Book—‘Why Socrates Died’

Some blogs back I referenced two books I was reading . One was Dynasties of China which I described ,the other was Why Socrates Died which I don’t think I described at the time .

This is a fascinating book by Robin Waterfield , published in Canada by McClellend & Stewart. It was first published in the UK in 2009 by Faber and Faber Ltd. Mr. Waterfield ‘s previous book was Xenophon’s Retreat and he has translated a number of Plato’s and Zenophon’s Socratic Works. He lives on a farm in the south of Greece.

The Guardian commented: ‘A richly told and enjoyable book.’

On the back cover of the book it says:

‘In the spring of 399BC, Socrates stood trial in his native Athens. The court was packed , and after being found guilty by his peers,Socrates died by drinking a cup of poison hemlock. But Robin Waterfield asks in this provocative reinterpretation of one of the most famous court cases in world history , is this the whole story? Both examining the actual records and placing Socrates in the historical context of an Athenian society in a state of moral turmoil, Waterfield provides a gripping portrait of our most enduring philosopher.’

As in most circumstances similiar to this one , there is usually more to the story than one is initially told or sees described . Waterfield does an excellent job of describing the historical context in terms of the politics, culture, and religion of the times both in Athens , its Empire , and as far afield as modern day Turkey and Italy. . His extended description of the Peloponesian War , Alcibiades and how this event and person weave into Socrates’s story is exceptional. Yes, context is important.

If you enjoy history, the classics than you will surely this book.

I owe a large part of my interest in this historical period to Professor Bruce who taught at Memorial University in 1963 .


Lasers Target UN Miltary Aircraft in Pacific Ocean

From: WSJ
Updated June 21, 2018 5:16 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—U.S. officials say pilots of American military aircraft operating in the Pacific Ocean have been targeted by lasers more than 20 times in recent months, incidents that follow a series of similar ones in which officials say Chinese personnel used lasers against U.S. pilots in East Africa.

Officials said all the incidents occurred in and around the East China Sea, typically where the Chinese military or other Chinese civilians operate. The lasers used against American aircraft appeared to be coming from fishing boats operating in the area and from shore, multiple officials said.

Some of the fishing boats were Chinese-flagged craft, but U.S. officials would not definitively confirm that Chinese personnel were behind all of the incidents, the most recent of which occurred within the last few weeks, according to officials.

Unlike in Djibouti next to the Arabian Sea, where military-grade lasers were used against American pilots in some of the lasing incidents, all the incidents that have occurred in the East China Sea involved smaller, commercial-grade lasers—the widely popular “cat grade” lasers that pet owners might use to play with their pets.

U.S. officials did not think that members of the China’s People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, were necessarily responsible for the lasing incidents. Still, those officials said they could not rule out that the incidents were occurring at the direction of someone within the Chinese government.

At the time, the Chinese government denied that its personnel were behind the incidents in Djibouti. There was no initial response from officials at the Chinese embassy in Washington, or officials in Beijing.

Rather, the individuals responsible could be disgruntled Chinese fisherman or individuals from other countries in the region who simply want to harass American pilots, officials said.

But the lasing suggests that at some level, the Chinese have continued their harassment of American pilots as tensions remain high between the two countries over trade issues as well as the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Want A Real Good Example Of New York Times Bad Reporting ?

From David Henderson of the Library of Economics and Liberty

‘The New York Times’ Shoddy Reporting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A team of political activists huddled at a Hardee’s one rainy Saturday, wolfing down a breakfast of biscuits and gravy. Then they descended on Antioch, a quiet Nashville suburb, armed with iPads full of voter data and a fiery script.

The group, the local chapter for Americans for Prosperity, which is financed by the oil billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch to advance conservative causes, fanned out and began strategically knocking on doors. Their targets: voters most likely to oppose a local plan to build light-rail trains, a traffic-easing tunnel and new bus routes.

So read the first two paragraphs of a front-page article in today’s New York Times. Here’s the article’s title:

How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country

The Times reporter, Hiroko Tabuchi, makes it sound as if the Koch brothers had a huge role in defeating the tax measure in Nashville on last month’s ballot that would have increased 4 taxes (including a one-percentage-point increase in the sales tax) to generate $9 billion for mass transit in Nashville.

But nowhere it the Times article are we told how much money the Koch brothers spent. Fortunately, a much earlier article in Nashville’s main newspaper, the Tennessean, did say. Surely Ms. Tabuchi had access to that article. In a vote with relatively high turnout for an off-year election (about 122,000 people voted, with about 78,000 people voting no), the proponents of the tax-subsidy proposal spent about $2.9 million and the opponents spent $1.2 million. So the Koch brothers must have contributed a large fraction of that $1.2 million, right? Say at least 10 percent?

Not quite. Here’s the last paragraph of the news article in the Tennessean:

Separately, a political action committee led by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group funded by the conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch, contributed a modest sum of $10,000 for mail advertising.

I doubt that the Koch brothers are the only contributors to Americans for Prosperity, and so $10,000 is an upper limit on their contribution. And $10,000 is less than 1 percent (actually 0.83 percent) of the overall spending against the tax-increase measure. Wow! Those Kochs sure are powerful.

By the way, Ms. Tabuchi’s lack of numeracy may be excused. After all, her Linked in page tells us, she reports on climate change.

The old New York Times motto was:

All the news that’s fit to print.

Its new motto should be:

All the news that fits, we print.’

Junior Trudeau, Our Dear Princeling , India Trip Expenses

Well, that $1.5 million disastrous trip to India by our juvenile PM has been broken down for us .

Hotel costs $323,000

To fly and Staff a VIP Airbus $485,000 for 43 hours

Cell phone costs $5,235

To buy Canadian Wines $5100

And here is the ’topper’

$17,044.21 to fly Vancouver chef Vikram Vij to India —

You see Indians don’t know how to cook Indian Food . You have to have an Indian Canadian cook Indian Food .

Of course, Junior defends all of this.

He has the nerve to boast that it secured $1 billion dollars of investment .

Anyone with half a clue knows that such investments take months and years to secure and have nothing to do with that particular trip. The trip simply announced what had been in the pipeline for months.

Of course, what most upset the Indian hosts was Junior and Family wearing over the top , lavish Indian wardrobes, as if the many still poor Indians were to be impressed. Of course, we won’t talk about the invitation by Canada of a law breaker to one of the receptions.

Switzerland Welcomes Islamic Radicalization

Switzerland Welcomes Radicalization
by Judith Bergman

June 20, 2018 at 5:00 am

There are approximately 250 mosques in Switzerland, but the authorities do not know who finances them. By rejecting the proposal compelling mosques to disclose who finances them, the Swiss authorities can now remain willfully blind.

The Muslim World League is behind “a whole network of radically-oriented mosques in Switzerland… with the clear intention of spreading Salafist thought here”. — Saïda Keller-Messahli, expert on Islam in Switzerland.

Above all, the Swiss government seems not to have considered the rights of Swiss non-Muslim citizens, who are the ones left to live with the consequences of the government’s ill-thought-out policies.

Switzerland has just rejected a proposed law preventing mosques from accepting money from abroad, and compelling them to declare where their financial backing comes from and for what purpose the money will be used. According to the proposal, imams also would have been obliged to preach in one of the Swiss national languages.

While the proposal narrowly passed in the lower house of parliament already in September 2017, the upper house recently rejected it. The proposal was modeled on regulations in Austria, where already in 2015, a law banning foreign funding of religious groups was passed. The Austrian law aims to counter extremism by requiring imams to speak German, prohibiting foreign funding for mosques, imams and Muslim organizations in Austria, and stressing the precedence of Austrian law over Islamic sharia law for Muslims living in the country.

The Federal Council, which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland, was also against the proposal, and claimed that it constituted ‘discrimination’: “We must not discriminate against Muslim communities and imams and put them under general suspicion,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said. The Federal Council noted that in Austria, Islam is officially recognized, whereas it is not in Switzerland. According to the Swiss government, therefore, the model applied in Austria does not apply to Switzerland, as “One cannot demand obligations without rights”. Instead, the Federal Council evidently believes that the risks posed by extremist Islamist preachers and communities can be combated within existing law.

There are approximately 250 mosques in Switzerland, but the authorities do not know who finances them. The authorities have no jurisdiction to collect data on the financing of Muslim associations and mosques apart from exceptional cases in which internal security is threatened. By rejecting the proposal compelling mosques to disclose who finances them, the Swiss authorities can now remain willfully blind.

Several experts have pointed out the foreign Muslim networks at work in Switzerland. In 2016, Reinhard Schulze, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Bern, pointed out that donations from the Muslim World League, based in Saudi Arabia, and other funds from Saudi Arabia were flowing to “those mosques and organizations that are open to the Wahhabi tradition”. Another expert on Islam in Switzerland, Saïda Keller-Messahli, has spoken and written widely on how “Huge sums of money from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Turkey are flowing to Switzerland”, and how the Saudi-based Muslim World League is behind “a whole network of radically-oriented mosques in Switzerland… with the clear intention of spreading Salafist thought here”.

In addition to the Salafist influence, there are an estimated 35 Turkish mosques, financed by Turkey’s official Religious Affairs Directorate, known as Diyanet. (Previous reports have mentioned 70 Turkish mosques in Switzerland).

According to a report published by Diyanet in 2017, Islam is “superior” to Christianity and Judaism and “Interfaith dialogue is unacceptable”. Turkey supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist off-shoot Hamas.

In fact, the building of another Turkish mosque was just given the go-ahead in the Swiss town Schaffhausen. The people behind it reportedly claim that the 1.5 million Swiss francs (approx. $1.5 million) will be collected locally, and not from Turkey, but the imams for the mosque will nevertheless be sent from Turkey.

None of these facts, however, appears to bother the Swiss government, which seems to want to continue the flow of foreign funding of mosques and Islamic centers into the country.

Above all, the Swiss government seems not to have considered the rights of Swiss non-Muslim citizens, who are the ones left to live with the consequences of the government’s ill-thought-out policies.

One such consequence was recently on display in Swiss courts, as three board members of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ISSC) were on trial for charges of having produced illegal propaganda for al-Qaeda and related organizations. One of them, Naim Cherni, was given a suspended prison sentence of 20 months for publishing an interview he conducted with Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini in Syria in 2015, in which al-Muhaysini called on young Muslims in Europe to join the jihad. The two other board members, chairman Nicolas Blancho and Qaasim Illi, were acquitted.

In contrast to Switzerland, Austria recently announced plans to shut down seven mosques and expelling up to 60 imams belonging to the Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria (ATIB), a Muslim group close to the Turkish government, on the grounds of receiving foreign funding.

The response from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman was that the policy was part of an “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave” in Austria.

The strong message that the Swiss government is sending to those Muslim states and organizations that are fueling radicalization in Switzerland by funding Salafist, Turkish and other radical mosques, is that they are welcome to continue doing so; the Swiss government has no intention of stopping them, let alone asking any unpleasant questions. It might as well put up a sign, saying, “Radicalization Welcome”.

Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Why We Are Leaving The So Called Human Rights Council

Why We’re Leaving the So-Called Human Rights Council

Allies said U.S. participation was the last shred of credibility left in the organization.

By Nikki Haley
June 19, 2018 7:11 p.m. ET

There is an international organization whose members include the repressive regimes of Cuba, Venezuela and China.

This organization recently added the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is obstructing an investigation into the murder within its borders of two United Nations human-rights experts.

In the past decade, this organization has passed more resolutions to condemn Israel specifically than to condemn Syria, Iran and North Korea combined.

Most people would not imagine that such an organization would be dedicated to protecting human rights. Yet all of these details describe the misnamed U.N. Human Rights Council. In truth, the council provides cover for governments with awful human-rights records, and it refuses to eliminate its Agenda Item 7, which targets Israel unfairly by mandating that each session include a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After more than a year of unsuccessful efforts to fix these fundamental defects, the U.S. delegation announced Tuesday our withdrawal from the council. Our country will no longer be party to this deeply flawed institution, which harms the cause of human rights more than it helps it.

There are two major reasons that so many countries have resisted U.S.-led reform efforts. The first is baked into the council’s composition. One look at this rogue’s gallery explains why the organization has such appalling disrespect for the rights Americans take for granted. A credible human-rights council would pose a threat to these countries, so they oppose the steps needed to create one. Instead they obstruct investigations and reports, while interfering with the council’s ability to name and shame the perpetrators of the world’s worst atrocities.

The second reason for resistance to reform is even more frustrating. Many countries agree with the U.S. about shunning human-rights violators and supporting Israel—but only behind closed doors. Despite numerous overtures, these countries were unwilling to join the U.S. in a public stand. Some even told us they were fine with the council’s flaws, as long as it let them address their pet issues. This is not a moral compromise we are willing to make. The U.K. has promised to oppose any resolution targeting Israel under Agenda Item 7, and we support that stance. We wish other countries would do the same.

In the end, our allies’ case for the U.S. to stay on the council was actually the most compelling argument to leave. They said American participation was the last shred of credibility left in the organization. But a stamp of legitimacy on the current Human Rights Council is precisely what the U.S. should not provide.

Our withdrawal from the council will not end America’s own steadfast commitment to human rights. The U.S. delegation remains proud of American leadership in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Our country has always championed freedom, individual dignity, human rights and the rule of law, and that will never change. The U.S. will continue to lead on human rights outside the council, even as we push for institutional reform with like-minded partners.

Last year when the U.S. presided over the U.N. Security Council, we initiated the first-ever Security Council session dedicated to the connection between human rights and peace and security. The same year, when the Venezuelan regime blocked a Human Rights Council discussion of the massive violations it had committed, the U.S. organized an event outside the council’s chambers with Venezuelan human-rights leaders. When several countries objected to holding a Security Council session on the Iranian people’s human-rights struggles, the U.S. succeeded in initiating one anyway.

I have traveled to U.N. camps for refugees and internally displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Turkey and Jordan, and met with the victims of atrocities in those troubled regions.

America uses its voice and vote every day at the U.N. to defend human rights. We will continue to be a champion for the abused peoples of Burma, China, Russia, Syria, Iran, South Sudan, Cuba, Venezuela and countless other places. We will continue to push the Human Rights Council for reforms that would make it worthy of our involvement. Any country willing to work with us to reshape the council need only ask.

We believe in the sovereignty of all U.N. member states, but no country should use that sovereignty as a shield when it proliferates weapons of mass destruction, promotes terrorism or commits mass atrocities. The U.S. does not seek to impose its system on anyone else. But we do support the universal values of freedom and human rights. And we will speak out for those values at every opportunity.

That is why we are withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, an organization that is unworthy of its name. But even as we depart, our commitment to human rights will remain steady as ever, and our voice will only get louder.

Ms. Haley is U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

So, Protect Some , But Let Others Have To Compete —Canada’s Leaders’ Double Standard

Our dairy, egg and poultry producers don’t want to compete. Our politicians agree

Opinion: Supply management is merely another way for the federal parties to buy off Quebec voters, which is what they seem to expect

National Post

June 20, 2018

By Morris W. Dorosh

Few if any lobby and pressure groups in Canadian history have had as many politicians in their pocket at one time as the supply management community. Under unprecedented assault for their monopolistic and import-eliminating features, the dairy and poultry boards have all parties foursquare behind them.

The Liberal party is beholden to rural Quebec voters, where the marketing board system makes families who milk 50 cows affluent. The affinity of Liberals and French residents of the Quebec backwoods predates Confederation, except for times when separatism is in cyclical ascent. Supply management is merely another way to buy off Quebec voters, which is what they seem to expect.

But why do the NDP and Conservative parties support this system with such passionate fervour?

Supply management is not free enterprise or entrepreneurship, so how does it fit with the philosophy of an allegedly conservative party? The marketing board system is labour unionism transferred into the country, except that no labour union has unilateral government sanction to do as it pleases. It does not have the support of all Conservative members, but woe unto him who disrespects the party line. Quebec Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, who may be the only conservative in the Conservative caucus, was expelled from Scheer’s shadow cabinet last week after posting on his website the chapter of his forthcoming book that criticizes supply management. He lost to Scheer at last year’s Conservative leadership convention by such a microscopic margin that there should have been a recount or another vote, and in the book Bernier describes how Quebec and Ontario dairy farmers took out impromptu Conservative party memberships specifically to vote against him.

It is the expected thing to find incoherence in the New Democratic Party. But supply management is a point on which official party policy literally sides with the rich against the poor. There are 12,000 dairy farmers in Canada economically sheltered by the marketing boards and around 12 million consumers with sub-middle-class incomes, including 4.8 million living below the official poverty line. The Canada West Foundation estimates that dairy and chicken purchases for an average Canadian household cost $600 a year more than the average American household. This $50-a-month burden falls hardest on those with the lowest incomes, advocating for whom is assumed to be the reason that the NDP exists. The NDP places millionaire dairy farmers in the same class as union labourers. Dairy farms that have hired labour must be the only class of employers that the NDP is not sworn to victimize.

Dairy and chicken purchases for an average Canadian household cost $600 a year more than the average American household

It would be another matter if the supply management system were a template that could be applied across the whole economy and society. But it can’t, not in a market economy or a free society.

Supply-management farmers are on an artificial island of prosperity unavailable to any other. It is not accidental that the supply-management principle has not been applied to any new sector in at least 65 years. The dairy and poultry people found that surrendering the right to produce in exchange for the right to set their own prices was a great bargain, especially as the value of quotas that confer the right to produce exploded.

So the entire Canadian political establishment stands, like Horatius at the bridge, ready to fight to the death any foreign attacker of this rotten system. All the politicians (except apparently Bernier) are so pledged to the marketing board system that it can only be concluded that a trade agreement such as a renewed NAFTA would be rejected if it required dismantling of the supply-management monopoly. The milk-and-feather lobby expects nothing less and as far as it is concerned the 99 per cent of the non-supply-managed economy can go to hell.

The milk-and-feather lobby expects nothing less and as far as it is concerned the 99 per cent of the non-supply-managed economy can go to hell

Just before the G7 meeting, Trudeau visited a Quebec dairy farm where some farmers had gathered, claiming his stalwart defence of supply management as the reason for the tweet attacks from Trump. However the farmers eventually jeered the prime minister for reportedly offering to be “flexible” on dairy tariffs. The minimum position of the milk lobby is that there is to be no change whatever.

The milk-egg-chicken cartel wants us to believe that it cannot compete with producers in other countries, while Canadian grain, oilseed, cattle hog and other farmers are exposed to world prices all the time. The impression it leaves, as the monopoly attracts rare general media attention, is that dairy and poultry farmers do not feel like competing with anyone. As long as the entire political establishment is with them, why should they?

Morris W. Dorosh is publisher of AGRIWEEK, a newsletter for agribusiness executives published in Winnipeg since 1967.