This morning 100 French police officers raided two apartment blocks in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, just days after the Paris terror attacks resulted in at least 129 deaths.
After a dramatic seven hour gunfight in a residential building, two terror suspects have been killed and seven others wounded and captured. One man, yet to be identified, was shot dead by police.
A woman, thought possibly to be the cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud – the assumed ringleader of the Paris attacks – blew herself up with a suicide vest.
Five police officers received minor wounds and one police dog was killed. The operation is over and the area is secured.
The identities of those killed and captured have not been released – and French authorities are comparing the DNA of those killed and captured to intelligence databases. It has been reported that the target of the raid was Abaaoud.
It was initially thought that Abaaoud conducted the attack from Syria. However, French security sources have told the media that recent phone surveillance and testimony helped authorities determine that he is, in fact, in Paris. The same phone surveillance and testimony also led French authorities to believe that another major attack in Paris was imminent.
The location of the raid is no surprise. Saint-Denis is a relatively poor suburb of Paris. Saint-Denis is also home to a sizable immigrant population and an estimated 20 percent of the population is of North African descent. It is worth pointing out that Abaaoud is a Belgium of Moroccan descent so he would have felt quite comfortable holding up in the area.
Saint-Denis was one of several hotspots during the infamous 2005 French riots which saw hundreds of cars and several government buildings burned by local immigrant groups. The location of the police raid is not far from the national stadium Stade de France – one of the main targets in last weekend’s terrorists attacks.
This raid comes on the same day that two Air France planes, originating from the U.S. and travelling to Paris, had to make emergency landings due to bomb threats. Thankfully, these were false alarms and no bombs were found, but the incidents, along with the raid, shows why France and her allies need to remain vigilant.
French President Francois Hollande announced that the police raid in Saint-Denis is proof that “we are at war” with ISIS. The question is: what is France going to do about it?
More than half of U.S. states are now refusing to cooperate with Barack Obama’s insane importation of 200,000 so-called ‘Syrian Refugees’ in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
As public outrage has exploded since revelations that at least two of the Paris terrorists came into Europe as “Syrian refugees,” the number of governors opposing Obama’s plan has increased almost hourly on Monday, from just one – Michigan – overnight, to at least 27 at this hour… including one Democrat in a tight race (Maggie Hassan, NH).
As Top Right News has reported, at least two of the Paris terrorists entered Greece posing as so-called “Syrian refugees” in September – and were able to make their way to France to prepare, arm and execute a massive terrorist attack just 90 days later. This, after a Syrian informant revealed over 4,000 ISIS fighters have already been smuggled into Western nations – “hidden among innocent refugees.”
Obama’s own DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson actually said “we don’t know a whole lot” about Syrian refugees coming into America, and that DHS has “no active protocol” for properly screening them.
Yesterday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced that, to protect the safety of his citizens, he would BLOCK any future importation of Muslim “refugees” to his state. A virtual avalanche of U.S. governors quickly followed suit. And although Federal law gives Obama the ability to import refugees as he sees fit, through the Jimmy Carter-era Refugee Act (1980), the states are essential parts of the settlement process. Without their cooperation, few if any refugees are likely to be moved to those states.
In a press conference this morning in Turkey, Obama said that ‘the United States has to step up and do its part,’ while chiding those in the opposition party for suggesting there be a ‘religious test’ for entry into the United States.
Clearly, the American people do not agree, and the brutal Paris attacks were the critical mass that has spurred massive political action.
White House blasts Republican states for rejecting needy Syrian refugees, says “Xenophobia is not the answer to terror” #paris
11:47 AM – 16 Nov 2015
Here is a map of the states currently defying Obama on his Muslim importation program (updated hourly):
As of 11/17/2015 3:00EST
STATES OPPOSING SYRIAN REFUGEES (27):
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire (D), New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin
UPDATE: Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) is opposed to the resettlement of Muslim migrants. This remains missing from all other internet maps/lists hours later, for some reason.
UPDATE: We have Alaska in green because its Republican Gov. Bill Walker (I, former R) said he “can’t be bothered” to address this issue due to other concerns, angering many Alaskans who want him to oppose it.
UPDATE: Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO) has refused to bar Obama’s refugees from Missouri, despite 105 of 114 counties being opposed to it.
Is your state welcoming any of the 200,000 so-called “refugees” Obama is demanding be imported into the heart of America, despite there being no “effective protocol” to properly vet them for ISIS ties?
If so you may wish to contact your governor at THIS link.
A poll released in November but ignored by the mainstream media shows a third of Syrian refugees do not want the Muslim terrorist group ISIS defeated. The survey results buttress concerns by the dozens of U.S. governors who have announced opposition to President Barack Obama’s plan to import 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
The poll shows thirteen percent of Syrian refugees have a completely positive opinion of ISIS with another ten percent having mixed feelings on the terror group, suggesting that nearly one quarter are open to recruitment by ISIS.
Factoring the survey results with the 10,000 Syrian refugees Obama plans to bring to the United States means Obama will bring in 1,300 ISIS supporters and a total of 3,100 who do not want the US to defeat ISIS.
The Obama administration imported about 1,600 Syrian refugees in the past fiscal year. That means around 200 Syrian refugee ISIS supporters and a total of nearly 500 Syrian refugee ISIS sympathizers are already in the country.
The telephone poll of 900 Syrian refugees was conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies as part of a larger survey of six hundred people in each of six Arab nations and the Palestinian territories about ISIS. The group surveyed Syrian refugees in “equal proportion” located in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The survey also covered residents of Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.
The poll has a margin of error rate of plus or minus four percent.
The survey result for the other Arab countries show similar levels of support for ISIS which ought to prompt a reevaluation of the U.S. policy for immigrants and refugees from the Middle East. The sole exception is Lebanon where less than one percent have a positive view of ISIS.
At the other end of the spectrum, even more supportive of ISIS than the Syrian refugees, are Palestinians.
The survey shows twenty-four percent of Palestinians have a positive view of ISIS with another thirty-six percent only having a somewhat negative opinion of ISIS. The survey also shows Palestinians as the only group where less than fifty percent (48) support the defeat of ISIS .
A Google News search shows only Investors Business Daily and The Blaze have reported on the survey. In Canada, which has pledged to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees, it appears only The Rebel has reported on the survey.
The former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence says President Obama has no coherent strategy to defeat ISIS, and he alleges one of Obama’s top advisers “lied to the American people” to perpetuate a misguided program allowing tens of thousands of refugees into the U.S.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes appeared on multiples Sunday morning news shows. When asked whether the news that one and possibly two of the Paris terrorists came to Europe as refugees would alter the Obama administration’s plan to accept tens of thousands of refugees, Rhodes said there would be no re-evaluation.
“No, Chuck,” Rhodes told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd. “We have very extensive screening procedures for all Syrian refugees who would come to the United States. There’s a very careful vetting process that includes our intelligence community, our National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security. So we can make sure we’re carefully screening anybody who comes to the United States.”
Peter Hoekstra spent 18 years in Congress and spent much of his time focused on intelligence matters. He is now with the Investigative Project on Terrorism and is the author of “Architects of Disaster,” which outlines the failure of the Obama administration’s policy in Libya.
“I think (Rhodes) basically lied to the American people,” Hoekstra told WND and Radio America. “He said we’ve got a good vetting process in place where we can vet those that are coming from Syria into the United States.”
He continued, “No we do not. The records don’t exist in Syria, especially after you’ve had five years of civil war. We don’t have a relationship with the regime. It’s an ungoverned area. We don’t know who these people are. Ben, shame on you for even implying that we’ve got a good vetting system. We’re lucky if can get the names right.”
In fact, even before the terrorist attacks in Paris, Hoekstra said the idea of bringing in tens of thousands of refugees was a fool’s errand. As such, he said the announcements from a growing number of governors that they won’t accept refugees is a good sign.
“I think it’s a good decision,” he said. “I wasn’t quite sure why we were ever welcoming these folks in. We are a welcoming nation to refugees and to these kinds of individuals, but only after they’ve been vetted.”
Hoekstra said spreading all these refugees around the Western world does nothing to solve the real problem.
“This problem is not solved by accepting refugees into Europe and the United States,” he said. “This problem is solved by eliminating ISIS and bringing some stability back into the Middle East. You’ve got to wipe ISIS out.”
The issue is taking on additional scrutiny after the European Union revealed only one-fifth of the refugees it has accepted (or about 44,000 of some 213,000 total) are actually from Syria.
But the refugee issue is just one element of the Obama administration’s approach to ISIS that baffles Hoekstra. On Monday, Obama told reporters at the G-20 Summit in Turkey that the Paris attacks would not alter the U.S. strategy toward ISIS. Hoekstra said the existing strategy is a proven disaster, as evidenced by Yemen and Libya turning into lawless wastelands and both Syria and Iraq getting increasingly unstable and deadly to Christians, Yazidis and others.
“I’m not sure what strategy this president is looking at that he believes it working,” Hoekstra said. “When you’ve got at least four countries that are no longer governed and are failed nation-states and are home for the planning and training and preparation for attacks against the West, that is not my view of success.”
Another statement from Obama in Turkey is getting even more attention. After announcing he was sticking with his existing strategy toward ISIS, Obama slammed those who want to America taking a more decisive role.
“What I’m not interested in doing is posing, or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work,” Obama said.
Hoekstra was stunned.
“This message is clear: When the president says, ‘I have no intention of following or implementing a strategy about America leading’ or whatever slogan they may come up with, it is clear that this president does not have a strategy in place for America leading in Northern Africa, the Middle East or, for that matter, any other place in the world,” Hoekstra said.
And he said America’s credibility is taking a beating as a result.
“I hate to be that critical of this president, but America is at risk,” Hoekstra said. “We are in danger, and we’re in danger of losing our influence in the world. We’ve been a voice of stability, security, democracy and human rights. We are just losing all credibility throughout significant portions of the world.”
In addition to his frustrations with the Obama administration, Hoekstra is alarmed at how unprepared the intelligence communities were for the Paris attacks.
“What I’m hearing is that there was some general awareness that there were some attacks or an attack was imminent in Europe,” Hoekstra said. “That was out there, but again no tactical insight into exactly where the attack would take place or when it would take place.”
He said the truth is, it’s really hard to find these small plots before they happen.
“It just tells you that ISIS and these radical jihadist groups in a country of 80 million people or in a country of 300-plus million people like the United States, it’s not that hard to hide and organize and prepare to carry out an attack like this,” Hoekstra said.
So what can be done to improve America’s odds of stopping future attacks?
“We need closer intelligence sharing between our agencies,” Hoekstra said. “We need to push the technology envelope as quickly as we can, and we need to improve our human intelligence.”
Intelligence experts say efforts to infiltrate ISIS have essentially “gone dark,” partly due to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposing tactics for tracking terrorist suspects.
Hoekstra said this confirms what everyone should have known about Snowden from the outset.
“As I said at the time, this was not an American hero protecting American liberties,” he said. “This was an American traitor that was giving away some of America’s secrets that would make us more vulnerable to these kinds of groups and these kinds of individuals and these kinds of attacks.”
The French Interior Minister said that more Mosques will have to be shut down in the wake of the awful terror strike.
From Huffington Post:
The interior minister of France has called for the dissolution of “mosques where hate is preached” following a string of attacks that left at least 129 people dead across Paris. Bernard Cazeneuve made the comments during an interview on French television, according to a report by MSNBC.
The minister has long been an advocate for addressing the concerns of the country’s five million Muslim residents, particularly after January’s attacks at the Charlie Hebdo office. But Cazeneuve has also made significant efforts to curb homegrown extremism. France increased surveillance at religious and cultural centers earlier this year and has been cracking down on supposed radicalization in prisons.
Around 7.5 percent of the country’s inhabitants are Muslim, but some 60 percent of prisoners are, according to a 2014 report.
France has also deported 40 imams – Islamic spiritual leaders – since 2012 for “preaching hatred.” Nearly a quarter of those deportations happened in the first six months of this year.
“Foreign preachers of hate will be deported [and their mosques] will be shut down,” Cazeneuve told Agence France-Presse earlier this year.
Now of course the liberals will howl and screech at the cessation of civil liberties, but after such a horrific attack that was obviously motivated by Islamic extremism, it’s hard to deny a civilization’s right to self-defense.
This morning, Donald Trump was interviewed by phone on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and said something that, of course, has started a cascade of hand-wringing and whining on Twitter: that he would shut down mosques. But is that what he said?
The Joe hosts were discussing the French stating that they would consider shutting down mosques that have “radical leadership” and that they can determine have “very specific ties’ to terror. Then Joe asks Trump’s opinion.
Joe: Donald Trump, the French are talking about that. Is that something that you would consider doing as President.
Trump: Well I would hate to do it but it’s something you’d have to strongly consider, because some of the ideas and some of the hatred, the absolute hatred is coming from these areas.
It’s something that many people, not me, it’s something that many people are considering and many people are going to do.
Leading up to that point, Trump talked about how previously New York City was monitoring mosque activity but have stopped under De Blasio.
Contrary to the panic on Twitter, Trump did not say, “hey let’s go close all mosques everywhere and also burn down the Koran” or anything like that.
Any reasonable nation would consider monitoring and then shutting down any institution that was a recruitment center or intelligence center for domestic terror or a foreign enemy. It is called self-preservation. Trump’s words this morning on Morning Joe are just a reiteration of something that would be obvious to any idiot. But apparently, not to any lefty looking for their Nobel Prize for Sanctimony.
French jets have launched a series of ‘massive’ air strikes on ISIS in Syria as the country started its ‘pitiless’ retribution for the terror attacks on Paris.
The blitz was conducted by ten fighter planes which dropped 20 bombs on the terror group’s capital of Raqqa, destroying a key command centre, training camp and munitions dump, throwing the city into panic.
The bombardment came just two days after President Francois Hollande said the co-ordinated attacks in Paris that killed up to 129 people was an ‘act of war’ and vowed to strike ISIS in Syria ‘without mercy’.
In France, police carried out around 150 co-ordinated anti-terrorism raids across the country this morning, arresting dozens of suspects and seizing a cache of weapons including a rocket launcher.
A huge manhunt is also underway for accomplices of the Islamist cell including one of the bomb plotters who is still on the run today after police let him go in a string of incredible security blunders before and after the atrocity on Friday night.
A French official has also identified the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, meanwhile, has warned that authorities believe new terror attacks are being planned in France and in other European countries following the carnage.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has also called for the dissolution of mosques ‘where hatred is preached’ in comments made on French television.
The air strikes in Syria, carried out in co-ordination with U.S. forces, struck a command centre, recruitment centre for jihadists, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters, it said.
Activists inside Syria have suggested that no civilian casualties have been sustained in the Raqqa bombings.
Water supplies and electricity have reportedly been cut as a result of the air strikes, with activists claiming there has been ‘panic’ inside the city.
‘The raid… including 10 fighter jets, was launched simultaneously from the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Twenty bombs were dropped,’ the French Defence ministry statement said last night.
Meanwhile, heavily armed tactical units launched more than 150 pre-dawn raids at addresses in Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, Calais and two suburbs of Paris.
French media reports a rocket launcher, flack jackets, several pistols and a Kalashnikov assault rifle were among the cache of weapons seized in Lyon overnight, with five people arrested.
They were among dozens of arrests in areas linked with radical Islamists who may have helped seven suicide bombers carry out the carnage.
French security sources said a fourth terrorist had now been identified as Frenchman Samy Aminour, 28, after raids on addresses in the Parisian suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis and Bobigny linked to his family overnight.
Aminour, thought to be one of four jihadis who massacred 89 fans at the Bataclan rock gig, is said to have been known to French anti-terror police since 2012 when he was prosecuted for trying to flee France for Yemen.
This morning, Mr Valls said that new terror attacks are being planned in France and in other European countries.
‘We know that operations were being prepared and are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries too,’ he said.
France would be living with the threat of terror attacks ‘for a long time’, he said.
Valls said he was struck by the fact that young people had been targeted in Friday’s attacks on a concert hall, bars and restaurants and outside the Stade de France stadium.
France and other countries in Europe today observed a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the worst-ever terror attacks on French soil.
In Paris, President Francois Hollande and his cabinet, all dressed in black, bowed their heads at the Sorbonne University, surrounded by scores of students.
And at Place de la Republique near the site of many of Friday’s attacks, hundreds more stood still to remember the 129 people who were killed in the bloodbath.
Large crowds also gathered in silence by the Bataclan music venue where 89 people were died, and outside a nearby bar and restaurant where 15 people were murdered.
Mr Valls comments came as serious questions were being asked of France’s security operation after it emerged one of the fugitives wanted over the Paris bloodbath was arrested then released by police hours after the attacks.
Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, 26, from a suburb of Brussels known as the ‘jihadi’ capital of Europe, is now the subject of a vast international manhunt – after being questioned and let go by officers guarding the Belgian border.
One of his brothers, Ibrahim Abdeslam, 31, was one of seven terrorists who died on Friday night after he blew himself up in a solo attack outside cafe Comptoir Voltaire. He had rented a black Seat found yesterday in Paris packed with AK-47s and ammunition.
The third sibling, Mohammed Abdeslam, was in custody in Belgium last night after being arrested in a Brussels, where the ISIS terror cell may have met before the raid to gather automatic weapons and suicide vests.
French police broadcast the name and image of Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old born in Brussels, across Europe, warning that he is very dangerous.
‘Do not intervene yourself,’ his arrest warrant says.
He is believed to have played a key role in planning the operations.
Four French officials acknowledged that police had Abdeslam in their grasp, when they stopped a car carrying him and two other men near the Belgian border early today.
By then, hours had passed since authorities identified Abdeslam as the renter of a Volkswagen Polo that carried hostage takers to the Paris theatre where so many were killed.
Three French police officials and a top French security official confirmed that officers let Abdeslam go after checking his ID.
They spoke on condition of anonymity, lacking authorisation to publicly disclose such details.
It is now known that three of the suicide bombers were French nationals, two of whom lived in the Belgian capital Brussels.
In a further sign of the growing Belgian connection, investigators said two cars used in the violence were hired there.
One was found near the Bataclan venue, and the other in the suburb of Montreuil east of Paris, with a number of AK47 rifles inside.
Witnesses said the second car, a black Seat, was used by the gunmen who shot dozens of people in bars and restaurants in the hip Canal St Martin area of Paris.
The first attacker to be named by investigators was Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old French citizen, who was identified by a severed finger found among the carnage at the Bataclan.
Meanwhile, the discovery of a Syrian passport near the body of one suicide attacker has raised fears that some of the assailants might have entered Europe as part of the huge influx of people fleeing Syria’s civil war.
Greek and Serbian authorities have confirmed the passport was issued to a man who registered as a refugee in October on the island of Leros and applied for asylum in Serbia a few days later.
Clues about the extent of the terror plot have emerged from Baghdad, where senior Iraqi officials told the the AP news agency that France and other countries had been warned on Thursday of an imminent attack.
An Iraqi intelligence dispatch warned that Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had ordered his followers to immediately launch gun and bomb attacks and take hostages inside the countries of the coalition fighting them in Iraq and Syria.
The Iraqi dispatch, which was obtained by the AP, provided no details on when or where the attack would take place, and a senior French security official told the AP that French intelligence gets these kinds of warnings ‘all the time’ and ‘every day.’
However, Iraqi intelligence officials told the AP that they also warned France about specific details: Among them, that the attackers were trained for this operation and sent back to France from Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de-facto capital.
The officials also said that a sleeper cell in France then met with the attackers after their training and helped them to execute the plan. There were 24 people involved in the operation, they said: 19 attackers and five others in charge of logistics and planning.
Last night French intelligence officials were quizzing a man suspected of being a quartermaster to the Paris murder gang.
The suspect – identified only as ‘Vlatko V’, 51 – had driven 750 miles from Montenegro through Croatia, Slovenia and Austria, before he was stopped on an autobahn in Bavaria last Thursday.
Officers discovered eight loaded AK-47 assault rifles in secret compartments of his Volkswagen Golf.
Three handguns, two hand grenades, fuses, detonators and almost half a pound of TNT completed the mini arsenal.
Also found in the vehicle were several Parisian telephone numbers and other addresses.
The man, who is Muslim according to unconfirmed reports, has no apparent previous criminal record or specific links to radical Islamists.
But police believe he is linked to organised crime groups in Montenegro that may have agreed to supply weaponry to jihadi groups.
A German intelligence source said police officers blundered by not reporting the seizure to anti-terror specialists in Berlin, who may have alerted France.
It also emerged that French security police arrested a man in August on suspicion of plotting a terror attack on a concert venue.
The man was held just two months after he returned from a six-day trip to Raqqa, Syria.
According to reports, the suspect confessed that he was ordered by an ISIS leader to return to Europe or France to carry out an atrocity and suggested a busy concert hall as an ideal target.
The apparent intelligence failures come amid an ongoing inquiry into the fatal errors by the security services in the lead up to the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris in January.
Migrants disembark from the catamaran Terra Jet at the Athens’ port of Piraeus, on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. About 1,800 refugees arrived from the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos as the country has been overwhelmed by record numbers of migrants this year. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
The terrorist was carrying a Syrian passport.
The passport was found on the terrorist who blew himself up outside the soccer stadium.
10:41 AM – 14 Nov 2015
Boats packed with thousands of new migrants continue to land on the Greek Islands in November.
In September Lebanese education minister Elias Bousaab warned British Prime Minister David Cameron that 2 of every 100 migrants flooding into Europe were ISIS fighters.
#Greece MigrationMin Mouzalas on Sept 9: It wd be “foolish to believe that there are no jihadists among the refugees that cross into Europe”
10:49 AM – 14 Nov 2015
Migrants march into Europe in October.
This is very concerning. It would appear most of the “refugees” are economic jihadist males between the age of 18-45 years old. They have recently arrived courtesy of President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the State Department.
New Orleans – […] The first transport of refugees arrived in New Orleans recently and will be resettled in Louisiana and 180 other American communities.
[…] The 10,000 Syrian refugees are first flown to the United States, according to the French news wire Agence France-Presse, with the State Department paying the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for the airfare.
Then, once the refugees arrive in the country, they could be dispersed across the 180 cities listed above, where they are to aided within the first 30 to 90 days in settling and finding employment in the area.
After approximately 90 days, refugees are no longer eligible for the State Department-funded support that they were receiving through migrant and refugee services. However, they are able to join support programs through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Additionally, it is unclear how much the screening process for the 10,000 Syrian refugees will cost American taxpayers.
The State Department spent $1.1 billion resettling people from around the world in the country last year. That’s about $16,000 per person. (read full article)
Another local New Orleans media outlet adds:
Fox8Live […] We turned to former New Orleans FBI chief and anti-terrorism expert Jim Bernazzani for insight on whether that’s a legitimate concern. Before coming to New Orleans, Bernazzani worked to ramp up the nation’s anti-terror strategies after 911.
“If I was in charge of ISIL, logistically I’d take advantage of this situation and put my people in, into the United States,” Bernazzani said. “Now with that said, the FBI is on top of this big time with our Joint Terrorism Task Force and we have what’s called a Terrorist Screening Center that these individuals will be run through.”
But make no mistake, not every refugee seeking admission to the U.S. would face such scrutiny.
“It’s going to be the 18- to 45-year-old male for the most part,” he said. “It’s a percentage game. It’s not fail-safe, but it’s a percentage game.”
Still, as more of the refugees take up residency in the New Orleans area, Bernazzani discourages fear.
“These are just people from another country trying to escape misery by virtue of a civil war,” he said. “We had our own civil war, and so I wouldn’t be worried, but I would be vigilant,” he said. (read more)
As I write, Paris is under curfew for the first time since the German occupation, and the death toll from the multiple attacks stands at 158, the vast majority of them slaughtered during a concert at the Bataclan theatre, a delightful bit of 19th century Chinoiserie on the boulevard Voltaire. The last time I was there, if memory serves, was to see Julie Pietri. I’m so bloody sick of these savages shooting and bombing and killing and blowing up everything I like – whether it’s the town where my little girl’s favorite fondue restaurant is or my favorite hotel in Amman or the brave freespeecher who hosted me in Copenhagen …or a music hall where I liked to go to hear a little jazz and pop and get away from the cares of the world for a couple of hours. But look at the photographs from Paris: there’s nowhere to get away from it; the barbarians who yell “Allahu Akbar!” are there waiting for you …when you go to a soccer match, you go to a concert, you go for a drink on a Friday night. They’re there on the train… at the magazine office… in the Kosher supermarket… at the museum in Brussels… outside the barracks in Woolwich…
Twenty-four hours ago, I said on the radio apropos the latest campus “safe space” nonsense:
This is what we’re going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.
Almost. When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does. But don’t worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there’ll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?
With his usual killer comedy timing, the “leader of the free world” told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning, America” this very morning that he’d “contained” ISIS and that they’re not “gaining strength”. A few hours later, a cell whose members claim to have been recruited by ISIS slaughtered over 150 people in the heart of Paris and succeeded in getting two suicide bombers and a third bomb to within a few yards of the French president.
Visiting the Bataclan, M Hollande declared that “nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable”: We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless.
Does he mean it? Or is he just killing time until Obama and Cameron and Merkel and Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull fly in and they can all get back to talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.
Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight’s events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.
But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.
And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries. Most of those people don’t want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live – modern, pluralist, western societies and those “universal values” of which Barack Obama bleats. So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who’s been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.
And all Chancellor Merkel and the EU want to do is make that large comfort zone even larger by letting millions more “Syrian” “refugees” walk into the Continent and settle wherever they want. As I wrote after the Copenhagen attacks in February:
I would like to ask Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt what’s their happy ending here? What’s their roadmap for fewer “acts of violence” in the years ahead? Or are they riding on a wing and a prayer that they can manage the situation and hold it down to what cynical British civil servants used to call during the Irish “Troubles” “an acceptable level of violence”? In Pakistan and Nigeria, the citizenry are expected to live with the reality that every so often Boko Haram will kick open the door of the schoolhouse and kidnap your daughters for sex-slavery or the Taliban will gun down your kids and behead their teacher in front of the class. And it’s all entirely “random”, as President Obama would say, so you just have to put up with it once in a while, and it’s tough if it’s your kid, but that’s just the way it is. If we’re being honest here, isn’t that all Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt are offering their citizens? Spasms of violence as a routine feature of life, but don’t worry, we’ll do our best to contain it – and you can help mitigate it by not going to “controversial” art events, or synagogues, or gay bars, or…
…or soccer matches, or concerts, or restaurants…
To repeat what I said a few days ago, I’m Islamed out. I’m tired of Islam 24/7, at Colorado colleges, Marseilles synagogues, Sydney coffee shops, day after day after day. The west cannot win this thing with a schizophrenic strategy of targeting things and people but not targeting the ideology, of intervening ineffectually overseas and not intervening at all when it comes to the remorseless Islamization and self-segregation of large segments of their own countries.
So I say again: What’s the happy ending here? Because if M Hollande isn’t prepared to end mass Muslim immigration to France and Europe, then his “pitiless war” isn’t serious. And, if they’re still willing to tolerate Mutti Merkel’s mad plan to reverse Germany’s demographic death spiral through fast-track Islamization, then Europeans aren’t serious. In the end, the decadence of Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and the rest of the fin de civilisation western leadership will cost you your world and everything you love.
So screw the candlelight vigil.
Iraq War veteran Joe Leal knows firsthand the difficulties associated with readjusting to domestic life after combat.
“You hear this, ‘We support the troops,’ and there’s commercials out there where troops will be walking down the airport and people will clap, like, ‘Thank you for your service,’” Leal says. “But what happens after they take the uniform off?”
That concern – coupled with a booming Los Angeles homeless veteran population – prompted Leal to launch the Vet Hunters Project, a grassroots movement of veterans helping other ex-servicemen and women.
On this Veterans Day, The Daily Signal takes a closer look at the organization and the lives it’s changing.
Please support this fantastic organization.
President Obama’s effort to grant up to 5 million illegal immigrants work permits and amnesty from deportation suffered a major blow late Monday when a federal appeals court ruled it was likely illegal, in yet another move by the courts to set limits on this White House’s efforts to stretch presidential powers.
The 2-1 decision by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in New Orleans, instantly forces the issue to the fore of the presidential campaigns, where all three top Democratic candidates had insisted Mr. Obama’s actions were not only legal, but vowed to go beyond them and try to expand the amnesty to still more illegal immigrants. Republican candidates, meanwhile, had vowed to undo the moves.
The decision is a huge win for Texas and 25 other states who had sued a year ago to stop the president after he declared he was done waiting for Congress and announced he was acting to “change the law” on his own.
Writing for the majority, Judge Jerry E. Smith said that statement by Mr. Obama weighed heavily against him, since only Congress has the power to rewrite the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“The INA flatly does not permit the reclassification of millions of illegal aliens as lawfully present and thereby make them newly eligible for a host of federal and state benefits, including work authorization,” Judge Smith wrote.
The ruling does not mean those illegal immigrants will be deported – indeed, the judges affirmed that the administration has a lot of leeway to decide who does get kicked out on a case-by-case basis. But the decision means that while leaving them alone, the Homeland Security secretary cannot proactively go ahead and grant them work permits, Social Security numbers and a prospective grant of non-deportation for three years into the future.
The ruling also does not alter Mr. Obama’s 2012 policy granting a similar deportation amnesty to so-called Dreamers, or young adult illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Texas did not challenge that policy.
But the decision does halt the 2014 expansion Mr. Obama announced, which would have lifted the age limit on the 2012 policy so it applied to all Dreamers, and would have extended the grant of amnesty to illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent resident children. Estimates have placed the number of people who would have qualified at up to 5 million.
Mr. Obama had repeatedly insisted he was within the law, and pointed to smaller grants of “deferred action” taken by previous presidents.
The majority of the court, however, said this waiver went far beyond that scope, with Mr. Obama attempting to convert major classifications of illegal status.
Mr. Obama had argued his move, known officially as “Deferred Action for Parental Arrivals,” or DAPA, was not a major new policy, but rather a setting of priorities. He argued that Congress doesn’t give him enough money to deport all illegal immigrants, so he is within his rights to use discretion about whom to deport – and then to grant limited benefits to others who might eventually have a claim to legal status under existing laws.
Judge Carolyn Dineen King, who dissented, agreed with the president’s reasoning.
“Denying DHS’s ability to grant deferred action on a ‘class-wide basis’… as the majority does, severely constrains the agency,” she wrote.
She also agreed with Mr. Obama that the courts had no business even getting involved in the case, saying that the president alone has discretion to make deportation decisions and judges are not allowed to second-guess that.
The judges heard oral arguments in the case in July, calling it an expedited appeal because of the seriousness of the matter. That made the three months it took to issue the ruling all the more striking – and Judge King chided her colleagues for taking so long.
“There is no justification for that delay,” she said.
Courts have not been kind to Mr. Obama, a former constitutional law scholar at the University of Chicago. His move to expand recess appointment powers in 2012 was swatted down by a unanimous Supreme Court, while several environmental moves have also been blocked.
And a federal court in Washington, D.C., has ruled the House of Representatives has standing to sue over the president’s moves to try to spend money on Obamacare that Congress specifically withheld.
The immigration ruling joins those rulings as yet another instance where conservatives have turned to the courts to referee a dispute over Mr. Obama’s claims of executive power.
Immigrant-advocacy groups had been anxiously watching the case, and were devastated by the ruling.
“This is a huge setback,” said Voto Latino President Maria Teresa Kumar. “There is a shortage of justice as families live in constant fear of being torn apart from their loved ones and uprooted from their communities.”
She said she was “confident” the Supreme Court will overturn the ruling, if the case gets there.
Mr. Obama announced the amnesty as part of a series of steps last Nov. 20 designed to work around Congress, where House Republicans had balked at passing a legalization bill.
The president said that if they wouldn’t cooperate with him, he was going to take unilateral action to streamline legal immigration and to halt deportations for as many as 9 million of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. Those steps all remain in place.
But he also wanted to go beyond that and grant some tentative legal status and benefits to about half of those illegal immigrants – chiefly by giving them work permits, which allows them to come out of the shadows, hold jobs and pay taxes above board.
Granting work permits also entitled the illegal immigrants to driver’s licenses in every state in the county, and to Social Security numbers – which meant they were even able to start collecting tax credits. In addition, some states granted them in-state tuition for public colleges.
But the money states would have to spend on issuing driver’s licenses proved to be the plan’s downfall. Texas argued that meant it would lose money under the plan, which meant it had standing to sue.
Once the judges decided that, they turned to whether Mr. Obama followed the law in making the changes. The majority concluded that he because he never sought public review and comment, which is standard for major changes of policy made by agencies, he broke the Administrative Procedures Act.
Immigrant-rights advocates demanded the Obama administration fight to the Supreme Court, but also said they’ll force the issue into the political realm as well.
Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, called on Hispanics and other voters to punish Republicans at the ballot box over the lawsuit, saying “anti-immigrant conservative politicians… are to blame.”
“We cannot control the courts, but we will have a say in political outcomes. It is now up to us – Latino voters and groups like ours that are working every day to grow our vote in the 2016 national election – to elect candidates who respect our communities and will commit to working on our issues and treating us fairly,” he said.
It was supposed to be a “neck-and-neck” race between Tea Party-backed candidate and political newcomer Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway in the Kentucky gubernatorial race on November 3.
But Bevin crushed Conway by a whopping 9%, 52.5% to 43.8%. It was a bloodbath, with Bevin winning all but just a few counties.
If that wasn’t enough to twerk leftist Democrats and their establishment Republican brethren, the state elected another Tea Party champion, Jenean Hampton, the first black woman ever elected to statewide office in Kentucky.
But it’s not just Democrats and RINO Republicans who are threatened by these new anti-establishment, pro-liberty, pro-Constitution Kentucky leaders.
The unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats from Washington, D.C., who unconstitutionally pass rules, laws and regulations without any vote from Congress, were given a powerful two-word message from Governor-elect Matt Bevin.
The Tea Party favorite Bevin, fresh off his huge victory, appeared on The Glenn Beck Radio Program on Friday and said that in regards to the Obama EPA’s tyrannical and un-American efforts to shut down a great American industry – the coal industry – he will tell the controlist agency to “pound sand.”
“Why it is that we in Kentucky – that sit on two extraordinary basins, the Illinois basin and the Central basin, an abundance of this – how are we not participating in something that the world wants more of than they ever have?
And so, from my way of thinking, we will tell the EPA and other unelected officials who have no legal authority over us as a state, to pound sand.”
Bevin told Beck that the Constitution grants the EPA “no authority” over the state, because of the Tenth Amendment, and that the only thing the EPA can do is take the state to court because they have “no enforcement arm.”
Matt Bevin told Glenn Beck that he is fed up with the federal government “bribing us with our own money” and plans on putting a stop to it.
The Goals Of Donald J. Trump’s Veterans Plan
The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is absolutely unacceptable. Over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care. Corruption and incompetence were excused. Politicians in Washington have done too little too slowly to fix it. This situation can never happen again, and when Donald J. Trump is president, it will be fixed – fast.
The guiding principle of the Trump plan is ensuring veterans have convenient access to the best quality care. To further this principle, the Trump plan will decrease wait times, improve healthcare outcomes, and facilitate a seamless transition from service into civilian life.
The Trump Plan Will:
1. Ensure our veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it. No more long drives. No more waiting for backlogs. No more excessive red tape. Just the care and support they earned with their service to our country.
2. Support the whole veteran, not just their physical health care, but also by addressing their invisible wounds, investing in our service members’ post-active duty success, transforming the VA to meet the needs of 21st century service members, and better meeting the needs of our female veterans.
3. Make the VA great again by firing the corrupt and incompetent VA executives who let our veterans down, by modernizing the VA, and by empowering the doctors and nurses to ensure our veterans receive the best care available in a timely manner.
The Trump Plan Gives Veterans The Freedom To Choose And Forces The VA To Compete For Their Dollars
Politicians in Washington have tried to fix the VA by holding hearings and blindly throwing money at the problem. None of it has worked. In fact, wait times were 50% higher this summer than they were a year ago. That’s because the VA lacks the right leadership and management. It’s time we stop trusting Washington politicians to fix the problems and empower our veterans to vote with their feet.
Under a Trump Administration, all veterans eligible for VA health care can bring their veteran’s ID card to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately. Our veterans have earned the freedom to choose better or more convenient care from the doctor and facility of their choice. The power to choose will stop the wait time backlogs and force the VA to improve and compete if the department wants to keep receiving veterans’ healthcare dollars. The VA will become more responsive to veterans, develop more efficient systems, and improve the quality of care because it will have no other choice.
The Trump Plan Treats The Whole Veteran
We must care for the whole veteran, not just their physical health. We must recognize that today’s veterans have very different needs than those of the Greatest Generation.
The Trump Plan Will:
1. Increase funding for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and suicide prevention services to address our veterans’ invisible wounds. Service members are five times more likely to develop depression than civilians. They are almost fifteen times more likely to develop PTSD than civilians. This funding will help provide more and better counseling and care. More funding will also support research on best practices and state of the art treatments to keep our veterans alive, healthy and whole. With these steps, the Trump plan will help the veteran community put the unnecessary stigma surrounding mental health behind them and instead encourage acceptance and treatment in our greater society.
2. Increase funding for job training and placement services (including incentives for companies hiring veterans), educational support and business loans. All Americans agree that we must do everything we can to help put our service men and women on a path to success as they leave active duty by collaborating with the many successful non-profit organizations that are already helping. Service members have learned valuable skills in the military but many need help understanding how to apply those skills in civilian life. Others know how to apply those skills but need help connecting with good jobs to support their families. Still others have an entrepreneurial spirit and are ready to start creating jobs and growing the economy. The Trump plan will strengthen existing programs or replace them with more effective ones to address these needs and to get our veterans working.
3. Transform the VA to meet the needs of 21st century service members. Today’s veterans have very different needs than those of the generations that came before them. The VA must adapt to meet the needs of this generation of younger, more diverse veterans. The Trump plan will expand VA services for female veterans and ensure the VA is providing the right support for this new generation of veterans.
4. Better support our women veterans. The fact that many VA hospitals don’t permanently staff OBGYN doctors shows an utter lack of respect for the growing number female veterans. Under the Trump plan, every VA hospital in the country will be fully equipped with OBGYN and other women’s health services. In addition, women veterans can always choose a different OBGYN in their community using their veteran’s ID card.
The Trump Plan Will Make The VA Great Again
The VA health care program is a disaster. Some candidates want to get rid of it, but our veterans need the VA to be there for them and their families. That’s why the Trump plan will:
1. Fire the corrupt and incompetent VA executives that let our veterans down. Under a Trump Administration, there will be no job security for VA executives that enabled or overlooked corruption and incompetence. They’re fired. New leadership will focus the VA staff on delivering timely, top quality care and other services to our nation’s veterans. Under a Trump Administration, exposing and addressing the VA’s inefficiencies and shortcomings will be rewarded, not punished.
2. End waste, fraud and abuse at the VA. The Trump plan will ensure the VA is spending its dollars wisely to provide the greatest impact for veterans and hold administrators accountable for irresponsible spending and abuse. The days of $6.3 million for statues and fountains at VA facilities and $300,000 for a manager to move 140 miles are over. The Trump plan will clean up the VA’s finances so the current VA budget provides more and better care than it does now.
3. Modernize the VA. A VA with 20th century technology cannot serve 21st century service members and their needs. The VA has been promising to modernize for years without real results. The Trump plan will make it happen by accelerating and expanding investments in state of the art technology to deliver best-in-class care quickly and effectively. All veterans should be able to conveniently schedule appointments, communicate with their doctors, and view accurate wait times with the push of a button.
4. Empower the caregivers to ensure our veterans receive quality care quickly. Caregivers should be able to easily streamline treatment plans across departments and utilize telehealth tools to better serve their patients. As we have seen from the private sector, the potential for new, innovative technology is endless. Abandoning the wasteful and archaic mindset of the public sector will give way to tremendously effective veteran healthcare.
5. Hire more veterans to care for veterans. The more veterans we have working at the VA, the better the VA will be. They understand the unique challenges facing their community. To increase the number of veterans hired by the VA, this plan will add an additional 5 points to the qualifying scores of veterans applying for VA jobs.
6. Embed satellite VA clinics in rural and other underserved areas. The Trump Administration will embed satellite VA clinics within hospitals and other care facilities in rural and other underserved areas. This step will ensure veterans have easy access to care and local hospitals and care facilities can handle the influx of patients without backlogs while tapping the specialized knowledge of VA health specialists.
Russian intelligence officers claim Islamic State (ISIS) is preparing to take on Central Asia in its latest battle to take on the world in a frightening discovery.
Huge numbers of Islamist fighters are massing on Afghanistan’s northern border ready to march into neighbouring states, Russian intelligence officials have revealed.
Moscow’s spy chief Alexander Bortnikov warned fighters from the Taliban, many of whom have pledged allegiance to ISIS, were heavily armed and prepared to pass through porous border controls.
Speaking at a meeting of special services from the Commonwealth of Independent States, he warned: “The international community has now hit a new geopolitical challenge, an international criminal group in the name of the Islamic State.
“This project, which grew out of the ‘Arab Spring,’ has gained momentum thanks to the double standards of certain world regional powers by using ‘a terrorist battering ram’ to reach their own strategic goals in Asia and Africa.
“According to our estimates, citizens from more than 100 countries are currently fighting in the ranks of terrorist structures and the recruits constitute up to 40 percent of their forces.
“The escalation in tensions in Afghanistan has brought on serious dangers. There are numerous criminal groups included in the Taliban movement on the northern borders of this country right now. Some of them have also began operating under the Islamic State flag, which has led to a sharp rise in the threat of terrorists invading Central Asia.”
The jihadi hate group could be trying to open up a new front to the north of its territories after being pegged back in Syria by Russian airstrikes.
The invasion would be a swipe at Vladimir Puitin as it would take them into the former Soviet states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which are still beholden to Moscow.
They would also secure control of lucrative drug trafficking routes taking raw opium from Afghanistan to be sold as heroin on the streets of Russia and Europe.
ISIS has been looking to grow its presence in Asia and has active cells in India, Pakistan and Malaysia.
Putin earlier this month called the situation in Afghanistan “close to critical” and called on other ex-Soviet nations to be prepared to act together to repel a possible attack by ISIS.
The Islamic maniacs have been heavily battered by Western and Russian airstrikes, with some experts warning its economy is ailing and its command structure close to collapse.
The brutal jihadis have previously announced their intentions to take over the world and subject everyone to their warped ideology of Sharia Law.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a good point – America needs to be more like Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries. But he’s wrong about the reason why. He thinks socialism is the cause of their success, but the true cause is their older free-market culture and their recent efforts to return toward market and economic freedom.
Since the 1990s, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway have expanded private property rights, business freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom. Each of these countries has increased its score on the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom, and Denmark now outranks even the United States as a good place to do business.
Sanders sees the size of the Scandinavian welfare states and the relative health and happiness they enjoy, and thinks this correlation proves causation. A deeper look at the history and current affairs of Denmark and the surrounding countries tells a different story, however. These countries’ benefits arguably spring from their free-market pasts, not their brief dalliance with big government.
A Free Market Culture Under Attack
Scandinavian countries are well known for their unusually high levels of trust, a strong work ethic and an emphasis on individual responsibility. These traits are not the result of socialistic welfare states, but the explanation for why such bloated government programs could be implemented in the first place.
“In the early days, the unique culture of success in the Nordic countries meant that high taxes and welfare benefits could be introduced” with the negative side effects delayed, wrote Nima Sanandaji in her 2015 book Scandinavian Unexceptionalism: Culture, Markets and the Failure of Third-Way Socialism. During the early 1900s and following the Great Depression, Scandinavia’s small government and free markets fostered a culture of hard work that paid huge dividends in terms of prosperity.
The success of these countries enabled the government to expand, as the wealth of average citizens allowed them to pay more taxes. More importantly, the culture of hard work meant few people tried to live off of welfare and “game the system.” After big governments were introduced however, the culture changed – for the worse.
The Scandinavians who left for the United States mark this change well – Sanandaji notes that Americans with Nordic ancestry are thriving better than their relatives back in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Contrary to Bernie Sanders’ belief, the 1960s-1990s expansion of welfare states actually held the Nordic countries back.
After their experiment with socialistic welfare states, “Nordic citizens now have unusually high levels of sickness absence (despite being healthy societies), high youth unemployment and a poor record for integrating migrants into the labour force,” Sanandaji explains. Big government has weakened the strong culture which enabled welfare states in the first place, and these countries know it.
In 2013, a Danish woman on welfare made the news. A liberal member of Parliament challenged the free-market politician Joachim B. Olsen to actually visit a single mother of two on welfare, and see how hard her life is.
Olsen took the advice, and learned that being on welfare isn’t so hard after all. The 36-year-old single mother, known as “Carina,” was making more money than many of the country’s full time workers, the New York Times reported. “All told, she was getting about $2,700 a month, and she had been on welfare since she was 16.”
Reforming the System
“With little fuss or political protest – or notice abroad – Denmark has been at work overhauling entitlements, trying to prod Danes into working more or longer or both,” New York Times reporter Suzanne Daley continued.
“The welfare state here has spiraled out of control,” declared Olsen, the reform-minded politician who visited Carina. “It has done a lot of good, but we have been unwilling to talk about the negative side,” he added, saying that discussing the “Carinas” in public has long been considered “taboo.”
Denmark has been hard at work at reform, however. In 2013, it reduced early-retirement plans, and cut the term for unemployment benefits from four years to two. Reformers like Olsen have also pushed for limiting disability checks to those over 40 or with a severe mental or physical condition. In 2013, roughly 240,000 people – nine percent of the potential work force – were receiving disability checks, and about 33,500 of them were under 40.
In recent years, all the Nordic countries have decreased their corporate tax rates – each one is lower than in the United States. They also support free trade, unlike American Socialists like Bernie Sanders, who opposed the 1990s North American Free Trade Agreement.
Becoming More Like Denmark
Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are tiny – and not very diverse – compared to the United States. Denmark is a nation roughly the size of Maryland with the population of Atlanta, and nearly 90 percent of its population is of Danish descent.
Nevertheless, there are clear lessons a huge, diverse country can learn from the recent experiences of these small, homogeneous nations. The biggest lesson might surprise Bernie Sanders – socialism doesn’t work.
A cradle-to-grave welfare state has transformed the strong work ethic of the Scandinavian countries into a sad complacency. People like Carina game the system, and feel no shame in doing so. Indeed, “Lazy Robert” Nielsen, 45, did not even ask for a pseudonym when he told the media that he has been on welfare since 2001. “Luckily, I am born and live in Denmark, where the government is willing to support my life.”
Lene Malmberg, who works part time as a secretary despite a serious brain injury which affects her short-term memory, told the New York Times about her sister, who was receiving benefits and getting more money than Lene was – when she worked full time before the accident. “The system is wrong somehow, I agree,” Lene said. “I wanted to work. But she was a little bit: ‘Why work?’”
People in the Nordic countries are suffering from the ill effects of the very socialism which Bernie Sanders wants to bring to America. They know it doesn’t work, and they are working hard to achieve robust, free-market reforms.
America cannot ever be Denmark, but we should strive to copy their recent reforms. They have woken up to the woes of dependency and big government. They have cut their corporate tax rates and have made their country a better place to do business. We should follow their example and do the same.
So Bernie Sanders is right, let’s copy Denmark.