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Posts tagged ‘Canada’

Second HIV Baby in Study Free of Virus.


Two children with HIV who were treated immediately after birth have no signs of the virus 9 and 23 months later, scientists said in a report that suggests a potential approach to curing HIV-infected babies.

The findings from the two children are spurring doctors in Canada, South Africa and the U.S. to try to replicate the results, and spawned a study in 54 babies, the researchers said yesterday.

The research suggests that deploying drugs early in life may help keep the virus from gaining a foothold. The importance of such a result is clear: More than 260,000 children were infected globally with HIV in 2012, either at birth or through breastfeeding.

While the early findings are promising, a final step is needed before determining that a cure is at hand, said Deborah Persaud, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“The only way we can prove that we’ve accomplished remission in these kids is taking them off treatment, and that’s not without risks,” Persaud, who was involved in the research on both babies, said in an interview yesterday at a medical meeting on infectious disease held in Boston.

While the latest HIV drugs can keep the virus in check, they don’t eliminate it from hidden reservoirs deep within the body. The drugs are taken for a lifetime and patients often have to cycle among different medicines to offset the disease’s ability to become resistant.

Los Angeles Baby

Persaud presented results yesterday from a child born last year in Los Angeles County. The baby began treatment with anti- HIV drugs four hours after being born and still has no trace of the virus in its blood, Persaud said. The baby remains on treatment, and there’s no immediate plan to stop the medicine to see whether the virus rebounds, she said.

The previous child, born in Mississippi, was cleared of the virus with a similar approach a year ago, and remains HIV-free 23 months after ceasing treatment, according to Persaud, who presented her report yesterday at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Inspired by the Mississippi baby, doctors in Canada are now seeking to repeat the result in five newborns, and three babies in South Africa are also receiving medicines in an effort to cure them. Within the next few months, researchers also plan to start a trial in 54 children to test whether the approach can be repeated on a larger scale, Persaud said.

That larger study will start infected infants on treatment within 48 hours of birth, then take them off drugs two years later to see whether the virus rebounds.

Drug Combination

The babies will receive a three-drug combination of zidovudine and lamivudine, two now-generic medicines developed by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and nevirapine, a treatment from Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH that has also lost patent protection.

The cases involving the two infants build on increasing evidence about approaches to curing a disease doctors once thought an insurmountable challenge.

To date, the only adult to have been cured of the virus is Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called Berlin patient. Brown has been clear of the virus since having a bone marrow transplant for leukemia in 2007 from a donor with a rare mutation to a gene called CCR5 that keeps HIV at bay without the aid of antiretroviral drugs.

While the case proves that HIV can be cured, bone marrow transplants are too expensive and dangerous to make them practical on a mass scale.

Sangamo Biosciences Inc. is trying to mimic the CCR5 mutation with a gene-altering technology. In a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania infused 12 patients with Richmond, California-based Sangamo’s SB-728-T, an experimental treatment that changes CCR5.

While the trial was designed to assess the product’s safety, not its efficacy, it found that the treatment was associated with a drop in the amount of virus in some patients who were taken off their regular anti-AIDS drugs.

 

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, 2013: A Call For Dialogue For The Sake Of Those On The Margins By Stan Chu Ilo.


I wish to argue in this short discourse why I think the signing into law of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2013 by President Jonathan on 30th December, 2013 is very precipitate and ill-advised. Making this argument in itself is risky: it is nearly impossible in our environment to have a reasoned discourse on sensitive issues like this one, but I believe a dialogue is needed for the sake of those on the margins, the homosexuals of today and tomorrow.

Secondly, traditional cultural values autochthonous to Nigeria reject homosexuality in its entirety; there seems to be no place for a homosexual person in traditional Nigerian society; it is nearly impossible for people to shift their position on this especially when they see things in black and white. However, I will appeal to people not to draw quick conclusions on this piece without attending to the arguments which I shall put forward. I am calling for conversion on the part of all Nigerians in order to make some needed intellectual, spiritual, religious, psychological, moral and cultural transition needed in finding a way to address the reality of the presence of people with homosexual orientation in our country and in the world.

Cultural and religious systems being historical are constantly challenged not to use old answers to meet new questions, and to stretch themselves in the face of new questions which were not often clearly understood and interpreted in the past. Such a shift in the center of value is not something that happens overnight because social changes are gradual, dialectical, tension-filled, and crisis-generating and sometimes may lead to a death of aspects of a society in order for something new to arise.  In order to make it possible for a civilized debate, I wish to summarize my arguments in three propositions:

1. Banning same-sex marriage in Nigeria is unnecessary, the customary, Canonical, and Sharia laws operating in Nigeria and our statutes are clear that marriage in Nigeria is between a man and a woman. No one has challenged this law. My argument is that we do not need another law. The question is: Who is breaking this law and who is posing a threat to this law? The people who are posing a threat to our family life in Nigeria are people who are cheating on their wives or husbands; people who are breeding children who they cannot take care of, people who are committing all kinds of child abuse and neglect; people who take their family members to cities as maids and treat them like slaves and sometimes send the female ones home when they get pregnant; absentee fathers and some mothers who know how to ‘beget’ children and not how ‘to bring up’ children. Homosexuals in Nigeria pose no threat to family life and values in Nigeria today, hence this law is of no use.

2. Being a homosexual from research available to me is not a choice ( I am open to being helped with research that argues for the contrary); there may be some people who may have chosen to ‘experiment’ with a gay life style, but being someone, and acting like you are someone are two different things. We must, therefore, separate being and acting in this discourse; who you are is a gift from God like St Francis of Assisi once said: Who I am before God that I am indeed! If I was born a homosexual, that is who I am; it is not my choice; how I act according to who I am is my choice which is open to moral evaluation; if you condemn me for being who God made me, you are condemning God who made me the way I am; so we must separate the reality that someone was born a homosexual from the fact that someone is committing a homosexual act. If a homosexual person is fornicating, his or her action of breaking the moral law is open to moral judgment because every human act is to be judged to the extent to which they conform to the ultimate moral demand.

Homosexuality is a human reality, so it is not simply a Western reality; there are some Nigerian brothers and sisters we know who are homosexuals, they deserve our love. Human realities are mysteries which we must embrace with openness, respect, sensitivity and love in order to understand what they reveal to us about God and human nature especially about the diversity and complexities of human nature which can never be understood through a single narrative. I marvel at the rich tapestry of human diversity, which reflects the diverse relations of the three-person God.

3. We need greater internal cultural, religious and spiritual conversation and discernment in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world as to how to appropriately integrate homosexual persons into society without violating their human dignity and their rights to live abundant life and without doing harm to the common good. Such a conversation I am proposing cannot be had if either in Nigeria or in the West people propose laws which ban or allow a reality which we have not fully understood. We need more evidence about why homosexuality has been with us since human history and why there is a changing attitude and changing understanding of homosexuality and acts associated with it across different cultural, religious, and spiritual settings. In a more concrete sense for example, why will Desmond Tutu, Mandela, Soyinka and a few others have a more tolerant attitude to this issue than some other African spiritual, political, and academic leaders?

It means that this issue has no straight forward answers and no law will put paid to the issue whether in Nigeria or Canada or USA. However, the answer to this human reality of homosexuality is not through any juridical positivism or legislative activism for or against same sex marriage. These polarized positions are often ideological driven or couched as in Nigeria’s case in  appeals to one or more aspect of a misleading claim of a pristine common and unchanging cultural traditions against homosexuality.

Many Nigerians will like our country to play a leading role as the moral beacon of Africa and the world. Many of us agonize that the promise of this great land has not been realized and that our land has been taken over time and again by those who abuse the high privilege of political office, and manipulate our rich cultural, economic and spiritual values for cheap political gains. The idea that signing the prohibition of same sex law sends a clear message to Western nations that Nigeria cannot be dictated to by them and that Nigeria will not kowtow to the social experimentations in the West with regard to marriage seems to me a less than ideal justification for a law that is not well thought out.

Furthermore, if the prohibition of same-sex marriage is the express goal of this law, some of us will not be worried. But to go ahead and legislate and criminalize against free association by people of same-sex orientation (section 7, a-i) and deny them the freedom to live together seems to me to be an invasion of people’s privacy and an affront against their rights. Why should the Nigerian state arrogate to herself the right to determine what goes on in people’s private homes? How can this law presuppose that two same sex people living together must be involved in an ‘amorous relation’ as if to say two people who love each other deeply whether homosexual or heterosexual cannot live together without being intimate? In making same-sex association a crime, and asserting or implying prima facie that same-sex persons when they gather may be doing so for ‘amorous reasons’, this law goes beyond the dictates of natural law and leaves a big hole for all kinds of discrimination and prejudice against same-sex people.

I have attended gatherings of same-sex Christians who come together to pray and seek for divine illumination in their search for identity and for a place in a very hostile and judgmental world. I have an ongoing pastoral relation with a Lutheran pastor who has a ministry to LBGTs here in Toronto and I have attended some of their social functions and did not see any ‘amorous acts’, but a feeling of joy, friendship and peace and a search on how they can experience God’s love through association with the church and society at large. The greatest threat to our moral health in Nigeria is not homosexuality or acts associated with homosexuality. Even in Jerusalem and Rome—the holy lands of Christianity and Judaism—while same-sex marriages are not allowed, people with same-sex attraction are not criminalized for being who they are, hence they are allowed to self-identity their sexual orientation and to freely seek political position, to join the Israeli military, to attend religious rites, go to clubs, and to freely choose who they want to be with.

I am afraid that this law is only a political distraction and a populist act by President Jonathan. It is very troubling to use homosexuality—something which concerns the wellbeing of some Nigerians—as a tool in an increasingly confused moral platform of our stinking and sinking political leadership.
In coming out with this poor and unjust legislation without much deliberation and conversation, Nigeria has lost yet another golden opportunity as it has lost in many instances in the past of helping Africans and the rest of the world to come to a fuller and better understanding of the issues and dimensions of the debate on the rights of same sex persons. My argument here is the same which I have advanced in conversation with Westerners: the rush to legalize same-sex marriage as in the West or to criminalize same-sex marriage as in Nigeria is a waste of time.

Homosexuality or acts associated with it will not go away simply because you have a law against it, because it is has remained as a part of human nature and human reality since our human evolution. People with homosexual orientation will not be fully accepted in society because you have a law which allows same-sex marriage nor will same-sex persons and acts associated with such alternate sexuality disappear in Nigeria because we now have a law that takes care of the people whom we consider as abnormal in our limited world of reality and perception.

I am looking forward to a day when one nation or religion can set up a commission of moralists, psychologists, geneticists, spiritual masters and socio-cultural anthropologists to look at the evidence on homosexuality and come out with a conclusion on what is going on within the biological, spiritual, genetic, and psychological set up of the homosexual person so that we can make our laws and judgments based on evidence not from our uncritical and biased locus of enunciation. This was how people in the past were able to understand the issues associated with Ogbanje, abiku, sickle cell, stroke, high bp, the killing of twins etc. Without scientific evidence, it is hard to draw any conclusion that homosexuality is a choice; my own reading of research available to me tells me that it is genetic in most cases.

We cannot make judgment in charity about homosexuality if we have not fully and deeply entered into the world of the person, walked in the person’s shoes so as to journey with the person in finding answers to how he or she can live fully the life God has given.  When in doubt do not act is an ancient axiom and that was why Pope Francis asked the world when it comes to the question of homosexuality that we should not rush to judgment; we should get sufficient facts and evidence before making our judgment.

What is my own conclusion? At the personal level, I am calling for more dialogue on this issue. My tentative conclusion after many years of ongoing research, ministering to and associating with homosexual persons, and after prayerful reflection is that there are some homosexuals who have not chosen to be homosexuals; they deserve our love, understanding, support, and compassion. Let me also add that this was not something I embraced simply because I moved to Europe or North America. When one of my friends was dismissed from the seminary in Owerri because he admitted that he had homosexual orientation in 1994, I was very sad and confused. I felt then as I feel today that we (Nigerian society) have not understood homosexuality hence the quick judgment that they are ‘abnormal’ and do ‘unnatural acts.’ In many cases we suspect them of being evil and judge them even before they act as we have done in the law signed by President Jonathan.

Have we stopped for a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of someone struggling with his or her sexuality and how we can embrace this person in his or her journey? I believe that we can do better for homosexuals and the marginalized of our world by first immersing ourselves in their world, understanding that world and being with them in the places of pain, emptiness and confusion. This is the only way we can accompany them in making the moral choices which will fulfill their deepest desire for God, for healthy relationships with people so as to ‘make heaven.’

I try to separate the homosexual person who like any of us is genuinely searching for a relationship with God, a desire for self-acceptance, and a true and respectful relationship and friendship with people, from a gay activist. If we examined what goes on in some of our high schools and universities and among some highly placed men and women in Nigeria, there is a burgeoning homosexual culture which should be condemned in unmistakable terms. The reprehensible immoral exploitation of little girls and boys by ‘senior’ boys and girls in high schools and universities and colleges; and the abuse of our young people either heterosexually or by aberrant homosexual ‘ogas’,  ‘madams’, and men and women of God should be seen for what they are: unmitigated evils which cry to heaven for vengeance.

There are many sexual aberrations and misdemeanors in our country today, but whether they are homosexual or not, we need to elevate our sexual morality to a higher tenor to clean our society of the scourge of adultery, sexual exploitation of our women by powerful men in high places; sexual exploitation and harassment of our young girls by our politicians and the ‘ogas on the top’ and sexual abuse of vulnerable people by the powerful in our families, religious institutions, and public places.

Thus the affront on marriage by gay activists which promotes any and all kinds of sexual behavior in the name of procuring rights for the homosexual persons as we see in the gay pride parades in Western cities may not be the answer we can give in Nigeria to meeting the cries of our homosexual brothers and sisters for recognition and a healthy space to live fully the lives God has given them. Every society must seek from within its religious and cultural resources the transformation and transition needed in order to meet the inevitable complexity which comes with social changes and the diversity of modern life. Religious and cultural traditions are never frozen in time, but constantly make fundamental shifts to meet the demands of progress and change.

In addressing the perceived inadequacies of this Nigerian law, the international community must understand that one cannot push away people’s cultures and traditions in order to support and advance their cultural and human development and the modernization of their societies.  The challenge today for Nigerians is for us to engage in a critical and open dialogue on how the common good of all people especially gays and other marginalized minorities could be protected and promoted. We need a national dialogue on how to develop more openness and honesty in addressing issues of sexual morality and sexual identity in our country, and how to develop a healthier sexual morality across the board from the top to bottom. The gay marriage right discourse tends often to paper over the needed dialogue within communities on the dignity, nobility, and inestimable value of every human person irrespective of his or her sexual orientation, color, sex or creed. Enforced rights do not often change entrenched attitudes.

Rights are not tokens from one person to another but are claims which arise from who we are as equal persons before God. These rights also come with duties and obligations. Rights emerge from natural law discoverable through reason and from a community’s identity and appropriation of the ultimate good through the ordination of the acts of members to laws which promote, preserve and protect the common good. Time has come for African societies to mine the inner and dynamic resources of their cultural and religious traditions in order to find a new openness to dialogue about how to love, respect, and tolerate our brothers and sisters whose sexuality being an intrinsic part of their personality is the gift which they offer to our world. There should be a place in our society for those who do not think like we do, who do not act like we do and who do not look like us; this is the path to a better and more tolerant society.

The mentality in Nigeria that because I am Igbo I have to prefer only Igbo people or because I am Catholic I should consider Pentecostals inferior or because I am heterosexual I am better than a homosexual person should be changed if we can move forward as a nation otherwise we will be enjoying the false bliss of those who live in the innocent and commonsensical cave world of undifferentiated consciousness, enslaved in our own national bias and presumed superior cultural hubris which will only blight our perception of higher consciousness against insight and against progress.

I wish to conclude this discourse with a short reference to what Aquinas who is often cited in this argument thought of about natural law.

For Aquinas (Summa Theologie, 1a-11ab, q. 94, a. 2) natural law is an inclination towards the good which is discerned through reason and which conduces towards the common good. These inclinations are common to all human beings and include the inclination to preserve and develop one’s existence; the inclination to procreate in order to survive and sustain the species through reproduction; and the inclination which is specific to human beings as rational and spiritual beings to desire the truth, to embrace the truth and to enter into relationships with God, fellow human beings and the world of nature. Linked to this is the inclination to live in a healthy and well functioning society where everyone has equal opportunity and where everyone is accepted as a person no matter the person’s race, sex, sexuality, religion etc. It is because of this precept of the natural law which is written into the very fabric of our soul that we feel a sense of anger when we see or hear of injustice in our world, or when we see human sufferings or experience betrayal or injustice.

The duty of working for justice and making the necessary sacrifices to make this world with all its ambiguities and complexities to conform to God’s will of the coming of God’s kingdom is one which all human beings embrace each in his or her own way. This is because there is an inclination in us towards promoting the good of order because we all wish to live in a well ordered and functioning society where we can flourish with others. Is the homosexual inclination against this order?

What Aquinas calls an inclination is what Augustine referred to as desire when he said for instance that the desire I have for God is deeper and closer to me than I am to myself. The paradox of our human existence is our desire; it is the root of all good or evil in the world because most human acts begin with desire. But Augustine and Thomas after him argue that the true human desire is the one that leads to God and the realization of these four inclinations which I have indicated above. This is where the matter lies: we all desire to procreate, to love God, to love one another, to preserve and protect our lives and that of our communities and our world. Not all of us will fulfill that desire through our acts either because we are incapable of doing so or because we have chosen to fulfill that desire through other means (Matthew 19:12).

There are many women and men who desire to have children but they cannot, I am sure that they are contributing to the good of our human species through other means. There are people like me who can make babies but have chosen to live a celibate life so that we can freely give of ourselves in total and unrestricted service to our brothers and sisters, I am sure no one will accuse me and other Catholic priests of warring against procreation.

Understanding the deeper meaning of Aquinas’ natural inclination and nature as that which is essential to who I am helped me to see homosexuality in a different light. I see homosexual persons as a gift not because of what they cannot do or what gay activist want them to embrace as rights, but rather because of what they can do and who they can become if we supported them to channel their desires to the greater good of society which begins for me by falling in Love with God who is that Absolute Unconditioned Love in whom all our differences melt away.

Stan Chu Ilo, is a Catholic priest from Adu Achi, Enugu State, Nigeria.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Is Stephen Harper’s Canada Israel’s New Best Friend?.


 

Stephen Harper Canada
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (l) shakes hands with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper as Harper’s wife Laureen watches during a welcoming ceremony for Harper at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem Jan. 19, 2014. Harper is on a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

With the Middle East in turmoil, Europe moving backward and the United States fatigued from years of war and recession, Canada has emerged as a staunch supporter of Israel. At a time when Israel is routinely singled out for condemnation, Canada has been at the forefront of those defending Israel and criticizing its enemies.

This outspokenness comes amid the growing economic and political clout of Canada, a country that is traditionally accustomed to keeping a low profile internationally. While Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper embarked on his first trip to Israel, from Jan. 19-22, the Jewish state rolled out the red carpet for him. Has Israel found a new best friend?

“[Harper] really understands the importance and moral justification for a Jewish state. He gets it,” Rabbi Philip Scheim of Toronto’s Beth David Synagogue, who is traveling as part of Harper’s delegation to Israel, told JNS.org.

Since World War II, Canada’s foreign policy has centered on multilateralism and participation in international organizations. But Harper has moved beyond those traditional corridors and has focused on a stronger and more independent Canadian foreign policy.

Part of this new independent foreign policy has been supporting Israel, an often-unpopular position around the world. Immediately upon taking office in 2006, Harper bucked world opinion and supported Israel in its war against the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. This outward support has continued in every military engagement Israel has been involved in since.

Canada has also supported Israel in the U.N., joining only a handful of small nations and the U.S. in voting against upgrading the Palestinians to nonmember observer state status in 2012 and repeatedly voting against resolutions condemning Israel.

On Iran, Harper has aligned more closely with Israel’s position than with the positions of some of its allies in Europe and the U.S. In 2012, Harper cut diplomatic ties with Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa, Canada’s capital. More recently, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said he was “deeply skeptical” of the interim nuclear deal with Iran and reaffirmed that Canada would maintain its sanctions against Iran.

These positions have come with some costs for Canada. In a shocking outcome in 2010, Canada lost a bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Some speculated that Harper’s strong pro-Israel stance might have played a role in straining relations with the U.N.’s large Islamic bloc.

“This is really something we have not seen before, a prime minister of Canada taking a really strong position at a great political cost. He knows that this could really hurt him in some areas, but he doesn’t care, because this is what he really believes,” Scheim told JNS.org.

Harper, an evangelical Christian who belongs to the Colorado-based Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, has also come under fire from critics who claim that his faith influences his foreign policy.

“My sense is that there may be an element of religious connection [to Israel]. But that is certainly not all of it; I think it also has to do with his sense of the world, his sense of justice and understanding of history, especially Jewish history,” Scheim said.

But Canada, like its American and European allies, still has a vocal anti-Israel movement within the country, particularly on college campuses and in certain media outlets.

In 2005, Toronto’s York University became the first school to host “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW), and its student union, the largest in Canada, voted last year to divest from Israel. IAW events have also spread to other Canadian universities.

Harper’s recent selection of Vivian Bercovici, who is Jewish and has been a vocal supporter of Israel, to be Canada’s next ambassador to Israel has also drawn some criticism in the Canadian media. In an interview with Baird, CBC anchor Evan Solomon questioned whether it is appropriate to appoint a pro-Israel Jew to be the ambassador to Israel.

“Vivian Bercovici is Jewish, so there are going to be some questions. Why not appoint someone who doesn’t even have the perception of any kind of bias [in favor of Israel]?” Solomon asked.

Yet despite the criticism of Harper’s pro-Israel stance, Shimon Fogel, CEO of Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, credits Harper for making support for Israel a mainstream position in Canada.

“Adopting those positions on Israel is what a mainstream party should look like in the eyes of most of the Canadian electorate today,” Fogel told JNS.org.

This support has shown itself in the positions of the leaders of Canada’s two main opposition parties, the centrist Liberal Party and the center-left New Democratic Party (NDP).

“Yes, the Liberal Party will have Israel’s back—but not because it’s in our political interests to do so at home, but because it is the right thing to do on the world stage,” Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau recently told a crowd of 500 people at Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Toronto, the Jewish Tribune of Toronto reported.

Meanwhile, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has strong Jewish ties. Mulcair’s wife is a French Sephardic Jew whose parents are Holocaust survivors, and his children are being raised Jewish. Mulcair has described himself as an “ardent support of Israel in all instances.”

Adding to their credentials, both Trudeau and Mulcair have also visited Israel before.

“The opposition parties are very close to the position of the Conservative government [on Israel]. But it has to be recognized that this government [Harper’s Conservative Party] established that benchmark,” Fogel told JNS.org.

Amid the political implications, one aspect of Harper’s trip that may be overlooked is the economic component. Like Israel, Canada has successfully weathered the global economic crisis over the past five years and has invested heavily in high-tech areas.

“One of the things we have done over the last decade has tried to broaden the base of support for Israel. We have spent a lot of time to helping foster interest and engagement of the private sector in seeing Israel as a high-tech destination. There has been a ton of partnerships and investments from the private sector,” Fogel said.

Joining Harper on the trip to Israel are 30 of Canada’s top business executives, including billionaire real estate and media moguls David Asper and Albert Reichmann, as well as Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu.

Upon touching down in Israel for the first time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted Harper and praised him as “a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people.”

“I think he has taken a moral stand worthy of admiration, and I welcome him on behalf of the Israeli government and on behalf of all the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said, the Jerusalem Post reported.

At a time when few countries around the world come to Israel’s defense, Rabbi Scheim believes the trip is an opportunity for Israel to finally express its appreciation for Harper.

“He is very well-known in Israel,”Scheim told JNS.org. “You go to the U.S., nobody knows who the prime minister of Canada is, but in Israel, the whole country knows him, and I am very proud to identify with him.”

For the original article, visit jns.org.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

No Right To Force The Legalization Of Same-Sex Union By Hannatu Musawa.


 

Hannatu Musawa
Columnist:

Hannatu Musawa

The signing of the Same-sex Prohibition Act by President Jonathan on January 7 2014, elicited negative reactions from Western countries such as the US, member countries of the European Union and Canada. They have consistently mounted pressure on the federal government over the president’s signing of the Same-Sex Prohibition Act 2014, claiming that the law is a violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians with same sex orientation.

Notably, the law does not only criminalize same-sex marriage, it also makes public displays of affection and even socializing in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex community illegal. The US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle threatened that his country would scale down its support for HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria programs in response to government’s position on the gay rights issue. The Vanguard also reported that they learnt the US is committing “substantial” resources to fund the emergence of gay clubs and advocacy groups in Nigeria. The Canadian government canceled a planned state visit by President Jonathan scheduled for next month. The Canadian government’s action is believed to be that country’s reaction to the president’s assenting to the bill, which has so far enjoyed popular support in Nigeria.

Since 2011, certain Western countries have been considering and implementing laws that limit or prohibit general budget support to countries that restrict the rights of homosexuals. Regardless of this, many African countries have continued to refuse pressure to legalize homosexual practices. Many African leaders feel that gay rights are against Africa’s culture and religious value systems and believe that they have the sovereign right to reject what is seen as an imposition by Western nations that attempts to affect national sentiments via aid. While I vehemently disagree with the laws that impose the death penalty on those who come out as homosexuals, the reality is that same sex acts are illegal in about 38 African countries and actual enforcement varies widely and punishment ranges from prison sentences to the Draconian sentence of the death penalty.

In Mauritania, Sudan and Nigeria, homosexuality is a serious punishable crime. In Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leone, offenders can receive life imprisonment for homosexual acts. South Africa’s constitution is the most liberal towards gays and lesbians within the continent, with a constitution that guarantees gay and lesbian rights and legal same sex marriage. However, even there, gay rights have been described as an “exclusive privilege of the whites and well-heeled, a small but high-profile subset.”

The raucousness from Western nations that has been accompanying the banning of same sex unions in some parts of Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia has risen to a crescendo. And in their bid to ram the freedom of same sex unions down the throat of more traditional and conservative nations, the west has discarded high-minded rhetoric for bullying tactics dressed in the guise of human rights mantras. The result? Hypocrisy has taken center stage as the preferred response of the west in their bid to redefine the limits of marriage, privacy and religious freedom in some African, Eastern European and Asian countries.

The hypocrisy of the west regarding their stance on the banning of same sex unions is most apparent when considered next to the position taken on polygamy under western laws. In most western nations, the practice of polygamy is not only frowned upon but has been criminalized. The hypocrisy and bully politics of the west in regards to the banning of same sex unions occurs when Western countries pass laws that limits the boundaries of marriage, privacy and religious freedom in line with their value system while they employ strategies and tactics to intimidate, harass, undermine, threaten and abuse other countries for doing the same.

In the case of Reynolds vs. United States, the American courts declined accepting polygamy as a legitimate religious practice, dismissing it as “almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and African people.” While that particular case is very old, in later decisions, American courts have declared polygamy to be “a blot on our civilization” and compared it to human sacrifice and “a return to barbarism.”

In all the countries that have banned homosexual unions, traditions and religion defines the issue and because most countries have varying values of which they adhere to and are guided by, none should have a right to impose their value system on another. Not only is the practice of polygamy one of the common threads between Christians, Jews and Muslims, studies have found polygamy present in 78% of the world’s cultures. In the same way that countries that accept polygamy have no right to force western nations to legalize polygamy, western nations have no right to impose same sex unions on the countries that ban it.

As a sovereign nation, Nigeria has a right to ban same sex unions in the same way the west has banned polygamy. Indeed the anti-gay legislation is a reaffirmation of core Nigerian values, as the Nigerian society is, to a great extent, based on respect for traditions and religion. The leadership in Nigeria has taken a position on a practice that is alien to its culture and its religious and traditional institutions. The public relations officer of the northern Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) stated that Christians and their counterparts in other religions have unanimously expressed gratitude to the president and National Assembly for passing the Anti Same-Sex Marriage law, despite opposition from Europe and the US. Similarly, the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State, commended the president for signing the bill into law. The group applauded the president for standing his ground, despite pressure to reject the anti-gay bill by some international organizations and foreign countries.

In line with traditions that don’t prohibit same sex unions, neither of the two dominant religions of the world supports homosexuality. In the scriptures, marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman that cannot be redefined and it is the cornerstone of family life. In the Bible, passages in the book of Leviticus prohibit homosexuality. Chapter 18:22 states, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” Similarly, chapter 20:13 also states, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Jews and Christians have historically interpreted these two verses as the clear prohibition of homosexual acts. Furthermore, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has historically been interpreted as condemning homosexual acts.

In Islam, the traditional schools of Islamic law based on Qur’anic verses and hadith consider homosexual acts a punishable crime and a sin. The Qur’an cites the story of the “people of Lot” (also known as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah), destroyed by the wrath of God, because they engaged in “lustful” carnal acts between men. The Qur’an contains seven references to the people of Lot; 7:80-84, 11:77-83, 21:74, 22:43, 26:165-175, 27:56-59 and 29:27-33, and their destruction by Allah is associated explicitly with their sexual practices.

In 2012, the Nigerian parliament approved a bill banning same sex marriage despite threats from the US and UK that they would consider withholding aid if the country didn’t recognize gay rights. Curiously though in the US, 17 states out of 50 (less than half) have endorsed same-sex practices and others reject its legality. This means that even in the US, not all its citizens are in support of same-sex practices.

Nigeria and the countries that have banned same sex unions have cultures that are clear and intact and they have a right to rededicate themselves to their traditional values. Same-sex marriage is inconsistent with Nigerian values of procreation and the belief in the continuity of family and clan. And in that vein, Nigeria has a right to fashion its laws in accordance with its values and traditions.

It increasingly seems that the Western countries’ mandate is to coerce African states to institutionalize behavior systems that they frown upon or deem illegal. There is the urgent need for these African states and the Nigerian leadership not to be dependent on foreign assistance for governance. Nigeria and the continent should use its net worth to dismantle the entrenched dependence syndrome and to also say no, no matter how many times they are accused of not adhering to the value system of the West. Aid given with strings attached is not worth it. Nigeria should not lose its moral and spiritual integrity for the sake of aid.

Just like with polygamists in Western countries, a day of social acceptance is unlikely to come for homosexuals in Nigeria and most African and Asian countries. It is unlikely that any law will be passed in Nigeria where the act of same sex marriage will be legalized. No matter, the rights of every nation to infuse its value system into its laws should not be based on the views of other nations, but on each nations individual principle.

Despite one’s view on the subject matter, there is no doubt that Nigeria has a right to enact laws that are reflective of its traditions and religious values and norms. No country has a right to dictate another countries laws that defines the boundaries of marriage, privacy and religious freedom. Thus, just as Nigeria has no right to harass America, Canada or any other nation to enforce and adopt polygamy and other traditional practices into their statutes, these nations also have no right to harass Nigeria to adopt laws that legalize homosexuality. The more the West continues to malign Nigeria for passing laws that prohibit certain modern western value systems, while they hold onto laws that disallow traditional practices acceptable in Nigeria, their hue and cry over human rights becomes a little more than hype and they become much more than hypocrites. May each country be free to preserve the value systems they wish to be defined by and adopt the laws of which they wish to be governed.

Article Written by Hannatu Musawa

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Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

LGBT Rights-God’s Laws, Nigeria’s Laws By Prince Charles Dickson.


By Prince charles Dickson

In a country contentiously split among Muslims and Christians, leaders of Nigeria’s mosques and churches are united in their condemnation of same-sex relationships.

So, too, are lawmakers, who’ve criminalized sodomy, civil unions and gay marriages, with a 14-year prison sentence as punishment. In some northern regions, flogging and the death penalty comes into play.

Since the anti-gay laws were passed, stories of people being arrested for violating them are a common occurrence. At the same time, gay rights activists are becoming more vocal. Even churches formed by the LGBT community can be found.

So what’s life like for Nigerians who are attracted to people of the same gender? Can they practice their faith in a country where religion and culture overwhelmingly condemn their sexual identities?

To better understand, I interviewed a range of Nigerians from across the country who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight. They came from many walks of life – writers, ministers, government officials, food vendors, etc.

LGBT Spirituality

In Ikoyia, an upscale suburb of Lagos in southwest Nigeria, I caught up with a gay man who works in finance. He took me to party, where I observed gay men socializing.

“We informally gather for dinner parties, at restaurants and beaches,” the man said.

Wealthy gays in his suburb are said to live more openly than anywhere else in Nigeria. I asked: Did he consider himself both gay and Christian?

“My faith is a personnal matter,” said the man, who described himself as a Pentecostal Christian. “Besides, many people won’t understand.”

He’s right. Christians account for nearly half of Nigeria’s population and all major denominations denounce same-sex intimacy as sinful, at least in their doctrines.

Nigeria’s Anglican bishops are especially vocal. They’ve long threatened to break away from the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue, most recently at an October conference in Nairobi that drew 331 conservative bishops from across the globe.

The bishops want the U.S., Canadian and European members of the Anglican Communion to denounce stances on homosexuality contrary to their own. Canada’s Anglican Church began blessing same-sex couples in 2002, a few months before the U.S. Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop.

More recently, the Church of England dropped a ban on gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops. Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, says the West is ignoring Scripture and insisting on imposing its views on other countries.

“They want to push it down everybody’s throat,” he said in March at an ordination service. “And as far as they are concerned, it is a matter of human right. But God’s right is not discussed.”

Many of the gay Nigerians I interviewed said they didn’t abandon their faith because of the sexual identity.

“I am a saved Christian and proud gay,” the man in Ikoyia told me.

A country divided

The level of openness found in Lagos wasn’t as evident just 154 miles west in Benin and elsewhere in Nigeria.  For much of the country, it seems that religion, profession, family, the laws as well as class status factor into how openly members of the LGBT community choose to live.

An architect in Kano who is straight and attends a Methodist Church told me that he has friends who are gay. He said he’d come to terms with their sexual orientations.

“I don’t see myself better than they are,” he said. “I believe that can practice their faith, even though the Bible condemns it.”

At the same time, he doesn’t want them showing public displays of affection. Nor does he believe that same-sex couple should be allowed to adopt children.

“I’m not saying being a gay is good,” he said. “I’m a Christian and I also have a culture that condemns it.”

In northern Nigeria, many people said they were aware of LGBT communities Kano and Kaduna, but rarely gave them a thought. A Muslim told me that he grew up with some of them.

“The only thing I do not like is that as Muslims, we don’t allow them pray with us,” he said. “Some of them want to, but you know we can’t allow that.”

In Abuja, Nigeria’s capitol city, I heard a slightly different view.

“I don’t care if a gay person comes to a church or mosque,” a man said. “However, for me, everything is wrong with a union between gay people being called a marriage”.

Ash-Shiekh Muhammad Sani Yahaya, the national chairman, Ulama’u Council of JIBWIS, said Islam condemns homosexuality.

“It is an abomination, it is a crime,” he said. Lesbian relationships aren’t mentioned in the Qur’an, but that’s not true of gay men, citing the following verses:

“Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.”

The global view

Britain and some other Western nations threaten to suspend aid to Nigeria and other countries where homosexuality is criminalized. They consider the laws discriminatory and grounded in bigotry and prejudice.

In November, the European Union’s top court ruled that gays and lesbians in countries that outlaw homosexual relations are eligible for asylum. Days later, the Malta Refugees Appeals Board granted asylum to an 18-year-old Nigerian teen.

“The dominant role of religion is widely seen as the root of the country’s homophobic culture,” the board said, quoting from a border agency report.

“Punishing gays is one of the few common themes that politicians can promote with equal zest in the mainly Christian south and the largely Muslim north,” the board said.

Homosexual intimacy is criminalized in 78 countries, including 38 of 54 African countries. That’s why Africa is often pointed to as the most homophobic of continents.

The death penalty is at play in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen as well as parts of Somalia.

“Same-sex marriage may be acceptable in some countries of the world, but in Nigeria, the majority of the people – by words and deeds – have shown it to be an abomination that they must stand against,” wrote Emma Madaubuch, an assistant editor, in the Daily Independent.
The same sex bill passed by the Congress in Nigeria, waiting assent provides that a marriage contract or civil union entered by persons of same sex by a virtue a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be void in Nigeria.

The bill provides that persons that enter into such union are jointly liable to 14years imprisonment each, and those that administer, witnesses, screens, aid and abets, supports, operates gay clubs, societies, procession or organization in Nigeria commits an offense and liable on conviction to a 10 year jail term.

Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has aligned himself with the country’s majority view and the anti-gay laws adopted by the National Assembly.

While Nigeria has dug in its heels on the issue, attitudes and polices in other countries are softening and shifting toward greater acceptance. In 2001, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution supporting equal rights for all, no matter their sexual orientation

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 16 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Uruguay, and New Zealand. In addition, gay couples can wed in England and Wales beginning in March 2014.

They can also marry in some regions of Mexico and the United States, though President Obama didn’t support legalization until May 2012.

The spiritual view

The Rev. Rumo James, a Baptist pastor in Jos, told me that homosexuality is affliction and disease for which no compassion should be extended.

“Homosexualism is a virus that degrades the family and its values, corrupts human cohabitation and offends God,” he said. “It eventually leads to social decline.”

Nigeria’s Christian population is Africa’s largest, with 80 million followers, according to the Pew Research Center in the United States. Clergy cite Bible-passages as the God-given reason for their condemnation of same-sex relationships.

Two of the most frequent verses cited are from Leviticus. One states: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (18:22).

The other says: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (20:13).

Christians supportive of same-sex couples say those Old Testament Bible verses are misinterpreted, made obsolete by the New Testament or simply out of touch with modern life.

They also argue that all people, gay and straight, are made in the image of God. Besides, they point out, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

‘I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate from South Africa, said this year in response to Russia’s anti-gay laws.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered and should live celibate lives. But Pope Francis also made headlines when he offered a softened tone on homosexuality than that heard from the Vatican in decades.

“Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” the pope told reporters. Many Catholic bishops, priests and church members take a harsher view.

Bishop Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese in northwestern Nigeria isn’t one of them. Like the pope, he strikes a conciliatory tone.

Would the bishop welcome gays and lesbians in church? “

“The church is a place for everyone,” he said. “I would not chase one out. I would not report that person either.”

It should be noted that people who help conceal same-sex couples can be punished by up to 10 years in prison under Nigerian law. Some consider those who choose not to report defiant and others see them as courageous.
Conclusion

As in all repressively homophobic cultures, LGBT people continue to find ways to express and to live out their authentic selves.

They are part of Nigerian society at all levels. Some hold prominent jobs in government, businesses, the military and even as religious leaders.

But it’s not a leap to suggest that the majority keep their sexuality a secret for fear of losing their families, friends, jobs, freedom or even their lives.

Despite Nigeria’s strict laws, the debate over LGBT rights and same-sex relationships is nowhere near resolution. My reporting reveals Nigeria’s gay culture, though largely silent, isn’t going away.

On this vexatious issue, I believe in windows of possibility. Nigerians and other Africans need to strike a balance.

Might the day come when Nigerians respect the rights of its LGBT community and the LGBT community be respectful to those who uphold heterosexual relationships exclusively?

Learning to live in peace doesn’t mean we will agree with one another on all matters. Nor does being civil toward one another mean we endorse one another’s behavior or beliefs.

Change is a part of life and throughout life we change and accommodate new understandings of behavior and circumstances.

As a journalist and writer, I strongly believe there’s need for understanding and that understanding is key to Nigeria’s path forward on this issue.

Should the LGBT community be discriminated against? Should their human rights be abused?

Should they face imprisonment? Should they be flogged?

Should they be put to death?

My answer is NO!

Prince Charles Dickson is a Nigerian Journalist.
LGBT Rights– God’s Laws, Nigeria’s Laws is a reportorial for the ICFJ/Henry Luce Reporting Fellowship

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Canada names Boko Haram terror group.


 

Canadian-Flag1

Canada has designated Boko Haram and the Caucasus Emirate as terrorist organisations under the country’s Criminal Code.

Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney spoke in a statement on Monday in Ottawa and posted on the ministry’s website.

“Boko Haram is an organisation responsible for over 300 attacks in northern Nigeria, resulting in the death of over 1,000 people.

 

“The Caucasus Emirate has carried out terrorist activities in Russia, resulting in the death and injury of many Russian civilians and security personnel,” the statement said.

It quoted Blaney as saying that listing these organisations as terrorist entities sends a strong message that such actions will not be tolerated.

The statement added that listing terrorist entities would facilitate the prosecution of perpetrators and supporters of terrorism, as well as countering terrorist financing.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Minister for Defence, Mr Maku, said the military would wipe out the Boko Haram terrorists in 30 minutes, if the terrorists would agree to line up in an area to face the troops.


labaran maku

SUPERVISING Minister for Defence, Mr Labaran Maku, in Abuja, on Tuesday, said the military would wipe out the insurgents perpetrating acts of terror in the country in 30 minutes, if the terrorists would agree to line up in an area to face the troops.
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He said what made the battle against terrorism in the country a bit complex was the fact that the insurgents hid among the citizens to strike and had refused to be identified.

Maku, who doubles as Minister of Information, spoke in Abuja, while presenting the scorecard for 2013, adding that the violence in the North East was as a result of violent politics allegedly played by certain unnamed politicians.

He maintained that politicians stopped the Federal Government from deploying troops to the troubled region for years, noting that even when the

troops were eventually deployed, critics pushed for them to be withdrawn.

Insisting that all insecurity in the country was created out of local politics, Maku commended the military for pushing the insurgents close to the borders, noting that much success would have been recorded if the military were fighting external army.

He noted that insurgencies in the North east were currently localised, adding that “they can still occur anywhere, because this is terrorism.”

Speaking on corruption, Maku noted that a lot of allegations bordering on corruption were mere political talk and way of getting newspaper headlines by politicians.

He, however, said rate of corruption was high in the country because the economy revolved round the government, adding that government-induced economy would always induce corruption, a reason “we must hand over some things to private sector.”

According to him, “about N13 billion worth of counterfeited financial instruments were intercepted by NIPOST, as against N9.27 billion in previous years, while about N1.5 billion has been released by the Federal Government for the payment of pension arrears to 5,206 NIPOST retirees.

“Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the fastest growing in the world. GDP growth rate in 2013 was put at 7.2 per cent by International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The Federal Government maintained stable exchange rate. The dollar exchange has remained stable in the last two years, between N155 and N160.

“Inflation rate is declining and has been in single digits all year. Current inflation rate is eight per cent in September, down from nine per cent recorded in January 2013.

“As per rising external reserves, as of May 2013, Nigeria’s foreign reserve was $48.4 billion, up from $32.08 billion in May 2011.

“Excess Crude Account (ECA) rose from $4 billion in 2011 to $9 billion at the end of 2012. The ECA is now helping the country to cushion the effects of current low earnings from oil.

“National debt burden is low. Nigeria’s debt to GDP is 21 per cent, compared to South Africa, 42.7 per cent; United States, 106 per cent; United Kingdom, 90 per cent and Japan, 225 per cent.”

He said the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration had put in place financial management systems to check leakages, improve efficiency and check corruption.

Battle far from over –NLC
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in its New Year message released on Tuesday, said the recent successful attacks on military posts and installations by Boko Haram insurgents showed that the battle was far from over.

The congress called on all Nigerians, irrespective of political affiliation, to rally behind the government and the security forces in the fight to restore security to our country.

In a statement entitled: “New Year Message To Nigerian Workers,” signed by its president, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar and the acting general secretary, Chris Uyot, the congress said insecurity remained a major national challenge during the year 2013.

“The Boko Haram insurgency continues to pose serious threat. The declaration of state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states yielded initial successes and ushered in relative calm in the polity for which government received commendation from the citizenry.

“The same cannot be said of the situation at the moment, as the Boko Haram insurgents seem to have regrouped, slipped behind military and security forces to unleash mayhem on civilian populations, especially students who have been mass-murdered in hundreds.

“Recent successful attacks on military posts and installations show that the battle is far from over. We call on all Nigerians, irrespective of political affiliation, to rally behind the government and the security forces in the fight to restore security to our country,” the statement read.

The congress said the ongoing constitutional review by the National Assembly, with an attempt by the Senate to distort the National Minimum Wage Act against workers’ interest, was another sour note in labour relations in 2013.

On recurrent strikes, the NLC said “there were several strikes and work stoppages during the year, particularly in the public sector… While we are glad to be associated with the process which led to the final resolution of the strike, we believe that a more proactive disposition of government to industrial disputes is needed, to ensure that the nation is not subjected to such lengthy strikes.”

Canada designates Boko Haram, Caucasus Emirate terror organisations
Canada has formally designated Boko Haram and the Caucasus Emirate as terrorist organisations, under the country’s Criminal Code.

Its Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Steven Blaney, made the announcement in a statement dated December 30 in Ottawa and posted on the ministry’s website.

“Boko Haram is an organisation that is responsible for over 300 attacks in northern Nigeria, which have resulted in the death of over 1,000 people.

“The Caucasus Emirate has carried out terrorist activities in Russia, resulting in the death and injury of many Russian civilians and security personnel,” the statement said.

It quoted Blaney as saying that listing these organisations as terrorist entities sent a strong message that such actions would not be tolerated.

The statement added that listing terrorist entities would facilitate the prosecution of perpetrators and supporters of terrorism, as well as countering terrorist financing.

According to the statement, under Canada’s criminal code, any person or group listed may have their assets seized and forfeited.

Source: Radio Biafra.

Rep. Trey Gowdy: NY Times Report on Benghazi Protects Hillary.


Image: Rep. Trey Gowdy: NY Times Report on Benghazi Protects Hillary

By Greg Richter

 

Rep. Trey Gowdy says a New York Times article that concluded al-Qaida was not involved in last year’s Benghazi attacks never mentioned then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Gowdy had no problem quoting her to make a point of his own.

“First of all, I want to congratulate The New York Times. It only took 15 months for them to figure out how to spell Benghazi,” Gowdy, R-S.C., said Monday on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren.” 

“So, in another 15 months, maybe their reporting will actually catch up with the truth,” Gowdy said.

The Times concluded there was no evidence that al-Qaida was involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. It also said the attacks were not meticulously planned, as House Intelligence Committee members have said, but was a reaction to an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States.

“Whether it was al-Qaida or a subsidiary or a holding company or a limited partnership, to quote Hillary Clinton, ‘What difference does it make?’” Gowdy told Fox News. “Who cares whether it was al-Qaida proper or a subsidiary? Four Americans are dead, and it wasn’t a spontaneous reaction to a video. It was planned.”

Intelligence Committee members Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., both agreed on “Fox News Sunday” that al-Qaida was in some way involved and that there was planning.

People should believe Rogers, who is a former FBI agent, and Schiff, who is a former federal prosecutor, over The New York Times, Gowdy told guest host Dana Perino. Both men have dedicated their professional lives to following evidence wherever it leads, he said.

Gowdy also took issue with the assertion that the anti-Muslim video caused the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The video in question was translated into Arabic in early September 2012, Gowdy said, just days before the fatal attack.

That couldn’t explain a prior attack on the U.S. consulate or the attempted assassination of the British ambassador or attacks on the International Red Cross in Benghazi, he said.

“I thought we had no business being in Benghazi. We were the last flag flying in Benghazi,” Gowdy said. “But that begs a bigger question: Why were we there? Why was Chris Stevens in Benghazi that night?”

Gowdy didn’t explain whether he had any suspicions, but Sen. Rand Paul and others have suggested Stevens was in Libya because the CIA was using the area to run guns to Syrian rebels.

Gowdy did make clear that he suspects The Times published the article to bolster the expected presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton in 2016. Clinton, as secretary of state, came under fire after Benghazi for reportedly ignoring requests from Stevens for additional security.

“I’ve read this New York Times article, Dana, six times,” Gowdy told Perino. “I want you to read it six times and tell me if you can tell who the secretary of state was when Benghazi happened.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ex-NSA Director Hayden: Report Shows Spying Keeps US Safe.


Image: Ex-NSA Director Hayden: Report Shows Spying Keeps US Safe

By Greg Richter

Former NSA and CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden says he is surprised people are surprised at the detailed spying the National Security Agency is able to do.

German magazine Der Spiegel published a story on Sunday that laid out the NSA’s ability to hack into the computer systems and phones of its targets, and even to stop computer equipment mid-shipping to install spyware.

The article says current NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander and his crew are “pretty good at this. And that’s good news for the American people,” Hayden said Monday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report.” 

Traditional signals intelligence used to be passive and “midpoint,” Hayden explained. If someone being targeted decided to send a message, spy agencies tried to get between points A and B and intercept the communication.

With the digital age, he said, spies have gone to “active” signals intelligence. They don’t just intercept at the midpoint, but go to the endpoint, he said.

“Go to a point where sometimes they have not even yet decided to transmit,” he said.

Hayden called the new collection methods “a good thing for American security and American liberty.”

Der Spiegel’s article no doubt damaged the NSA’s abilities, Hayden said. Now, legitimate foreign intelligence targets will read such reports and begin to take action to get around the methods, and that will make the United States less safe, he said.

Hayden told Fox News he read the article in Der Spiegel with his “antennae up” to see whether there was anything that should concern the U.S. public, but said he couldn’t find it.

The targets discussed were legitimate foreign intelligence targets, he said.

Hayden also said he was pleased that U.S. companies are surprised their products were  hacked by the NSA. They should be surprised, Hayden said, because they had nothing to do with it; it was all the NSA.

Turning to the New York Times story on Saturday that said al-Qaida was not involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Hayden compared the argument to medieval theological discussions about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

Hayden said it was reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s parsing the meaning of the word “is.”

Whether the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks was also linked to the Benghazi attacks “depends on your meaning of the word ‘al-Qaida’,” he said.

There are three levels to the group, he explained: “al-Qaida prime, al-Qaida-affiliated, and groups who are like-minded.” Within days of the attacks, he said, he termed them “either high-end like-minded or low-end affiliated.”

So, while al-Qaida probably did not directly order the attacks, they were carried out by people under its influence, he said.

“No one has suggested that somebody with a Motorola Push to Talk in the Hindu Kush was sending detailed instructions to somebody in Benghazi,” he said.

Republican lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee have called the Times report “misleading.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rep. Grimm: New York Times Wrong, Benghazi Attacks Were Terrorism.


Image: Rep. Grimm: New York Times Wrong, Benghazi Attacks Were Terrorism

By Greg Richter

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.,  is among the lawmakers who don’t buy a New York Times report over the weekend that the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was a spontaneous act fueled by anger over an anti-Muslim YouTube video.

The former Marine and FBI agent says the attack that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead was without a doubt a military operation, and anyone with a military background could recognize it as such.

“This was a methodical, military attack. This was not some group of individuals that was upset,” Grimm said Monday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”“These were trained individuals. This was a military op.”

The attackers were weaponized, trained, and methodical, Grimm told CNN. If a YouTube video had gotten ordinary citizens upset, they might have thrown Molotov cocktails or rocks, he said. Someone might have even had a firearm or an AK-47, he said, but there would not have been the same amount of weaponry as the attackers had.

The Times story also concluded that al-Qaida, the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, was not involved in the Benghazi attack, which occurred on Sept. 11, 2012, the 11th anniversary.

“The New York Times is wrong,” Grimm said. “And I would not say that’s a Republican point of view. For me, this is apolitical.”

Both Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee who have been briefed on Benghazi have “tangible evidence, empirical data” that show the attacks had al-Qaida ties, he said.

“If al-Qaida is funding an offshoot, an affiliate, to carry out a terrorist act, then they’re a terror proxy for al-Qaida” even if they call themselves by another name, Grimm said.

Al-Qaida, he said, has “morphed” since the 9/11 attacks and now funds other groups that can act in its stead. He said he has seen secret intelligence documents that tie al-Qaida to the attacks, even if somewhat tenuously, but said he cannot divulge publicly what those documents say.

Grimm said the Times report may spur further investigation, especially because the United States should get to the bottom of how security was handled in Benghazi. Unless such threats are recognized, he said, the lives of innocent Americans are placed at risk and the country appears weaker in the eyes of terrorists.

He said the United States was right to offer security help to Russia in light of two  bombings linked to the coming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

But the United States could lack authority on the world stage, he said, unless it can honestly discuss its own security breaches in places such as Benghazi.

“For Russia to be able to rely on us and to work with us, there has to be an underlying understanding that we come to the table openly and honestly about security,” he said.

Still, the United States should not have second thoughts about attending the games, Grimm said.

“When we stop doing things like the Olympics, then they’ve won. We can’t allow that to happen,” Grimm told CNN. “We can’t live in a state of terror or panic. But you do have to take the appropriate precautions.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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