South Asia Strategy in Afghanistan Shows Results, Nicholson Says

The South Asia strategy in Afghanistan has spawned intensified dialogue and a drop in Taliban violence, Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of NATO’s A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flies over Farah City, Afghanistan, May 19, 2018.

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An Overdose Is Not a Murder

A couple of years ago at a motel in Columbus, a young woman shared a bag of heroin with her father. Both of them nodded off. Because she woke up and he did not, she was sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

That arbitrary outcome encapsulates the senseless cruelty of a strategy that in recent years has gained favor among prosecutors across the country: treating opioid-related deaths as homicides, regardless of intent. The resulting prosecutions not only are manifestly unjust but could make fatal overdoses more likely by discouraging bystanders from seeking help.

A recent New York Times investigation identified more than 1,000 arrests or prosecutions related to accidental opioid deaths in 15 states from 2015 through 2017, a period when the annual number of cases almost doubled. According to a 2017 report from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), annual press mentions of such prosecutions more than tripled between 2011 and 2016, from 363 to 1,178. DPA found examples in all but four states.

Twenty states have laws that specifically address drug-induced homicide, DPA senior staff attorney Lindsay LaSalle notes in the report, while others “charge the offense of drug delivery resulting in death under various felony-murder, depraved heart, or involuntary or voluntary manslaughter laws.” Possible prison sentences range from two years to life. Under federal law, drug distribution resulting in death or serious injury is punishable by 20 years to life.

Although legislators and prosecutors may portray such cases as a way to punish callous, death-dealing drug traffickers, the defendant is usually someone close to the decedent. As a practical matter, that makes sense, because the higher up you go in the distribution chain, the harder it is to prove a connection between the defendant and a particular consumer.

The upshot is that a defendant’s role in “distributing” a drug may be limited to buying it for someone else, arranging a purchase, or sharing a stash. When money changes hands, the dealers are often selling just enough to finance their own habits.

Looking at cases in Pennsylvania during the first half of 2017, the Times found that three-quarters of the defendants were themselves drug users. Last year WITI, the Fox station in Milwaukee, reviewed the 100 most recent prosecutions for drug-induced homicide in Wisconsin and found that “just 11 defendants were higher-level drug dealers,” while the rest were friends, relatives, or “low-level street dealers.”

A woman in Minnesota got four years for sharing a fentanyl patch with her fiancé. A New York woman got six years for mailing a friend some heroin at his request while he was on a business trip in Chicago. A Louisiana man got a life sentence for using heroin with his girlfriend.

“Many law enforcement officers hope that the cases act as a deterrent,” the Times notes. But it may not be the kind of deterrent they have in mind.

Because prompt medical attention is crucial in saving people from potentially fatal opioid overdoses, 40 states and the District Columbia have enacted “911 Good Samaritan” laws that shield bystanders from some drug-related charges when they call for help. But those laws do not apply to homicide charges.

A 2002 analysis of drug-induced homicide prosecutions in New Jersey found that most of the defendants were friends of the decedents and “in some cases the people who sought emergency care for them.” A Minnesota woman is serving a six-year prison sentence because she let her husband take methadone prescribed for her, even though she called 911 and tried to save his life. A woman who was charged with drug-induced homicide in Illinois because she helped her husband buy heroin was the person who called 911 when he overdosed.

“The most common reason people cite for not calling 911 in the event of an overdose is fear of police involvement,” DPA’s LaSalle notes. “The only behavior that is deterred by drug-induced homicide prosecutions is the seeking of life-saving medical assistance.”

© Copyright 2018 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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Your Daughter, Somebody Else’s Son

A reader in Massachusetts forwards this story about a bill before the Massachusetts legislature that would ban any therapy designed to change a person’s homosexual orientation, or belief that they are transgender. From the piece:

In the midst of a recent trend, Massachusetts is not at the forefront but may be reaching for the pinnacle. Eleven other states have banned conversion therapy, including New Hampshire earlier this month. But the Massachusetts bill is unusual, says Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

“Similar legislation has been passed in a number of states, but this is the first time that helping your child feel comfortable in their own body could brand you a child abuser,” said Beckwith, whose organization advocates for Judaeo-Christian family values on Beacon Hill. “This is a bill that would allow the state to take away your daughter and make her someone else’s son.”

But [bill advocate Carl] Sciortino says the bill is necessary and humane.

“I think our opponents are delusional and adding to the culture of child abuse if they cannot accept that there are gay people in this world and transgender people in this world and we are who we are and no amount of quackery or child abuse will change that,” Sciortino said.

Do you see what they’re doing here? They are conflating homosexuality with transgenderism. Whatever one thinks of homosexuality and its mutability, there is very clear evidence that the great majority of children and teenagers who consider themselves transgender ultimately resolve their dysphoria in favor of their biological sex. We’re talking 80 percent and more. That does not happen with homosexuality. This clearly indicates that transgenderism is far, far less ingrained than homosexuality.

Transgender activists and fellow-traveling advocates are trying to piggyback transgenderism onto homosexuality as a legal, medical, and cultural strategy. As the reader writes:

The Therapy Ban in CA is bad, but this bill in MA may be even worse. It requires, among other things, that counseling a gender confused child to feel comfortable in their own body be labeled as child abuse under state law and that a Dept of Children and Families investigation be initiated against the parents and therapist. So, if you don’t believe your child is trans and you try to get them help, the therapist loses their license and you lose your child.

If you are a parent of a transgender child, your child has an overwhelming likelihood that he or she will desist at some point. If this bill passes in Massachusetts, you will not be able to get your child therapy that does anything other than encourage them in their trans identity — and no therapist will be able to do otherwise, even if the therapist believes the child is not truly transgender.

The “but science!” crowd is substituting ideology for medicine here. More to the point, the bill would create the possibility of the state seizing a child from his parents for the sake of gender transformation. From the story:

As for taking a child away from parents if they try to change their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, Sciortino said state officials don’t break up families lightly, and that only in certain cases might it be necessary.

“That’s why we have judges and courts,” Sciortino said. “In this case, if somebody were being exposed to an abusive practice – in this case, abusive therapy – it makes sure that that child has the protection of the mandated reporter system, to see if an investigation is warranted.”

Do people think that this won’t happen to them? That their child would never claim trans status? That the state would never prevent them from getting medically valid therapy for the child? That the state would never take their child away so the child can be injected with hormones, and such?

 

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World Health Organization wants to ban food with high trans fat worldwide

NEW YORK — The World Health Organization wants to eliminate artificial trans fats from the global food supply and has a step-by-step strategy on how to do so by 2023. The organization launched a new initiative in hopes of helping countries kick the trans fat habit. The artificial fatty acids are made when vegetable oil hardens in a process called hydrogenation and are used in everything from fried foods to snack foods and baked goods.

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Defense secretary telegraphs changes to strategy in Pacific, Indian oceans

Aboard his jetliner flying to Hawaii, Defense secretary James Mattis, a former Marine four-star general, briefed reporters about his upcoming trip to Hawaii and Singapore. Aboard his jetliner flying to Hawaii, Defense secretary James Mattis, a former Marine four-star general, briefed reporters about his upcoming trip to Hawaii and Singapore.

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The Open Era

You see where the line is between a good tennis player and an Immortal in the first round match between former No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rogerio Dutra-Silva on the Philippe-Chatrier Stade at Paris’s Roland Garros the other day.

The Brazilian, a veteran player ranked in the top 100 won some excellent points and broke the 2016 champion to even the score at 4-4 in the third set, his last chance to make a serious stand in the first round of this year’s Internationaux de France, aka French Open. Djokovic broke right back, then held serve at 15 and that was that, three sets to nought.

It was a fine match, even as seen on TV, but nothing to write home about. Anyway we would not be writing home because due to certain circumstances involving the law firm of Jauvert & Jauvert, TAS can only provide some long-distance analysis this year, but never mind the details. The question here is: is the great Serb ace back?

The question is pertinent because every tennis commentator queried by Tennis, the voice of the American tennis establishment, says defending champion Rafael Nadal will repeat, on the rational theory no one can beat him. A non-scientific survey of the international sporting press offers the same consensus. Djokovic, one of the few able to beat Nadal, has been in a prolonged slump worsened by an elbow injury requiring surgery as the season began.

With the loss in five sets by 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka to a stubborn and solid Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Nadal has last year’s finalist out of the way. He is leading a tough and able Simone Bolelli by two sets when play is adjourned on Chatrier due to rain. The Italian is up 3-0 in the third, but these rain delays usually favor the champ, who uses them to recharge is fierce competitive drive.

And with the defection due to injury of Australia’s bad boy tennis genius Nick Kyrgios, he has one less of the up-and-coming young men to worry over. He has been in fantastic form, taking titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome to prepare his title defense. Like LeBron James on the basketball court, like Mike Trout (Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, you know what I mean) on the mound, Rafa Nadal is the King. At least on clay. In tennis, surfaces matter; the maestro, Roger Federer, has only one Coupe des Mousquetaires among his 20 Slam trophies.

Moreover, Federer, the Stan-da-Man of tennis in our era, is following last year’s strategy of sitting out the clay season the fresher to be on grass and during the North American summer hard-courts. (He won at Wimbledon, not at Flushing Meadows.) And Andy Murray is out, recovering from injuries that he hopes will be gone in time for the All-England in early July.

Injuries, age; recovery, youth. The beauty of this sport derives from the way it brings out the basics of life in stark simplicity. An individual sport, in which you are upfront and alone: you step up or you do not and there is no team to back you up — or a single star like LeBron James to bail out the team. It is, pace Andre Agassi’s famous quip, not like boxing; you do have to run and you cannot hide.

It is Nadal’s to lose this year, making it likely he will get an unprecedented 11th trophy in a single major tournament. His lean and hungry challengers have fallen short in the endurance tests that are unique to the Slam circuit, or succumbed under Nadal’s clay power game, designed, and perfected for the conditions produced by this surface (limestone and crushed brick, if you ever wondered).

So, not too much suspense here, though y’never know. American men have not done very well on clay in recent years, but Jared Donaldson won his first round match in five sets, showing good form, while Frances Tiafoe and Sam Querrey both have shots at reaching the second week; unfortunately they square off in the first round so only one will (maybe) do it. (Update: it goes to Querrey in three sets; Isner, before the rain, was up two against Tiafoe’s contemporary, Noah Rubin.)

On the women’s side, Venus Williams went down in the first round and her sister goes into action on Tuesday. They have two doubles titles here, Venus has never won the Coupe Lenglen, but Serena has done it three times. The defending champ, Jelena Ostapenko, lost her first round match on an injured foot. Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys easily got through to round two. They are best friends, there was a touching scene when Miss S. beat Miss K. at the final of the U.S. Open last September, real friendship. But still it is a lonely sport.

Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver returned to Roland-Garros 50 years ago, in the inaugural major of the Open era; “Muscles” prevailed over “Rocket” in the finals. He also took the doubles with his compatriot Fred Stolle. Outside the tournament, France was in some turmoil as the cultural revolt known as the May Events continued.

These have been the subject of rather dull retrospectives and remembrances for the past months; for all their charm, you have to admit the French have a predilection for editing their own history rather in the direction of fashion, which is annoying. The fashion is that in the grand scheme of things, the May Events were a Good Thing. As far as I can tell, their main effect was that the French stopped saying “vous” and also gave up on wearing ties and hats. For the past few years, they have been destroying their own grammar, abolishing the gender declensions that charmed (and tortured) students of their language.

The remembrance that came to my mind, perhaps by unconscious association with our Memorial Day weekend when we honor those who gave all for our freedom, was one that no one, to my knowledge, mentions in all the yak-yak. I had in mind a man named Maurice Grimaud. He was the police prefect of Paris, in effect the man responsible for security, and he was heavily handicapped by the fact that his forces were overwhelmingly outnumbered by the thousands of kids who had nothing better to do than skip class, block the entrances to the university so those who wanted to learn could not get in, and instead tear up the cobble stones of the old streets of the Latin Quarter and throw them at the cops, who exercised admirable restraint.

Grimaud, who died ten years ago after a long and distinguished career as a high civil servant, had put out the word that there was to be as little rough stuff as possible, which is why the “revolutionaries” had a field day and for the next half century have been able to compare themselves to the men women and children whom you see in Les Misérables, and who were mowed down by cannon and musket when protesting for actual real reasons, such as having nought to eat. In 1968, the enactors were bourgeois kids, playing at historical drama.

Detachments of CRS and gendarmes (police under military discipline but in this case under Grimaud’s authority) reinforced the Paris uniforms. These were for the most part working class and farm-region boys, young men who had served their country in the last years of the colonial wars and were not exactly impressed with tweed-wearing students who had avoided those bitter wars and had not grown up in the poverty that was still common in those years, yet had the gall to claim they spoke for the wretched of the earth. The young men working overtime to keep the city safe while others spouted verses from Mao and Trotsky must have wondered what future elites the country was going to have, but they kept their cool and, no doubt, had a sense of humor sorely lacking in the feverish brains of bourgeois Stalinists.

In one of the “iconic” photos of the time, the student leader Dany Cohn-Bendit is seen offering a mischievous grin to a stern looking gendarme (who on closer inspection is repressing a sly smile); this has gone down in history as a symbol of the “whole” “liberation” “movement” of the ’60s.

Cohn-Bendit was, in fact, one of the less ridiculous soixante-huitards (in English: hippies, or San Francisco Democrats). He was ferociously anti-communist; the Stalinists and Trotskyists hated him. They piggy-backed the protests he and his anarchist pals started against dorm restrictions on the university campus. But he himself knew he was using sex stuff to kick start the reverse potty training he gleefully wanted to spread all over society. This is why Charles de Gaulle, who was president at the time, referred to the events aschien-lit, dog s….

Dany said they were in it to oppose “imperialism” as well as dorm restrictions, meaning the Vietnam war. What did he know about the Vietnam war? He knew enough to admit, 50 years later, that even then he knew that in Vietnam, he would have ended before a firing squad. Instead, he has a seat in the European Parliament at Strasbourg. It is not clear what they do there, but they get nice perks.

As we know, the year 1968 began with a communist rampage in Vietnam. Known as the Tet offensive, it had as its objectives to shock public opinion in the U.S. and convince our “elites” the war was unwinnable; to hold territory long enough, in such provincial capitals as Hue, to mass-murder civic and intellectual leaders, as well as policemen, who might form the backbone of resistance to their imperialism; and to destroy the Viet Cong cadres in the South, whom the Northern Stalinists did not trust. Although American and South Vietnamese forces, despite taking terrible casualties, threw back the onslaught, these objectives were achieved.

Some commemoration. Better to remember that first Open tournament on the far west side of Paris, on a street named for Gordon Bennett, an American newspaper tycoon and, no doubt, a Yankee imperialist!

The post The Open Era appeared first on The American Spectator.

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More power? Johnson has been “hobbled” as Foreign Secretary, says Tugendhat

BORIS Johnson has been “hobbled” in his role as Foreign Secretary and should have a greater say over the UK’s strategy on Brexit , according to the Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. Tom Tugendhat will use a keynote speech tomorrow to call for a “revolution” at the heart of the UK Government .

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A Ben Op Blast From Germany

Here’s a short piece published in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost. Its author is an FSSP priest. Google has done the translating, with a little clean-up help from me:

Recently I heard on the radio a documentary about the growth of evangelical Free Churches in France. The critic was a French professor of theology. He warned against these free churches: they could develop into parallel societies, which represented a greater danger than Islamism! After all the Islamist terrorist attacks that have shaken France lately, one wonders what danger he means. But the only points of criticism he mentioned were the “arch-conservative views” of these Free Churches in matters of family and sexuality: they considered divorce and homosexual acts sinful.

Actually, I am offended that this critic has ignored the Catholic Church. If such views suffice to warn of a dangerous parallel society, then the Catholic Church deserves such criticism. And she should be proud of that! Full of self-confidence, she should embody a counterculture that is based on the commandments of God, and not only does not deny the contrast to the permissive mainstream culture, or only painfully tolerates it, but actually enjoys it and prides itself on the example of the early Christians, who understood themselves as “God’s children without flaws in the middle of a warped and crooked generation, under which you shine like stars in the universe “(Phil. 2, 15).

Precisely this program of developing a conscious counterculture is the path proposed as a survival strategy of the Christian faith in a book that has caused great excitement in America and is now available in German translation. Rod Dreher, the author, calls this strategy the “Benedict Option”. His example is the St. Benedict, who has shown us how to live creative ways to live the Christian faith confidently and counterculturally.

Of course, this book has been criticized, especially by theologians; no wonder, since it is precisely theologians who have been pleasing us for five decades with the opposite strategy of the greatest possible adaptation to the world. We can see the result today: a church that, because it no longer takes its teaching seriously, is no longer taken seriously by the world, not even as a dangerous parallel society.

German original here. 

Strong, strong stuff! Thank you, Father Recktenwald. And thanks to Tobias Klein, the translator of the German edition of my book.

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On Memorial Day, Getting Beyond ‘Thank You For Your Service’

Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words. Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when “mil-splaining” military-related holidays was all the rage. From memes outlining the differences between Veterans, Armed Forces, and Memorial Day, to Fourth of July “safe space” declarations seemingly applied to all vets, the trend was everywhere. Thankfully, it seems now to have passed. 

Memorial Day is, of course, for remembering the fallen, those who died in service to the nation. Veterans and their families remember their loved ones in ways they deem appropriate, and the state remembers, too, in a somber, serious manner.

This remembrance should in no way preclude the typical family barbecue and other customs associated with the traditional beginning of summer. National holidays are for remembering and celebrating, not guilt. Shaming those who fail to celebrate a holiday according to one’s expectations is a bit like non-Christians feeling shame for skipping church: it shouldn’t matter because the day means different things to different people. Having a day on the calendar demonstrates the national consensus about honoring sacrifice; anything more than that is a slow walk towards superficiality. President Bush stopped golfing during the Iraq war, but it didn’t stop him from continuing it.

Instead, Memorial Day should engender conversation about our military and the gulf between those who serve and those who don’t. The conversation shouldn’t just be the military talking at civilians; it must be reciprocal. Increasingly civilians see “soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country”—but many also see OxyContin that way. This situation is lamentable because the aforementioned “mil-splaining” could only occur in a country so profoundly divided from its military as to misunderstand basic concepts such as the purpose of holidays. It’s also striking how the most outspoken so-called “patriots” often have little connection to that which they so outlandishly support. Our “thank you for your service” culture is anathema to well-functioning civil-military relations.

The public owes its military more consideration, particularly in how the armed forces are deployed across the globe. Part of this is empathy: stop treating military members as an abstraction, as something that exists only to serve a national or increasingly political purpose. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are deserving of praise and support—especially considering the burden they’ve carried—but what they need more is an engaged public, one that’s even willing to scrutinize the military. Because scrutiny necessitates engagement and hopefully understanding and reform.

But the civil-military divide goes both ways. Military members and veterans owe the public a better relationship as well. This Memorial Day, don’t cringe when someone says “Thank you for your service” and proceed to correct them. Open a dialogue: you might build a real connection. Better yet, volunteer to speak at a school or church: partly to explain your service, sure, but more so to show that military personnel are people, too, not just distant abstractions. Veterans are spread across the county and better able to interact with civilians than our largely cloistered active duty force. They shouldn’t go to schools, churches, and civic organizations for the inevitable praise. They should go to educate, nurture relationships, and chip away at the civil-military divide.

Perhaps by questioning the fundamentals—the “why” instead of the so often discussed “what” in military operations—the public would be in a better position to demand action from a Congress that, heretofore, has largely abdicated serious oversight of foreign policy. Perhaps the public, instead of asking “what” we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, could ask “why” there is a stalemate at all—and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there.

A strategy is needed that’s rooted in serious analysis of American interests and strengths and a realistic assessment of the world. For nearly a generation, we have failed to align ends, ways, and means. Like “The Weary Titan,” America finds itself unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a changing world. Consumed by domestic strife and the emergence of nationalism, American foreign policy has wandered fecklessly since the end of the Cold War. While we can strike anywhere, this capability is wasted in search of a lasting peace.

What do we have to show for our expenditures? A divided country, financially exhausted while waging war across the globe against an elusive enemy—who is, frankly, not a threat remotely approaching the resources we have aligned against him. Beyond the material costs, there’s the social. Our military has become a syncretic religion, enjoying the support but not due consideration of the nation. This situation is genuinely tragic.

For America to dig its way out of its domestic and foreign troubles it must start with sobering analysis. For the civil-military dialogue, Memorial Day is as good a place to begin as any day. So this weekend, civilians should move beyond “Thank you for your service” and ask a vet about his or her service and lost comrades. Veterans, don’t expect praise and don’t lecture; speak with honesty and empathy, talk about what you’ve done and the conditions you’ve seen. You might be surprised what we can learn from each other.

John Q. Bolton is an Army officer who recently returned from Afghanistan. An Army aviator (AH-64D/E), he is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a 2005 graduate of West Point. The views presented here are his alone and not representative of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

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