The Circus Acts Alter

So the polls change and Trump slides and Carson advances: in short the audience in the big tent is getting bored with the circus acts. So predictable: but then my media colleagues will continue to pump up unprofessionally the quirky non-electables like some demented ringmasters fearful the audience will slip away and the bait-and-click won’t keep the numbers up. Anyone who has covered presidential races knows perfectly well that “likely voter” is a fiction at this stage in the race and that polls so far out from the primaries and the general election are meaningless. How about doing some real stories like actually exploring issues and substance as opposed to the Entertainment Tonight-style of journalism?

Half-a-Million American Jews Served in WWII

So, Ann Coulter has unloaded on the “f…Jews”. And there is a viral campaign of bigots “standing with Ann” on Twitter. Presumably she and her supporters would also consider the half-a-million American-Jewish GIs who served in WWII as beyond the pale — and so too, the following Medal of Honor winners: Isadore Jachman, Ben Salomon and Raymond Zussman.

The Berlin-born Jachman emigrated with his family to the US when he was a two-years-old. He graduated from a high school in Baltimore and joined the army in 1942. His Medal of Honor was awarded for action defending the town of Flamierge in Belgium. His company in the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment was pinned down by fierce tank fire and took heavy casualties.

Sergeant Jachman “left his place of cover, dashed across open ground, through a hail of fire and grabbed a bazooka from a fallen comrade. He then advanced on the tanks, which concentrated their fire on him. Firing his weapon, he damaged one and forced both of them to retire.”

Jachman was killed.

Benjamin L. Salomon was an army dentist, who when the Japanese overran his hospital, mounted a rear-guard action in which he had no chance of personal survival. His bravery allowed the safe evacuation of many wounded, and he killed at least 98 enemy troops before being killed himself during the Battle of Saipan.

Islamic State Poised to Benefit from Refugee Crisis

From my latest VOA report — you can find it here: “The refugee crisis roiling Europe presents a win-win opportunity for Islamic State (IS) extremists, says international terrorism research consultancy TRAC.

By hiding among thousands of asylum-seekers, the Islamist militants can expand their operational presence in Europe, the consortium of analysts warned in a briefing released Thursday.

And if any of their infiltrated members are caught, the backlash could help radicalize disaffected European Muslims.

Despite fears that IS is exploiting the refugee crisis to infiltrate Europe by disguising members as asylum-seekers, only six cases have so far been reported. Analysts, however, say the apparently meager numbers shouldn’t be a cause for relief or a source of complacency — a point echoed by European intelligence officials who VOA spoke to on condition of anonymity.

Europe’s Far Right Seek to Inflame Nativist Sentiments

Mustafa is not unusual among the refugee fathers, husbands and sons placing their lives in the hands of people smugglers and making the short, but dangerous, sea crossing alone from Turkey to Greece, and then enduring a long and uncertain slog on land up through the Balkans or Hungary via Austria to Germany.

He has been watching the television news showing Hungarian and Macedonian border guards beating refugees, and has heard stories from relatives who have made it to Europe of running the gauntlet of brutal traffickers and getting robbed on the road.
The images and stories have confirmed his view that the trip is not one his daughter should share.

According to the U.N. refugee agency, the majority of those from the Mideast streaming into Europe are men, prompting some anti-immigrant and anti-Islam campaigners to argue that the continent is not facing a simple refugee crisis, but a migration designed to Islamize Europe.

At far right rallies in Germany, that imbalance is highlighted by anti-immigrant speakers and protesters alike as clear evidence that the migration crisis in Europe is a jihadist plot that will end up changing the face of European culture.

For my full report on how Europe’s far right is inflaming nativist sentiments click here.


No End In Sight for Syria

In the immediate wake of the Iran nuclear deal there was a flurry of diplomacy involving Washington, Moscow and Tehran with talk that the time might be right to hammer out an agreement to end Syria’s four-year-long civil war. But with renewed commitments from Iran and Russia to shore up President Bashar al-Assad there seems no end in sight for the ruinous war of attrition that has left an estimated 240,000 people dead.

No one is budging their hard-held positions inside or outside Syria, despite the recognition by most parties involved that defeating the extremists of the Islamic State should be among the highest priorities — and that is unlikely to happen while the civil war rages.

For the West the mounting refugee crisis roiling Europe has added urgency to the search for some kind of resolution to the barbaric conflict.

Read my full VOA dispatch here.