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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillbillary Clintons earnings since 2001 on: Today at 08:28:03 PM
$221,139,516: Clintons Income Since 2001
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Published on TheHillaryDaily.com on August 1, 2015
In the 14 years since Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in January 2001, they have reported a total gross income of $221,139, 516 -- a review of their tax returns for those years' shows.

In 2001, the year that Hillary claimed they were "dead broke," the couple earned a whopping $16,165,110!!!

Wouldn't we all like to be that dead broke!!!

Leaving the White House opened a gravy train that has moved the Clintons to the highest percentage of all U.S. earners.  Their annual income puts them in the top 1/2 of 1%.  So they are at the very top of the 1%-ers that Hillary often disparages.

It was a big change from the earlier years of their marriage.  The year before they left the White House, in 2000, the Clintons gross income was only $357,629.  After taxes of $53,000 that year, while they were "dead broke", they bought a second home in Washington for $3.7 million, in addition to their $2 million Chappaqua home.  On an income of $357,629, their total mortgage and real estate tax payments were over $100,000, almost 1/3 of their take home income. Maybe that's why Hillary felt like she was dead broke.

But don't feel sorry for her.  Here's a breakdown of their income from 2000 to 2014:

•  2000 = $357,629
•  2001 = $16,165,110
•  2002 = $9,556,550
•  2003 = $8,033,374
•  2004 = $20,264,179
•  2005 = $18,056,395
•  2006 = $16,063, 908
•  2007 = $21,199,212
•  2008 = $5,573,351
•  2009 = $10,223,318
•  2010 = $13,244,484
•  2011 = $14,899,484
•  2012 = $19,993,299
•  2013 = $27,093,859
•  2014 = $28,336,212
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Well, this certainly seems suspicious , , , on: Today at 02:57:23 PM
http://thefederalist.com/2015/08/03/wife-of-judge-blocking-pro-life-videos-is-a-proud-abortion-supporter/#.Vb-WEnOA3I0.facebook
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GCC cornered into backing Iran nuke deal on: Today at 11:52:53 AM
Gulf Arab States Voice Support for Iran Nuclear Deal
Positive response from Gulf Cooperation Council follows Kerry’s visit
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens during a meeting of foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Monday in Doha, Qatar. ENLARGE
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens during a meeting of foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Monday in Doha, Qatar. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
By
Jay Solomon
Aug. 3, 2015 12:21 p.m. ET
11 COMMENTS

DOHA, Qatar—Gulf Arab states on Monday cautiously backed the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, giving the White House a potentially important diplomatic win as it seeks to build support for its signature foreign policy initiative.

The positive response from the Gulf Cooperation Council—which is comprised of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain—followed months of intense lobbying by the White House that included offers of increased arms sales, intelligence-sharing and military training.

Secretary of State John Kerry held a daylong summit on Monday with the council’s foreign ministers to explain the terms of the nuclear agreement and the need for increased cooperation between Washington and the GCC to guard against Iran expanding its influence in the region.

“This was the best option amongst other options in order to try to come up with a solution for the nuclear weapons of Iran though dialogue, and this came up as a result of the efforts exerted by the United States of America and its allies,” Qatar Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah said at a joint news conference with Mr. Kerry at the end of meetings in Qatar’s capital. The Persian Gulf monarchy currently serves as the chair of the GCC.

He said the GCC countries have welcomed the plan Mr. Kerry laid out. “He let us know that there’s going to be a kind of live oversight for Iran not to gain or to get any nuclear weapons,” he said. “This is reassuring to the region.”

President Barack Obama is locked in a fierce political battle in Washington to drum up support on Capitol Hill for the nuclear deal, which limits parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Republicans and pro-Israel politicians are fiercely opposed to the agreement, arguing it will undermine the security of Washington’s key Middle East allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

They also charge that Tehran will use tens of billions of dollars in new oil money and revenues to fund its militant proxies in the region, including the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen.

Congress is currently conducting a 60-day vetting period of the deal and will vote in September on whether to endorse or reject it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly attacked the nuclear deal and pressed American lawmakers to vote against it. Saudi, Emirati and Qatari officials have privately groused about the deal and voiced concerns that Washington may weaken its decades-old alliance with the Gulf states as it pursues a rapprochement with Tehran, their regional rival.

The GCC’s public backing of the Iran deal could undercut criticism of the White House and leave Israel more isolated on the diplomatic stage. Mr. Kerry was quick on Monday to present a common front with the Gulf Arab states.

“Ministers agreed…that once fully implemented, the [nuclear deal] contributes to the region’s long-term security, including by preventing Iran from developing or acquiring a military-nuclear capability,” Mr. Kerry said at his appearance with Mr. Attiyah. “But frankly, most of the time that we spent this afternoon was spent articulating and working on the full measure of the relationship between the U.S. and the GCC going forward.”

Mr. Kerry is on a regional trip through the Middle East and Asia, which didn’t include a stop in Israel. Israeli officials have voiced a wariness of engaging with the Obama administration during the congressional review period, due Mr. Netanyahu’s strident opposition to the deal.

Write to Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com
Popular on WSJ

There are 13 comments.
 



What else can they do when the U.S. presents them with a done deal other than to get as much as they possibly can in return. They are not dumb.
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Charlie Mongoho
Charlie Mongoho 2 minutes ago

The end of this maybe Israel being confronted with heavily armed middle east nations....is that a peaceful outcome?
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Terry Lesniak
Terry Lesniak 2 minutes ago

..."a kind of oversight over Iran"...

Wow! How reassuring!
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Andrei Chivvis
Andrei Chivvis 3 minutes ago

Anybody who has ever dealt with the ME in general and Arabs in particular know that "cautious support" means rejection, but with mitigating secrete conditions.  Such as more arms or may be continuation of the US self-imposed oil export ban.  We will find out, just not clear when.
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4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Operation Fast and Furious: the gift that keeps on giving on: Today at 11:38:25 AM
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-garland-gun-20150801-story.html#page=1



Five years before he was shot to death in the failed terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, Nadir Soofi walked into a suburban Phoenix gun shop to buy a 9-millimeter pistol.

At the time, Lone Wolf Trading Co. was known among gun smugglers for selling illegal firearms. And with Soofi's history of misdemeanor drug and assault charges, there was a chance his purchase might raise red flags in the federal screening process.

Inside the store, he fudged some facts on the form required of would-be gun buyers.

What Soofi could not have known was that Lone Wolf was at the center of a federal sting operation known as Fast and Furious, targeting Mexican drug lords and traffickers. The idea of the secret program was to allow Lone Wolf to sell illegal weapons to criminals and straw purchasers, and track the guns back to large smuggling networks and drug cartels.

Instead, federal agents lost track of the weapons and the operation became a fiasco, particularly after several of the missing guns were linked to shootings in Mexico and the 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona.

Soofi's attempt to buy a gun caught the attention of authorities, who slapped a seven-day hold on the transaction, according to his Feb. 24, 2010, firearms transaction record, which was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, the hold was lifted after 24 hours, and Soofi got the 9-millimeter.

As the owner of a small pizzeria, the Dallas-born Soofi, son of a Pakistani American engineer and American nurse, would not have been the primary focus of federal authorities, who back then were looking for smugglers and drug lords.

He is now.

In May, Soofi and his roommate, Elton Simpson, burst upon the site of a Garland cartoon convention that was offering a prize for the best depiction of the prophet Muhammad, something offensive to many Muslims. Dressed in body armor and armed with three pistols, three rifles and 1,500 rounds of ammunition, the pair wounded a security officer before they were killed by local police.

A day after the attack, the Department of Justice sent an "urgent firearms disposition request" to Lone Wolf, seeking more information about Soofi and the pistol he bought in 2010, according to a June 1 letter from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, to U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch.

Though the request did not specify whether the gun was used in the Garland attack, Justice Department officials said the information was needed "to assist in a criminal investigation," according to Johnson's letter, also reviewed by The Times.

The FBI so far has refused to release any details, including serial numbers, about the weapons used in Garland by Soofi and Simpson. Senate investigators are now pressing law enforcement agencies for answers, raising the chilling possibility that a gun sold during the botched Fast and Furious operation ended up being used in a terrorist attack against Americans.

Among other things, Johnson is demanding to know whether federal authorities have recovered the gun Soofi bought in 2010, where it was recovered and whether it had been discharged, according to the letter. He also demanded an explanation about why the initial seven-day hold was placed on the 2010 pistol purchase and why it was lifted after 24 hours.

Asked recently for an update on the Garland shooting, FBI Director James B. Comey earlier this month declined to comment. "We're still sorting that out," he said.

Officials at the Justice Department and the FBI declined to answer questions about whether the 9-millimeter pistol was one of the guns used in the Garland attack or seized at Soofi's apartment.
cComments

    Guest
    at 7:09 AM August 03, 2015

Add a comment See all comments
129

It remains unclear whether Soofi's 2010 visit to Lone Wolf is a bizarre coincidence or a missed opportunity for federal agents to put Soofi on their radar years before his contacts with Islamic extremists brought him to their attention.

Though Islamic State militants have claimed to have helped organize the Garland attack, U.S. officials are still investigating whether Soofi and Simpson received direct support from the group or were merely inspired by its calls for violence against the West.

Comey suggested that the attack fits the pattern of foreign terrorist groups indoctrinating American citizens through the Internet. He referred to it as the "crowdsourcing of terrorism."

In a handwritten letter apparently mailed hours before the attack, Soofi said he was inspired by the writings of Islamic cleric Anwar Awlaki, an American citizen killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.


"I love you," Soofi wrote to his mother, Sharon Soofi, "and hope to see you in eternity." In a telephone interview, Sharon Soofi described the letter and said her son had been shot twice in the head and once in the chest, according to autopsy findings she received.

At the time of the 2010 gun purchase, Soofi ran a Phoenix pizza parlor. His mother said that was about the same time he met Simpson, who worked for Soofi at the restaurant. They later shared an apartment, a short drive from the Lone Wolf store.

Reached by telephone, Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf, denied that his store sold the gun to Soofi. "Not here," Howard said before hanging up.

Sharon Soofi said her son had told her he wanted the pistol for protection because his restaurant was in a "rough area." She said he also acquired an AK-47 assault rifle at the end of last year or early this year, when authorities believe he and Simpson were plotting an attack on the Super Bowl in Arizona.

"I tried to convince him that, what in the world do you need an AK-47 for?" she said in a telephone interview. Soofi told her they practiced target shooting in the desert. Her younger son, Ali Soofi, was living with his brother and Simpson at the time, she said, but left after becoming frightened by the weapons, ammunition and militant Islamist literature.

She blamed Simpson for radicalizing her son, who she said had no history of religious extremism. A month before Soofi bought the pistol, Simpson was indicted on charges of lying to the FBI about his plans to travel to Somalia and engage in "violent jihad," according to federal court documents.

Simpson was jailed until March 2011 and convicted of making false statements. But the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove the false statements were connected to international terrorism. Simpson was released and placed on probation.

After the Garland attack, the FBI arrested a third man, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, and charged him with planning the Garland attack. At a detention hearing on June 16, prosecutors and an FBI agent provided details about the plot, but avoided discussing the history of the firearms.

Sharon Soofi said she found her son's letter in her post office box. It was dated the Saturday before the attack, and postmarked in Dallas on Monday, the day after the assault, suggesting he dropped it in the mailbox before he and Simpson arrived in Garland. "In the name of Allah," the letter began, "I am sorry for the grief I have caused."

He referred to "those Muslims who are being killed, slandered, imprisoned, etc. for their religion," and concluded, "I truly love you, Mom, but this life is nothing but shade under the tree and a journey. The reality is the eternal existence in the hereafter."

richard.serrano@latimes.com

Twitter: @RickSerranoLAT
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: Today at 11:22:18 AM
Tensions with U.S. rise as China demands return of executive with ties to top leaders

Monday, August 3, 2015 11:21 AM EDT

China is demanding that the Obama administration return a wealthy and politically connected businessman who fled to the United States, according to several American officials familiar with the case. Should he seek political asylum, he could become one of the most damaging defectors in the history of the People’s Republic.
The case of the businessman, Ling Wancheng, has strained relations between two nations already at odds over numerous issues before President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the United States in September, including an extensive cybertheft of American government data and China’s aggressive territorial claims.
Mr. Ling is the youngest brother of Ling Jihua, who for years held a post equivalent to that of the White House chief of staff, overseeing the Communist Party’s inner sanctum as director of its General Office. Ling Jihua is one of the highest-profile casualties of an anticorruption campaign that Mr. Xi has made a centerpiece of his government.

The Obama administration has thus far refused to accede to Beijing’s demands for Ling Wancheng, and his possible defection could be an intelligence coup at China’s expense after it was revealed last month that computer hackers had stolen the personnel files of millions of American government workers and contractors. American officials have said that they are nearly certain the Chinese government carried out the data theft.

Mr. Ling’s wealth and his family’s status have allowed him to move freely in elite circles in China, and he may be in possession of embarrassing information about current and former officials loyal to Mr. Xi.

Read more »

6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Phone Consultations on: Today at 11:15:58 AM
When a Doctor Is Always a Phone Call Away
Many of the 136 million ER visits in 2011 could have been replaced with a $50 telemedicine consultation.
By
Richard Boxer
Aug. 2, 2015 5:30 p.m. ET
42 COMMENTS

A 39-year-old truck driver was hauling through the Midwest in the middle of the night in 2011 when he began to feel a bit of indigestion. Then a lot of indigestion. He pulled over, recalling that his company had recently signed on with Teladoc, for which I was then the chief medical officer. The service allowed him to get a doctor on the phone within 15 minutes. He called and described his symptoms: nausea, chest pain, a little numbness in his left arm. He was having a heart attack, and his GPS guided him to the nearest emergency room.

Getting that doctor on the phone saved his life, and potentially the lives of whoever his 10-ton rig might have plowed into had he keeled over behind the wheel. If efficient and affordable quality treatment is the goal, telemedicine should be the future of health care.

When it comes to health care, “efficient” is a word that frightens people, calling to mind a soulless bureaucracy with an eye on the company’s bottom line. But it is inefficiency that is overburdening the medical system. Consider a woman with a urinary-tract infection who has to leave work to obtain a prescription from a doctor for a drug she already knows she needs. Or a man with a fever and hacking cough who has good health insurance, but who goes to the emergency room because his doctor’s office is closed.

Americans are struggling to obtain affordable, convenient care, and 103 million people in the U.S. live in areas with a shortage of primary health-care providers, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. Yet the country is dependent on expensive, brick-and-mortar facilities that require time-consuming travel.

Primary-care doctors tend to cluster in urban areas. If you get sick in rural Wyoming, even during the workweek, your only choice might be the emergency room. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, 136 million people were seen in an ER; many of those visits could have been replaced with a $50 telemedicine consultation. Researchers at the University of Rochester found that 28% of the visits at one pediatric emergency room involved ailments such as ear infections or sore throats that could be diagnosed over the phone.

These problems are exacerbated by the increase in the elderly population, coupled with tens of millions of patients newly insured by the Affordable Care Act. A study in the Annals of Medicine projects that the U.S. will need 52,000 more primary-care doctors by 2025. Those positions aren’t filled easily. It takes 12 years and hundreds of thousands of public dollars to educate one primary-care doctor.

But there is an untapped resource: the many doctors leaving their practices, fed up with the regulations and other hassles, but who love their patients, and the older physicians eyeing retirement because they no longer want to maintain an office. Why not let these doctors offer their expertise to patients by smartphone?

Doctors who contract with a telemedicine company can opt for a specific block of time when they are “on call” to patients, picking up the phone and answering questions in 10- to 15-minute intervals. The doctor is paid and the patient gets a prompt and inexpensive answer to a concern.

Home care of individuals with major chronic conditions would also substantially benefit from telemedicine. Millions of houses have cable and satellite connections that can be used to monitor patients wearing wireless devices, allowing health professionals to intercede at the first sign of trouble. This can reduce rates of hospitalization by half or more, some studies suggest.

While there is worry about the quality of these interactions, telemedicine companies assess their doctors routinely and maintain strong quality-assurance programs. Every doctor is taught in medical school that 80% of diagnoses are obtained through a medical history and symptoms, and not by what a doctor sees, touches or tests.

Telemedicine will never completely supplant face-to-face visits, and most doctors naturally would prefer to treat a patient in person. The American Medical Association, for instance, has encouraged restriction of telemedicine to patients who have an established relationship with a doctor, and some state medical boards try to enforce that view.

But the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good—and by continuing to practice medicine as usual, we are making it so. Millions of Americans live in areas that are short of primary-care doctors, and millions more go to the emergency room when they have a sore throat. Entrepreneurs have responded by creating methods of connecting patients to doctors remotely, which reduces costs and satisfies patients.

There is no scenario for sustaining or improving health care in America without telemedicine. State and federal governments, as well as the medical establishment, should embrace the technology. For one thing, they should change Medicare and Medicaid to allow reimbursement for telemedicine consultations, most of which are currently not covered. Ask that truck driver if he thinks talking to a doctor over the phone has value: He is still alive and trucking.

Dr. Boxer is the chief telehealth officer of Pager and chief medical officer of Well Via.
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ted Cruz's fight to protect the open internet on: Today at 11:13:09 AM
Ted Cruz’s Fight to Protect the Open Internet
The Texas senator blocks legislation that could lead to world-wide censorship of the Web.
By
L. Gordon Crovitz
Aug. 2, 2015 5:38 p.m. ET


Sen. Ted Cruz wants to safeguard the open Internet from authoritarian regimes. You’d think that would be an easy position to take, but it’s not. The Texas senator and presidential candidate is bucking the leadership of his Republican Party to push hard against the Obama administration plan to abandon America’s protection of the Internet from political interference.

This became an issue in March 2014, when the Commerce Department announced it would give up its Internet oversight by September 2015. Commerce exercises oversight through its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which keeps the engineers and network operators who manage the Internet free from political interference. China, Russia and other authoritarian regimes can censor websites only within their own countries, not globally as they have long desired.

Congress used its budget power to block Commerce from giving up the Icann contract during 2015, which should mean a two-year renewal into the next presidency. The Obama administration ignored that timetable and set the new date of July 2016 to give up control. Meanwhile, no alternative has emerged to protect the open Internet.

The House passed the Dotcom Act (“Domain Openness Through Continued Oversight Matters”) in June, which requires the Obama administration to present such a plan to Congress. The Republican leadership supports the bill, but Mr. Cruz put a hold on it in the Senate because of a fatal flaw: U.S. protection for the Internet would automatically end 30 days after the Obama administration presents its plan unless Congress votes against it. Mr. Cruz instead wants to require congressional approval of any administration plan.

“It’s a key issue that the U.S. not give away control of the Internet to a body under the influence and possible control of foreign governments,” Mr. Cruz told me last week. “U.S. leadership is still needed, and we should defend freedom of speech and freedom on the Internet, not hand it over to other countries with different priorities.”

Mr. Cruz argues that the Dotcom Act is bad policy and unconstitutional. He cites the Constitution’s Property Clause (Article IV, Section 3), which says Congress must pass legislation before government property can be transferred. Under the contract between Commerce and Icann, “all deliverables provided under this contract become the property of the U.S. government.” The power to dispose of it, as Mr. Cruz says, belongs to Congress, “not to an assistant secretary of the Commerce Department.”

The administration claims it won’t hand the Internet over to a body controlled by governments. But in anticipation of the American abdication, many governments are quietly finalizing the details of how they take over.

At an Icann meeting in Paris last month, several governments said they would upgrade the current advisory role for governments within Icann as soon as the U.S. gives up control. They would elevate governments above Internet stakeholders—network operators, engineers and civil society groups. China, Brazil and France define this as “enhanced” power for governments.

A concerned participant shared with me internal Icann documents prepared for the meeting. A survey Icann conducted on the future of Internet governance highlights the dangers of an Obama surrender. Russia’s response to the survey insists that governments get “a more meaningful role than an advisory role . . . in all matters affecting public policy.” China wants “independent status” for governments in controlling the Internet. Even Switzerland wants more power for governments.

The Obama administration is conducting “stress tests” for what happens without U.S. protection. What’s called “Stress Test No. 18” relates to how governments could get control over Icann. Under current rules, governments can press Icann on Internet policy issues only if no country objects—“any formal objection” by just one country vetoes a power grab by governments at the expense of the multistakeholder community.

The Obama plan for Icann if the U.S. contract ends now requires only a “consensus” among governments to dictate Internet policy. That’s a far lower standard than today’s requirement of unanimity and would further sideline U.S. influence. The majority of authoritarian governments could act together to politicize Icann. Instead of censoring GayRightsInRussia.org or LiberateTibet.org only in their own countries, Russia and China could forge a “consensus” to impose a global ban.

Protecting the open Internet was a bipartisan issue for many years and should be one again. The Obama Internet giveaway invites a high-profile campaign issue for politicians who oppose it. Considering the popularity of the Internet, being for it is better politics than being against it.
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Show us the side deals on: Today at 11:07:05 AM
y
Tom Cotton And
Mike Pompeo
Aug. 2, 2015 5:40 p.m. ET
209 COMMENTS

For those of us who are elected officials, few votes will be more consequential than whether to approve or disapprove the nuclear agreement President Obama has reached with Iran. Yet the president expects Congress to cast this vote without the administration’s fully disclosing the contents of the deal to the American people. This is unacceptable and plainly violates the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act—a law the president signed only weeks ago.

During a recent trip to Vienna to meet with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization charged with verifying Iran’s compliance, we learned that certain elements of this deal are—and will remain—secret. According to the IAEA, those involved with the negotiations, including the Obama administration, agreed to allow Iran to forge the secret side deals with the IAEA on two issues.

The first governs the IAEA’s inspection of the Parchin military complex, the facility long suspected as the site of Iran’s long-range ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapons development. The second addresses what—if anything—Iran will be required to disclose about the past military dimensions of its nuclear program.

Yet the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act specifically says that Congress must receive all nuclear agreement documents, including any related to agreements “entered into or made between Iran and any other parties.” It expressly includes “side agreements.” This requirement is not strictly limited to agreements to which the U.S. is a signatory. This law passed in May, well before the nuclear negotiations ended. The Obama administration should have held firm in negotiations to obtain what was necessary for Congress to review the agreement. Iran, not the U.S., should have conceded on this point.

Weaponization lies at the heart of our dispute with Iran and is central to determining whether this deal is acceptable. Inspections of Parchin are necessary to ensure that Iran is adhering to its end of the agreement. Without knowing this baseline, inspectors cannot properly evaluate Iran’s compliance. It’s like beginning a diet without knowing your starting weight. That the administration would accept side agreements on these critical issues—and ask the U.S. Congress to do the same—is irresponsible.

The response from the administration to questions about the side deals has brought little reassurance. At first the administration refrained from acknowledging their existence. Unable to sustain that position, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on July 22 during a White House press briefing that the administration “knows” the “content” of the arrangements and would brief Congress on it.

Yet the same day Secretary of State John Kerry, in a closed-door briefing with members of Congress, said he had not read the side deals. And on July 29 when pressed in a Senate hearing, Mr. Kerry admitted that a member of his negotiating team “may” have read the arrangements but he was not sure.

That person, Undersecretary of State and lead negotiator Wendy Sherman, on July 30 said in an interview on MSNBC, “I saw the pieces of paper but wasn’t allowed to keep them. All of the members of the P5+1 did in Vienna, and so did some of my experts who certainly understand this even better than I do.”

A game of nuclear telephone and hearsay is simply not good enough, not for a decision as grave as this one. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act says Congress must have full access to all nuclear-agreement documents—not unverifiable ‎accounts from Ms. Sherman or others of what may or may not be in the secret side deals.‎How else can Congress, in good conscience, vote on the overall deal?

On July 30 we sent a letter to the Obama administration asking for a “complete and thorough assessment of the separate arrangements” and the names of anyone who has reviewed them. Iran’s ayatollahs have access to the side agreements. The American people’s representatives in the U.S. Congress should too.

When he announced his nuclear deal with Iran on July 14, President Obama said, “This deal is not built on trust, it is built on verification.” Those words are hollow unless Congress receives the full text of all documents related to the nuclear agreement.

Mr. Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Mr. Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: Today at 11:00:21 AM
Occasionally Stratfor slides into glibness in the service of having a narrative that fits in with the Stratfor's Big Narrative about how the world works.  IMHO this piece does just that to some extent, but remains worth the reading nonetheless.



 How the U.S.-Iranian Pact Affects Israel
Analysis
August 3, 2015 | 09:45 GMT
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Summary

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of an occasional series on the evolving fortunes of the Middle East that Stratfor will be building upon periodically.

The U.S.-Israeli relationship was forged in the crucible of the Cold War, when Israel functioned as a meaningful counterweight to Soviet ambitions in the Middle East. The Iran nuclear deal is not so much an existential threat to Israel as it is a development that burdens it to act and to help shape the region the way the United States desires. Israel may often be forced to the front lines in the coming years, whether as a result of Iran striking via proxies such as Hezbollah or whether by becoming an appealing secondary target for the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. It will also find itself in strange alliances, such as partnering with the Saudis against Iran, with Hamas and Egypt against the Islamic State, and simultaneously with Turkey and various Kurdish factions.

Nevertheless, the U.S.-Israeli relationship will endure. Although this relationship will not be the cushy arrangement it was during U.S. President George W. Bush's administration, Israel will still be important to the U.S. strategy of creating a balance of power in the Middle East.

Analysis

Judging from the openly antagonistic relationship between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it would be easy to assume that the Iranian deal will further fray the ties between Israel and the United States. Indeed, part of Washington's strategy to create a balance of power means forging more pragmatic relationships with regional powers: In this case, countries such as Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The United States was not going to avoid an agreement with Iran just because Israel said to.


But that does not mean Washington will abandon its relationship with Israel. Israel essentially is an American insurance policy should Iran or Turkey prove able to capitalize too effectively on regional turmoil. Though the United States cannot depend solely on Israel to shape the region to Washington's wishes, Israel still serves a very important role in Washington's overall strategy: A powerful Israel, armed to the teeth by the United States, precludes the possibility of one power dominating the region completely. This means Israel will still enjoy significant American support, but it also means Israel will become a target for would-be regional hegemons.
The Role of Israel's Geography

For any power emanating from the east, whether based in present-day Iraq or Iran, Israel is situated on particularly important strategic territory. The ancient Persian Empire pushed to the eastern Mediterranean precisely because it required an anchor in the Levant to protect against aggressive actions from Mediterranean powers. Without a foothold in the Levant, Iran cannot feel secure.

Even if Iran's Shiite crescent strategy had succeeded in the 2000s, Iran's proxy in the Levant, Hezbollah, would have had to face an aggressive Israel that would not have tolerated such a powerful Iranian-backed force so close to home. The Lebanon conflict of the 1980s was disastrous for Israel, but it also demonstrated that when sufficiently threatened Israel will extend its influence north to the Litani River. A Hezbollah stronghold connected by land all the way to Iran's Zagros Mountains would have forced Israel's hand.

Israel is also important strategic territory for a potential Mediterranean power such as Turkey. The simplest reason is that without controlling the greater Levant, a Mediterranean power leaves itself open to attack from an eastern power such as Iran. Turkey's geographic core is the Sea of Marmara, and its greatest geopolitical advantage is its control of important maritime trade routes in the Mediterranean; an ambitious foreign power with a grip on the Levant could disrupt valuable trade routes or challenge maritime domination of the Mediterranean. Furthermore, if Turkey ever hopes to reclaim even a portion of the power it wielded as the Ottoman Empire, when it controlled both the northern and southern littorals of the Mediterranean, control of Israel is an imperative. Without it, no government in Istanbul can easily project land-based military power into the southern Mediterranean.

An Eventual Call to Action

The Israelis will not necessarily find the Middle East's new diplomatic climate a temperate one. The current front-line battleground in the Middle East is Iraq and Syria. Yemen is the secondary front, but Israel will not be able to stay out of the general fray forever. When the Syrian civil war eventually abates, Israel may find that it is bordered to the north by either an Iranian-backed Alawite state, a Sunni Islamist state with ties to Turkey or Saudi Arabia, or some other as-yet-unimaginable entity. This unknown is nothing short of terrifying for Israel, and it will have to be vigilant against attacks from both conventional forces and militants. Stratfor has written about how the Palestinian question in recent years has been a minor irritant at worst for the Israelis, but the possibility that a foreign power could use the Palestinian issue against Israel cannot be overlooked.

Like other Middle Eastern players, Israel will have to be become significantly more opportunistic. It will be unable to simply build a security fence on all sides of its borders and let the Middle East stew in its own juices. Traces of change in Israel's behavior are already apparent. Stratfor sources indicate that furtive Saudi-Israeli relations have accelerated in recent months and that Riyadh and Israel have working understandings regarding the conflict in Syria. A recent sophisticated attack by the Islamic State's Sinai Peninsula franchise in Egypt has created a shared fear among Egypt, Hamas and Israel, and all three will work to combat the Islamic State's attempt to establish a base of operations in Sinai.

Moreover, talks between important officials in Israel and Turkey were leaked to the media in June. Although formal reconciliation has not occurred yet, Israel will work with Turkey on issues of shared interest, particularly in Syria but also in preventing Iran from becoming too powerful. Also, there are indications that Israeli and the Palestinian National Authority might return to the negotiating table. This runs parallel to Israel's quiet exchanges with Hamas. All the while, Israel will continue to maintain relationships with stateless groups in the region such as the Kurds and the Druze, while forging new alliances and alignments to minimize the fallout from the emerging balance of power.

The relative calm and quiet Israel has experienced in recent decades is not the norm. Israel is not in jeopardy of being overrun by Iran or any other Middle Eastern power for as long as the United States backs it. And while changes in U.S. strategy have downgraded Israeli influence over the strategic decisions Washington makes, Israel remains an integral part of the overall U.S. attempt to create a more stable Middle East. Israel has had years to prepare for this situation. The new strategic environment will force Israel to be much more aggressive in pursuing calculated relationships with old enemies and new friends. Israel is not going anywhere, but that should not obscure the fact that its geopolitical circumstances just became significantly more perilous.
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: Today at 10:54:38 AM
Analysis

Russia's efforts to assemble a negotiation over a post-al Assad government in Syria may be gaining traction. The Syrian negotiation was on the agenda during a June 19 meeting between Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Konstantin Palace outside St. Petersburg. Following that meeting, Stratfor sources have reported, Syrian National Security Bureau chief Gen. Ali Mamluk made a quiet visit to Riyadh sometime in July and allegedly met with bin Salman.

It appears that Putin and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who has been Putin's point man on the Syrian negotiation, have pitched the idea of forging an anti-Islamic State alliance that would include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria. By using the anti-Islamic State platform, Moscow hopes to facilitate a dialogue between the regime and its Sunni adversaries about a power-sharing agreement in Damascus. As expected, in his meeting with Mamluk in Riyadh, the Saudi crown prince allegedly demanded a high price for cooperating with the Syrian regime: a cutoff of Syria's ties with Iran. Of course, the Alawite regime is not about to break ties with its only real ally in the region. But it is still highly notable that a dialogue between the Syrian regime and Riyadh is underway.

It is still unclear whether this dialogue will progress far enough to yield a viable power-sharing arrangement between Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Qatar on the one hand and Syria and Iran on the other. Saudi Arabia, with its deep misgivings about Tehran's intentions, is more in favor of counterbalancing Iran than of reaching an understanding with the Shiite power. Turkey, meanwhile, is deepening its involvement in northern Syria; it may be more compelled to allow the rebellion to play out and further weaken Syrian government forces before seriously considering any kind of negotiation. And even if all the rebel sponsors could come to an understanding amongst themselves, it is another question altogether whether they could compel enough rebels to come to the negotiating table and countenance sharing power with the Alawites.

At this stage of the crisis, Russia and the United States have their own reasons for supporting a negotiation. The United States is giving Turkey tacit approval to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria, but Washington needs the fight in Syria to stay focused on defeating the Islamic State — not on toppling the Assad government. Russia is trying to maintain leverage in Syria by shoring up its relations with the Sunni stakeholders in the conflict while also using its existing relationship with Damascus, but Moscow also wants to use the Syrian issue to bargain with the United States. This will be the topic of discussion when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Doha on Aug. 3. The question remains whether Russia's shuttle diplomacy will be enough to assemble a viable negotiation.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kerry seeks to obstruct for Hillary on: Today at 12:07:36 AM
http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-secretary-of-state-john-kerry-seeks-to-delay-federal-lawsuit-to-force-action-on-clinton-emails/
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran publishes book on how to destroy Israel on: August 02, 2015, 09:11:18 PM
http://nypost.com/2015/08/01/iran-publishes-book-on-how-to-outwit-us-and-destroy-israel/
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: August 02, 2015, 08:49:53 PM
 Balancing Hopes and Fears in the Middle East
Global Affairs
July 29, 2015 | 08:00 GMT
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By Philip Bobbitt

It's encouraging that reports from Washington suggest the administration has settled on a new strategy for confronting the Islamic State. Our reluctance to commit to a strategy as we sought, unsuccessfully, to find a middle ground that would minimize risks while serving contradictory objectives has been costly to the stability of Iraq and to our goal of removing Bashar al Assad's regime from Syria.

Sometimes it is less appealing to confront one enemy than to avoid advantaging another enemy. Thus England tolerated the rise of Nazi Germany, a growing threat, rather than confront it to the advantage of Bolshevism. In the Middle East, the example is quite exquisite because the phenomenon is double-sided: We cannot truly commit ourselves to the removal of al Assad because we believe his ruin will offer rich opportunities to the Islamic State, and we are equally reluctant to take some aggressive measures against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria because we surmise our success would mean further empowering Iran and increasing Tehran's influence in Baghdad and Damascus. We are paralyzed because we prefer foregoing potential but significant gains to enduring certain losses whose significance is no greater.

I suppose this a kind of strategic "loss aversion." Many studies in behavioral economics have confirmed that a consistent majority of people would rather forego a gain than suffer a loss, even when the outcomes are statistically indistinguishable. For example, psychologists have repeatedly demonstrated that an overwhelming majority of subjects would prefer to avoid a $1.00 surcharge rather than receive a $1.00 discount. Moreover, subjects routinely report that they would rather accept a 50 percent chance of losing $2.00 than a certain loss of $1.00. Similarly, perhaps, states are reluctant to risk giving an uncertain advantage to an enemy, even if inaction means certain gain for another enemy. This irrationality is of more than academic interest when we actually forego potential gains that would exceed our losses.

But, one may object, this can be no more than a metaphor — states don't have "psychologies." Yet their leaders do, and they may identify the wins and losses of the state with their own. Wars fought to defend the national honor may have such a basis (as well as, of course, having practical bargaining effects).

What is Global Affairs?

Then one may object that nothing is lost by inaction because states possessed nothing of materiality. Here the answer is: hope. Some of Samuel Johnson's most acute — and disturbing — insights about human nature occur in his remarks on hope. "Hope," he wrote, "is happiness and its frustration, however frequent, are less dreadful than its extinction." Giving up something is giving up hope, which is much more costly than foregoing a receipt.

This paralysis is nevertheless approvingly encouraged by the counsels of inaction whenever the available options are fraught. "Don't just do something, stand there!" may be one way of characterizing this advice. By avoiding action, at least we avoid making things worse. But this ignores the fact that things may get worse without our help, and indeed inaction may be more costly to our interests because we have not been able to mitigate our losses through action. It may even be the case that the wrong decision — a decision in favor of a course of action that leaves us less well off than we would have been, had we acted otherwise — might still be better for us than inaction. That is often the case where the costs of inaction to the strength of our alliances outweigh the immediate costs of acting. It's often said that our alliance partners do not accord their relations with us more weight when we act recklessly, and that is doubtless true. But on whom would you rely in a crisis: the partner who comes to your aid even when, in the short term, it may not be in his interest, or the partner who carefully weighs the benefits of each action?

This is tricky; after all, didn't the arguments that a withdrawal from Vietnam would undermine our European alliances keep us in South Asia long past a sensible departure date? And how do we measure such imponderables? How does a "gain" for an increasingly assertive Iran measure against a "loss" to the deadly Islamic State?

This example of the phenomenon of "loss aversion" — perhaps it is best thought of as a metaphor rather than as a matter of microeconomic analysis — is also manifesting itself in the debate over the proposed agreement with Iran to restrict its nuclear capabilities. We are rightly concerned that an infusion of more than $50 billion will strengthen the theocratic state in Tehran and find its way into the forces of terror that the Iranian regime has so notably deployed. We are loath to give up a sanctions regime that has been a quite remarkable achievement in its breadth and coherence. Many thoughtful critics would rather forego the conceded benefits of a 15-year hiatus in Iran's nuclear development than lose a sanctions program that restricts so many of the regime's other activities. Alas, we cannot depend upon the endurance of the existing sanctions, and should the treaty fail to be enacted, we are likely to reap the worst of both worlds: an unrestricted program of nuclear development by an Iranian state that has been greatly enriched by the removal of those sanctions that the United States does not control. And here, too, the neglect of the impact on our alliances that is a feature of loss aversion in other contexts could well prove to be the greatest cost of all. By contrast, in the aftermath of the Iran agreement, restoring confidence in their relations with the United States is the first item on our agendas with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states.

Here, we must depart from the Great Cham, Dr. Johnson. For he warned us to "remember that we only talk of the pleasures of hope; we feel those of possession, and no man in his senses would change the last for the first."
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What is the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist? on: August 02, 2015, 08:48:07 PM
https://www.facebook.com/FreeBeacon/videos/864907640224927/
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: August 02, 2015, 01:47:29 AM
Joe Biden is said to be taking new look at presidential run

Saturday, August 1, 2015 2:55 PM EDT

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his associates have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign, an entry that would upend the Democratic field and deliver a direct threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton, say several people who have spoken to Mr. Biden or his closest advisers.
Mr. Biden’s advisers have started to reach out to Democratic leaders and donors who have not yet committed to Mrs. Clinton or who have grown concerned about what they see as her increasingly visible vulnerabilities as a candidate.
The conversations, often fielded by Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, have taken place in hushed phone calls and over quiet lunches. In most cases they have grown out of an outpouring of sympathy for the vice president since the death of his 46-year-old son, Beau, in May.
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Well, this sounds decisive , , , on: August 02, 2015, 01:40:58 AM
U.S. Decides to Retaliate Against China’s Hacking

By DAVID E. SANGERJULY 31, 2015

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The Obama administration has determined that it must retaliate against China for the theft of the personal information of more than 20 million Americans from the databases of the Office of Personnel Management, but it is still struggling to decide what it can do without prompting an escalating cyberconflict.

The decision came after the administration concluded that the hacking attack was so vast in scope and ambition that the usual practices for dealing with traditional espionage cases did not apply.

But in a series of classified meetings, officials have struggled to choose among options that range from largely symbolic responses — for example, diplomatic protests or the ouster of known Chinese agents in the United States — to more significant actions that some officials fear could lead to an escalation of the hacking conflict between the two countries.
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    Network specialists at the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va., during an unclassified tour for members of the news media last week. Classified information was excluded from screen displays.
    U.S. vs. Hackers: Still Lopsided Despite Years of Warnings and a Recent PushJULY 18, 2015

That does not mean a response will happen anytime soon — or be obvious when it does. The White House could determine that the downsides of any meaningful, yet proportionate, retaliation outweigh the benefits, or will lead to retaliation on American firms or individuals doing work in China. President Obama, clearly seeking leverage, has asked his staff to come up with a more creative set of responses.
Photo
The home of the Office of Personnel Management headquarters in Washington. The Obama administration has decided that it must retaliate against China for the theft of personal information from the office. Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence,” said one senior administration official involved in the debate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House plans. “We need to disrupt and deter what our adversaries are doing in cyberspace, and that means you need a full range of tools to tailor a response.”

In public, Mr. Obama has said almost nothing, and officials are under strict instructions to avoid naming China as the source of the attack. While James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said last month that “you have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did,” he avoided repeating that accusation when pressed again in public last week.

But over recent days, both Mr. Clapper and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the military’s Cyber Command, have hinted at the internal debate by noting that unless the United States finds a way to respond to the attacks, they are bound to escalate.

Mr. Clapper predicted that the number and sophistication of hacking aimed at the United States would worsen “until such time as we create both the substance and psychology of deterrence.”

Admiral Rogers made clear in a public presentation to the meeting of the Aspen Security Forum last week that he had advised President Obama to strike back against North Korea for the earlier attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Since then, evidence that hackers associated with the Chinese government were responsible for the Office of Personnel Management theft has been gathered by personnel under Admiral Rogers’s command, officials said.

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Admiral Rogers stressed the need for “creating costs” for attackers responsible for the intrusion, although he acknowledged that it differed in important ways from the Sony case. In the Sony attack, the theft of emails was secondary to the destruction of much of the company’s computer systems, part of an effort to intimidate the studio to keep it from releasing a comedy that portrayed the assassination of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

According to officials involved in the internal debates over responses to the personnel office attack, Mr. Obama’s aides explored applying economic sanctions against China, based on the precedent of sanctions the president approved against North Korea in January.

“The analogy simply didn’t work,” said one senior economic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations. North Korea is so isolated that there was no risk it could retaliate in kind. But in considering sanctions against China, officials from the Commerce Department and the Treasury offered a long list of countersanctions the Chinese could impose against American firms that are already struggling to deal with China.

The Justice Department is exploring legal action against Chinese individuals and organizations believed responsible for the personnel office theft, much as it did last summer when five officers of the People’s Liberation Army, part of the Chinese military, were indicted on a charge of the theft of intellectual property from American companies. While Justice officials say that earlier action was a breakthrough, others characterize the punishment as only symbolic: Unless they visit the United States or a friendly nation, none of them are likely to ever see the inside of an American courtroom.

“Criminal charges appear to be unlikely in the case of the O.P.M. breach,” a study of the Office of Personnel Management breach published by the Congressional Research Service two weeks ago concluded. “As a matter of policy, the United States has sought to distinguish between cyber intrusions to collect data for national security purposes — to which the United States deems counterintelligence to be an appropriate response — and cyber intrusions to steal data for commercial purposes, to which the United States deems a criminal justice response to be appropriate.”

There is another risk in criminal prosecution: Intelligence officials say that any legal case could result in exposing American intelligence operations inside China — including the placement of thousands of implants in Chinese computer networks to warn of impending attacks.

Other options discussed inside the administration include retaliatory operations, perhaps designed to steal or reveal to the public information as valuable to the Chinese government as the security-clearance files on government employees were to Washington.

One of the most innovative actions discussed inside the intelligence agencies, according to two officials familiar with the debate, involves finding a way to breach the so-called great firewall, the complex network of censorship and control that the Chinese government keeps in place to suppress dissent inside the country. The idea would be to demonstrate to the Chinese leadership that the one thing they value most — keeping absolute control over the country’s political dialogue — could be at risk if they do not moderate attacks on the United States.

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But any counterattack could lead to a cycle of escalation just as the United States hopes to discuss with Chinese leaders new rules of the road limiting cyberoperations. A similar initiative to get the Chinese leadership to discuss those rules, proposed by Mr. Obama when he met the Chinese leader at Sunnylands in California in 2013, has made little progress.

The United States has been cautious about using cyberweapons or even discussing it. A new Pentagon strategy, introduced by the secretary of Defense, Ashton B. Carter, in the spring, explicitly discussed retaliation but left vague what kind of cases the United States viewed as so critical that they would prompt that type of retaliation.

In response to the Office of Personnel Management attack, White House officials on Friday announced the results of a 30-day “cybersecurity sprint” that began in early June after the federal personnel office disclosed the gigantic theft of data.

Tony Scott, the government’s chief information officer, who ordered the review, said in a blog post that agencies had significantly ramped up their use of strong authentication procedures, especially for users who required access to sensitive parts of networks.

By the end of the 30th day, officials said that more than half of the nation’s largest agencies, including the Departments of Transportation, Veterans Affairs and the Interior, now required strong authentication for almost 95 percent of their privileged users.

For Mr. Obama, responding to the theft at the Office of Personnel Management is complicated because it was not destructive, nor did it involve stealing intellectual property. Instead, the goal was espionage, on a scale that no one imagined before.

“This is one of those cases where you have to ask, ‘Does the size of the operation change the nature of it?’ ” one senior intelligence official said. “Clearly, it does.”
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donald Trump hypocrisy? on: August 01, 2015, 01:40:25 PM
Probably not a reliable source, but , , ,

https://www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats/photos/a.517901514969574.1073741825.346937065399354/904479802978408/?type=1
18  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Ass'n Camp 10/16-18/15 Central PA on: August 01, 2015, 12:03:38 PM
https://www.facebook.com/events/403266323183390/
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Quantum Geopolitics on: August 01, 2015, 11:26:03 AM
 Quantum Geopolitics
Geopolitical Weekly
July 28, 2015 | 08:00 GMT
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By Reva Bhalla

Forecasting the shape the world will take in several years or decades is an audacious undertaking. There are no images to observe or precise data points to anchor us. We can only create a picture, and a fuzzy one at best. This is, after all, our basic human empirical instinct: to draw effortlessly from the vivid imagery of our present world and past experiences while we squint and hesitate before faint, blobby images of the future.

In the world of intelligence and military planning, it is far less taxing to base speculations on the familiar — to simulate a war game that pivots on an Iranian nuclear threat, a seemingly unstoppable jihadist force like the Islamic State and the military adventurism of Russia in Eastern Europe — than it is to imagine a world in which Russia is weak and internally fragmented, the jihadist menace is contained by its own fractiousness and Iran is allied with the United States against a rising Sunni threat. In the business world, it is much simpler to base trades and strategies on a familiar environment of low oil prices and high interest rates. Strategists in many domains are guilty of taking excessive comfort in the present and extrapolating present-day assumptions to describe the future, only to find themselves unequipped when the next big crisis hits. As a U.S. four-star general once told me in frustration, "We always have the wrong maps and the wrong languages when we go to war."

So how do we break out of this mental trap and develop the confidence to sketch out plausible sets and sequences of unknowns? The four-dimensional world of quantum mechanics may offer some guidance or, at the very least, a philosophical approach to strategic forecasting. Brilliant physicists such as Albert Einstein, Louis de Broglie and Erwin Schrodinger have obsessed over the complex relationship between space and time. The debate persists among scientists over how atomic and subatomic particles behave in different dimensions, but there are certain underlying principles in the collection of quantum theories that should resonate with anyone endowed with the responsibility of forecasting world events.
Quantum Principles and Political Entities

Einstein described space-time as a smooth fabric distorted by objects in the universe. For him, the separation between past, present and future was merely a "stubbornly persistent illusion." Building on Einstein's ideas, celebrated U.S. physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, some of whose best ideas came from drawings he scribbled on cocktail napkins in bars and strip clubs, focused on how a particle can travel in waves from point A to point B along a number of potential paths, each with a certain probability amplitude. In other words, a particle will not travel in linear fashion; it will go up, down and around in space, skirting other particle paths and colliding into others, sometimes reinforcing or canceling out another completely. According to Feynman's theory, the sum of all the amplitudes of the different paths would give you the "sum over histories" — the path that the particle actually follows in the end.

The behavior of communities, proto-states and nation-states (at least on our humble and familiar planet Earth) arguably follows a similar path. We have seen statelets, countries and empires rise and fall in waves along varied frequencies. The crest of one amplitude could intersect with the trough of another, resulting in the latter's destruction. One particle path can reinforce another, creating vast trading empires. Latin America, where geopolitical shifts can develop at a tortoise's pace in the modern era, tends to emit long radio-like waves compared to the gamma-like waves of what we know today as a highly volatile Middle East.
Applied Quantum Theories: Turkey

If we apply the nation-state as an organizing principle for the modern era (recognizing the prevalence of artificial boundaries and the existence of both nations without states and states without nations), the possibilities of a state's path are seemingly endless. However, a probability of a state's path can be constructed to sketch out a picture of the future.

The first step is to identify certain constants that have shaped a country's behavior over time, regardless of personality or ideology (an imperative to gain sea access, a mountainous landscape that requires a large amount of capital to transport goods from point A to point B, a fertile landscape that attracts as much competition as it provides wealth). The country's history serves as a laboratory for testing how the state has pursued those imperatives and what circumstances have charted its path. What conditions were in place for the state to fail, to prosper, to avoid getting entangled in the collisions of bigger states, to live in relative peace? We take the known and perceived facts of the past, we enrich them with anecdotes from literature, poetry and song, and we paint a colorful image of the present textured by its past. Then comes the hard part: having the guts to stare into the future with enough discipline to see the constraints and enough imagination to see the possibilities. In this practice, extrapolation is deadly, and an unhealthy obsession with current intelligence can be blinding.

Take Turkey, for example. For years, we have heard political elites in the United States, Eastern Europe and the Middle East lament a Turkey obsessed with Islamism and unwilling or incapable of matching words with action in dealing with regional competitors like Iran and Russia. Turkey was in many ways overlooked as a regional player, too consumed by its domestic troubles and too ideologically predisposed toward Islamist groups to be considered useful to the West. But Turkey's resurgence would not follow a linear path. There have been ripples and turns along the way, distorting the perception of a country whose regional role is, in the end, profoundly shaped by its position as a land bridge between Europe and Asia and the gatekeeper between the Black and Mediterranean seas.

How, then, can we explain a week's worth of events in which Turkey launched airstrikes at Islamic State forces and Kurdish rebels while preparing to extend a buffer zone into northern Syria — actions that mark a sharp departure from the timid Turkey to which the world had grown accustomed? We must look at the distant past, when Alexander the Great passed through the Cilician Gates to claim a natural harbor on the eastern Mediterranean (the eponymous city of Alexandretta, contemporarily known as Iskenderun) and the ancient city of Antioch (Antakya) as an opening into the fertile Orontes River Valley and onward to Mesopotamia. We move from the point when Seljuk Turks conquered Aleppo in the 11th century all the way up to the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of World War I, when a fledgling Turkish republic used all the diplomatic might it could muster to retake the strategic territories of Antioch and Alexandretta, which today constitute Hatay province outlining the Syrian-Turkish border.

We must simultaneously look at the present. A contemporary map of the Syria-Turkey border looks quite odd, with the nub of Hatay province anchored to the Gulf of Iskenderun but looking as though it should extend eastward toward Aleppo, the historical trading hub of the northern Levant, and onward through Kurdish lands to northern Iraq, where the oil riches of Kirkuk lie in what was formerly the Ottoman province of Mosul.

We then take a long look out into the future. Turkey's interest in northern Syria and northern Iraq is not an abstraction triggered by a group of religious fanatics calling themselves the Islamic State; it is the bypass, intersection and reinforcement of multiple geopolitical wavelengths creating an invisible force behind Ankara to re-extend Turkey's formal and informal boundaries beyond Anatolia. To understand just how far Turkey extends and at what point it inevitably contracts again, we must examine the intersecting wavelengths emanating from Baghdad, Damascus, Moscow, Washington, Arbil and Riyadh. As long as Syria is engulfed in civil war, its wavelength will be too weak to interfere with Turkey's ambitions for northern Syria, but a rehabilitated Iran could interfere through Kurdistan and block Turkey farther to the east. The United States, intent on reducing its burdens in the Middle East and balancing against Russia, will reinforce the Turkish wavelength up to a point, while higher frequencies from other Sunni players such as Saudi Arabia will run interference against Turkey in Mesopotamia and the Levant. While Russia still has the capacity to project military power outward, Turkey's moves in Europe and the Caucasus will skirt around Russia for some time, but that dynamic will shift once Russia becomes consumed with its own domestic fissures and Turkey has more room to extend through the Black Sea region.
Thinking Beyond Limitations

This sketch of Turkey is by no means static or deterministic. It is, simply but critically, the product of putting a filter on a lens to bring the state's trajectory into clearer view. The assumptions we form must be tested every day by incoming intelligence that can lead to refinements of the forecast at hand. A quantum interpretation of the world will tell you that nothing is deterministic, and we cannot know for sure that a certain outcome will or will not happen based on the limited information we possess. We can only assign a probability of something happening, and that probability will evolve over time. As Stephen Hawking said, "It seems Einstein was ... wrong when he said, 'God does not play dice.' Not only does God definitely play dice, but He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen."

We can apply the same process to the ebb and flow of the Far East, with a resurgent Japan responding to the reverberations of a powerful China and an artificially divided Korea sandwiched in between. Or, the push and pull between France and Germany on the European mainland as centripetal forces subsume the EU project.

Too often, we see the future as we see the past — through the distorted lens of the present. That is the flaw in our human instinct that we must try to overcome. Constraints will apply, and probabilities will be assigned. But whatever the time, direction or dimension we are operating in when forecasting geopolitical events, we must simultaneously exist in the past, present and the future to prepare for a world that we have yet to know.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Quantum Geopolitics on: August 01, 2015, 11:25:33 AM
 Quantum Geopolitics
Geopolitical Weekly
July 28, 2015 | 08:00 GMT
Print
Text Size

By Reva Bhalla

Forecasting the shape the world will take in several years or decades is an audacious undertaking. There are no images to observe or precise data points to anchor us. We can only create a picture, and a fuzzy one at best. This is, after all, our basic human empirical instinct: to draw effortlessly from the vivid imagery of our present world and past experiences while we squint and hesitate before faint, blobby images of the future.

In the world of intelligence and military planning, it is far less taxing to base speculations on the familiar — to simulate a war game that pivots on an Iranian nuclear threat, a seemingly unstoppable jihadist force like the Islamic State and the military adventurism of Russia in Eastern Europe — than it is to imagine a world in which Russia is weak and internally fragmented, the jihadist menace is contained by its own fractiousness and Iran is allied with the United States against a rising Sunni threat. In the business world, it is much simpler to base trades and strategies on a familiar environment of low oil prices and high interest rates. Strategists in many domains are guilty of taking excessive comfort in the present and extrapolating present-day assumptions to describe the future, only to find themselves unequipped when the next big crisis hits. As a U.S. four-star general once told me in frustration, "We always have the wrong maps and the wrong languages when we go to war."

So how do we break out of this mental trap and develop the confidence to sketch out plausible sets and sequences of unknowns? The four-dimensional world of quantum mechanics may offer some guidance or, at the very least, a philosophical approach to strategic forecasting. Brilliant physicists such as Albert Einstein, Louis de Broglie and Erwin Schrodinger have obsessed over the complex relationship between space and time. The debate persists among scientists over how atomic and subatomic particles behave in different dimensions, but there are certain underlying principles in the collection of quantum theories that should resonate with anyone endowed with the responsibility of forecasting world events.
Quantum Principles and Political Entities

Einstein described space-time as a smooth fabric distorted by objects in the universe. For him, the separation between past, present and future was merely a "stubbornly persistent illusion." Building on Einstein's ideas, celebrated U.S. physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, some of whose best ideas came from drawings he scribbled on cocktail napkins in bars and strip clubs, focused on how a particle can travel in waves from point A to point B along a number of potential paths, each with a certain probability amplitude. In other words, a particle will not travel in linear fashion; it will go up, down and around in space, skirting other particle paths and colliding into others, sometimes reinforcing or canceling out another completely. According to Feynman's theory, the sum of all the amplitudes of the different paths would give you the "sum over histories" — the path that the particle actually follows in the end.

The behavior of communities, proto-states and nation-states (at least on our humble and familiar planet Earth) arguably follows a similar path. We have seen statelets, countries and empires rise and fall in waves along varied frequencies. The crest of one amplitude could intersect with the trough of another, resulting in the latter's destruction. One particle path can reinforce another, creating vast trading empires. Latin America, where geopolitical shifts can develop at a tortoise's pace in the modern era, tends to emit long radio-like waves compared to the gamma-like waves of what we know today as a highly volatile Middle East.
Applied Quantum Theories: Turkey

If we apply the nation-state as an organizing principle for the modern era (recognizing the prevalence of artificial boundaries and the existence of both nations without states and states without nations), the possibilities of a state's path are seemingly endless. However, a probability of a state's path can be constructed to sketch out a picture of the future.

The first step is to identify certain constants that have shaped a country's behavior over time, regardless of personality or ideology (an imperative to gain sea access, a mountainous landscape that requires a large amount of capital to transport goods from point A to point B, a fertile landscape that attracts as much competition as it provides wealth). The country's history serves as a laboratory for testing how the state has pursued those imperatives and what circumstances have charted its path. What conditions were in place for the state to fail, to prosper, to avoid getting entangled in the collisions of bigger states, to live in relative peace? We take the known and perceived facts of the past, we enrich them with anecdotes from literature, poetry and song, and we paint a colorful image of the present textured by its past. Then comes the hard part: having the guts to stare into the future with enough discipline to see the constraints and enough imagination to see the possibilities. In this practice, extrapolation is deadly, and an unhealthy obsession with current intelligence can be blinding.

Take Turkey, for example. For years, we have heard political elites in the United States, Eastern Europe and the Middle East lament a Turkey obsessed with Islamism and unwilling or incapable of matching words with action in dealing with regional competitors like Iran and Russia. Turkey was in many ways overlooked as a regional player, too consumed by its domestic troubles and too ideologically predisposed toward Islamist groups to be considered useful to the West. But Turkey's resurgence would not follow a linear path. There have been ripples and turns along the way, distorting the perception of a country whose regional role is, in the end, profoundly shaped by its position as a land bridge between Europe and Asia and the gatekeeper between the Black and Mediterranean seas.

How, then, can we explain a week's worth of events in which Turkey launched airstrikes at Islamic State forces and Kurdish rebels while preparing to extend a buffer zone into northern Syria — actions that mark a sharp departure from the timid Turkey to which the world had grown accustomed? We must look at the distant past, when Alexander the Great passed through the Cilician Gates to claim a natural harbor on the eastern Mediterranean (the eponymous city of Alexandretta, contemporarily known as Iskenderun) and the ancient city of Antioch (Antakya) as an opening into the fertile Orontes River Valley and onward to Mesopotamia. We move from the point when Seljuk Turks conquered Aleppo in the 11th century all the way up to the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of World War I, when a fledgling Turkish republic used all the diplomatic might it could muster to retake the strategic territories of Antioch and Alexandretta, which today constitute Hatay province outlining the Syrian-Turkish border.

We must simultaneously look at the present. A contemporary map of the Syria-Turkey border looks quite odd, with the nub of Hatay province anchored to the Gulf of Iskenderun but looking as though it should extend eastward toward Aleppo, the historical trading hub of the northern Levant, and onward through Kurdish lands to northern Iraq, where the oil riches of Kirkuk lie in what was formerly the Ottoman province of Mosul.

We then take a long look out into the future. Turkey's interest in northern Syria and northern Iraq is not an abstraction triggered by a group of religious fanatics calling themselves the Islamic State; it is the bypass, intersection and reinforcement of multiple geopolitical wavelengths creating an invisible force behind Ankara to re-extend Turkey's formal and informal boundaries beyond Anatolia. To understand just how far Turkey extends and at what point it inevitably contracts again, we must examine the intersecting wavelengths emanating from Baghdad, Damascus, Moscow, Washington, Arbil and Riyadh. As long as Syria is engulfed in civil war, its wavelength will be too weak to interfere with Turkey's ambitions for northern Syria, but a rehabilitated Iran could interfere through Kurdistan and block Turkey farther to the east. The United States, intent on reducing its burdens in the Middle East and balancing against Russia, will reinforce the Turkish wavelength up to a point, while higher frequencies from other Sunni players such as Saudi Arabia will run interference against Turkey in Mesopotamia and the Levant. While Russia still has the capacity to project military power outward, Turkey's moves in Europe and the Caucasus will skirt around Russia for some time, but that dynamic will shift once Russia becomes consumed with its own domestic fissures and Turkey has more room to extend through the Black Sea region.
Thinking Beyond Limitations

This sketch of Turkey is by no means static or deterministic. It is, simply but critically, the product of putting a filter on a lens to bring the state's trajectory into clearer view. The assumptions we form must be tested every day by incoming intelligence that can lead to refinements of the forecast at hand. A quantum interpretation of the world will tell you that nothing is deterministic, and we cannot know for sure that a certain outcome will or will not happen based on the limited information we possess. We can only assign a probability of something happening, and that probability will evolve over time. As Stephen Hawking said, "It seems Einstein was ... wrong when he said, 'God does not play dice.' Not only does God definitely play dice, but He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen."

We can apply the same process to the ebb and flow of the Far East, with a resurgent Japan responding to the reverberations of a powerful China and an artificially divided Korea sandwiched in between. Or, the push and pull between France and Germany on the European mainland as centripetal forces subsume the EU project.

Too often, we see the future as we see the past — through the distorted lens of the present. That is the flaw in our human instinct that we must try to overcome. Constraints will apply, and probabilities will be assigned. But whatever the time, direction or dimension we are operating in when forecasting geopolitical events, we must simultaneously exist in the past, present and the future to prepare for a world that we have yet to know.
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia quietly encroaches on Georgia on: August 01, 2015, 11:15:12 AM

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Russia Quietly Encroaches on Georgia
Analysis
July 28, 2015 | 09:00 GMT

Protesters wave Georgian flags in the village of Khurtaveli, close to the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia, July 17. (VANO SHLAMOV/AFP Photo)

Summary

With Russia's help, the disputed territory of South Ossetia is encroaching more deeply into Georgia, but the expansion is unlikely to escalate into a major conflict. On July 10, Russian-backed South Ossetian forces unilaterally placed border markers close to the Georgian villages of Tsitelubani and Orchosani. The newly occupied area incorporated 1,605 meters (almost a mile) of the BP-operated Baku-Supsa pipeline. Though this symbolic show of power is important in its own right, it is part of a larger trend: The South Ossetians have slowly been pushing their boundaries southward into Georgian territory over the past several years. The drive is prompted by several factors, including Russia's insecure military position in South Ossetia, which lacks geographic depth and is threatened by the West's increased military activities in the Black Sea region. However, despite the slow advancement into Georgian territory, Russia is unlikely to stage a major military campaign any time soon.

Analysis

Since the war between Georgia and Russia-backed South Ossetia ended in 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been no clearly demarcated line between Tbilisi-controlled and separatist-controlled territory. After the war, Tbilisi governed large parts of the territories that belonged to the South Ossetian autonomous republic during Soviet times, including most of the strategically important Akhalgori region. Although skirmishes along the dividing line occasionally took place, they did not devolve into something serious until 2008, when war broke out between Georgia and Russia. In August 2008, South Ossetian and Russian forces occupied the Akhalgori region and pushed past the demarcated border to occupy land controlled by Tbilisi. Since then, the South Ossetians, with Russian help, have been actively building defensive infrastructure to fend off any possible Georgian assault.

Following the 2008 war, the Russians began creeping into Georgian territory rather than forcefully advancing on it. In 2010, reports surfaced alleging that Russian forces had pushed the border 2 kilometers southward in the Akhalgori region. Authorities quickly denied the reports, but Tbilisi had to admit that the border had indeed advanced farther into Georgian territory since the 2008 war, particularly near the Perevi village in eastern South Ossetia. In March 2013, Russian and South Ossetian forces fenced in five villages, comprising some 100 hectares. Later, in May and September of the same year, the Russians moved farther south and occupied the mainly Georgian-populated villages of Ditsi and Dvani. In Dvani alone, the border moved by some 600 meters. But these moves were dwarfed this year by Russia's July 10 advance into the Georgian-populated villages of Tsitelubani and Orchosani.

Russia's Strategic Motivations

Moscow had military superiority over Georgia in the war of 2008. However, Russian forces faced an important strategic challenge thereafter: how to defend South Ossetia, which unlike the other breakaway territory of Abkhazia, does not share a long border with Russia. Instead, South Ossetia is almost completely surrounded by Georgian territory. And Tskhinvali — the capital of South Ossetia and a strategically important city on the route north to the major Caucasian pass Djava — is very close to the Georgian border, which inhibits the Russian forces from having geographic depth for effective defense. Furthermore, there are no major rivers or mountain ranges running along the contact line between the Georgian and separatist regions. In fact, there is no geographic barrier at all until Gori — a strategically important city at the center of the country. Moving southward provides the Russians with a necessary geographic depth, which, along with the development of defensive infrastructure, would buy them time if conflict broke out again. Nevertheless, the Russians would still find the lack of natural obstacles problematic if it came to open warfare.

The timing of the July 10 advance is also interesting because of the evolving political situation and rising Western military influence in the South Caucasus amid the broader standoff between Russia and the West. Georgia's integration efforts with the European Union present a major problem for Russia. In addition, Moscow is especially worried about the increasing military cooperation, constant defense meetings and military drills taking place between Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey — intended to protect the major infrastructure projects running through all the three countries. Russia is also likely uncomfortable with the fact that the Georgian military has been holding joint military drills with U.S. and NATO forces more and more regularly over the past several months. In fact, many previous Russian pushes southward also took place as Tbilisi made major steps toward integration with the European Union and NATO, so it is unsurprising that the most recent push would coincide with the NATO-sponsored military drills dubbed Agile Spirit that are currently taking place in Georgia.

Although tactical border movements seem like an unusual political response, they are important when it comes to ensuring Russia's defensive capabilities in South Ossetia. A NATO training center is set to open in Georgia later this year, which will enhance Tbilisi's military capabilities and boost the Western military presence on Georgian soil. It is within this context that Russia is working to also expand its capabilities in the area. And this improvement aligns with Russia's broader regional policies; at the beginning of this year, the Kremlin announced it would strengthen its bases in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Armenia. It also recently provided Armenia with a $200 million loan for military purchases.

Georgia can be divided roughly into two parts, east and west, connected only through the east-west highway. The section of the BP-operated pipeline that falls within the recently-seized territory may be important for Russia, but the highway, which serves as a major trade route for land transportation from Azerbaijan to the Black Sea ports and east Turkey, is no less important. Because two BP-operated pipelines, the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, roughly run along this major highway, Russian posturing there sends a clear message to the West that Russia has a great deal of control over energy as well as Caspian and European trade. Though so far energy flows through the Baku-Supsa have not been hindered, and BP and Western governments alike seem relatively calm, by advancing southward Russia has acquired an additional tool for influencing regional governments and BP in the South Caucasus region.

Thus, Russia's recent moves in South Ossetia are motivated by its security and strategic concerns in the territory and are part of its overall military strategy in the South Caucasus. Though a major Russian military operation into Georgia is very unlikely at the moment, it is clear that both sides, Georgia and South Ossetia with Russian support, are trying to improve their position within the given restraints. Georgia is trying to connect to its NATO and Western allies and is trying to improve its own military capabilities. South Ossetia, on the other hand, is integrating security efforts with Russia and is trying to gradually nudge the border outward to increase the depth of its territory, enabling Tskhinvali to better defend itself.
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on the Koch Brothers on: July 31, 2015, 11:23:02 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/us/koch-brothers-brave-spotlight-to-try-to-alter-their-image.html?emc=edit_th_20150731&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: July 31, 2015, 11:19:51 AM
http://www.salon.com/2015/07/30/way_over_the_line_mitt_romney_slams_ted_cruzs_for_unhinged_terrorism_charge_against_obama/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Revisions to AP History Exam on: July 31, 2015, 11:03:25 AM
By Popular Demand: Worthwhile Revisions to AP History Exam
Finally, some good news for a change. The College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers AP exams to high school students, has announced yet another revision to its history framework. But this time it's for the better. Previously, the College Board painted American history in far too negative a light, emphasizing our nation's sins while ignoring or minimizing its uniqueness and greatness. Some Founders, such as Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson and Constitution writer James Madison, were mentioned; that's it — mentioned. But they were taught as examples of Western class, gender and racial evil. And while teachers could choose to teach the Constitution as it's written, they would disadvantage their students by doing so because the real Constitution wasn't on the test. After numerous scholars objected in an open letter, however, the College Board worked to make revisions. Neglected Founders are back, and there's even a new section on the concept of "American exceptionalism." A College Board official insisted they meant no harm, and that American exceptionalism was previously omitted because they assumed they didn't need to spell it out. We don't buy it, and the changes don't go nearly far enough, but perhaps the episode proves that strong, principled voices on the Right can make a difference.
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / James Monroe on the preservation of rights over time, 1788 on: July 31, 2015, 11:00:13 AM
"How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism." —James Monroe, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 31, 2015, 10:58:03 AM
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/?utm_source=e_breitbart_com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+July+31%2C+2015&utm_campaign=20150731_m126776469_Breitbart+News+Roundup%2C+July+31%2C+2015&utm_term=Big+Government
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Vote to oust Le Pen overruled by French Court on: July 31, 2015, 05:18:51 AM
PARIS—France’s National Front said Wednesday that 94% of party members wanted honorary chairman Jean-Marie Le Pen out of the party he helped found over four decades ago.

The French far-right party released the results of a partywide vote conducted earlier this month, weeks after Mr. Le Pen reiterated comments he made 25 years ago belittling the Holocaust. Of the total 51,552 party members, 28,664 participated in the vote, a spokesman said.

The vote has no legal value, as a French court recently ruled that the tally violated the party’s internal rules. Still, it could undermine Mr. Le Pen’s efforts to cling on to the party he put on the country’s political map. The release of the vote’s results, despite the court’s ruling, could also exacerbate tensions between Mr. Le Pen and his daughter, party leader Marine Le Pen, with whom he has been locked in a fierce battle for months over the future of the party.

“This massive vote shows the high level of confidence party members have for the National Front leadership,” the party spokesman said.

“I ask the National Front leaders to find the way back to reason and unity before it’s too late,” Mr. Le Pen said Wednesday.

Two months ago, a special committee of party members led by Ms. Le Pen proposed a vote to strip her father of his honorary chairman title, after he described gas chambers as a mere “detail” of World War II history in a media interview. Party members were invited to vote electronically by July 10.

But two days before the end of the vote, a French court suspended it, following a complaint filed by Mr. Le Pen. On Tuesday, an appeals court in Versailles, a suburb outside Paris, upheld the previous ruling and ordered the far-right party to pay Mr. Le Pen’s costs.
Related

    Le Pen Vote Violates National-Front Rules, Says Court
    French Court Rules National Front Can’t Strip Jean-Marie Le Pen of Honorary Title
    France’s National Front Suspends Jean-Marie Le Pen

The National Front said it was “very surprised” by the court’s decision, which will allow Mr. Le Pen to keep a position that he “no longer deserves given his unspeakable behavior,” and that it would nevertheless release the vote’s results on Wednesday.

Write to Noemie Bisserbe at noemie.bisserbe@wsj.com
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28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's classified intel emails look likely to have caused major damage on: July 31, 2015, 05:08:23 AM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/30/hillary-clinton-emails-us-intelligence-preparing-m/

By John Solomon and S.A. Miller - The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2015
The U.S. intelligence community is bracing for the possibility that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account contains hundreds of revelations of classified information from spy agencies and is taking steps to contain any damage to national security, according to documents and interviews Thursday.
The top lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committee have been notified in recent days that the extent of classified information on Mrs. Clinton’s private email server was likely far more extensive than the four emails publicly acknowledged last week as containing some sensitive spy agency secrets.
A U.S. official directly familiar with the notification, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said the notification of possibly hundreds of additional emails with classified secrets came from the State Department Freedom of Information Act office to the Office of Inspector General for the Director of National Intelligence.
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The inspector general, the chief oversight watchdog for the entire U.S. intelligence community, subsequently sent a letter to the Republican chairmen and ranking Democrats of the Senate and House intelligence committees, the official said.
“We were informed by State FOIA officials that there are potentially hundreds of classified emails within the 30,000 provided for former Secretary Clinton,” DNI Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III late last week wrote Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat; Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican; and Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat.
“We note that none of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings but some included IC-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked and transmitted via a secure server,” Mr. McCullough wrote the four lawmakers.
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The U.S. official said the intelligence community has been informed that secret information had been contained in some of Mrs. Clinton’s private emails that originated from the FBI, the DNI and the CIA as well as a spy satellite agency. It is believed the 30,000 emails remain on a thumb drive in the possession of Mrs. Clinton’s private attorney, David Kendall.
The official said the intelligence community’s first response was to take steps to secure the handling of remaining 30,000 emails and make sure they were handled on top-secret servers to avoid any further breaches, and then to assess any damage to national security from the insecure handling and release of information already in some of the publicly disseminated emails.
“Containment first, then a damage assessment is how this must be handled,” the official said.
The official said the intelligence community was already concerned, for instance, that some classified information was inadvertently disclosed by the State Department in recent weeks when one of Mrs. Clinton’s emails about Libya was publicly released.
The inspector general’s notification to Capitol Hill and the Justice Department also opens possible legal exposure for Mrs. Clinton about improper handling of classified materials, something her attorney knows much about.Mr. Kendall represented former CIA Director David H. Petraeus last year when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling national secrets because he gave some classified information to his mistress and biographer and stored a classified book of information in his home in an insecure manner.
Separately, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey asking him to explain what the bureau was doing to keep secure the classified information within 30,000 Clinton emails known to be on Mr. Kendall’s thumb drive.
“It’s a serious breach of national security if the United States government fails to secure classified material in the hands of people not authorized to possess it, no matter who they are. There are fundamental questions as to what the FBI is doing to securing these classified emails and why the State Department is not fully cooperating with the inspectors general at the State Department and the Intelligence Community to ensure that all of the appropriate emails are identified,” Mr. Grassley wrote.
Mr. Grassley also sent a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry inquiring about the delay in sending the 30,000 emails to intelligence community inspectors general.



Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, fended off the new questions about the email scandal and suspicious foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation, distracting from her effort to wrangle support from union bosses at the AFL-CIO’s annual summer meeting.
The former secretary of state’s email woes deepened when a federal judge scolded the State Department for delays in releasing the documents, as the agency revealed that Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides and top officials during her tenure at the agency — Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan — also used private email accounts and all of their message have not been turned over to the State Department.
“I think we have been proceeding in a timely fashion, and indeed the vast majority of the emails that I turned over and that are being turned over by others were already in the State Department system,” Mrs. Clinton said at a press conference at the union meeting in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland.
Her response to reporters was the same explanation she gave in March, when it came to light that she had used a private email account exclusively for official business as America’s top diplomat, shielding her correspondence from probes by Congress and requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
It remains unclear how much of her email was captured by the State Department system during exchanges with other agency employees, especially since other high-ranking officials at the agency also were using private email accounts.
Mrs. Clinton batted questions about the email back at the agency.
“This is really a question for the State Department,” she said at the union press conference. “They are the ones that are bearing the responsibility to sort through these thousands and thousands of emails and determine at what pace they can be released, and I really hope that it will be as quickly as possible.”
Mrs. Clinton has insisted that she followed the rules and used a private email account because it was more convenient for her than juggling two smartphones. But nearly two years after she left office and after a congressional probe learned about her private email account, she turned over about 30,000 messages to the State Department and erased another 32,000 messages that she deemed personal.
At some point, she wiped clean the email server kept in her home in Chappaqua, New York, preventing any of the messages from being recovered.
Questions about her email setup and foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state, which potentially posed conflicts of interest, have dogged Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign. The controversies have hit her in the polls, with a majority of voters nationwide saying they don’t think she is honest and trustworthy.
The former first lady, senator and top diplomat also had to tamp down reports about increased donations to the Clinton Foundation from Swiss bank USB after she intervened to settle IRS charges that the bank had helped thousands of Americans use secret accounts to avoid U.S. taxes.
Coinciding with Mrs. Clinton’s involvement, the bank’s donations to the Clinton Foundation grew from less than $60,000 in 2008 to roughly $600,000 by the end of 2014. The bank also paid Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, $1.5 million for participating in a series of corporate events, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In June, The Washington Times reported that Mr. Clinton’s foundation set up a fundraising arm in Sweden that collected $26 million in donations at the same time that country was lobbying Mrs. Clinton’s State Department to forgo sanctions that threatened its thriving business with Iran.
The Swedish entity, called the William J. Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse, was never disclosed to or cleared by State Department ethics officials, even though one of its largest sources of donations was a Swedish government-sanctioned lottery.
As the money flowed to the foundation from Sweden, Mrs. Clinton’s team in Washington declined to blacklist any Swedish firms despite warnings from career officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm that Sweden was expanding its economic ties with Iran and potentially undercutting Western efforts to end Tehran’s rogue nuclear program, diplomatic cables show.
Mrs. Clinton said any implication of wrongdoing was “categorically false.”
“I worked hard as our nation’s first diplomat to solve problems, to work with my colleagues in government,” she said. “I remember the governmentwide efforts to try to pursue America’s interest with respect to Swiss banks and there was a resolution to that, and it continued to be the subject of diplomacy and law enforcement interest.”
She dismissed the report as routine campaign politics.
“You know, this is just the kind of unfortunate claim or charge that you see in campaigns,” Mrs. Clinton said.
The press conference demonstrated that her answers have not settled the matters and the scandals will continue to overshadow her campaign.
At the AFL-CIO meeting, Mrs. Clinton met with the union leaders behind closed doors to woo support with her pledge to fight for higher wages and for laws that would make it easier to unionize workplaces.
“I asked for their support going forward. I asked them to be my partner in making sure that we stand against those powerful forces on the other side that don’t agree with the [union] agenda,” she said.
Union insiders say the leadership prefers more aggressively pro-union candidates such as Sen. Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent and avowed socialist who has emerged as the chief rival to Mrs. Clinton.
But Mr. Sanders trails by a wide margin and is widely viewed as unable to win.
That leaves the unions stuck with Mrs. Clinton, the all-but-inevitable nominee who has refused to take a position on the Keytsone XL oil pipeline or the pending trade deal with Pacific Rim countries — issues that are top priorities for unions.
“That’s what we’re waiting for — for her to take a stand,” said an official from a union local at the meeting.

29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's classified intel emails look likely to have caused major damage on: July 31, 2015, 05:08:05 AM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/30/hillary-clinton-emails-us-intelligence-preparing-m/
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Hillary's friends in high places on: July 30, 2015, 07:40:20 PM
second post

 By
Kimberley A. Strassel
Updated July 30, 2015 8:19 p.m. ET
6 COMMENTS

‘Friends of Bill” was a 1990s Washington catchphrase, shorthand for President Clinton’s favored inner circle. His wife, it turns out, has a far bigger fan club. “Friends of Hillary”—the people looking out for her welfare, and benefiting in turn—seem to occupy the highest echelons of government and business.

That’s one way of synthesizing this week’s slew of disparate Clinton revelations. The Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee is grappling with a range of scandals, from her use of a private email server while secretary of state, to actions she took while in office that look to have financially benefited her family’s foundation. But what ties all these stories together is the extraordinary number of people who continue to run cover for Mrs. Clinton’s ambitions.

First there is that menagerie of longtime aides who follow her from post to post. At a federal court hearing on Wednesday, a State Department official dropped a new bomb regarding the email scandal, suggesting that Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides also might have been using private email accounts. This came out because the State Department attempted to excuse its failure to produce documents by noting that top Clinton aides—including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan—had not yet turned over their work-related emails. Had those aides used government servers, State presumably would already have their emails. Politico noted that only this week, Mrs. Clinton’s former spokesman, Philippe Reines, “turned over 20 boxes of work-related emails taken in part from a personal email account.”

The Associated Press requested the documents under the Freedom of Information Act while seeking details about how Ms. Abedin was given special permission to work with outside clients while still at the State Department. The news organization filed that request four years ago; Mrs. Clinton resigned as secretary of state more than two years ago. And yet her aides, to this day, are sitting on that paper. That’s highly helpful to Mrs. Clinton, who doesn’t want any more embarrassing exchanges made public.

Then there are Mrs. Clinton’s pals still in government. At Wednesday’s hearing, the second in two weeks on the AP request, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon bluntly voiced what everybody has known for a long time, accusing the State Department of, as Politico put it, “dragging out responses to FOIA requests to protect Clinton.” The agency has in fact spent the past nine months doing little else—ignoring congressional subpoenas, slow-walking responses, omitting key documents.

State Department officials initially said they wouldn’t release any of Mrs. Clinton’s emails until the end of this year, a deadline that surely and conveniently would have slipped past the 2016 election. They are only producing those emails now under court order. And they’re doing back bends to excuse away the fact that Mrs. Clinton emailed classified information through her private server. Why all this effort? Barack Obama may not love Hillary, but he needs another Democrat in 2016 to protect his legacy.

Mrs. Clinton has additional friends in law enforcement. Last week news broke that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Mrs. Clinton mishandled sensitive information. Team Clinton has attempted to fuzzy up the story by suggesting the information wasn’t classified at the time she sent it. Utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that sensitive information flowed through a home-brew email system because Mrs. Clinton had evaded all the rules. Any lesser figure (say, David Petraeus) would be in hot water. Yet the New York Times reports that the Justice Department “hasn’t decided if it will open an investigation.” Ah, friends.

Finally, Mrs. Clinton has very good friends in the corporate world. This newspaper reported Thursday that while serving as secretary of state, she took the unusual step of intervening to fix a problem that Swiss banking titan UBS was having with the IRS. In the years that followed, UBS donated $600,000 to the Clinton Foundation, anted up another $32 million in loans via foundation programs, and dropped $1.5 million on Bill for a series of speaking events. Both sides deny any quid pro quo. But the pattern is clear: More than 60 major firms that lobbied the State Department during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure also donated some $26 million to her family’s foundation.

Those in the business and financial world, after all, understand how the Clintons operate: pure Arkansas, purely transactional. You scratch my family foundation; I’ll scratch your government problem. They’ve spent a lot of money getting on Mrs. Clinton’s right side (and they certainly don’t want to be on her wrong side) so expect the corporate cash to now flow toward her election effort. Yes, Mrs. Clinton has, and will continue to have, lots of amigos in the private sector.

Left out in the cold, of course, are all those Americans who would like the straight story on Mrs. Clinton’s emails and her foundation before they have to make a decision about whom to vote for next year. Problem is, unlike Hillary, they don’t have friends in high places who can force those answers into the light of day.
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan on Donald Trump on: July 30, 2015, 07:36:27 PM
second post

July 30, 2015 8:14 p.m. ET
4 COMMENTS

I had a conversation this week with a longtime acquaintance who supports Donald Trump. She’s in her 60s, resides in north Georgia near the Tennessee line, lives on Social Security. She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and was in fact the first person who alerted me to the breadth of his support. In 2012 she voted Republican, disappointed in Mr. Obama not from the left or the right but the center: He couldn’t make anything work or get anything done.

So, why Trump? “The whole country will be in better shape. And ISIS won’t like it that he’s in charge. He’s very wealthy and can turn around the economy. He’ll get things moving. The Donald will kick a—.” She knows other supporters locally and among friends of her son, an Iraq vet. “They’re completely disgusted and just furious, and he’s igniting their passion. He’s telling them ‘I will make this country great again,’ and they believe him.” Mr. Trump is dismissed as exciting, but “we have to get excited to get up out of the chair to vote.”

Does he strike her as a serious man, a patriot? Yes. “All he does is talk about how great this country is and how greater he can make it, how he wants to get good trade deals and take care of veterans. . . . He doesn’t need this job, he’s already got everything, it’s a pay cut. He doesn’t need the stature. I think he wants the job because he wants to do it.”

Does he have common sense? Yes, she says, he is concerned about what everyone is concerned about, except politicians. “A lot of deals have to be made and he knows the art of the deal. The biggest problem is all the illegal immigrants.”

Is it OK with you that the next president could be a reality star who plays the part of himself, who acts out indignation and fires people on TV? “It doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t bother the American people. And if you asked the people down South here, they don’t care either. They just want somebody in who’s plain and simple who can get the job done.” Otherwise, she worries, “we’re gonna be Greece in another four, five years.”

Does it bother her that Mr. Trump has never held elective office? She paused half a second. “It bothers me a little bit. But I think we need a very tough businessman with great business acumen. We can restore the highways and tunnels and airports, he’ll rebuild them. He’ll build a wall with Mexico. If he was a reality TV show guy that’s OK. Get it done.”

Afterward, a longtime GOP operative underlined her comments on infrastructure, but from a different angle: “Trump intuits that the Republican base loves this country and yearns for an American restoration. The GOP once was a party of industry—bricks and steel—and Trump, the builder, connects with that narrative.”

Some Trump anomalies that have to do with the tropes people use to categorize others:

He was born to wealth and went to Wharton, yet gives off a working-class vibe his supporters admire. He’s like Broderick Crawford in “Born Yesterday”: He comes across as self-made. In spite of his wealth he never made himself smooth, polite. He’s like someone you know. This is part of his power.

His father, a buyer and builder of real estate, was wired into New York’s Democratic machine and its grubby deal making. Donald knew the machine and its players and went on to give political donations based on power, not party. Yet his supporters experience him as outside the system, unsullied by it. He’s a practical man who did what practical men have to do.

He never served in the military yet connects with grunts. He has lived a life of the most rarefied material splendor—gold gilt, penthouse suites—and made the high life part of his brand. Yet he doesn’t come across as snooty or fancy—he’s a regular guy. A glitzy Manhattan billionaire is doing well with Evangelicals. That’s a first.

His rise is not due to his supporters’ anger at government. It is a gesture of contempt for government, for the men and women in Congress, the White House, the agencies. It is precisely because people have lost their awe for the presidency that they imagine Mr. Trump as a viable president. American political establishment, take note: In the past 20 years you have turned America into a nation a third of whose people would make Donald Trump their president. Look on your wonders and despair.

Mr. Trump’s supporters like that he doesn’t in the least fear the press, doesn’t get the dart-eyed, anxious look candidates get. He treats reporters with courtesy until he feels they’re out of line, at which point he calls them stupid. They think he’ll do that with Putin. His insult of John McCain didn’t hurt him, and not because his supporters have any animus for Mr. McCain. They just saw it as more proof Mr. Trump will take the bark off anyone.

They’re not nihilists, they’re patriots, and don’t experience themselves as off on a toot but pragmatic in a way the establishment is not. The country is in crisis, we can’t keep doing more of the same. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” We have to do something different. He’s different. If it doesn’t work we’ll fire him.

Trump’s power is not name ID. He didn’t make his name in this cycle or the last, he’s been around 35 years. He’s made an impression.

His ideological incoherence will not hurt him. His core supporters don’t prize him for his intellectual consistency. He has called himself pro-choice but so are some of his supporters, and no one sees him as a ponderer of great moral issues. In the past he has described himself as “quite liberal” on health care. That won’t hurt either. An untold story right now is that everyone was “right” about health care. The Republicans were right that ObamaCare would not and will never work. Democrats—though they haven’t noticed because they’re so busy clinging to and defending ObamaCare—were right that America would support national health care, but not as they devised it. We’ll get out of ObamaCare by expanding Medicare. Most of America, after the trauma of the past five years, won’t mind.

The GOP is waiting for Mr. Trump to do himself in—he’s a self-puncturing balloon. True, but he’s a balloon held aloft by a lot of people; they won’t let it fall so easy.

The first GOP debate looms, next Thursday in Cleveland. If Mr. Trump were on the stage with the second tier, who have nothing to lose, one or two would go at him. But he’ll be with the first tier, who will treat him gingerly. A guess: He will come out with friendly dignity, shake hands, wait quietly for a question, attempt to demonstrate a statesmanlike bearing to anxious and opposed Republican viewers. But he won’t be able to sustain it. And his supporters won’t really want him to. They’ll want him to be The Donald. Bombast will commence.
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donald Trump on Oprah in 1988 on: July 30, 2015, 07:25:11 PM
https://www.facebook.com/116687955016786/videos/vb.116687955016786/1148994545119450/?type=2&theater
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: July 30, 2015, 07:23:10 PM
More Missing Hillary Emails?; See 2016 Buzz
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Published on TheHillaryDaily.com on July 30, 2015
More State Department business on private servers?

State Department officials told a federal judge that they could not produce all of the emails requested by the AP in a Freedom of Information lawsuit because they are still waiting for emails requested from private accounts used by Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jake Sullivan -- Hillary Clinton's top aides.

Philippe Reines, the acerbic smart aleck former press aide to Clinton, just delivered 20 boxes of emails to the State Department.  Twenty boxes!!!  According to Politico, the judge specifically asked whether Reines had been asked to produce federal records from his private email accounts.  The State Department confirmed that he was.

The AP is seeking information about Huma Abedin's employment as a special employee who worked for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and Teneo -- the consulting firm formed by former Clinton associate Doug Band.

So the question is why are the other aides not responding to the State Department?

We know that Huma used a private email account from Hillary's private server.  Did Mills and Sullivan use the private server too?

Gawker.com claimed several years ago that Reines used a private email account.  Reines went berserk and responded with a scathing attack.

When Gawker.com filed an FOI request for Reines' well-publicized vulgar email response to journalist Michael Hastings, the State Department responded that there were no such documents.  Other State Department employees had been copied on the exchange, as were other journalists.  Several months ago, the emails were finally released with a trove of emails sent to the Benghazi Committee.

So what's going on here and what is holding up the production of other emails?

Looks like more of the same -- and more headaches for Hillary when they are finally produced.
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Syria on: July 30, 2015, 04:31:26 PM


Syria

The U.S. has spent nearly $500 million to train just 60 rebels from the Free Syrian Army to take on Islamic State. Now, just two weeks after they hit the ground in Turkey, the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra has kidnapped one of their leaders. Reuters reports that Nusra fighters captured Nadim al-Hassan, a leader from the "Division 30" group, north of Aleppo.
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: July 30, 2015, 03:55:53 PM
 evil evil evil cheesy
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 30, 2015, 03:55:26 PM
View from the top. During a long, and at times contentious, Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey admitted some deep disagreements with the White House over Iran policy. One big argument the chief lost was over lifting sanctions on weapons and ballistic missile shipments to Iran as part of the nuclear deal reached earlier this month. He opposed it, but the provisions made it into the final agreement anyway. He also rejected President Barack Obama’s July 15 statement that, “Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East.” Dempsey flatly told Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) that “at no time did that come up in our conversation, nor did I make that comment.”
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / But he loses to Hillary by 12 points , , , on: July 30, 2015, 02:18:11 PM
http://reviveusa.com/shock-poll-trump-leads-bush-in-florida/
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Drones/UAV/UAS/Bots on: July 30, 2015, 12:38:41 PM
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/kentucky-man-shoots-down-drone-hovering-over-his-backyard/ar-AAdGg2x
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran can void the deal after 35 day notice on: July 30, 2015, 12:17:38 AM
http://conservativetribune.com/leaked-copy-iran-deal-shocking/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=TPNNPages&utm_content=2015-07-29
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: July 29, 2015, 07:49:17 PM
Well argued Doug, point taken.
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: July 29, 2015, 07:05:13 PM
George sure has a way with words!
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 29, 2015, 06:59:52 PM
If I am not mistaken if Romney had matched Bush's 40% he would have won.
43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: July 29, 2015, 03:08:26 PM
The Trump Card — Ace of Anger Affirmation
Legitimate Concerns v Trumped-Up Rhetoric
By Mark Alexander • July 29, 2015     
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." —George Washington (1796)
 

(Publisher's Note: Trump supporters, before sending hate email, see the disclaimer posted below this column.)
Given that his celebrity name recognition and contentious remarks have landed billionaire Donald Trump at the top of pop-presidential polls, I'm now being asked by some grassroots leaders across the nation, "What about Trump?"

First, his support reflects very little about his qualifications, but a lot about how dissatisfied a growing number of disenfranchised grassroots conservatives are with Republican "leadership." Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have, in effect, underwritten Trump's rising stardom. Despite greatly increasing the numbers of conservatives in the House and Senate in the historic "Republican Wave" elections nationwide in both 2010 and 2014, the much-loathed "establishment types" still hold the reins. They continue to marginalize or ignore the concerns of the Republican base — grassroots conservatives — and we are rightly outraged.

Second, Trump can be brash, and he brings some much-needed debate, humor and levity to an otherwise distinguished but dry quadrennial Republican presidential field. Of course, he takes himself much more seriously than I take him.

And third, he has the potential of being a spoiler in 2016 if his campaign lasts beyond 2015, because Trump, like the current White House occupant, is a textbook pathological narcissist. He will, predictably, generate a lot of damaging fratricidal attacks against genuine Republicans and conservatives, rather than focus on Democrats.
As noted by George Will, “If Donald Trump were a Democratic mole placed in the Republican Party to disrupt things, how would his behavior be different? I don’t think it would be.”

Unlike Barack Obama however, if Trump makes it to the 2016 primary, he will rate low single-digits because, unlike Democrats, most Republicans still have the aptitude and acuity for discernment and can distinguish between a charlatan and a genuine conservative presidential candidate. However, post-primary, this egomaniacal celebrity might refuse to throw his residual support behind the party nominee. In a close election, that could hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton, assuming that enough low-information Democrat voters make this loathsome liar their nominee.

That is precisely what happened the last time a Republican billionaire entered the race when another lying Clinton was on the Democrat ticket.1

Can the nation survive four more years of Obama's failed domestic and foreign policies?
 

You're fired
So who is Trump?

In the words of Samuel Adams, "The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men."

Let's take a look at this public man's character.

The 69-year-old was born into wealth just after World War II, the son of New York real estate mogul Fred Trump and his Scottish immigrant wife, Mary Anne. Trump attended the finest schools, though he was expelled from high school for "disciplinary violations." Like his contemporary, Bill Clinton, Trump dodged the draft with college student deferments, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and then receiving a medical draft deferment.

“I had a minor medical deferment for feet, for a bone spur of the foot, which was minor,” said Trump. Minor indeed, given that he can't even recall which foot: “You’ll have to look it up."

He was handed the keys to his father's company in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization, amassing enormous wealth in real estate assets in the ensuing years. His worth is estimated at $4 billion today, with annual income of $250 million (Mitt Romney's entire net worth).

Trump presided over the failure of two marriages prior to his current administration.

In 1977 he married Czech immigrant Ivana Zelníčková, and they had three children. They were divorced in 1992 after Ivana discovered his affair with celebrity actress Marla Maples. He married Maples in 1993, and they had one child. They were divorced in 1999, and in 2005 he married Slovenian immigrant Melania Knauss. They have one child.
In 2003, he became host of the hit show "The Apprentice," where his fame reached new heights for yelling "You're Fired!" at contestants who fail. He even filed a trademark application for the term.

But Trump himself has presided over four major failures — Chapter 11 bankruptcies at his Taj Mahal casino (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). (Note that the latter two came after his Apprentice fame. One wonders why he didn't fire himself.) Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was also a financial disaster, but he was able to walk away from that one. Of those failures, Trump says, "I've used the laws of this country to pare debt. ... We'll have the company. We'll throw it into a chapter. We'll negotiate with the banks. We'll make a fantastic deal. You know, it's like on 'The Apprentice.' It's not personal. It's just business."

Unless, of course, you are one of his creditors or have your pension or savings invested in one of those businesses.
On his religious views, Trump says: “I’m a religious person. I go to church. Do I do things that are wrong? I guess so. [Seriously, he said "I guess so."] If I do something wrong, I try to do something right. I don’t bring God into that picture. ... When we go in church and I drink the little wine ... and I eat the little cracker — I guess that’s a form of asking forgiveness.”

So what exactly is the Trump appeal?

Well, as noted, it's celebrity, demagoguery and the fact he's clearly not from the Republican mold and brand.

But when announcing his candidacy, Trump hit this note on an issue that is a concern for millions of grassroots Americans: "The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems [to] us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

While most of the Republican field appear equivocal on the illegal immigration issue, as do Republican congressional ”leaders,” Trump is clear on his objections, which resonates with a lot of Americans.

Of the estimated 11.3 million illegals in our country, 8.1 million hold jobs. At the same time, there were an average of 9.6 million unemployed Americans in 2014. It's easy to understand the grassroots groundswell this issue generates for Trump.

And the recent murder of California native Kate Steinle on a pier in the "sanctuary city" of San Francisco by an illegal immigrant released once again after seven felony convictions and five deportations, rightly has stirred outrage across the nation. Her murderer is among more than a million illegal aliens who have committed crimes, some 690,000 of whom were charged with serious crimes but are today on the loose.

This, understandably, has kept Trump's immigration platform front and center.

McCain: POW in Hanoi

On the other hand, in his unmitigated arrogance, Trump has succeeded in alienating the handful of grassroots military Patriots who supported him.

Apparently forgetting that he himself was a draft dodger, Trump challenged the notion that Sen. John McCain deserves any recognition for his service in Vietnam. According to Trump, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Recall that as a naval aviator, McCain, the son and grandson of Navy admirals, asked for additional combat missions over Vietnam. After being shot down, a badly injured McCain refused his captors' propagandistic offers to leave his fellow POWs and return home — meaning he was a target for additional torture.

McCain responded brilliantly: “I think [Mr. Trump] may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country. ... In the case of many of our veterans, when Mr. Trump said that he prefers to be with people who are not captured, well, the great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes. I’m not a hero. But those who were my senior ranking officers ... those that have inspired us to do things that we otherwise wouldn’t have been capable of doing, those are the people that I think he owes an apology to.”

Trump's callous remarks fall into the "Hanoi Jane" Fonda category of slandering American POWs, and the rest of the Republican field rightly condemned Trump's remarks.
A Wall Street Journal editorial opined, “It came slightly ahead of schedule, but Donald Trump’s inevitable self-immolation arrived on the weekend when he assailed John McCain’s war record."

But as the inimitable humorist Mark Twain once quipped, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." And so it may be with Trump's campaign, as it continues to gain traction.

The real significance of Trump's campaign is that it's a barometer of just how deeply disgusted grassroots conservatives are with the Republican Party, and a litmus test of what issues motivate grassroots conservatives.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson concludes, "Trump is a transitory vehicle of the fed-up crowd, a current expression of their distaste for both Democratic and Republican politics, but not an end in and of himself. The fed-up crowd is tired of being demagogued to death by progressives, who brag of 'working across the aisle' and 'bipartisanship' as they ram through agendas with executive orders, court decisions, and public ridicule. So the fed-ups want other conservative candidates to emulate Trump’s verve, energy, fearlessness of the media and the PC police, and no-holds-barred Lee Atwater style — without otherwise being Trump.
 

Trump to Republicans

But the hard, cold fact is, Trump is all about Trump, and his record of public policy support is that of a big-government tax and spend liberal, who is far to the left of those much-maligned establishment Republicans, including his support for ObamaCare, raising taxes and a plethora of social issues abhorred by grassroots conservatives.
But the real test of Trump's legitimacy as a Republican is how he measures up against the Gold Standard of 20th century presidents, Ronald Reagan. Unlike the rest of the large Republican field, Trump doesn't even register on the Reagan scale.

On August 3, the nation would have gotten its first look at Trump on stage with genuine conservatives at the Voter’s First Forum in New Hampshire. However, after one of the event sponsors, the New Hampshire Union Leader, appropriately eviscerated Trump for his absurd remarks about John McCain, Trump backed out.
Charles Krauthammer laments, “This is the strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years … and instead all of our time is spent discussing this rodeo clown."
Shame on Dr. K. for insulting rodeo clowns!

Oh, and the short answer when I'm asked about Donald: Remember the words of George Washington: "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." Don't get Trumped. Tell him "You're fired!"
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington, 1796 on: July 29, 2015, 03:01:52 PM
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." —George Washington (1796)
45  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How far will Hillary fall? on: July 29, 2015, 01:51:16 PM
How Far Will Hillary Fall?
By DICK MORRIS
Published on TheHill.com on July 28, 2015
As Hillary Clinton's favorability drops week after week in the polls -- it's down to 43 percent -- the real question is: Will she start losing the support of those who are the core of President Obama's electoral strength?

In every poll of Obama's favorability or job rating, his positive numbers have never fallen below 39 percent. This is because his coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics, students, single mothers, gays and union people stand by him.

Regardless of events, reversals or failing conditions, the president never loses their support. His favorability is measured on a scale, not 1 to 100 but rather 40 to 100. Those first 40 points are like a golf handicap for our president.
 
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George W. Bush, by contrast, had no such safety net as president. When the Iraq War and then the economy fell apart, his approval rating fell to 27 percent near the end of his second term.

So, as Clinton's ratings drop, will she fall through the 40 percent safety net Obama has used to bolster his numbers? Phrased differently, will the Obama coalition stand by Clinton or abandon her as times turn tough?

This is, of course, the question on which the whole 2016 presidential election hinges.

The Obama base seems to be suspending judgment. Gallup polling shows a 7 percentage-point drop in Clinton's favorability rating since early May. She dropped from 50 percent to 43 percent in that timespan. But her unfavorable rating remained flat at 46 percent. No increase there. So the Americans in those 7 points moved from being Clinton fans to being undecided about her.

The initial indications are that Clinton cannot count on the loyalty of the Obama base and that the 40 percent threshold will not be a firewall for her candidacy.

While her overall favorability is not yet low enough to test the firewall, her ratings for being honest or trustworthy indicate that she can, indeed, drop below 40 percent without being rescued by the Obama base.

When Quinnipiac pollsters asked whether Clinton is "honest and trustworthy," only 33 percent of Iowa voters said she was. In Colorado 34 percent saw her as honest and trustworthy and in Virginia 39 percent. So, at least as far as integrity is concerned, the firewall is not holding.

Those who today say she is neither honest nor trustworthy but are undecided about their overall opinion of her are likely to come down on the negative side within a few months.

As the debates near, the impact of Clinton's diminishing popularity among Democrats will become clearer. When liberals see Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) live and in the flesh, embracing their programmatic fantasies -- a $15 minimum wage, a lower retirement age, a 90 percent top tax bracket, a single-payer healthcare system -- there will be no residual affection for Clinton to hold them back.

Democrats are likely to go through a process: First they won't trust Clinton, then they won't like her, then they will be undecided, and finally they will end up backing Sanders or one of her other rivals.

If the Obama firewall won't hold for Clinton, look for her to fall even further behind in head-to-head match-ups with Republican candidates.

Already, tracking polls in Iowa, New Hampshire and Virginia show her trailing the likes of GOP candidates Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. When she starts losing these swing states by double digits and begins to fall behind in national polling, the Democrats will get the clear message that Clinton can't win.

Their discontent will stimulate others to join the race. Vice President Biden will look at entering. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) may come in. Or Sanders could begin to beat Clinton in key states.

It is all unraveling for Clinton. So, will the Obama safety net hold? If it doesn't, we will have a Republican president.
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: July 29, 2015, 12:25:24 PM
In response to Obj's post asserting a recession is imminent, here is this from Scott Grannis:
http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2015/07/credit-spread-update.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FtMBeq+%28Calafia+Beach+Pundit%29
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Man arrested for shooting down drone over his property on: July 29, 2015, 11:35:09 AM


http://www.wdrb.com/story/29650818/hillview-man-arrested-for-shooting-down-drone-cites-right-to-privacy






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Hillview man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy
Posted: Jul 28, 2015 9:38 AM PST Updated: Jul 29, 2015 6:22 AM PST
By Ryan Cummings
Connect
 
William Merideth (Source: Bullitt County Detention Center) William Merideth (Source: Bullitt County Detention Center)
 
William Merideth explains what happened the day he shot down a drone flying over his property. William Merideth explains what happened the day he shot down a drone flying over his property.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Hillview man has been arrested after he shot down a drone flying over his property -- but he's not making any apologies for it.

It happened Sunday night at a home on Earlywood Way, just south of the intersection between Smith Lane and Mud Lane in Bullitt County, according to an arrest report.

Hillview Police say they were called to the home of 47-year-old William H. Merideth after someone complained about a firearm.

When they arrived, police say Merideth told them he had shot down a drone that was flying over his house. The drone was hit in mid-air and crashed in a field near Merideth's home.

Police say the owner of the drone claimed he was flying it to get pictures of a friend's house -- and that the cost of the drone was over $1,800.

Merideth was arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. He was booked into the Bullitt County Detention Center, and released on Monday.

WDRB News spoke with Merideth Tuesday afternoon, and he gave his side of the story.

"Sunday afternoon, the kids – my girls – were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard," Merideth said. "And they come in and said, 'Dad, there’s a drone out here, flying over everybody’s yard.'"

Merideth's neighbors saw it too.

"It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off," said neighbor Kim VanMeter.

VanMeter has a 16-year-old daughter who lays out at their pool. She says a drone hovering with a camera is creepy and weird.

"I just think you should have privacy in your own backyard," she said.

Merideth agrees and said he had to go see for himself.

“Well, I came out and it was down by the neighbor’s house, about 10 feet off the ground, looking under their canopy that they’ve got under their back yard," Merideth said. "I went and got my shotgun and I said, ‘I’m not going to do anything unless it’s directly over my property.’"

That moment soon arrived, he said.

"Within a minute or so, here it came," he said. "It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky."

"I didn't shoot across the road, I didn't shoot across my neighbor's fences, I shot directly into the air," he added.

It wasn't long before the drone's owners appeared.

"Four guys came over to confront me about it, and I happened to be armed, so that changed their minds," Merideth said.

"They asked me, 'Are you the S-O-B that shot my drone?' and I said, 'Yes I am,'" he said. "I had my 40mm Glock on me and they started toward me and I told them, 'If you cross my sidewalk, there's gonna be another shooting.'"

A short time later, Merideth said the police arrived.

"There were some words exchanged there about my weapon, and I was open carry – it was completely legal," he said. "Long story short, after that, they took me to jail for wanton endangerment first degree and criminal mischief...because I fired the shotgun into the air."

Merideth said he was disappointed with the police response.

"They didn’t confiscate the drone. They gave the drone back to the individuals," he said. "They didn’t take the SIM card out of it…but we’ve got…five houses here that everyone saw it – they saw what happened, including the neighbors that were sitting in their patio when he flew down low enough to see under the patio."

Hillview Police detective Charles McWhirter of says you can't fire your gun in the city.

"Well, we do have a city ordinance against discharging firearms in the city, but the officer made an arrest for a Kentucky Revised Statute violation," he said.

According to the Academy of Model Aeronautics safety code, unmanned aircraft like drones may not be flown in a careless or reckless manner and has to be launched at least 100 feet downwind of spectators.

The FAA says drones cannot fly over buildings -- and that shooting them poses a significant safety hazard.

"An unmanned aircraft hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air," said FAA spokesman Les Dorr.

Merideth said he's offering no apologies for what he did.

"He didn’t just fly over," he said. "If he had been moving and just kept moving, that would have been one thing -- but when he come directly over our heads, and just hovered there, I felt like I had the right."

"You know, when you’re in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy," he said. "We don't know if he was looking at the girls. We don’t know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing."

For now, Merideth says he's planning on pursuing legal action against the owners of the drone.

"We’re not going to let it go," he said. "I believe there are rules that need to be put into place and the situation needs to be addressed because everyone I’ve spoke to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing."

"Because our rights are being trampled daily," he said. "Not on a local level only - but on a state and federal level. We need to have some laws in place to handle these kind of things."

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.
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