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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Contamination from Fracking in North Dakota? on: May 09, 2016, 01:11:57 PM

Thousands of oil and gas industry wastewater spills in North Dakota have caused “widespread” contamination from radioactive materials, heavy metals and corrosive salts, putting the health of people and wildlife at risk, researchers from Duke University concluded in a newly released peer-reviewed study.
North Dakota, Williston—Bakken—Oil and Gas—Missouri River. Photo Credit: EcoFlight
Bakken Oil and Gas in Williston, North Dakota on the Missouri River. Photo Credit: EcoFlight

Some rivers and streams in North Dakota now carry levels of radioactive and toxic materials higher than federal drinking water standards as a result of wastewater spills, the scientists found after testing near spills. Many cities and towns draw their drinking water from rivers and streams, though federal law generally requires drinking water to be treated before it reaches peoples’ homes and the scientists did not test tap water as part of their research.

High levels of lead—the same heavy metal that infamously contaminated water in Flint, Michigan—as well as the radioactive element radium, were discovered near spill sites. One substance, selenium, was found in the state’s waters at levels as high as 35 times the federal thresholds set to protect fish, mussels and other wildlife, including those that people eat.

The pollution was found on land as well as in water. The soils in locations where wastewater spilled were laced with significant levels of radium and even higher levels of radium were discovered in the ground downstream from the spills’ origin points, showing that radioactive materials were soaking into the ground and building up as spills flowed over the ground, the researchers said.

The sheer number of spills in the past several years is striking. All told, the Duke University researchers mapped out a total of more than 3,900 accidental spills of oil and gas wastewater in North Dakota alone.

Contamination remained at the oldest spill site tested, where roughly 300 barrels of wastewater were released in a spill four years before the team of researchers arrived to take samples, demonstrating that any cleanup efforts at the site had been insufficient.

“Unlike spilled oil, which starts to break down in soil, these spilled brines consist of inorganic chemicals, metals and salts that are resistant to biodegradation,” said Nancy Lauer, a Duke University PhD student who was lead author of the study, which was published in Environmental Science & Technology. “They don’t go away; they stay.”

“This has created a legacy of radioactivity at spill sites,” she said.

The highest level of radium the scientists found in soil measured more than 4,600 Bequerels per kilogram [bq/kg]—which translates to roughly two and half times the levels of fracking-related radioactive contamination discovered in Pennsylvania in a 2013 report that drew national attention. To put those numbers in context, under North Dakota law, waste more than 185 bq/kg is considered too radioactive to dispose in regular landfills without a special permit or to haul on roads without a specific license from the state.

And that radioactive contamination—in some places more than 100 times the levels of radioactivity as found upstream from the spill—will be here to stay for millennia, the researchers concluded, unless unprecedented spill clean-up efforts are made.

“The results of this study indicate that the water contamination from brine spills is remarkably persistent in the environment, resulting in elevated levels of salts and trace elements that can be preserved in spill sites for at least months to years,” the study concluded. “The relatively long half-life of [Radium 226] (∼1600 years) suggests that [Radium] contamination in spill sites will remain for thousands of years.”

Cleanup efforts remain underway at three of the four sites that the Duke University research team sampled, a North Dakota State Health Department official asked to comment on the research told the Bismarck Tribune, while the fourth site had not yet been addressed. He criticized the researchers for failing to include any in-depth testing of sites where the most extensive types of cleanup efforts had been completed.

The four sites the researchers sampled instead included the locations of two of the biggest spills in the state’s history, including a spill of 2.9 million gallons in January 2015 and two areas where smaller spills occurred in 2011. The samples from the sites were collected in June 2015, with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

Over the past decade, roughly 9,700 wells have been drilled in North Dakota’s Bakken shale and Bottineu oilfield region—meaning that there has been over one spill reported to regulators for every three wells drilled.


“Until now, research in many regions of the nation has shown that contamination from fracking has been fairly sporadic and inconsistent,” Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said when the study was released. “In North Dakota, however, we find it is widespread and persistent, with clear evidence of direct water contamination from fracking.”

Dealing with wastewater generated by drilling and fracking has proved to be one of the shale industry’s most intractable problems. The industry often pumps its toxic waste underground in a process known as wastewater injection. Every day, roughly 2 billion gallons of oil and gas wastewater are injected into the ground nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Wastewater injection has been linked to swarms of earthquakes that have prompted a series of legal challenges.

The sheer volume of waste generated by the industry—particularly from the type of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing used to tap shale oil and gas—has often overwhelmed state regulators, especially because federal laws leave the waste exempt from hazardous waste handling laws, no matter how toxic or dangerous it might be, under an exception for the industry carved out in the 1980’s.

This leaves policing fracking waste up to state inspectors and not only do the rules vary widely from state to state, but enforcing those rules brings its own difficulties.

State inspectors have faced escalating workloads as budgets have often failed to keep pace with the industry’s rapid expansion. In North Dakota, the number of wells per inspector climbed from roughly 359 each in 2012 to 500 per inspector last year. In other states, the ratios are even more challenging, with Wyoming oil and gas well inspectors being responsible for more than 2,900 wells in 2015. And now, with the collapse of oil and gas prices, funds earmarked for oil and gas inspection have also nosedived in many states.

Lax enforcement may help explain why wastewater spills are so common across the U.S. More than 180 million gallons of wastewater was spilled between 2009 and 2014, according to an investigation by the Associated Press, which tallied the amount of wastewater spilled in the 21,651 accidents that were reported to state or federal regulators nationwide during that time.

The naturally occurring radioactive materials in that wastewater have drawn particular concern, partly because of their longevity in the environment and partly because the drilling industry enjoys looser federal standards for their radioactive waste than many other industries.

In January, North Dakota regulators further relaxed their standards for the dumping of radioactive materials, allowing many landfills in the state to accept drilling waste at levels higher than previously permitted, citing tough economic times for drillers.

But environmentalists argue that relaxing the rules for radioactive waste disposal could mean that radioactive materials receive less careful handling. “If people think this study points to a building tragedy, just wait,” Darrell Dorgan, who chairs the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition, told the Bismarck Tribune, when the Duke University research was released. “The new rules allow radioactive waste that is 10 times more dangerous.”

The spills the Duke University researchers identified often resulted from a failure to maintain infrastructure including pipelines and storage tanks. Roughly half of the wastewater spilled came from failed pipelines, followed by leaks from valves and other pipe connectors and then tank leaks or overflows.

But recent floods in Texas’s Eagle Ford shale region also highlight the risks that natural disasters in drilling regions might pose. Texas regulators photographed plumes of contamination around submerged drilling sites, a repeat of similar incidents in Colorado. “That’s a potential disaster,” Dr. Walter Tsou, former president of the American Public Health Association told the Dallas Morning News.

Risks associated with fracking in flood zones have drawn the attention of some federal agencies in the past, but perhaps not in a way that locals in affected areas might find helpful.

In 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program—a program designed to help people move away from areas subject to recurring floods—ran into a series of conflicts over oil and gas leases on properties that would otherwise be offered buy-outs. Some homeowners in Pennsylvania were denied the chance to participate in the program because of oil and gas leases or pipelines on their properties, as DeSmog previously reported.

In other words, it may be harder for those who have signed oil and gas or pipeline leases to abandon flood-prone areas, meaning that homeowners whose properties frequently flood could potentially face battles over cleanup costs without aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

And the newly published research from North Dakota suggests that the less visible brines may ultimately be more of a long-lasting environmental hazard than the spilled oil.

Even though their study included only leaks that were reported to state regulators, the researchers warned that little is currently being done to clean up sites where spills have occurred—or even to track smaller spills, especially on reservation lands, where roughly a quarter of the state’s oil is produced.

This means that the real amount of wastewater spilled is likely even higher than currently reported.

“Many smaller spills have also occurred on tribal lands,” Prof. Vengosh said, “and as far as we know, no one is monitoring them.
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's Blackberry was a microphone on: May 09, 2016, 12:20:00 PM
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Golan Heights? on: May 09, 2016, 11:48:01 AM

Golan Heights: The Pinnacle of Syrian Nation-Building — As a rocky peace process begins, leaders may try to unite the Syrian people around a popular national cause: retaking the Golan Heights.

After years of bloody conflict, Syria's quest for peace is sure to be neither quick nor smooth. At some point, the government will have to begin rebuilding the country from the shambles that protracted civil war have left. But forging a bond between ruling officials and rebels will be a difficult task, and Syria's leaders will have to rely on any semblance of commonality among the country's disparate factions to pull them back together. Like so many post-conflict countries before it, Syria may turn to the tried-and-true method of uniting its people by galvanizing citizens around a popular national cause. For Damascus, the Golan Heights offers just such a rallying point.

154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FB fibbery on: May 09, 2016, 11:41:59 AM
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's 22 Biggest Scandals on: May 09, 2016, 11:26:45 AM
Generally, WND is not a great source, but on this one they are pretty much on target-- except for number 22.
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Truth or Dare with Drumpf on: May 08, 2016, 05:11:16 PM
Pat points out that the Cook poll did not predict his victory.

Anyway, here's this:
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Confessison of Liberal Intolerance on: May 08, 2016, 11:28:14 AM
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: May 08, 2016, 11:17:47 AM
In that Trump opposes entitlement reform (yes, yes the issue that Chris Christie ran on-- but I digress) he profoundly adds to the likelihood of such a scenario.
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "The Blob" on: May 08, 2016, 10:16:36 AM
160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dilbert: Why Trump will win on: May 08, 2016, 01:03:39 AM
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: May 07, 2016, 05:36:27 PM
"Obama has a pen and a drone."
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: May 07, 2016, 05:35:42 PM
IMHO saying that Bush knew there were no WMD but lied us into war voided any notion of obligation to support Trump.
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: May 07, 2016, 05:26:45 PM
Well IMHO it is not an "interesting thought", it is a profoundly stupid and ignorant thought of the sort the Peronists of Argentina have used to destroy the Argentinian economy various times.

Anyway, here is this piece of Trump propaganda:
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drumpf: Reduce the debt through bankruptcy tactics on: May 06, 2016, 07:22:54 PM
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gowdy responds to Pentagon political appointee on: May 06, 2016, 07:13:33 PM
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Clinton: Career Criminal on: May 06, 2016, 06:54:29 PM
25 minutes.  Have not had a chance to watch it from beginning to end yet, but hopping my way through it leads me to believe it may have much worthy content.
167  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Foot Strength on: May 06, 2016, 06:49:02 PM
168  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sunday Sept. 18, 2016 on: May 06, 2016, 06:48:28 PM
If you think you might be able to attend, then register.  No one is going to say "Baaaad Dog" if it turns out you can't make it.
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Mary Matalin joins Libertarian Party on: May 06, 2016, 06:35:37 PM
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 06, 2016, 12:58:31 PM
This article was discussed in some detail last night on the panel on Special Report with Brett Baier.  It IS important.  Can we get the URL of the original Samuels article?
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo's opening shot in the leak wars on: May 06, 2016, 12:46:42 PM
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Meanwhile, at the border , , , on: May 06, 2016, 12:40:54 PM
173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Payroll numbers on: May 06, 2016, 11:34:25 AM
Nonfarm Payrolls Increased 160,000 in April To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 5/6/2016

Nonfarm payrolls increased 160,000 in April, missing the consensus expected 200,000. Including revisions to February/March, payrolls rose 141,000.

Private sector payrolls increased 171,000 in April, although revisions to prior months subtracted 25,000. The largest gains in April were for professional & business services (+65,000, including temps), education & health care (+54,000), and leisure & hospitality (+22,000). Manufacturing payrolls rose 4,000 while government fell 11,000.

The unemployment rate remained at 5.0%.

Average hourly earnings ? cash earnings, excluding irregular bonuses/commissions and fringe benefits ? rose 0.3% in April and are up 2.5% versus a year ago.

Implications: Disappointing headlines, but mixed details and key bright spots that shouldn?t be overlooked. The most disappointing headline was that payroll growth slackened in April to 160,000, well short of consensus expectations and the slowest in seven months. Meanwhile, civilian employment, an alternative measure of jobs that includes small business start-ups, declined 316,000. Normally, a drop in civilian employment this large would mean a higher unemployment rate, but the labor force fell 362,000, so the unemployment rate remained at 5.0%. However, don?t get panicky: it?s just one month?s data and the trends over the past year remain solid. In the past twelve months, payrolls are up 224,000 per month and civilian employment is up 208,000 per month. And, in spite of the drop in April, the labor force is up almost 1.9 million in the past year. Even the labor force participation rate, which declined to 62.8% in April from 63.0% in March and remains very low by historical standards, is slightly higher than it was a year ago. So how can we stay bullish about further improvements in the labor market? Because both wages and hours worked show plenty of demand for workers. Average hourly earnings grew 0.3% in April and are up 2.5% in the past year. Meanwhile, total hours worked rose 0.4% in April and are up 2.1% from last year. The importance of more hours is easy to overlook, but shouldn?t be. The average workweek ticked up to 34.5 hours in April from 34.4 hours in March. That one-tenth of an hour might seem small, but it?s the equivalent of adding about 350,000 jobs. As a result of the increase in wages and hours, total cash earnings (excluding fringe benefits and irregular bonuses/commissions) are up 4.7% from a year ago. In an environment where consumer prices are up about 1%, that leaves lots of room for more consumer purchasing power. The financial markets reacted to this morning?s report by reducing the odds on a June rate hike to only 2%. We think that?s absurdly low. In the past, Fed Chief Yellen has watched the share of voluntary job leavers (or ?quitters?) among the unemployed as a sign of labor market strength. In April, that share hit 10.8%, the highest since 2008 and barely below the average of 10.9% during the past 30 years. Expect a rebound back toward trend job growth in May and for expectations of a June rate hike to move up over the next several weeks.
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / House Reps to move forward on spending without a budget number on: May 06, 2016, 11:32:48 AM
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in Canada on: May 06, 2016, 11:26:14 AM
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More State Dept running interference for the Empress Dowager on: May 06, 2016, 11:06:13 AM
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comparing Trump and Hillary on: May 06, 2016, 10:54:08 AM
Clinton and Trump: Where Do They Stand on Islamism?
With Trump and Clinton the de facto nominees, it is time for voters to begin weighing the national security policies of each candidate.
By Ryan Mauro

Thu, May 5, 2016


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

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    Clinton and Trump: Where Do They Stand on Islamism?

Donald Trump is the all-but-declared Republican presidential nominee and Hillary Clinton on the cusp of winning the Democratic nomination. It is time for voters to begin weighing the national security consequences of each candidate's potential administration.

You can read our full profiles of the candidates' positions related to Islamist extremism by clicking here for Donald Trump and here for Hillary Clinton. Below is a summary of six policy areas where they differ:


Defining the Threat

Trump defines the enemy as "radical Islam." Clinton defines it variably as "jihadism," "radical Jihadism" "Islamists who are jihadists."


Defeating the Ideology

Trump said in his foreign policy speech that "containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States." His policy proposals include a vague commitment to use the U.S. military more aggressively, deterring terrorists by killing their families, closing down the most radical mosques and banning Muslim immigration into the U.S. until the homeland is secure and an effective vetting process is established.

Trump is adamantly opposed to democracy-promotion and overthrowing regimes; instead, he favors alliances with authoritarian rulers who cooperate on counter-terrorism. He says, "our goal must be to defeat terrorists and promote stability, not radical change."

He criticizes Clinton for supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Bashar Assad in Syria. However, a reputable senior foreign policy adviser to Trump, Dr. Walid Phares, is an expert on combating the Islamist ideology and believes in promoting human rights and civil society.

Clinton's national security platform calls for "defeating ISIS and global terrorism and the ideologies that drive it." Her strategy emphasizes civil society and a foreign policy that promotes freedom, women's rights, free markets, democracy and human rights, all if which she believes are necessary in order to "empower moderates and marginalize extremists."

Clinton says the U.S. needs an "overarching strategy" to defeat the ideology like the U.S. used to win the Cold War. Clinton wants the State Department to better "tell our story" overseas by confronting anti-American propaganda via public engagement.

Clinton's speech on foreign policy and ISIS also includes confronting state sponsors of extremism like Qatar and Saudi Arabia and identifying "the specific neighborhoods and villages, the prisons and schools, where recruitment happens in clusters, like the neighborhood in Brussels where the Paris attacks were planned."


ISIS, Iraq and Syria

Trump says he will appoint effective generals who will quickly crush the Islamic State.  He believes the U.S. has "no choice" but to send 20-30,000 troops to fight the Islamic State. He would also attack the families of Islamic State members, bomb oil sites held by the Islamic State and then seize them for U.S. companies to rebuild and own.

He would not support Syrian rebels against the Iran-backed Assad regime; Trump supported Russia's military intervention in Syria to save the dictatorship. Trump believes he can be a partner with Russian President Putin. He says he would establish safe-zones in Syria to stop the flow of refugees, but neighboring Arab countries like Saudi Arabia would have to pay for it.

Clinton's speech on ISIS emphasized her opposition to a large ground campaign by U.S. forces, but she does support President Obama's deployment of about 5,000 troops to Iraq with a limited role. She disagreed with President Obama when she urged U.S. support for Syrian rebels at the beginning of the civil war in order to prevent Islamist extremists from gaining ground.

Clinton also supported using the U.S. Air Force to implement a no-fly zone in Syria and to create safe zones for refugees. Clinton remains committed to ending the civil war in Syria by forcing Assad to resign from power as part of a political transition.

In Iraq, she favors direct U.S. military assistance to Sunni tribes and Kurdish forces fighting ISIS and expanding the U.S. forces' role to include embedding personnel in local Iraqi units and assisting with airstrikes.



Trump would terminate the nuclear deal with Iran immediately and pledged to "dismantle" Iran's global terrorism network in his speech about Israel and the Middle East. He supports placing severe sanctions on Iran to pressure them into a deal that dismantles their nuclear program and ends their support for terrorism.

Clinton supports the nuclear deal with reservations. She has released a 5-point plan to respond to the deal's negative consequences, Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses of the Iranian regime. She supports expanding sanctions on Iran for these actions.

Neither candidate has explicitly endorsed overthrowing the Iranian regime, but Clinton took a step in that direction  in 2010 when she said she hopes there will be "some effort inside Iran, by responsible civil and religious leaders, to take hold of the apparatus of the state." She regrets that she and the Obama Administration did not more forcefully support the 2009 Green Revolution and promises "that won't happen again."


Muslim Brotherhood

Neither candidate has endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act and concerns have been raised about both candidates' advisers.

One of Clinton's closest aides, Huma Abedin, was the assistant-editor of an Islamist journal with her family members, some of whom have Muslim Brotherhood links. She has not directly said anything extremist and is married to a pro-Israel Jew. Critics point out that although she has a security clearance, her familial ties may influence her advice to Clinton.

In her book, Clinton seems to understand that the Brotherhood is hostile to the U.S., deceptive and closely linked to Hamas. However, she seems to accept Islamist political parties like the Brotherhood as potential democratic partners. Her State Dept. operation in Egypt gave election training to Brotherhood members and a Clinton Foundation member belonged to the Brotherhood.

One of Trump's top campaign aides, Paul Manafort, was a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and a lobbyist for a Pakistani ISI intelligence front in the U.S. that was also closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Trump has never said anything kind about the Muslim Brotherhood and wanted the U.S. to help keep Egyptian President Mubarak in power.
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ready for Hillary! on: May 06, 2016, 01:44:44 AM
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Who could have seen this coming? Drumpf begins to morph already , , , on: May 05, 2016, 11:10:16 PM
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Paul Ryan not ready to endorse Trump on: May 05, 2016, 07:45:11 PM
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kasich's deal with whom? on: May 05, 2016, 07:24:11 PM
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: May 05, 2016, 03:28:54 PM
Trump needs someone to round out his skill set.  But for the fact he is an anus, Kasich has a great resume in this regard.

Cruz would add nothing, indeed would arouse the secular humanist bigots.

Rubio, appeal to the Latino vote?  Maybe , , , but hard to nominate a guy who said you had , , , little fingers.

I have always liked Newt (see the substantial thread on this forum) but not sure what he would add in the way of getting votes.

183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: May 05, 2016, 03:24:26 PM

Let's remember to use the Subject line please so as to facilitate the Search function.

184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sweden 3.0 on: May 05, 2016, 03:19:11 PM
185  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sunday Sept. 18, 2016 on: May 05, 2016, 02:47:36 PM
For the Open, not yet.

The Tribal registration is up on the Tribal forum.  If you are not registered for the Tribal site yet, email and he will set you up.
186  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Cheech & Chong on: May 05, 2016, 02:36:34 PM
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cheech & Chong on: May 05, 2016, 02:35:42 PM
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wonder if the Clinton machine is behind this? on: May 05, 2016, 12:33:49 PM

PS:  She's A LOT hotter than Monica.
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Grannis: Productivity is still the missing ingredient on: May 05, 2016, 12:27:38 PM
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: baseball on: May 05, 2016, 10:52:56 AM
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mukasey: Criminal Charge Justified on: May 04, 2016, 11:05:32 PM
I've let my WSJ subscription lapse.  Can someone please post the full version of this?
192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bruce Jenner nudie shoot for Sports Illustrated on: May 04, 2016, 10:42:28 PM

 rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes tongue tongue tongue
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ann Coulter called it! on: May 04, 2016, 10:35:13 PM
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: May 04, 2016, 10:15:25 PM
FSA-linked Commander Threatens Kurdish Civilians
by John Rossomando  •  May 4, 2016 at 4:19 pm

A radio transmission between the commander of an Islamist brigade with ties to the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and a Kurdish man contained a chilling message threatening to slaughter Kurdish civilians in Syria.

"My fighters are just like lions, and you know the people of Homs and that they always meet their words with action. We will crackdown on their mothers, sisters, fathers. We will target women before men. Do not talk to me anymore, and you can keep our martyrs with you," the commander said in Arabic.
"We will deal with you in our own way, and we will find the Kurds wherever they go, in Aleppo or anywhere else."

The exchange came in the retaliation for a video showing Kurdish forces parading the bodies of hundreds of FSA fighters killed after attacking the Kurds on the back of a trailer truck through a Kurdish town north of Aleppo. Representatives of the Kurdish factions condemned the incident as did the U.S. State Department.

A pro-Kurdish Twitter account @FuriousKurd published the exchange threatening the lives of Kurdish civilians on Saturday. The exchange originally was released by a pro al-Qaida account on Telegram.

Jaysh Al-Sunna, the commander's faction, also is part of the Army of the Conquest (Jaish al-Fateh), a coalition of Islamist and other rebel factions supported by that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that includes Al-Qaida's affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. News reports show that CIA-backed groups have cooperated with Jaish al-Fateh. The FSA also has received CIA support.

195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel's dilemma on: May 04, 2016, 10:12:42 PM
Israel's Palestinian Dilemmas
by Efraim Inbar
BESA Center Perspectives
May 3, 2016

Israelis have gradually come to accept that the Palestinians are neither interested in real peace nor capable of establishing a viable state.

Ever since the Palestinian terrorist wave began in September 2000, the Israeli body politic increasingly has resigned itself to the probability that there is no partner on the Palestinian side with which to reach a historic compromise with the Jewish national (Zionist) movement. The hopes for peace that were generated by the Oslo process in 1993 have been replaced by the stark realization that violent conflict will not end soon.

Moreover, the hostile messages about Israel purveyed in the Palestinian Authority (PA) educational system and official media leave little doubt about the rabid anti-Semitism prevalent in Palestinian society, which ensures that conflict with the Jews will continue. And thus, the central premise of the Oslo process seems exceedingly improbable. The premise was that partition of the Land of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian political entity (what is known as the two-state paradigm) would bring peace and stability. Alas, this paradigm has been deeply discredited.

Palestinian demands for control of the Temple Mount and the 'right of return' are insurmountable obstacles.

Aside from and beyond the assessment that the PA has no intention of accepting a Jewish state in any borders, the fact remains that the two sides remain far apart on most of the concrete issues to be resolved. Palestinian demands for control of the Temple Mount and the so-called "right of return," for example, are insurmountable obstacles. Any pragmatic impulse that might otherwise have emerged in Palestinian politics is consistently countered by Hamas, whose growing influence reflects the Islamist tide that is surging across the wider region.

To make matters worse, the assumption that the Palestinians are capable of establishing a state within the parameters of a two-state paradigm has not been validated. The PA was unable to get rid of multiple militias and lost Gaza to Hamas, mirroring the inability of other Arab societies in the region to sustain statist structures.

Protracted ethno-religious conflicts end only when at least one of the sides becomes war-weary.

Finally, protracted ethno-religious conflicts end only when at least one of the sides becomes war-weary, and runs out of energy for sustaining the conflict. That is not true of either Israeli or Palestinian society.

As a result of these trends, Israel essentially, if not formally, has given up on conflict resolution in the short run, and instead effectively has adopted a strategy of patient conflict management. But such a strategy brings policy dilemmas of its own.

The first dilemma is whether or not to admit that Israel no longer believes that negotiations can lead to a durable agreement in the near term.

Truth has its virtues, but much of the world does not want to hear this particular truth and is still committed to an unworkable formula. There is, in any case, something to be said for acceding to the wishes of the international community by continuing to participate in negotiations. Doing so signals that Israel is ready to make concessions, which maintains the domestic social cohesion necessary for protracted conflict (management) while projecting a positive image abroad.

Participating in fruitless talks affirms Israel's readiness to compromise and maintains domestic cohesion, but discourages fresh thinking.

On the other hand, negotiations toward the doubtful "two-state solution" keep a fictitious formula alive and prevent fresh thinking about alternative solutions from emerging. Moreover, the "peace process" requires moderation, which entails swallowing Palestinian provocations and restraining punitive action.

A second dilemma is related to the "carrot and stick" approach toward the Palestinians. In the absence of meaningful negotiations, Israel, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has advocated the promotion of "economic peace" as a part of conflict management, on the assumption that Israel has nothing to gain from hungry neighbors. This is why Israel does not oppose international financial support for the PA, despite the corruption and inefficiency of the latter. Jerusalem also provides water and electricity to the PA, and to Hamas-ruled Gaza, so that Israel's Palestinian neighbors do not dive into total desperation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long argued that only "rapid economic growth" can provide "a stake for peace for the ordinary Palestinians."
But the carrot mitigates the impact of the stick. The Palestinians, it must be recalled, wage war on Israel. Exacting pain from opposing societies is what war is all about, and pain can have a moderating effect on collective behavior. Egypt, for example, decided to change course with regard to Israel because it grew reluctant to pay the costs of maintaining the conflict.

Since the Palestinians have chosen to pursue their goals by causing Israel continued pain – rather than by accepting generous peace deals offered by Ehud Barak (2000) and Ehud Olmert (2007) – Israel has every right to punish them, in the hope that a bit of pain might influence their future choices in a productive direction. But by adopting an "economic peace" approach, Israel creates disincentives to Palestinian moderation, and signals its desperation at the prospect of changing Palestinian behavior.

The Palestinian Authority survives largely because of Israel's security measures and economic backing.

A third dilemma implicit in the conflict management approach is what to do about the hostile PA, which survives largely because of Israel's security measures and economic backing. The collapse of the PA is one possible outcome of a succession struggle after Mahmoud Abbas leaves the political arena.

Whether or not the collapse of the PA is desirable is debatable. On the one hand, the PA propagates vicious hatred toward Israel in its educational system, conducts an ongoing campaign of international delegitimization against Israel, and denies Jewish links to the Land of Israel and to Jerusalem in particular. It glorifies terrorists and allows them to be role models in its schools. It deliberately reinforces the hostility that fuels the conflict, preventing the emergence of a more pragmatic Palestinian leadership.

On the other hand, the PA conveniently relieves Israel of the burden of responsibility for more than one million Palestinians living in the West Bank. PA security forces help combat Hamas influence in the West Bank (although far less than the PA is given credit for). The functioning of the PA, however imperfect, also keeps the Palestinian issue off the top of the international agenda – something that is very much in Israel's interests. A descent into chaos resulting from the total collapse of the PA would invite international intervention.

An additional question for Israel to consider relates to the appropriate level of diplomatic activism on the Palestinian issue. Many advocate Israeli diplomatic initiatives in order to prevent unfavorable plans from being placed on the agenda by global actors. The nature of such initiatives is usually unclear, but activism is part of the Israeli Zionist ethos and "taking initiative" appeals to the impatient Israeli temperament.

Israel's leaders are correct in opting for a conflict management approach to relations with the Palestinians.

On the other hand, a patient wait-and-see approach allows others to make mistakes and gives Israel the latitude to wait on a more favorable environment. In fact, this was the approach favored by David Ben-Gurion. He believed in buying time to build a stronger state and in hanging on until opponents yield their radical goals.

Each of these dilemmas leads to a policy gamble. The short-term existential security imperatives of a small state further complicate Israel's choices. Even if Israel's leaders are correct in opting for a conflict management approach for the moment, they are in an unenviable position.

Efraim Inbar, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, is the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Trump's foreign policy on: May 04, 2016, 09:50:23 PM
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / April Non-Mfr Index on: May 04, 2016, 02:26:59 PM
The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Rose to 55.7 in April To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 5/4/2016

The ISM non-manufacturing index rose to 55.7 in April from 54.5 in March, coming in above the consensus expected 54.8. (Levels above 50 signal expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)

The major measures of activity were mostly higher in March, and all stand above 50, signaling expansion. The new orders index rose to 59.9 from 56.7 while the employment index increased to 53.0 from 50.3 in March. The supplier deliveries index remained unchanged at 51.0, and the business activity index declined to 58.8 from 59.8.

The prices paid index increased to 53.4 in April from 49.1 in March.

Implications: Service sector activity picked up in April at the fastest pace of 2016. Among the eighteen industries that the ISM surveys, thirteen reported growth in April, while just four - including mining and transportation - reported contraction. Service sector activity has now grown for 75 consecutive months, and continued strength in both new orders and business activity show positive signs for the months ahead. The new orders index, a signal of how business activity and employment are likely to move in coming months to fill demand, rose to 59.9, the highest reading in six months. Meanwhile the business activity index declined one point to a still robust 58.8. Taken together, growth prospects remain positive with no sign of a recession. On the inflation front, the prices paid index broke above 50 in April, coming in at 53.4 as rising prices for metals and fuels more than offset declining prices for beef, eggs, and natural gas. The employment index ticked higher in April, rising to 53.0 from 50.3 in March. In both 2014 and 2015, the pace of service sector growth slowed (but still showed growth) in the first quarter before picking up through the remainder of the year, and today’s report suggests this trend may continue in 2016. In other news this morning, the ADP index, which measures private-sector payrolls, increased 156,000 in April. We are waiting on tomorrow’s initial claims data for a final estimate, but plugging the ADP figures into our models suggests Friday's official report on nonfarm payrolls will show a gain north of 200,000, another solid month. In other recent news, consumers continue to flock to auto dealerships, with cars and light trucks selling at a 17.4 million annual rate in April, up 5.1% from March and up 4.0% from a year ago.
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Poisoned arrow takes down jihadi suicide killer on: May 04, 2016, 01:58:56 PM
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GVRO Gun Violence Restraining Order -- CA bill would expand concept on: May 04, 2016, 01:47:57 PM
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 04, 2016, 11:12:55 AM
On FOX I continue to have high regard for Special Report w Bret Baier; I watch it every day.  Because we have Satellite TV other than that I record and surf my way through the litter for the things I find worthy.
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