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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: January 04, 2017, 10:55:54 AM
 angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO: I guess we are not going to make a fuss about that on: January 04, 2017, 10:50:04 AM
I Guess We’re Just Not Going to Make a Fuss About That!

Remember throughout the summer when Republicans had great fun counting the number of days it had been since Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had held a press conference?

The Republican National Committee had fun pointing this out, again and again. Donald Trump had fun pointing this out.  Townhall. IJR. Yup, I noted it, too. When the networks didn’t make a fuss, Newsbusters called them out on it.

President-elect Trump hasn’t held a press conference since before the election – since July 27, in fact. You don’t see many Republicans complaining about it, though. I guess he’s “our” guy now, so we’re just not going to make a fuss about that.

Yesterday his office announced a press conference for January 11.  At this press conference, Trump is expected to give an update on how his separation from his vast personal financial empire is progressing. On November 30, he tweeted, “legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”

Good. Republicans spent a lot of time in the past few years arguing that the vast financial donations to the Clinton Foundation from private donors and foreign countries represented a massive conflict of interest. We wanted to cross-check every massive donation against every decision Clinton had made as secretary of state – and we found plenty of reasons to be suspicious.

But you haven’t heard many Republicans demanding a full separation of President Trump from the Trump businesses. You really haven’t heard any complaining about the Kuwaiti, Bahraini, and Azerbaijani embassies booking events at Trump’s new Washington hotel, and that backdoor way of a foreign government putting money into Trump’s pocket. I guess Kuwaiti money is only bothersome when it ends up at the Clinton Foundation.  I guess he’s “our” guy now, so we’re just not going to make a fuss about that.

After promising to release his tax returns several times as a candidate, and then not doing so, the president-elect may not file any more financial disclosures than legally required:  The president-elect is not required to file the annual disclosure until 2018, but the past several presidents have filed in the spring after their inaugurations and then every year in office from then on, as a show of openness. Trump’s transition team did not respond to inquiries about whether he plans to follow that example.

Republicans would have been fine with that kind of a delay from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Joe Biden, right? Those financial disclosure forms were key to showcasing the “pay-for-play” allegations at the Clinton Foundation.  But I guess he’s “our” guy now, so we’re just not going to make a fuss about that.

Back during the campaign, I said a temporary embrace of Julian Assange was dangerous for Republicans. I pointed out Assange’s deeply anti-American ideology and his exposure of Afghan informers to the U.S. military. Silly me for thinking the embrace would be temporary. Kellyanne Conway says “we should pay significant attention” to what Assange says, and Sarah Palin is publicly apologizing to him.

I guess he’s “our” guy now, too, so we’re just not going to make a fuss about that.

There must have been some memo I didn’t get, announcing that Republicans don’t care about press conferences, tax returns, payments from foreign governments, financial disclosure, or Julian Assange leaking classified information anymore. Or some revision emphasizing that we only care about these things when Democrats are involved.

As noted yesterday, Mary Barra is the CEO and longtime high-ranking executive of General Motors, the taxpayer-saved company once reviled by conservatives as “Government Motors.” She was saluted at the State of the Union by President Obama and in March, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta sent the candidate a "first cut of people to consider for VP”, a list of 39 names that included Barra.  Barra’s on Trump’s economic advisory panel now.
I guess she’s “our” gal now, so we’re just not going to make a fuss about that, either.
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 04, 2017, 10:36:01 AM
Good article.

The final paragraphs get to what I have been saying here for a very long time.  Prices need to be knowable.

I would like to explore the notion that prices need to be the same for everyone, be they insured or uninsured.

154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AIPAC is confused by new reality in Washington on: January 04, 2017, 10:28:34 AM
http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/220665/no-one-is-afraid-of-aipac?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=76689e08c5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-76689e08c5-207194629
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin and the Russian Apartment House Bombings on: January 04, 2017, 09:48:35 AM
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439060/vladimir-putin-1999-russian-apartment-house-bombings-was-putin-responsible
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Putin's real long game on: January 04, 2017, 09:47:33 AM


http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/putins-real-long-game-214589

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439060/vladimir-putin-1999-russian-apartment-house-bombings-was-putin-responsible
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Critiques of the DHS/FBI Grizzly Steppe Report on: January 04, 2017, 01:24:34 AM
Critiques of the DHS/FBI’s GRIZZLY STEPPE Report
http://www.robertmlee.org/critiques-of-the-dhsfbis-grizzly-steppe-report/

Article about the Indicators of Compromise (IOC) released in the US CERT Report:

Some notes on IoCs
http://blog.erratasec.com/2016/12/some-notes-on-iocs.html#.WGychxsrKC8

Russian election hacking sanctions
http://malwarejake.blogspot.com/2017/01/russian-election-hacking-sanctions.html
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption, Skullduggery, and Treason on: January 03, 2017, 07:42:57 PM
And well-meaning people who were also revolted by the serial criminality of the Clintons.
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Bezos, Amazon, Wikileaks, and the CIA on: January 03, 2017, 07:42:03 PM
http://fair.org/uncategorized/amazon-wilkileaks-the-washington-post-and-the-cia/
160  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 2017 Gathering Calendar on: January 03, 2017, 05:01:43 PM


April 7-9 in Hannover, Germany

May 20-21 US Tribal

July 15 Montreal, Canada

October 27 - 29 Bern, Switzerland
Friday-Tribal / Saturday-Open / Sunday-Seminar

September 24 US Open:
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / December Manufacturing Index on: January 03, 2017, 03:53:48 PM
The ISM Manufacturing Index Rose to 54.7 in December To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 1/3/2017

The ISM manufacturing index rose to 54.7 in December, beating the consensus expected level of 53.8. (Levels higher than 50 signal expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)

The major measures of activity were mostly higher in December, and all stand above 50, signaling growth. The new orders index surged to 60.2 from 53.0 in November, while the production index increased to 60.3 from 56.0. The employment index moved higher to 53.1 from 52.3, while the supplier deliveries index declined to 52.9 from 55.7 in November.

The prices paid index increased to 65.5 in December from 54.5 in November.

Implications: Manufacturing ended 2016 on a high note, with the ISM manufacturing survey hitting the highest reading in two years. And December's increase represents the fourth consecutive month that the index has moved higher, signaling faster growth. Both the new orders and production indices hit multi-year highs, suggesting that 2017 should hit the ground running as factories gear up to fill increased demand. Some of this may be in part due to President-Elect Trump's focus on the manufacturing sector, but we think the likelihood of tax and regulatory reform are boosting confidence across industries and will benefit both the manufacturing and service sectors. The employment index also hit a 2016 high in December after being the only major indicator to decline in November. That said, manufacturing remains a small portion of total employment. We tend to focus on other signals of labor force strength (initial claims, earnings growth, and consumer spending) which have shown constant strength even through some turbulent times for the manufacturing sector. On the inflation front, the prices paid index skyrocketed to 65.5 in December from 54.5 in November, with eighteen commodities rising in price while just three declined. So any claims that rising prices are just a reflection of the rebound in oil prices are missing the mark. Yes, energy prices have been on the rise since bottoming in mid-2014, but rising economic activity is starting to put pressure on a wide variety of inputs. This, paired with rising energy, is likely to push inflation above the Fed's 2% target in 2017. As a whole, today's report shows the Plow Horse manufacturing sector starting to hit its stride as the nation prepares to pass the reins to a new President. In other news this morning, construction spending increased 0.9% in November (+0.8% including revisions to October). New single-family home building led the way, while hotel construction and public schools also increased.
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Watch the Spending on: January 03, 2017, 12:16:30 PM
Watch the Spending To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 1/3/2017

President-elect Trump wants a Race Horse Economy, not a continuation of the Plow Horse we've had for the past several years.

Out of all of his proposals, the one that should help the economy the most is corporate tax reform, in particular a big cut in the tax rate on profits to 15% or 20% from 35% at present. Typically, corporate profits are subject to two layers of tax: first, when the company earns the money; second, when that same money flows to shareholders in the form of dividends or capital gains.

So, for example, a dollar of pre-tax profits is reduced to 65 cents at the corporate level and then 49.5 cents if the profits are distributed to high-earning taxpayers. (The 65 cents are taxed at a 23.8% rate, including the Obamacare-surcharge.) In effect, these earnings face an effective tax rate of just over 50% (not even considering state income taxes), likely on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve.

In addition, cutting the top tax rate on regular income should help spur economic growth, as many entrepreneurs and partnerships face very high tax rates as well. Lower tax rates will support a game-changing build-out of domestic energy infrastructure.

But tax policy isn't the only fiscal game in town. Investors need to watch government spending as well. Cutting taxes without getting control of government spending is not a recipe for long-term economic growth. Instead, reducing spending will help entrench expectations that lower tax rates would remain in place.

Every dollar the government spends ultimately has to be paid for by taxpayers, either through taxes today or debt, which simply obligates future taxpayers to make payments to bondholders. Either way, there's no free lunch.

Spending hit a 30+ year low in 2000 at 17.6% of GDP. Now federal spending is at 20.9% (and that doesn't include how Obamacare shifts public spending to private insurers, the true cost of student loans, but does include payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). We see the heavier load of government as the overweight jockey weighing down the private sector, preventing it from moving faster.

In the next year or so, we'll be looking for entitlement reforms that reduce long-term spending commitments in Obamacare and Medicaid as well as reductions in non-defense "discretionary" spending.

Back in the 1980s, President Reagan not only cut taxes but cut spending relative to GDP as well. President Clinton also cut spending. By contrast, spending went up during the presidencies of both Bushes and under President Obama as well.

So far, President-elect Trump has talked a good game on taxes but has been sending mixed signals on spending. Investors need to pay attention to both.
 
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Megyn Kelly to NBC on: January 03, 2017, 12:14:09 PM
Third post of day

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/03/business/media/megyn-kelly-nbc-fox-news.html?emc=edit_na_20170103&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo washes its Russian grid hack story on: January 03, 2017, 12:02:53 PM
Fk!!!  Truly I was righter than I realized when I began calling our MSM "the pravdas"!  Again we get more truth from the Russians!  

WTF?!?   angry angry angry


http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2017/01/01/fake-news-and-how-the-washington-post-rewrote-its-story-on-russian-hacking-of-the-power-grid/#2484f597291e
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption, Skullduggery, and Treason on: January 03, 2017, 11:56:04 AM
 Thank God this has been reversed-- but what a profoundly STUPID first move by the Rep Congress!!! angry angry angry We are already going to have a ton of suspicion and negativity over Trump's complex business affairs!
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Columbia Students on FGM on: January 03, 2017, 10:28:22 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQge2xTKPno
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pravda on the Potomac (WaPo) has $600M CIA contract??? on: January 03, 2017, 10:02:12 AM
Russia Today is asserting:

"WaPo refuses to add disclosure about $600M CIA contract.  In 2013, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Only 4 months later, he was awarded a $600 million contract with the CIA. So the CIA has a direct connection to the Washington Post, the paper of record in our nation's capital, but they refuse to add a disclosure to stories they write about the CIA"

Is this true?
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LA Times: Desalinization plant for LA? on: January 03, 2017, 09:56:30 AM
n a picturesque summer afternoon, West Basin Municipal Water District officials chose to woo regulators with a stroll by the beach in El Segundo, stopping to admire an unadulterated strip of California coastline.

"It is beautiful," said Diane Gatza, West Basin’s water resources engineer.
ADVERTISING

A few hours later, environmental advocates held a town hall two miles away in Manhattan Beach.

“The reason we’re here is West Basin Municipal Water District is proposing a … desal plant,” said Bruce Reznik, head of Los Angeles Waterkeeper. “Unfortunately, it seems a little bit like a done deal. We’re trying to stand up here and say that there are better alternatives.”


Like a crashing wave, the fight over desalination has finally arrived in Los Angeles County.

As Southern California grapples with declining imported supplies and climate change that could make droughts more severe, agencies such as West Basin are working to develop new local sources, including water recycling and stormwater capture.

Some suppliers also want to tap the ocean. More than a dozen desalination projects — including West Basin’s proposal — are under consideration along the California coast.


In 2015, the largest coastal desalter in the country started operation in Carlsbad, where it produces 50 million gallons a day of drinking water for San Diego County. Poseidon Water, which built that facility, is pursuing permits for a similarly sized desalination plant in Orange County. If developed to full capacity, the South Bay project would be even bigger.

But as water agencies rush to pour millions of ratepayer dollars into such projects, some experts remain skeptical. A 2016 Stanford study concluded that although desalination may prove crucial for some coastal communities, it is plagued by problems that make it “unlikely to be a major part of California’s water supply portfolio.”

“Every area is a little bit different,” said Joshua Haggmark, water resources manager for Santa Barbara, which is spending at least $64 million to reactivate its decades-old desalination plant by spring. “It’s human nature to start second-guessing yourself.”

Haggmark would know.

Santa Barbara hastily built the state’s first large municipal desalination plant during the drought of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The drought ended just as the facility was nearing completion, and the plant was never used beyond the testing phase.

A decade later, Australia found itself stuck in the “millennium drought” and commissioned six large coastal desalting plants, only to idle four of them after rains returned.

Since then, a handful of tiny plants popped up along the California coast, many of which were for industrial use.

Soon after the Carlsbad plant opened, the San Diego County Water Authority was assailed for agreeing to buy Poseidon’s water, only to wind up with a 500-million-gallon surplus because drought-related conservation had driven down regional demand.

Officials there say the situation was an anomaly.

“San Diego is living proof of the fact that desalination provides … a drought-proof supply of new water,” said Bob Yamada, the agency’s director of water resources.

The battleground has since shifted north to Huntington Beach, where Poseidon seeks to build another 50-million-gallon-per-day plant and sell the water to a local distributor. The company would have to ensure that its plant complied with strict new state desalination standards in order to win approvals from a regional water board and the California Coastal Commission.

How Poseidon navigates the regulatory process could chart a path for West Basin, though the environmental community is certain to bend decision makers’ ears along the way.
Reverse osmosis modules at the West Basin Municipal Water District water recycling facility in El Segundo.
Reverse osmosis modules at the West Basin Municipal Water District water recycling facility in El Segundo. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Critics note that the cost of desalinated water is still about double that of imported water because it remains so energy intensive to produce, and that the process leaves a significant carbon footprint that contributes to climate change.

The extent of desalination’s impact on the ocean is less clear. The process involves taking water into the plant, stripping the water of its salt, and then discharging the salty brine that remains back into the ocean. The new state rules deal with both the intake and discharge methods, which can harm marine life.

Desalination “is not the worst environmental crime in the world, but it certainly has an impact,” said Heal the Bay’s Steven Johnson.

After years of research, West Basin is expected to release an environmental impact report for its proposed project this winter.

The plant will produce either 20 million gallons of desalinated water a day or 60 million, depending on whether West Basin can find a business partner. If a 60-million-gallon-per-day facility opened today, it would become the largest in North and South America, according to data provided by the International Desalination Assn. and DesalData.com.

Agency officials say the plant would cost either $400 or $900 million to construct, depending on its size, and would not open until 2023. At that point, officials project that their 1 million customers would see bills increase between $3 and $5 a month.

West Basin, a public agency that provides wholesale drinking and recycled water to much of southwest Los Angeles County, would prefer to build the plant on the industrially zoned site its officials toured that summer afternoon — a power plant in El Segundo that abuts a popular surf spot and Manhattan Beach.
The West Basin Municipal Water District desalination facility would be on the NRG power generating station campus in El Segundo.
The West Basin Municipal Water District desalination facility would be on the NRG power generating station campus in El Segundo. (NRG)

Three miles away, the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant discharges as much as 250 million gallons of treated wastewater into the ocean each day. Environmentalists cringe when they envision all that reusable water getting dumped into the sea, only to have it sucked back up and desalted.

Johnson and Reznik say that water agencies such as West Basin should maximize water recycling, stormwater capture and conservation before turning to desalination as a last resort. If West Basin’s environmental impact report fails to analyze water recycling as an alternative to desalination, “we’re going to sue,” Reznik said.

West Basin General Manager Rich Nagel said he believes those avenues have largely been exhausted. The district already recycles up to 40 million gallons of Hyperion’s wastewater each day for use on golf courses, in cooling towers and in refineries. But under current state rules, customers can’t drink recycled water until it is filtered through the ground or diluted in reservoirs, so Nagel says desalination is necessary to boost the agency’s drinkable supply.

Like their counterparts in Los Angeles, West Basin officials want to cut their imported water purchases in half, and getting 10% to 15% of their water from a desalination plant would boost that effort.

“It’s drought security; it’s drought resiliency,” Nagel said. “If we don’t do projects like this and do nothing, by the year 2035, we’re going to have to ration water eight out of every 10 years. That’s unacceptable for our society.”
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hamas- Fatah to meet in Moscow on: January 02, 2017, 11:42:08 PM
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/PLO-Official-Russia-to-host-Hamas-Fatah-meeting-477244
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: January 02, 2017, 11:37:43 PM
Indeed!
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Who knew? Subsidies cause price increases! on: January 02, 2017, 11:36:28 PM
https://fee.org/articles/student-loan-subsidies-cause-almost-all-of-the-increase-in-tuition/
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This looks REALLY bad , , , on: January 02, 2017, 11:31:12 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/02/us/politics/with-no-warning-house-republicans-vote-to-hobble-independent-ethics-office.html?emc=edit_na_20170102&nlid=49641193&ref=cta&_r=0
173  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Cuomo veotes reform bill on: January 02, 2017, 04:14:40 PM
http://knifenews.com/new-york-governor-cuomo-vetoes-gravity-knife-and-switchblade-reform-bill/
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Trump's Method to his Madness on: January 02, 2017, 01:24:15 PM
 By Gerald F. Seib
Jan. 2, 2017 12:23 p.m. ET
249 COMMENTS

Is it method or madness?

That is the question perplexing the world as President-elect Donald J. Trump continues his unorthodox campaign-season communications habits. He tweets, apparently randomly. He wades into subjects that he could easily avoid. He picks fights.

It is a risky approach. By weighing in on all sorts of matters large and small, Mr. Trump already may be in danger of devaluing the most valuable asset any president has, which is the bully pulpit. Will any individual message from the new president have the impact he wants if it is lost in the static of running commentary?

It’s also hard to argue that a presidential communication can have the depth, texture and subtlety often required when it comes in 140 characters.

Yet it also would be a mistake to dismiss Mr. Trump’s transition-season interventions as random musings. That was a mistake his opponents made consistently through a long presidential campaign.

In fact, there seem to be specific objectives behind many of Mr. Trump’s seemingly scattershot missives and comments. Often, say those who know him, he is posturing or positioning in pursuit of broader goals. He doesn’t mind roiling the waters in the process—and, as a consequence, some of what he says isn’t to be taken literally.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who speaks regularly with Mr. Trump and is developing a lecture series and book examining Trumpism, suggests the president-elect is in this regard similar to Franklin Roosevelt, who sometimes seemed to cultivate chaos in preparing the ground for his initiatives. Mr. Gingrich also predicts the style won’t change:  “My advice is to relax. It’s going to be this way for eight years.”

So what might Mr. Trump be trying to accomplish? There are three likely goals:

He is positioning himself for a negotiation or a deal. Mr. Trump has said that a good way to understand how he operates is to read his book, “The Art of the Deal,” which describes his approach to business negotiations. And in any negotiation, the opening posture isn’t the same as the bottom-line position.
More From Gerald F. Seib

    Ten Red-State Democrats May Hold the Balance of Power Dec. 26, 2016
    Why a Russian Hacking Inquiry Is in Trump’s Best Interests Dec. 19, 2016
    Listen Closely: Trump Proposes Big Mideast Strategy Shift Dec. 12, 2016
    Trump Shuffles the Ideological Deck Dec. 5, 2016
    Group Launches Effort to Protect Moderate Candidates Dec. 4, 2016

The best example may be the way Mr. Trump has approached China, a country with which he figures to have plenty of tough negotiations on trade and military maneuvering in the South China Sea. His opening bid came when decided to accept a call from the president of Taiwan, a step that was sure to rile the government in Beijing. He then followed with a series of tweets saying that the Chinese don’t ask for permission to take steps that irritate the U.S., implying they shouldn’t expect the new president to worry too much about keeping them happy either.

“That was the surest signal to the Chinese that things are going to be different,” says Mr. Gingrich.

Then, when the Chinese navy snatched an American underwater drone from the waters of the South China Sea, Mr. Trump, seemingly unprompted, tweeted out a message to the Chinese that the drone wasn’t that important and that they could just keep it—even as the U.S. Navy was scrambling to try to retrieve a valuable piece of sensitive equipment. The apparent goal was to lower the value of the drone in Chinese eyes, lest they think they could use it as a bargaining chip with the new president.

He is seeking to control the agenda. Early-morning tweets have a way of establishing what everyone else will be compelled to talk about that day. They also have had a way of upstaging the man who still happens to be the president, Barack Obama, annoying the White House and potentially creating confusion abroad about who really is in charge.

Thus did Mr. Trump tweet that the U.S. should veto a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements on the West Bank before that resolution was even formally debated, and that the U.S. should be prepared to enlarge its nuclear-weapons arsenal soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Russia might do the same. In both cases, the question immediately became what the new president thought as much as what the current president might do.

He is creating rabbits for others to chase. For two weeks Mr. Trump nursed along the idea that he might pick former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as his secretary of state. Ultimately, he didn’t—but he sparked a string of news stories suggesting he was reaching out to embrace former enemies, and distracting from less beneficial topics such as potential conflicts of interest in his nascent administration.

Certainly there is danger in leaving the world unsure which messages to take literally, and in trying to handle subjects as sensitive as nuclear-weapons strategy on the fly. But it’s also likely Mr. Trump knows exactly what he is doing.
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Shoot Down Nork Missiles! on: January 02, 2017, 01:20:53 PM
Shooting Down North Korea’s Missiles
Kim wants the ability to make U.S. cities his nuclear hostages.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May 2016. ENLARGE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May 2016. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency
Jan. 2, 2017 1:10 p.m. ET
7 COMMENTS

Kim Jong Un announced Sunday that North Korea is about to test an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the U.S. mainland. If he proceeds with the test, the U.S. should shoot it down.

The test itself is not a shock. Four previous tests of the Taepodong-2 missile were disguised as satellite launches, and two of them succeeded in putting objects into orbit over the U.S. The news here is that the young dictator is so confident of becoming a full nuclear power that he has dispensed with the fig leaf of a space program.

This is one more sign that Kim is racing to the finish line of full nuclear-weapons capability. Thae Yong Ho, the No. 2 in the North Korean Embassy in London until he defected, warned last week that Kim wants to deploy nuclear-armed missiles by the end of 2017.

The North already has the technology to launch a nuclear weapon against South Korea and Japan. But hurdles remain to deploying an ICBM with a nuclear warhead. Chief among them is a re-entry vehicle capable of withstanding extremes of temperature and vibration. A successful test could provide the North with valuable data to work the problem.

The U.S. has ship-based missile defenses in the region, and intercepting the test would have the dual purpose of slowing Kim’s nuclear progress and demonstrating an effective deterrent. Kim may figure the U.S. won’t take such action as it prepares to inaugurate a new President and South Korea is riven by an impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye. But the U.S. right to self defense provides ample justification, and U.N. Security Council resolutions ban the North from pursuing its missile program.

Even the defensive use of force carries risks that Kim would retaliate, but the larger risk is letting a man as reckless as Kim gain the means to hold American cities hostage. Kim evidently believes that once the North has a credible ability to destroy Seattle or Chicago, the U.S. will have no choice other than to accept it as a normal nuclear state. The Obama Administration, in consultation with President-elect Donald Trump, can demonstrate its bipartisan resolve to thwart that plan.
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Fable of Edward Snowden on: January 02, 2017, 01:18:53 PM
The Fable of Edward Snowden
As he seeks a pardon, the NSA thief has told multiple lies about what he stole and his dealings with Russian intelligence.
0:00 / 0:00
Opinion Journal Video: Investigative Journalist Edward Jay Epstein on why the American spy doesn’t deserve a presidential pardon. Photo: Reuters
By Edward Jay Epstein
Updated Dec. 30, 2016 10:21 p.m. ET
827 COMMENTS

Of all the lies that Edward Snowden has told since his massive theft of secrets from the National Security Agency and his journey to Russia via Hong Kong in 2013, none is more provocative than the claim that he never intended to engage in espionage, and was only a “whistleblower” seeking to expose the overreach of NSA’s information gathering. With the clock ticking on Mr. Snowden’s chance of a pardon, now is a good time to review what we have learned about his real mission.

Mr. Snowden’s theft of America’s most closely guarded communication secrets occurred in May 2013, according to the criminal complaint filed against him by federal prosecutors the following month. At the time Mr. Snowden was a 29-year-old technologist working as an analyst-in-training for the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton at the regional base of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Oahu, Hawaii. On May 20, only some six weeks after his job there began, he failed to show up for work, emailing his supervisor that he was at the hospital being tested for epilepsy.

This excuse was untrue. Mr. Snowden was not even in Hawaii. He was in Hong Kong. He had flown there with a cache of secret data that he had stolen from the NSA.

This was not the only lie Mr. Snowden told. As became clear during my investigation over the past three years, nearly every element of the narrative Mr. Snowden has provided, which reached its final iteration in Oliver Stone’s 2016 movie, “Snowden,” is demonstrably false.

This narrative began soon after Mr. Snowden arrived in Hong Kong, where he arranged to meet with Laura Poitras, a Berlin-based documentary filmmaker, and Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil-based blogger for the Guardian. Both journalists were longtime critics of NSA surveillance with whom Mr. Snowden (under the alias Citizen Four) had been in contact for four months.

To provide them with scoops discrediting NSA operations, Mr. Snowden culled several thousand documents out of his huge cache of stolen material, including two explosive documents he asked them to use in their initial stories. One was the now-famous secret order from America’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court requiring Verizon to turn over to the NSA its billing records for its phone users in the U.S. The other was an NSA slide presentation detailing its ability to intercept communications of non-American users of the internet via a joint program with the FBI code-named Prism.

These documents were published in 2013 on June 5 and 6, followed by a video in which he identified himself as the leaker and a whistleblower.

At the heart of Mr. Snowden’s narrative was his claim that while he may have incidentally “touched” other data in his search of NSA files, he took only documents that exposed the malfeasance of the NSA and gave all of them to journalists.

Yet even as Mr. Snowden’s narrative was taking hold in the public realm, a secret damage assessment done by the NSA and Pentagon told a very different story. According to a unanimous report declassified on Dec. 22 by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the investigation showed that Mr. Snowden had “removed” (not merely touched) 1.5 million documents. That huge number was based on, among other evidence, electronic logs that recorded the selection, copying and moving of documents.

The number of purloined documents is more than what NSA officials were willing to say in 2013 about the removal of data, possibly because the House committee had the benefit of the Pentagon’s more-extensive investigation. But even just taking into account the material that Mr. Snowden handed over to journalists, the December House report concluded that he compromised “secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states.” These were, the report said, “merely the tip of the iceberg.”

The Pentagon’s investigation during 2013 and 2014 employed hundreds of military-intelligence officers, working around the clock, to review all 1.5 million documents. Most had nothing to do with domestic surveillance or whistle blowing. They were mainly military secrets, as Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on March 6, 2014.

It was not the quantity of Mr. Snowden’s theft but the quality that was most telling. Mr. Snowden’s theft put documents at risk that could reveal the NSA’s Level 3 tool kit—a reference to documents containing the NSA’s most-important sources and methods. Since the agency was created in 1952, Russia and other adversary nations had been trying to penetrate its Level-3 secrets without great success.

Yet it was precisely these secrets that Mr. Snowden changed jobs to steal. In an interview in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on June 15, 2013, he said he sought to work on a Booz Allen contract at the CIA, even at a cut in pay, because it gave him access to secret lists of computers that the NSA was tapping into around the world.

He evidently succeeded. In a 2014 interview with Vanity Fair, Richard Ledgett, the NSA executive who headed the damage-assessment team, described one lengthy document taken by Mr. Snowden that, if it fell into the wrong hands, would provide a “road map” to what targets abroad the NSA was, and was not, covering. It contained the requests made by the 17 U.S. services in the so-called Intelligence Community for NSA interceptions abroad.

On June 23, less than two weeks after Mr. Snowden released the video that helped present his narrative, he left Hong Kong and flew to Moscow, where he received protection by the Russian government. In much of the media coverage that followed, the ultimate destination of these stolen secrets was fogged over—if not totally obscured from the public—by the unverified claims that Mr. Snowden was spoon feeding to handpicked journalists.

In his narrative, Mr. Snowden always claims that he was a conscientious “whistleblower” who turned over all the stolen NSA material to journalists in Hong Kong. He has insisted he had no intention of defecting to Russia but was on his way to Latin America when he was trapped in Russia by the U.S. government in an attempt to demonize him.

For example, in October 2014, he told the editor of the Nation, “I’m in exile. My government revoked my passport intentionally to leave me exiled” and “chose to keep me in Russia.” According to Mr. Snowden, the U.S. government accomplished this entrapment by suspending his passport while he was in midair after he departed Hong Kong on June 23, thus forcing him into the hands of President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

None of this is true. The State Department invalidated Mr. Snowden’s passport while he was still in Hong Kong, not after he left for Moscow on June 23. The “Consul General-Hong Kong confirmed that Hong Kong authorities were notified that Mr. Snowden’s passport was revoked June 22,” according to the State Department’s senior watch officer, as reported by ABC news on June 23, 2013.

Mr. Snowden could not have been unaware of the government’s pursuit of him, since the criminal complaint against him, which was filed June 14, had been headline news in Hong Kong. That the U.S. acted against him while he was still in Hong Kong is of great importance to the timeline because it points to the direct involvement of Aeroflot, an airline which the Russian government effectively controls. Aeroflot bypassed its normal procedures to allow Mr. Snowden to board the Moscow flight—even though he had neither a valid passport nor a Russian visa, as his newly assigned lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said at a press conference in Russia on July 12, 2013.

By falsely claiming his passport was invalidated after the plane departed Hong Kong—instead of before he left—Mr. Snowden hoped to conceal this extraordinary waiver. The Russian government further revealed its helping hand, judging by a report in Russia’s Izvestia newspaper when, on arrival, Mr. Snowden was taken off the plane by a security team in a “special operation.”

Nor was it any kind of accident. Vladimir Putin personally authorized this assistance after Mr. Snowden met with Russian officials in Hong Kong, as Mr. Putin admitted in a televised press conference on Sept. 2, 2013.

To provide a smokescreen for Mr. Snowden’s escape from Hong Kong, WikiLeaks (an organization that the Obama administration asserted to be a tool of Russian intelligence after the hacking of Democratic Party leaders’ email in 2016) booked a dozen or more diversionary flight reservations to other destinations for Mr. Snowden.

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange also dispatched Sarah Harrison, his deputy at WikiLeaks, to fly to Hong Kong to pay Mr. Snowden’s expenses and escort him to Moscow. In short, Mr. Snowden’s arrival in Moscow was neither accidental nor the work of the U.S. government.

Mr. Snowden’s own narrative asserts that he came to Russia not only empty-handed but without access to any of the stolen material. He wrote in Vanity Fair in 2014 that he had destroyed all of it before arriving in Moscow—the very data that he went to such lengths to steal a few weeks earlier in Hawaii.

As it turns out, this claim is also untrue. It is belied by two Kremlin insiders who were in a position to know what Mr. Snowden actually brought with him to Moscow. One of them, Frants Klintsevich, was the first deputy chairman of the defense and security committee of the Duma (Russia’s parliament) at the time of Mr. Snowden’s defection. “Let’s be frank,” Mr. Klintsevich said in a taped interview with NPR in June 2016, “Mr. Snowden did share intelligence. This is what security services do.”

The other insider was Anatoly Kucherena, a well-connected Moscow lawyer and Mr. Putin’s friend. Mr. Kucherena served as the intermediary between Mr. Snowden and Russian authorities. On Sept. 23, 2013, Mr. Kucherena gave a long interview to Sophie Shevardnadze, a journalist for Russia Today television.

When Ms. Shevardnadze directly asked him if Mr. Snowden had given all the documents he had taken from the NSA to journalists in Hong Kong, Mr. Kucherena said Mr. Snowden had only given “some” of the NSA’s documents in his possession to journalists in Hong Kong. “So he [Mr. Snowden] does have some materials that haven’t been made public yet?” Ms. Shevardnadze asked. “Certainly,” Mr. Kucherena answered.

This disclosure filled in a crucial piece of the puzzle. It explained why NSA documents that Mr. Snowden had copied, but had not given to the journalists in Hong Kong—such as the embarrassing revelation about the NSA targeting the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel—continued to surface after Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow, along with NSA documents released via WikiLeaks.

As this was a critical discrepancy in Mr. Snowden’s narrative, I went to Moscow in October 2015 to see Mr. Kucherena. During our conversation, Mr. Kucherena confirmed that his interview with Ms. Shevardnadze was accurate, and that Mr. Snowden had brought secret material with him to Moscow.

Mr. Snowden’s narrative also includes the assertion that he was neither debriefed by nor even met with any Russian government official after he arrived in Moscow. This part of the narrative runs counter to findings of U.S. intelligence. According to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, Mr. Snowden, since he arrived in Moscow, “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services.” This finding is consistent with Russian debriefing practices, as described by the ex-KGB officers with whom I spoke in Moscow

Mr. Snowden also publicly claimed in Moscow in December 2013 to have secrets in his head, including “access to every target, every active operation. Full lists of them.” Could Mr. Snowden’s Russian hosts ignore such an opportunity after Mr. Putin had authorized his exfiltration to Moscow? Mr. Snowden, with no exit options, was in the palm of their hands. Under such circumstances, as Mr. Klintsevich pointed out in his June NPR interview: “If there’s a possibility to get information, they [the Russian intelligence services] will get it.”

The transfer of state secrets from Mr. Snowden to Russia did not occur in a vacuum. The intelligence war did not end with the termination of the Cold War; it shifted to cyberspace. Even if Russia could not match the NSA’s state-of-the-art sensors, computers and productive partnerships with the cipher services of Britain, Israel, Germany and other allies, it could nullify the U.S. agency’s edge by obtaining its sources and methods from even a single contractor with access to Level 3 documents.

Russian intelligence uses a single umbrella term to cover anyone who delivers it secret intelligence. Whether a person acted out of idealistic motives, sold information for money or remained clueless of the role he or she played in the transfer of secrets—the provider of secret data is considered an “espionage source.” By any measure, it is a job description that fits Mr. Snowden.

Mr. Epstein’s book, “How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft,” will be published by Knopf in January.
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hacking the rules is not good government on: January 02, 2017, 12:21:34 PM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-01/hacking-democratic-rules-isn-t-good-government
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Forbes: 10 ways to cut federal spending on: January 02, 2017, 12:18:09 PM
http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2016/12/23/10-ways-donald-trump-can-cut-waste-our-advice-from-openthebooks-com/#5df5168352b9
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why Obama pandered to UN's bigotry on: January 02, 2017, 11:42:46 AM
As interesting for who wrote it as for what it says

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/30/why-did-obama-pander-to-the-un-s-stunning-anti-israel-bias.html=
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: January 01, 2017, 03:24:11 PM
Thank you for the citation BD  smiley
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 01, 2017, 09:03:06 AM
Andrew McCarthy - last part of the article (link below)

------
This week, Obama betrayed our Israeli allies by orchestrating (and cravenly abstaining from) a U.N. Security Council resolution. As I’ve explained, the ostensible purpose of the resolution is to condemn the construction of Israeli settlements in the disputed territories of East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria that Israel has controlled since 1967; the real purpose is to declare that those territories are sovereign Palestinian land, and thus that Israel is “occupying” it in violation of international law (“international law” is the gussied-up term for the hyper-political, intensely anti-Israeli Security Council’s say-so).
What does this have to do with our enemy’s ideology? Everything.

The Palestinians and the Islamist regimes that support them frame their struggle against Israel in terms of Islamic obligation. Hamas, the aforementioned Muslim Brotherhood branch that has been lavishly supported by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and other Muslim governments, is more explicit about this than its rival for Palestinian leadership, Fatah. But both are clear on the matter. They take the doctrinal position that any territory that comes under Islamic control for any duration of time is Islam’s forever. (That’s why Islamists still refer to Spain as al-Andalus and vow to retake it, notwithstanding that they lost it half a millennium ago.)

Further, radical Islam regards the presence of a sovereign Jewish state in Islamic territory as an intolerable affront. Again, the reason is doctrinal. Do not take my word for it; have a look at the 1988 Hamas Charter (“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement”). Article 7, in particular, includes this statement by the prophet Muhammad:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, “O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” . . . (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Understand: Al-Bukhari and Muslim are authoritative collections of hadith. These memorializations of the prophet’s sayings and deeds have scriptural status in Islam. Hamas is not lying — this story of an end-of-times annihilation of Jews is related, repeatedly, in Islamic scripture. (See, e.g., here.) And please spare me the twaddle about how there are competing interpretations that discount or “contextualize” these hadith. It doesn’t matter which, if any, interpretation represents the “true Islam” (if there is one). What matters for purposes of our security is that millions of Muslims, including our enemies, believe these hadith mean what they say — unalterable, for all time.

The Palestinians and the Islamist regimes that support them frame their struggle against Israel in terms of Islamic obligation.
________________________________________
Even after all the mass-murder attacks we have endured over the last few decades, and for all their claptrap about respecting Islam as “one of the world’s great religions,” transnational progressives cannot bring themselves to accept that something as passé as religious doctrine could dictate 21st-century conflicts. So, they tell themselves, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is simply about territorial boundaries and refugee rights. It could be settled if Israel, which they reckon would never have been established but for a regrettable bout of post-Holocaust remorse, would just make a few concessions regarding land it was never ceded in the first place (conveniently overlooking that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are disputed territories, and were not “Palestinian” when Israel took them in the 1967 war of Arab aggression).

Transnational progressives see Israel as intransigent, notwithstanding its many attempts to trade land for peace. They rationalize Palestinian terrorism as the product of that intransigence, not of ideology. Thus their smug calculation that branding Israel as an “occupier” of “Palestinian land” in gross “violation of international law” is the nudge Israel needs to settle. This will effectively grant the Palestinians their coveted sovereign state. Thus accommodated, Palestinians will surely moderate and co-exist with Israel — if not in peace, then in the same uneasy state in which Parisians coexist with their banlieues and Berliners with their refugees.

It is not just fantasy but willfully blind idiocy. No one who took a few minutes to understand the ideology of radical Islam would contemplate for a moment a resolution such as the one Obama just choreographed.

Under Islamic law, the Palestinians regard all of the territory — not just East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria but all of Israel — as Muslim territory.
Furthermore, they deem the presence of a Jewish-ruled state on that territory as anathema. A Security Council resolution that declares Israeli control of the disputed territory not merely an “obstacle to peace” but illegitimate tells the Islamists that their jihad has succeeded, that non-Muslim powers accede to their sharia-based demands. It can only encourage them to continue their jihad toward their ultimate regional goal of eradicating the Jewish state. After all, Mahmoud Abbas has stated his racist terms: Not a single Israeli will be permitted to reside in the Palestinian state. As Islamists see it (and why shouldn’t they?), Obama’s reaction was not to condemn Abbas; it was to appease Abbas. As Islamists see it, Allah is rewarding their fidelity to Islamic doctrine; of course they will persevere in it.

We are not merely in a shooting war with jihadists. We are in an ideological war with sharia supremacists. Mass murder is not their sole tactic; they attack at the negotiating table, in the councils of government, in the media, on the campus, in the courtroom — at every political and cultural pressure point. To defeat jihadists, it is necessary to discredit the ideology that catalyzes them. You don’t discredit an ideology by ignoring its existence, denying its power, and accommodating it at every turn.

President Obama never got this. Will President Trump?
In his campaign, Trump made a welcome start by naming the enemy. Now it is time to know the enemy — such that it is clear to the enemy that we understand his objectives and his motivation, and that we will deny him because our own principles require it.
The new president should begin by renouncing Obama’s Palestinian power-play: Revoke any state recognition Obama gives the Palestinians; defund them; clarify the disputed (not occupied) status of the territories; move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem; reaffirm the principle that the conflict may only be settled by direct negotiations between the parties; and make clear that the United States will consider the Palestinians pariahs until they acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, stop indoctrinating their children in doctrinal Jew-hatred, and convincingly abandon terrorism.
That would tell radical Islam that America rejects its objectives as well as its tactics, that we will fight its ideology as well as its terrorism. This is not just about restoring our reputation as a dependable ally. Our security depends on it.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443440/donald-trump-radical-islam-israel-palestinian-conflict-test-case-new-administration
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / poTH: Is Trump the friend Israel needs? on: January 01, 2017, 08:41:52 AM
ISTRUM p the friend Israel Needs?

By BERNARD AVISHAIDEC. 31, 2016


JERUSALEM — “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.” Thus President-elect Donald J. Trump tweeted just before Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last week. He added: “They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but …”

Mr. Trump was presuming to side with Israel in its regional fight, but … as Mr. Kerry implied, particularly when he spoke elegiacally of Shimon Peres, one cannot be a friend to Israel without actually being a friend to some Israelis over others, one conception of Israel, the region, and Jews, for that matter, over another. These are also Jewish culture wars — centered on Israel, but played out vicariously among American Jews — and Mr. Trump has stepped, or stumbled, into the thick of them. Nor do they affect Jews alone, given America’s web of relations in the region. One hopes and trusts that senior appointees to his foreign policy team will take notice.

Their job became more difficult last month when Mr. Trump’s transition team named David M. Friedman, his bankruptcy lawyer, as the next United States ambassador to Israel, soon after announcing an intention to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Mr. Friedman, a major fund-raiser for the Beit El settlement built on the hills around the West Bank city of Ramallah, would doubtless feel at home in Jerusalem, where I live for half the year. The mental atmosphere of Greater Israel is nested here and in its encircling settlements.

By contrast, he would barely know what to make of Tel Aviv, where the embassy is now. That city is the heart of what could be called “Global Israel,” a Hebrew hub in a cosmopolitan system.
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Mr. Friedman’s allies in Israel’s right-wing Likud Party and its nationalist and Orthodox coalition partners see the land, including the West Bank, which they call Judea and Samaria, as holy. They regard any strategic territorial compromise entailing a withdrawal of Israeli sovereignty as sinful. In this respect, they benefit politically from the violence produced by the occupation.

Perhaps 40 percent of Jewish Israelis hold these attitudes, which imply others, such as theocracy over Supreme Court defenses of individual dignity, or privileges for Jewish citizens over Arab citizens, whose right to vote they consider provisional. A clear majority of these rightists want the release of Yigal Amir, who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. They see Europeans as anti-Semitic unless proven otherwise, Reform Jews as apostates, and Islam as terrorism’s gateway drug. Last week, the editor in chief of Haaretz, Aluf Benn, warned that Greater Israel zealots have moved to control the news media, schools, courts and army. “That means replacing the heads of cultural institutions and threatening a halt to government funding for those who don’t go with the flow,” he said.

People in Tel Aviv are cut from different cloth. Invite friends from Tel Aviv to dinner in Jerusalem, and they raise an eyebrow, as if you’re asking them to leave Israel for the ancient Kingdom of Judea.

The ethos of Tel Aviv — which runs, in effect, up the seaboard to Haifa — reflects the attitudes of another 40 percent of the Israeli Jewish population, which declares itself secular. One can slice the data many ways, but these Israelis see themselves as a part of the Western world and Israel’s Jewishness as custodianship of a historic civilization, not Orthodox rabbinical law.

Zionism, to them, means a culture. There may be a sentimental attachment to the rhetoric of Zionism’s insurgent period around independence: “redeeming” the land of Israel, “answering” the Holocaust, building a “majority” of people with J-positive blood, and so forth. But for most liberal Israelis, Zionism concretely means building a modern Hebrew-speaking civil society that can assimilate all comers.

There are some less liberal, who might call themselves “centrists.” They fear (or loathe) Arabs — about a third of secular Israelis would entertain expulsion — and have given up on the Oslo peace process, if not the two-state solution in the abstract. Yet they think the occupation, for which their conscripted children provide the backbone, should be run according to civilized norms. They fear (or loathe) settlers, too. In 2016, reflecting on the influence of the settlers, senior military and political leaders worried publicly about the growth of Israeli “fascism.”

America has coasts; Israel has a coast.

Which brings me to American Jews. According to the Pew Research Center, a clear majority, more than 70 percent, see themselves in shades of classical liberalism. Over 70 percent consider it a duty to remember the Holocaust; their significant concern for Israel — which about 40 percent profess — is seen in that light. Four-fifths do not keep kosher; nearly 60 percent say “working for justice and equality” is an integral part of their values (but then, more than 40 percent say “a sense of humor” is).
Photo
Ultra-Orthodox Jews burning leavened food before Passover near Tel Aviv. Credit Oded Balilty/Associated Press

When not in Jerusalem, I live in New England. It is hard to find Jews who are not proudly erudite, emancipated, attending synagogue only sporadically, comfortable with intermarriage, identified with the Democratic Party. Liberal American Jews overwhelmingly support the two-state solution. Their largest political organization, J Street, welcomed the United Nations Security Council condemnation of settlements. They cannot imagine rallying to an apartheid Israel.

American Jews are more likely to identify with Philip Roth’s protagonists than with a figure like Mr. Friedman, who might have been a Rothian foil. Righteously Orthodox, he traffics in the pathos of anti-Semitism (he dismissed J Street supporters as “worse than kapos,” the Jewish trustees in Nazi concentration camps), mocks the Anti-Defamation League for criticizing anti-Semitic messaging in Mr. Trump’s final campaign ad, and has cozied up to Republicans for whom being pro-Israel is tantamount to being pro-guns on the world stage.

Institutions on the right of the organized Jewish American community like the Zionist Organization of America openly embrace the minority sentiments Mr. Friedman espouses.

“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Conference of Presidents profess neutrality,” J Street’s founder and president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, told me, “but their unwillingness to criticize Friedman or to defend critics of Israeli policies from attack put them in much the same space.”

In consequence of this rift, which has been long in the making, only about 30 percent of young American Jews polled in 2013 said that Israel plays a part in their lives. More and more, as the writer Peter Beinart noted, are becoming indifferent to Jewish community life altogether.

Mr. Trump’s professed friendship for Israel, then, brings an unexpected moment of truth. It will advance the cause of extremists in Israel, while making a majority of American Jews more skeptical of American policy and organized Jewish institutions — and no less skeptical of him.

Mr. Trump may feel he is discharging a personal debt to Orthodox neo-Zionists, who, alone among American Jews, disproportionately vote Republican. But Mr. Friedman will ultimately be accountable to the secretaries of state and defense, whose charge will be Middle East policy as a whole. Can they be expected to go along with the friendship program?

Soon after he left his post as head of Central Command, Mr. Trump’s choice for defense secretary, Gen. James N. Mattis, lamented that Israel was headed for “apartheid.” He has also questioned the price America has paid in the region for being identified with Israel’s actions. And, in the end, he endorsed the Iran nuclear deal.

The pick for state, Rex W. Tillerson, is a self-described risk manager, who spent his professional life at ExxonMobile managing huge upfront investments that would have to be recouped over a generation. What he has cared most about are the rewards of long-term stability, irrespective of a nation’s governing ideology or tyrannical behavior.

Mr. Trump reportedly complied with Mr. Netanyahu’s request to pressure Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to prevent the United Nations Security Council vote on settlements. Does it serve regional stability for Mr. Sisi to be seen as Mr. Netanyahu’s agent?

The more immediate risk to stability would be the embassy move. Of Israel’s neighbors, the most vulnerable state — and the most crucial to American interests — is Jordan. The Hashemite Kingdom, which has signed a peace agreement with Israel, has long been on the defensive for its association with the United States. The country also shares a border both with Syria and the Islamic State and has accepted a million refugees from the Syrian war. Jordan’s capital, Amman, is by most reckonings majority Palestinian, including a substantial middle class and two large Palestinian refugee camps, which are decidedly less affluent. The residents of the camps have become increasingly receptive to radical Sunni jihadist ideas.

After the announcement about the embassy move, polls showed that 44 percent of Israelis thought Mr. Trump a “true” friend — but only 6 percent believed he’d make good on the promise. The skepticism is revealing. Both Israelis and Palestinians are alert to how violence in the occupied territories could spread; the distance from Amman to Jericho, in the West Bank, is roughly that from Newark Airport to Kennedy Airport. Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian public opinion expert, told me in December that an embassy move “could ignite the territories.” Is this the time for America to signal approval for Israel’s annexation of the whole of Jerusalem, merely to back the Israeli right’s symbolic claim?

Mr. Trump has heated up the Jewish culture wars and, inadvertently or otherwise, advanced fanaticism. His incoming national security team is made up of people who purport to be realists, so here are the facts: Safeguard American interests and, as a byproduct, you strengthen Israeli democracy; Israeli advocates of Greater Israel, and their American allies, subvert both.
183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / poth: It's Putin's problem now on: January 01, 2017, 08:30:20 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/opinion/can-russia-make-peace-as-well-as-war.html?emc=edit_th_20170101&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Countdown to goodbye on: January 01, 2017, 08:15:38 AM
https://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/generic?p0=263&iso=20170120T00&msg=Time%20left%20until%20Obama%20leaves%20office%22
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: From Foe to Friend on: January 01, 2017, 07:55:57 AM
MOSCOW — The diatribe against the Obama administration on prime-time television by a Russian Foreign Ministry official was hardly unusual in the long history of rocky relations between the United States and Russia.

The administration “demonstrated the belief that the strongest has the right to create evil,” Maria Zakharova, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said on the Christmas Day broadcast.

From Washington’s perspective, it is the Kremlin that generally personifies evil, a point President Obama made on Thursday in punishing Russia for cyberattacks by directing new sanctions against Moscow and expelling 35 Russian diplomats. “The United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.

The two statements appeared to be business as usual — each side representing enemy No. 1 for the other. By Friday that mood had been abruptly cast aside, however. President Vladimir V. Putin announced that Russia would do nothing in response to the new American measures, awaiting the next administration, prompting President-elect Donald J. Trump to call him “very smart” in a Twitter post

With the sitting president calling Russia a national security threat and the incoming one praising Mr. Putin, many American voters, long accustomed to being suspicious about Russia, are understandably confused and uneasy. Russia was an enemy on Friday morning, and a friend by the afternoon.

“We are in a whiplash moment right now, and I think it is unprecedented in several respects,” said Cliff Kupchan, the chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political risk assessment firm in Washington, and a former State Department official from the Clinton administration. “The most important one is that the baton is about to be passed from an administration with a very hard line on Russia to one that is very much more sympathetic.”

No clear agreements or even offers are on the table yet, however, bringing uncertainty. “Russia’s relations with the U.S. are currently up in the air — both sides have no clear strategy about how to move them forward,” said Aleksandr Morozov, an independent Russian political analyst.

Until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and even for years afterward, matters were more black and white. A young American diplomat stationed in Moscow named George F. Kennan established the parameters of the relationship for decades with a famous 1947 policy paper. The Soviet Union was bent on expansion, he wrote, so the main element of any United States policy had to be containment.

Thus began a long roller coaster ride for the two countries, full of periodic upswings as friends when détente was in vogue, inevitably followed by precipitous plummets as foes that left the world shuddering about the prospects of a nuclear Armageddon.

Tensions eased periodically, but it never seemed to last.

President Ronald Reagan, an implacable anti-Communist, surprised the world by reaching out to the man who turned out to be the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to begin negotiations for far-reaching arms control agreements between the two sides.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Russian Federation that emerged entered into an extended period of decline and, inevitably, friendship with the United States as a kind of junior partner.

That “junior” aspect rankled, however, particular after Mr. Obama went from seeking to reset relations to dismissing Russia as a “regional power.”

The latest crisis began in 2014, with a revolution in Ukraine that Mr. Putin labeled an American plot — he, as many Soviet leaders have, sees the hidden hand of Washington everywhere. Mr. Putin annexed Crimea and armed rebels in eastern Ukraine, prompting Western economic sanctions, which Mr. Trump has disparaged.

The last confrontation under the Obama administration between Moscow and Washington came to a head this fall after American intelligence agencies concluded that hacking by their Russian counterparts had breached national security, cracking open the computers of the Democratic National Committee to reveal emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Trump initially encouraged the Kremlin to hack even more, breaking with all precedents, not least the Republican tradition of painting Russia as the evil empire, as Mr. Reagan called it.

Mr. Obama waited to react until last week, and it looked as if he might leave his successor a diplomatic tempest, until Mr. Putin, long the master of the unexpected stroke, defused it.

Mr. Trump suddenly gained room to maneuver.

“Trump’s spirit is already here, and already changing Russia’s policies,” said Igor M. Bunin, the director of the Center for Political Technologies, a Moscow research institute. “This will be a great plus for future relations.”

There are still potential pitfalls, however, not least that Congress does not share an affectionate view of Mr. Putin.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, plans to open hearings on Thursday on Russia’s efforts to manipulate the presidential election. Much of the Republican establishment in Congress endorsed the new sanctions imposed against Russia, putting them at odds with Mr. Trump.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, was with Mr. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, last week to tour the Baltic States, which fear being the next target of the Russian military.

“The Russian cyberattack, and the misinformation and propaganda — they have been living with this for decades,” Ms. Klobuchar said in an interview.

American voters have heard Mr. Trump praise Russia, and some in the far right have hailed Mr. Putin as a hero for espousing conservative values. Yet old instincts die hard.

“I worry about what our relationship with other countries is going to be with a Trump presidency, if we buddy-buddy up to Russia and a leader who is not so democratic in nature,” said Alexis Matter, 35, walking through a Denver shopping mall.

In Sandy Springs, Ga., Chase Williams, 26, the manager of a pet supply store, said that Russia had fallen off the radar in recent years. His fears now were less of the old Cold War over a nuclear weapons attack than a sense that Mr. Putin could outfox the American administration.

“When I say Russia scares me, it’s not because I’m scared of them coming over here and doing something,” Mr. Williams said. “I’m scared when I see a chess player playing checkers — and we are checkers.”

Mr. Putin has made no secret of the fact that he would like to re-establish the consensus reached with the United States at the 1945 Yalta conference that carved the globe into spheres of influence.

Russia no longer has the might needed to assert its right to be a superpower, analysts say, but if nothing else, cyberattacks have underscored that you do not need nuclear weapons or a strong economy to assert global influence.

Some Russian analysts wonder what Mr. Putin can offer Mr. Trump. A former K.G.B. agent, he tends to view the world order as a series of special operations, coming from a different arena than Mr. Trump’s world of business deals. “I don’t think that Putin has a plan,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst and former media adviser to Mr. Putin. “I think that he is stunned by the number of bonus points that he has gotten.”

In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad is on the verge of reasserting control over much of the country, thanks largely to Mr. Putin’s intervention. Ukraine presents some problems, but has essentially boiled down into the kind of frozen conflict that Russia uses to destabilize independent-minded neighbors. And all of the attention on the cyberattacks made Mr. Putin look strong.

In those successes, analysts see fodder for Mr. Putin to offer Mr. Trump a manner of foreign policy victory that would give the American leader something tangible to crow about at home in an arena where he lacks experience.

Russia, Iran and Turkey cut Washington out of the Syria negotiations, so Mr. Putin could bring the United States back in and forge a deal on fighting the Islamic State. Mr. Trump has stated that he wants to join forces with Russia in crushing the jihadists. Or the Kremlin could offer some sort of cyberspace deal.

“I think that Putin is in a strong position,” said Nicolai Petrov, a Russian political scientist. “He looks strong in relation to the United States and he has freedom to maneuver, and he can do what he wants to demonstrate that the United States should recognize that Russia is not a regional power but a great power that should be taken into account.”

So, for the moment, Mr. Putin appears a potential friend to Mr. Trump.

Few expect it to last, however. First of all, Mr. Trump is unpredictable. And fundamentally, the two countries are destined to be at odds, because they view the world through different lenses.

Russian policy in recent years has been trying to sow doubt and undermine public faith in Western governments. The Kremlin has relied on a variety of levers — disinformation campaigns, buying influence, cyberattacks — which many analysts expect to show up in crucial elections in the coming year in France and Germany.

“They are trying to create more of a level playing field not by raising Russia up, but through a declining West,” Mr. Kupchan said. “I don’t think Putin is out to make America great again.”
186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rolling Stone: Something about this Russia story stinks on: December 31, 2016, 01:50:55 PM
second post

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/something-about-this-russia-story-stinks-w458439
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO good article with interesting background context on the settlements on: December 31, 2016, 01:42:59 PM
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443422/obama-israeli-settlements-security-barrier-palestinians-jerusalem-no-public-support
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo false storyon Russian "hack" of our electric grid on: December 31, 2016, 01:39:52 PM
https://theintercept.com/2016/12/31/russia-hysteria-infects-washpost-again-false-story-about-hacking-u-s-electric-grid/
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: December 31, 2016, 01:12:13 PM
 grin
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Childless adults and food stamps on: December 31, 2016, 01:09:22 PM
http://dailysignal.com/2016/02/08/maine-required-childless-adults-to-work-to-get-food-stamps-heres-what-happened/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Top5&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTmpobE9EQXlNR013T0RCayIsInQiOiJjSVBRSE1mZDhJckxlWXZiNVR6MzB0dDJWd1wvaTEzQ002QVpvN2lSWUMwZmJCRm1CQk5nR29IeDVlWVwvV0czclNNb2p5bEMzNUhuVk1DbDdYRmdETjQzanpJZkJoc0lDTkZWdWpwMFwvUTJKekNOajdNOEo1akEyUElJQUNVc3E0WSJ9
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS general and crew headed for Europe on: December 31, 2016, 11:09:41 AM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4073408/ISIS-general-blew-hostage-rocket-decapitated-prisoner-Europe-400-trusted-soldiers-fleeing-Syria.html
192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: December 31, 2016, 10:04:07 AM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judicial Watch: There's still hope to lock her up on: December 31, 2016, 10:02:47 AM
Lock her up!!!

Year End Bang on Clinton Email
In 2016, Judicial Watch established itself it as the most significant public policy entity in the nation. Our work in the courts exposing the truth about the Clinton emails and the corruption of the Clinton pay-to-play scandals changed history.

So it is fitting that in this, the year’s final Weekly Update, I have a report for you on a new major court decision that could dramatically influence what comes next on the Clinton email scandal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made a ruling this week in a JW case that would require Secretary of State John Kerry to seek the help of the attorney general in recovering additional Hillary Clinton emails. This means that Clinton email issue will be squarely before the Trump administration, as I highlight in our statement to the press:

Today’s appeals court ruling rejects the Obama State Department’s excuses justifying its failure to ask the attorney general, as the law requires, to pursue the recovery of the Clinton emails. This ruling means that the Trump Justice Department will have to decide if it wants to finally enforce the rule of law and try to retrieve all the emails Clinton and her aides unlawfully took with them when they left the State Department.

The appellate ruling reverses a decision in which the District Court declared “moot” a Judicial Watch’s lawsuit challenging the failure of Secretary of State John Kerry to comply with the Federal Records Act (FRA) in seeking to recover the emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high level State Department officials who used non-“state.gov” email accounts to conduct official business (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. John F. Kerry (No. 16-5015)).

According to the FRA, if an agency head becomes aware of “any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal . . . or destruction of [agency] records,” he or she “shall notify the Archivist . . . and with the assistance of the Archivist shall initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of [those] records.” Kerry refused to do this, and we sued. The lower court decided Kerry had done enough. The appeals court panel disagreed:

Appellants sought the only relief provided by the Federal Records Act—an enforcement action through the Attorney General. But nothing the Department did (either before or after those complaints were filed) gave appellants what they wanted. Instead of proceeding through the Attorney General, the Department asked the former Secretary to return her emails voluntarily and similarly requested that the FBI share any records it obtained. Even though those efforts bore some fruit, the Department has not explained why shaking the tree harder—e.g., by following the statutory mandate to seek action by the Attorney General—might not bear more still. It is therefore abundantly clear that, in terms of assuring government recovery of emails, appellants have not “been given everything [they] asked for.” Absent a showing that the requested enforcement action could not shake loose a few more emails, the case is not moot.

In May 2015, we filed the lawsuit after the State Department failed to take action following a letter to Kerry “notifying him of the unlawful removal of the Clinton emails and requesting that he initiate enforcement action pursuant to the FRA,” including working through the attorney general to recover the emails.

Judicial Watch’s lawsuit subsequently was consolidated with a later lawsuit filed by our friends at the Cause of Action Institute. For more on this court development, you can see our discussion over at the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal. And then we also have our Facebook Live Weekly Updatediscussions here and on Youtube.

This Obama administration has demonstrated itself to be an agent of lawlessness and an enemy of an open and transparent republic. To start, let’s hope that President-elect Trump’s appointees at the State Department and Justice Department finally start enforcing the rule of law on the Clinton email scandal.
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Those "missing" 22 million Bush emails on: December 31, 2016, 10:01:05 AM
December 2009

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/12/14/white.house.emails/index.html


Washington (CNN) -- Computer technicians have recovered about 22 million Bush administration e-mails that the Bush White House had said were missing, two watchdog groups that sued over the documents announced Monday.

The e-mails date from 2003 to 2005, and had been "mislabeled and effectively lost," according to the National Security Archive, a research group based at George Washington University. But Melanie Sloan, executive director of the liberal-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said it could be years before most of the e-mails are made public.

"The e-mails themselves are not what we're getting," Sloan said.

Documents related to the handling of e-mail under the Bush administration and subsequent information regarding how White House e-mails are currently archived will be released under a settlement with the Obama administration, which inherited a lawsuit the groups filed in 2007. But the National Archives must sort out which documents are covered by the Freedom of Information Act and which ones fall under the Presidential Records Act, which means they could be withheld for five to 10 years after the Bush administration left office in January, Sloan said.

"The National Archives will sort this out," she said.

The e-mail controversy dates back to the Bush administration's 2006 firing of the top federal prosecutors in nine cities. After congressional committees demanded the administration produce documents related to the firings, the White House said millions of e-mails might have been lost from its servers. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive sued over the issue in 2007, arguing the Bush administration violated federal laws that require presidential records to be preserved.

Court records have shown that the Bush administration knew about the e-mail problems as far back as 2005 and did nothing to fix them, Sloan said.

"They never made an effort to restore them," she said.

But Scott Stanzel, a former deputy press secretary in the Bush White House, said the group "has consistently tried to create a spooky conspiracy out of standard IT issues."

"We always indicated that there is an e-mail archiving system and a disaster recovery system," Stanzel said. "We also indicated that e-mails not properly archived could be found on disaster recovery tapes. There is a big, big difference between something not being properly archived and it being 'lost' or 'missing,' as CREW would say."

Monday's settlement allows for 94 days of e-mail traffic, scattered between January 2003 to April 2005, to be restored from backup tapes. Of those 94 days, 40 were picked by statistical sample; another 21 days were suggested by the White House; and the groups that filed suit picked 33 that seemed "historically significant," from the months before the invasion of Iraq to the period when the firings of U.S. attorneys were being planned.

Also requested were several days surrounding the announcement that a criminal investigation was under way into the disclosure of then-CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's identity. That investigation led to the conviction of White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents investigating the leak.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington represented Wilson and her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in a lawsuit over her exposure, which they argued was in retaliation for his accusation that the Bush administration over-hyped the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. A federal judge dismissed the case on procedural grounds in 2007, but Sloan said the missing e-mails raise the "strong possibility" that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald never received all the documents he requested during the leak investigation.
195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump and Al Sisi on: December 30, 2016, 10:50:00 PM

http://www.meforum.org/6453/trump-bid-ti-amplify-muslim-reformers
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: December 30, 2016, 10:29:19 PM
Time to begin moving from the Transition thread into the relevant particular threads

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/12/30/the-trump-camps-spin-on-russian-interference-is-falling-apart/?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.c2a46e201f6d
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: December 30, 2016, 09:27:30 PM
Well duh!

Just forwarding what a German friend told me by way of explanation as to what SHE thought she was doing.
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: globalism vs nationalism on: December 30, 2016, 09:23:37 PM
Let's post that here  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2215.0
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New laws on: December 30, 2016, 06:04:27 PM
http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-updates-gov-brown-signs-bills-to-curb-gun-1474918520-htmlstory.html?=
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And now for something different on: December 30, 2016, 06:03:56 PM
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/you-are-the-racist-actually-not-me/
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