World Today: 2015-04-28 Tuesday

USA:  Maryland governor calls up national guard as protests spread.  Fox:  ‘Maryland’s governor called up the National Guard late Monday hours after rioting gangs attacked police, injuring 15, torched cars and went on widespread looting sprees in a downtown section of Baltimore. Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement late Monday saying he was declaring a state of emergency and calling up the National Guard. “These acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated,” he said at a late-night press conference.  Meanwhile, Baltimore Sun has more details:

Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, injuring more than a dozen police officers and leaving buildings and vehicles in flames.

As night fell, looters took to Mondawmin Mall and a Save-A-Lot and Rite Aid in Bolton Hill, loading up cars with stolen goods. About 10 fire crews battled a three-alarm fire at a large senior center under construction at Chester and Gay streets, as police officers stood guard with long guns.

Syria:  Nusrah jihadists celebrate victory in Jisr al Shughur. Long War Journal:  ‘After defeating the Assad regime in Jisr al Shughur, several jihadist groups have released videos showing their fighters and civilians walking and parading through the streets of the city. In many of these scenes, al Qaeda’s black flag can be seen flying in the center of town, as well as on many vehicles shown in the videos.’

World Today: 2015-04-27 Monday

Nepal:  Earthquake toll over 3,000. Reuters:  ‘Hundreds of Nepalis were fleeing the capital Kathmandu for the plains on Monday, terror-stricken by two days of powerful aftershocks following a massive earthquake that killed more than 3,200 people and faced with shortages of food and water.

Israel:  IAF eliminates four terrorists on Golan border.  Debka:  ‘An air strike hit the four terrorists after they planted the bomb on the Israeli side and crossed back into Syria.’

USA:  Baltimore mayor says outside provocateurs started violence.  Reuters:  ‘A day after thousands of demonstrators marched through the city demanding justice in the investigation into the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, 25, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake condemned the lawlessness that erupted on Saturday.’  “Last night we saw a small group of agitators turning what was otherwise a peaceful demonstration into violent disruptions,” the mayor told a news conference.

Israeli Strike Aimed to Stop Attack on Golan Targets

JPost:

An attack allegedly carried out by Israeli fighter jets against targets in Syria over the weekend was aimed at thwarting plans to attack strategic Israeli targets in the Golan Heights, Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida reported on Sunday, citing a Western diplomatic source.

The attack took place overnight Friday, targeting Syrian military bases housing long-range missiles, according to a previous report by Al-Jazeera. …

Bruce Jenner Comes Out of the Closet as a Republican

Bruce Jenner, who is transitioning MTF, made waves with a surprising revelation to Diane Sawyer:

“Did you cheer the president?” Sawyer asked Jenner.

“I will certainly give him credit for that,” Jenner responded. “But not to get political, I’ve just never been a big fan. I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”

“Are you Republican?” Sawyer asked.

“Yeah,” he said with a smile. “Is that a bad thing? I believe in the Constitution.”

Log Cabin Republicans:

As the nation’s only organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies, Log Cabin Republicans congratulates Bruce Jenner in the tremendous courage he demonstrated tonight, being true to himself both in terms of his personal identity as well as his political identity. There is a home for you in Log Cabin Republicans — as there is for all lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender conservatives and straight allies.

Twitchy has a roundup of reactions.

Oregon Couple Face 135k$ Fee Over Lesbian Wedding Cake Affair

By now you’ve probably heard of the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the now-defunct Gresham-based Sweet Cakes bakery, who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

OregonLive:

The lesbian couple turned away by a Gresham bakery that refused to make them a wedding cake for religious reasons should receive $135,000 in damages for their emotional suffering, a state hearings officer says.

Rachel Bowman-Cryer should collect $75,000 and her wife, Laurel Bowman-Cryer, $60,000 from the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, an administrative law judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said in a proposed order released Friday, April 24. …

Friends and allies set up a GoFundMe site to help the Kleins pay their expenses, but the site was closed down:

But in response to a query by The Oregonian/OregonLive, the San Diego-based company provided this email reply:

Thank you for writing to us about this campaign.

After careful review by our team, we have found the “Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa” campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions and have removed this campaign. The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal.

You may review copy of our Terms and Conditions here: http://www.gofundme.com/terms.

 

One Oregonian’s letter (via Facebook) to Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian:

Greetings Mr. Avakian,

I’m neither Christian, nor do I oppose same-sex marriage. What I do vehemently oppose is bullying. In the case of the Klein family, after they declined to fill an order for a lesbian couple’s wedding cake, the actions of a segment of the public has indeed been menacing, shameful, and arguably crosses legal lines in terms of the level of threatening and harmful words and behavior directed at the Klein family.

Now the state itself may potentially act to further such bullying. Namely, by levying an exorbitant fine against the Klein family, which goes beyond their business assets, and cuts into their personal finances, which they need in no small part for their five children.

The fact is, the Klein family has lost their business, and has been found guilty, under Oregon law, for declining this customer inquiry. This is quite a lot. The subsequent death threats, continued harassment, and extreme distress that Mr. and Mrs. Klein, along with their children and other family members, have been subject to goes beyond that, and is disgraceful.

The Klein family has paid a heavy price for their conscientious objection to homosexuality, and the point has been clearly made: in Oregon, private business owners’ personal religious beliefs are not protected under the state’s laws, and they are not legally permitted under Oregon state law to decline service to other individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation – even when it violates their beliefs, identity, and constitutional right to freedom of religion.

To levy a fine on the Klein family of $135,000.00 for this lesbian couple is excessive, aimed at them personally (meant to hurt them as individuals, which would punish their children as well), and would reflect very badly on the public and legal officials of Oregon (it smacks of vengeance and not justice as understood and stated in Oregon state laws).

You, Mr. Avakian, have the direct power in this case to make a decision as to the amount of said fine, and thus deeply affect this family and their children, as well as make a very important statement about the system of justice within the state of Oregon.

I urge you to be reasonable and fair, look at the fact that no expert testimony was actually offered by lawyers for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer concerning their claims for damages, and to seriously consider the future of the Klein family children.

Sincerely,
Alexis G. Shapira

Meanwhile, I can find no example of similar zeal on the part of leftist activists to punish the Muslim bakeries in Dearborn that made similar refusals.

Now maybe Crowder went to 20 bakeries and maybe most of them agreed to bake the cake. Great! Good on them. But if we go by the Oregon example, even one refusal is too many. Maybe Michigan’s laws are different from Oregon’s? Even so, why is not the whole leftist outrage machine firing full-bore on these guys?

I’ll tell you what it looks like to me. It looks like the leftist so-called “liberals” are picking on the easy targets, the safe targets – Christians – and piling on. And then they’re congratulating themselves on their enormous courage.

Ba’ath Roots of Daesh

Denise Natali at Al-Monitor explores the nexus between Islamic State and Iraq’s Ba’ath Party:

How could Iraqi Baathists, known for their secular ideology, find common ground with radical Salafist groups? While the presence and strength of former Baathist officers in IS appears contradictory it reflects the influence of the Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandi (JRTN), a group of Saddam’s former officers and Sunni Arab tribes that formed in reaction to the post-2003 Iraqi order. Led by Izzat al-Douri, Saddam’s former vice president and deputy chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council (proclaimed to be killed in a recent battle in Tikrit), the JRTN represents a fusion of Islam, Sunni Arab identity and Iraqi nationalism.

This fusion can be traced to the early 1990s, when Saddam commenced his Islamic faith campaign to consolidate Baath Party power. The campaign reflected geopolitical challenges and Iraqi security priorities after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1989) and Saddam’s attempts to control the “Zoroastrian” Iran and Persian-Shiite threat. It involved the Baath Party’s direct control of all religious policies and institutions in Iraq, creating Islamic structures, recruiting networks of spies and Islamic activists to work for the regime, and embedding Baath Party structures, members and security organs into religious circles.

By the late 1990s a “religious deep state” had emerged in Iraq, whereby most Sunni Islamic leaders and institutions that were created, co-opted and/or controlled by the regime were now inside the state. One of these institutions was the Islamic University of Baghdad, attended by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, current leader of the so-called IS caliphate. …

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was reported killed in a security operation, although Iraqi authorities are unable to confirm the identity of the body.

Read Natali’s article at the link.  It follows Spiegel’s revelation of secret files recovered from Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, alias Haji Bakr.

The former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein’s air defense force had been secretly pulling the strings at IS for years. Former members of the group had repeatedly mentioned him as one of its leading figures. Still, it was never clear what exactly his role was.

But when the architect of the Islamic State died, he left something behind that he had intended to keep strictly confidential: the blueprint for this state. It is a folder full of handwritten organizational charts, lists and schedules, which describe how a country can be gradually subjugated. …

This is a good place to mention Michael Totten’s review of ISIS:  Inside the Army of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan.

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan, paints a gripping and disturbing picture of this new “caliphate” in the Levant and Mesopotamia. In the most comprehensive account to date, the authors chronicle ISIS’s roots as the Iraqi franchise of al-Qaeda under its founding father, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, its near defeat at the hands of Americans and Iraqi militias in Anbar Province, its rebirth during the Syrian civil war, and its catastrophic return to Iraq as a conquering army last summer. …

Go read the rest at the link, and I recommend getting the book.