the study shows they are still a necessity, as they have only partially fulfilled their purpose so far. The Austrian integration minister also visited one such course with an international delegation as part of the conference.

“We can see from this study that there is consent among refugees to abstract basic values. But that does not mean that these people have internalized these principles, neither that they are ready to live by them,” Kurz told the press on Monday.

The minister called the integration process a “major challenge,” while noting the importance of showing Austria’s newcomers the country’s basic values and helping them “clearly define boundaries” for their behavior.

“If there are violations against our laws or our basic values, we do not react with exaggerated tolerance, but show that the regulations in Austria must be strictly adhered to,” the minister stated, (obviously not Swedish) while mentioning a number of new proposals that he said would “hopefully soon become integration laws.” Among other measures, these include a ban on full-face veils, such as the burka, and a ban on Quran distribution projects, as well as a compulsory low-wage employment for refugees. These and other initiatives still have to be agreed to by Kurz’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, who have been speaking out against the burka ban and €1-per-hour employment.

The integration courses, known in Austria as “orientation and value” courses, are 8-hour seminars where refugees learn about Austria’s behavioral standards and societal values. Around 15,000 asylum seekers have taken part in them since their establishment last year, according to statistics from the Austrian Ministry of the Interior. 

Woman attacked for reading Bible

Austria has been tightening its migrant policies since a number of incidents involving migrants. In the latest case, a woman in her 50s was stabbed by an Afghan migrant while she was reading the Bible in asylum accommodation. The attacker later told police that he had assaulted her because he had “personal problems.” 

In November of last year, the Austrian Interior Ministry admitted that there has been a steep jump in the number of crimes involving asylum seekers over the past few years. This has bolstered the nation’s anti-migrant sentiment, which led to a cap of 37,500 asylum claims being imposed last year. Austria took in 90,000 asylum seekers at the peak of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015.

Of course, a steep jump in the number of migrants would necessarily lead to a steep jump in the number of crimes involving migrants.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rogers TV Cancels Arabic-Language Program Following Complaints of Anti-Semitic Content

Nazih Khatatba. Photo: CIJnews
Ilana Shneider

Following a complaint from B’nai Brith Canada, on January 24, 2017 Rogers TV pulled the plug on AskMirna, an Arabic-language program which “gives members of the Arab community of Toronto a platform to express their opinions and showcase their cultural activities”.

One particular episode which drew B’nai Brith’s attention was dedicated to “Nakba Day” (meaning the day of “Catastrophe” in Arabic). For the Palestinians, Nakba Day is an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that preceded an attempted genocide of Jews by five invading Arab armies, whose explicit aim was to destroy the nascent state of Israel which declared its independence in 1948. It is also a day on which Palestinians and their supporters mourn the creation of the State of Israel and call for its elimination.

The episode which led to Rogers TV cancelling the show was filmed on May 15, 2016 at Mississauga’s Celebration Square during a Nakba Day rally organized by the “National Committee to commemorate the Nakba 68 – Toronto”. The highlight of the event was a display of a giant wooden “return key” and a large Palestinian flag, a gift from the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, to convey a strong message of interdependence among Palestinians in the diaspora and the demand of the descendants of the original 1948 refugees to return to what is now the State of Israel.

At the rally, Mirna Serreddine, host of AskMirna, interviewed Nazih Khatatba, then a board member of Palestine House. Palestine House was previously de-funded by the Canadian government for its “pattern of support for extremism” and which, according to former Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney “has aligned itself with terrorist causes, including celebrating the release of terrorists and honouring the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), one of the groups that formed the Palestine Liberation Organization which in the 1960s and ’70s was responsible for numerous armed attacks and aircraft hijackings.”

When asked what Khatatba wants the Canadian society to learn from the Nakba Day gathering, he explained that he wants Canadians to know that “Palestinians are an oppressed people” and they shouldn’t believe the “fairy tales claiming that Jews have suffered oppression”.

He then claimed that the Jewish groups which suffered massacres in Europe “came to the Middle East, to Palestine, and committed the same, and even worse massacres, against the Palestinian people”.

According to B’nai Brith, to compare the systematic murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazis and their accomplices during the Holocaust to the displacement of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs during Israel’s defensive war against five Arab armies is an “absurd distortion of historical facts”.

Khatatba, who also edits the Mississauga-based Arabic-language Meshwar newspaper, is an open supporter of the Palestinian armed struggle against Israel and has a long and well-document history of extreme anti-Israel sentiment and support for terrorism. In March 2016, he was paid a visit by two CSIS officers who came “without notice” to his office at the Palestine House to discuss his “pro Hamas” articles and online postings.

In a November 30, 2012 op-ed, Khatatba expressed his support for Hamas and other Palestinian organizations that took part in a war with Israel during which thousands of rockets and mortar shells were launched from the Gaza strip toward Israeli communities.

In November 2014, Khatatba portrayed the massacre by Palestinian terrorists of 4 unarmed rabbis in a Jerusalem synagogue while they were praying as a “courageous and qualitative” operation. One of the victims was Howie Rothman, an Israeli Canadian, who died of his wounds a year after he was struck on the head and neck with a meat cleaver.

In 2015, Khatatba praised Lebanese terrorist Samir Quntar for his “bold offensive operation”, referring to a 1979 attack during which Quntar murdered an Israeli civilian and smashed the head of a 4 year-old Israeli girl on beach rocks and crushed her skull with the butt of his rifle.

Following a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv on June 8, 2016 during which two Palestinians terrorists opened random fire in a restaurant, killing 4 Israeli civilians and injuring 20, Khatatba called the attack a “military” and “guerrilla” operation.

In his editorial “What will happen after the Palestinian guerrilla in Tel Aviv” Khatatba wrote among other things the following: The vast majority of the Palestinian people, except the leadership of the [Palestinian] Authority, expressed their support of the operation even though Israeli civilians were targeted… These operations are a result of [Israel’s] continuing occupation and [building of] settlements without any regional or international deterrence to bring it to an end… The leaders of the Israeli occupation, headed by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and Minister of Defence Avigdor Lieberman are responsible for the bloodshed in the Holy Land and the evolution of the popular struggle and the stabbing operations into military operations inside the heart of the cities of the state of the Israeli occupation.”

On May 15, 2016, Khatatba described Israel as the “first enemy of the Arab nation.” He also slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for continuing the security coordination with Israel.

In 2014, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) submitted to Peel Region Police several complaints of possible hate crimes allegedly committed by Khatatba’s newspaper Meshwar. The complaints documented several instances of anti Jewish rhetoric including sympathizing with a terrorist attack, posting an article questioning the veracity of the Holocaust and a cartoon that depicted the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drinking the blood of Palestinian children. No charges have been laid against the Palestine House at that time.

There might be an 'h' on the end of Khatatba's first name, but it seems a thin disguise.

Following the cancellation of AskMirna show, Colette Watson, Senior Vice-President of Television and Broadcast Operations for Rogers Communications, told B’nai Brith that “…there is no room on Rogers TV, community television or anywhere in Canadian media for hate of any kind.”

For over 30 years, B’nai Brith Canada’s Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents has shown that anti-Israel sentiment, as exemplified by events such as Nakba Day, lead to manifestations of anti-Semitism Canada.

Horror of Auschwitz Recalled on Holocaust Memorial Day

‘You were just clinging to life’

Holocaust Memorial Day each year remembers the estimated 6 million Jews systematically slaughtered in the Nazi genocide which wiped out two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.

The world observes those murdered on January 27 and reflects on the atrocities of the World War II, in an effort to ensure that mankind doesn't repeat the horrific mistakes of its past.

This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland by the Soviet Red Army, eight months before the war officially ended.

Around 7,000 people were still in the Auschwitz camp when the Soviets arrived, with the many other prisoners sent out on a death march.

Here we remember some of the harrowing stories of those lucky to have escaped imprisonment and death in the infamous Auschwitz death camp.

Primo Levi

Initially interned at Fossoli, Levi was transported along with 650 other Italian Jews to Auschwitz in February 1944 but was only one of 20 who actually emerged from the camp. The 25-year-old fell ill with scarlet fever in late 1944 and when the Red Army approached, all inmates, excluding those already ill, were rounded up, with most then killed. Levi’s illness at the time spared him certain death.

She had asked the older women: "What is that fire?"
And they had replied: "It is we who are burning."
Primo Levi

Ephraim Reichenberg, Hungary

Born in 1927, Ephraim and his family were deported to the camp in July 1944, where he and his brother Menashe avoided the gas chambers by claiming they were twins. As a result, however, they had a number of experiments conducted on them by the infamous Nazi doctor, Joseph Mengele. After being liberated from the camp, Menashe was hospitalized and died a year later as a result of experiments.

They injected us at the base of the neck with a certain substance that after the war 
we found out to be cancer cells. The experiment was done time and time again. 
Mengele would sit on the side and take notes.
Ephraim Reichenberg

Viktor Frankl, Austria

A psychiatrist, Frankl survived three concentration camps over three years, including Auschwitz, where both his mother and brother would be killed. On his first day at the camp, he witnessed a haunting sight that stuck with him throughout his life – smoke emerging from the chimneys where bodies were being burned. 

U.S. Army / Public Domain

Elie Wiesel, Hungary

Wiesel, 15, and his family were deported to the camp, where both his mother and sister were killed shortly after. Wiesel said he went ''from despair to despair,” later revealing the only glimmer of hope keeping him going was knowing that his father was alive. "I knew that if I died, he would die,” Wiesel said. Wiesel’s father died, however, shortly after the pair were moved to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. That was their obsession to be remembered, and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.
Elie Wiesel
Erling Mandelmann / photo©ErlingMandelmann.ch / CC BY-SA 3.0

Eugene Black, Czechoslovakia

Born in 1928, Black was brought to Auschwitz in May 1944 on a cattle truck and separated from the remainder of his family. Forced into slave labor, Black’s job was to load rocks onto truck for up to 14 hours per day, ultimately resulting in pneumonia. “We were full of lice,” Black said. “I tried to make myself small so no-one noticed me.”

“It is hard for anyone to understand unless you were there," he said. 
"You were just clinging to life. We were so starved and hungry and thirsty and afraid.” 
Eugene Black

USHMM/Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography

Thursday, January 26, 2017

South Dakota Lawmakers Back At It

Fraud on voters? S. Dakota lawmakers repeal lobbying, financing reforms passed by residents

South Dakota State Capitol © wikipedia.org

The South Dakota Legislature has wasted little time in attacking an ethics reform package approved by state voters in November that limits lobbyist gifts, lowers campaign contribution limits and creates public funding for campaigns.

Beginning Monday, the Republican-led Legislature in Pierre has sought to pass a repeal bill that would void the ethics provisions passed via a ballot initiative two months ago. The measure, passed by more than 51 percent of voters, is known as Initiated Measure 22 (IM 22).

IM 22's provisions also include the formation of a state ethics commission, more frequent campaign contribution reporting and limits on when former lawmakers can become lobbyists.

The repeal bill was scheduled for a full state Senate vote on Thursday after passing through a Senate committee on Wednesday and a full House of Representatives vote on Tuesday. However, further debate on the legislation was postponed in the afternoon. The Senate will pick up debate next week, according to AP.

Like his fellow state Republicans, Governor Dennis Daugaard, who is supportive of the repeal effort, has argued that IM 22 was poorly written, overly broad, possibly unconstitutional and pushed by influences outside of South Dakota.

"[Voters] were hoodwinked by scam artists who grossly misrepresented these proposed measures," Daugaard said, according to the New York Times.

Republicans and others have filed a lawsuit against the state that challenges IM 22, prompting a judge to grant a preliminary injunction on the reform effort while the legal process unfolds.

Supporters of ethics reform are calling on lawmakers to heed the voters' wishes and follow IM 22's demands. On Monday, at a legislative committee hearing on the repeal bill, supporters said voiding IM 22 would set a dangerous precedent.

"The problem with repeal and replace is, what we've said from the beginning, that it repeals what the voters asked for and replaces it with something we didn't have a direct say in,"said Doug Kronaizi, spokesman for Represent South Dakota.

Speaking of the numerous scandals that have occurred within state government in recent years, the Capital Journal editorial board wrote that IM 22 came about because voters "were fed up" and chose to back IM 22, despite its flaws.

"We say South Dakotans voted for more transparency and better accountability from their elected officials when they passed IM 22 last year," the board wrote this week. "The legislature owes it to their constituents to give them what they asked for."

What, you mean real democracy? You mean legislators who are not in the pockets of big business? How utterly unAmerican!

On Monday, the same day the state House debated the repeal bill, a legislative committee met to discuss disciplinary action regarding Rep. Matthew Wollman, a Republican, who admitted last week to having consensual sex with multiple legislative interns. Wollman resigned Monday.

In its 2015 report on each state's government transparency and accountability, the Center for Public Integrity gave South Dakota the second-worst score out of all 50 states.

"Across the board, the state lacks robust laws to prevent corruption, apparently the result of a sense, at least among South Dakota’s ruling class, that burdensome controls are not needed in a rural state with a supposedly high degree of familiarity, trust and cordiality," the nonprofit said.


EU Pushes for Refugee Camps Outside Europe to Curb Migrant Influx

FILE PHOTO © Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

EU ministers are pushing forward with plans to fund refugee camps outside the bloc to save migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean and bringing into Europe only those “who require protection.”

The long-debated topic was on the table at Thursday’s meeting between EU interior ministers in the Maltese capital, Valletta. Officials focused on the problem of refugees attempting to reach the Union via the Mediterranean and smugglers profiting from sending migrants on a dangerous naval journey.

“The idea is to send them to a safe place, without bringing them into Europe," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. To achieve that, the EU is considering funding special camps in Africa where migrants will be screened by rights organizations and the UN.

According to the German minister, "the people taken by the smugglers need to be saved and brought to a safe place.” He stressed, however, that from there “only those who require protection" would be forwarded to Europe.

The screening camps might be located in Libya or some of its neighboring countries and operated under the auspices of UN refugee agency UNHCR, or the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Reuters writes.

There's a 'safe place' anywhere in Libya?

Another key point of the gathering on Thursday were EU asylum laws which, according to the so-called Dublin agreements, state that asylum-seekers must make their application in the EU country that they entered first. According to de Maiziere, the bloc will have to apply “additional rules” if the influx reaches a “massive” level. 

At its peak in 2015, the EU faced over 1 million refugees fleeing unrest in the Middle East and Africa, most of them from Syria and Afghanistan.

The EU managed to slash the numbers after striking a deal with Ankara last year, which envisioned Turkey preventing migrants from reaching Europe through its territory. The European Union also set up a naval mission in the Mediterranean to deal with the refugee problem.

Yet, the number of asylum seekers fleeing their war-torn or impoverished home countries through the Mediterranean still remained high, with hundreds of thousands of arrivals. Libya and Algeria became major exit points, with people mainly trying to reach Italy or Greece. 

Last year was the deadliest in terms of casualties among refugees who opted for the risky naval journey, with over 5,000 people killed or missing. 

In the first three weeks of this year, the UNCHR says it counted at least 230 people dead or missing. 

The plans to establish outpost camps have been criticized by some MEPs.

"Even more refugees will be locked up in North Africa under high risk of torture, rape and other forms of ill treatment," German MEP Cornelia Ernst, said as quoted by Reuters.

Libya - mulled as one of the places for the refugee camps – has been plagued by years of violence between rival factions, which followed the NATO-backed removal of the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christianity - Martyrdom, Forgiveness, Courage

16 years ago, an Australian missionary called Graham Staines and his two young boys were brutally burnt to death in an attack that shocked India. But what shocked us more than the gruesome murders was the love and forgiveness of Gladys Staines, Graham's wife, who continued to serve lepers in the area for years. Here's an interview she gave more than decade ago. 

Wikipedia - Graham Stuart Staines (1941 – 23 January 1999) was an Australian Christian missionary who, along with his two sons Philip (aged 10) and Timothy (aged 6), was burnt to death by a gang while sleeping in his station wagon at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district in Odisha, India on 23 January 1999. In 2003, a Bajrang Dal activist, Dara Singh, was convicted of leading the gang that murdered Graham Staines and his sons, and was sentenced to life in prison.

The Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of a militant fundamentalist Hindu organisation.

He had been working in Odisha among the tribal poor and lepers since 1965. Some Hindu groups alleged that Staines had forcibly converted or lured many Hindus into Christianity; Staines' widow Gladys denied these allegations. She continued to live in India caring for leprosy patients until she returned to Australia in 2004. 

In 2005 she was awarded the fourth highest civilian honor in India, Padma Shree, in recognition for her work with leprosy patients in Odisha. 

In 2016, she received the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice.

Graham met Gladys June in 1981 while working for leprosy patients, and they married in 1983 and had worked together since then. They had three children, a daughter (Esther) and two sons (Philip and Timothy). 

Staines assisted in translating a part of the Bible into the Ho language of India, including proofreading the entire New Testament manuscript, though his focus was on a ministry to lepers. He reportedly spoke fluent Odia and was popular among the patients whom he used to help after they were cured. He used to teach how to make mats out of rope and basket from Sabi grass and trees leaves.

Death and reaction
Graham Staines - Dara Singh
On the night of 22 January 1999, he attended a jungle camp in Manoharpur, an annual gathering of Christians of the area for religious and social discourse. The village is situated on the border of the tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts of Odisha. He was on his way to Keonjhar with his sons, who had come back on holiday from their school at Ooty. They broke the journey for the camp and decided to spend the night in Manoharpur. After that, they slept in the vehicle because of the severe cold. His wife and daughter had remained in Baripada.

According to reports, a mob of about 50 people, armed with axes and other implements, attacked the vehicle while Staines and the children were fast asleep and his station wagon where he was sleeping was set alight by the mob. Graham, Philip and Timothy Staines were burnt alive. Staines and his sons apparently tried to escape, but were allegedly prevented by a mob.

The murders were widely condemned by religious and civic leaders, politicians, and journalists. The US-based Human Rights Watch accused the then Indian Government of failing to prevent violence against Christians, and of exploiting sectarian tensions for political ends. The organisation said attacks against Christians increased "significantly" since the "Hindu Nationalist" BJP came to power. 

Then-Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, a leader of BJP, condemned the "ghastly attack" and called for swift action to catch the killers. Published reports stated that church leaders alleged the attacks were carried out at the behest of hardline Hindu organisations. Hindu hardliners accused Christian missionaries of forcibly converting poor and low-caste Hindus and tribals. The convicted killer Dara Singh was treated as a hero by hardline Hindus and reportedly protected by some villagers. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, one of the accused killers, Mahendra Hembram, stated that the killers "were provoked by the "corruption of tribal culture" by the missionaries, who they claimed fed villagers beef and gave women brassieres and sanitary towels."

In her affidavit before the Commission on the death of her husband and two sons, Gladys Staines stated:

"The Lord God is always with me to guide me and help me to try to accomplish the work of Graham, but I sometimes wonder why Graham was killed and also what made his assassins behave in such a brutal manner on the night of 22nd/23rd January 1999. It is far from my mind to punish the persons who were responsible for the death of my husband Graham and my two children. But it is my desire and hope that they would repent and would be reformed."

Singh was sentenced to death, but the Odisha High Court commuted that to a life sentence. India's Supreme Court upheld the commuted sentence in a statement that was clearly somewhat sympathetic to the cause of the murderer. They claimed they were trying to teach Staines a lesson, but preventing them from escaping the burning car made it pretty obvious there was no intent to do anything but murder.

While claiming that the government of India is secular, the Supreme Court condemned conversion in a statement it later withdrew.

The Modi government is currently under pressure to act in ways that are definitely not secular but are very much pro-Hindu. Some Christian organizations are beginning to withdraw from India because of government restrictions on funding from outside the country. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dirty Underbelly: Shkreli Fires Off Drug Industry List of Failures

Martin Shkreli, aka Pharma Bro, showed the industry he’s not the guys to mess with after a pharma trade company launched an ad campaign which takes a pot shot at him. Shkreli has fired back with a website listing drug companies’ scandals.

"I’m pretty p***** off,” opens Shkreli on his YouTube post introducing this tell-all website, pharmaskeletons.com. “This lobby group, PhRMA, thinks it’s a good idea to come after me for the industry’s problems. So I made a website called Pharmaskeletons.com, and you can see the industry has quite a history of problems.”

The link above did not work for me, Shkreli may have taken the site down. Below is a 10:33 rant which probably contains most of what was on the site. It is laced with course language so caution advised.

Shkreli said he went through each member of the PhRMA lobbying group and made a website about some of the scandals that have plagued the companies in the past. He mentioned 26 specific drug companies and has harsh words for 25 of them.

“Because to call these companies model corporate citizens would be an error,” said Shkreli.

Shkreli’s website has an alphabetical list of drug companies, with notes and links to stories of some of the drugs that caused scandals for the company, whether for drug prices hikes, or burying side-effects of drugs, or extreme measures over drug recalls.

“Merck. I have a special place in heart to take a s*** on Merck. This is a company that has as their CEO a lawyer who prior to Merck worked at McDonald’s,” stated Shkreli.

“Merck had a drug called Vioxx. They allegedly hid the data that showed drug caused cardiovascular problems. Vioxx is a pain drug. It was pulled from the market. It almost took Merck down. The CEO, I mentioned, saved the company by settling these lawsuits. The fact of the matter is there is a dirty underbelly at Merck that was about selling Vioxx not about caring patients.”

I was on Vioxx for a few months and it worked wonderfully for pain and inflammation, but my heart went ridiculously a-rythmic and I had to stop taking it.

Shkreli gained notoriety when he hiked the price of a drug essential to many HIV patients by 5,000 percent.

What rankled with Shkreli was PhRMA’s new multi-million dollar ad campaign, launched on Monday, which aims to distance itself from Shrekli.

“Much of the public discussion has been myopically focused on drug prices and not on the value the products bring to patient care, the health care system, the economy as a whole. Much of the public discussion has been focused on some guy in a hoodie,” PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl told CNBC, a reference to Shkreli’s trademark attire.

Ubl said the new campaign would show the world the drug industry is about hard work and scientific discovery, not price gouging.

“We want to close that gap. Less hoodie, more lab coats,” Ubl added.

Shkreli fired back at the end of his post on the website.

“Look in the mirror. This website took me half an hour to make, just 'membering a few moments from the past. Pharma is a wonderful industry that does great things, but trying to throw me under the bus is foolish. Let me remind you 90% of your members' CEOs could not hold a candle to me in scientific knowledge, achievements or wealth and entrepreneurial achievements,” he wrote.

Big Pharma needs to work on a pill for humility!

Monday, January 23, 2017

U.S., Russia - Long History of Election Interference

The U.S. is no stranger to interfering
in the elections of other countries

One professor's database cites 81 attempts by the United States to influence elections in other countries, notably in Italy, Iran, Guatemala and Chile.  
Nina Agrawal. L.A.Times

White House counter-terrorism and Homeland Security advisor Lisa Monaco speaks to reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. (Michael Bonfigli / Christian Science Monitor)

The CIA has accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election by hacking into Democratic and Republican computer networks and selectively releasing  emails. But critics might point out the U.S. has done similar things. 

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

Levin defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.” These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.

In 59% of these cases, the side that received assistance came to power, although Levin estimates the average effect of “partisan electoral interventions” to be only about a 3% increase in vote share.

The U.S. hasn’t been the only one trying to interfere in other countries’ elections, according to Levin’s data. Russia attempted to sway 36 foreign elections from the end of World War II to the turn of the century – meaning that, in total, at least one of the two great powers of the 20th century intervened in about 1 of every 9 competitive, national-level executive elections in that time period.

Italy’s 1948 general election is an early example of a race where U.S. actions probably influenced the outcome. 

“We threw everything, including the kitchen sink” at helping the Christian Democrats beat the Communists in Italy, said Levin, including covertly delivering “bags of money”  to cover campaign expenses, sending experts to help run the campaign, subsidizing “pork” projects like land reclamation, and threatening publicly to end U.S. aid to Italy if the Communists were elected.

Levin said that U.S. intervention probably played an important role in preventing a Communist Party victory, not just in 1948, but in seven subsequent Italian elections.

Throughout the Cold War, U.S. involvement in foreign elections was mainly motivated by the goal of containing communism, said Thomas Carothers, a foreign policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The U.S. didn’t want to see left-wing governments elected, and so it did engage fairly often in trying to influence elections in other countries,” Carothers said.

This approach carried over into the immediate post-Soviet period. 

In the 1990 Nicaragua elections, the CIA leaked damaging information on alleged corruption by the Marxist Sandinistas to German newspapers, according to Levin. The opposition used those reports against the Sandinista candidate, Daniel Ortega. He lost to opposition candidate Violeta Chamorro.

In Czechoslovakia that same year, the U.S. provided training and campaign funding to Vaclav Havel’s party and its Slovak affiliate as they planned for the country’s first democratic election after its transition away from communism. 

“The thinking was that we wanted to make sure communism was dead and buried,” said Levin.

Even after that, the U.S. continued trying to influence elections in its favor.

In Haiti after the 1986 overthrow of dictator and U.S. ally Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the CIA sought to support particular candidates and undermine Jean-Bertrande Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest and proponent of liberation theology. The New York Times reported in the 1990s that the CIA had on its payroll members of the military junta that would ultimately unseat Aristide after he was democratically elected in a landslide over Marc Bazin, a former World Bank official and finance minister favored by the U.S.

Liberation theology - a movement in Christian theology, developed mainly by Latin American Roman Catholics, that emphasizes liberation from social, political, and economic oppression as an anticipation of ultimate salvation. Many a priest and Bishop was murdered for practicing such, like the Bishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero. Some estimate the number of priests and Bishops murdered for their theology to be in the hundreds. The U.S. was greatly opposed to liberation theology which it saw as Marxist and utterly unacceptable in the Americas, according to Noam Chomsky.

The U.S. also attempted to sway Russian elections. In 1996, with the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian economy flailing, President Clinton endorsed a $10.2-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund linked to privatization, trade liberalization and other measures that would move Russia toward a capitalist economy. Yeltsin used the loan to bolster his popular support, telling voters that only he had the reformist credentials to secure such loans, according to media reports at the time. He used the money, in part, for social spending before the election, including payment of back wages and pensions. And probably to buy a few dozen cases of vodka.

In the Middle East, the U.S. has aimed to bolster candidates who could further the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In 1996, seeking to fulfill the legacy of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the peace accords the U.S. brokered, Clinton openly supported Shimon Peres, convening a peace summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik to boost his popular support and inviting him to a meeting at the White House a month before the election.

“We were persuaded that if [Likud candidate Benjamin] Netanyahu were elected, the peace process would be closed for the season,” said Aaron David Miller, who worked at the State Department at the time.

In 1999, in a more subtle effort to sway the election, top Clinton strategists, including James Carville, were sent to advise Labor candidate Ehud Barak in the election against Netanyahu.

In Yugoslavia, the U.S. and NATO had long sought to cut off Serbian nationalist and Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic from the international system through economic sanctions and military action. In 2000, the U.S. spent millions of dollars in aid for political parties, campaign costs and independent media. Funding and broadcast equipment provided to the media arms of the opposition were a decisive factor in electing opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica as Yugoslav president, according to Levin. “If it wouldn’t have been for overt intervention … Milosevic would have been very likely to have won another term,” he said.