Pages: 1 ... 3 4  6 7 ... 224
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The greatest generation rises to fight tyranny once more
on: October 02, 2013, 11:00:39 AM
Why was the World War II Memorial barricaded?
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill do not seem any closer to an agreement that would end the government shutdown.
On Tuesday, when veterans came to the World War II Memorial only to discover it had been barricaded because of the shutdown, they moved the blockade, then continued on to pay their respects. But the memorial is a federal site in a public space. According to the National World War II Memorial website, "The memorial is operated by the National Park Service and is open to visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Why was there a need for barricades in the first place?
"Park Service did not want to barricade these, but unfortunately we have been directed, because of the lack of appropriations, to close all facilities and grounds," said National Mall and Memorial parks spokeswoman Carol Johnson. "I know that this is an open-air memorial, but we have people on staff who are CPR trained, (and) we want to make sure that we have maintenance crew to take care of any problems. What we're trying to do is protect this resource for future generations," said Johnson.
CNN's Erin McPike reports.**Hmmmm. So I guess all those Park Police officers aren't trained in CPR?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 164 Democrats Vote Against Funding Veterans' Benefits
on: October 02, 2013, 10:38:31 AM
164 Democrats Vote Against Funding Veterans' Benefits
HJ Res. 72
Vote summary: 264-164. Failed (required 2/3 majority).
This bill would have restored funding for American veterans' benefits. The 164 Democrats listed on this page don't think veterans' benefits are important enough to pay for. Click the tweet buttons to ask them why.
•Johnson, E. B.
•Lujan Grisham (NM)
•Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
•Sánchez, Linda T.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The greatest generation rises to fight tyranny once more
on: October 02, 2013, 10:29:31 AM
Unreal: Park workers installing more barricades around WWII Memorial to keep vets out; Update: Vets enter Memorial
posted at 10:41 am on October 2, 2013 by Allahpundit
Not just barricades, either. My friends, it’s come to this:
I’m rushing this post out because, per Ed’s stellar round-up from earlier this morning, the Honor Flight vets are headed to the Memorial regardless. Members of Congress, among them Michele Bachmann, are already there, as are reporters of all stripes. If you use Twitter, I recommend following the Standard’s John McCormack, National Review’s Betsy Woodruff, and the Examiner’s Charlie Spiering, who took the photo I used for our front-page thumbnail of the feds actually deploying forklifts to set up gates around a memorial that’s open 24 hours a day with little supervision under normal circumstances. As I write this at a few minutes after 10:30 ET, Spiering is tweeting that the vets are scheduled to arrive within the next 15 minutes. Is your government really about to arrest 96-year-olds who fought at Guadalcanal because this bit of sub-moronic shutdown theater is too precious to them to forfeit? Stay tuned. It wouldn’t be the first own-goal they’ve scored because their pettiness overwhelmed their sense of optics.
By the way, the WWII Memorial isn’t the only one with a gate in front of it this morning. When McCormack strolled over to the World War I Memorial, he found this. No joke:
The sign reads, “Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service area is closed, except for First Amendment activities.” So if you want to protest there, you’re good. If you want to quietly remember the dead, get off the damned lawn.
An exit question via Legal Insurrection while we wait for updates: How come the Lincoln Memorial isn’t open now if it was open “>during the 1995 shutdown?
Update: A Park Service spokesman says they were told to close the memorial by the Office of Management and Budget. Paging Darrell Issa: Time to find out who made the decision at OMB. And why.
Update: If you’re near a TV, you might want to turn on CNN. Tapper is there at the Memorial; if there’s some sort of confrontation, I assume they’ll cut to him live.
Update: The vets have arrived.
Dan Foster says, “This is President Obama’s Bonus Army.”
Update: Forced to choose between locking up elderly World War II heroes and letting them past the barricades, the Park Service bows to political reality:
Chad Pergram ✔ @ChadPergram
Source signals they are going to let the WWII vets and lawmakers into the WWII Memorial on the Mall
8:59 AM - 2 Oct 2013
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ben Carson: ‘I had my first encounter with the IRS’ after challenging Obama
on: October 01, 2013, 07:05:41 PM
- The Daily Caller - http://dailycaller.com
Ben Carson: ‘I had my first encounter with the IRS’ after challenging Obama
Posted By Jeff Poor On 9:47 AM 10/01/2013 In Politics | No Comments
At an event in Birmingham, Ala. Monday night, former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson revealed that he had received a visit from the Internal Revenue Service following his much-noted remarks at a National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year.
“I had my first encounter with the IRS this year, unsurprisingly after the prayer breakfast,” Carson told an audience that at the annual Business Council of Alabama Chairman’s Dinner, according to a report from Cliff Sims of the Montgomery, Ala.-based Yellowhammer News.
Carson’s February speech February made him a conservative darling for criticizing President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care reform law, while Obama was sitting just a few feet away.
During the event, which also featured former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Carson spoke about the potential presidential candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. relations with Russia and the Environmental Protection Agency.
(h/t Cliff Sims, Yellowhammer News)
Follow Jeff on Twitter
Article printed from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/01/ben-carson-i-had-my-first-encounter-with-the-irs-following-the-national-prayer-breakfast/
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Remember when the left was all about "civility"?
on: October 01, 2013, 07:03:03 PM
OCTOBER 1, 2013
Two Russians Walk Into a Parliamentary Crisis...
BY JULIA IOFFE @juliaioffe
What is a president in a presidential constitutional republic to do when faced with an intransigent, bull-headed faction among his people's representatives?
Well, Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first democratically elected president, was once faced with a similar situation exactly 20 years ago, in October 1993. The parliament, then called the Supreme Soviet, was increasingly against Yeltsin's neoliberal economic reforms (suggested to him by young Western advisors like Jeffrey Sachs). On one hand, these reforms freed up the old Soviet command economy. On the other, they drove the country into chaos and violence, and left tens of millions impoverished, their savings nullified by skyrocketing inflation. The parliament, dominated by old Soviet conservatives, was increasingly against these reforms and refused to confirm Yeltsin's key economic advisor. Yeltsin held a national referendum, a sort of national vote of confidence, which he won, and used it as a justification for what he did next.
Almost exactly 20 years ago, he dissolved parliament. The vice president and the speaker of the parliament dissolved Yeltsin's presidency, and holed up with their supporters in the parliament's headquarters, now known as "the White House."
Then Yeltsin did this to it.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 01, 2013, 10:41:50 AM
Unfortunately not only is that true, but Team Obama made Israel's logistics MUCH harder by leaking the existence of a refueling deal with Azerbaijian back when Israel was planning to bust a move.
My understanding is that Iran's program is so spread out and so dug in that a strike short of a nuclear attack would but delay the program-- AND IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD JUSTIFY IRAN GOING NUKE AND GOING TO WAR AGAINST ISRAEL.
Exactly the box Buraq wanted to put Israel in.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS scandal means bad news for Obama: Column
on: September 30, 2013, 07:14:23 PM
IRS scandal means bad news for Obama: Column
Glenn Harlan Reynolds 10:23 a.m. EDT September 30, 2013
Come 2014, the government's damaged brand will reflect poorly on president and his party.
(Photo: Al Behrman, AP)
Most Americans think the IRS broke the law by targeting Tea Party groups for harassment.
But only 17% think it is even somewhat likely that anyone will be charged.
The lesson for the country is that trust in the government is very low.
So last week, while most of the country was talking about football or fears of a government shutdown, Rasmussen released a poll that should worry everyone -- but especially incumbent Democrats in Congress. According to Rasmussen's survey, most Americans think the IRS broke the law by targeting Tea Party groups for harassment, but few expect it to be punished. Fifty-three percent think the IRS broke the law by targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups like the voter-integrity outfit True The Vote; only 24% disagreed. But only 17% think it is even somewhat likely that anyone will be charged, while 74% think that criminal charges are unlikely.
COLUMN: Assault by civil forfeiture
So a majority of Americans think that government officials who exercise an important trust broke the law, but only a very small number think anything will be done to punish them.
There are a couple of lessons to draw from this. One is bad for the country in general, but the other is bad for congressional Democrats.
The lesson for the country is that trust in the government is very low. (In another Rasmussen poll, 70% think that government and big business often work together against consumers and investors. According to Gallup, trust in government is lower than during Watergate.) But it's worse than that.
Believing that government officials break the law is one thing; believing that they face no consequences when they're caught and it becomes public is another. Not only is this a sort of "broken windows" signal to other bureaucrats -- hey, you can break the law and get away with it -- but it's particularly damaging where the IRS is concerned.
America's tax system, despite the feared IRS audit, is fundamentally based on voluntary compliance. If everyone starts cheating, there aren't enough IRS agents to make a dent. Beyond taxes, that's true regarding compliance with the law in general. Moral legitimacy is what makes honest people obey the law even when they can get away with breaking it. Undermine that and you get a country like, say, Italy, where tax evasion is a national sport.
Meanwhile, there's another bit of bad news buried in that poll, this time for Democrats. The bad news is that a majority of Americans thinks the IRS broke the law even though the news media have consistently downplayed the scandal. But as the scandal has dragged on for months, word has filtered out anyway. Come 2014, the government's damaged brand will reflect poorly on members of the president's party, regardless of media efforts to protect them.
Beyond that, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto has begun calling President Obama "President Asterisk," saying that IRS efforts to weaken his opposition in the run-up to the 2012 election devalue Obama's victory the way illegal steroid use devalues an athlete's record-book standing. Taranto writes that this puts Obama in a situation that is in some ways worse than Nixon after Watergate: "We now know that government corruption -- namely IRS persecution of dissenters -- was a factor in Obama's re-election.
To be sure, Obama himself has not, at least so far, been implicated in the IRS wrongdoing as Nixon ultimately was in Watergate. On the other hand, Nixon's re-election victory was so overwhelming that no one could plausibly argue Watergate was a necessary condition for it. The idea that Obama could not have won without an abusive IRS is entirely plausible."
Of course, the press hated Nixon, while it is still doing everything it can to protect Obama. But, as we see, word filters out. Stay tuned.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is professor of law at the University of Tennessee and the author ofThe New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The truth starts to sink in....
on: September 30, 2013, 07:08:04 PM
I'm sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism
By Brendan O'Neill
The aftermath of an Islamist bomb directed at Pakistani Shiites (Photo: AFP/Getty)
In Western news-making and opinion-forming circles, there’s a palpable reluctance to talk about the most noteworthy thing about modern Islamist violence: its barbarism, its graphic lack of moral restraint. This goes beyond the BBC's yellow reluctance to deploy the T-word – terrorism – in relation to the bloody assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya at the weekend. Across the commentating board, people are sheepish about pointing out the historically unique lunacy of Islamist violence and its utter detachment from any recognisable moral universe or human values. We have to talk about this barbarism; we have to appreciate how new and unusual it is, how different it is even from the terrorism of the 1970s or of the early twentieth century. We owe it to the victims of these assaults, and to the principle of honest and frank political debate, to face up to the unhinged, morally unanchored nature of Islamist violence in the 21st century.
Maybe it’s because we have become so inured to Islamist terrorism in the 12 years since 9/11 that even something like the blowing-up of 85 Christians outside a church in Pakistan no longer shocks us or even makes it on to many newspaper front pages. But consider what happened: two men strapped with explosives walked into a group of men, women and children who were queuing for food and blew up themselves and the innocents gathered around them. Who does that? How far must a person have drifted from any basic system of moral values to behave in such an unrestrained and wicked fashion? Yet the Guardian tells us it is “moral masturbation” to express outrage over this attack, and it would be better to give into a “sober recognition that there are many bad things we can’t as a matter of fact do much about”. This is a demand that we further acclimatise to the peculiar and perverse bloody Islamist attacks around the world, shrug our shoulders, put away our moral compasses, and say: “Ah well, this kind of thing happens.”
Or consider the attack on Westgate in Kenya, where both the old and the young, black and white, male and female were targeted. With no clear stated aims from the people who carried the attack out, and no logic to their strange and brutal behaviour, Westgate had more in common with those mass mall and school shootings that are occasionally carried out by disturbed people in the West than it did with the political violence of yesteryear. And yet still observers avoid using the T-word or the M-word (murder) to describe what happened there, and instead attach all sorts of made-up, see-through political theories to this rampage, giving what was effectively a terror tantrum executed by morally unrestrained Islamists the respectability of being a political protest of some breed.
Time and again, one reads about Islamist attacks that seem to defy not only the most basic of humanity’s moral strictures but also political and even guerrilla logic. Consider the hundreds of suicide attacks that have taken place in Iraq in recent years, a great number of them against ordinary Iraqis, often children. Western apologists for this wave of weird violence, which they call “resistance”, claim it is about fighting against the Western forces which were occupying Iraq in the wake of the 2003 invasion. If so, it’s the first “resistance” in history whose prime targets have been civilians rather than security forces, and which has failed to put forward any kind of political programme that its violence is allegedly designed to achieve. Even experts in counterinsurgency have found themselves perplexed by the numerous nameless suicide assaults on massive numbers of civilians in post-war Iraq, and the fact that these violent actors, unlike the vast majority of violent political actors in history, have “developed no alternative government or political wing and displayed no intention of amassing territory to govern”. One Iraqi attack has stuck in my mind for seven years. In 2006 a female suicide bomber blew herself up among families – including many mothers and their offspring – who were queuing up for kerosene. Can you imagine what happened? A terrible glimpse was offered by this line in a Washington Post report on 24 September 2006: “Two pre-teen girls embraced each other as they burned to death.”
What motivates this perversity? What are its origins? Unwilling, or perhaps unable, to face up to the newness of this unrestrained, aim-free, civilian-targeting violence, Western observers do all sorts of moral contortions in an effort to present such violence as run-of-the-mill or even possibly a justifiable response to Western militarism. Some say, “Well, America kills women and children too, in its drone attacks”, wilfully overlooking the fact such people are not the targets of America’s military interventions – and I say that as someone who has opposed every American venture overseas of the past 20 years. If you cannot see the difference between a drone strike that goes wrong and kills an entire family and a man who crashes his car into the middle of a group of children accepting sweets from a US soldier and them blows himself and them up – as happened in Iraq in 2005 – then there is something wrong with you. Other observers say that Islamists, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the individuals who attacked London and New York, are fighting against Western imperialism in Muslim lands. But that doesn’t add up. How does blowing up Iraqi children represent a strike against American militarism? How is detonating a bomb on the London Underground a stab at the Foreign Office? It is ridiculous, and more than a little immoral, to try to dress up nihilistic assaults designed merely to kill as many ordinary people as possible as some kind of principled political violence.
We have a tendency to overlook the newness of modern Islamic terrorism, how recent is this emergence of a totally suicidal violence that revels in causing as many causalities as possible. Yes, terrorism has existed throughout the modern era, but not like this. Consider the newness of suicide attacks, of terrorists who destroy themselves as well as their surroundings and fellow citizens. In the 1980s and 1990s, there were an average of one or two suicide attacks a year. Across the whole world. Since the early and mid-2000s there have been around 300 or 400 suicide attacks a year. In 2006 there were more suicide attacks around the world than had taken place in the entire 20 years previous. Terrorists’ focus on killing civilians – the more the better – is also new. If you look at the 20 bloodiest terrorist attacks in human history, measured by the number of causalities they caused, you’ll see something remarkable: 14 of them – 14 – took place in the 1990s and 2000s. So in terms of mass death and injury, those terrorist eras of the 1970s and 80s, and also earlier outbursts of anarchist terrorism, pale into insignificance when compared with the new, Islamist-leaning terrorism that has emerged in recent years.
What we have today, uniquely in human history, is a terrorism that seems myopically focused on killing as many people as possible and which has no clear political goals and no stated territorial aims. The question is, why? It is not moral masturbation to ask this question or to point out the peculiarity and perversity of modern Islamist violence. My penny’s worth is that this terrorism speaks to a profound crisis of politics and of morality. Where earlier terrorist groups were restrained both by their desire to appear as rational political actors with a clear goal in mind and by basic moral rules of human behaviour – meaning their violence was often bloody, yes, but rarely focused narrowly on committing mass murder – today’s Islamist terrorists appear to float free of normal political rules and moral compunctions. This is what is so infuriating about the BBC’s refusal to call these groups terrorists – because if anything, and historically speaking, even the term terrorist might be too good for them.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Debt and deficits impoverish us in ways we can only begin to measure.
on: September 30, 2013, 06:58:37 PM
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE www.nationalreview.com
September 18, 2013 4:00 AM
The Price of Politics
Debt and deficits impoverish us in ways we can only begin to measure.
By Kevin D. Williamson
The headline numbers from the Congressional Budget Office’s newest debt and deficit estimates: Publicly held debt will be at 100 percent of GDP in 25 years, driven by spending on health care and Social Security that will double over the next quarter century. In spite of the fact that taxes as a share of GDP will be higher than their historical average, the debt will continue to grow — and interest payments on that debt will more than double from their current levels.
That’s the best-case scenario.
The more realistic outcome is that each of those measures of debt and spending as a share of GDP will in fact be considerably worse, because our GDP will grow more slowly. We have entered the realm of the vicious circle: Debt and deficits will slow down economic growth, and slower economic growth will make our debt and deficits worse.
Our growing debt slows down economic growth by sucking up capital that could have been used for productive investments. Today’s investors pay higher taxes to fund yesterday’s spending — at the expense of tomorrow’s workers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs. As the CBO puts it:
The increase in debt relative to the size of the economy, combined with an increase in marginal tax rates (the rates that would apply to an additional dollar of income), would reduce output and raise interest rates relative to the benchmark economic projections that CBO used in producing the extended baseline. Those economic differences would lead to lower federal revenues and higher interest payments. . . . Increased borrowing by the federal government would eventually reduce private investment in productive capital, because the portion of total savings used to buy government securities would not be available to finance private investment. The result would be a smaller stock of capital and lower output and income in the long run than would otherwise be the case.
The cost of government spending isn’t just the total in the column marked “total disbursements” on the great Washington cash-flow statement. It is that plus the economic growth forgone as a result of that spending.
The CBO, to its credit, has attempted to get a handle on how heavily that growing debt will weigh upon economic activity in the next 25 years, and the answer is worrisome: Taking into account the economic effect of those deficits, instead of our debt hitting 100 percent of GDP in 25 years, CBO estimates that it will hit something closer to 200 percent of GDP — or 250 percent under the least sunny scenario. (There are even less-sunny scenarios, but the CBO does not believe that it can model them reliably.) Note here that these estimates also assume that the sequester and other deficit-control measures remain in place, which would consequently mean that spending on everything outside of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and debt service — everything else the government does — will be reduced far below current levels, in fact reverting to pre–World War II levels as a share of GDP. That is unlikely to be the case. Assume, then, that those spending and debt numbers look worse to the extent that the ladies and gentlemen in Washington lack the brass to resist demands for more domestic spending — and more military spending, too. The loudest and most insistent critics of the sequester have been defense contractors and the cluster of politicians in Maryland and Northern Virginia most sensitive to their complaints.
This is not just a balance-sheet problem; it is a problem of values and a problem of philosophy. On the one hand, we have the traditional conservative view that the role of government is to protect property and enforce contracts. The traditional antagonist to this view has been socialism, and in a sense it still is, though the old-fashioned Marxist analysis has been supplanted by what we might call the “Hey, the government invented the Internet!” school of economic analysis.
The Left has of late been atwitter about a new and energetic expression of that banal idea in a book called “The Entrepreneurial State,” written by Professor Mariana Mazzucato, a scholar in the field of technology policy at the University of Sussex. Professor Mazzucato’s argument is not really a matter of technology policy at all but a moral argument, and a poor one. Because government has made economic interventions in various ways in the past (e.g., through military research that has supported advances in things like smart phones and pharmaceuticals), it is immoral for businesses to look to minimize their tax payments or otherwise resist political control of their capital, and it is immoral — not merely mistaken, but immoral — to look to entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the like as the main drivers of economic innovation. Professor Mazzacuto writes:
In this era of obsession with reducing public debt — and the size of the state more generally — it is vital to dispel the myth that the public sector will be less innovative than the private sector. Otherwise, the state’s ability to continue to play its enterprising role will be weakened. Stories about how progress is led by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have aided lobbyists for the U.S. venture capital industry in negotiating lower capital gains and corporate income taxes — hurting the ability of the state to refill its innovation fund.
In support of her claim that the state is an effective entrepreneur, Professor Mazzucato cites the government’s role in developing what we now know as the Internet, its $500,000 investment in Apple through a small-business program, the CIA’s financial sponsorship of GPS technology, etc. This is a classic example of single-entry bookkeeping: Every government intervention that has some connection, however tenuous, with a profitable product in current use is listed on the credit side of the entrepreneur-state’s ledger. Nothing is listed on the debit side. How many Solyndras do we have for every $500,000 handout to Apple? How many Fannie Maes and housing bubbles for every GPS or nascent Internet? Do not look for Professor Mazzucato and those of her kidney to answer that question, or even to acknowledge it in any serious way. But past successes in state entrepreneurship can justify future adventures only to the extent that past efforts have been on balance successful. That is a difficult case to make.
And the debit side has to include much more than such obvious disasters as Solyndra. The government does support pharmaceutical and medical research in many ways — but how many potentially useful pharmaceuticals and medical products have been kept off the market by the federal regulatory apparatus and the enormous costs it imposes on effective and defective products alike? (And how much damage has been done by the FDA’s incompetent policing of defective products that do reach the market?) How many businesses have not been started, and how much innovation forgone, because of the state’s rapacious appetite for capital? For a sense of scale, consider that, as of October 2011, the world’s largest hedge-fund company was Bridgewater Associates of Westport, Conn., with $77.6 billion under management. That total is well less than Medicare loses to fraud year in and year out. You’d have to combine the assets of the three largest private-equity firms to match what Medicare loses to fraud in a typical year, whereas the holdings of venture-capital titans such as Andreessen Horowitz are hardly even rounding errors on that amount.
Would you invest with a firm with that record?
Government is what government does, and what government does is what government spends. Our government is a corrupt HMO with an underfunded pension plan attached, and a few aircraft carriers in tow. Contra Professor Mazzucato, the confiscatory taxes the federal government wishes to impose upon Apple et al. are not being used to replenish any such “innovation fund” as may exist in her imagination, but to prop up the corrupt, wasteful, and destructive programs that make up the great majority of its spending. Federal support for basic science research is pretty low on the list of things that small-government conservatives are worried about, and George Will is not entirely misguided in his admiration for the National Institutes of Health. But the neo-Nehruvian dream of the state as main entrepreneur cannot intellectually survive even the most modest attempt to balance benefits against costs.
As the CBO sees it, the economic weight of the deficits we’re expected to add just in the next 25 years is enough to bring the national debt from 100 percent of GDP to 200 or 250 percent of GDP, i.e., from paralyzing to catastrophic. The deficits we’ve run for the last 25 years have imposed costs of their own. That the costs mainly manifest themselves negatively — in the form of businesses that don’t exist, profits that aren’t collected, and help that is not wanted — does not make them any less real, or less tragic. In the long run, the deficit is as much about whether you have a decent job or die from diabetes complications as it is about figures in CBO estimates. The price may not always be obvious, but you pay it every day.
— Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy
on: September 30, 2013, 06:45:06 PM
As usual, the Economist writes in a way that sounds sage, makes some good points, and profoundly misses others.
In the last category for me is that Egypt REJECTED the MB when it asked the military to take over and supported its suppression of the MB. Unfortunately His Glibness failed to realize (and with him, the Economist) that this is pretty much EXACTLY what we have been hoping for-- an Arab people rejecting Islamic Fascism in a forceful manner.
They didn't, they just rejected Morsi-nomics.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / So, this is what al qaeda on the run looks like....
on: September 30, 2013, 04:34:47 PM
The new face of terror
The West thought it was winning the battle against jihadist terrorism. It should think again
Sep 28th 2013 |From the print edition
A FEW months ago Barack Obama declared that al-Qaeda was “on the path to defeat”. Its surviving members, he said, were more concerned for their own safety than with plotting attacks on the West. Terrorist attacks of the future, he claimed, would resemble those of the 1990s—local rather than transnational and focused on “soft targets”. His overall message was that it was time to start winding down George Bush’s war against global terrorism.
Mr Obama might argue that the assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi by al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, the Shabab, was just the kind of thing he was talking about: lethal, shocking, but a long way from the United States. Yet the inconvenient truth is that, in the past 18 months, despite the relentless pummelling it has received and the defeats it has suffered, al-Qaeda and its jihadist allies have staged an extraordinary comeback. The terrorist network now holds sway over more territory and is recruiting more fighters than at any time in its 25-year history (see article). Mr Obama must reconsider.
Back from the dead
It all looked different two years ago. Even before the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, al-Qaeda’s central leadership, holed up near the Afghan border in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, was on the ropes, hollowed out by drone attacks and able to communicate with the rest of the network only with difficulty and at great risk. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), its most capable franchise as far as mounting attacks on the West is concerned, was being hit hard by drone strikes and harried by Yemeni troops. The Shabab was under similar pressure in Somalia, as Western-backed African Union forces chased them out of the main cities. Above all, the Arab spring had derailed al-Qaeda’s central claim that corrupt regimes supported by the West could be overthrown only through violence.
All those gains are now in question. The Shabab is recruiting more foreign fighters than ever (some of whom appear to have been involved in the attack on the Westgate). AQAP was responsible for the panic that led to the closure of 19 American embassies across the region and a global travel alert in early August. Meanwhile al-Qaeda’s core, anticipating the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan after 2014, is already moving back into the country’s wild east.
Above all, the poisoning of the Arab spring has given al-Qaeda and its allies an unprecedented opening. The coup against a supposedly moderate Islamist elected government in Egypt has helped restore al-Qaeda’s ideological power. Weapons have flooded out of Libya and across the region, and the civil war in Syria has revived one of the network’s most violent and unruly offshoots, al-Qaeda in Iraq, now grandly renamed the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
The struggle to depose the Assad regime has acted as a magnet for thousands of would-be jihadists from all over the Muslim world and from Muslim communities in Europe and North America. The once largely moderate and secular Syrian Free Army has been progressively displaced by better-organised and better-funded jihadist groups that have direct links with al-Qaeda. Western intelligence estimates reckon such groups now represent as much as 80% of the effective rebel fighting force. Even if they fail to advance much from the territory they now hold in the north and east of the country, they might end up controlling a vast area that borders an ever more fragile-looking Iraq, where al-Qaeda is currently murdering up to 1,000 civilians a month. That is a terrifying prospect.
No more wishful thinking
How much should Western complacency be blamed for this stunning revival? Quite a bit. Mr Obama was too eager to cut and run from Iraq. He is at risk of repeating the mistake in Afghanistan. America has been over-reliant on drone strikes to “decapitate” al-Qaeda groups: the previous defence secretary, Leon Panetta, even foolishly talked of defeating the network by killing just 10-20 leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The general perception of America’s waning appetite for engagement in the Middle East, underlined by Mr Obama’s reluctance to support the moderate Syrian opposition in any useful way has been damaging as well.
A second question is how much of a threat a resurgent al-Qaeda now poses to the West. The recently popular notion that, give or take the odd home-grown “lone wolf”, today’s violent jihadists are really interested only in fighting local battles now looks mistaken. Some of the foreign fighters in Syria will be killed. Others will be happy to return to a quieter life in Europe or America. But a significant proportion will take their training, experience and contacts home, keen to use all three when the call comes, as it surely will. There is little doubt too that Westerners working or living in regions where jihadism is strong will be doing so at greater risk than ever.
The final question is whether anything can be done to reverse the tide once again. The answer is surely yes. When Mr Bush declared his “war on terror”, his aim was the removal of regimes that sponsored terrorism. Today, the emphasis should be supporting weak (and sometimes unsavoury) governments in Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Niger and elsewhere that are trying to fight al-Qaeda. Even Kenya and Nigeria could do with more help. That does not mean a heavy bootprint on the ground, but assistance in intelligence, logistics and even special forces and air support. Most of all, it means more help to train local security forces, to modernise administrations and to stabilise often frail economies.
The most dismaying aspect of al-Qaeda’s revival is the extent to which its pernicious ideology, now aided by the failures of the Arab spring, continues to spread through madrassas and mosques and jihadist websites and television channels. Money still flows from rich Gulf Arabs, supposedly the West’s friends, to finance these activities and worse. More pressure should be brought to bear on their governments to stop this. For all the West’s supposedly huge soft power, it has been feeble in its efforts to win over moderate Muslims in the most important battle of all, that of ideas.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / German chancellor’s drone “attack” shows the threat of weaponized UAVs
on: September 30, 2013, 04:18:37 PM
German chancellor’s drone “attack” shows the threat of weaponized UAVs
Dutch researchers warn that the next time, that drone could explode.
by Sean Gallagher- Sept 18 2013, 3:49pm MDT
Small unmanned air vehicles like this quadrocopter could be turned into swarms of exploding flying robots, and Dutch researchers say there's not much that can be done right now to stop them.
At a campaign rally in Dresden on September 15, a small quadrocopter flew within feet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere, hovering briefly in front of them before crashing into the stage practically at Merkel's feet. Merkel appeared to be amused by the "drone attack," but de Maiziere and others on the stage seemed a bit more unsettled by the robo-kamikaze.
Enlarge / German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles as a Parrot AR drone comes in for a crash landing during a Christian Democratic Party campaign event September 15.
The quadrocopter, a Parrot AR drone, was operated by a member of the German Pirate Party as a protest against government surveillance and the ongoing scandal over the Euro Hawk drone program—which failed because it could not get certified to fly in European airspace. In a statement, the deputy head of the Pirate Party, Markus Barenhoff, said, "The goal of the effort was to make Chancellor Merkel and Defense Minister de Maiziere realize what it's like to be subjugated to drone observation." The drone was harmless, aside from potential political collateral damage to Merkel's Christian Democratic Party, and the pilot of the drone was released after being briefly held by police.
While Merkel smirked off the drone in Dresden, even a small explosive charge or grenade aboard a similar drone would have been catastrophic—and defending against such attacks is difficult at best. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) researchers from TNO Defense Research, an organization in The Netherlands, recently showed the real risk of that sort of attack, demonstrating that terrorists and insurgents could effectively use current commercial and do-it-yourself drones as weapons in a number of scenarios, including one much like the Dresden event.
Video of the drone-hazing of German Chancellor Merkel, Defense Minister de Maiziere, and members of Merkel's Christian Democratic Party team.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a flying hand grenade!
In a paper published during the Unmanned Systems 2013 conference last month, Klaas Jan de Kraker and Rob van de Wiel of TNO Defence Research analyzed the threat posed by "mini-UAVs"—small remote-controlled and autonomous drones weighing less than 20 kilograms (44 pounds).
The research was in part prompted by two incidents in 2010—the crashing of a radio-controlled plane into The Netherlands' House of Parliament as a prank and the foiling of a plot to use explosives-packed, radio-controlled model airplanes to attack the Capitol and the Pentagon by the FBI.
TNO researchers found that small drones, especially those using autonomous navigation, could be stealthy, accurate, and potentially deadly weapons, and the probability of their use is rapidly increasing. The paper presented the following potential scenarios:
•During a large public event in a stadium, a terrorist launches a Mini UAV, which is equipped with a machine gun, from a building at some distance. He directs the Mini UAV into the stadium and remotely fires the machine gun. In the panic that occurs in the stadium numerous people are overrun and die.
•During a public speech by a VIP, the VIP is shielded from the audience by bulletproof glass. However, a terrorist deploys a Mini UAV equipped with an explosive, which flies over the shielding glass. The explosive detonates close to the VIP wounding him fatally.
•During an expeditionary mission, opposing forces launch a Mini UAV toward a compound. When the Mini UAV has reached the center of the compound, it releases a chemical agent. Luckily this only causes some minor physical effects on people that were present and unprotected. However this has caused significant fear among the compound inhabitants.
•During an expeditionary mission, an opposing militant group launches a small swarm of Mini UAVs, each equipped with an explosive, toward an airbase. The Mini UAVs fly toward the fighter jets that are parked on the airbase, and their explosives detonate just above the fighter jets. This significantly damages a number of jets and even destroys one of them.
Because of their size, their low flying altitude, and their relatively low speed, mini-UAVs are particularly hard to detect—especially in an urban environment, the researchers found. Even if they are detected, identifying whether they're a threat or not is still an issue, because it's difficult to determine whether they're armed or just carrying a camera. And because of the short range they're detectable at, security forces would have only seconds of warning to decide whether to attack the drone or not.
"Detection and classification are very difficult," de Kraker and van de Wiel wrote. "This is not only due to their small size but also to their very low flying altitude and speed, and to clutter that occurs from trees and buildings." Tests of a number of commercial and do-it-yourself mini-UAVs in TNO's anechoic radar room revealed that they had a "bird-size" radar cross-section, and their relatively low speed makes them hard to distinguish from birds under even more ideal conditions.
The TNO researchers looked at a number of other ways to detect micro-UAVs, including audio sensors, radio detection of control signals, continuous-wave radar, and infrared. The best results came from mixing radar and infrared—using radar for initial detection and infrared sensors for classification.
Burn them with lasers
Taking down potentially hostile drones once they're detected comes with another set of problems. While radio jamming can be used to interrupt remote-control signals for drones, it might not keep them from reaching their target and would be ineffective against autonomous drones using GPS or GLONASS satellite navigation. Jamming commercial navigation signals could cause autonomous drones to fail to find their target, but could cause other security and safety problems at the same time.
And just shooting down drones in a crowded urban environment could cause more damage than the drones themselves. "Missile systems with small missiles and a suitable guidance mechanism, (rapid fire) guns with suitable ammunition, and machine guns are considered as very effective means for neutralizing Mini UAVs," the researchers wrote, but "downsides may be that missile systems are relatively expensive and that these hard kill systems could generate collateral damage."
The best answer, de Kraker and van de Weil suggested, might be laser and high-power microwave "directed energy solutions," which could be used to heat the drones up until their batteries or electronics are destroyed. These weapons could be deployed in a truck to provide protection for events at public places with lower risk to people and property on the ground than a chain gun or small missiles.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed Is Now Facing The True Cost Of Quantitative Easing
on: September 30, 2013, 04:10:16 PM
RICHARD KOO: Forget Hyperinflation — The Fed Is Now Facing The True Cost Of Quantitative Easing
Matthew BoeslerSep. 25, 2013, 8:38 PM
Last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve shocked markets with a surprise decision to refrain from beginning to taper back the pace of its bond-buying program known as quantitative easing.
In the press conference following the decision, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke cited the recent rise in long-term interest rates — spurred by Bernanke's previous press conference in July, during which he seemed to endorse it — as a reason for the delay. Rates had risen too far, too fast, and they were presenting a threat to sustainable economic growth.
Nomura chief economist Richard Koo calls this a "QE 'trap' of [the Fed's] own making," writing in a note to clients that the Fed's decision last week is a clear sign that a "vicious cycle of rising rates and economic weakness has already emerged."
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose as high as 3.0% in the weeks before the Fed announced its decision not to taper.
"Instead of falling back to 2.0% or lower following the Fed’s decision to delay tapering, the 10-year Treasury yield has settled at around 2.5%, which means the next rise in rates could easily take the 10-year yield into 3.0%-plus territory," says Koo. "I worry that this kind of intermittent increase in rates threatens the recoveries in interest- rate-sensitive sectors such as housing and automobiles. That could lead to renewed hesitance at the Fed and prompt it to temporarily shelve or postpone tapering."
That's how the vicious cycle starts.
"While rates might then decline, reassuring the markets for a few months, talk of tapering would probably re-emerge as soon as the data showed some improvements, pushing rates higher and serving as a brake on the recovery," says Koo. "Then the Fed would again be forced to delay or cancel tapering. In my view, recent events have greatly increased the likelihood of this kind of 'on again, off again' scenario, something I warned about in my last report. To be honest, I did not expect it to occur so soon."
Now that it's here, though, Koo writes that the Fed is facing the true cost of QE:
Given that this would never have been a problem if the central bank had not engaged in quantitative easing, I think the US is now facing the real cost of its policy decision.
Had the Fed not implemented QE, long-term rates would not have risen so early in the rebound, and the economic recovery would have proceeded smoothly. Now, any talk of ending QE pushes long-term rates higher and throws cold water on the economy, making it more difficult to discontinue the policy.
That raises the possibility that by buying longer-term securities the central banks of the US, the UK and Japan have placed themselves in a QE “trap” of their own making and will be unable to escape for many years to come. I have previously described QE as a policy that is easy to begin and hard—even scary— to end. The recent drama over tapering signals the start of the less-pleasant second part.
"Amid all the talk of ending QE, I think hyperinflation is a less likely outcome than a QE 'trap'," says Koo. "As soon as the economy picks up a bit, the authorities begin to talk about tapering, which sends long-term rates sharply higher and nips the recovery and inflation in the bud, effectively preventing them from winding down the policy. In this kind of world the economy never fully recovers because businesses and households live in constant fear of a sharp rise in long-term rates."
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/richard-koo-says-fed-now-facing-true-cost-of-quantitative-easing-2013-9
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scott Grannis offers us a different way of looking at things
on: September 30, 2013, 03:59:04 PM
|So everything is fine/ We can just QE into the sunset w/out any bad results?
2) I could write a book, I suppose, about living in Argentina from 1975-1979, during which time the rate of inflation averaged 7% PER MONTH, and at times reached 25-50% in one month alone.
There is one huge difference between Argentina's and Germany's experience with hyperinflation and the situation in the U.S. today. Argentina and Germany literally "printed money" to pay for the government's spending. Neither country could finance its spending through the sale of debt. Only a fraction of the population used checking accounts; most transactions were cash. The government printed up cash and used that cash to make payrolls and to pay for goods and services. The ever-increasing amounts of cash circulating in the economy quickly became a "hot potato" that was passed around faster and faster. It was the rapidly increasing velocity of money and the rapidly declining demand for that money that turned a lot of money printing into hyperinflation.
Nothing like that could happen today. If the Fed were to print billions and billions of dollar bills to pay for the bonds it is buying, the banking system would just as quickly return the dollars to the Fed in exchange for bank reserves (which pay interest). (In any event the Fed is legally unable to print dollar bills unless it is done in exchange for bank reserves; the Fed can only create bank reserves out of thin air, not currency.) It is thus almost impossible for the Fed to print "too much" money. But the Argentine and German central banks could do that, and they did.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: WTF??!!
on: September 26, 2013, 11:28:30 AM
From the article:
Instead of sitting little Johnny down and reminding him that what he did is not acceptable and then dragging him by the collar to apologize to Mr. Holloway, you chose instead to harass and threaten the victim. Let's not forget here, your child victimized this man by destroying his home. How dare you respond with anything other than regret, embarrassment, and a sincere apology instead of righteous indignation, threats of violence and lawsuits.
Captures perfectly what has gone wrong in America.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Truest Lies
on: September 24, 2013, 07:24:32 PM
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE www.nationalreview.com
September 24, 2013 4:00 AM
Our Truest Lies
If the truth doesn’t serve social justice — well, tell a noble lie.
By Victor Davis Hanson
At the end of John Ford’s classic Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the editor of the local paper decides not to print the truth about who really killed the murderous Valance. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
Legends now become facts in America at almost lightning speed. Often when lies are asserted as truth, they become frozen in time. Even the most damning later exposure of their falsity never quite erases their currency. As Jonathan Swift sighed, “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.”
After the recent shooting tragedy at the Washington Navy Yard, cable news shows, newspaper reports, and talking heads immediately blasted lax gun laws. The killer, Aaron Alexis, had mowed down 20 innocent people — twelve of them fatally — with yet again the satanic AR-15 semi-automatic “assault” rifle. The mass murdering was supposedly more proof of the lethal pathologies of the National Rifle Association and the evil shooter crowd that prevents good people from enacting proper gun-control laws. Once more an iconic tragedy had the chance — in a way that even the near-simultaneous shooting of 13 in Chicago did not — to energize the nation to do the right thing and ensure that no other such mayhem would follow.
Then the assault weapon vanished into fantasy. Instead, over the course of the week, it was slowly learned that the unhinged Alexis had somehow passed at least two background checks, legally bought a shotgun, modified it, and for 30 minutes shot and reloaded it to slaughter the innocent. Are we to outlaw the owning of shotguns despite background checks and lawful purchases? Vice President Joe Biden, remember, had recently urged Americans to obtain old-fashioned, all-American shotguns for protection rather than dangerous semi-automatic assault rifles. If a shotgun could be used to commit mass murder in the middle of a military installation, how could any gun-control law, short of the confiscation of all guns, ensure that such heinous crimes could not be repeated?
Few seem interested in other, less politically correct, less melodramatic solutions. It was reported that Alexis had been treated for severe bouts of mental illness, yet apparently without endangering his security clearances. Like the deranged Sandy Hook mass murderer, Adam Lanza, Alexis was also pathologically addicted to playing violent video games for hours on end. Further controversy arose over the fact that most military personnel are not allowed to carry weapons at facilities like the Navy Yard.
Unfortunately, few of our elites dared to question the mental-health industry’s approach to treating the unstable, especially its resistance to properly monitoring whether those being treated as outpatients are taking their medications. Few faulted the entertainment industry for the savage genre of the modern video game. Should we also blame the incompetence of the agencies that conducted the background checks? Was the Pentagon to blame for not allowing military personnel and contractors to carry weapons while on their own federal military facilities?
After all, none of those considerations served the larger progressive purpose of restricting gun use and ownership. More likely, these other disturbing truths threatened liberal assumptions about First Amendment rights and freedom of expression. If the white extremist Timothy McVeigh, the iconic anti-government terrorist, long ago showed us how generic right-wing extremism could lead to atrocities such as the Oklahoma bombing, then the African-American, pro-Obama, Buddhist, Thai-speaking Aaron Alexis, who murdered without an AR-15, was hardly useful as an indictment of much of anything deemed Neanderthal.
All this is old hat. We still do not know exactly what happened that night of the tragic fatal confrontation between Travyon Martin and George Zimmerman. But we at least do know that most of the fables initially peddled by the media were demonstrably false — but even now not remembered as demonstrably false. George Zimmerman was not a bigoted “white Hispanic” who used racist language in his 911 call as he deliberately hunted down a black suspect. And he really did suffer visibly bleeding head wounds from a hard blow of some sort from Trayvon Martin. The latter was not a diminutive model student or the vulnerable pre-teen pictured in most media photos. Even photoshopping and doctoring tapes could not create a teachable moment out of such chaos.
No matter; such a moment was created anyway. Without any statistical support, our moral censors still wished to traffic in narratives of white racist vigilantes hunting down innocent African-American male teens. That narrative served as a reminder of why we have a civil-rights movement of the sort championed by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who fiddle while thousands of minority youths are gunned down each year in our inner cities. In other words, as far as the Zimmerman trial went, the human story of tragedy, misjudgment, accident, reaction, and overreaction simply did not serve the larger liberal effort to address perceived issues of social justice. Tragedy was better served by melodrama, and both Zimmerman and Martin became cutout caricatures rather than tragic individuals.
The same may be unfortunately true of the infamous Matthew Shepard case. The savagely murdered gay youth was probably not, as we were told for years, the victim of the rage of Wyoming redneck homophobes, energized in their hatred by the sexual prejudices of an intolerant culture. The truth was more complicated, though Shepard’s fate just as tragic.
A 13-year-long investigation by a gay writer, who reexamined the Shepard case with the intention of writing a screenplay, instead suggests that it might be more likely that Shepard was cruelly tortured and beaten into a coma by methamphetamine-crazed psychotics, who may on prior occasions have shared their drug use with Shepard and intended to rob him. For all their crude macho talk, the two evil perpetrators may have been bisexual themselves. Shepard’s own homosexuality, in other words, seems to have been incidental to, not the cause of, his lamentable death. If Shepard’s sad fate must be an icon of anything, it more likely serves as a warning that the vicious meth cartels in rural America are out of control, and the addicted can ensnare and murder anyone, including naïve college students. Again, no matter — what was false has served noble purposes in a way that what was true will not.
Many of the progressive tales that Americans grew up with in the 20th century have also been proven either noble lies or half-truths. The American Left has canonized the narrative that anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were framed, subjected to a show trial, and then executed as a result of widespread American prejudice, xenophobia, and reactionary fear-mongering. Their executions sparked worldwide protests, novels, and plays reacting to the intolerance of a morally suspect America. Yet decades later, most historians, while they concede that the trials of 1921 did not match jurisprudence of a near-century later — nevertheless also quietly accept that the two were indeed anarchist terrorists, and at least one was probably guilty of armed robbery and murder, and the other of being an accessory after the fact. Bigots do not always arrive at bigoted verdicts.
Liberal culture likewise assumed that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed on false charges of spying for the Soviet Union and that at least one of them had not really passed on secrets about the American atomic-bomb project. The two accused became causes célèbres as thousands worldwide rallied to save them from dangerous American know-nothings. Their messy electrocutions were supposedly likewise symptomatic of a paranoid America lashing out at easy victims in an era of Red-baiting, anti-Semitism, and rank McCarthyism.
The truth was in comparison banal. While we know that the Soviets would probably have gotten the H-bomb soon anyway, and that they claimed they were still our allies when they received top-secret American information, and while we know too that today the Rosenbergs would probably have received 20-year sentences, we also know from Soviet archives that they both worked as Soviet spies, who passed to our enemies information about nuclear weapons and other valuable classified projects.
There was no greater liberal icon than Alger Hiss, a smooth, debonair diplomat and foundation head, who likewise was supposedly ground up by the right-wing buzz saw with unfounded charges of spying and treason. While we are still not sure of the degree of damage that Hiss actually did, it is clear that he was at some point in his life a Soviet spy — a damning fact for an American diplomat at times entrusted with matters of the nation’s security during the early Cold War. That disturbing truth, however, was minor in comparison to the larger untruth that the Hiss case represented the dangerous excesses of reactionary America. So Hiss became a sort of progressive Great Gatsby, a fake, self-inventing himself into something grand that he was not.
In recent memory, several popular icons of revolutionary resistance have been revealed as frauds and worse. Che Guevara — locks, beard, and motorcycle — was a psychotic thug who enjoyed executing his political opponents. Bill Ayers by his own admission was “guilty as hell” of being a violent terrorist; until he had the bad luck of hawking on 9/11 his memoir of his terrorist days, he was on the road to canonization. Rigoberta Menchú was not quite a gifted author who revealed the horrors of right-wing repression in a cry-of-the-heart memoir of resistance. More likely, she fabricated stories in service to her perceived higher calling of exposing brutal reactionary class violence against the poor.
Popular icon Mumia Abu-Jamal was not framed for a crime he did not commit because of endemic institutionalized racism, but rather really did shoot and kill a Philadelphia police officer. All the progressive protests in the world cannot alter that fact. Angela Davis was not quite a sincere advocate of those unduly incarcerated. While a jury found that the guns she supplied a number of San Francisco murderers did not constitute her own culpability for the attack on the Marin County courthouse, she was nonetheless an unrepentant Stalinist. Of those who suffered in the Communist archipelago, she once scoffed, “They deserve what they get. Let them remain in prison.”
In more recent days, from Tawana Brawley to the Duke lacrosse team, the theme remains disturbingly the same: The original progressive untruth proves far stronger than subsequent pedestrian correction. The point was not that the Duke players did not rape a black stripper and commit a “hate crime,” but that they were the sort who in theory could have, and she was the sort who in theory could have been raped by virtue of her race and gender — a virtual truth that trumps a known lie.
We are left not with the truth that Aaron Alexis bought a shotgun to murder, but with the conjecture that he could have bought legally an AR-15 and therefore in some sense figuratively did — despite the later and less publicized corrections. If it takes some mythologies about Matthew Shepard to expose the plague of homophobia, why indict a noble lie to promote an ignoble truth? What difference does it make what actually happened between shooter Wesley Cook and slain officer Daniel Faulkner, when the Mumia myth serves larger agencies of social change?
Like Orwell’s dead souls, we live in an age of statist mythology, in which unpleasant facts are replaced by socially useful lies. So we print the legend that better serves our fantasies.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Plowhorses go in...
on: September 24, 2013, 07:11:04 PM
Fed in 'monetary roach motel,' won't taper: Schiff
Published: Monday, 23 Sep 2013 | 1:09 PM ET
By: Jeff Cox | Senior Writer
Peter Schiff, CEO, Euro Pacific Capital
The Federal Reserve has no intention to pull back on its monthly bond buying and instead is more likely to increase it due to economic weakness, investment pro and gold advocate Peter Schiff said.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is trapped in a "monetary roach motel" that will force the central bank to continue quantitative easing, in turn leading to a major economic crisis, Schiff added.
"The recovery that the Federal Reserve is bragging about helping create is 100 percent dependent on the quantitative easing that it is supplying," the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital said Monday during IndexUniverse's Inside Commodities Conference. "Like every drug, the economy's going to need more of it to sustain the phony economy. ... Far from diminishing QE, the next big move is going to expand it."
Peter Schiff responds to Twitter critics
As gold has fallen, Peter Schiff has drawn flack on Twitter. But he has a special message for the online ¿naysayers,¿ with CNBC's Jackie DeAngelis and the Futures Now Traders.
(Read more: Did the Fed just pop the stock market bubble?)
On the heels of the financial crisis in 2008, the Fed began the first of what is now three QE programs, with the latest involving purchases of $85 billion a month in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities.
In recent months, Bernanke and other officials have indicated a desire to start winding down—or "tapering"—the program on belief that the economy is recovering and that prolonged QE carries risks.
However, the Fed stunned the financial markets last week by passing on tapering yet, stressing that the economic data has not improved enough and congressional infighting has stymied fiscal policy.
Schiff, though, said the Fed never intended to taper.
(Read more: BofA got Fed right, here's what they say is next)
"They're going to have to do 100, 115, 125 (billion dollars a month). When the market comes to terms with that it's going to be a whole different ballgame," he said. "Right now, the Fed has to maintain the illusion that there's a method to their madness."
From an investment standpoint, Schiff has had to defend a gold position that has deteriorated as belief has increased that the Fed has managed to stave off inflation.
He attributed the fall of the metal to some of the speculative fervor dying off, as well as a highly publicized bearish call from Goldman Sachs.
Once inflation comes back and the speculators realize they were wrong, Schiff said he the expects the price to roar back up.
Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, disputed Schiff's thesis on the Fed's end game, leading to a prolonged and heated debate between the two.
(Read more: Gold is no safe haven: Gartman)
"People like Peter have been arguing that Fed monetary policy has been leading to inflation. But you know what? It hasn't," Chandler said. "Deflation remains a bigger risk to us to date than inflation."
That's not going to be the case for long, said Schiff, who predicted a coming huge drop in the U.S. dollar value and a collapse of the Fed policy structure.
"At some point the dollar is going to fall off the edge of a cliff," he said. "Bond prices are going to go down, and the Fed is going to have no choice but to slam on the brakes, and then we are going to have a worse financial crisis than we had in 2008."
—By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / High-profile cases show a pattern of misuse of prosecutorial powers
on: September 24, 2013, 12:05:39 PM
High-profile cases show a pattern of misuse of prosecutorial powers
By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro — Special to The Washington Times
Sunday, September 22, 2013
It’s hard to imagine the U.S. as a place where citizens have to fear overzealous prosecution, but last week’s reversals in the cases of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and five New Orleans police officers are part of a troubling pattern reminiscent of the Soviet criminal justice system — a system in which the state is always right, even when it is wrong.
In both cases, the judges who overturned the original trial-court verdicts cited instances of prosecutorial overzealousness and abuse of power, making the two cases the latest high-profile trials to run aground on the basis of misconduct by the state’s attorneys.
The high-profile cases in recent years run the gamut from the ancient offenses of murder and rape to increasingly esoteric details of campaign finance and contractor law.
In 2008, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate, was charged by federal prosecutors with failing to report gifts. During the campaign season, Barack Obama said Stevens needed to resign “to put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling in Washington,” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, moved to have Stevens expelled.
Stevens lost the election, but three months later, FBI agents accused prosecutors of withholding exculpatory evidence that could have resulted in the senator’s acquittal. Newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asked the court to vacate Stevens‘ conviction, but the damage already had been done.
The prosecutors’ misconduct destroyed Stevens‘ reputation and political career and affected the balance of power in the U.S. Senate in favor of Democrats.
Circumstances were not entirely different in the prosecution of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was accused by local Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle to influence state elections with corporate money.
Mr. DeLay was convicted in 2010, but the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals overturned his conviction last week, saying the charges were based on “insufficient evidence.” Mr. DeLay called the indictment “an outrageous criminalization of politics,” but again, a Republican had been run out of politics. Mr. DeLay said he would “probably not” run for political office again.
Washington lobbyist and power broker Jack Abramoff is not as sympathetic a figure as Stevens or Mr. DeLay, but some reports indicate that the Justice Department intimidated Mr. Abramoff into a confession, and his case also revealed how the “honest services fraud” law gives federal prosecutors almost unchallengeable power.
Technically, the law lets prosecutors charge people when they “deprive another of honest services,” but it has been used as a catchall charge when the state is looking to secure an indictment from a grand jury but has exhausted all other options.
The U.S. Supreme Court eventually had to narrow the statutory meaning of the honest services fraud law, enacted in 1988, to avoid striking it down for unconstitutional vagueness.
William L. Anderson, an economics professor at Frostburg State University, once wrote of the law, “Have you ever taken a longer lunch break than what you are supposed to do? Have you made a personal phone call at work or done personal business on your employer’s computer? Have you ever had a contract dispute with an employer or client? All of those things can be criminalized by an enterprising federal prosecutor.”
In another case, five police officers were accused of murder in the fatal shootings of two men on a New Orleans bridge amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina.
The officers were white and the victims black, and racial tensions were running high. Federal prosecutors turned to civil rights charges in accusing the officers.
Despite the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy prohibition, federal civil rights statutes enable U.S. prosecutors to pursue felony charges against a defendant in limited instances even if they have been acquitted of underlying state crimes.
Evidence in the New Orleans case was compelling, and the officers were convicted, but U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt ordered a new trial last week, saying the government “engaged in a secret public relations campaign” by anonymously making extrajudicial statements against the defendants on a New Orleans news site.
“This case started as one featuring allegations of brazen abuse of authority, violation of the law and corruption of the criminal justice system,” he wrote in his order. “Unfortunately the focus has switched from the accused to the accusers. The government’s actions, and initial lack of candor and credibility thereafter, is like scar tissue that will long evidence infidelity to the principles of ethics, professionalism and basic fairness and common sense necessary to every criminal prosecutor, wherever it should occur in this country.”
The Duke University lacrosse players’ case is one of the most notorious of selective prosecution designed for political gain. North Carolina prosecutor Michael Nifong made numerous public statements incriminating the team and turning the media against the defendants.
Despite the accuser’s history of falsely reporting incidents and lack of evidence, Mr. Nifong pushed the politically popular case in the midst of his re-election campaign. State officials took over the case, dismissing all charges, taking the unusual step of declaring the defendants innocent — not merely “not guilty” — and Mr. Nifong was ultimately disbarred.
Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said that “you can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.” The same could be said of how fairly a judicial system prosecutes its accused defendants. Arrogance, not ethics, is emerging as criteria for prosecutorial discretion, and the result is a society based on fear, not freedom.
• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C.
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/22/high-profile-cases-show-a-pattern-of-misuse-of-pro/
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Armed and trained can make all the difference
on: September 24, 2013, 11:36:13 AM
|**The gun free zones obviously need bigger signs...
British hero of the mall massacre: Ex Royal Marine with a handgun saved 100 lives as terrorists ran amok
Was having coffee at Westgate mall when it was attacked on Saturday
He returned to building a dozen times despite intense gunfire
Man, who can't be named for security reasons, was pictured with victims
Gunfire heard early today despite Kenyan assurances mall had been secured
'At least 10 hostages still being held by a band of Al Shabaab militants'
Up to three American teenagers and one British person among terrorists
By Paul Bentley and David Williams
PUBLISHED:16:59 EST, 23 September 2013| UPDATED: 05:46 EST, 24 September 2013
A former marine emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.
The ex soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday.
With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex.
His story emerged as sporadic gunfire continued to ring out from inside the mall early today as Kenyan security forces battled Al Qaeda-linked terrorists into a fourth day.
Despite Kenyan police assurances that they had taken control of the building, a security expert with contacts inside the mall said at least 10 hostages were still being held by a band of attackers, possibly as many as 13.
Scroll down for video
Our saviour: The soldier, whose gun is circled, helps two women to safety. His identity has been protected for security reasons
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2430201/British-hero-mall-massacre-Ex-Royal-Marine-handgun-saved-100-lives-terrorists-ran-amok.html
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Finding out what's in it....
on: September 24, 2013, 11:25:13 AM
'Family glitch' in health law could be painful
Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY 11:55 p.m. EDT September 23, 2013
It could leave up to 500,000 children without coverage and cost some families thousands of dollars.
WASHINGTON — A "family glitch" in the 2010 health care law threatens to cost some families thousands of dollars in health insurance costs and leave up to 500,000 children without coverage, insurance and health care analysts say.
That's unless Congress fixes the problem, which seems unlikely given the House's latest move Friday to strip funding from the Affordable Care Act.
Congress defined "affordable" as 9.5% or less of an employee's household income, mostly to make sure people did not leave their workplace plans for subsidized coverage through the exchanges. But the "error" was that it only applies to the employee — and not his or her family. So, if an employer offers a woman affordable insurance, but doesn't provide it for her family, they cannot get subsidized help through the state health exchanges.
That can make a huge difference; the Kaiser Family Foundation said an average plan for an individual is about $5,600, but it goes up to $15,700 for families. Most employers help out with those costs, but not all.
"We saw this two-and-a-half years ago and thought, 'Has anyone else noticed this?'" said Kosali Simon, a professor of public affairs at Indiana University who specializes in health economics. "Everyone said, 'No, no. You must be wrong.' But we weren't, and that's going to leave a lot of people out."
The issue has recently received attention, especially after former president Bill Clinton highlighted it in a recent speech.
"The family glitch is definitely a drafting error that Congress made that needs to be fixed," said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. "But that seems unlikely."
New rules state that those families will not be penalized for not purchasing coverage, but the point of the law was to make coverage affordable for families.
Other challenges for families remain as the Obama administration and the health care industry gear up for the Oct. 1 opening of the exchanges, websites for each state on which customers can shop for and buy health insurance. The law requires uninsured Americans to buy health insurance; many are eligible for government subsidies to help them for the policies. For example:
• Kids may not receive Medicaid or exchange coverage if their parents aren't eligible and, therefore, don't know to check.
• Undocumented immigrants may not learn their children are eligible for insurance.
The law has already helped children, Alker said, because it "stabilizes Medicaid and CHIP," the insurance program for children.
However, 70% of uninsured kids are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, but they're not all enrolled, she said.
"There has to be a lot of outreach and education about the importance of getting health care," she said. "These kids could enroll today."
If congressional Republicans were to succeed in cutting funding for the law, the CHIP program would expire in October, said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy group for families.
The Children's Health Insurance Program provides insurance for kids whose family incomes are too high for Medicaid, but whose families still can't afford coverage. The Affordable Care Act extended it for two years, which means as many as 6 million children have health care.
Eliminating money for the law would force states to rethink their children's programs quickly, Alker said.
But even with the funding, not all kids are getting coverage. In fact, two-thirds of kids are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled. Advocates hope that adults signing up for insurance through the health exchanges will find out their kids are eligible, and have said as many as 4 million kids could sign up.
Former president Bill Clinton speaks about health care at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock on Sept. 4, 2013.(Photo: Danny Johnston, AP)
"In Massachusetts, the uninsured rate for kids is lower than 2%," Lesley said, explaining that when Massachusetts implemented "RomneyCare," children were enrolled for insurance in droves. The Massachusetts program became law in 2006 under then-Gov. Mitt Romney, last year's unsuccessful Republican nominee for president.
The Obama administration is working with the YMCA and other organizations to get the word out about children's eligibility, he said.
This can be a particularly big deal for immigrant families, where one parent might be a documented immigrant, a second could be undocumented, and the children could be U.S. citizens.
"Most of the kids are United States citizens," said Jenny Rejeske, a health policy analyst for the National Immigration Law Center. "We know already that many kids in mixed-status families don't have insurance."
Though she said the majority of immigrants are in the country legally, undocumented immigrants may be afraid to seek benefits for their children. Those children, she said, need immunizations and preventive care, in part to keep everybody else's kids healthy, too.
"I feel very confident saying it is safe for mixed-status families to sign up," she said. "The information they give will not be used for immigration enforcement."
The information will go only to the agencies that need to see it, and there are "protections" built in to the Affordable Care Act so families will go sign up their children, she said.
Others who might miss coverage options for kids include veterans receiving care through the VA but who don't have benefits for their families, as well as grandparents receiving Medicare. There is a child-only coverage option that would allow the child to receive subsidized insurance.
Alker said kids also benefit when their parents have coverage because the family is more likely to be financially secure. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. She also cited examples, such as maternal depression or healthy pregnancy benefits that affect children as well as adults.
According to a Georgetown policy brief, 11.5 million parents and 6.3 million children were uninsured in 2010. Three-quarters of the parents' incomes fell below the poverty line, and 38% lived in deep poverty. About half of them are white, 29% are Hispanic, and 17% are African American.
Despite their concerns, the analysts said several promising things for families have happened through the law, including:
• Foster kids who have "aged out" of the system can continue to receive insurance through Medicaid until they are 26
• American children of immigrant parents -- even undocumented -- can get insurance subsidies through the new health insurance exchanges, and may be eligible for Medicaid.
• The children and spouses of disabled veterans, who receive their health care through Veterans Affairs, could be eligible for subsidized insurance through the exchange, even if the veteran is not. The same could apply to children who live with retired grandparents who receive care through Medicare.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Your professional, nonpartisan media at work
on: September 23, 2013, 03:55:23 PM
Cory Booker, Mother Goose
By Eliana Johnson
September 22, 2013 4:33 PM
The New York Post’s Michael Gartland has done more digging on the story of Wazn Miller. He is the teenager whose last moments the Newark mayor has relayed numerous times in paid speeches and on the stump, but a little fact-checking as well as the police report made public after NR sued Booker and the city of Newark revealed that Booker has taken considerable liberties with the story, inflating his own role and, it appears, outright fabricating certain details.
Here is Booker in 2007 remarks:
It seemed like a whirlwind was going on around me, so much was flashing through my mind as I sat there just trying to hold this child as his breathing stopped … The ambulance finally came, pushed me out of the way, ripped open his shirt where I now saw three gunshot wounds in his front, one in his side — and he was dead.
Here is Gartland:
Wazn Miller didn’t die in Booker’s arms — and while the then-34-year-old pol was there, he may have made matters worse. A woman was cradling the prone Miller when Miller’s friend David Estrada, 14 at the time, arrived.
“He came over and picked him up,” said Estrada, now 23. “A lot of people said, ‘You’re not supposed to move somebody after they get shot.’ The bullets might start moving around.”
Gilez Smith, 27, said he saw Miller struggling to live and described Booker’s heroics as a “ploy.”
“I told him, ‘Just leave him alone!’ ” Smith recalled. “He was like, ‘Breathe, breathe,’ smacking him all in the face . . . It was a big act.”
Miller “was still breathing” when medics put him in the ambulance, Estrada insisted.
The police report confirms Estrada’s account, not Booker’s. According to the document signed by Newark Detective Vincent Vitiello, Miller “expired from his injuries at University Hospital.”
NRO has taken issue with similar inconsistencies in Booker’s retelling of the tragic event; kudos to Gartland for tracking down witnesses.
Gartland also takes aim at several other stories that have become part of the Booker lore, among them, Booker’s drug-dealing pal T-Bone, whose existence NRO called into question after Rutgers University history professor Clement Price told us Booker conceded to him in 2008 the character was an “invention.” Garland tracked down a fellow resident of Brick Towers, the Newark housing complex where Booker lived when he claims to have met T-Bone:
“There was never a T-Bone,” said a 32-year-old former resident of Brick Towers, the former housing complex where Booker lived and where “T-Bone” supposedly plied his drug trade.
“There was a T, and there was a Bone from Prince Street,” he recalled. “T was in Brick Towers.”
T was bloodthirsty, his acquaintance recalled. “Booker and T didn’t have no run-in. If they did, Booker wouldn’t be walking around now,” he said.
Booker and his campaign are standing by his tall tale about T-Bone. Indeed, Booker is digging himself in deeper, telling NJTV’s Michael Aron not only that the charge is a “right-wing fabrication” but that, as a young man in Newark, he knew “literally hundreds” of drug dealers and that, when he became mayor, he held some sort of support meetings for them in his home and even allowed them to spend the night. What a guy.
Gartland also turns his attention to the superhero mayor’s actions in the wake of the 2010 blizzard that blanketed the northeast. Time chonicled how Booker and his staff personally shoveled streets and delivered diapers to a woman who was snowed in and couldn’t leave her home to purchase them. Gartland tracked her down:
Barbara Byers confirmed to The Post that Booker, in one of the more colorful accounts of his heroic, hands-on approach to governing, delivered Pampers to her home. But the press never questioned how she felt about it.
“I always found it weird that no one asked me about what happened,” she said. “It wasn’t that I didn’t have diapers because I didn’t go shopping. It was two days later and nobody cleared our street.
“He’s a very nice man, but he isn’t a good mayor,” she added. “If he would have done his job, I would have been able to do for myself and gone out. It took three days for someone to come by with a plow the first time.”
Then there’s Booker’s eulogy to Newark education activist Judy Diggs. It really is worth watching the video, available in full here. Diggs, Booker told a crowd of Democrats at a fundraiser outside of Newark, “was out of the most artful and eloquent user of curse words I have ever met.” “She used them like you and I would probably use punctuation marks in a sentence,” he said, to raucus laughter. Diggs, Booker recounted, had also died “a poetic death”: reading to schoolchildren. Except that she didn’t. As I noted here and as Gartland notes in his piece, Diggs died in her office.
“It makes sense for him to go to Yale and to go to Summit and tell all these stories because he don’t have to answer the questions,” Tyree Diggs said. “If he says it here [in Newark], he has all kinds of questions to answer.”
Read Gartland’s piece in its entirety here.
It’s astonishing that Booker is now 15 years into his political career, and, largely through anecdotes we are now coming to see are full of holes, has amassed dozens of high-profile backers in Silicon Valley and around the country who fell in love with his “story.” Thanks also in part to these emotional anecdotes, he is now and set to become the junior senator from New Jersey. Maybe one of these days a prominent national political reporter will ask him about what increasingly looks like his troubled relationship with the truth.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Global warming and Chuck have vanished!
on: September 23, 2013, 03:33:34 PM
Global warming 'hiatus' puts climate change scientists on the spot
Theories as to why Earth's average surface temperature hasn't risen in recent years include an idea that the Pacific Ocean goes through decades-long cycles of absorbing heat.
By Monte Morin
September 22, 2013, 9:14 p.m.
It's a climate puzzle that has vexed scientists for more than a decade and added fuel to the arguments of those who insist man-made global warming is a myth.
Since just before the start of the 21st century, the Earth's average global surface temperature has failed to rise despite soaring levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and years of dire warnings from environmental advocates.
Now, as scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gather in Sweden this week to approve portions of the IPCC's fifth assessment report, they are finding themselves pressured to explain this glaring discrepancy.
The panel, a United Nations creation that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, hopes to brief world leaders on the current state of climate science in a clear, unified voice. However, experts inside and outside the process say members probably will engage in heated debate over the causes and significance of the so-called global warming hiatus.
"It's contentious," said IPCC panelist Shang-Ping Xie, a professor of climate science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. "The stakes have been raised by various people, especially the skeptics."
Though scientists don't have any firm answers, they do have multiple theories. Xie has argued that the hiatus is the result of heat absorption by the Pacific Ocean — a little-understood, naturally occurring process that repeats itself every few decades. Xie and his colleagues presented the idea in a study published last month in the prestigious journal Nature.
The theory, which is gaining adherents, remains unproved by actual observation. Surface temperature records date to the late 1800s, but measurements of deep water temperature began only in the 1960s, so there just isn't enough data to chart the long-term patterns, Xie said.
Scientists have also offered other explanations for the hiatus: lack of sunspot activity, low concentrations of atmospheric water vapor and other marine-related effects. These too remain theories.
For the general public, the existence of the hiatus has been difficult to reconcile with reports of record-breaking summer heat and precedent-setting Arctic ice melts.
At the same time, those who deny the tenets of climate change science — that the burning of fossil fuels adds carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and warms it — have seized on the hiatus, calling it proof that global warming isn't real.
Climate scientists, meanwhile, have had a different response. Although most view the pause as a temporary interruption in a long-term warming trend, some disagree and say it has revealed serious flaws in the deliberative processes of the IPCC.
One of the most prominent of these critics is Judith Curry, a climatologist who heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was involved in the third IPCC assessment, which was published in 2001. But now she accuses the organization of intellectual arrogance and bias.
"All other things being equal, adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will have a warming effect on the planet," Curry said. "However, all things are never equal, and what we are seeing is natural climate variability dominating over human impact."
Curry isn't the only one to suggest flaws in established climate models. IPCC vice chair Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria in Canada, co-wrote a paper published in this month's Nature Climate Change that said climate models had "significantly" overestimated global warming over the last 20 years — and especially for the last 15 years, which coincides with the onset of the hiatus.
The models had predicted that the average global surface temperature would increase by 0.21 of a degree Celsius over this period, but they turned out to be off by a factor of four, Zwiers and his colleagues wrote. In reality, the average temperature has edged up only 0.05 of a degree Celsius over that time — which in a statistical sense is not significantly different from zero.
Of course, people don't actually spend their entire lives subjected to the global average temperature, which is currently about 15 degrees Celsius, or 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Those who fixate on that single measurement lose sight of significant regional trends, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, climate scientists say.
Xie and Yu Kosaka, an assistant project scientist at Scripps, used computer models to simulate the Pacific decadal oscillation, a phenomenon related to the El Niño and La Niña ocean temperature cycles that lasts for 20 to 30 years. The model suggested that the northern mid-latitudes — an area that includes the United States and most of Europe and China — were "insulated" from the oscillation's cooling effect during the summer months, as was the Arctic region.
"In the summer you've basically removed the Pacific cooling, so we're still baked by greenhouse gases," Xie said.
As a consequence, 2012 marked two climate milestones, he said. The U.S. experienced its hottest year on record, while ice cover in the North Pole shrank to the lowest level ever observed by satellite.
Other climatologists, such as Bill Patzert of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, say sea level rise is "unequivocal proof" that greenhouse gases are continuing to heat the planet, and that much of this added heat is being absorbed by the oceans.
As ocean water warms, it expands and drives sea levels higher, Patzert said. Currently, oceans are rising at an average of more than 3 millimeters, or 0.12 of an inch, per year. This pace is significantly faster than the average rate over the last several thousand years, scientists say.
"There's no doubt that in terms of global temperatures we've hit a little flat spot in the road here," Patzert said. "But there's been no slowdown whatsoever in sea level rise, so global warming is alive and well."
Whether that message is communicated successfully by the IPCC this week remains to be seen. In the days leading up to the meeting, the organization has found itself on the defensive.
A draft summary that was leaked to the media reported that scientists were "95% confident" that human activity was responsible for more than half of the increase in average global surface temperature between 1951 and 2010. But critics openly scoff, considering the IPCC's poor record for predicting short-term temperature increases.
"This unpredicted hiatus just reflects the fact that we don't understand things as well as we thought," said Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder and vocal critic of the climate change establishment. "Now the IPCC finds itself in a position that a science group never wants to be in. It's in spin management mode." email@example.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process
on: September 22, 2013, 04:56:45 PM
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Border Patrol, excessive force accusations
on: September 18, 2013, 07:57:35 PM
The border is muy Peligro. If Mexicans are concerned, stay away.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: September 17, 2013, 07:30:19 PM
GM when I first pulled up your post and saw the picture of the person with the rifle watching over other people first looked like a prison with a guard then you see "lean forward" in the corner and I think liberal control freaks who want to monitor everything we do and control us and force us to their will. Because that is what their agenda is.
Well, that is their dream.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nothing says plowhorse like more Americans struggling to afford food....
on: September 17, 2013, 04:58:13 PM
More Americans Struggle to Afford Food
Americans' overall access to basic needs is close to record-low
by Alyssa Brown
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More Americans are struggling to afford food -- nearly as many as did during the recent recession. The 20.0% who reported in August that they have, at times, lacked enough money to buy the food that they or their families needed during the past year, is up from 17.7% in June, and is the highest percentage recorded since October 2011. The percentage who struggle to afford food now is close to the peak of 20.4% measured in November 2008, as the global economic crisis unfolded.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Your professional, unbiased media at work...
on: September 17, 2013, 04:52:43 PM
Piers Morgan: On second thought, does it really matter what kind of gun was used at the Navy Yard?
posted at 2:47 pm on September 17, 2013 by Allahpundit
Is there anyone in American media who trolls more people with less effort than this insufferable wanker? I’m not even mad. It’s a talent. If you don’t have an actual fan base, the logical thing to do when you’re not playing pattycake with celebrities is to seize a hot-button issue with both hands and start a fight over it at every opportunity. If America ever did ban guns, his first tweet the next morning would be about how, if you think about it, abortion really should be available up to and including the start of labor.
Last night’s talking point: The Navy Yard shooting proves once again why we need to get rid of “assault weapons” like the AR-15. Today’s talking point, now that we know there were no “assault weapons” involved:Piers Morgan @piersmorgan
Lots of confusion over exactly what guns Wash Navy Yard shooter used. But do you think it matters to the victims? #GunControlNow
There’s no “confusion.” The FBI confirmed hours ago to his own network that Alexis had a shotgun and two pistols. This is simply Piers being unwilling to eat two scoops of sh*t publicly for his demagoguery yesterday. But in his defense, he’s far from alone among media gun-grabbers in that regard. And if it makes you feel better, this new tweet at least represents what’s obviously his honest view. No one who believes what Morgan believes about guns would stop logically at “assault weapons.” They’re merely a foot in the regulatory door. If Piers had his way, at a minimum we’d be talking about a ban on all semiautomatics. Not that that would have stopped Alexis either.
Via Noah Rothman, as of noon ET today, MSNBC was still running a graphic of Alexis wielding an AR-15 instead of a shotgun or pistol. Of course.