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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Henning: The Humbling of the West on: January 27, 2016, 11:29:58 PM
 By Daniel Henninger
Jan. 27, 2016 7:00 p.m. ET

Some wonder how history will treat Barack Obama’s presidency. That depends on who writes the histories.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s account will fist-pump the Iran nuclear deal as the central foreign-policy event of the Obama presidency, a triumph for Western diplomacy.

But news photographs in recent weeks are producing a different history. These photos document the abject humiliation of the West by Iran. Americans who plan to vote in their presidential election should look hard at these photos, because the West’s direction after this will turn on the decisions they make.

The first photo is of a hallway in Rome’s Capitoline Museums, a repository of art dating to Western antiquity. Out of what the government of Italy called “respect” for the sensibilities of visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the museum placed large white boxes over several nude sculptures, including a Venus created in the second century B.C.

Then, because Mr. Rouhani will not attend a meal that serves alcohol to anyone, the nominally Italian government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declined to serve wine.

They did so for the same reason that beggars grub change in front of Rome’s churches. Freed by the Obama nuclear deal with Iran, Italy’s tin-cup businesses signed about a dozen deals with Mr. Rouhani this week, totaling $18 billion.
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. ENLARGE
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. Photo: Associated Press

The bowing and scraping to Mr. Rouhani continues this week as France and Germany sign more deals. This is not economic re-normalization. Rather than reform its weak, politically unstable economies, Europe is content to make itself a dependency of the aborning Iranian empire.

The second photo of Western submission depicts what appears to be a glee-filled meeting between the president of Iran and the leader of the world’s Catholics, Pope Francis, who gave Mr. Rouhani 40 minutes of his time.

The Vatican argues this is realpolitik by a pope trying to protect Christians in the Middle East by inducing Iran to play an “important role” in the peace process.

Set aside the “role” Iran has played in the death of a quarter-million Syrians and the refugees now destabilizing Europe. One still may ask: Why such public and jolly photo-ops with this person?

The U.S. State Department’s religious-freedom report says in 2014 Iran executed at least 24 individuals for the crime of moharebeh (enmity against God). And surely that understates the total killed.

The persecuted in Iran include Bahais, Sunni Muslims, Christians (notably evangelicals), Jews, Yarsanis and even Shia groups.

Mr. Rouhani is grinning in this photo because he knows these people can’t move Iran’s culture out of the 16th century.

The third photograph is of 10 sailors from the U.S. Navy who are kneeling in rows, hands on their heads, on the deck of an Iranian boat.

The Obama administration hasn’t provided an explanation for how this “deviation” and capture by Iran in the Persian Gulf happened.

Instead of outrage over Iran’s treatment of the sailors, Sec. Kerry praised the Iranians’ “cooperation and quick response.”

Cooperation? Iran humiliated the sailors by making them kneel in the style of an Islamic State execution ceremony and then humiliated the U.S. by releasing that photo.

Meeting in a congratulatory ceremony with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members who took the sailors, Iranian supremo Ayatollah Khamenei said, “This event should be considered God’s work.”

One is tempted to tip one’s hat to the Khamenei-Rouhani strategy team. Iran took the West’s measure with its nuclear brinkmanship and the West bent.

Some may say the Italians are the Italians, the pope has his reasons, and Barack Obama and John Kerry are just finishing their apology tour. But that understates the long series of political compromises and cultural surrenders that have brought the U.S. and Europe to this point.

Italy’s repudiation of its own heritage to accommodate Iran’s president is a significant symbolic event. The Capitoline’s Venus isn’t just a naked lady carved out of marble. Just as the naked man and woman in Masaccio’s “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden,” painted in 1423 at the dawn of the Renaissance, are hardly figure studies.

In her recently published book arguing a relationship between the Western artistic legacy and democratic evolution, “David’s Sling,” Victoria Gardner Coates says these works “are not isolated aesthetic objects; part of their value as historical evidence derives from their role in the public life of the communities that produced them.”

Unless that public life is forgotten. Western schools may no longer teach the Battle of Thermopylae, but one may assume Hassan Rouhani knows the details of Persia’s historic loss to brave Greece in 480 B.C. as if it were yesterday.

Putting a white box over a Venus to placate a Rouhani is a loss in the Persians’ return trip to the West.
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Henninger on: January 27, 2016, 11:28:51 PM
 By Daniel Henninger
Jan. 27, 2016 7:00 p.m. ET

Some wonder how history will treat Barack Obama’s presidency. That depends on who writes the histories.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s account will fist-pump the Iran nuclear deal as the central foreign-policy event of the Obama presidency, a triumph for Western diplomacy.

But news photographs in recent weeks are producing a different history. These photos document the abject humiliation of the West by Iran. Americans who plan to vote in their presidential election should look hard at these photos, because the West’s direction after this will turn on the decisions they make.

The first photo is of a hallway in Rome’s Capitoline Museums, a repository of art dating to Western antiquity. Out of what the government of Italy called “respect” for the sensibilities of visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the museum placed large white boxes over several nude sculptures, including a Venus created in the second century B.C.

Then, because Mr. Rouhani will not attend a meal that serves alcohol to anyone, the nominally Italian government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi declined to serve wine.

They did so for the same reason that beggars grub change in front of Rome’s churches. Freed by the Obama nuclear deal with Iran, Italy’s tin-cup businesses signed about a dozen deals with Mr. Rouhani this week, totaling $18 billion.
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. ENLARGE
Members of the U.S. Navy recently detained by Iran before being released, in an image from Iran’s state-run media. Photo: Associated Press

The bowing and scraping to Mr. Rouhani continues this week as France and Germany sign more deals. This is not economic re-normalization. Rather than reform its weak, politically unstable economies, Europe is content to make itself a dependency of the aborning Iranian empire.

The second photo of Western submission depicts what appears to be a glee-filled meeting between the president of Iran and the leader of the world’s Catholics, Pope Francis, who gave Mr. Rouhani 40 minutes of his time.

The Vatican argues this is realpolitik by a pope trying to protect Christians in the Middle East by inducing Iran to play an “important role” in the peace process.

Set aside the “role” Iran has played in the death of a quarter-million Syrians and the refugees now destabilizing Europe. One still may ask: Why such public and jolly photo-ops with this person?

The U.S. State Department’s religious-freedom report says in 2014 Iran executed at least 24 individuals for the crime of moharebeh (enmity against God). And surely that understates the total killed.

The persecuted in Iran include Bahais, Sunni Muslims, Christians (notably evangelicals), Jews, Yarsanis and even Shia groups.

Mr. Rouhani is grinning in this photo because he knows these people can’t move Iran’s culture out of the 16th century.

The third photograph is of 10 sailors from the U.S. Navy who are kneeling in rows, hands on their heads, on the deck of an Iranian boat.

The Obama administration hasn’t provided an explanation for how this “deviation” and capture by Iran in the Persian Gulf happened.

Instead of outrage over Iran’s treatment of the sailors, Sec. Kerry praised the Iranians’ “cooperation and quick response.”

Cooperation? Iran humiliated the sailors by making them kneel in the style of an Islamic State execution ceremony and then humiliated the U.S. by releasing that photo.

Meeting in a congratulatory ceremony with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members who took the sailors, Iranian supremo Ayatollah Khamenei said, “This event should be considered God’s work.”

One is tempted to tip one’s hat to the Khamenei-Rouhani strategy team. Iran took the West’s measure with its nuclear brinkmanship and the West bent.

Some may say the Italians are the Italians, the pope has his reasons, and Barack Obama and John Kerry are just finishing their apology tour. But that understates the long series of political compromises and cultural surrenders that have brought the U.S. and Europe to this point.

Italy’s repudiation of its own heritage to accommodate Iran’s president is a significant symbolic event. The Capitoline’s Venus isn’t just a naked lady carved out of marble. Just as the naked man and woman in Masaccio’s “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden,” painted in 1423 at the dawn of the Renaissance, are hardly figure studies.

In her recently published book arguing a relationship between the Western artistic legacy and democratic evolution, “David’s Sling,” Victoria Gardner Coates says these works “are not isolated aesthetic objects; part of their value as historical evidence derives from their role in the public life of the communities that produced them.”

Unless that public life is forgotten. Western schools may no longer teach the Battle of Thermopylae, but one may assume Hassan Rouhani knows the details of Persia’s historic loss to brave Greece in 480 B.C. as if it were yesterday.

Putting a white box over a Venus to placate a Rouhani is a loss in the Persians’ return trip to the West.
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: January 27, 2016, 10:22:33 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/27/fbi-meeting-with-intelligence-agencies-about-classification-of-hillary-clintons-emails/
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Time to leave says Bundy on: January 27, 2016, 08:25:30 PM
second post

Leader Seeks End to Oregon Refuge Occupation
After arrest, Bundy says remaining protesters should leave wildlife refuge
Oregonian/Associated Press
By Tamara Audi,
Jim Carlton and
Alejandro Lazo
Updated Jan. 27, 2016 6:59 p.m. ET
187 COMMENTS

BURNS, Ore.—The leader of a four-week armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge here on Wednesday called for the remaining protesters to end the occupation, a day after he was arrested in a deadly confrontation with authorities.

“To those remaining at the refuge: I love you. Let us take the fight from here,” Ammon Bundy said in a statement released by his lawyer.

“Please stand down. Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is ours in the courts. Please go home,” the lawyer, Mike Arnold, read in the statement from Mr. Bundy after his court hearing Wednesday.

Mr. Bundy also asked law-enforcement officials to allow the protesters to leave without being prosecuted.



“Let me be clear—it is the actions and choices of the armed occupiers of the refuge that has led us to where we are today,” said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Oregon.

Since the armed group took over the refuge Jan. 2 to protest federal land-management policies, they have insisted they want a peaceful outcome. But some said they were willing to die for their cause.

LaVoy Finicum, who served as the occupiers’ spokesman, indicated in a video interview a week ago that he hoped the protest wouldn’t turn violent. On Tuesday, Mr. Finicum was killed in the roadside confrontation with FBI agents.

The circumstances of Mr. Finicum’s death were being debated Wednesday: Supporters and a witness said he was surrendering when he was shot; authorities said he brandished a weapon.
Eight people linked to the Oregon occupation were arrested Tuesday: top row from left, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier and Shawna Cox; bottom row from left, Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, Jon Eric Ritzheimer and Peter Santilli. ENLARGE
Eight people linked to the Oregon occupation were arrested Tuesday: top row from left, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier and Shawna Cox; bottom row from left, Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, Ryan Payne, Jon Eric Ritzheimer and Peter Santilli. Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff

Either way, it was clear that his death changed the tone of the occupation from what had become a media sideshow to the tense standoff locals had long feared—raising the stakes both for law enforcement and the remaining protesters.

“Certainly we’re at a dangerous point,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who worked undercover infiltrating militia and white supremacist groups in the 1990s.

Federal law-enforcement officials have been under rising pressure from state and local officials to end the standoff. The protesters, meanwhile, received a torrent of social media response from supporters who consider themselves part of a “liberty movement” seeking to resist what they see as an overreach of federal power. Some pointed to Mr. Finicum’s death as proof of their argument, a rallying cry to draw protesters to the scene.

“The resolve for principled liberty must go on,” Mr. Bundy’s supporters said in a statement on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page. “It appears that America was fired upon by our government. One of America’s finest patriots is fallen. We will not go silent into eternity. Our appeal is to heaven.”

In Burns, a town of about 2,700 people, some residents predicted the standoff was nearing its end. Sitting in the Central Pastime Tavern, Melvin Dixon said that he had his 8-year-old son, Dilbert James, call one of the men involved in the standoff, his brother-in-law Danny Williams.

“My 8-year-old son called his uncle crying and they are right there in a meeting” discussing whether to surrender or not, Mr. Dixon said. “They are not going to fight no more.”

For weeks, Mr. Bundy—the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who engaged in a similar standoff with authorities in 2014 over grazing fees—moved in and out of the refuge as he wished, with law-enforcement officials making few overt moves to force an end to the standoff.

That changed Tuesday when agents arrested Mr. Bundy, 40 years old, his brother, Ryan Bundy, 43, and three other supporters as they were driving to a nearby county for a community meeting. Three others were later arrested in connection with the protest.

The eight suspects were arrested on the felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the U.S. from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.

According to the criminal complaint against Mr. Bundy and the others, the protesters “had explosives, night vision goggles and weapons” and “if they didn’t get the fight they wanted out there they would bring the fight to town.”

Nathan Catura, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, applauded the arrests—but criticized federal officials for not making them so sooner. “Had the situation been resolved more quickly via the federal government acting rather than reacting, this conclusion may have been prevented,’’ Mr. Catura said. “We now hope that with the sustained federal-law enforcement presence, the remaining criminals at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will surrender peacefully.’’

Federal authorities generally have been reluctant to engage with armed protesters like the Oregon group, mindful of past violent outcomes like those at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and Waco, Texas, in 1993.

Darrell Kerby, a former mayor of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, who served on a county emergency committee during the Ruby Ridge standoff, said he worried that political pressure might compel authorities to act rashly. “Time is really on the side of the people in authority,” Mr. Kerby said. “Use of force should be avoided at all costs.” Once there is a death in such fraught situations tension “just escalates off the scale,” he said.

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward on Wednesday said authorities had to arrest Mr. Bundy and the protest’s leaders to help put an end to what he called the disruption of life in the rural area.

Mr. Bundy and his supporters had made numerous trips into Burns, openly carrying guns including at a community meeting in a high school.

“This has been tearing our community apart,” said a visibly distraught Mr. Ward. “It’s time for everyone in this illegal occupation to move on.”

—Devlin Barrett contributed to this article.
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donald Trump "gets" Rev. Al Sharpton on: January 27, 2016, 08:14:57 PM
http://therightscoop.com/im-just-gonna-put-this-2014-donald-trump-tweet-right-here/
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 400,000 to Italy in coming weeks? on: January 27, 2016, 07:51:02 PM
https://www.facebook.com/varneyco/videos/1110873758946057/
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What a curious coincidence on: January 27, 2016, 07:48:13 PM
http://www.lifenews.com/2016/01/26/planned-parenthood-board-member-works-in-office-of-d-a-who-indicted-david-daleiden/?utm_content=buffer0c73b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gentiles who act like Jews: Noahdeism on: January 27, 2016, 07:36:50 PM
http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/196588/the-gentiles-who-act-like-jews?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=a3a37d04e4-Tuesday_January_26_20161_26_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-a3a37d04e4-207090153
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clinton lawyer represented dead voters on: January 27, 2016, 07:26:56 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/02/clinton-campaign-general-counsel-represented-group-investigated-registering-dead-people-vote/
160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cheryl Mills lost Blackberry on: January 27, 2016, 07:25:11 PM
http://dailycaller.com/2016/01/26/clinton-chief-of-staff-lost-her-personal-blackberry-which-contained-classified-emails/
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FOX's Murdoch big open borders guy on: January 27, 2016, 07:14:16 PM

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/26/anti-trump-network-fox-news-money-flows-open-borders-group/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

Also, note who is married to whom.
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rome's pre-emptive dhimmitude on: January 27, 2016, 05:34:36 PM


http://www.timesofisrael.com/romes-nude-statues-covered-up-ahead-of-rouhani-visit/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: January 27, 2016, 05:32:49 PM
My first thought is that it is better to not have it.  (Not sure of issues concerning bringing someone else in).  NO ONE is indispensable, and of Trump does not want to play, then Life moves on.
 
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A several bullets short of a full magazine on: January 27, 2016, 05:29:41 PM
http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/berserk-militant-promises-bloodbath-as-feds-move-in-this-is-a-free-for-all-armageddon/
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: January 27, 2016, 05:26:32 PM
AMEN!!!  angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry

================================

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/01/26/banished-us-veterans-lean-on-each-other-south-border.html
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar, Cyber Crime, and American Freedom on: January 27, 2016, 04:56:31 PM
Years ago a computer geek friend of mine spoke of installing unauthorized back doors when he installed software so that if necessary he would have means of enforcing payment.
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good Patriot Post article on: January 27, 2016, 04:54:41 PM
http://patriotpost.us/alexander/40303
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judicial Watch President interviewed in WSJ on: January 27, 2016, 04:51:48 PM
http://www.wsj.com/video/opinion-journal-hillary-email-exposure/38233520-C5D9-44EA-BE7B-21EDE7DB5051.html?utm_source=EmailDirect.com&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Tom+on+Opinion+Journal+1-27-16+Campaign
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz takes on King Corn Ethanol on: January 27, 2016, 02:11:03 PM
https://stream.org/cruz-dares-take-king-corn/
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Intereseting History Article on: January 27, 2016, 01:33:44 PM
http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/09/muhammad-isis-iraqs-full-story.html
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Data Breach you have not heard about on: January 27, 2016, 01:28:48 PM
The Data Breach You Haven’t Heard About
Foreign hackers may be reading encrypted U.S. government communications, yet basic information about what happened still isn’t available.
ENLARGE
Photo: Getty Images/Ikon Images
By Will Hurd
Jan. 26, 2016 7:15 p.m. ET
66 COMMENTS

A security breach recently discovered at software developer Juniper Networks has U.S. officials worried that foreign hackers have been reading the encrypted communications of U.S. government agencies for the past three years. Yet compared with the uproar over the Office of Personnel Management breach, first disclosed last June, this recent breach has gone largely unnoticed.

On Dec. 17 the California-based Juniper Networks announced that an unauthorized backdoor had been placed in its ScreenOS software, and a breach was possible since 2013. This allowed an outside actor to monitor network traffic, potentially decrypt information, and even take control of firewalls. Days later the company provided its clients—which include various U.S. intelligence entities—with an “emergency security patch” to close the backdoor.

The federal government has yet to determine which agencies are using the affected software or if any agencies have used the patch to close the backdoor. Without a complete inventory of compromised systems, lawmakers are unable to determine what adversaries stole or could have stolen.

If government systems have yet to be fixed then adversaries could still be stealing sensitive information crucial to national security. The Department of Homeland Security is furiously working to determine the extent to which the federal government used ScreenOS. But Congress still doesn’t know the basic details of the breach.

Yet this vital information should not be difficult to obtain. After all, U.S. banks that use this software for encryption were forced to share the extent of their use to the Securities and Exchange Commission only hours after the compromise was disclosed. It is government agencies that are dragging their feet.

This is why I and my colleagues on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently wrote a letter to the heads of 24 federal agencies demanding an inventory of their systems running the affected software, and whether or not they have installed the patch. If they fail to respond they will be called before Congress to explain why they couldn’t produce this basic information—even though the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act requires government bodies to monitor and protect the data they possess.

Once we learn which agencies were using the faulty software, finish patching all the systems and conduct a damage assessment, we need to examine why this older version of ScreenOS, last updated in 2011, was being used in the first place. This product is considered a legacy system that many users have replaced with better technology, yet the U.S. government hadn’t bothered to update to a newer, more-secure system.

Sadly, this isn’t surprising. Last year, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the federal government spent over $80 billion on IT procurement and 80% of those funds were for legacy systems—outdated technology or software similar to ScreenOS. This practice of not keeping up with the times renders our nation’s IT infrastructure less efficient and exponentially more vulnerable.

Finally, this incident shows that backdoors to bypass encryption—even those requested by law enforcement or mandated by lawmakers—are extremely dangerous. There is no way to create a backdoor that is not vulnerable to this kind of breach. Encryption is essential to our national security and economy; we should be focused on strengthening it not weakening it.

Rep. Hurd, a Republican from Texas, sits on the House Homeland Security Committee and is chairman of the IT Subcommittee on Oversight and Government Reform.
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reasons for poor morale on: January 27, 2016, 01:17:58 PM
http://www.businessinsider.com/carl-forsling-reason-for-the-poor-state-of-military-morale-2014-12?IR=T
173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Are you fg kidding me?!? on: January 27, 2016, 01:14:25 PM
http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/report-navy-officer-who-fired-on-islamist-during-chattanooga-terror-attack-will-be-charged/
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Officials tighten cordon in Oregon on: January 27, 2016, 01:11:43 PM
http://www.wsj.com/articles/officials-tighten-security-around-oregon-refuge-in-move-to-end-standoff-1453916652
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An Israeli War Game on: January 27, 2016, 01:08:25 PM
 

Opinions

Why is Israel so cautious on the Islamic State? A recent war game explains why.
David Ignatius

Let’s say Islamic State fighters attack an Israeli military patrol along the Syrian border. They try unsuccessfully to kidnap an Israeli soldier, and they kill four others. A Jordanian border post is hit, too, and the Islamic State proclaims it has control of Daraa province in southern Syria.

How do Israel and other key players respond? In a war game played here last week, they retaliated, but cautiously. The players representing Israel and Jordan wanted to avoid a pitched battle against the terrorists — they looked to the United States for leadership.

This simulation exercise was run by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) as part of its annual conference. The outcome illustrated the paradoxical reality of the conflict against the Islamic State: Israel and Jordan act with caution and restraint, hoping to avoid being drawn deeper into the chaotic Syrian war, even as the United States escalates its involvement.

"We all believe that keeping Israel out of the conflict is important," said Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion, a retired officer who served as head of the Israel Defense Forces' planning staff. He led the Israeli team in the simulation. In the war game, Israel retaliated for the killing of its soldiers but avoided major military operations.

Jordan, too, wanted to avoid escalation. The players representing Jordan didn’t want to send their own troops into Syria. They worried about refugees and terrorist sleeper cells inside Jordan. They hoped that the combined military power of Russia and the Syrian regime could suppress the conflict and evict the Islamic State from its foothold in southern Syria. They looked for U.S. leadership but weren’t sure it was dependable.

Which left the United States. Gen. John Allen, the retired Marine who until recently coordinated the US-led coalition's strategy against the Islamic State, played the American hand. The United States viewed Israeli and Jordanian security as a vital national interest, he said, and would send its warplanes to retaliate for any attacks on its allies. U.S. military involvement, in the simulation and in reality, is increasing — partly by default of others.

If you don't like this simulated version of the war, you may like real life even less. There’s growing consensus that the Islamic State poses a severe threat to regional and even international order; one senior former Israeli official described the conflict with the caliphate as "World War III." But most players still want to hold America’s coat while the United States does the bulk of the fighting.

A visit to Israeli military headquarters here confirmed that the war game was an accurate reflection of how Israeli military leaders see the conflict. Rather than attacking Islamic State forces along its northern and eastern borders, Israel pursues a policy of deterrence, containment and even quiet liaison, said a senior Israeli military official. He noted that if Israel wanted to mount an all-out ground attack on Islamic State forces in southern Syria and the Sinai Peninsula, it could wipe them out in three or four hours. "But what would happen the day after?" asked this Israeli military official. "Right now, we think it will be worse. So we try to deter them."

The Israelis don’t want to disturb a hornet's nest in taking on the Islamic State. Is a similarly measured option available to the United States? Most Israeli officials say no. They argue that the United States is a superpower, and that if it wants to maintain leadership in the region, it must lead the fight to roll back the Islamic State.

The theme of the INSS conference was that the rules of the game are changing in the Middle East. States are fragmenting; a self-proclaimed caliphate has taken deep roots in Syria and Iraq and now has a presence in many more countries around the world; a rising, still-revolutionary Iran is using proxy forces to destabilize nearly every Arab state; the old order embodied by the secular dynasties of the Mubaraks, Assads and Gaddafis is shattered.

Israelis disagree among themselves about nearly every political topic, but on the strategic picture, there is basic agreement: As the state system splinters in the Middle East, the instability in this region will be chronic, and it will persist for many years. Escaping this conflict will be impossible. So think carefully how you want to fight a war in what the senior Israeli military official called "the center of a centrifuge."
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: January 27, 2016, 01:02:31 PM
So, how is voting for Trump the solution?
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AG Lynch deciding whether to obey federal judge's order in OF&F on: January 27, 2016, 01:00:16 PM
http://www.teaparty.org/ag-lynch-decided-whether-turn-fast-furious-documents-140286/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ag-lynch-decided-whether-turn-fast-furious-documents
178  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor: Why Mexican Security is a work in Progress on: January 27, 2016, 12:32:03 PM

Why Mexican Security Is a Work in Progress
Analysis
January 26, 2016 | 09:00 GMT Print

    Despite security reforms implemented by President Enrique Pena Nieto, weak local institutions will continue to be a problem, including for the next president of Mexico.  As political parties prepare for general elections in 2018, the urgency and political cooperation needed to pass security legislation will dissipate.  The fracturing of organized criminal groups, rather than the buildup of security forces, will eventually determine the levels of violence in Mexico.

Analysis

As Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's term approaches its halfway mark, progress on security issues has stalled. During his first years in office, the president laid out an ambitious security strategy, which included the creation of new police forces and security institutions to reduce the role of the Mexican military in maintaining public order. Three years later, the reforms are still not fully implemented, and the constitutional reform to take security out of the hands of local police forces is stuck in Congress.

The gridlock does not indicate that Mexico is forever incapable of creating consistent local security institutions. It does, however, indicate that the move away from military enforcement will be slow, especially as the upcoming 2018 general elections stymie political cooperation. In the meantime, public safety and security in Mexico will largely be shaped by the continual breakup of criminal groups into smaller factions, which diminishes organized crime's ability to launch violent territorial conflicts on a national scale.

The Problem of Security Forces

Though past Mexican governments have always used the military to conduct counternarcotic operations, it was the administration of President Felipe Calderon from 2006 to 2012 that extensively deployed the armed forces in a public security role. Thousands of troops were sent to areas where criminal organizations were active. Since then, the military has been the primary tool for directly targeting criminal groups and for conducting public security operations in areas where local authorities are simply too corrupt or ineffective to do so. Depending on the area, the federal police and other federal, state and municipal police forces often partner with the armed forces.

However, there are problems with having the armed forces lead the fight against criminal groups, and the practice has addressed only a part of Mexico's overall security problems. Using the military has frequently created immediate political problems, such as damaging allegations of human rights violations. Moreover, while the armed forces could reliably confront and weaken cartels, military operations did not reduce criminal violence. For the most part, the military was efficient when it came to battling cartels and killing or arresting high-value targets, but the cumbersome armed forces were simply unable to conduct criminal investigations for prosecution, resolve lower-level crimes or be a permanent law enforcement presence in troubled areas.

Unsurprisingly, the Calderon strategy arose from a lack of options; a similar lack of options meant Pena Nieto could only affirm Mexico's reliance on its military. Local security forces, primarily represented by municipal police forces, were historically weak and often complicit in criminal activity. In specific areas, such as Tamaulipas, Michoacan and Guerrero, the military entirely supplanted some of these police forces, which were often disbanded and many members of which were arrested. It is clear: Military deployments often resulted in immediate security gains, but they were not a long-term solution to Mexico's security problems. So when Pena Nieto took office, he touted using local institutions capable of improving public security in dangerous regions as a better policy than persistently applying military force alone.

To this end, in 2013 Mexico began expanding a paramilitary police force known as the gendarmerie, formed from an existing body within the federal police. A new federally directed system known as the Mando Unico was also implemented, under the umbrella of the Interior Ministry, and replaced locally controlled municipal police with state-led forces. However, each force is not without its flaws. Financial limitations and concerns over corruption in the gendarmerie will likely limit its ability to expand significantly anytime soon. The Mando Unico model has spread in an inconsistent manner since 2010 as well. Different states and even municipalities have voluntarily approved the scheme on a case-by-case basis, but only about 20 percent of municipalities are currently covered under the model.

Beyond the Current President

Thus, a solution to the issue of poor local security institutions will be a problem for the next president. In December 2014, the Mexican president introduced a constitutional reform initiative that would have placed all public security forces exclusively under federal and state command. More than a year later, discussion on the amendment has stalled. Despite the progress Mexico City has made with the gendarmerie and the states that have fully adopted the Mando Unico, such local forces are either not numerous enough or effective enough to be relied upon entirely.

The pace of implementing Mando Unico across the rest of the country may also soon be subject to Mexico's political calendar. Because Mexican presidential and legislative elections are coming up in 2018, politicians are already forming alliances and jockeying for presidential candidacies, making it more difficult for Pena Nieto to negotiate constitutional reform, let alone to get legislative consensus to pass it through Congress. The opposition National Action Party and the Party of the Democratic Revolution are actively seeking to oppose the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in several governor races as well as in the eventual presidential race. And unlike energy reform, which preserves future federal government revenue from hydrocarbons taxation, reforming police forces to combat localized security threats is simply not viewed as an urgent priority for Mexico.

Ultimately, although the current administration wants to reduce violence by overhauling local police forces, it will be the changing patterns of criminals and their activities, along with any institutional buildup, that will largely determine future levels of violence in the country. Mexico is the main land bridge for northbound cocaine and is a major producer of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana. Consequently, criminal competition in the drug trade and the violence that comes with it will be around for years to come. As criminal groups attack each other in turf wars and are in turn attacked and weakened by the army and police, they will split into smaller units, unable to carry out widespread cartel warfare as they had before. If the spread and success of Mando Unico forces leads to more effective local police, Mexico's overall homicide rate and the prevalence of violence in problem areas will eventually fall. But that is a long-term trend, and one that is likely to play out well beyond Pena Nieto's time in office.
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: What has and has not changed since the Arab Spring on: January 27, 2016, 12:26:48 PM

What Has and Has Not Changed Since the Arab Spring
Geopolitical Diary
January 26, 2016 | 03:34 GMT Text Size
Print
(Stratfor)

January tends to be an introspective month for the Arab world as the region reflects on the anniversaries of the 2011 Arab Spring, debating what has changed and, perhaps more important, what has not. Five years ago, public protests looked like they would not just change the face of many modern Arab states but fundamentally redefine the politics of the region.

And in some places they did, for better or worse. In countries such as Libya, Syria and Yemen, where popular protests attracted thousands, the Arab Spring left in its wake civil wars that continue to this day and could well endure as proxy battles for competing interests for some time to come. But the countries in which the protests actually began — Egypt and Tunisia — were untouched by the same level of violence that befell their neighbors in the region. Their stability is owed partly to the resilience of governments that only appeared to adopt democratic reform. Still, there are indications that these old and deeply entrenched governments will continue to face challenges to their power.

It does not take deep analysis to show how little actually changed within the power structures of Egypt and Tunisia. True, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali resigned his post as the president of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak did the same in Egypt. That they did so attests to how powerful the protests against them were. But current Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi was part of Ben Ali's administration, and current Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was a trusted general in his country's powerful military council under Mubarak. Many current ministers and lawmakers in both countries hold similar jobs to the ones they held five years ago.

Part of the reason they were so successful in maintaining power was their willingness to bend — but not break — in the face of the demands of a post-Arab Spring environment. And now, the biggest threat to both governments is external security crises that threaten internal stability. Libyan unrest — rife with militias, factions of al Qaeda and the Islamic State — as well as power vacuums in Sinai, the Sahel, the Algerian mountains, and distant Iraq and Syria have led to attacks on Tunisian and Egyptian soil and have lured young Tunisians and Egyptians to the fight. Containing jihadist threats, which increasingly target important Tunisian and Egyptian tourism sites and security installations, is an important priority for Tunis and Cairo. Egypt has reinforced its security capabilities better than Tunisia has, partly because Tunisian security forces feel underpaid.

The issue of inadequate payment points to economic problems that will shake the foundations of both governments in different ways. Both countries have high youth unemployment rates, as well as rising costs of living. More than 60 percent of young graduates in Tunisia are unable to find work, and youth unemployment hovers at around 30 percent, even as overall unemployment has declined by 3 percent since 2011. In Egypt, youth unemployment is just over 40 percent.

Tunisian protests over the weekend took shape around the same urban centers that kicked off the Arab Spring in 2011, and cries for jobs echo the demands, word for word, made five years ago. Even police officers marched peacefully to the presidential palace in Carthage today, demanding a raise in pay, flanked by the presidential guard in solidarity. Amid these protests, Tunisia's leaders have asked for patience as they remind their constituents that security threats like the Islamic State could become worse if they do not curb unrest.

Just as important to how Egypt and Tunisia manage their economic issues is how they manage their political opposition parties. To maintain legitimacy among outspoken and politically galvanized citizens, Cairo and Tunis worked with opposition parties and Islamists in ways that were unthinkable — and illegal — before the Arab Spring. In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda party must work closely with the ruling Nidaa Tounes party if it is to achieve anything at all, something made clear by a closed-door agreement that helped both parties maintain their pre-eminence in Tunisia's volatile political environment. This deal may have compelled some stalwart Nidaa Tounes lawmakers to break from their party to form smaller coalitions recently, but it has also safeguarded Tunisia's political institutions — at least for now. These nascent coalitions could well undermine the relationship between Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes in the future.

The relationship between the Egyptian political establishment and its Islamist opposition, of course, fared much worse. The military council stood by as popular protests pushed out Mubarak as well as his son Gamal, whose ideas on economic reforms directly threatened its interests. It allowed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi to take the blame for the country's economic and security crises, positioning itself as the saving grace for a large segment of the Egyptian elite unnerved by an Islamist presidency. The military leaders then sidelined the Muslim Brotherhood using the very same techniques it used under Mubarak. And yet Islamist political sentiment remains, and countries with a vested interest in Egyptian stability, including the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are concerned that for all its steadiness, Egypt is not quite as unshakable as it may appear.

Egyptian stability is of particular interest to Saudi Arabia, which has given Cairo loans, grants and energy provisions — in other words, the resources it needs to pacify its citizens. Saudi Arabia has traditionally regarded Islamist parties as threats to its own legitimacy, but Riyadh now realizes it must moderate its stance for the sake of greater regional security, since desired Sunni allies such as Turkey hold Islamist parties in high regard.

And for Egypt, today was an important test of the government's ability to maintain order — a test it appears to have passed, with minimal violence thanks to weeks of arrests leading up to today's commemoration of the Jan. 25 revolution. Perhaps with this milestone behind them, Egyptian leaders can relax on some issues, such as death sentences for certain Muslim Brotherhood members, that present obstacles to Egypt's warming ties with other Sunni states.
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What could go wrong with Donald Trump? on: January 27, 2016, 11:32:59 AM
January 26, 2016:

TRUMP: Well, I think that I’m going to be able to get along with Pelosi. I think I’m going to be able to -- I’ve always had a good relationship with Nancy Pelosi. I’ve never had a problem. Reid will be gone. I always had a decent relationship with Reid, although lately, obviously, I haven’t been dealing with him so he’ll actually use my name as the ultimate -- you know, as the ultimate of the billionaires in terms of, you know, people you don’t want.

But I always had a great relationship with Harry Reid. And frankly, if I weren’t running for office I would be able to deal with her or Reid or anybody. But I think I’d be able to get along very well with Nancy Pelosi and just about everybody.

Hey, look, I think I’ll be able to get along well with Chuck Schumer. I was always very good with Schumer. I was close to Schumer in many ways. It’s important that you get along. It’s wonderful to say you’re a maverick and you’re going to stand up and close up the country and all of the things, but you have to get somebody to go along with you.
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sanders eating into Hillary's black support; two way race by 3/15 on: January 27, 2016, 11:22:06 AM
Hillary's Black Wall Shows Cracks
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Published on TheHillaryDaily.com on January 26, 2016
The latest Fox News poll (Jan 24th) shows Bernie Sanders gaining nineteen points against Hillary nationally among black voters.  In the Fox News poll of January 4th, Hillary bested Sanders among black voters by 71-20.  But on January 24th, Sanders had closed much of the gap and trailed by only 59-27.

As Hillary fights to fend off the unexpectedly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders, the African-American vote is key.  Blacks cast one-quarter of the vote nationally in Democratic primaries and caucuses and are heavily concentrated in states -- beginning in South Carolina -- that must provide a firewall for Hillary if she is to recover from defeats in New Hampshire and/or Iowa.

Sanders had been stuck at 20% among black voters nationally in previous Fox News polls.  In their surveys of November 16, December 16, and January 4, Sanders drew 20% of the African-American vote.  Now, he has risen to 27% -- a key development.

Sanders' growth among blacks is likely a key reason for Hillary's recent efforts to drape herself in Obama, attacking Sanders for wanting to start over on health care and saying she wants to "build on" Obama's accomplishments.

But the data suggests that Bernie is punching through among African Americans.  As his campaign gathers momentum over Hillary's dependence on Wall Street for campaign money and personal income, he is attracting more African-Americans than he had previously.

If this trend continues among blacks, and accelerates following possible Sanders victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, Bernie could actually win.
=============================
A Two-Way Race By March
By DICK MORRIS
Published on TheHill.com on January 26, 2016
Nobody has been paying attention to the rules governing the Republican Party's early caucuses and primaries. They make it inevitable the 12-person field will be winnowed down to a two-way race by March 15. Here's how:

It will take 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination in July.

Of the nearly 700 delegates Republicans will parcel out on March 1, 363 of them -- 52 percent -- will be in states that require candidates to reach a threshold of either 20 percent or 15 percent to share in the proportional allocation of delegates. Only two candidates are likely to meet that threshold. The others will win no delegates, even if they win 10 or 12 percent of that state's vote.

Of the next 356 delegates, chosen on March 5, 6, 8 and 12, 215 (or 60 percent) will be selected according to rules setting a 20 percent or 15 percent threshold.

So, before March 15, 578 delegates -- about 47 percent of those needed to for the nomination -- will have already been selected from threshold states. It is very unlikely a third candidate can reach this level. Right now, for example, neither Jeb Bush nor Marco Rubio nor Chris Christie nor John Kasich nor Ben Carson can point to any single state in which they top 20 percent of the vote.

Before March 15, 478 delegates will be selected from states that do not require a threshold to receive delegates. But, having been excluded from winning delegates in threshold states, a third or fourth candidate would have to win an unrealistically high proportion of those 478 delegates to get back into the race.

If we assume, for the sake of argument, that the two candidates who do pass the threshold -- at the moment it would be Donald Trump and Ted Cruz -- evenly divide the available delegates in high-threshold states, that would give them each 289 votes. If we further assume that Bush, Rubio, Christie, Carson and Kasich evenly divide half of the delegates chosen in non-threshold states and that Trump and Cruz evenly divide the other half, Trump and Cruz would have about 400 delegates apiece and Bush, Rubio et al. would limp along with only approximately 48 delegates each. Even were one of the candidates excluded by the threshold to win a disproportionate share of the non-threshold delegates, it is hard to see how he could catch up.

Of course, a candidate might get lucky on March 15 and win some of the big winner-take-all states that vote that day, like Florida (99 delegates) or Ohio (66 delegates) but the lead that the two front-runners will have amassed before then is likely too big to overcome.

So all the talk about when Bush or some other candidate will drop out is quite irrelevant. It doesn't matter when reality dawns on them -- they will be forced out by the math of the process in the month of March.

Unfortunately, the voters in the March 1 proportional threshold states may not understand all this, with many casting wasted ballots for candidates who have no chance of passing the threshold. In early March, this lack of understanding of how the process works will cost the two front-runners delegate votes, but the voters will soon catch on and vote primarily for one of the top two.

This will create a new dynamic in the GOP nominating process. Now, in a dozen-person beauty contest, we vote for who we like the best. But when it comes down to two candidates, many voters who may not have voted for Trump or Cruz as their first choice will have to choose the lesser of these two "evils."

Ironically, with two such iconoclastic and sui generis people as Trump and Cruz, the nomination could go to the one who is most broadly acceptable -- or least widely unacceptable.
View my
 
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WWF accused on: January 27, 2016, 11:16:15 AM
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/former-wounded-warrior-employees-accuse-charity-of-wasting-millions/
183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WWF accused on: January 27, 2016, 11:15:30 AM
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/former-wounded-warrior-employees-accuse-charity-of-wasting-millions/
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: China trying to stop currency outflows on: January 27, 2016, 11:12:58 AM
http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-sharpens-efforts-to-halt-money-outflow-1453898254
By Lingling Wei
Updated Jan. 27, 2016 11:58 a.m. ET
29 COMMENTS

China is ramping up efforts to halt a flood of money leaving the country in response to an economic slowdown, moves that risk undermining Beijing’s ambition to elevate the yuan’s profile on the world stage.

Its latest steps involve curbing the ability of foreign companies in China to repatriate earnings, shrinking the pool of Chinese yuan available for banks in Hong Kong to make loans, and banning yuan-based funds for overseas investments, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The measures, most of which haven’t been publicly disclosed, follow efforts by China’s central bank to discourage investors from betting against the yuan and to crack down on overseas money transfers.

“They’re sparing no effort to prevent capital outflows,” said a senior Chinese banking executive close to the central bank. “All the measures are the most aggressive I’ve seen in recent history.”
ENLARGE

The people with direct knowledge said the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, also is considering ways to lure money back to the country, including letting foreign residents and companies buy certificates of deposit for fixed periods. Currently they are restricted to ordinary deposit accounts.

The central bank didn’t respond to requests to comment.

The unusual moves come as China burns through foreign-exchange reserves to prop up its currency and stem an increasingly vicious cycle of easing credit, a weakening currency and fleeing capital. Too much outflow, Chinese officials say, could threaten the stability of the country’s financial system.

Just two months ago, the International Monetary Fund’s designated the yuan as one of the world’s reserve currencies, a nod to China as a global economic power. Still, Beijing is now retreating from its pledges to give markets more influence in setting the yuan’s value. Many investors say they are also concerned over what they consider to be inadequate communication by the central bank.

The last time central bank Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan spoke publicly was in early September, when he sought to reassure central bankers and finance ministers from the Group of 20 large economies that the rout in China’s stock markets was nearing an end.

Investors and analysts have questioned the government’s commitment to market liberalization following Beijing’s attempts to prop up the stock market this past summer and, more recently, sending mixed signals over yuan policy.

“China is aggressively reinserting capital controls,” said Scott Kennedy, a deputy director at Center for Strategic & International Studies, a bipartisan think tank in Washington. “It appears China has for the foreseeable future given up on the goal of substantial exchange-rate liberalization.”

The most obvious sign of China’s effort to stem capital outflows is a precipitous drop in its foreign-exchange reserves, which by December had fallen by about $700 billion from a record of nearly $4 trillion in mid-2014.

China had steadily accumulated reserves since the mid-1990s as its exports boomed. But the flow reversed after China devalued the yuan in mid-August, prompting the central bank to use its reserves to defend the currency. The risk was that a sharp fall could spark capital flight, as yuan-denominated assets become less attractive to hold.

In its latest efforts, the central bank instructed banks on the mainland to require more detailed documentation from corporate customers to remit profits back to their home countries. “The process is way more stringent than before,” said a U.S. property developer who has investments in Shanghai.

Meanwhile, the central bank on Monday started to impose reserve requirements on Hong Kong-based yuan deposits parked by offshore banks at a Bank of China Ltd. unit, said the people familiar with the matter.

Many foreign banks said they were surprised by the action since the reserve requirements previously applied only to yuan deposits held by offshore banks on the mainland, according to the people.

The new rule effectively reduces the amount of yuan funds in Hong Kong’s banking system by about 150 billion yuan ($23 billion), estimates China economist Larry Hu at Macquarie Securities, a Sydney-based investment bank. Yuan deposits total about 1 trillion yuan in Hong Kong.

“The central bank is squeezing liquidity in Hong Kong so it will be more expensive to wager against the yuan offshore,” Mr. Hu said.

In another effort aimed at limiting fund outflows, the central bank recently urged mainland banks to sharply raise the interest rates on any loans taken out by banks operating in Hong Kong for lending, the people said.

That has discouraged Hong Kong banks from taking yuan-based funds from the mainland, effectively making it all-but impossible to continue their yuan-lending business abroad.

“The offshore yuan-lending business is dead,” an executive at one of China’s top four state banks said.

The central bank has also forbidden foreign asset managers, including hedge funds and private-equity firms, from raising yuan-based funds aimed for overseas investment. That reversed previous efforts to promote yuan internationalization.

Write to Lingling Wei at lingling.wei@wsj.com
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sr. Federal Judge Laurence Silberman: Bush did NOT lie on: January 27, 2016, 11:00:21 AM
The Dangerous Lie That ‘Bush Lied’
Some journalists still peddle this canard as if it were fact. This is defamatory and could end up hurting the country.
By Laurence H. Silberman
Feb. 8, 2015 6:25 p.m. ET
2845 COMMENTS

In recent weeks, I have heard former Associated Press reporter Ron Fournier on Fox News twice asserting, quite offhandedly, that President George W. Bush “lied us into war in Iraq.”

I found this shocking. I took a leave of absence from the bench in 2004-05 to serve as co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction—a bipartisan body, sometimes referred to as the Robb-Silberman Commission. It was directed in 2004 to evaluate the intelligence community’s determination that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD—I am, therefore, keenly aware of both the intelligence provided to President Bush and his reliance on that intelligence as his primary casus belli. It is astonishing to see the “Bush lied” allegation evolve from antiwar slogan to journalistic fact.

The intelligence community’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stated, in a formal presentation to President Bush and to Congress, its view that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction—a belief in which the NIE said it held a 90% level of confidence. That is about as certain as the intelligence community gets on any subject.

Recall that the head of the intelligence community, Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet, famously told the president that the proposition that Iraq possessed WMD was “a slam dunk.” Our WMD commission carefully examined the interrelationships between the Bush administration and the intelligence community and found no indication that anyone in the administration sought to pressure the intelligence community into its findings. As our commission reported, presidential daily briefs from the CIA dating back to the Clinton administration were, if anything, more alarmist about Iraq’s WMD than the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.

Saddam had manifested sharp hostility toward America, including firing at U.S. planes patrolling the no-fly zone set up by the armistice agreement ending the first Iraq war. Saddam had also attempted to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush—a car-bombing plot was foiled—during Mr. Bush’s visit to Kuwait in 1993. But President George W. Bush based his decision to go to war on information about Saddam’s WMD. Accordingly, when Secretary of State Colin Powell formally presented the U.S. case to the United Nations, Mr. Powell relied entirely on that aspect of the threat from Iraq.

Our WMD commission ultimately determined that the intelligence community was “dead wrong” about Saddam’s weapons. But as I recall, no one in Washington political circles offered significant disagreement with the intelligence community before the invasion. The National Intelligence Estimate was persuasive—to the president, to Congress and to the media.

Granted, there were those who disagreed with waging war against Saddam even if he did possess WMD. Some in Congress joined Brent Scowcroft, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and former national security adviser, in publicly doubting the wisdom of invading Iraq. It is worth noting, however, that when Saddam was captured and interrogated, he told his interrogators that he had intended to seek revenge on Kuwait for its cooperation with the U.S. by invading again at a propitious time. This leads me to speculate that if the Bush administration had not gone to war in 2003 and Saddam had remained in power, the U.S. might have felt compelled to do so once Iraq again invaded Kuwait.

In any event, it is one thing to assert, then or now, that the Iraq war was ill-advised. It is quite another to make the horrendous charge that President Bush lied to or deceived the American people about the threat from Saddam.

I recently wrote to Ron Fournier protesting his accusation. His response, in an email, was to reiterate that “an objective reading of the events leads to only one conclusion: the administration . . . misinterpreted, distorted and in some cases lied about intelligence.” Although Mr. Fournier referred to “evidence” supporting his view, he did not cite any—and I do not believe there is any.

He did say correctly that “intelligence is never dispositive; it requires analysis and judgment, with the final call and responsibility resting with the president.” It is thus certainly possible to criticize President Bush for having believed what the CIA told him, although it seems to me that any president would have credited such confident assertions by the intelligence community. But to accuse the president of lying us into war must be seen as not only false, but as dangerously defamatory.

The charge is dangerous because it can take on the air of historical fact—with potentially dire consequences. I am reminded of a similarly baseless accusation that helped the Nazis come to power in Germany: that the German army had not really lost World War I, that the soldiers instead had been “stabbed in the back” by politicians.

Sometime in the future, perhaps long after most of us are gone, an American president may need to rely publicly on intelligence reports to support military action. It would be tragic if, at such a critical moment, the president’s credibility were undermined by memories of a false charge peddled by the likes of Ron Fournier.

Mr. Silberman, a senior federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.

 
186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rep. Mia Love on: January 27, 2016, 10:54:12 AM
http://m.deseretnews.com/article/865645896/Rep-Mia-Love-wants-to-limit-congressional-bills-to-one-subject-at-a-time.html?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / French vs. Muslims on: January 27, 2016, 12:06:09 AM
https://www.facebook.com/nevereveragainever/videos/556334491199416/
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump doubles down on Planned Parenthood on: January 26, 2016, 08:39:06 PM
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/250936-trump-defends-planned-parenthood
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A no-go zone in Michigan on: January 26, 2016, 08:35:51 PM
http://woundedamericanwarrior.com/video-christians-bloodied-by-stone-throwing-muslims-in-michigan/
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Dying Experience on: January 26, 2016, 08:30:53 PM
Haven't listened to this yet, but from its description I am intrigued:

https://soundcloud.com/artofmanliness/171-dying-isnt-a-medical-event
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: January 26, 2016, 08:21:57 PM
Agreed, Rubio is the far better choice in this regard.  Cruz's theory essentially is that moderation (Dole, McCain, Romney) fails to bring out the base and that he can win by so doing.
192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cruz challenges Trump to a 1-on-1! on: January 26, 2016, 08:20:01 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/01/26/after-donald-trump-announced-hed-skip-fox-news-debate-ted-cruz-offered-him-this-challenge/
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary asks Obama for a pre-emptive pardon on: January 26, 2016, 07:51:07 PM
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/267108-clinton-justice-obama-a-great-idea
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: January 26, 2016, 07:49:02 PM
From Doug's posted URL


New Hampshire: Trump vs. Clinton    CNN/WMUR    Clinton 48, Trump 39    Clinton +9
New Hampshire: Trump vs. Sanders    CNN/WMUR    Sanders 57, Trump 34    Sanders +23
New Hampshire: Cruz vs. Clinton    CNN/WMUR    Clinton 47, Cruz 41    Clinton +6
New Hampshire: Cruz vs. Sanders    CNN/WMUR    Sanders 56, Cruz 33    Sanders +23
New Hampshire: Rubio vs. Clinton    CNN/WMUR    Rubio 45, Clinton 44    Rubio +1
New Hampshire: Rubio vs. Sanders    CNN/WMUR    Sanders 55, Rubio 37    Sanders +18
New Hampshire: Kasich vs. Clinton    CNN/WMUR    Kasich 43, Clinton 43    Tie
New Hampshire: Kasich vs. Sanders    CNN/WMUR    Sanders 54, Kasich 33    Sanders +21
New Hampshire: Christie vs. Clinton    CNN/WMUR    Clinton 45, Christie 42    Clinton +3
New Hampshire: Christie vs. Sanders    CNN/WMUR    Sanders 57, Christie 34    Sanders +23
Florida: Trump vs. Clinton    Florida Atlantic University    Trump 47, Clinton 44    Trump +3
Florida: Trump vs. Sanders    Florida Atlantic University    Trump 47, Sanders 42    Trump +5
Florida: Cruz vs. Clinton    Florida Atlantic University    Clinton 47, Cruz 42    Clinton +5
Florida: Cruz vs. Sanders    Florida Atlantic University    Cruz 43, Sanders 43    Tie
Florida: Rubio vs. Clinton    Florida Atlantic University    Rubio 46, Clinton 46    Tie
Florida: Rubio vs. Sanders    Florida Atlantic University    Rubio 47, Sanders 42    Rubio +5
Florida: Bush vs. Clinton    Florida Atlantic University    Bush 45, Clinton 42    Bush +3
North Carolina: Trump vs. Clinton    PPP (D)    Clinton 43, Trump 45    Trump +2
North Carolina: Trump vs. Sanders    PPP (D)    Trump 44, Sanders 43    Trump +1
North Carolina: Cruz vs. Clinton    PPP (D)    Cruz 46, Clinton 43    Cruz +3
North Carolina: Cruz vs. Sanders    PPP (D)    Cruz 43, Sanders 38    Cruz +5
North Carolina: Rubio vs. Clinton    PPP (D)    Rubio 47, Clinton 42    Rubio +5
North Carolina: Rubio vs. Sanders    PPP (D)    Rubio 43, Sanders 39    Rubio +4
North Carolina: Carson vs. Clinton    PPP (D)    Carson 47, Clinton 44    Carson +3
North Carolina: Carson vs. Sanders    PPP (D)    Carson 44, Sanders 40    Carson +4
North Carolina: Bush vs. Clinton    PPP (D)    Clinton 43, Bush 45    Bush +2
North Carolina: Bush vs. Sanders    PPP (D)    Bush 42, Sanders 41    Bush +1
195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: January 26, 2016, 07:30:11 PM
Openness to being persuaded is a very rare quality.  Respect DDF!


196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: January 26, 2016, 12:16:24 PM
Excellent find, a serious article well worth the time.
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ's Bret Stephens goes after Sen.Ted Cruz on: January 26, 2016, 12:10:36 PM
What Ted Cruz Values
The Texan is repelling millions who believe in an America of the future, not the past.
By Bret Stephens
Jan. 25, 2016 7:22 p.m. ET
546 COMMENTS

Rancho Mirage, Calif.

It’s 70 degrees in this desert oasis, where I’m attending a writers’ festival, and I’m looking up at a vista of snowcapped peaks, cerulean skies and pink clouds that looks like a Bob Ross painting, only happier. But there’s only so much California positivity a man can handle, especially when he doesn’t play golf. That snowbound den of depravity known as Manhattan is calling me home.

With apologies to Billy Joel, I’m in a New York values state of mind.

Maybe I’d be a better person if I got away from the coasts more often, or visited a gun range. Maybe my conservative principles would be less attenuated if I weren’t surrounded, as Ted Cruz put it the other day, by people who “are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage,” and “focus around money and the media.” Maybe I should start listening to country music, the way Mr. Cruz did after he decided, in good Soviet fashion, that his musical taste ought to be dictated by political considerations.
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz at a campaign stop Jan. 19 in Freedom, N.H. ENLARGE
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz at a campaign stop Jan. 19 in Freedom, N.H. Photo: John Minchillo/Associated Press

And maybe I wouldn’t be quite so nauseated by the junior senator from Texas if the cynicism with which he mounted his attack last week on “New York values” weren’t so wholly matched by the sinister taint of an ambitious sophist who takes his audience for fools. Ted Cruz is the guy who made Donald Trump look tolerant and statesmanlike. That’s saying something.

Already it has been widely mentioned that Mr. Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is a senior executive with Goldman Sachs, which isn’t exactly an Iowa values kind of institution, and that Mr. Cruz’s 2012 run for Senate was financed with the help of $1 million in low-interest loans from Goldman. Also noted is that Mr. Cruz owes his political career to the backing of billionaire Peter Thiel, who is libertarian, gay, and perhaps wondering what he was thinking.

And it goes without saying that most of us would prefer the values of the lowliest New York Fire Department cadet over the cleverest Harvard Law graduate any day we need to get out of trouble that isn’t of our own making.
Opinion Journal Video
Editorial Board Member Joe Rago with a look at the Texas Senator's campaign strategy. Photo credit: Getty Images.

But the deeper problem with Mr. Cruz’s assault on the Big Apple isn’t his personal hypocrisy, or his two-bit stereotypes, or in biting the hands that fed him. That’s what we expect of politicians; the priced-in rate of running for high office. It’s the full-frontal assault on millions of GOP voters who, on one issue or another, share some of those dreaded New York values. The senator is trying to do to socially moderate Republicans what Democrats did to their own social conservatives when they barred pro-life Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey from speaking at the 1992 Democratic Convention. Yes, kids, there used to be Democrats who didn’t march in lockstep with Emily’s List.

There also used to be a theory of politics that, in two-party systems, it was in both parties’ interests to pitch the broadest possible tent; to have, as the great Si Kenen once put it, “no enemies, only friends and potential friends.”

But that’s not Mr. Cruz’s theory. He believes in the utility of enemies—the media; Washington; his fellow Republican senators; other squishes—because they’re such easy foils and because he’s convinced that polarization works and persecution complexes sell. Who cares about Republican voters in New York (or California, or Massachusetts, or Illinois) when not one of their votes will count in the Electoral College? Why waste time and energy courting the center-right when doing so will earn you the permanent enmity of the permanently angry?

The answer to that one lies in Cuyahoga and Pinellas and Loudoun counties—those purple lands in Ohio, Florida and Virginia where swing voters still decide elections in this country. Mr. Cruz needs to answer how he plans to win 50.1% in those states, not 70% of the Bible Belt. Such an answer is available to a Republican nominee, but only one who doesn’t demean other people’s values even when he doesn’t share them. Mr. Cruz needs to study old Ronald Reagan clips to understand the difference between having strong beliefs and being an insufferable jerk about them.

In the meantime, let’s put in a word for those New Yorkers and their values: the immigrant strivers; the capitalist-philanthropists; the skyscraper builders; the professional classes of lawyers and publishers and doctors and money-managers and (even) journalists; the cops; the opera lovers; the headline writers at the New York Post; the people who believe their true identity lies in the near future not the ancestral past. This is the America of aspiration and competition, of honest self-reinvention, of getting along in crowded places, of letting the smaller differences slide.

Mr. Cruz has the personal biography to have made New York’s story his own. He made other choices. I know plenty of New Yorkers won’t be shy about telling him what he ought to do with himself, and the rest of the Republican Party should take their views—and maybe even their values—to heart.

Write bstephens@wsj.com
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH 4/23/15 Russian cash flow Clinton Foundation for US uranium on: January 25, 2016, 11:49:41 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html?_r=0
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / How Israel defies drought on: January 25, 2016, 05:19:20 PM
Hat tip to David Gordon:
===========================

Interesting photo gallery accompanies the article below. View it here...
http://www.csmonitor.com/Photo-Galleries/In-Pictures/Israel-Defying-Drought


++++++

How Israel defies drought
Israel ended its driest year on record with a water surplus. Lessons from a desert nation on how to get more out of the spigot
By Christa Case Bryant

 


EIN YAHAV, ISRAEL — Even at night, the ground of Israel’s Arava desert pulsates with heat. For decades, the vast expanse of bleached hills looked like a mountain biker’s paradise and a farmer’s torment. With only about an inch of precipitation per year, not even Israeli vegetation had the chutzpah to grow here.

But that slowly began to change when Israeli pioneers came here in the mid-1960s. True, they didn’t come for the soil or the weather. But farming was vital to staking out the young state of Israel’s claim to this land along the Jordanian border. In between fending off attacks from Palestinian militants, the settlers worked the unforgiving soil.

They grew roses when others said it was impossible. They created naturally air-conditioned greenhouses by setting up “wet curtains” – honeycombed walls that allowed water to seep through slowly. They planted flowers in trenches of volcanic ash instead of the sandy soil. Later they switched to dates and peppers, using an Israeli-invented drip irrigation system.

Today this former moonscape, though still barren, has become an agricultural Eden: Rows of greenhouses stretch across the land, harboring everything from apricots to mangoes, avocados to pomegranates. Other crops are grown outside with plastic stretched over them to reduce evaporation. This narrow strip of land along the Jordanian border produces 65 percent of Israel’s vegetable exports – mainly tomatoes and peppers – and helps feed the Jewish state itself. It’s one of the most productive salad bowls in the Middle East.

More than anything, the transformation of the desert here is a testament to Israel’s innovative approach to water. Driven by a combination of necessity and inventiveness, the country has become one of the world’s leaders in how to wring the most out of parsimonious amounts of rainfall and turn a parched landscape into a productive garden.

The Israelis are turning seawater into tap water, pioneering new types of irrigation, and reusing wastewater at the highest rate of any country in the world. Last year, despite having the driest year on record, the country recorded a surplus of water. As climate change creates more severe patterns of weather – including, notably, devastating droughts – Israeli technology and ideas are increasingly being adopted around the world.

To be sure, Israel is a far smaller country than most of those with the most pressing water needs. But proponents say many of its practices can still be used elsewhere. Already, Israelis have big water projects under way in China, India, and drought-stricken California.

“Israel is very much a beta test site for solving these problems in a small country,” says Glenn Yago, founder of the Financial Innovation Lab at the California-based Milken Institute, who is fostering increased Israeli investment in water projects in California. “Drip irrigation, desalination, [wastewater] recycling, and aquifer remediation – those are problems that can be tested in the global laboratory that Israel is and then scaled elsewhere.”

As with everything in this part of the world, however, politics intrudes on the narrative here, too: Palestinians claim that Israel is taking more than its prescribed allotment of water from shared aquifers, and environmental concerns swirl about the effect of the country operating so many desalination plants along the eastern Mediterranean. But Israel’s surplus of water has also opened new opportunities for water cooperation with its Arab neighbors – and, perhaps, more flexibility.

•     •     •

The story of making the desert bloom here begins with a man in a top hat.

Back in the 1960s Simcha Blass, an immigrant from Poland, was traveling around the torrid Israeli desert in a three-piece suit, white gloves up to his elbows, and that imposing lid, looking like a European duke. He was, in fact, a water engineer, one of the foremost in Israel, who had helped to establish its first aqueducts and pipelines. (One of those plumbing systems was made from salvaged pipes from postwar London, which had been used to put out fires during the German blitz.)

Now he was tinkering with an idea to help make things grow where they shouldn’t: drip irrigation. But none of the young kibbutzniks working the dusty clods of the Negev desert were interested.

Until one day in 1965 Uri Werber knocked on Mr. Blass’s door in Tel Aviv. Before Mr. Werber even had a chance to introduce himself, the eccentric water engineer said, “You know what you are? You are an idiot.... No one is listening to me. Why are you coming here?”

Werber represented Kibbutz Hatzerim, one of 11 farming settlements set up overnight in the Negev in 1947, the year before Israel declared independence. It was so desolate that one knoll was known then, and still is today, as the “hill of the only tree.” The only water for growing vegetables was the runoff from a primitive shower house.

Two decades later, the kibbutz had grown to about 100 people, and Werber was looking for a small business to employ about a dozen of its members. He’d suggested manufacturing everything from traffic lights to chandeliers, but drip irrigation was closer to their farming roots.

So there on Blass’s doorstep, Werber insisted he wanted to hear more about his invention. Blass had developed it after a farmer friend pointed out a tree that was far larger than those around it. The reason, they discovered, was a small leak in a hose that spritzed water on the tree’s roots.

Werber went back to Hatzerim with the proposal – to build a system of perforated pipes that would water crops with judicious regularity. The kibbutz approved it. Initially, the group’s farm manager was so impressed with the results – drip irrigation both reduces water usage and increases crop yield, resulting in as much as four times more produce for the same amount of water – that he wanted to keep it as the kibbutz’s secret weapon.

Instead, the kibbutz founded Netafim, whose technology was piloted first on dusty Israeli farms and then exported around the world. Today, from its lush campus on Kibbutz Hatzerim, the company commands more than 30 percent of the global market for drip irrigation systems, with customers in 110 countries.

“To me there’s no question that drip irrigation made the desert bloom,” says Naty Barak, Netafim’s chief sustainability officer, who sees special potential for the company’s technology in California, where he opened Netafim’s first subsidiary back in 1981. “Israel has an answer to California’s drought.”

While drip irrigation is now a well-established technique, Netafim is always working to refine its technology, using the Arava as a prime laboratory, just as it has for decades.

“We are under tough and extreme conditions – soil, water, weather,” says Effi Tripler, a soil and water scientist from the Central and Northern Arava Research and Development Center in Hatzeva. “They know if it works here, it will work in any place in the world.”

The R&D center, one of several in Israeli agricultural areas, experiments with everything from sophisticated new drip irrigation techniques to aquaculture. The center also tests different varieties of mangoes, apricots, and other fruits and vegetables to determine which ones can best endure the harsh conditions of the Arava, where temperatures range from freezing to more than 100 degrees F. in the summer, and the parched soil receives only about an inch of precipitation per year.

“Plants are very smart,” says Dr. Tripler, who has beads of sweat collecting on his face despite the early hour. In cooperation with Netafim and other researchers, he’s refining a sophisticated drip irrigation system that waters plants only when they’re thirsty. The system, which is installed here in a small plot of sorghum, includes four solar-powered sensors that connect wirelessly to a control panel at the edge of the plot and measures the suction of the plants’ roots to gauge their thirst. A similar system will be installed at the University of California, Davis in the fall. By reading the signals of the plants, the system helps farmers maximize their water use.

“For the growers, this is their GPS,” says Tripler, who spent 15 years overseeing a date-palm plantation near the Dead Sea.

Decreasing water usage in agriculture holds some of the most potential to help the world husband a precious resource, since agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of water usage globally. The most common method of watering fields is flood irrigation, which pumps or otherwise channels water into fields and lets it flow among the crops. The problem with the technique is that it requires flat land and uses vast amounts of water, much of which is lost.

Drip irrigation could reduce water usage dramatically and make it possible to utilize hillier land as well, says Mr. Barak of Netafim. Yet global adoption of drip irrigation remains below 5 percent, compared with 75 percent in Israel. That’s largely because of the cost of installing such a system. Water is still free in many places, which makes it financially hard to justify such an investment.

Barak says sometimes he wakes up in the morning and feels “so proud” that what has been done out in the Israeli desert is now gaining awareness around the world. “[But] sometimes I wake up in the morning and say, ‘What’s happening? We have a solution to the most pressing issues and it’s not picking up.’ ”

•     •     •

About the time that Blass was peddling his drip irrigation technology around the Negev, American chemical engineer Sidney Loeb was devising a new way to turn seawater into drinking water.

In those early days of desalination, there were two main methods of separating out the salt: freezing or distillation. But Mr. Loeb, along with another graduate student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), developed reverse osmosis (RO) desalination, in which seawater is forced through membranes that block the salt but allow the water to pass through.

In 1965, the first commercially viable RO plant was established in Coalinga, Calif.; it was run by firemen in between putting out blazes. Its output was small – 5,000 gallons of water per day – but it supplied a third of the town’s fresh water. The next year, a second commercial plant was established in the Israeli kibbutz of Yotvata in the Arava desert, along Jordan’s border. According to Loeb, who moved to Israel in 1966, women brought buckets to the plant to wash their hair in the soft water, but skeptical residents initially refused to drink it.

Experts didn’t think much of the technology at first, either. Indeed, it took decades for RO to be used on a large scale, even though Israel was suffering periodic water shortages. In the mid-1980s, the problem became so severe that Israel’s minister of agriculture recommended that everyone shower in pairs to save water.

Then in 1999, the Israeli water commissioner came up with a master plan for 2000 to 2010 that called for wide-scale desalination to help close a water gap of 400 million cubic meters a year. The Israeli government agreed to produce 50 mcm of desalinated water – an important, if small, first step, says Abraham Tenne, head of the desalination division at the Israel Water Authority. “Usually the first decision is the most important because you crossed the line.”

In 2003, IDE won a contract with the French firm Veolia to build a seawater RO plant in Ashkelon that would produce 100 mcm per year, making it the largest such plant of its kind in the world. The government agreed to a plan that would guarantee the plant enough financial support to survive regardless of actual water demands.

“Ashkelon changed everything,” says Tom Pankratz, editor of the Water Desalination Report and an independent desalination consultant. Up until then, bankers had been skittish about underwriting a large-scale plant for a technology that had yet to be proved on such a scale.

In 2006, Ashkelon was named “desalination plant of the year” at the Global Water Awards ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where it was hailed as “a milestone in reverse osmosis desalination.”

“The guys in Dubai don’t like us too much, but even they were impressed,” says Mr. Tenne, who has become one of Israel’s leading desalination experts almost by accident: He signed up for Loeb’s first university class on RO because he figured an American professor would go easy on the students.

After Ashkelon, RO grew exponentially. From 2004 to 2014, some 74 percent of contracted desalination plants were RO. Three of those were built in Israel – Palmachim, Hadera, and Sorek.

Sorek, also built by IDE, has a capacity of 150 mcm per year and came on line in 2013 as the largest such plant in the world. Every two minutes, enough seawater to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool is pumped nearly a mile and a half from the ocean through massive underground pipes, which are roughly twice the height of an average person. The water gurgles up into huge vats that screen out jellyfish and other elements that could clog the pumps, and then goes into an array of pretreatment pools with sand filters.

Once all solids have been removed, the water is pumped into a phalanx of 11,200 cylinders at high pressure. Inside the cylinders, membranes screen out the salt. Within an hour, that Olympic-size pool of drinkable water is delivered into Israel’s national water system and ready to come out of people’s taps.

Not everyone is enamored of the technology, though. Environmentalists worry about the rerouting of nature’s resources on such a massive scale. The brine discharged back into the sea could harm the wildlife, especially with so many plants along the Mediterranean – not just in Israel but also Cyprus, Egypt, and Algeria.

“Desalination should always be a last resort,” says Karin Kloosterman, founder of Green Prophet, which covers sustainability issues in the Middle East. “Desalination is an energy-intensive process that consumes an unbalanced amount of electricity while removing the salts from the water. The byproducts and brine of desalination are harmful to the waterways around the desalination plant.”

Another concern is the price. Desalinated water here costs 2.8 shekels per cubic meter ($0.66) versus as much as four times that in Australia. Part of that is due to IDE’s innovative plant design and operations, such as arranging the cylinders vertically instead of horizontally to save on concrete and other structural support materials. But in Israel the vast majority of the population, with the exception of Jerusalem, is located within just a few miles of the coast.

California, by contrast, is far wider and has high mountains that could add significant cost to the price of desalinated water. A stronger environmental movement also exists there, and significant regulatory hurdles. In addition, California has a far more fragmented system of water control, so it can’t easily set a price for water, and few people want to pay for desalinated water if they’re getting it from the ground, lakes, or rivers free of charge. So, ironically, the state where Loeb first developed RO desalination lags far behind Israel today in that field.

IDE is building a $1 billion plant in Carlsbad, Calif., which will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere. But it is still relatively small and the project has faced many complications.

“In the time it took Carlsbad to materialize from plan to operations, we’ve built plants that together produce daily seven times more water than Carlsbad is going to produce,” says Hamutal Ben Bassat, IDE’s business development manager, on a tour of the Sorek plant.

In early May, Santa Barbara gave IDE the nod for another desalination plant, and Ms. Ben Bassat says other projects in California are under discussion. She says IDE also expects to see “quite a lot of activity in the US, China, and India” in the next two years.

In China, coastal cities that account for 40 percent of the population and 60 percent of the total gross domestic product already face “extreme” water scarcity, according to a report by WaterWorld, a trade publication. Last fall, Israel heralded a “Water City” project in Shouguang, a city of 1 million where Israeli water companies will implement their technology with the hope of winning over the Chinese government and expanding to other cities.

Limits exist to how far the Israeli technology can spread, however. The Arab Middle East and North Africa represent more than 40 percent of the global market for desalination, but so far they have been untappable by IDE for political reasons. Nevertheless, from 2004 to 2014, the company ranked as the fourth largest desalination plant supplier in the world.

“Basically we build the largest plants for the lowest costs,” says Ben Bassat.

•     •     •

Israel has also been able to wring more water out of the resources it has because, in essence, it has only one hand on the spigot. It has one water authority that sets both policy and pricing for the whole country.

Many other nations – including, notably, the United States – have a tangle of federal, state, and local jurisdictions that control water issues. “Much of the issue in the US is not so much technology, it’s governance,” says Prof. Yoram Cohen, a chemical and biomolecular engineer at UCLA.

Indeed, hundreds of water agencies exist in California alone. In the US, many farmers have rights to the water and don’t pay for it, and in some places governments don’t even have a system in place to measure water usage, making it impossible to charge for it.

In addition to key decisions regarding measurement and cost of water, Israel’s government has been able to enforce national policies, such as widespread wastewater treatment and recycling. Israel recycles more than 80 percent of its wastewater for reuse in agriculture and other industrial processes, which is quadruple the amount of the second largest wastewater recycler, Spain. In California, there’s still strong public distrust of such recycling, even after rigorous treatment.

“When you say ‘reuse’ in California, it means something different ... most of the implication there is toilet to tap,” says Mr. Pankratz. “And there has been a real stigma with that.”

Israel also has taken a lead in reducing water loss, with innovative companies like TaKaDu. Its monitoring system costs about $150,000 for a big city like New York – a relatively small price tag given that global water loss amounts to as much as $15 billion. Among Israel’s Arab neighbors, as much as half of their water is lost to leaks, while in London it’s about 35 percent. In Israel it’s down to 10 percent, and the country is aiming for 8 percent, says Tenne of the Israel Water Authority, which requires the country’s water utilities to spend a certain percentage on maintenance each year.

He says, however, that the answer to improving global water efficiency is not in any one step, but rather in a long-term, comprehensive approach. “There is no one single step and there won’t be one single step in China, California, or India,” says Tenne. “People are trying to solve problems from today to tomorrow, and it doesn’t work. But it can be done, and Israel is a great example that it can be done.”
 
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS destroying evidence again on: January 25, 2016, 05:15:48 PM
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/again-irs-destroys-another-hard-184100221.html

Hat tip CCP
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