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US and Israel exit UN cultural agency, claiming bias

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US and Israel exit UN cultural agency claiming bias

PARIS (AP) — The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.

The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.

Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.

In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.

The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.

In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K

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Culture and Religion

‘Godfather’ star Gianni Russo on Chris ‘Fredo’ Cuomo’s rant

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'Godfather' star Gianni Russo on Chris 'Fredo' Cuomo's rant

When CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was filmed delivering an unhinged rant to a heckler at a restaurant, one of the things many people took offense to was his declaration that the term “Fredo” was to Italian-Americans as the “n-word” is to African-Americans. This has been completely debunked since then with guests on his own show using the name to refer to Donald Trump Jr. But that didn’t keep CNN from backing their guy.

TMZ caught up with Gianni Russo, a star from The Godfather who told the reality of the situation from three unique perspectives. First, he said it wasn’t a racial slur and clearly referred to the weaker brother, a perspective he understands as a star of the film. Second, he knows the Cuomo family well and couldn’t believe Chris would have said that. Third, knowing father Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York, leads him to believe the elder Cuomo would have smacked his son had he heard him say what he did.

No real repercussions are expected against Cuomo from his employers at CNN.

Here’s a video from TMZ of Russo’s perspective:

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Culture and Religion

Do Omar, Tlaib oppose LGBTQ rights like the Palestinian Authority?

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Do Omar Tlaib oppose LGBTQ rights like the Palestinian Authority

Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib want Israel to be boycotted, divested, and sanctioned. They want the Democrats in the House of Representatives to take Congressional action against Israel. They want to drive a wedge between the United States and Israel. Most importantly, they want Israel to no longer exist, replaced by the Palestinian Authority and a “New Palestine.”

Do they also support the Palestinian Authority’s ban on LGBTQ activities? Do they agree with the anti-LGBTQ tenets of the Muslims organizations the Congresswomen support?

In a society in which the media handled things in an unbiased manner, these are questions the press would be asking Omar and Tlaib following the Palestinian Authority’s ban on LGBTQ activities in the West Bank, an area where Tlaib’s grandmother lives and where she petitioned to visit before declining to do so after Israel allowed it.

The press should ask them if they support the Palestinian Authority’s move against LBGTQ individuals:

Palestinian Authority bans LGBTQ activities in West Bank

The Palestinian Authority banned members of the Palestinian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community from carrying out any activities in the West Bank.

The ban came after the grassroots group Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society (Arabic for “the bow”), which engages and supports Palestinians who identify as LGBTQ, was planning to hold a gathering for its members in Nablus at the end of the month. The group operates both in the West Bank and among Arab-Israelis.

Both Tlaib and Omar claim to be supportive of LGBTQ rights. But they also have a not-so-subtle attachment to the Palestinian Authority and are actively working to put them in control of all of Israel. Does that mean they would approve of their ban of LGBTQ individuals “from the river to the sea”?

While many in America’s LGBTQ community continue to support and often partner with Islamic groups to help their friends in the Democratic Party, others in the community have spoken out against the anti-LGBTQ policies Muslim majority nations impose on their people. This needs to be addressed by LGBTQ leaders; they can’t (or at least shouldn’t) ignore the plight of the international LGBTQ community for the sake of political expediency.

The Palestinian Authority’s ban on all LGBTQ activities in the West Bank should be a point of contention that Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib need to reconcile. But they won’t. Mainstream media will bury the story and nobody will ask them how they feel.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Culture and Religion

Dan Bongino calls out Antifa for what they really are

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Dan Bongino calls out Antifa for what they really are

There’s a strange series of contradictions within the Antifa movement. They claim to be anti-fascist, yet their actions can only be categorized as fascist suppression techniques. They claim to be against racism and misogyny, yet they intimidate any minority or woman who doesn’t agree with them. They pretend to be brave, yet they hide behind masks.

Conservative pundit Dan Bongino knows a thing or two about fighting fascism, stopping bigotry, and being brave. As an outspoken commentator and former Secret Service agent, Bongino has done more to defend this country and promote the proper ideologies we need in order to prevent fascism from ever rearing its ugly head here. He’s also no fan of Antifa.

As he notes, the real agenda of Antifa isn’t anti-fascism. Their name really implies they’re anti-FA – First Amendment. Even as they fight “hate speech,” they do so in ways that are designed to suppress our freedoms to speak. They’re quickly becoming a parody of the old progressive movements, albeit more dangerous today.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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