Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 25, 2015, 02:31:47 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
86271 Posts in 2275 Topics by 1068 Members
Latest Member: cdenny
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 665
1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US backed ISIS in 2011-12?!? on: Today at 01:49:11 AM
http://pamelageller.com/2015/05/isis-strategic-asset.html/
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama and Turkey's Erdogan open mosque in VA? on: Today at 01:22:16 AM
Is this true?
3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: May 24, 2015, 09:40:00 PM
BTW, I'm needing a good definitive description of:

a) What happened the night Vince Foster died, especially with regard to Hillary removing papers from his office;

b) the billing issues with Hillary's law firm, including Webster Hubbell taking the fall and getting a $700k contract from the Riady family of Indonesia (and front for the Red Chinese) upon his release from prison, and the billing papers that mysteriously showed up in Hillary's quarters in the White House.

4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia to build Turkish Stream Pipeline on: May 24, 2015, 09:35:25 PM
I have posted many times on this matter of the geopolitical significance of central Asia gas and how Russia needed it in order to control Europe:


Share
Russia Carries On With Turkish Stream Pipeline
Analysis
May 22, 2015 | 16:10 GMT

Russian energy company Gazprom has made it clear that it intends to move forward with the construction of the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline as quickly as possible, whether or not the project can overcome political obstacles in Europe. Earlier in May, Gazprom notified a subsidiary of Italian energy firm Saipem that it could begin laying pipes for the planned 63 billion-cubic-meter pipeline in the Black Sea and also resumed a contract with Germany's Europipe for 150,000 metric tons of pipe for the project. Russia said it plans to start constructing the underwater portion of the pipeline in June.

Gazprom has already told Europe that it plans to cease using its current export route through Ukraine in 2019 and shift those natural gas supplies to the Turkish Stream pipeline. But the Europeans believe Russia will not follow through with its plans if Europe does not build the infrastructure necessary to deliver gas from Turkey to the markets currently serviced by the Ukrainian route. Meanwhile Russia has invested enough and has sufficient supplies available to at least begin construction on the first of Turkish Stream's four parallel pipelines, each with a capacity of about 16 billion cubic meters. Russia is banking on Europe caving in by the time Gazprom is ready to start constructing the other pipelines. Even if Europe does not compromise in the medium term, Gazprom can use a smaller version of Turkish Stream to supply the small but growing Turkish natural gas market.

Analysis

One of Russia's tools for influence in Europe is its status as the dominant producer of natural gas and oil for the Continent. Moscow also uses its pipeline networks to exert influence over transit states such as Belarus and Ukraine as well as European countries further downstream.

For much of the 2000s, Russia's primary export route into Europe was a main line through Ukraine that branched out as it headed west toward Austria, Italy, Germany and other major consumers. This meant that whenever Russia and Ukraine had a dispute that led to a cutoff of natural gas to Ukraine, as occurred in 2006 and 2009, it invariably impacted the supply of energy to the rest of Europe. To avoid repeating this scenario, Moscow mustered enough financial and political support to build the Nord Stream pipeline, which now delivers natural gas across the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, Gazprom's largest European customer.

South Stream was meant to be the southern route that would bypass Ukraine by delivering natural gas across the Black Sea directly to Bulgaria and then to Central and Southeastern Europe. The financial and political support for South Stream came more slowly than support for its northern counterpart, but by the end of 2013, South Stream had enough resources to begin awarding contracts for pipe-laying, pipe fabrication and other construction-related services. However, the crisis in Ukraine halted the project before all the contracts had been awarded, and what little political support it had in Southeastern Europe evaporated under strong political pressure from the European Commission and more dominant European countries. At the same time, Russia spiraled into another major financial crisis, leaving funding for such large projects in question. 

South Stream was canceled in December 2014. Almost immediately, it was replaced with the Turkish Stream plan, which is being designed to send the same amount of natural gas to Turkey as its ill-fated predecessor, almost directly across the border with Bulgaria. For Russia, Turkish Stream achieves the same goal as South Stream, but without the political constraints of transporting gas to EU member Bulgaria. And in return for its support of the new project, Turkey is hoping to get a 10.25 percent discount on its energy supply from Russia.
Turkish Stream

Russia is now using the contractors and subcontractors it enlisted for South Stream to accelerate the development of Turkish Stream. The contracts with Europipe and Saipem are just two of many that are likely to be migrated from the canceled project to its replacement. Gazprom is also likely prioritizing work on the first of the four planned parallel pipelines, each of which would carry about one-fourth of Turkish Stream's planned capacity. Gazprom hopes to have the first pipeline finished by December 2016.

Neither the Russian government nor Gazprom have the financing in place for the entire Turkish Stream project. Instead, they have opted to take a piecemeal approach. With oil and natural gas prices low, financing the later portions of Turkish Stream could be a challenge for Gazprom until Russia's economy improves.

Even before Russia envisioned Turkish Stream, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for Gazprom to concurrently finance both South Stream and another planned energy project, the Power of Siberia pipeline to China — the combined cost of which would exceed $100 billion. This was one of the main reasons Gazprom sought international financial partners for both projects. Russia has secured significant financing from China for the Power of Siberia project, though Gazprom has complained that China has been slow in delivering the money. Russia has also swapped the order in which it initally planned to construct the two pipelines to China, choosing to prioritize the Altai pipeline, which will transport natural gas from western Siberia to the border with China between Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Choosing to construct this shorter pipeline first gives Gazprom more flexibility in financing Turkish Stream given limited Western capital.

Getting foreign participation from Europe is even more difficult for the Turkish Stream project than it was for South Stream. Even if the West relaxes sanctions on Russia, business confidence in long-term contracts with Russia will remain relatively low, meaning that Russia must offer fairly high rates of return. Politically, Turkish Stream is highly unpopular in Europe. The Europeans are making every effort possible to develop alternatives, such as the Trans-Anatolian, Trans-Adriatic and Trans-Caspian pipelines, which could transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to Europe. Companies in Europe are throwing their support and finances behind some of these other projects.

A major worry for Moscow is that Russia will build Turkish Stream but have no means of transporting Europe's natural gas beyond the Turkish border. Right now, almost all of Europe's natural gas transportation infrastructure goes either from Northwestern Europe, bringing natural gas from the North Sea into Central and Southeastern Europe, or from Ukraine westward or southward. None of the infrastructure is designed to bring natural gas from the extreme southeast to other markets. In essence, Turkey and Bulgaria are at the end of Eurasia's natural gas supply chain networks. Moving natural gas to the north and west was a problem with South Stream as well, but Russia eventually found partners to extend the pipeline all the way into Central Europe. Because of the European Union's Third Energy Package, Gazprom cannot build and operate pipelines in Europe, so it must wait for the Europeans to develop the infrastructure. The Trans-Adriatic and Trans-Anatolian pipelines are designed to solve this problem for natural gas from the Caspian region, but the initial capacity for the Trans-Adriatic is exempt from Europe's open access rules, meaning Gazprom cannot use it anytime soon.
Differences Between Nord Stream and Turkish Stream

A similar process existed for the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline. Gazprom began awarding the construction contracts and building the pipeline well before Moscow and Berlin finalized the political agreement for the project and before Gazprom had hammered out the final details concerning the onshore distribution networks. However, there are two major differences between Nord Stream and Turkish Stream.

First, Germany is Europe's wealthiest economy, and its industrial base provided the money needed to finance and build the infrastructure for Nord Stream. There is no equivalent sponsor country for Turkish Stream. The biggest consumer in the immediate region is obviously Turkey, which currently gets half of its Russian natural gas through Ukraine — notably, close to the same amount it could get through one of Turkish Stream's four planned pipelines, about 15 billion cubic meters. Turkey would not need to build a lot of infrastructure, since Turkish Stream would tap into existing pipeline networks north of Istanbul that deliver natural gas southward via the Ukrainian route. Italy could gain from the project, but it is already tied into other networks and is not heavily reliant on Russian natural gas. Economic constraints on many of the countries in Southeastern Europe, including Turkey, limit the financial backing available for projects such as Turkish Stream. Russia's best hope is that Western Europe would provide loands or other menas to incentivize the construction of networks to link to the planned Russian pipeline, but doing so would undermine the Europeans' policy of support for Ukraine and is thus politically unpopular in the European Union.

Second, Nord Stream was built in an entirely different geopolitical environment. Germany has become relatively assertive in negotiations with the Kremlin over the future of Ukraine. Nord Stream was planned and built without this tension as a backdrop. Moreover, Brussels has a greater political imperative to protect Ukraine's integrity and prominence. Its role as a transit state is key, because if Russia disrupts natural gas supplies to Ukraine, the Europeans will get involved, making the consequences more daunting for Moscow. Nord Stream was also built during a time of high energy prices, meaning high returns on investments in energy projects. Now that oil and natural gas prices are low, similarly high returns are unlikely.

Building the entire Turkish Stream pipeline project will be a complicated and protracted process, and the project may never reach its full potential. However, Russia's approach reveals a nuanced, low-risk plan for the pipeline. The capacity of the first of four planned pipelines is roughly equivalent to all of the natural gas that Russia delivers to Turkey through Ukraine. Moreover, the pipeline network that carries supplies from Ukraine to Turkey is already filled to capacity. Turkey is one of Russia's most important natural gas markets in the long term, and its natural gas demand has more than doubled over the past 10 years. By the mid 2020s, Turkey's natural gas demand could amount to the entire volume carried by the first two legs of Turkish Stream, and it will almost certainly need the amount of natural gas carried by the first leg even sooner.

This means that moving forward with Turkish Stream serves dual purposes: If the Europeans build the necessary infrastructure for Russia to tap into, then Moscow will have no problem accelerating the rest of the project. If not, then the new pipeline will still allow Russia to expand its export potential to the rapidly growing Turkish energy market.
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 24, 2015, 05:40:17 PM
 BUFFALO SOLDIERS

On September 21, 1866, U.S. Congress authorized the formation of several black regiments at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas under the command of Col. Benjamin H. Grierson.

Their nickname was given to the "Negro Cavalry" by the Native American tribes they fought; the term eventually became synonymous with all of the African-American regiments formed in 1866: 9th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 24th Infantry Regiment and 25th Infantry Regiment.

From 1866 to the early 1890s, these regiments served at a variety of posts in the Southwestern United States. They participated in most of the military campaigns in these areas and earned a distinguished record. Thirteen enlisted men and six officers from these four regiments earned the Medal of Honor during the Indian Wars.

1898–1918 Buffalo Soldiers participated in the Spanish American War after most of the Indian Wars ended in the 1890s, the regiments continued to serve and participated in the 1898 Spanish–American War in Cuba, where five more Medals of Honor were earned.

The regiments took part in the Philippine–American War from 1899 to 1903 and the 1916 Mexican Expedition.

In 1918 the 10th Cavalry fought at the Battle of Ambos Nogales during the First World War, where they assisted in forcing the surrender of the federal Mexican and Mexican militia forces.

Buffalo Soldiers fought in the last engagement of the Indian Wars; the small Battle of Bear Valley in southern Arizona which occurred in 1918 between U.S. cavalry and Yaqui natives.

The "Buffalo Soldiers" were established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army.

On July 25, 1992, the Buffalo Soldier Monument was dedicated by General Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was the first African-American to serve in that capacity. "The powerful purpose of this monument is to motivate us. To motivate us to keep struggling until all Americans have an equal seat at our national table, until all Americans enjoy every opportunity to excel, every chance to achieve their dream" Colin Powell

The park is located at 290 Stimson Avenue.


6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Great video clip on: May 24, 2015, 05:30:44 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtLYzAzIIeQ#t=70
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: AFgan-Taliban pre-talks in China on: May 24, 2015, 05:15:41 PM

By
Margherita Stancati
May 24, 2015 12:56 p.m. ET
1 COMMENTS

KABUL—Afghanistan’s most prominent peace envoy held secret talks with former Taliban officials in China last week, accelerating regional efforts to bring the insurgency to the negotiating table, according to individuals briefed on the matter by the warring parties.

The two-day meeting, which took place in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi, was aimed at discussing preconditions for a possible peace process, those people said.

“These were talks about talks,” one diplomat said.

The meeting was significant for another reason: It was facilitated by Pakistan’s intelligence agency in an apparent show of goodwill aimed at a negotiated solution to the insurgency.

People familiar with the meeting said Chinese officials and representatives of Pakistan’s spy agency—the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI—also attended the talks on May 19 and 20 in Urumqi, the capital of China’s western Xinjiang region. Chinese and Pakistani officials weren’t immediately reachable for comment.

Members of Afghanistan’s peace-negotiating body frequently hold informal meetings with the Taliban, but such high-level interactions are unusual.

The meetings come after a monthslong diplomatic outreach led by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to reset ties with Pakistan after years of frosty relations in a bid to revive talks aimed at ending Afghanistan’s 13-year war.

Pakistan’s support is widely seen as critical for a peace process to work. Much of the Taliban leadership has been based in Pakistan since 2001, and its fighters have used the lawless border areas between the two countries as an operational base.

Afghan and Western officials have long accused Pakistan of effectively controlling the Taliban insurgency, an allegation Islamabad has repeatedly denied even as it acknowledges it has some influence over the movement.

The location of the meeting is also key. In recent months, China has moved closer to the role of mediator in the Afghan conflict, interacting more with the Kabul government and the Taliban insurgency to discuss the possibility of starting peace talks. The Urumqi meeting signals the Chinese diplomatic outreach may be gaining traction.

Past efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have failed. In June 2013, the Taliban opened a political office in the Gulf emirate of Qatar as part of a U.S.-backed effort to start formal talks. That effort collapsed after the Taliban opened an office with the trappings of a government-in-exile, infuriating then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The Afghan delegation in China was led by Mohammad Masoom Stanikzai, who until last week was the most prominent member of the High Peace Council, the country’s peace-negotiating body. Mr. Stanikzai was nominated on Thursday as minister of defense, a position that needs parliamentary approval. He wasn’t immediately available to comment on the meeting in China.

Mohammad Asem, a former lawmaker and associate of Mr. Ghani’s coalition partner, Abdullah Abdullah, also participated in the Urumqi meeting.

The three former senior Taliban officials who attended—Mullah Abdul Jalil, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Rahmani and Mullah Abdul Razaq— are based in Pakistan and they are close to the Taliban’s Quetta-based leadership council.

Maulvi Qalamuddin, a former top Taliban official, said the meeting represented a very-high level effort to discuss peace.

“These people are more important than those in Qatar,” said Mr. Qalamuddin, who is now a member of the High Peace Council. “These talks are held secretly, and only a few people know about it.”

It is far from clear, however, whether the talks in Urumqi could lead to formal negotiations. In an official communication on Sunday evening, the Taliban denied the meeting took place. But the group frequently makes public denials about peace overtures, while privately confirming outreach.

People familiar with the movement said the three Taliban who attended the China talks have strong ties to Pakistan’s spy agency, and that they are not authorized to speak on behalf on the insurgency about reconciliation.

“They are all very close to the ISI and they have no mandate from the leadership to talk about peace,” said a person briefed on the meeting.

The Taliban have previously said that only the members of the group’s Qatar-based political commission are allowed to participate in peace-related efforts. Earlier this month, members of the commission held informal discussions with Afghan officials and civic activists in Qatar, an effort that participants said could eventually pave the way to a formal peace process.

A peace deal is still distant, however. The Taliban are pressing a countrywide offensive that is causing high casualties on both sides, and the fighting is unlikely to end soon. The insurgency still insists that all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan as a precondition for negotiations to begin.

The Urumqi meeting took place days after the ISI signed an agreement aimed at improving intelligence cooperation with Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security.

But Pakistan—and its intelligence apparatus in particular—is viewed with deep mistrust by Afghans.

News of the deal provoked a dramatic backlash in Afghanistan, dividing the country’s political leadership and leading to accusations the Kabul government had sold out Afghanistan’s national interest to an enemy.

—Nathan Hodge contributed to this article.
Popular on WSJ


8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on the Military Budget on: May 24, 2015, 11:44:36 AM
Presidents do not often veto defense budget bills, which annually set spending levels for the huge military structure intended to keep the country safe. But President Obama has threatened to do just that this year, and he should follow through if Congress doesn’t make significant changes in the legislation now under consideration.

There are many problems with how the military spending plan for 2016 is shaping up, including budget gimmickry, political chicanery and a refusal to make the right choices. Republicans and Democratic hawks are determined to pour billions of additional dollars into the Pentagon (the House passed a nearly $612 billion defense authorization bill this month), but Republicans also want to pretend they are being fiscally careful. So lawmakers are using any trick to make it look as if both goals are being accomplished.

President Obama began the military budget discussion by proposing a $39 billion increase over the spending cap. That seems high, but Republican leaders did not confront the question of fiscal imprudence. Instead, they took roughly the same amount and stuffed it into a special $89 billion war-fighting account that is off-budget, is not subject to mandatory caps and essentially functions as a Pentagon slush fund.

This shell game dates to the compromise in 2011 that was supposed to force lawmakers to negotiate deficit reduction measures by threatening them with draconian across-the-board cuts in military and nonmilitary programs. The cuts were never supposed to take effect, especially in military programs; it was assumed that members of Congress would be forced to negotiate smarter deficit reductions. They never did, so in 2013 a sequester went into effect, with cuts that have taken a toll on programs that assist the most vulnerable Americans, including the elderly, the disabled and impoverished families with children.

The Pentagon says it has been hurt by the sequester, too. But military hawks from both parties did not want to actually cut military spending. And Republicans did not want to invest in domestic programs or consider new taxes to cover costs, so the taxpayers were left with a charade.

After the White House said Mr. Obama “will not support a budget that locks in sequestration and he will not fix defense without fixing nondefense spending,” 143 Democrats and eight Republicans voted against the House Pentagon bill. Speaker John Boehner then played the phony patriotism card, suggesting that Democrats don’t support American troops.

The truth is that some Republicans are uncomfortable with their leaders’ tactics, but they know their party has no intention of repealing the budget caps, so they agreed to stuff the “war-fighting fund” with money for basic Pentagon expenses, as well as money for waging war.

That is not the only budgetary sleight of hand. The measure passed by the House tries to protect the new Ohio-class nuclear submarines, estimated at $8 billion each, by shifting the funding from the Navy’s regular shipbuilding account to another. Not only is that bad budgeting practice, but it avoids the hard choices that the military should be making about what military equipment is needed and what is not. The plan to build 12 more Ohio-class subs is excessive; the number could be cut by at least two.

Under the House bill, the overinvestment in modernizing the country’s nuclear weapons, which is expected to cost $348 billion over the next decade, would continue. That would make it harder to pay for the conventional weapons that America actually uses. The bill would supply more military equipment than the administration has requested — including the over-budget and technically challenged F-35 jet fighters.

The House bill invests millions of extra dollars in a questionable missile defense program. It continues to prohibit Mr. Obama from shutting down the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba. And it fails to address some of the sensible reforms pushed by a diverse group of defense experts, like reducing the number of private contractors working for the Pentagon and closing excess military bases in the United States. These could save billions of dollars.

The country faces daunting security challenges — from the Islamic State to Russia in Ukraine and China in the South China Sea. But throwing money at the military doesn’t guarantee security, especially when it is spent on programs that don’t make the country safer and is denied to programs that enhance security.
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: So much for ISIS being on the ropes on: May 24, 2015, 11:38:33 AM
With Victories, ISIS Dispels Hope of a Swift Decline

By TIM ARANGO and ANNE BARNARDMAY 23, 2015

BAGHDAD — Just last month, when Western and Iraqi officials talked about the Islamic State, it was mostly to list a series of setbacks to the terrorist group: defeated in the Syrian town of Kobani, battered by a heavy airstrike campaign, forced out of a growing list of towns and cities in Iraq.

But in just the past week, the Islamic State has turned that story around. Last weekend it solidified its hold on Iraq’s Anbar Province with a carefully choreographed assault on the regional capital, Ramadi. And on Wednesday, it stretched its territory in Syria into the historically and strategically important city of Palmyra.

Confounding declarations of the group’s decline, the twin offensives have become a sudden showcase for the group’s disciplined adherence to its core philosophies: always fighting on multiple fronts, wielding atrocities to scare off resistance and, especially, enforcing its caliphate in the Sunni heartland that straddles the Iraqi-Syrian border. In doing so, the Islamic State has not only survived setbacks, but also engineered new victories.

“Nobody here from the president on down is saying that this is something that we’ll just overcome immediately,” a senior State Department official said in a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, in which the ground rules demanded anonymity. “It’s an extremely serious situation.”

Within Iraq, the group’s offensive was taking shape almost immediately after the government’s victory last month in the central city of Tikrit.

Islamic State fighters took up simultaneous pressure campaigns on Iraq’s largest oil refinery, north of Baghdad in Baiji, and on Ramadi. In Diyala, the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, orchestrated a prison break, a signature operation it has carried out frequently over the years and which could help restore its capability in the eastern province.

The broad scope of operations now seems to have been designed to wear out the Iraqi security forces and make sure they were dispersed when the Islamic State began its heaviest push against Ramadi this month, said Jessica Lewis McFate, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, a research organization in Washington that has advocated a more muscular response by the United States to the threat of the Islamic State.


The Islamic State has been battling for Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, since mid-April. The group launched a new assault on May 15 with the backing of sleeper cells to capture government facilities and take control of most of the city just two days later, on May 17. Ramadi is strategic to the Islamic State because of its proximity to

 , , ,

Within days, Iraqi security forces flee, and Islamic State fighters take control of key government facilities.



In particular, Ms. McFate said the offensives had depleted and exhausted Iraq’s elite counterterrorism force, known as the Golden Division, which is highly mobile and had long fought on both fronts, in Ramadi and Baiji. The unit, which worked closely for nearly a decade with the American Special Forces, is seen as the most effective government force, although its numbers, compared with the regular Iraqi Army and police forces, are small.

“ISIS tried to stretch the I.S.F. as much as it could to find their breaking point,” Ms. McFate said, using the abbreviation for the Iraqi Security Forces.

When the main Islamic State assault on Ramadi began late on the night of May 14, it employed resources that had been prepared long before and were unleashed in an intense burst of violence that broke the remaining defenders.



As usual, the Islamic State opened the attack with suicide bombers, but in this case on an even bigger scale: The militants sent in 10 bomb-laden vehicles, each believed to have explosive power similar to the truck bomb used in Oklahoma City two decades ago, the senior State Department official said. Entire city blocks were destroyed.

Sleeper cells of Islamic State loyalists then rose up, according to witness accounts, helping the group quickly take control as its fighters advanced into new parts of Ramadi.

Out of fear and exhaustion, local Sunni fighters who had defended the city for nearly a year and a half left in droves last Sunday, taunted by soldiers for abandoning their land.

Staying true to its doctrine of always pushing on multiple fronts, the Islamic State has not stopped with Ramadi: It has also swept into new territory in Syria. In taking Palmyra — a relatively small and remote but strategically located desert city near the country’s geographical center — the group has for the first time seized a Syrian city from government forces, rather than from other insurgents.

It attacked at a time and in a place in which government forces have been increasingly strained, exhausted and unwilling to fight for remote areas. In contrast to the barrage of suicide bombs it used in Ramadi, the Islamic State appears to have won Palmyra with a more ordinary arsenal of foot soldiers, tanks and antiaircraft guns mounted on trucks, relying on its adversary’s weakness and the extreme fear it has managed to instill with its well-publicized atrocities.

It is probably not a coincidence that several days before its main offensive on Palmyra, the Islamic State beheaded dozens of soldiers, government supporters and their families in an outlying village and widely disseminated the images.

The group also chose its target wisely. Palmyra has a relatively small population to provide for and control, but it is a disproportionate prize. It commands access to new oil and gas fields at a time when coalition bombings have targeted many Islamic State oil sources elsewhere; has a critical network of roads; and includes an ancient site that provides endless opportunities for both propaganda and illegal antiquities trafficking.

The offensives have allowed the Islamic State to become even more deeply entrenched in territory whose desert geography and disenchanted local population work in its favor. Particularly in Anbar Province, the group’s Sunni extremist fighters have been more of a native force than an invading one.

After its predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq, was driven underground by a long and bloody American military offensive late last decade, its fighters began regrouping among sympathetic Sunni tribes next door in eastern Syria.

The group survived years of battles against Syrian government forces and infighting with jihadist rivals. As it evolved, it engineered a wider hold on swaths of Syria and began plotting its return to power in western Iraq — a move that the group’s founding documents held out as a priority.


That campaign began late in 2013 and led to the takeover of the town of Falluja and other corners of Anbar. Then, in June 2014, the Islamic State made its biggest leaps into Iraq, suddenly seizing Mosul, the northern and Sunni-predominant city that is Iraq’s second largest, and driving all the way south to Tikrit.

In recent months, the group has been pushed back from some territories it seized last summer. These include cities and towns in the north near the autonomous Kurdish region and in eastern Diyala Province. In Syria, the Islamic State has pulled back in recent days from the northern parts of Homs Province, where it has had to compete with other groups and did not win as many locals to its side as it has in eastern Syria.

“ISIS overextended itself and is getting pushed back to areas where they can control more effectively,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism analyst at the New America Foundation, who has spent years studying Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State. “The historical homeland for this organization is Falluja, Ramadi, Anbar and Mosul.”

With the victory in Ramadi, the Islamic State claimed the last major center of the Sunni Arab heartland and, with the advance into Palmyra, has expanded it.

Hassan Hassan, an author of “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” saw the shift as a particular challenge to the group’s enemies. “It’s really hard to conquer these areas or retake them, because in the local population there’s almost no resistance to the group here.”

As it has consolidated, the Islamic State has been ruthless about beating down Sunni tribes who have opposed it, publicizing its mass slaughters of dissidents. Among the residents who have not actively opposed the group, it has also been skillful in building up its legitimacy as a local ruling force by tapping into Sunni grievances against the Shiite government in Baghdad and the Alawite government in Damascus.

“The only solution for the situation now is national reconciliation governments in both countries, Iraq and Syria, which is impossible now,” said Jalal Zein al-Din, a Syrian journalist who is part of an antigovernment news agency that operates partly in Islamic State territory. “So I.S. is going to remain in the region, a state from Raqqa to Mosul.”

In many ways, the group is staying true to a vision, laid out in documents years ago, of how it would carve out and govern a caliphate, or Islamic State. Even as it differed from Al Qaeda in its desire to hold territory, it envisioned itself as being at perpetual war with its surrounding enemies and saw its turf more as an ever-shifting zone of control rather than a place with boundaries.

In his studies of the group, Mr. Fishman has coined a term for what it has become: a “governmental amoeba.”

“They conceptualize the caliphate as the people living on territory the caliphate controls, rather than a fixed geography,” he said, adding, “What matters to them is commitment to the caliph.”

Indeed, Ramadi was coveted in part because it had taken on great symbolic value as a place where some Sunni tribes were holding out in resistance against the Islamic State. Now, the group again has the momentum, and seems more deeply entrenched than it did even before the setbacks in Kobani and Tikrit.

As with some American officials, Ms. McFate, the analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, saw Tikrit, in particular, as a devastating loss that had put the group on its heels. “I thought they had lost the capability to do what they just did,” she said. “The tide of the war really looked like it had shifted away from ISIS’s terms.”

Things are different now, she conceded.

“Ramadi was a bigger loss for us,” she said, referring to the United States coalition and its Iraqi partners, “than Tikrit was a loss to ISIS.”
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: CA considers banning micro beads on: May 23, 2015, 07:15:01 PM
Fighting Pollution From Microbeads Used in Soaps and Creams

By RACHEL ABRAMSMAY 22, 2015
Photo
Stiv Wilson, an environmentalist who lives on his boat, has helped lead the fight against tiny plastic balls called microbeads. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times

Stiv Wilson is not much of an exfoliator.

Mr. Wilson, a 42-year-old environmental advocate, lives on a sailboat, wears flip-flops and doesn’t care much for personal care products like fancy creams and moisturizers. But to the companies that make those products, some of the largest corporations in the world, Mr. Wilson tends to be more abrasive than the scrubs they sell.

For more than two years, Mr. Wilson, director of campaigns at the nonprofit group The Story of Stuff Project, has helped lead the fight against microbeads, tiny plastic balls used in face washes, moisturizers and toothpaste, which activists say wind up in the nation’s lakes and rivers. On Friday, the California State Assembly approved a measure to outlaw the use of the particles in what could become the strictest ban in the country.
Continue reading the main story


Microbeads look like tiny, colorful dots suspended in cleansers and other personal care items. Manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble advertise their exfoliating power, offering consumers a little luxury in the form of a D.I.Y. mini-facial.
Photo
Microbeads used in personal care products find their way into waterways, where they absorb other pollutants. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

But when the beads are rinsed off, they flow through pipes and drains and into the water. By the billions.

The effect is similar to grinding up plastic water bottles, other products of concern to environmentalists, and pumping them into oceans and lakes. But because microbeads are small enough to be ingested by fish and other marine life, they can carry other pollutants into the food chain.

“Kind of like the Trojan horse effect,” said Dave Andrews, a senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “You’re increasing the quantity that’s ending up in the lower organisms, and then they could make their way up the food chain.”

Water treatment plants cannot process the nearly 19 tons of microbeads that may be washing into New York’s wastewater every year, according to a recent report from the office of the state’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman. The State Assembly has approved a proposal from Mr. Schneiderman’s office to ban microbeads, but the bill has stalled in the State Senate.

Four states — Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and Colorado — have enacted legislation to restrict the use of microbeads, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while bills are pending in others, including Michigan, Minnesota, Washington and Oregon. If the California bill becomes law, the state would ban not only synthetic particles but the biodegradable ones that many companies have been developing as alternatives.

Environmentalists like Mr. Wilson say many of those bills do not go far enough, because they allow companies to come up with biodegradable, but insufficiently tested, alternatives. There is not enough evidence to show that these new microbeads dissolve in the natural marine ecosystem, they say.

One such alternative, polylactic acid, can degrade faster than other plastics, but only under extreme heat and other conditions not typically found in marine environments, environmental advocates say.


“Everything on earth is biodegradable on a geological time scale,” Mr. Wilson said. “It’s not biodegradable in a meaningful time frame.”

Lisa Powers, a spokeswoman for the Personal Care Products Council, an industry trade group, said in an email, “There is considerable global, cutting-edge research efforts focused on developing biodegradable plastics in accordance with internationally accepted standards.”

The trade group removed its objections to the California proposal and has a “neutral” stance, Ms. Powers said.

The bill is Mr. Wilson’s second chance to win the war against microbeads in California. An earlier attempt passed the State Assembly but failed by one vote in the State Senate last year. The bill that passed in the Assembly this week contained concessions that supporters hope will improve its chances in the State Senate.

In March, Representatives Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, and Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, introduced federal legislation to ban synthetic plastic microbeads effective in January 2018.

But environmental advocates may get their way even if only a few large states enact such bans. Consumer product companies cannot afford to make multiple versions of the same product and could decide to manufacture the version that will pass muster under the strictest state standard.

“The only way that federal legislation is going to pass is if the environmentalists, wastewater and industry all agree on a policy, and we haven’t gotten there yet,” said Mr. Wilson, who has helped draft similar legislation in a number of states. “You don’t need a federal solution to this on a global scale.”

Consumers have more outlets than ever to voice concerns about products, particularly online, where a whisper of danger can turn into a roar. Seeing the effect on their sales, manufacturers have increasingly faced pressure to respond to those concerns.

But reformulating products to remove objectionable ingredients can be time-consuming and expensive. And companies say they do not want microbead legislation that limits them further.

“We believe the current bill in California is overly restrictive, inhibits innovation and does not allow for current and future advancements in biodegradable exfoliate alternatives,” said Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, in an email. In 2013, Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove polyethylene microbeads, the most common type of microbeads, from its personal care products by 2017.

Procter & Gamble, another global consumer products giant, has made a similar pledge. Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, phased out the use of plastic microbeads from its Dove soaps and other products at the beginning of the year.

More than 3,000 products now contain polyethylene, according to the Environmental Working Group’s online database.

Mango Materials, a start-up based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is developing what it hopes is a promising, environmentally friendly microbead alternative. The new ingredient would be polyhydroxyalkanoate, or PHA, a naturally occurring plastic produced by mushrooms.

The PHAs could dissolve in many marine ecosystems within a month, said Molly Morse, chief executive and co-founder of Mango Materials.

But while she supports initiatives to make California safer, she is concerned that the proposed bill might ban her product, too.

“The wording of the bill makes me nervous,” Ms. Morse said in a phone interview. “I’m a small business with employees, and we love this application and we’re thoroughly motivated by the positive effects our product can have on the environment.”
11  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / POTH: Texas and DoJ faceing off over PREA on: May 23, 2015, 07:07:34 PM
In what appeared to be a reversal of his predecessor’s position, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas wrote to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch last week to assure her that his state intended to abide by national standards to prevent, detect and respond to prison rape “wherever feasible.”

But the Justice Department said late Thursday that it had rejected his assurance. Texas, which has a high rate of reported sexual abuse against inmates, is expected to be financially penalized for a second straight year for failing to follow the procedures that the federal government has established to document progress in eliminating prison rape.

Nine states certified full compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act’s standards on May 15, the deadline for governors to make their second progress reports to the Department of Justice. That brought to 11 the number of states that have fully adopted the standards — considered “best practices” for eliminating the sexual victimization of inmates — a dozen years after Congress unanimously passed the law known as PREA.

In his letter to Ms. Lynch, Mr. Abbott of Texas said he could not certify complete compliance. But he adopted a more conciliatory approach than had his predecessor, Gov. Rick Perry, who in 2014 declined to respond to Washington’s first deadline and denounced the national rape standards as a “counterproductive and unnecessarily cumbersome and costly regulatory mess.”

Mr. Abbott, who took office in January, was under some pressure in the week before the deadline, during which an article in The New York Times highlighted the sexual abuse problem in Texas’ prisons, an editorial in The Dallas Morning News urged the governor to “enact the federal reforms now,” and protesters in Austin called on him to take action against prison rape.

“I can assure you that we will fully implement D.O.J.’s PREA standards wherever feasible,” he wrote to the attorney general.

He noted that a quarter of Texas state jails and prisons had passed specialized PREA audits and that the rest were either in the middle of an audit or scheduled for one.

He also said Texas was seeking to comply with the rule that youths be separated “by sight and sound” from adult prisoners, a requirement that Mr. Perry had called an infringement on his state’s right to consider 17 the age of criminal responsibility. Mr. Abbott, in contrast, said that the 49 17-year-olds in Texas’ adult prisons have been segregated.

Mr. Abbott did not, however, provide the required written assurance that Texas would spend at least 5 percent of certain federal grants to achieve full compliance with the anti-rape standards.

“The letter we received from Texas makes no such representation and, therefore, it cannot be considered to be an assurance under PREA,” said Dena W. Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department.
Continue reading the main story
Document: A Letter From Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas

It is unclear why Mr. Abbott did not comply with Washington’s precise instructions on how to respond, but his press secretary, Amelia Chassé, said his letter explained “our plans to improve our compliance in the future.”

Last year, the state lost over $800,000 in prison-related federal grant money as a penalty. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the loss had no effect on its operations, which inmate advocates interpreted as a statement that the PREA penalties were little more than symbolic.

Lambda Legal, a national group that is representing a Texas inmate named Passion Star in a lawsuit against state corrections officials, said in a statement that it was “profoundly disappointed.”

“Governor Abbott cannot coast by paying lip service to PREA,” Jael Humphrey, Ms. Star’s lawyer, said, “while Passion Star and other incarcerated people remain at risk of continued sexual violence.”

Most governors who were unable to certify compliance did not write letters. They simply signed forms, provided by the Justice Department, that gave “assurance” they were devoting federal grant money to work toward full compliance. Inmate advocates, who have been concerned about the slow pace of change, worry that many of those assurances could be meaningless since detailed progress reports were not required.

“It’s terrific, welcome news that one-fifth of states say they’re fully complying,” said Jamie Fellner, who was a member of the Prison Rape Elimination Commission, which drafted the antirape standards and disbanded in 2009. “But the assurance process is profoundly flawed, and it should not in any way reassure the public that states are moving expeditiously to ending prison rape.”

The nine states that certified full compliance with the rape standards are: Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. New Hampshire and New Jersey achieved the certification last year.

Last year, Texas was one of six “renegade states,” as inmate advocates called them. Two of them, Florida and Indiana, opted into the national effort to eliminate prison rape this year, submitting accepted assurances.

It is unclear what the three others, Arizona, Idaho and Utah, did. The Justice Department’s list of certifications and assurances is not complete.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Humza Arshad, Muslim British Comic on: May 23, 2015, 07:00:20 PM
LONDON — HUMZA ARSHAD pokes fun at Pakistani accents and emotional soccer fans. He jokes about his weight, his voice and his own mother. But mostly, he laughs at jihadists.

“Have you noticed how in those terrorist videos they’re always sitting on the floor?” Mr. Arshad asked a group of high school students the other day. “What’s up with that? I swear they can afford a chair.”

And their pants: “Always coming up to here,” he said, pointing at his shin, “like, did you borrow this from your little brother or something?”

Mr. Arshad, 29, is no ordinary comedian. A practicing Muslim in hip-hop gear whose YouTube videos have drawn millions of views, he is the centerpiece of the British government’s latest and perhaps cleverest effort to prevent students from running off to Syria and joining the Islamic State. Since March, Mr. Arshad has been on tour with the counterterrorism unit of the Metropolitan Police. They have already taken their double act (“Ten percent message, 90 percent comedy”) to more than 20,000 students in 60 high schools across London.

Now Mr. Arshad, who says he first discovered stand-up as a 10-year-old watching American shows like “Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam,” hopes to take his act across the Atlantic: At the end of the month he is headed to New York and Los Angeles to meet with Hollywood studios and television networks — and hold exploratory talks with American schools on his counterextremism work.

About 700 British Muslims have traveled to Syria, including dozens of minors. Schools here have been on high alert especially since February, when three teenage girls left their family homes in east London. The footage of them calmly passing airport security has become emblematic of the youthful following faraway militants have established in the West — often using the same social media that has given Mr. Arshad his fan base.

He knows the brother of one of the girls well.

“I wish I could have prevented my friend’s sister from going,” he told the packed auditorium at a west London high school that recent afternoon. It was one of the rare serious moments in a 45-minute stand-up show that mostly saw him mocking converts with “beards to their belly buttons,” terrorists with dry ankles (“from all that sitting on the floor”) and — affectionately — his own mother, a Muslim who came to Britain from rural Pakistan and wears a head scarf. (“Is she really as bad as you say on YouTube?” one student asked. “No,” Mr. Arshad replied. “Much worse.”)

“Listen, I’m here for two reasons,” he said. “No. 1, I’m a British citizen, and I’m proud of where I’m from. No. 2, I don’t want people losing their lives. That’s not what Islam is about.”

“But there are some misguided individuals who are giving us a bad name,” he said. “We all have to do our part.”
The Saturday Profile
A weekly profile of the individuals who are shaping the world around them.

    Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s New Justice Minister, Shrugs Off Critics in Her Path MAY 15
    ‘Hermit of the Jungle’ Guards a Brazilian Ghost City Rich in History MAY 8
    A Secret Warrior Leaves the Pentagon as Quietly as He Entered MAY 1
    Victim of Extremists Comes to Understand the Siren Song of ISIS APR 24
    Writer Retreats to a Kabul That Lives Only in His Memories and Books APR 17

See More »

IT is a message that police officers find harder to communicate, said Rick Warrington of the Counter Terrorism Command, or SO15, who held the session with Mr. Arshad.

Advertisement
Continue reading the main story

“There is always that barrier,” he said. “I remove all badging from the presentation; I come in plainclothes but I’m still a 45-year-old white police officer.”

Sometimes the police bring in Muslim charity workers to talk to students one-on-one. That does not always go over well.

“They bring in all these ‘moderate Muslims’ to talk to us,” sighed one 15-year-old girl of Bengali descent, who preferred not to be identified. “What does that make us?”

Like many students in the schools he visits, Mr. Arshad takes his religion seriously. Back in his purple-colored south London bedroom, the backdrop to many of his YouTube videos, the first item on a to-do list on his white board is “pray.”

But that does not stop him from ridiculing jihadists.

“Their ankles are very dry,” he said. “I’m just, like, looking at the ankles, and I’m thinking, bro, I don’t even think they have E45 cream in Syria. Maybe we should make a donation.”

Why do you always wear a beanie, a student heckled, pointing at Mr. Arshad’s hallmark woolly hat. “It’s like the male version of the hijab,” he shouts back. “This is the man-jab, know what I mean?”

At one point, the fire alarm went off. Mr. Arshad did not miss a beat: “What the heck? Terror attack! ISIS!”

At times lacking in subtlety, his humor still provides comic relief to an audience that has found itself under the microscope in the news media, in school and sometimes at home. These days, jokes about terrorism are not just frowned upon, “they can get you into trouble,” explained one girl of Somalian descent after seeing Mr. Arshad’s show.

BORN and raised in south London, Mr. Arshad experienced firsthand how perceptions of Muslims changed in Britain. He was 15 and on the school bus home when terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center in 2001. Four years later, a series of suicide bombs blew up on London’s public transport system. Each time, he found his mother glued to the television, his mother “who never watches television,” and each time she told him, “It will be even harder to be a Muslim now.”

After finishing drama school and seeing one friend after another land jobs in television or on stage, Mr. Arshad found himself being offered minor roles as, well, the terrorist.

“I didn’t want to be typecast as the Muslim, you know, Terrorist No. 2 on the plane with just one line: ‘Allahu akbar!’” he said in a recent interview at his home (he still lives with his parents).

The idea of creating his own show on YouTube came in September 2010, after a video he uploaded went viral. It was a nine-minute clip about a young Muslim in high-top sneakers and a hoodie complaining about his Pakistani mother, who beat him up and cooked too many lentils. The video hit 5,000 views on the first day. “I thought to myself, ‘Either I’m onto something, or some freak has watched this 5,000 times,’ ” he said.

But within 10 days, the clip had more than a million views. “Diary of a Bad Man” was born, a YouTube satire of life as a young British Asian that rapidly attracted a mass teenage following. Today, Mr. Arshad’s YouTube channel has over 245,000 subscribers.

Advertisement
Continue reading the main story

Advertisement
Continue reading the main story

Advertisement
Continue reading the main story

One of the teenagers who got hooked on “Bad Man” was the 11-year-old son of Rizwaan Chothia, a police constable. Constable Chothia, an officer in an East Midlands special operations unit, watched over his son’s shoulder one night and later scrolled through Mr. Arshad’s other videos, noticing his follower numbers and calling around his extended family across Britain.

“Every teenager in my family knew him,” recalled Constable Chothia.

Soon after, he met Mr. Arshad and they agreed to produce a video together to show in schools as part of a police counterextremism presentation.

In the video, titled “I’m a Muslim not a terrorist,” Mr. Arshad, in character as Bad Man, notices his cousin changing as he falls into the orbit of an extremist group.

“Bro, why are you looking at people getting their heads cut off and stuff?” he asks his cousin, later speculating to a friend, “Maybe he’s going through puberty.”

“He’s 23,” the friend replies.

“He’s Asian, you know,” Bad Man answers. “Maybe he’s late.”

In the end, thanks to a series of frank conversations with Bad Man, the cousin abandons extremism.

It was a big decision to work with the police, Mr. Arshad said: “Of course I was worried that it would hurt my street cred.” But he wanted to do his part. The hate mail still gets to him. “I’m not a politician, I’m a comedian,” he said.
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Rhino vs, African Buffalo on: May 23, 2015, 03:57:17 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjE6X4lbto0&feature=youtu.be
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Krugman's errors on: May 23, 2015, 03:43:34 PM
Haven't read this yet , , ,

http://fee.org/freeman/detail/paul-krugman-three-wrongs-dont-make-a-right

This seems intriguing , , ,
http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-krugman-shifts-chart-to-show-non-existant-correlation-2015-5
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Georgia tries the free market on: May 23, 2015, 02:14:57 PM
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/428864
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIR officials beg to differ on: May 23, 2015, 01:39:19 PM
http://gopthedailydose.com/2015/05/23/cair-dont-think-us-miltary-honored-memorial-day/http://gopthedailydose.com/2015/05/23/cair-dont-think-us-miltary-honored-memorial-day/
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Article One Section 3, and the 17th Amendment on: May 23, 2015, 01:14:29 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/constitution-revolution-how-one-amendment-is-actually-unraveling-the-constitution/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Firewire&utm_campaign=Firewire%20-%20HORIZON%205-23-15%20FINAL

The point made here seems very interesting to me and to be one worthy of remembrance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Jrb-8ER0g
18  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ: Independent candidate in Nuevo Leo looking strong on: May 23, 2015, 12:31:42 PM
New Candidate Jolts Mexican Politics
A maverick former mayor is mounting a competitive bid as Mexico’s first independent gubernatorial candidate

Dudley Althaus
Updated May 22, 2015 10:03 a.m. ET


MONTERREY, Mexico—A maverick former mayor known as El Bronco is mounting a serious bid to become Mexico’s first independent candidate to win a governorship, buoyed by voter mistrust of the country’s traditional political parties.

Waging a social media campaign on a shoestring—paid for largely with the crumpled bills supporters press into his hands on the stump— Jaime Rodríguez is shaking up politics in Nuevo León, the conservative northern border state that includes the industrial powerhouse of Monterrey, and jolting politicians nationwide.

An opinion poll published Friday in El Norte, Monterrey’s leading newspaper, puts Mr. Rodríguez ahead of his rival from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the June 7 vote. The PRI has ruled Nuevo León for 80 of the past 86 years.

Mr. Rodríguez’s unlikely bid has emerged as one of the most watched in a midterm election for all 500 seats in Mexico’s lower house of Congress, nine governors and hundreds of state legislators, mayors and city councils.

Polls suggest that the PRI and its allies are likely to retain a slight majority in Congress. But that doesn’t mean all is well for Mexico’s ruling party.

Mr. Rodríguez, a rancher, businessman and thrice-married father of six, represents a new page in Mexican politics: the rise of independent candidates running against the traditional parties, something that was illegal until a 2014 political overhaul passed by Congress.

“This is making the political parties tremble because a candidate without a party, a structure or resources is giving them a fight,” Mr. Rodríguez, 58, said in an interview.

June’s vote takes place amid mounting voter frustration with underworld violence, a lackluster economy and corruption scandals that have hit all three major parties, especially the PRI.

President Enrique Peña Nieto and his finance minister have come under the scrutiny of Mexican and international media for property deals they made with government contractors. They both deny any wrongdoing. Civic groups have accused family members of Nuevo León’s current PRI governor, Rodrigo Medina, of illicit enrichment through dirty land deals. They deny wrongdoing.

“We have a cancer which has to be eradicated and that’s corruption,” Mr. Rodríguez said to whoops and applause at a recent stop in Monterrey’s wealthiest suburb. “I don’t want to be just one more governor, I want to change the system.”

Only 9% of Mexicans say they trust their political parties, according to a recent survey by Mexico City-based pollster GEA ISA. Only one in five is satisfied with the country’s democracy, the lowest rate anywhere in Latin America except Honduras, according to a 2013 survey of attitudes in the region by the respected Latinobarómetro firm.

Luis Carlos Ugalde, the former head of the national election agency, said he expected an independent to mount a presidential bid in 2018 national elections.

“It’s a classic kind of anti-party and antiestablishment moment,” political analyst Federico Estévez said. “The public’s mood is against the powers that be.”

Mr. Rodríguez, whose nickname El Bronco reflects his untamed style and rural roots, peppers conversations and speeches with salty language more commonly heard in fields and on factories floors than the campaign trail. While emphasizing a pro-business bent, he says he intends to improve conditions for the working poor. He elicits his biggest cheers, however, when he talks about attacking graft and corruption.

“Sooner or later you get tired of all the lies,” said Guadalupe García, a 52-year old saleswoman who was passing out literature for Mr. Rodríguez at a mountainside rally recently. “I was always with the PRI, but all the things they promise in campaigns never are fulfilled. We need something different.”

The El Norte poll published Friday gives Mr. Rodríguez 31% support versus 26% for PRI rival Ivonne Álvarez, with the conservative National Action Party’s candidate, Felipe de Jesus Cantú, at 20%.

Mr. Rodríguez got a boost Thursday when another independent candidate, Fernando Elizondo, dropped out and endorsed Mr. Rodríguez. Mr. Elizondo, who was interim state governor in 2003, was polling about 4%.

Despite his narrow lead in most polls, Mr. Rodríguez still faces a difficult fight. Political power in Nuevo León recently has been shared only between the PRI and National Action. Both parties have strong political machines and loyalists whose votes prove particular crucial in elections with low turnouts.

The established parties are also heavily favored by rules that regulate independent bids at both the federal and state levels. Nuevo León’s election commission said it gave Mr. Rodríguez’s campaign only about $25,000 in public campaign funding compared with some $2 million each for his two rivals. His campaign has been apportioned 16 free television spots compared with hundreds allotted to his two rivals under federal election laws.

Consequently, Mr. Rodríguez has campaigned largely via social media, particularly on Facebook, where has more than 440,000 followers. He polls particularly well among younger and more affluent voters.

“People are disillusioned with politicians, all of them. People are very tired of the corruption,” said Eduardo Elizondo, Mr. Elizondo’s brother and son of a former Nuevo León governor.

This disillusionment has rattled some of the political elite in Monterrey and beyond.

Underscoring the importance the PRI accords the Nuevo León race, the party has dispatched some of its top political operatives to advise Ms. Álvarez’s campaign and will culminate its nationwide campaign effort at a rally in Monterrey.

PRI national leader César Camacho has accused Mr. Rodríguez of incompetence and has joined other critics in saying he is surpassing legal campaign spending limits. “We want legality and fairness to continue being the constant in the Nuevo León election,” Mr. Camacho said in a recent news conference.

Mr. Rodríguez has rejected such accusations from PRI officials and others as desperate attempts to hobble his rise in the polls.

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, a lifelong National Action member, likened Mr. Rodríguez to Venezuela’s late populist Hugo Chávez, whose 1998 presidential election destroyed traditional politics in that country and launched a socialist revolution that continues to roil it.

“Chávez also was very charismatic, very untamed and quite a bully,” Mr. Calderón said in a recent visit to Monterrey in support of his party’s gubernatorial hopeful.

Mr. Rodríguez quipped in response that Mr. Calderón must have been “drunk” or “hung-over” when he made the comparison. Mr. Calderón retorted via Twitter that the comment proved his point about Mr. Rodríguez’s intolerance.

Mr. Rodríguez seems an unlikely revolutionary. He spent more than three decades in the PRI, serving as a party boss, state bureaucrat and federal congressman before making his name as the crime-fighting mayor of Villa de García, a violent Monterrey suburb. He bolted the party in September, saying he was fed up with party politics.

Much of Mr. Rodríguez’s attraction to voters rests on his tough-on-crime reputation.

Mr. Rodríguez has said that one of his sons, who was killed in a road accident six years ago, crashed while fleeing gangsters, and that his young daughter had to be rescued from a kidnapping. Gunmen killed his newly appointed police chief soon after Mr. Rodríguez took office as mayor in 2009, after which he survived two assassination attempts himself.

Mr. Rodríguez took on organized crime with a network of citizen informants who reported gangland activity via tweets, texts and Facebook posts. He purged his police force of officers believed to have criminal ties. He said as governor he would employ the same tactics, some of which have since been adopted by state agencies and civic groups.

“I am not Superman,” Mr. Rodríguez said at a small rally last week in a working-class Monterrey suburb. “But I can be the Lone Ranger.”

Write to Dudley Althaus at Dudley.Althaus@wsj.com
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Independent candidate in Nuevo Leo looking strong on: May 23, 2015, 12:30:42 PM
New Candidate Jolts Mexican Politics
A maverick former mayor is mounting a competitive bid as Mexico’s first independent gubernatorial candidate

Dudley Althaus
Updated May 22, 2015 10:03 a.m. ET


MONTERREY, Mexico—A maverick former mayor known as El Bronco is mounting a serious bid to become Mexico’s first independent candidate to win a governorship, buoyed by voter mistrust of the country’s traditional political parties.

Waging a social media campaign on a shoestring—paid for largely with the crumpled bills supporters press into his hands on the stump— Jaime Rodríguez is shaking up politics in Nuevo León, the conservative northern border state that includes the industrial powerhouse of Monterrey, and jolting politicians nationwide.

An opinion poll published Friday in El Norte, Monterrey’s leading newspaper, puts Mr. Rodríguez ahead of his rival from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the June 7 vote. The PRI has ruled Nuevo León for 80 of the past 86 years.

Mr. Rodríguez’s unlikely bid has emerged as one of the most watched in a midterm election for all 500 seats in Mexico’s lower house of Congress, nine governors and hundreds of state legislators, mayors and city councils.

Polls suggest that the PRI and its allies are likely to retain a slight majority in Congress. But that doesn’t mean all is well for Mexico’s ruling party.

Mr. Rodríguez, a rancher, businessman and thrice-married father of six, represents a new page in Mexican politics: the rise of independent candidates running against the traditional parties, something that was illegal until a 2014 political overhaul passed by Congress.

“This is making the political parties tremble because a candidate without a party, a structure or resources is giving them a fight,” Mr. Rodríguez, 58, said in an interview.

June’s vote takes place amid mounting voter frustration with underworld violence, a lackluster economy and corruption scandals that have hit all three major parties, especially the PRI.

President Enrique Peña Nieto and his finance minister have come under the scrutiny of Mexican and international media for property deals they made with government contractors. They both deny any wrongdoing. Civic groups have accused family members of Nuevo León’s current PRI governor, Rodrigo Medina, of illicit enrichment through dirty land deals. They deny wrongdoing.

“We have a cancer which has to be eradicated and that’s corruption,” Mr. Rodríguez said to whoops and applause at a recent stop in Monterrey’s wealthiest suburb. “I don’t want to be just one more governor, I want to change the system.”

Only 9% of Mexicans say they trust their political parties, according to a recent survey by Mexico City-based pollster GEA ISA. Only one in five is satisfied with the country’s democracy, the lowest rate anywhere in Latin America except Honduras, according to a 2013 survey of attitudes in the region by the respected Latinobarómetro firm.

Luis Carlos Ugalde, the former head of the national election agency, said he expected an independent to mount a presidential bid in 2018 national elections.

“It’s a classic kind of anti-party and antiestablishment moment,” political analyst Federico Estévez said. “The public’s mood is against the powers that be.”

Mr. Rodríguez, whose nickname El Bronco reflects his untamed style and rural roots, peppers conversations and speeches with salty language more commonly heard in fields and on factories floors than the campaign trail. While emphasizing a pro-business bent, he says he intends to improve conditions for the working poor. He elicits his biggest cheers, however, when he talks about attacking graft and corruption.

“Sooner or later you get tired of all the lies,” said Guadalupe García, a 52-year old saleswoman who was passing out literature for Mr. Rodríguez at a mountainside rally recently. “I was always with the PRI, but all the things they promise in campaigns never are fulfilled. We need something different.”

The El Norte poll published Friday gives Mr. Rodríguez 31% support versus 26% for PRI rival Ivonne Álvarez, with the conservative National Action Party’s candidate, Felipe de Jesus Cantú, at 20%.

Mr. Rodríguez got a boost Thursday when another independent candidate, Fernando Elizondo, dropped out and endorsed Mr. Rodríguez. Mr. Elizondo, who was interim state governor in 2003, was polling about 4%.

Despite his narrow lead in most polls, Mr. Rodríguez still faces a difficult fight. Political power in Nuevo León recently has been shared only between the PRI and National Action. Both parties have strong political machines and loyalists whose votes prove particular crucial in elections with low turnouts.

The established parties are also heavily favored by rules that regulate independent bids at both the federal and state levels. Nuevo León’s election commission said it gave Mr. Rodríguez’s campaign only about $25,000 in public campaign funding compared with some $2 million each for his two rivals. His campaign has been apportioned 16 free television spots compared with hundreds allotted to his two rivals under federal election laws.

Consequently, Mr. Rodríguez has campaigned largely via social media, particularly on Facebook, where has more than 440,000 followers. He polls particularly well among younger and more affluent voters.

“People are disillusioned with politicians, all of them. People are very tired of the corruption,” said Eduardo Elizondo, Mr. Elizondo’s brother and son of a former Nuevo León governor.

This disillusionment has rattled some of the political elite in Monterrey and beyond.

Underscoring the importance the PRI accords the Nuevo León race, the party has dispatched some of its top political operatives to advise Ms. Álvarez’s campaign and will culminate its nationwide campaign effort at a rally in Monterrey.

PRI national leader César Camacho has accused Mr. Rodríguez of incompetence and has joined other critics in saying he is surpassing legal campaign spending limits. “We want legality and fairness to continue being the constant in the Nuevo León election,” Mr. Camacho said in a recent news conference.

Mr. Rodríguez has rejected such accusations from PRI officials and others as desperate attempts to hobble his rise in the polls.

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, a lifelong National Action member, likened Mr. Rodríguez to Venezuela’s late populist Hugo Chávez, whose 1998 presidential election destroyed traditional politics in that country and launched a socialist revolution that continues to roil it.

“Chávez also was very charismatic, very untamed and quite a bully,” Mr. Calderón said in a recent visit to Monterrey in support of his party’s gubernatorial hopeful.

Mr. Rodríguez quipped in response that Mr. Calderón must have been “drunk” or “hung-over” when he made the comparison. Mr. Calderón retorted via Twitter that the comment proved his point about Mr. Rodríguez’s intolerance.

Mr. Rodríguez seems an unlikely revolutionary. He spent more than three decades in the PRI, serving as a party boss, state bureaucrat and federal congressman before making his name as the crime-fighting mayor of Villa de García, a violent Monterrey suburb. He bolted the party in September, saying he was fed up with party politics.

Much of Mr. Rodríguez’s attraction to voters rests on his tough-on-crime reputation.

Mr. Rodríguez has said that one of his sons, who was killed in a road accident six years ago, crashed while fleeing gangsters, and that his young daughter had to be rescued from a kidnapping. Gunmen killed his newly appointed police chief soon after Mr. Rodríguez took office as mayor in 2009, after which he survived two assassination attempts himself.

Mr. Rodríguez took on organized crime with a network of citizen informants who reported gangland activity via tweets, texts and Facebook posts. He purged his police force of officers believed to have criminal ties. He said as governor he would employ the same tactics, some of which have since been adopted by state agencies and civic groups.

“I am not Superman,” Mr. Rodríguez said at a small rally last week in a working-class Monterrey suburb. “But I can be the Lone Ranger.”

Write to Dudley Althaus at Dudley.Althaus@wsj.com
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary and Sid on: May 23, 2015, 12:16:46 PM
The State Department on Friday published about 848 of the some 55,000 pages of emails that Hillary Clinton personally decided were relevant before erasing the rest of her private server. Yet even this twice cherry-picked dossier—with a focus on the 2011-2012 Libya crisis—is revealing about the kind of operation she was running at Foggy Bottom. All that’s missing is the shoe phone from the “Get Smart” spy farce.
Opinion Journal Video
Assistant Editorial Page Editor James Freeman on the unanswered questions about the Clinton Foundation and the former President’s speaking fees. Photo credit: Getty Images.

In the pre-Memorial Day weekend news dump, long-time Clinton plumber Sidney Blumenthal plays Maxwell Smart, passing along intel on Benghazi from half a world away. Secret Agent Blumenthal apparently derived this wisdom from his new business associates who were attempting to win contracts from Libyan nationals. Mrs. Clinton often circulates the memos among her top diplomats with comments like “useful insight” and “very interesting,” and they would often then push them down the chain of command, without identifying the source.

Mrs. Clinton was the Secretary of State, for heaven’s sake, one of the five most powerful national security positions in the U.S. government. She had the entire State Department intelligence division at her disposal, known as the Bureau of Intelligence and Research or INR, and presumably had access to the 16 other U.S. agencies that make up the intelligence community.

Yet she’s consuming and taking seriously information from an “analyst” who knows nothing about the subject. Mr. Blumenthal’s expertise is in political wet work and monetizing his connections to the Clintons. The imprimatur that Mrs. Clinton’s office put on Mr. Blumenthal’s outside improv offered him a way to influence policy even after the Obama White House had barred Mrs. Clinton from formally hiring him.

Somehow we doubt the distinguished likes of Dean Acheson or George Shultz were taking the measure of Moscow on the counsel of amateur stringers dabbling in Kremlinology and sending hearsay over the transom.

Mrs. Clinton now wants to be an American President. Will we have Sid set up his own parallel intelligence service from Blair House? What other Clinton henchmen will be reprising their roles from the 1990s, only this time with a national-security portfolio?

Mr. Blumenthal even does a cameo on the terrorist assaults on the Benghazi diplomatic mission and CIA annex that killed four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. On Sept. 12, 2012, Mr. Blumenthal reports to Mrs. Clinton—based on “Sources with direct access to the Libyan National Transitional Council, as well as the highest levels of European Governments, and Western Intelligence and security services”—that the attack was merely a mob inspired by what they viewed as a “sacrilegious internet video.”

The Administration went with that narrative, with National Security Adviser Susan Rice repeatedly claiming that “it was a spontaneous, not a premeditated response.” The goal was to blame YouTube, not the Administration’s foreign policy failures.

Yet the next day, citing “sensitive sources,” Mr. Blumenthal recanted and explained that the attack had been orchestrated by al Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia. “We should get this around asap,” Mrs. Clinton told Jake Sullivan, who did work at State. No wonder she couldn’t get her Benghazi story straight for so long.

Notably, and intriguingly, there are also selective omissions in the State disclosures that do not appear in the batch of emails obtained by the New York Times, about a third of the Libya trove. On April 8, 2011, for example, Mrs. Clinton (“hrod17@clintonemail.com”) suggests that “The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered.” This line was redacted by State.

Mrs. Clinton also seems to have had sensitive, if not classified, information on her email like the location and travel schedules of U.S. security officials. They could have been compromised if foreign enemies hacked her unsecured personal email account, which is why there are supposed to be protocols to protect high-level communications.

The larger question isn’t Mr. Blumenthal’s faux life of danger. It’s why a potential Commander in Chief invested so much trust in such a figure. The Southern Gothic novel that is Clinton family political history—with its melodrama, betrayals and paranoia—has left them dependent on insular loyalists like Mr. Blumenthal whose opinions are never second-guessed. Voters should know they’d not only be electing Hillary, and Bill, and Chelsea, but this entire menagerie.
Popular on WSJ

    Want Great Longevity and Health? It Takes a Village
    Want Great Longevity and Health? It Takes a Village
    The Trigger-Happy Generation
    Opinion: The Trigger-Happy Generation
    Better Than Raising the Minimum Wage
    Opinion: Better Than Raising the Minimum Wage
    U.S. Strategy Against Islamic State Under Scrutiny
    U.S. Strategy Against Islamic State Under Scrutiny
    School’s Out Forever
    School’s Out Forever

Videos

    [http://m.wsj.net/video/20150522/052215sdemails/052215sdemails_167x94.jpg]
    Clinton's Emails: Why Releasing Them All Takes So Long
    [http://m.wsj.net/video/20150522/052215gradspeech/052215gradspeech_167x94.jpg]
    The Funniest Commencement Speeches of 2015
    [http://m.wsj.net/video/20150522/052215ukabuse/052215ukabuse_167x94.jpg]
    Whistleblower's Account of Mass Child Abuse in England
    [http://m.wsj.net/video/20150521/052115nysubway/052115nysubway_167x94.jpg]
    Update From Underground: NYC's Second Avenue Subway
    [http://m.wsj.net/video/20150521/052115palmyraunesco/052115palmyraunesco_167x94.jpg]
    Islamic State Gains Strategic and Cultural Treasure

Set your profile to public to comment
There are 198 comments.
 

All comments will display your real name. Read our commenting rules.
NewestOldestReader Recommended
Foster Nickerson
Foster Nickerson 15 minutes ago

What these emails demonstrate is that Madam Secretary knew that her employes were in an exposed and dangerous place, refused their request for protection and then attempted to coverup her malfeasance / misfeasance, when they were attacked and overrun.
Flag ButtonShare
TOM PAINTER
TOM PAINTER 28 minutes ago

Billary and Blumenthal;  one hand washing the other, on the tax payers dime.
Flag ButtonShare
1
David Rosenberg
David Rosenberg 52 minutes ago

Sounds to me that we would  be  better off if more folks had listened to his intelligence.
Flag ButtonShare
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren, Fauxcahontas, Harvard's first woman of color on: May 23, 2015, 12:12:09 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/05/21/warren-obama-keeping-trade-deal-secret-because-the-public-would-oppose-it/
22  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / WA retools police training on: May 23, 2015, 11:37:19 AM
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Demilitarizing-the-cops-Wash-state-retools-police-training-304713651.html
23  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Operation Lost in Translation on: May 23, 2015, 11:30:07 AM


    Operation Lost in Translation
    What do we owe the Iraqi and Afghan ‘terps’ who fought with us in Iraq and Afghanistan? This Army vet is trying to save their lives.
    By
    William McGurn
    May 22, 2015 6:12 p.m. ET
 
    His Maryland driver’s license lists his name as “FNU Ajmal.” The FNU stands for “first name unknown.” It’s the way all his legal and identification documents appear, because this is what some bureaucrat slapped on the green card he received from Uncle Sam when he came to America.
 
   His real name is Ajmal Faqiri. But the FNU that has become his legal name in America is a metaphor for the bungling that characterizes one of the noblest efforts to come out of our long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: a 2008 decision by Congress to grant special visas to the Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and translators who put their own lives at risk to serve American troops.

    “There are hundreds just like Ajmal who now go by F-N-U,” says Matt Zeller, a 33-year-old Army veteran of Afghanistan who now runs a nonprofit—No One Left Behind—founded to hold America to its promise to resettle interpreters such as Mr. Faqiri here in the U.S.

    Mr. Zeller hails from upstate New York, descended from a Scottish clan whose proud claim is never to have made its peace with England. He produces a photo of three military uniforms that hang alongside his in his closet: his grandfather’s Navy uniform from World War II, his great-grandfather’s Army uniform from World War I, and the dress blues of the great-great-great-great-great grandfather who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

    His family’s martial contributions to America trace back even further, to a colonel who served under George Washington. In short, these are not people who shy away from a fight.  So it was probably inevitable that not long after 9/11, when a friend left him alone for 10 minutes in a shopping mall, he returned to find Mr. Zeller had enlisted in the National Guard. While still serving in the Guard, he signed up for ROTC to become an officer. After graduating from Hamilton College, he studied Arabic at the University of Chicago and was then poached by the CIA.

    But in 2008 his National Guard unit was deploying to Afghanistan, and the Army claimed him back. There he would learn how vital the local terps—affectionate Army slang for interpreters—were to the Americans. “Your terp is your eyes and ears,” says Mr. Zeller. “They are your best early-warning signal, because they know the terrain and they know the people and they can sense when someone is lying or something is wrong.”

    He adds, “My terp was more important to me than my weapon.”

    Mr. Zeller means that literally. On an April day in 2008 on a mountaintop in Ghazni province, then-Lt. Zeller and 14 other soldiers were ambushed by the Taliban. With the U.S. troops outnumbered three to one and running low on ammunition, he was sent flying into a ditch when an enemy mortar landed nearby. When he regained consciousness, Mr. Zeller says, he thought he was going to die on this Afghan hillside.

    Then he felt someone jump in next to him and heard shots being fired right by his head. When he looked up, he saw the bodies of two Taliban who had been about to kill him when they were shot dead by his interpreter, Janis Shinwari. Mr. Zeller says he knows of at least four other Americans who returned home alive because Mr. Shinwari saved their lives in Afghanistan.

    Whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, the reward for a record of service to American troops too often has been to become a marked man. The plight of such men has become especially poignant now that the enemies our troops fought are reasserting themselves. While Americans who read about Ramadi might think of it as the fall of an Iraqi city, Mr. Zeller and his terps think of the terrible retribution awaiting any Iraqis found to have helped our men and women in uniform.

    Mr. Shinwari notes that the social media the terps use to keep in touch with the American soldiers and Marines they served with now make it easy for the Taliban or Islamic State to identify them. “All interpreters have Facebook pages with their names and their pictures and photos of their American friends,” he says.

    We’ve been here before. Forty years ago in Vietnam, those who worked for the Americans also became the most vulnerable once Saigon fell to the Communists. Some were killed; others were forced into re-education camps; some took to leaky boats in a desperate effort to escape. “This time it’s going to be brutal and in our faces,” says Mr. Zeller. “Filmed beheadings put out on the Internet and televised around the world.” The retribution is already happening, he says, but it goes unreported because there is no longer any U.S. press outside the bigger cities.

    Mr. Zeller got into the business of helping terps because of Mr. Shinwari. The man who saved his life had applied for one of the special visas for Iraqis and Afghans who could prove their service to American forces. But the application became bogged down in paperwork and security clearances. At one point it was revoked and then re-approved. Meanwhile, the Taliban had stuck a note on the hood of his car: “Judgment Day is coming.”

    As he waited, Mr. Shinwari’s wife and children went into hiding, moving among family and friends. Meanwhile, over in America, Mr. Zeller was putting his Scottish orneriness to good effect, enlisting members of Congress, prodding the bureaucracy and in general refusing to take no for an answer. Finally, in October 2013, Mr. Shinwari and his family stepped off a flight onto American soil.

    They were free but they had nothing. Mr. Zeller had prepared for that too. On a crowdfunding website, he had raised $35,000 for the Shinwaris. But when he went to their apartment in Alexandria, Va., to give it to them, Mr. Shinwari refused the gift. He wanted to make his own way.

    “He told me, ‘Brother, I cannot accept this from you,’ and I was thinking to myself, I have no idea how I am going to return this money,” Mr. Zeller remembers. Mr. Shinwari suggested they use the money to help others like himself. On that October night in a modest Virginia apartment, the No One Left Behind foundation was born.

    The concept is simple. Soldiers take care of their own. And if they can’t find a way to go around an obstacle in the way of helping a brother or sister who served with them, they’re going to run it over.

    The foundation is still young. But it focuses on three practical elements that Washington is unable to address. The first is Operation Welcome Home, which meets the instant needs of an interpreter family: a place to live while they get on their feet. Sometimes someone will throw in a battered old car—which Mr. Zeller says these guys immediately use to earn some money, whether by delivering pizzas or driving to a job.

    The second is Operation Got Your Back, which helps these Iraqi and Afghan families with jobs and assimilation. Though the interpreters all speak English, their wives and children, who have been more sheltered in their home cultures, often do not. So the foundation helps them with English and entry into American life.

    The last is Operation Lost in Translation. This is designed to reunite the translators and interpreters with the military vets they served with. It’s also a naked enlistment effort. Mr. Zeller says as more American vets and community leaders come into the foundation’s network, it is becoming easier to find the terps jobs and get their families settled.

    But as word of the foundation grows, there also come more pleas for help. They come by email, by Facebook, by phone call. And it’s always the same: My family is in danger because I worked for the Americans. Please help us get out before it’s too late.

    The biggest hurdle, says Mr. Zeller, is bureaucracy. The same government responsible for all those Iraqis and Afghans now having “first name unknown” on all their official papers has a cumbersome application process that can include requiring you to track down people you served with years ago to write you a recommendation. Then you have to be cleared by multiple security agencies from the FBI and CIA to the NSA. And so on.

    “I get that no one wants to be the person who accidentally lets a bad guy slip through,” says Mr. Zeller. Earlier this month, for example, a former Iraqi translator who came to the U.S. on this program was arrested after the FBI said he’d lied to its agents about pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Mr. Zeller says this is the first case he’s heard of out of the thousands of military translators who have been brought here. “Surely America can meet our security needs while honoring our debt to those who stood shoulder to shoulder with us in combat.”

    In 2014 Washington stepped up its game after years in which it approved only a fraction of the annual visa allotment. Thanks to the big boost in 2014, roughly 18,000 Iraqi and Afghan terps have been admitted. That still leaves a backlog of 13,000 applications pending for Afghanistan and 2,500 for Iraq.

    Clearly the work has its joys: In scarcely a year and a half, No One Left Behind has helped 24 terps get their visas approved and 456 others, which includes family members, resettle here. And every day Mr. Zeller and his merry band get better at cutting through the red tape. But the organization is still small and lacks the resources to help everyone who deserves it.

    Mr. Zeller says one of his goals is to get Americans to see the terps the way the Americans who served with them in combat see them. “To the government, these guys are refugees,” says Mr. Zeller. “To me and the others who fought there, these guys are fellow vets.

    ‘When I came home from Afghanistan, there were people I didn’t even know at the airport cheering me. I can’t tell you how profoundly moving that was. I’d like to see these men and their families get that same kind of welcome when they come to America.”

    This Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Zeller says he will spend some time at Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for the Americans who wore the uniform of our nation and gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He will also have a barbecue out at a horse farm in the western part of Virginia. Mr. Shinwari and his wife and two children will join him. There they will remember the dead, give thanks for the blessing of living in freedom—and resolve not to rest so long as there remains some Iraqi or Afghan whose life is now in peril because of his service to our troops.

    “I’m probably the only guy in the foundation world whose goal is to have my nonprofit go out of business in 10 years,” says Mr. Zeller. “Because if we can do that, it will truly mean we have left no one behind.”

    Mr. McGurn is a Journal columnist and member of the editorial board.
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Obama gets one right! on: May 23, 2015, 11:18:23 AM
 May 22, 2015 6:23 p.m. ET
43 COMMENTS

The U.S. Navy flew a P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane this week over the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands, where Beijing is building military bases atop reefs and rocks claimed by several of its neighbors. A CNN team invited along for the mission reported that China’s military repeatedly tried to order the U.S. plane away. “This is the Chinese navy,” it radioed in English. “Please go away . . . to avoid misunderstanding.” The U.S. crew responded each time that it was flying through international airspace.
Opinion Journal Video
American Enterprise Institute Scholar Michael Auslin on the Secretary of State’s latest diplomatic efforts. Plus, feminists call for a unified Korea. Photo credit: Associated Press.

By flying over the Spratlys, the U.S. provided its most forceful rejection to date of Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over an area that lies more than 600 miles from China’s coast. It also signaled that Washington would defend the freedom of the seas and the maritime rights of its partners.

And not a moment too soon. In recent years Beijing has expelled Philippine boats from certain fisheries, cut the cables of Vietnamese oil-exploration ships, and intercepted U.S. military vessels. Chinese dredgers have nearly doubled the total landmass of the Spratlys—creating more than 2,000 new acres, or some 1,500 football fields—in an attempt to extend Chinese military reach and its political claims.

For years diplomats got nowhere politely asking Beijing to stop. In 2012 the Obama Administration did not send naval forces to stop Chinese civilian and coast guard ships from banishing Filipinos from Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing area north of the Spratlys and inside the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone. The episode was barely noticed in the U.S. but raised alarms throughout Asia.

To its credit, the Administration has since toughened its response. After China declared an air-defense identification zone over Japan’s Senkaku Islands, a pair of B-52 bombers soon overflew the area. But U.S. officials claimed that was a previously scheduled mission unrelated to China’s gambit. This week’s overflight, by contrast, was an explicit response to China’s island-building, with the military releasing once-classified surveillance footage and bringing the media along for the ride.

In March a bipartisan group of Senate leaders demanded briefings on “specific actions the United States can take to slow down or stop China’s reclamation activities,” including possible military measures, changes in U.S.-China relations and expanded cooperation with Asian allies and partners. U.S. officials also say they are considering sending naval patrols past China’s artificial islands to reinforce that the waters around the Spratlys aren’t China’s to control.

That would be the right move. The longer the U.S. fails to contest Beijing’s South China Sea claims, the more aggressive China will become in asserting those claims—and perhaps the more willing it will be to fight for them. The time to resist Beijing’s maritime pretensions is now.
Popular on WSJ

 ====================

Obama will do nothing for fear of damaging his legacy of non-involvement.  Obama will do nothing about China trying to take over the South China Sea for fear of damaging his legacy of non-involvement.  He will do nothing about the lack of education of poor children largely caused by teachers unions putting their pay and pensions way above the needs of poor children.  He will do nothing about the lack of meaningful actions by Congress.  He will do nothing effective about Putin's actions to increase his power.  He will not stop ISIS.  He will work on his pitching wedge shots.
Flag ButtonShare
3
Lee Hartwig
Lee Hartwig 2 hours ago

25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan: Trigger Happy on: May 23, 2015, 11:10:33 AM
 By
Peggy Noonan
Updated May 22, 2015 10:34 a.m. ET
879 COMMENTS

Readers know of the phenomenon at college campuses regarding charges of “microaggressions” and “triggers.” It’s been going on for a while and is part of a growing censorship movement in which professors, administrators and others are accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, gender bias and ethnocentric thinking, among other things. Connected is the rejection or harassment of commencement and other campus speakers who are not politically correct. I hate that phrase, but it just won’t stop being current.

Kirsten Powers goes into much of this in her book, “The Silencing.” Anyway, quite a bunch of little Marats and Robespierres we’re bringing up.

But I was taken aback by a piece a few weeks ago in the Spectator, the student newspaper of Columbia University. I can’t shake it, though believe me I’ve tried. I won’t name the four undergraduate authors, because 30 years from now their children will be on Google, and because everyone in their 20s has the right to be an idiot.

Yet theirs is a significant and growing form of idiocy that deserves greater response.

The authors describe a student in a class discussion of Ovid’s epic poem “Metamorphoses.” The class read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, which, as parts of a narrative that stretches from the dawn of time to the Rome of Caesar, include depictions of violence, chaos, sexual assault and rape. The student, the authors reported, is herself “a survivor of sexual assault” and said she was “triggered.” She complained the professor focused “on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” He did not apparently notice her feelings, or their urgency. As a result, “the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class.”

Safe is the key word here. There’s the suggestion that a work may be a masterpiece but if it makes anyone feel bad, it’s out.

Later the student told the professor how she felt, and her concerns, she said, were ignored. The authors of the op-ed note that “Metamorphoses” is a fixture in the study of literature and humanities, “but like so many texts in the Western canon it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom.” The Western canon, they continue, is full of “histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression” that can be “difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.”

That makes them feel unsafe: “Students need to feel safe in the classroom, and that requires a learning environment that recognizes the multiplicity of their identities.” The authors suggest changing the core curriculum but concede it may not be easy. Another student, they report, suggested in her class that maybe instead they could read “a Toni Morrison text.” A different student responded that “texts by authors of the African Diaspora are a staple in most high school English classes, and therefore they did not need to reread them.” That remark, the authors assert, was not only “insensitive” but “revealing of larger ideological divides.” The professor, they report, failed at this moment to “intervene.”

The op-ed authors call for “a space to hold a safe and open dialogue” about classroom experiences that “traumatize and silence students,” with the aim of creating environments that recognize “the multiplicity” of student “identities.”

Well, here are some questions and a few thoughts for all those who have been declaring at all the universities, and on social media, that their feelings have been hurt in the world and that the world had just better straighten up.

Why are you so fixated on the idea of personal safety, by which you apparently mean not having uncomfortable or unhappy thoughts and feelings? Is there any chance this preoccupation is unworthy of you? Please say yes.

There is no such thing as safety. That is asking too much of life. You can’t expect those around you to constantly accommodate your need for safety. That is asking too much of people.

Life gives you potentials for freedom, creativity, achievement, love, all sorts of beautiful things, but none of us are “safe.” And you are especially not safe in an atmosphere of true freedom. People will say and do things that are wrong, stupid, unkind, meant to injure. They’ll bring up subjects you find upsetting. It’s uncomfortable. But isn’t that the price we pay for freedom of speech?

You can ask for courtesy, sensitivity and dignity. You can show others those things, too, as a way of encouraging them. But if you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?

Masterpieces, by their nature, pierce. They jar and unsettle. If something in a literary masterpiece upsets you, should the masterpiece really be banished? What will you be left with when all of them are gone?

What in your upbringing told you that safety is the highest of values? What told you it is a realistic expectation? Who taught you that you are entitled to it every day? Was your life full of . . . unchecked privilege? Discuss.

Do you think Shakespeare, Frieda Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Langston Hughes and Steve Jobs woke up every morning thinking, “My focus today is on looking for slights and telling people they’re scaring me”? Or were their energies and commitments perhaps focused on other areas?

I notice lately that some members of your generation are being called, derisively, Snowflakes. Are you really a frail, special and delicate little thing that might melt when the heat is on?

Do you wish to be known as the first generation that comes with its own fainting couch? Did first- and second-wave feminists march to the barricades so their daughters and granddaughters could act like Victorians with the vapors?

Everyone in America gets triggered every day. Many of us experience the news as a daily microaggression. Who can we sue, silence or censor to feel better?

Finally, social justice warriors always portray themselves—and seem to experience themselves—as actively suffering victims who need protection. Is that perhaps an invalid self-image? Are you perhaps less needy than demanding? You seem to be demanding a safety no one else in the world gets. If you were so vulnerable, intimidated and weak, you wouldn’t really be able to attack and criticize your professors, administrators and fellow students so ably and successfully, would you?

Are you a bunch of frail and sensitive little bullies? Is it possible you’re not intimidated but intimidators?

Again, discuss.

By the way, I went back to the op-ed and read the online comments it engendered from the Columbia community. They were quite wonderful. One called, satirically, to ban all satire because it has too many “verbal triggers.” Another: “These women are like a baby watching a movie and thinking the monster is going to come out of the screen and get them.” Another: “These girls’ parents need a refund.”

The biggest slayer of pomposity and sanctimony in our time continues to be American wit.
Popular on WSJ

 

Set your profile to public to comment
There are 879 comments.
 

All comments will display your real name. Read our commenting rules.
NewestOldestReader Recommended
terry reed
terry reed 22 minutes ago

I am offended by ugly women.


No doubt about it... ugly women offend me...."triggers unhappy feelings and makes me uncomfortable".


In extreme cases it might traumatize me.


Too protect me from these unhappy feelings and in the Columbia University solution....


Should ugly women be required to wear the veil???



Flag ButtonShare
Douglas Finlayson
Douglas Finlayson 42 minutes ago

The metaphor is our subconscious engaging us in conversation.   Ms Noonan lets hers spill out lugubriously.   Those of us who enjoy dancing with Peggy's wolves and fairies can also reserve some sadness and pity for those snowflakes tormented by their anxiously noisome inner kids. 

Reality becomes infinitely more beautiful when our inner children smile and engage instead of fleeing.  When the monster crawls from neath the bed, throw it a treat and befriend it or just beat it off with a verbal club.
Flag ButtonShare
Gregory Swenson
Gregory Swenson 38 minutes ago

@Douglas Finlayson  What?


Flag ButtonShare
1
Keith Dowling
Keith Dowling 43 minutes ago

The Oprah generation - more about feeling than thinking.



Flag ButtonShare
26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / This doesn't sound good , , , on: May 23, 2015, 10:33:29 AM
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/22/3662117/2015-hottest-year-record-so-far/

http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/2015-arctic-sea-ice-maximum-annual-extent-is-lowest-on-record

OTOH:

http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/antarctic-sea-ice-reaches-new-record-maximum

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2015/05/19/updated-nasa-data-polar-ice-not-receding-after-all/

27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Scamming on: May 23, 2015, 01:17:11 AM
https://www.facebook.com/X963FM/videos/10151961429467599/
28  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who could have seen this coming? Price increases on: May 23, 2015, 12:49:10 AM
http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-insurers-seek-hefty-rate-boosts-1432244042
29  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Trade Issues / Freedom to Trade on: May 22, 2015, 09:03:21 PM
Sometimes uneven source Dick Morris cheesy says that free flow of labor is in there and I have seen assertions that foreign companies will be able to challenge US environmental standards.
30  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pot kills cancer?!? on: May 22, 2015, 08:59:33 PM
Can't wait to see what GM has to say about this!

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/04/15/the-us-finally-admits-cannabis-kills-cancer-cells/
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ACORN at it again on: May 22, 2015, 08:55:54 PM


Under a new name Acorn is up to its old games:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/19/hired-black-lives-matter-protesters-start-cutthech/
32  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: May 22, 2015, 03:28:02 PM
By Paul McLeary with Ariel Robinson

BREAKING: The U.S. Central Command announced this morning that Iraqi forces have broken through the Islamic State’s months-long siege of the Baiji oil refinery and are now resupplying the beleaguered Iraqi troops inside the facility.

“In the past 72 hours, we have seen the ISF make steady, measured progress in regaining some of the areas leading to the Baiji Oil Refinery despite the significant Daesh resistance in the form of IEDs, suicide vehicle borne IEDs, as well as heavy weapon and rocket fire attacks,” Brig. Gen Thomas Weidley said in a statement. It's a start, but will it be enough to turn the tide?

Things may be bad, but business is good. The week is ending with a bang after announcements that the United States is looking to sell $3.8 billion worth of military equipment to Israel and Saudi Arabia. And not to be outdone, Russia is working hard to expand its defense business with Iraq.

In the first instance, Israel has requested 14,500 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) precision guided weapons for its Air Force in a potential deal worth $1.8 billion. If the sale goes through -- which it should -- Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Raytheon Missile Systems should all be pretty happy.

Similarly, the State Department has signed off on the sale of ten MH-60R helicopters with associated radars and dozens of Hellfire missiles -- and 380 laser-guided rockets -- in a $1.9 billion package. Those people you see smiling? They probably work for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and Lockheed Martin, both of which should do pretty well when the deal is finalized.

Are the similar dollar amounts and the fact that the deals were announced within 24 hours of each other a coincidence? Your call, friends.

Russia and Iraq. In the midst of the most dire crisis his country has faced since the departure of the last U.S. combat troops in December 2011, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi this week did the obvious thing to do: he got on a plane and flew to Moscow.

Iraqi officials insisted that the trip was simply part of a long-planned commitment to meet with Russian officials about potential energy and arms deals. No word yet on what those deals might be, but both Iraq and the U.S. have spent billions to buy dozens of Russian attack helicopters over the years (with Washington buying them for both Afghanistan and Iraq), along with some armored vehicles.

At the end of a second day of meetings on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow and Baghdad are “expanding cooperation in the area of military technology,” and that “our companies are working in your country and we are talking of investments in the order of billions of dollars.” Abadi also visited with a group of Iraqi officers being trained in Russia.

How confident is Washington in Abadi’s ability to lead his country through this crisis while navigating his way through the minefield of sectarian politics and rivalries? “He’s the only horse to back,” lamented one former CIA official. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov however, sees things a bit differently, saying recently that in the fight against the Islamic State, Moscow is ”helping both Iraq and Syria, possibly more effectively than anyone else, by providing weapons to their armies and security forces.”

And while all of this is happening, Iraqis are increasingly blaming the United States for the fall of Ramadi.
33  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China warns US overflight on: May 22, 2015, 03:02:11 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/20/politics/south-china-sea-navy-flight/index.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=*Situation%20Report&utm_campaign=SitRep0522
34  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Do you know how Memorial Day started? on: May 21, 2015, 11:31:48 PM
http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/first-american-memorial-day-commemorated
35  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: May 21, 2015, 11:06:24 PM
Not always precise in its coverage, but it does look into the right places:

http://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/
36  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: May 21, 2015, 06:55:20 PM
Dear Friend,

The House just passed HR 1191 that purports to restore Congressional oversight over the President’s negotiations with Iran’s fascist-Islamic leaders.  I believe it completely missed the point.
 
Any agreement with Iran’s leaders is meaningless, because their word is meaningless.  Iran’s government is a notoriously untrustworthy rogue state that has made it unmistakably clear that it intends to acquire nuclear weapons and once acquired, to use them.  The only way to avert this nightmare -- short of war -- is for the regime to collapse from within. 
 
Our Constitution requires that any treaty be approved by 2/3 of the Senate.  This wasn’t going to happen, so Mr. Obama simply redefined the prospective treaty as an agreement between leaders – an agreement with no force of law and no legal standing.
 
I fear that Congress has just changed this equation by establishing a wholly extra-constitutional process that lends the imprimatur of Congress to these ill-advised negotiations with no practical way to stop the lifting of sanctions.  Instead of 2/3 of the Senate having to approve a treaty as the Constitution requires, this agreement takes effect automatically unless 2/3 of both houses reject it – a complete sham.
 
I fear that this bill gives tacit approval to extremely harmful negotiations that Congress instead ought to vigorously condemn and unambiguously repudiate.
 
We can only pray that in the days ahead, what Churchill called “the Parliamentary democracies” will regain the national leadership required to prevent a repetition of the Munich Accords in the Middle East.
 
That will require treating the Iranian dictatorship as the international pariah that it is.  And it will require providing every ounce of moral and material support that the Iranian opposition needs to rid their nation of this fascist-Islamic dictatorship, to restore their proud heritage and to retake their place among the civilized nations of the world.

Sincerely,

 

Tom McClintock
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / April Existing Home Sales on: May 21, 2015, 01:03:58 PM
Data Watch
________________________________________
Existing Home Sales Declined 3.3% in April To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 5/21/2015

Existing home sales declined 3.3% in April to a 5.04 million annual rate, coming in below the consensus expected 5.22 million annual rate. Sales are up 6.1% versus a year ago.

Sales declined in all major regions of the country except the Midwest. The decrease in sales was due a drop in single-family homes while sales of condos/coops remained unchanged in April.

The median price of an existing home rose to $219,400 in April (not seasonally adjusted) and is up 8.9% versus a year ago. Average prices are up 5.5% versus last year.
The months’ supply of existing homes (how long it would take to sell the entire inventory at the current sales rate) increased to 5.3 months in April from 4.6 months in March. This was due to an increase in inventories as well as a decline in the pace of sales.

Implications: Lets hold off on housing for a moment. The most exciting news today was that initial claims for unemployment insurance came in at 274,000, bringing the four-week moving average to 266,000, the lowest level since April 2000. This, paired with a decline in continuing claims to the lowest level since November 2000, signals greater strength in the labor market and further supports the Fed raising rates sooner rather than later. Sales of existing homes took a breather in April; however this marks the second consecutive month of sales above an annual rate of 5 million units. Sales have now increased year over year for seven months, showing that demand continues to grow. Sales are up 6.1% from a year ago, and the underlying trend suggests more solid gains in the year ahead. Sales of distressed homes (foreclosures and short sales) now account for only 10% of total sales, down from 15% a year ago. All-cash buyers are down to 24% of sales from 32% a year ago. As a result, while total sales are up a moderate 6.1% from a year ago, non-cash sales (where the buyer uses a mortgage loan) are up a more robust 18.6%. What this means is that when distressed and all-cash sales eventually bottom out, total sales will start rising at a more rapid pace. So even though credit (but, not liquidity) remains relatively tight, we see evidence of a thaw, which suggests overall sales will climb at a faster pace in the year ahead. What’s interesting is that the percentage of buyers using credit has increased as the Fed tapered and then ended QE. Those predicting a housing crash without more QE were completely wrong. The inventory of existing homes increased 10% in April, however it remains 0.9% lower than a year ago. Lack of supply is one of the main drivers behind continuing price increases and houses on the market selling faster in April (39 days) than at any time since July 2013 (32 days). The median sales price of an existing home rose to $219,400 in April, up 8.9% from a year ago. In other news this morning, the Philadelphia Fed index, a measure of strength in East Coast manufacturing, declined to 6.7 in May versus 7.5 in April, signaling continued Plow Horse growth in that sector.
38  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel fuct by France on: May 21, 2015, 11:56:20 AM
"According to French initiative, if sides fail to reach agreement by deadline, Paris will officially recognize Palestine"

What kind of an initiative is this? How does that produce any incentive for Fatah to make necessary compromises for peace, when they will get what they want, if they simply wait long enough?

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4659872,00.html
39  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: May 21, 2015, 10:56:26 AM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/comic/eyes-open/
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/comic/assaults-2/
40  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: May 21, 2015, 09:21:53 AM
Should We Be Excluding GOP Candidates From Debates This Early?
Fox News and CNN are drawing a line in the sand -- er, on the debate stage. If you want to be part of the big show in the first Republican presidential debates, you have to be in the top ten in polling. Otherwise, you’re consigned to other appearances on the network, or as Byron York called it, “the kiddie table.”
“The CNN Republican primary debate on September 16 will be divided into two parts featuring two different sets of candidates: those who rank in the top 10 according to public polling, and the remaining candidates who mean a minimum threshold of one percent in public polling, the On Media blog has learned.”
For college basketball fans, think of the second CNN debate as the NIT Tournament. If everyone agrees you won the second debate, you get to chant, “We’re number eleven! We’re number eleven!”
Ace makes the case that at this point, no serious candidate should be left out:
People don’t know enough to make informed judgments yet. That is the point of a debate -- and that’s the point of a first debate, surely.
We are in the very beginnings of this process, and FoxNews is using polls of uninformed people (and I don’t mean that negatively; most of us are uniformed at this point) to decide who is allowed to run for President.
And yes, this poll -- based on nothing but name recognition -- will in fact knock five or six people out of the contest entirely. Once you’re excluded from a debate, you are labeled “fringe” forever -- and good luck trying to get free media, volunteers, and donors once you’ve been labeled fringe.
. . . This isn’t a normal year. We have a lot of serious candidates. So do we stick with the usual, or do we adjust our practices to take into consideration the unusualness of this season?
I think the latter. My proposal is that they split debate night into two panels, over two nights. (Or two panels on one night-- but that would be a long night, with around three hours total debate time plus time in between.)
The top six in the polls would do a random draw to be split between the panels, three and three. Everyone else would do another random draw to determine which panel they’d be in.
You’d end up having about 6-8 people per panel, which is a workable number.
Note that the Fox “solution” solves little -- having ten people on the stage, answering the same questions, will be a huge [bad word for mess]! It’s barely an improvement over having fifteen -- do the math. Assuming about an hour, all told, answering questions (once the questions themselves, commercials, and basic traffic direction are excluded), ten people would have about six minute each to answer questions.
Fifteen people would have four minutes each.
So we’re fighting to get “four minutes of actual answers per candidate” up to six minutes?
A lot of us have the cynical suspicion that some of the candidates know they have no shot at the nomination, and are running to achieve some lesser goal: the vice-presidential slot, a cabinet post, a television gig, bigger speaking fees and book deals after the election. Last cycle’s experience demonstrated that even the longest of long-shots can end up being the flavor-of-the-month.
41  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Patriot Post on Wounded Warrior Project and alternatives on: May 21, 2015, 09:09:41 AM
How best to support our troops/our veterans?

    Wounded Warrior Warning

    Emotional Appeals? Caveat Emptor

    By Mark Alexander · May 20, 2015

    "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." —John Adams (1770)

    It appears that some Leftmedia talkingheads have finally decided to ask some tough questions about the corrupt practices of the Clintons, Bill and Demo presidential hopeful Hillary, and their flush Clinton Family Foundation.

    Charity Watch has the CFF on its "watch list," and Bill Allison, senior fellow at the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group, has likened the CFF to a "slush fund" for the Clintons. And for good reason: The Clintons took in more than $140 million in donations in 2013, but spent a comparatively paltry $9 million on direct aid.

    Seeing the corrupt Clinton Machine subjected to some scrutiny by the media is a welcome sight indeed, but it's also a temporary one. It won't be long before the Clintons' media sycophants have circled the wagons around their Demo darlings and once again trained their guns on Republican presidential hopefuls.

    But I digress...

    This week, midway between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, a Marine officer requested I ask some tough questions about another foundation amid charges of questionable practices.

    He forwarded me an email assailing the integrity of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) — a Florida-based organization that spends so much of its revenue on advertising that it is now the most widely recognized veteran support organization.

    My Marine colleague asked that we investigate the email claims, and we did.

    On behalf of our readers, including tens of thousands of military Patriots and their families who have or are considering financially supporting WWP, here is what we've determined concerning the questions raised by a widely circulated email.

    That email makes claims about exorbitant salaries being paid to WWP executives and then referenced a website "that exposed exactly how the charity spends the money it receives from patriotic Americans." It then concludes, "WWP might as well be run by the Mafia," and references an article at an online site called "Veterans Today" as the source.

    Notably, that article has now been removed, and for the record, Veterans Today is a purveyor of mindless "conspiracy theories" and borderline neo-Nazi propaganda. Thus, neither the original email nor its "source" is credible.

    That errant email notwithstanding, I have noted the enormous amount of donor dollars WWP spends asking for more donor dollars, and so further reviewed WWP's history and financial statements.

    For background, the WWP was founded in 2003 by John Melia, who himself suffered severe injuries in a 1992 Somalia helicopter crash. In 2005, the United Spinal Association granted $2.7 million to WWP to "develop into a stand-alone charity with its own identity and programs." WWP became an independent charitable organization shortly thereafter, certified by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

    WWP's mission is to "honor and empower Wounded Warriors" and to "foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history." Its stated objective is to "raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members, help injured service members aid and assist each other and provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members."

    Fact is, WWP makes great strides to achieve its mission — all well and good. But to determine the degree to which WWP's revenues support that mission, our team reviewed the two most recent audited financial statements available, 2012 and 2013, as well as the WWP's marketing material and website.

    In 2013, WWP took in almost $305 million in donations and claimed service to about 35,000 registered alumni and 4,000 others defined as "family or caregivers of a registered alumni." Those donations were up from $200 million in 2012, due primarily to massive advertising expenditures.

    With its proceeds, WWP funds about 15 programs and writes grants to other veteran support groups. But what we found most alarming is the amount of funding paid for advertising and administration.

    Many veteran support organizations are run effectively by volunteers — but not WWP.

    According to Charity Navigator, the nation's largest oversight and review organization for charitable groups, WWP allocates about 55% of its revenue to program expenses while the remaining 45% is used for fundraising, salaries, consulting, meetings, events and travel.

    WWP received a "D" rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy and only a C+ by Charity Watch. Indeed, WWP ranks substantially below other national veteran support groups like Fisher House Foundation, Operation Homefront and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

    WWP's CEO Steven Nardizzi, a lawyer who now receives a $375,000 salary, served up a legalese rebuttal to the evaluations from Charity Watch and Charity Navigator, insisting in The Chronicle of Philanthropy that those rating organizations were "horribly ineffective and misinformed."

    However, facts are stubborn things, and an organization's audited financial statements can certainly expose a lot of facts.

    While WWP expenditures appear to qualify under the legal parameters for 501(c)(3) nonprofits, only about 55 cents of every dollar WWP takes in goes to direct benefits for a wounded warrior. We have no objection to WWP's considerable efforts to raise funds, but it should raise questions when such a large percentage of donations fail to make it to our wounded warriors.

    My recommendation?

    The growth of veteran support organizations since 2001, some of them worthy of your investment, is as viral as those surprise military homecoming videos — and most of those organizations are appealing to similar sentiments.

    Of course, no American Patriot would oppose supporting veterans, particularly those who have suffered severe injuries. I know more than a few of them, and last year The Patriot Post helped build a house to accommodate the needs of a young soldier who lost both legs to an IED in Afghanistan.  But, when organizations pitch strong sentimental appeals asking for your money, whether those appeals be for starving children in Africa or disabled Veterans at home, caveat emptor.  When investing your dollars to support veterans, seek out good third-party evaluations to determine how much of those dollars will actually support that mission, and choose one where at least 75% of revenues do just that.

    Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
    Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
42  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on Wounded Warrior Project and alternatives on: May 21, 2015, 09:08:32 AM
How best to support our troops/our veterans?

    Wounded Warrior Warning

    Emotional Appeals? Caveat Emptor

    By Mark Alexander · May 20, 2015

    "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." —John Adams (1770)

    It appears that some Leftmedia talkingheads have finally decided to ask some tough questions about the corrupt practices of the Clintons, Bill and Demo presidential hopeful Hillary, and their flush Clinton Family Foundation.

    Charity Watch has the CFF on its "watch list," and Bill Allison, senior fellow at the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group, has likened the CFF to a "slush fund" for the Clintons. And for good reason: The Clintons took in more than $140 million in donations in 2013, but spent a comparatively paltry $9 million on direct aid.

    Seeing the corrupt Clinton Machine subjected to some scrutiny by the media is a welcome sight indeed, but it's also a temporary one. It won't be long before the Clintons' media sycophants have circled the wagons around their Demo darlings and once again trained their guns on Republican presidential hopefuls.

    But I digress...

    This week, midway between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, a Marine officer requested I ask some tough questions about another foundation amid charges of questionable practices.

    He forwarded me an email assailing the integrity of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) — a Florida-based organization that spends so much of its revenue on advertising that it is now the most widely recognized veteran support organization.

    My Marine colleague asked that we investigate the email claims, and we did.

    On behalf of our readers, including tens of thousands of military Patriots and their families who have or are considering financially supporting WWP, here is what we've determined concerning the questions raised by a widely circulated email.

    That email makes claims about exorbitant salaries being paid to WWP executives and then referenced a website "that exposed exactly how the charity spends the money it receives from patriotic Americans." It then concludes, "WWP might as well be run by the Mafia," and references an article at an online site called "Veterans Today" as the source.

    Notably, that article has now been removed, and for the record, Veterans Today is a purveyor of mindless "conspiracy theories" and borderline neo-Nazi propaganda. Thus, neither the original email nor its "source" is credible.

    That errant email notwithstanding, I have noted the enormous amount of donor dollars WWP spends asking for more donor dollars, and so further reviewed WWP's history and financial statements.

    For background, the WWP was founded in 2003 by John Melia, who himself suffered severe injuries in a 1992 Somalia helicopter crash. In 2005, the United Spinal Association granted $2.7 million to WWP to "develop into a stand-alone charity with its own identity and programs." WWP became an independent charitable organization shortly thereafter, certified by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

    WWP's mission is to "honor and empower Wounded Warriors" and to "foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history." Its stated objective is to "raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members, help injured service members aid and assist each other and provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members."

    Fact is, WWP makes great strides to achieve its mission — all well and good. But to determine the degree to which WWP's revenues support that mission, our team reviewed the two most recent audited financial statements available, 2012 and 2013, as well as the WWP's marketing material and website.

    In 2013, WWP took in almost $305 million in donations and claimed service to about 35,000 registered alumni and 4,000 others defined as "family or caregivers of a registered alumni." Those donations were up from $200 million in 2012, due primarily to massive advertising expenditures.

    With its proceeds, WWP funds about 15 programs and writes grants to other veteran support groups. But what we found most alarming is the amount of funding paid for advertising and administration.

    Many veteran support organizations are run effectively by volunteers — but not WWP.

    According to Charity Navigator, the nation's largest oversight and review organization for charitable groups, WWP allocates about 55% of its revenue to program expenses while the remaining 45% is used for fundraising, salaries, consulting, meetings, events and travel.

    WWP received a "D" rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy and only a C+ by Charity Watch. Indeed, WWP ranks substantially below other national veteran support groups like Fisher House Foundation, Operation Homefront and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

    WWP's CEO Steven Nardizzi, a lawyer who now receives a $375,000 salary, served up a legalese rebuttal to the evaluations from Charity Watch and Charity Navigator, insisting in The Chronicle of Philanthropy that those rating organizations were "horribly ineffective and misinformed."

    However, facts are stubborn things, and an organization's audited financial statements can certainly expose a lot of facts.

    While WWP expenditures appear to qualify under the legal parameters for 501(c)(3) nonprofits, only about 55 cents of every dollar WWP takes in goes to direct benefits for a wounded warrior. We have no objection to WWP's considerable efforts to raise funds, but it should raise questions when such a large percentage of donations fail to make it to our wounded warriors.

    My recommendation?

    The growth of veteran support organizations since 2001, some of them worthy of your investment, is as viral as those surprise military homecoming videos — and most of those organizations are appealing to similar sentiments.

    Of course, no American Patriot would oppose supporting veterans, particularly those who have suffered severe injuries. I know more than a few of them, and last year The Patriot Post helped build a house to accommodate the needs of a young soldier who lost both legs to an IED in Afghanistan.  But, when organizations pitch strong sentimental appeals asking for your money, whether those appeals be for starving children in Africa or disabled Veterans at home, caveat emptor.  When investing your dollars to support veterans, seek out good third-party evaluations to determine how much of those dollars will actually support that mission, and choose one where at least 75% of revenues do just that.

    Pro Deo et Constitutione -- Libertas aut Mors
    Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

43  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary responsible for email delay on: May 20, 2015, 07:00:48 PM
Blame Hillary For Email Delay
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Published on TheHillaryDaily.com on May 19, 2015
Hillary Deliberately Caused Delay Of Email Release By Submitting Only Paper Copies
Hillary Clinton ended her 37-day boycott of the press today when she spent a few minutes claiming she wants her emails released by the State Department ASAP.

But here's the thing: the only reason that there's been such a long delay is that Hillary deliberately delivered the 550,000 emails in hard copies, instead of in electronic files.

Why does that make a difference?

Because that meant every single one of the 550,000 pages has to be manually scanned. And, to make it even harder, Hillary made sure that some of the documents were copies on both sides. That took 5 weeks of 12 people working full time to complete.

And Hillary knew that would create just one more obstacle and cause an enormous delay.

She also knew that the paper files couldn't be searched like electronic files. And she didn't want to make it easy to connect the dots.

So her fervent wish for the release of the documents is as phone as her claims that she did nothing wrong when she set up her home-brew server and use it for her official State Department documents.

She thinks we are all stupid and that we don't get it. But we do: Hillary set up her home server to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act, she did just that, and once caught, she wiped her server clean and got rid of everything she didn't want us to see.

We get it Hillary.
The 2016 Buzz -- All The Latest News on the Candidates and Issues. 

Click Here to view the 2016 Buzz!
44  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey arming jihadis in Syria? on: May 20, 2015, 03:55:43 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/05/20/claim-turkish-govt-arming-islamist-groups-in-syria/
45  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / I'd have been a jewish Don King if this happened to me on: May 20, 2015, 12:35:36 PM
http://www.islandpacket.com/2015/05/19/3754777/driver-with-sawed-off-shotgun.html?rh=1
46  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor: Disbanding the V'n mafia on: May 20, 2015, 12:32:26 PM
 Disbanding the Venezuelan Mafia
Geopolitical Diary
May 20, 2015 | 03:00 GMT
Text Size
Print

As the price of Brent crude continued its five-day dip, settling at $64 per barrel Tuesday, we can assume the latest slump is extremely worrisome for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The petrodollars he needs to keep the Venezuelan economy afloat are dwindling. He has only $17.8 billion sitting in largely illiquid reserves, most of which are stored in gold, and total reserves are declining by roughly $2 billion every month. Less oil revenue means fewer dollars to fund imports, which in turn means the average Venezuelan with a necessary ID card can shop only on days designated by the government. And on those days, that citizen has to rush to stand in maddeningly long lines patrolled by security guards only to find that basic goods, from toilet paper to milk, are stripped from the shelves.

But the drop in the price of oil is not the only thing Venezuelans can blame for the shortages. Festering within the government are a number of powerful individuals who were propelled into positions of influence during the administration of former President Hugo Chavez and who have used that influence to shape the economy into a mangled instrument that suited their personal interests. These individuals now function less as a government than as a mafia. Military generals and government officials have worked hand in hand to move cocaine from Colombia through Venezuela while gaming the country's purchasing and distribution mechanisms and subsidized exchange rates to realize profits from various arbitrage schemes. So even when the government is able to import basic goods, their partners in crime can hoard products at ports or in warehouses to sit and rot or eventually be sold on the black market.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

Maduro inherited a government stacked with officials and generals whose primary interest is to maintain the influence and the perks that come with their positions. But Maduro has a problem. Venezuela's shortages are eventually going to reach a critical point as the country's financial cushion deflates, creating the potential for more serious unrest. At the same time, elections are due this year, and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela is going to struggle to win votes when the government is running on the fumes of the Chavez era. If Maduro has any chance of carrying the country through this crisis, he will have to start by dislodging Chavistas who are distorting critical parts of the economy through their elaborate corruption schemes.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. If Maduro had the power to purge his government, he would have done so by now. The people in question are powerful for a reason, and they have military backing and links to armed groups that can cause trouble if they are crossed. The prospect of messy street protests means he needs the support of his security forces more than ever.

It is for these reasons that we are particularly interested in the growing number of leaks and rumors on U.S. prosecutors and Drug Enforcement Administration members working to build cases against high-level Venezuelan officials complicit in drug trafficking. Following weeks of rumors in Venezuelan media on impending indictments against high-level officials, The Wall Street Journal captured a great deal of attention on Monday with its detailed investigation on this very issue. The report claimed that National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, Aragua state Gov. Tareck El Aissami, head of the National Guard Nestor Reverol, Gen. Luis Motta Dominguez and retired Gen. Hugo Carvajal are under investigation in the United States, giving credence to previous claims in Venezuela that Cabello, in particular, is at the top of the United States' list of targets.

Of course, these cases have been building for some time, particularly after the 2010 arrest of Venezuelan drug kingpin Walid Makled. But it is notable that the rumors are intensifying at the same time the United States is trying to repair its relationship with Caracas. U.S. State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon met with Maduro on May 11, following up an April visit, and is reportedly expected to have more meetings with him in the coming weeks. The investigation of such high-profile Venezuelan officials would be discussed in these meetings. It is also reasonable to believe Cabello would be a central point as well.

Cabello, who participated in the 1992 coup attempt led by Chavez, has served in several powerful positions in the government and has influence over several members of the military. So long as he remains in a position of influence, the members in his criminal network are also protected. For now, as president of the National Assembly, Cabello has diplomatic immunity from any charges that the United States could throw at him. But if he loses his power — either through elections or through a decision by Maduro — then he and his cohorts will be susceptible to arrest and extradition if they leave the country now that he faces an impending indictment. Such concerns may be at least part of the reason we have not yet seen the Venezuelan government follow through in setting a date for the elections, even though Maduro likely knows that canceling the elections would result only in more severe and possibly unmanageable unrest on the streets.

That brings us back to the talks between Shannon and Maduro. Holding charges over the heads of powerful members of the Venezuelan government enables Washington to pressure Caracas into making political concessions, including a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition. But there may be more to the negotiation as well. Maduro may not be able to purge powerful figures such as Cabello and El Aissami on his own, but there is a possibility they could be sacrificed as part of a bargain with Washington — beginning the process of routing the government and the economy of its most destructive elements and delivering a message that the criminal networks distorting the economy are not impenetrable.

One way or another, Maduro needs to mitigate food shortages and secure economic aid. The United States is in no way the whole answer to Venezuela's problems or a substitute for the structural reforms needed to repair the economy, but it may be able to offer Maduro a partial solution. That prospect alone should have Cabello nervous.
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Bobby Jindal on: May 20, 2015, 12:18:43 PM
http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/05/gov_bobby_jindal_issues_religi.html
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / (ex) CIA's Mike Morrell says Bush-Cheney lied on: May 20, 2015, 12:06:41 PM
http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/videos/bushs-top-cia-briefer-bush-and-cheney-lied-to-the-public-about-iraq-war-video/
49  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Story, 1833 on: May 20, 2015, 12:00:33 PM
"Men, to act with vigor and effect, must have time to mature measures, and judgment and experience, as to the best method of applying them. They must not be hurried on to their conclusions by the passions, or the fears of the multitude. They must deliberate, as well as resolve." —Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
50  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bank Cartel: You better sleep with one eye open on: May 20, 2015, 11:57:58 AM
BREAKING NEWS   Wednesday, May 20, 2015 10:32 AM EDT

5 Big Banks to Pay Billions and Plead Guilty in Currency and Interest Rate Cases

Adding another entry to Wall Street’s growing rap sheet, five big banks have agreed to pay more than $5 billion and plead guilty to multiple crimes related to manipulating foreign currencies and interest rates, federal and state authorities announced on Wednesday.

The Justice Department forced four of the banks — Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and the Royal Bank of Scotland — to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market as part of a scheme that padded the banks’ profits and enriched the traders who carried out the plot. The traders were supposed to be competitors, but much like companies that rigged the price of vitamins and automotive parts, they colluded to manipulate the largest and yet least regulated market in the financial world, where some $5 trillion changes hands every day.

Underscoring the collusive nature of their contact, which often occurred in online chat rooms, one group of traders called themselves “the cartel,” an-invitation only club where stakes were so high that a newcomer was warned “mess this up and sleep with one eye open.” To carry out the scheme, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency and then unload it at a crucial moment, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks agreed to, as New York State’s financial regulator put it, “stay out of each other’s way.”

As part of the criminal deal with the Justice Department, a fifth bank, UBS, will plead guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark that underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans.

READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/business/dealbook/5-big-banks-to-pay-billions-and-plead-guilty-in-currency-and-interest-rate-cases.html?emc=edit_na_20150520





Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 665
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!