The State of Marriage [According To Hoyt]

When I was a kid I was always highly amused by reading Agatha Christie characters refer to it as “The Marriage State” instead of just “being married.”

Yesterday here someone mentioned taking relationship advice from Agatha Christie which might be marginally better than taking relationship advice from Heinlein, but not by much.  And yet I did both and it turned out okay, though it could be said that is partly because I was solidly embedded in a married-people culture.  A culture where everyone married, unquestioningly, oh, and didn’t divorce.  I knew happy couples, and unhappy couples and couples who had lived apart after a few years or a few days or in one case a few hours* of marriage, and who sometimes lived with someone else and had for so long that the scandal had worn off, but were married, nonetheless.

One of my own uncles had left his wife after a few years, and lived with another one.  The family was at a loss for whether I should call her aunt or not.  She of course was more obsequious than all my other aunts in her observances and gave me a pearl brooch for my third birthday.  I loved it because it had two little birds made of pearls, but it caused my mom (it was her side of the family) some heartburns whether I should wear it around her family.  In fact, I suspect she eventually traded it in on something else, because thought it was one of my favorites, it’s the only piece of jewelry I remember from that young age that I don’t have.  And what I have includes some I wore when I was so young I chewed it out of shape.

Anyway, so marriage was a constant and even when the village women said “He beats me but he’s my man” one couldn’t detach the couple with a crowbar.  It was assumed to be the law of nature, coming or going, good or bad.

And to give you an idea of how unenlightened the times were, one of our cleaning ladies (mom had a succession of them, because she had a successful business and no time to clean, or shop) told me when I was ten or so, that if I thought I’d get a man who didn’t at least slap me every now and then, I was air dreaming.

This was a weird perspective, as men in my family (on dad’s side.  Mom’s dad had issues) never raised a hand to a woman, their own or not, and at that never raised a hand to a kid if they could help it.  The women were always the disciplinarians, and the men … well, dad could stop my worst tantrum with the words “I’m very disappointed in you.”

Someone in one of my groups on facebook was complaining about marriage, specifically that person’s own marriage.  Well, not complaining so much as baffled and confused as to how it’s falling apart despite his trying to do his best.

I sort of know why it’s falling apart.

Take that overlay above, and the fact when I was born/grew up Portugal still issued family passports, and if a woman wanted a solo passport, she had to have her husband’s signature.  For that matter, if a woman wanted to have a paying job outside the home (cleaning house didn’t count.  In that time and place you were often paid in produce and eggs and a chicken or so.) she needed permission from her husband.  I know this because I remember vividly (yeah, mom had her own business and worked in the kitchen, then in her workshop after they moved when I was 7, but she was the principal earner in the family) being astonished at a neighbor who wasn’t too sure of his letters coming over for dad to help him fill that form, so the neighbor’s wife could get a job in the textile factory and they wouldn’t starve.

Then put on it that every one of my teachers was a “feminist” and if you think that it’s only feminists here who went running off the deep end, way past equal work for equal pay and into turnip (the currently popular movie is not ALL about women, so it’s sexisssssss) you’d be shocked.

We’re talking a country where wife abuse was rampant, where men did have legal holds that prevented women from making an independent living, where a woman in her twenties would be treated by the police as a runaway kid and brought home to parents.  (One of my cousins whose father took after less than sane granddad.)  Unless she was married when she’d be taken home to husband.

You’d think fighting wife-abuse and trying to get laws/culture altered would make sense, right?

You’d be wrong.  Oh, Portugal never went far down the “Let’s reform language” partly because it’s a Latin country. I mean, sure, you can make up a pronoun to refer to women, or a pronoun to refer to men, or call men and women something stupid, or claim we shouldn’t have gender in language because oppression.  But that doesn’t pass the laugh test when your house and your garage, your tree and your cart and your plow are all female pronoun and your cheese, your car, your sweater and your dress are all male pronouns.  You can’t say it’s oppressive to have pronouns when they’re used for objects and in a way that defies logic too.  (The tree being feminine and the boat masculine are two of those that make you go “uh.”)

I don’t know mind you, since the first wave of feminists were about ten years older than I, that they didn’t try the pronoun thing, but if they did the gales of laughter led them to drop it.

Other than that once you left the village school — where the teacher merely, rightly, taught that intelligence doesn’t lie in the generative organs and that males or females can be smart, so shut up, stop dreaming of a husband, and learn to use your head — I passed on to teachers about ten to twenty years older than I, mostly female (as mom would tell me “such a pretty job for a lady”) and mostly having learned from whatever theories were passing around other countries in the sixties.

So we got the full fledged feminist instruction, and as with gun control, I was raised in Europe, for a while I believed all this.

The gist of it seemed to be “you won’t do anything for any man.  Because a man asking you to do the simplest thing is aggression and oppression.”

Well, they never quite convinced me to stop making dad his coffee.  (Yeah, he has the same dark eyes my younger son has, and this way of saying “Only you make it so well” — and yeah, it’s irresistible.) However, I remember the rip roaring fight when mom ordered me to continue cleaning up after my brother.  (This was absurdly unfair, as he was much older than I, but if he left a banana peel in the living room and it discolored the table I was the one punished, because my job was to clean up after him.)  Yes, I DO still think it was ridiculously unfair.  I also sort of understand that’s how mom was brought up and she completely didn’t “get” why I had objections.

So Alvarim, showing a grace I still sometimes strive for, got tired of my being in the dog house and made a deal with me.  If I cleaned up after him he’d pay me from his tutoring money (I think the equivalent of $20 a month.  Enough for three paperback books.)  And we wouldn’t tell mom.  (I wonder how much we puzzled mom, because now that he was a CLIENT I felt obliged to do proper stuff, so I bought little chocolates and left them on his pillow after turning down the sheets at night, and I gave him periodic gifts.  Anyway…)

BUT some of it wasn’t funny.  The “you shall serve no man” thing sank deep, as well as the idea that marriage was slavery, which accounted for a string of turned down proposals and also for my learning very little of HOW to keep house (because I was NOT going to do it.)  This led to years later my standing in the middle of Dan’s apartment looking at a box of pasta and wondering how we turned it into the soft stuff you ate.

It took me years to stop resenting doing the housework, after I was married, and if it weren’t for my sense of fairplay I might have wrecked my marriage.  But fairplay came in.  When we got married both Dan and I had both jobs and artistic pursuits.  My training/former job didn’t apply at all here.  So he said he’d support us, while I tried my hand at writing for a living.

Mind you, Dan was also raised in “enlightened” times so he never came home and said “Yo, woman, where’s dinner?”  (He still doesn’t, though he’s been known to make puppy dog eyes.)  And if I hadn’t cooked, he’d make his and my food.

But the sense of fairplay got to me.  He was out working (computers, eighties) twelve to fourteen hour days so I could write, and I wasn’t even cooking, despite being home all day.  So I learned. (And we each gained 100 pounds.  I CANNOT figure out how to cook for two people.  When last boy is out, we might very well have to have me cook for several days.)  And I learned to do other things, because I still wasn’t making money when the kids were born, and all our friends had two jobs, and, well… I didn’t want the kids to live like paupers.

We’re not over-bothered about who does what, mind.  I turn my hand to carpentry as well as to sewing.  He does car repair as well as accounting.  But we each try to do as much as we can for the other.  I think if you were to tally it, he still does more than I do, and I’m trying to figure out how to do some more to give him time to write, because I too want the sequel to his book.

We make do.

But the point was to stop thinking of him as a male oppressor.  As far as I can tell my husband, personally, never oppressed anyone (kids’ claims to the contrary notwithstanding.)

However those of you of a penis persuasion, not to count those of you who are older women and didn’t get the full brain washing indoctrination, might not realize how hard that is to do; how hard it is to let your guard down and think of the man you love as an individual.  It took me probably a decade to get fully over the indoctrination.  Because they don’t teach you that life was hard and most people had no rights at all.  They make all history before the late twentieth century a morality play where men oppressed women, because they’re just villainous that way or something.

And ninety percent of the time when I see a marriage headed for divorce (of course there are exceptions, and as I said the remedy for “he beats me but he’s my man” is to get out as fast as you can and before he starts in on the kids.  I’m not talking about those, but the cases where the woman is vaguely certain the husband is “oppressing” her, often by keeping all the “fun” of a day job to himself or something) something like this is going on.  The woman resents the man not for anything he’s done, but for the presumed mind set of ancestors that never existed and is sure if she doesn’t keep him low and humble with constant attacks, he’ll crush her under his boot.

Then there’s the reverse of that, as a lot of entertainment portrays women as putting an end to Lads being Lads together.  Women are brought in as “adults” to stop sprees of video gaming or pie eating in sitcoms.  That sort of thing.  So men associate women with killjoys.  And women associate men goofing off with oppressing women by making them be the adults…

When we were newly married, for instance, we stopped watching Married With Children, because it seemed designed to foster mutual marital resentment.

But in either case, in most of these divorces, the problem is not the spouses so much as not keeping crazy culture out of their relationship, and not looking at who they married AS INDIVIDUALS.

My mom is fond of telling that her grandparents used to share a plate (apparently an old Portuguese custom for married couples.  It strikes me as bizarre, but I don’t even see why.  After all married couples normally share a bed, right?) And after they got elderly, he had dentures while she still had her own teeth, and he’d complain she ate faster than him and got the greater share of the food.

These were her maternal grandparents, and as she told it, her grandfather never even raised his voice to scold his wife, so it was a gentle reproof and it became a family joke.  Whenever my dad was doing something that mom thought was excessive, she’d say “you have good teeth, you’re taking all the food.” (Though they DIDN’T share plates.)

Anyway marriage is like that.  It’s impossible to draw a line in the middle of a marriage and weigh in exactly what you do for whom.  I used to do the lion share of the work when the kids were little, and I often thought I’d break under it.  But Dan now is picking up on housework, as I also have work that pays, and there are no kids.  It’s probably about equal, save for stuff I’m really good at like cooking, and stuff he’s really good at, like accounting.

But the point is, you go through phases where metaphorically speaking one of you is eating all the food because he has good teeth.  It’s okay, it equalizes, eventually, somewhere else.  It’s no reason to call it quits, particularly if you’ve been at it for more than twenty years.

The solution is to stop weighing who does what or thinking he’s a natural-born oppressor.  You’re just people.  If the burden is too heavy, figure it out. Don’t assume he’s out to dominate you just because he has a penis.

And I say this because — this is important — in our day the Marriage State has become not the default but (particularly in its happy mode) a rarity.  If this continues, the cultures that will inherit the earth are the ones where women aren’t even second class citizens, but something more like domestic animals.

I don’t have daughters, but I might have an adoptive granddaughter soon, and maybe by a miracle blood granddaughters later.  I don’t wand this for any of them.

In a state of nature, where marriage doesn’t exist, for biological and psychological reasons, women are always the losers.  The opposite of “He beats me but he’s my man” is not a state of freedom, but a state of the woman having to kill herself to support the kids, or if there are no kids, of the woman (or man) becoming old and grey and lonely.  Yeah, in extreme cases, you should get out as soon as you can.  But in cases of vague dissatisfaction?  Remember he’s a person.  And remember you’re one too.  Work it out. It’s not his job to treat you like royalty because some putative ancestor beat some putative ancestress.  It’s your job to learn to pull together at the same yoke and either raise kids or set money by so you’re not a burden on strangers in your old age, and more importantly, so you’re not resoundingly, echoingly lonely.  Because there will come a time the rest of the world will have no use for you.  And your kids will be too busy to spend time with you.  This is not a threat, it’s the inevitable tendency of the flesh.  And humans are social animals. You need someone.  Or you will.  No matter how free an independent you are.  Friends, or spouses are difficult to cultivate when you’ll not put a hand to do a favor for any male.

Remember that.  Remember the present doesn’t last forever, and that the past was not as bad as they painted it in school.

He might at times eat all the food in the plate, but if you remember kindness and common charity to each other (love is an unreliable thing that comes and goes, or seems to, till you learn to see it always there, in different forms) then sometimes he’ll push aside most of the chocolate cake, and say he’s full because he knows you like it better.

And that’s marriage at its best state.  And it’s worth everything.  You know how your parents loved you when you were little?  This is a hundred times better.

I know.  I’ve been at this for thirty years.  And mostly it works.

*Almost forgot… yeah.  The “few hours.”  This woman in the village, whose dad had died when she was a toddler, got married, and the newly married couple moved in to her mom’s house (supposed to look after her mom and all.)  I guess the mom had forgotten to tell daughter what marriage entailed.  So in the middle of the night, daughter cries out “Moooom, he’s interfering with me.”  At which point, mom throws the husband out.  They remained married and separated for the rest of their lives.

I know this because being village kids, and lacking video games, when we walked by their house (mom and daughter’s house) on the way from school, we’d scream “mom, he’s interfering with me.”  This never failed to bring the mom out like a jack-in-box, to call us names and throw sticks and stones at us, which we OF COURSE thought was the funniest thing in the world.  (Yes, we were VERY bored.)

Ever Wonder What You Would Have Gotten If You Ordered That Crap They Advertised in Comic Books? [Ace of Spades HQ]

The X-Ray specs, I never once believed; I was enchanted, to use Jeff Zeleney's word, by the idea, and had a normal boy's curiosity about little girls' underwear, but even as a very little kid I realized that x-ray spectacles...

Rumblings: Turkey Has Shot Down a Russian Jet Violating Its Airspace [Ace of Spades HQ]

Turkey threatened this just a couple of days ago: As Russian warplanes fly over Syria, neighboring NATO member Turkey says its fighter jets could open fire on them if they stray into Turkish airspace. The threat is serious and highlights...

Obama: Putin's So, So WeakPutin: I Wouldn't Say Obama is Weak At All [Ace of Spades HQ]

You understand the dynamic here, right? The weakling who's getting pummeled has to puff himself up and insist that the bully that's beating the shit out of him is really the weak one, while he himself is the strong one....

AoSHQ Podcast #118: Guest, @JayCostTWS [Ace of Spades HQ]

The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost joins Ace, Gabe, Drew and John on this week's episode to discuss his new pamplet, What's So Bad About Cronyism?, the Speaker's race, Hillary Clinton's continuing email woes and more. Listen: Stitcher | MP3 Download Subscribe: RSS...

We Had a Good Run [Ace of Spades HQ]

Via Hot Air, let there be no further doubt, the Millennials are the Least Generation and the Last Generation. (As a group; the fact that some of them are on the ball doesn't change the fact that most of them...

Hillary Clinton Forwarded The Name of a Clandestine Agent of the CIA via Her Private, Unsecured Email [Ace of Spades HQ]

A very, very special lady. If I'm reading this right, she did not forward this clandestine source's -- this spy's -- name to someone outside the government. Issikoff's report says she forwarded it to "a colleague," I assume at...

Republican Rep. Charlie Dent: Say, Maybe We Need to Team Up With Democrats to Elect a Speaker Who Will Represent Both Parties [Ace of Spades HQ]

Forming a, I don't know what you'd call it, but a sort of Washington DC Omniparty or something. Just spitballin' here. Republicans may be forced to solicit Democratic help to break their Speaker stalemate, Rep. Charlie Dent (R) said Thursday....

Obama: You Know, Hillary Might Have A Point. Perhaps I Should FULLY Embrace My Inner Tyrant And Unilaterally Enact Gun Control Measures Congress Won't Pass. [Ace of Spades HQ]

Alternate title: The greatest spokesman the gun manufacturing industry ever had set to strike again. In response to the latest mass shooting during his presidency, President Obama is seriously considering circumventing Congress with his executive authority and imposing new background-check...

Open Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

John J. Enneking, "Autumn Symphony" (1899)...

Overnight Open Thread (10-8-2015) [Ace of Spades HQ]

A bit of housekeeping: I'm off to Europe for two weeks - Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, plus wherever else my whim, wallet and corporate overlords take me. (I would have included a jaunt to Moscow and St. Petersburg too except that...

AM call changes [American Bandscan]

The following AM stations have recently changed call letters:

Tempe, Arizona 1580 KHEP from KMIK
Rocklin, California 1210 KRPU from KEBR
Seaford, Delaware 1280 WSFD from WJWK
Tallahassee, Florida 1270 WTLY from WNLS
Boston, Massachusetts 1260 WBIX from WMKI
Albuquerque, New Mexico 1550 KQNM from KRKE
Milan, New Mexico 1090 KRKE from KQNM
Madison, Wisconsin 1670 WOZN from WUSW

AM stations gone [American Bandscan]

Thomaston, Georgia: WTGA 1590
Red Oak, North Carolina: WNCR 1190

Licenses cancelled at request of licensees.

Quirky Linux 7.2.1 (i686) released [Barry's news]

I previously announced the release of Quirky Linux 7.2 x86_64 64-bit build:

Now, I have built it for 32-bit i686 CPUs.
This will run on all Pentium-class PCs with BIOS-firmware, and recent "Win8" PCs with UEFI-firmware with "legacy boot" enabled.

Built with 4.1.10 kernel, for i686 CPU, no PAE support so will only recognise up to 4GB RAM.

Primary download:

For detailed release notes and install instructions, please look here:

Bug reports and other feedback may be posted here:


Australian racing driver David Reynolds was fined $25,000 for one use of the phrase “pussy wagon”. John Travolta used the same…


2014: National supermarket chain Woolworths has apologised for “inadvertently” stocking a singlet which says “if you don’t love it, leave” alongside a…


Australia’s Grand Mufti vowed four years ago he would master English: A much more important question, one everyone I speak to in…


Allegations of a concealed rape: A young, female ‘No Borders’ activist working in a migrant camp on the France-Italy border remained silent…


Malcolm Turnbull is the Prime Minister for Good Times. He’s a fluent speaker when talking up Australia’s economic confidence or otherwise leading his own cheer…


Chaz Mostert is an astonishingly rapid young driver whose early practice pace led me to tip the 2014 Bathurst winner as a possible repeat…


One entire week after Curtis Cheng was murdered, the Grand Mufti finally speaks: Speaking through a translator, alongside other Islamic community and…


This week’s Accidents Happen podcast with me and Joe Hildebrand deals with all the important issues of the day. Plus several issues that don’t…


Readers will recall Bill Shorten’s attempt to sound tough on Islamic extremism: I have no time for organisations fomenting dangerous, criminal thinking…


British student union diversity officer Bahar Mustafa previously declared: I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men,…

A BIT STEEP [Tim Blair]

At least he didn’t call them frightbats: Ford driver Dave Reynolds has apologised after being fined a whopping $25,000 for using a…


Offline here since yesterday due to technical issues, probably caused by global warming. Catching up on comments now. Apologies.

Tunisian group wins Nobel Peace Prize [Breaking News]

The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to The National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia, a group formed in 2013 and comprised of four civil society organizations. The jury cited the group Friday for “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.” - NBC News

Find out first with the Breaking News app.

Family of South Carolina man shot by cop reaches $6.5M... [Breaking News]

Family of South Carolina man shot by cop reaches $6.5M settlement with city

USA TODAY:  The family of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man fatally shot by a North Charleston, S.C, police officer, reached a $6.5 million settlement with city officials on Thursday. The officer is facing murder charges.

Follow updates on BreakingNews.com.

Photo: Walter Scott runs from a traffic stop in a dash camera video released in April by South Carolina authorities. (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division)

Quarterflash [[Citation Needed]]

Having a lead singer who also played the saxophone made Quarterflash notable.


byeexxcess: cupcakesandproteinshakes: byeexxcess: cupcakesandp... [http://cupcakesandproteinshakes.tumblr.com/]






@cupcakesandproteinshakes, are you supposed to bake that on the stove? 😮

No!! My frying pan has a removable handle so you can also use it as a pan to bake in the oven.

that’s so handy! what’s the brand? I think it says •something• ___an plus. :)


byeexxcess: cupcakesandproteinshakes: 10/10 @cupcakesandprotei... [http://cupcakesandproteinshakes.tumblr.com/]




@cupcakesandproteinshakes, are you supposed to bake that on the stove? 😮

No!! My frying pan has a removable handle so you can also use it as a pan to bake in the oven.

Woke up feeling like someone beat the shit out of me but really I just did arms. [http://cupcakesandproteinshakes.tumblr.com/]

Woke up feeling like someone beat the shit out of me but really I just did arms.

barbells-and-sirens: 😂😂😂😂😭😭😭 so close you guys. Lol. Just... [http://cupcakesandproteinshakes.tumblr.com/]


😂😂😂😂😭😭😭 so close you guys. Lol. Just wanted to share this little gem with you all 😋

This is the cutest

Fixing Safari View Controller [Daring Fireball]

Dan Provost:

With iOS 9, Apple introduced something called the Safari View Controller. It is, essentially, a plug-and-play web view that developers can use in lieu of building their own web viewer. The benefits of this are numerous: much less coding and maintenance for developers, a unified experience across apps for users, and the Safari View Controller can take advantage of the same privileges of Safari proper, such as saved passwords and content blockers.

The UI, however, has one serious flaw. It is a pain in the ass to dismiss.

I’m not sure I agree with his suggestion that all the browser chrome remain on screen while you scroll. Apple could fix this just by keeping the top chrome visible, with the “Done” button. But he’s right that it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

Rick Tetzeli: ‘The Steve Jobs in Aaron Sorkin’s Movie Could Never Have Saved Apple’ [Daring Fireball]

Rick Tetzeli:

Biopics should never have to adhere to a stringent re-enactment of the facts. But this is a movie about a man who’s been dead just four years, whose legacy is still being defined. Most moviegoers will look at the movie as biography — which is a pity, since the character portrait Sorkin hopes to create by distorting the truth is so much less interesting and nuanced than Jobs really was. […]

The Steve Jobs portrayed in Steve Jobs could never have saved Apple. In the perpetually changing technology industry, simple stubbornness is the kiss of death. Sorkin has created a caricature, an entertaining and modern take on the archetypal tortured business genius. It’s kind of fun, especially for people who don’t know much about how business gets done. But characters like the “Steve Jobs” of this movie don’t last long in business — they burn out, or they get thrown out.

Medium’s New API [Daring Fireball]

MarsEdit developer Daniel Jalkut on Medium’s new API, and its support for Markdown:

Unfortunately, the Markdown support through the API seems to be a one-time conversion from Markdown to HTML, at the time of submission. This means users can write in Markdown for the initial composition of a post, but any further edits (through the web interface only, see above) will need to be done using Medium’s default rich WYSIWYG editor.

A more attractive long-term solution for Markdown fans would be to support storing Markdown text literally in Medium’s database, and converting it to HTML only for presentation on the web. This leaves the pristine Markdown available for perpetual edits either moments or years after the post is first published. This would require updating the web interface to support editing content as plain text, but would be a welcome change for anybody who favors editing in Markdown.

Overcast 2 [Daring Fireball]

Lots of new features, headlined by a new streaming engine (you can start listening to un-downloaded episodes as soon as you hit Play). But more interesting to me is the new business model. Marco Arment:

Overcast 1.0 locked the best features behind an in-app purchase, which about 20% of customers bought. This made enough money, but it had a huge downside:

80% of my customers were using an inferior app. The limited, locked version of Overcast without the purchase sure wasn’t the version I used, it wasn’t a great experience, and it wasn’t my best work.

With Overcast 2.0, I’ve changed that by unlocking everything, for everyone, for free. I’d rather have you using Overcast for free than not using it at all, and I want everyone to be using the good version of Overcast.

If you can pay, I’m trying to make up the revenue difference by offering a simple $1 monthly patronage. It’s completely optional, it doesn’t get you any additional features, and it doesn’t even auto-renew — it’s just a direct way to support Overcast’s ongoing development and hosting without having to make the app terrible for 80% of its users.

Really curious to see how this works. $1/month for a great app that I use almost every day seems like a great deal.

[Sponsor] Oh Hey, It's meh.com Again [Daring Fireball]

That deal a day site that’s still just one deal a day — meh.com.

Apple Says Battery Performance of New iPhones’ A9 Chips Vary Only 2-3 Percent [Daring Fireball]

Apple, in a statement to TechCrunch on the allegations that Samsung-made A9s get worse battery life than TSMC-made ones:

Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state. It’s a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other.

Real-world testing seems to bear that out.

Matthew Panzarino:

The 2-3% difference Apple is saying it sees between the battery life of the two processors is well within its manufacturing tolerances for any device, even two iPhones with the same exact processor. In other words, your iPhone and someone else’s iPhone with the same guts likely vary as much as 3%, regardless of who made them.

Basically, if you can tell the difference in real-world usage between the two processors, you should take a Voigt-Kampff test.

Bloomberg on Apple’s Utter Dominance of Phone Market [Daring Fireball]

Ashlee Vance, writing for Bloomberg:

Apple’s utter dominance of the money-making end of the industry stems from its business model and unique brand. Since stumbling in 2013 with the slightly down-market iPhone 5C, the company has redoubled its focus on an annual, highly desired flagship phone at a high price, turning its back on cheaper models for the masses. With the iPhone as its main profit center, the world’s biggest company has been able to invest in developing its own speedy, power-efficient chips and sturdy, lightweight materials, as well as continuing to refine its software.

The 5C wasn’t a stumble. It’s fair to say it wasn’t a hit, but it didn’t hurt their overall business at all. The alternative would have been for Apple to keep selling the then-year-old iPhone 5 for another year at the same price points the 5C debuted at — and margins on the 5S were lower. Apple’s 2013 “stumble” was that they still didn’t have larger displays in the then-new top-of-the-line 5S. Which in turn means the real stumble was back in 2010, when they began planning for the form factors for the iPhone 5/5S form factor.

Other large companies, including China’s Lenovo, have a tougher time rationalizing their phone businesses. Lenovo bought Motorola from Google last year for $2.9 billion, hoping to boost its fortunes by expanding beyond PCs. No such luck: In its last quarter, Lenovo’s mobility unit posted a $292 million loss that just about wiped out its PC business profits. The company says it can fix things by paring back the number of devices it sells, combined with a “faster, leaner business model.”

Remember when Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion back in 2011? Good times.

Important Domain Name Registration [Daring Fireball]

Elliot Silver:

Whois records show that Google is now the owner of abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com. Prior to the acquisition, the domain name was privately owned and appears to have been parked. At the time of publication, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz.com does not resolve, although it would seem wise for the company to forward it to the Alphabet website.

Enhanced Editions of Harry Potter Series Now Available Exclusively on iBooks [Daring Fireball]


Apple today announced that enhanced editions of all seven books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are now available exclusively on the iBooks Store for readers around the world to enjoy on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac. Customers can download individual books featuring full original text, interactive animations and elaborate artwork bringing these beloved stories to life in a unique way. Harry Potter fans will also find annotations throughout their literary journey, written by the author herself.

“I’m thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,” said J.K. Rowling. […]

Until now, the Harry Potter digital books have only been available for readers to purchase through the Pottermore Shop. Starting today, iBooks users can experience the books with all new exclusive custom covers for each title, and typography including the custom Harry Potter typefaces and new section headers and drop caps.

I’m intrigued about the strategic implications of an exclusive like this. But as a book reader, somehow it feels wrong for books to be “exclusive” to a proprietary software platform.

Tweet of the day [Don Surber]

Today in junk science [Don Surber]

Tomboys grow up to be promiscuous.

A few scientists said it, therefore, it must be true.

From the Daily Mail:

Girls who are tomboys grow up to have more lovers whether they are straight or gay, a study has found.
For it seems the genes that make women more masculine may also make them more promiscuous, researchers say.
The finding helps explain why homosexuality doesn’t die out, even though lesbian couples are not able to naturally have children carrying the genes of each partner.
This is because straight tomboys have more lovers than others – and so the ‘tomboy DNA’ stays in circulation, according to the study carried out by a team from King’s College London.
Researchers questioned almost 500 pairs of twins about whether they were attracted to men or women, how many lovers they had had and about their levels of ‘childhood gender non-conformity’ – if they were a tomboy and whether they preferred to play with boys rather than other girls. 
They compared the answers from identical twins, who share all their DNA, with those of non-identical twins, who share only half their DNA. 
Also, vaccines give kids autism.

Deodorant causes Alzeheimer's.

And Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte is carcinogenic.

You won't be missed, professor [Don Surber]

After 21 years at the University of Texas-Austin, Economics Professor Daniel Hamermesh is leaving because the university is allowing students to carry concealed weapons. His kneejerk reaction is that this will somehow lead to shootouts at the OK Corral.

His hysterics aside, the fact is his classroom in Texas is far safer today than it was in 1993 when he began teaching at the university.

In 1993, the homicide rate in Texas was 11.9 homicides for every 100,000 people.

In 2014, the rate was down to 4.4.

The reasons are obvious. Texas today executes people, hands out lengthy sentences, and allows law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons.

You would think an economics professor would know the facts before popping off t=like that.

In Professor Hamermesh's case, you would be wrong.

Obama wins his War on Coal [Don Surber]

The Charleston Gazette shed crocodile tears for the 2,000 miners who received official notice of layoffs from Patriot Coal. The Gazette could barely conceal its glee over Barack Obama winning the Democratic Party's long War on Coal. The Gazette is its chief propagandist.

The numbers as reported in a Gazette editorial show that under Barack Obama's presidency and part of Bush's the number of miners in the state fell from 42,744 miners to 15,012.

Those are $60,000-a-year jobs to $75,000-a-year jobs. Miners are a prime target of boat, car, and truck dealers, who buy those expensive full-page color ads in the newspaper. Already wracked by an ever shrinking ad base -- and with a $1.34 million lien on the newspaper's property by a government agency -- I do not think the Gazette editorial board realizes the peril it faces. Years of having the Daily Mail's publishers handle the business side of Charleston Newspapers took its toll when the Gazette took over the Daily Mail in 2004. The Clay family and later, Thomson Newspapers, saved the Gazette from itself.

Now, well, rather than support the one private industry in the area that is thriving -- besides Walmart and the dog track -- the Gazette attacks it with the junk science produced by liberals and the government. It has a full-time reporter assigned solely to the task of attacking the coal industry.

In the Gazette's fantasy world, carbon dioxide is not a nutrient and base of human life on Earth, but a "pollutant."

But in the real world, the West Virginia economy is in the toilet, again -- thanks to the Democratic Party's War on Coal.

The Persian who beat Barbie [Don Surber]

"I came here in 1971 and I was 17 years old then. I had $750 in my pocket, a one way ticket, and a big American dream. My first job was washing dishes in a coffee shop in Lawndale and I was getting $1.65 an hour working from 11 at night to seven in the morning. Then I went to school during the day and I worked through out college until I obtained a civil engineering degree. I was planning on going back to Iran and become a civil engineer but we had a little thing called the revolution (in 1979). I did go back to Iran briefly, but returned and started a company selling brass giftware from the back of my car," Isaac Larian told Karmel Melamed of the Jewish Journal in 2006.

That's it.

That's the story.

Born on March 28, 1954 in Kashan, Iran, Isaac Larian came to the United States for college, a Persian Jew in Los Angeles. School and work left him little time for play, but he did like movies. He told Forbes magazine in 2013, “My God, I loved Spartacus.”

That's an interesting choice, a 1960 independent production by Kirk Douglas that cost a whopping $12 million and ran three hours and four minutes -- longer than some double features. Yet it pulled in $60 million as its story of a just rebellion led by a wronged slave. Douglas after all was rebelling against the Hollywood studios.

Larian would stage his own rebellion decades later.

Selling brass giftware made in South Korea (and apparently not very well) from a trunk was part of his import-export business with his brother, Fred, called Surprise Gift Wagon. In 1987, they became a distributor for Nintendo, and in 1993, they became a licensee for the "Power Rangers." Toys became their livelihood. Their Singing Bouncy Baby became a hit. he changed the company name to MGA Entertainment in 1998 and two years later bought out his brother's stake in the company for $9 million.

In 2001, the company introduced the Bratz line of dolls. Like Ruth Handler, who named Barbie and Ken for her children, two of the Bratz are named for two of his kids: Cameron and Yasmin (sorry, Jason Larian). The Bratz featured almond-shaped eyes and full lips. Persian. He described Bratz to a British newspaper as "everything Barbie is not. Who in Britain can identify with a six-foot-two blonde? The Bratz exist in a changing world. Children today are exposed to change at a very fast pace, so the Bratz change too. In 10 years they will be something completely different."

The battle was on between the 10-inch underdog Bratz dolls and the 12-inch reigning queen of fashion dolls, Barbie. Within four years of aggressive marketing -- they were hip and from a variety of ethnicities -- Bratz had 40% of the fashion doll market, plus spinoffs (Bratz Kidz, and Bratz Babyz) and ancillary items such as a movie and video games. Eventually, Bratz sales eclipsed and nearly doubled Mattel's Barbie sales.

Mattel sued, claiming Carter Bryant, who designed the Bratz, was working for Mattel at the time he developed the line of dolls. MGA countersued -- and won. In 2013, the courts awarded MGA $137 million in legal fees.

Litigation did not soften Larian's atttude toward Mattel. He told Forbes: “The people at Mattel are crooks, and, yes, you can quote me on that.”

Nor should it. The court battle nearly bankrupted MGA in 2006, as a court issued an injunction to stop selling Bratz dolls. But profits from Bratz allowed Larian to buy the Little Tikes line of pre-school toys, which saved MGA.

Richard Gottlieb of Toy News reported in 2013: "I asked Isaac what attracted him to purchase Little Tikes and he responded that he bought the company for the brand.  His research showed that Little Tikes had 98% brand awareness, as big as Fisher-Price. As he put it, with that kind of brand equity he was halfway there. All he had to do was add differentiated product and great pricing and he would have a winner. It appears that it is working out that way. Isaac reports that Little Tikes was up 23% in 2012 and he is projecting the Infant/Preschool segment to be up 90% this year. That is a formidable accomplishment when you consider that the pre-school segment has been struggling for the last few years."

In 2010, Larian hit the pre-school market again with a line of plastic rag dolls called Billy Buttons. The storyline is that they came to life (plastic) when the last stitch was sewn. He changed the name quickly to Lalaloopsy. He had created the 21st century's Cabbage Patch Kids. The target audience for the toys were mothers who got the storyline. The same marketing of TV spinoff shows that made Power Rangers helped make Lalaloopsy.

Karmel Melamed of the Jewish Journal asked Larian: "What reaction have you received from Iranian Jews who come to learn of your line of work?"

He replied, "Iranians are one of the most educated group of minorities in this country and very ambitious and it’s not only in toys. For example, if you look at Pierre Omidyar, a Persian who is not Jewish — he’s the chairman of the board and founder of eBay, one of the biggest corporations in the world. We need to be proud of the Iranian community, whether they are Jewish or not Jewish. Of course the Iranian Jews have had many major accomplishments. But the reaction I have received from the community has been from people who are proud that someone from their community has been able to been have this kind of achievement. I am humbled and I hope I can serve as an example to young people. I came from very humble beginning, so I am down to earth and connect well with the younger generation. I’d like to help them in anyway I can."

Of course, not stated is the obvious: Omiddyar and Larian made it here not just because they are good at what they do, but that they had the chance to use their skills.

This ain't ancient Rome.


I am publishing the best of these tales, in Kindle and on Amazon. Volume I covering American history from the 16th through the 20th century is here. And Volume II on The Capitalists is available here.

Suggestions are welcome. Email me at DonSurber@GMail.com.

The Coen Bros [Everything's A Problem]





The trailer for Joel and Ethan Coen’s next movie, Hail Caesar!, has finally arrived, and it looks pretty great! Well, if you get past the whole thing about it not appearing to star any people of color.


An official description for the very white film reads:

[Hail, Caesar! is] an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.


That the Coens released a movie that stars exclusively white people should surprise no one, as they’ve been doing it for literally decades, but it’s still a little surprising to see a cast list like this for a movie being released in 2016:

[picture of a dozen white people from imdb]




I give the transgression of white people making a movie filled with white people for other white people who then act “simple”* when called out for their whiteness four problematics.


*The use of the word “simple” is a bit othering of those who are actually simple, tbh—are we now cool with making fun of those who lack intellectual capabilities that those with smart privilege have?—but I’ll allow it because white people like to feign simplicity in order to continue propagating their whiteness, a very white trait.

Tiger Lily [Everything's A Problem]

Hollywood either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care. Maybe both. I mean, didn’t they understand what they were doing?

Have you even heard of whitewashing, Hollywood?

Raceswapping is totes fine sometimes, obvs, as the totes fine Felicia Day points out.

Other times it’s deeply problematic. Maybe the director can whitemansplain this to us? 

lol ok dudebro jfc

But is whitewashing Tiger Lily the ONLY problematic aspect of the character?

Of course not. Tiger Lily, the Native American character in Peter Pan, is itself a deeply problematic role.



There really isn’t. Peter Pan, like so many other “classics” (read: works by dead white men), should be consigned to the ash heap of history. 

I give the transgression of having a white person play a role that should not even exist in the first place because it is so offensive two problematics.

IRS needs Congress’s help to restore cyber funds [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

IRS commissioner John Koskinen is calling on the Senate Finance Committee to make sure the agency is part of the discussion to get more funding for cybersecurity as part of the fiscal 2016 budget negotiations.

In an Oct. 7 letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the finance committee, Koskinen said the agency needs more than the $281 million proposed in next year’s budget plan to combat growing cyber-related concerns.

“Our ability to address the risks posed by cyber attacks, while continuing to expand our services to taxpayers, will require new investments in authentication, monitoring and other cybersecurity technologies,” Koskinen said. “Our IT budget has actually decreased in recent years, despite the fact we maintain sensitive data on hundreds of millions of American taxpayers.”

The letter comes as a response to Wyden’s inquiry in September, asking if the IRS should be involved in congressional appropriations that are targeted at cybersecurity improvements for the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Personnel Management.

Koskinen said inclusion in the budget talks are a necessity, since cuts have diverted funds away from operations other than IT.

Among the initiatives Koskinen mentioned was its enforcement program, which combats tax evasion and fraud. He said enforcement staffing levels have “been difficult to maintain” since funding levels have decreased by $600 million — more than 18 percent with inflation — since 2010.

Koskinen said the IRS could have collected another $6 billion last year and $8 billion this year had they been able to maintain 2010 staffing levels for its enforcement programs.

“As a result, total enforcement staffing has fallen by more than 10,000 or almost 20 percent,” the letter stated. “In FY 2014, we conducted 339,000 fewer individual examinations than FY 2012, and 560,000 fewer information matching cases.”

Koskinen said overall budget cuts to the IRS total $1.2 billion since 2010, which puts the agency on funding levels equal to those of 1998.

“The combined pressures of reduced resources, new demands and cyber threats have undermined our ability to deliver foundational taxpayer service and enforcement programs that are the twin pillars of our system of voluntary compliance,” he said. “With proper funding, we can meet the challenges described … and continue to provide the services and protections that honest taxpayers deserve.”

Koskinen’s response to Wyden’s letter comes as requests for upping DHS and OPM’s IT budget in the wake of a multitude of cyber attacks in 2015. More than 21.5 million former and current federal employees and contractors had personal information stolen or mpromised when hackers accessed OPM’s  databases in June.

Wyden’s letter highlighted the IRS’s importance when it comes to protecting taxpayer information because of its size and scope.

“I do not know any member of Congress who would respond to an attack on the nation by cutting resources to the agencies or persons who were the targets of the attack,” Wyden stated in his September letter. “Shouldn’t the resources made available to the IRS be similarly increased in response to cyber threats?”

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Lawmakers: OPM shouldn’t be repository of feds’ personal information [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

Two members of the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee are calling on the Obama administration to find a new place to store the sensitive, personal information it collects from federal employees.

“In the wake of the recent data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that compromised sensitive security clearance information for over 20 million Americans, the need to identify the key vulnerabilities in our system and make actionable recommendations has never been more urgent,” Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)  and Steve Russell (R-Okla.) wrote, in an Oct. 7 letter to David Mader, acting deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. “We strongly believe that security clearance data — which has been described as ‘crown jewels’ of our national intelligence — should not be protected by OPM, which is neither an intelligence agency nor a defense organization.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducted two hearings in June to investigate the OPM breaches. Lieu and Russell were shocked at that time to learn  that the agency had failed to fixed long-known vulnerabilities to its data security.

“While we have renewed faith in OPM’s efforts to overhaul its systems under the leadership of Acting Director Beth Cobert, we continue to believe that it is inappropriate in the 21st century for extremely sensitive data of American national security personnel to be housed in an agency without a national security focus,” they wrote. “Simply put, OPM was not designed to house and protect this sensitive data.”

Mader serves as the chairman of President’s Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council, which is nearing the end of a 90-day review of “information security, governance, policy, and other aspects of the security and suitability determination process.”

Lieu and Russell see this review as an ideal opportunity to target weaknesses in the government’s background investigations process.

The lawmakers called on PAC to identify a more appropriate — and secure — location to keep the sensitive personal data the government collects as part of the security clearance process. They also have drafted legislation that would help accomplish that goal.

“There is an increasing need to reevaluate what type of information we need to store,” the lawmakers wrote. “Monitoring for unusual bank or travel activity can often tell us more information about a person than their neighbors and address for the past 10 years. The antiquated SF-86 should be modernized for 21st century threats. We also urge the PAC to reduce the large number of personnel that are granted security clearances to further minimize the risk.”

Read all of Federal News Radio’s coverage of the OPM Cyber Breach.

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New retirement plan offers flexibility for military service members [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

Proposed changes to the Navy’s retirement package offer flexibility that will be enticing to young sailors and an opportunity for change for longtime service men and women.

The changes, included in the National Defense Authorization Act, are a “combination of retirement programs that we see across America,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran said this week during an appearance on the Navy’s All Hands Radio podcast, alongside Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education Fleet Master Chief April Beldo.

“It’s a 401(k) type of vehicle that you would see anywhere on the outside in most of corporate America,” Moran said. “It will also continue to provide some of the same functions we have today in terms of a defined benefit after 20 years.”

Beginning in 2018, new service members of the Navy as well as the other uniformed services, would fall under a hybrid retirement system. Their pensions would be less generous than the current formula. Instead, they would have greater incentives to enroll in the Thrift Savings Plan. The government would match their TSP contributions up to 5 percent of their basic pay. The changes would not impact current military, but those with fewer than a dozen years of service by 2018 could opt into the new system. The employer match would end after 26 years of service.

“Anybody on active duty prior to that point keeps the retirement program we currently have,” Moran said. “We are all grandfathered in under the current retirement program. Any new sailors who join after that implementation date in 2018 will be subject to the retirement program.”

While the NDAA’s future still is in flux — President Barack Obama has said he will veto the bill — Moran said he believed there will be an option for current active duty members to shift to the new program.

The new program, he added “will provide all of us a greater degree of flexibility in the future that I think will be attractive to a lot of young sailors.”

That attractiveness is part of what Moran said will help make uniformed service more appealing to younger generations.

Millennials want a greater degree of flexibility, opportunity and choice, Moran said.

“That was the [Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization] commission’s intent as well: try to … modernize our retirement program that more closely matches the competition we see on the outside,” he said, adding that roughly 15 percent of people who join the Navy actually reach the 20-year mark for retirement.

“Retirement isn’t really on the minds of recruits,” Moran said.

Once someone decides they want to make a career of the Navy, they’ve got a family or become concerned about having a future affordable lifestyle, “that becomes more of a planning factor,” Moran said.

Unlike the current plan where a service member must hit 20 years, Moran said, the new retirement plan will have earlier opportunities and make it “portable across the Navy to other corporate and other industries out there.”

Compensation, career intermission, communication

Money issues were a popular topic during the podcast. Other questions asked by listeners and via social media included whether there would be more opportunities in 2016 for reserve forces and whether the Navy would be bringing back hazardous duty pay.

Moran said because of the continuing resolution it was hard to predict the fiscal outlook.

“We are in a pretty tight fiscal environment and we try to balance the needs of the fleet through ADT and ADSW [Active Duty for Training and Active Duty for Special Work] to meet certain needs and capabilities at the staff level in the fleet, in other places,” Moran said. “We know and appreciate the value very much of what the reserves bring in support of the active force, and we’ll continue to fight for that money every opportunity that we get.”

Moran also said hazardous duty pay would not be coming back without input from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

“It’s not a Navy policy,” Moran said, adding that the service does what it can to compensate through things such as sea duty pay.

Moran also shared that in the NDAA, there was language for an expansion of the Career Intermission pilot program. He also said that dual Basic Allowance for Housing would remain as it is today, based on the pending legislation.

Other questions during the podcast ranged from tobacco use in the military — not going away any time soon — to keeping family members in the loop on their loved one’s whereabouts.

Beldo fielded a question from a serviceman wondering what could be done when a service member is not chosen by a selection board for a leadership position.

Beldo assured listeners that “there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. But as you know we are limited to the number of selections we can make in each rate. Sometimes that’s just the only problem, it’s not you at all, it’s the process that we have where we select vacancies and we just didn’t have any more vacancies. So don’t ever think that there’s something wrong with you if you didn’t make it. Continue to do what you’re doing and you will get in there.”

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‘99 percent’ chance of veto for NDAA, congressional override unlikely [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

The 2016 defense authorization bill officially passed through Congress Oct. 7 and now awaits what one defense analyst says is a 99 percent chance of being vetoed by President Obama.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has become a symbol of a wider debate over multiple budgeting issues that have put Congress, political parties and government branches at odds over the past year.

“The fate of the NDAA becomes tied to the resolution of the budget impasse in some way acceptable to both sides,” said Andrew Hunter, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Hunter said a veto override seems unlikely considering it will need the votes of two-thirds of both the House and the Senate. While the Senate passed the bill meeting that criterion — 70-27 — but the House came 20 votes shy of being veto-proof in its vote last week.

“For him to veto what is fundamentally a budget bill, a policy bill, in the name of cost is inappropriate,” Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an Oct. 7 speech.

President Obama threatened multiple times to veto the bill over the way it funds the Defense Department.

The NDAA uses an emergency contingency fund called overseas contingency operations (OCO) to pay for base budget items like operations and maintenance. OCO is not subject to sequestration caps, therefore Congress put $38 billion in the bill to fully fund the Defense Department without going over the mandated caps.

President Obama sent Congress a budget that exceeded the sequestration caps in hopes it would come to a deal to end or at least put off sequestration.

Military officials have said that using OCO funds to pay for base budget accounts is detrimental to future planning. OCO money can only be used for one year and therefore makes it impossible for the military to plan further ahead with its budgeting.

“The bill attempts to evade the question of overall fiscal responsibility with this OCO gimmick, which is objectionable to me and others in other federal agencies, and I think it ought to be objectionable to the taxpayer and certainly to the warfighter,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who advised Obama to veto the bill, said Sept. 30. “These are not mysteries to anyone. I think we’ve been very clear about our position on a veto.”

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) had a different opinion on the veto threat.

“American presidents rarely veto national defense authorization bills since they are, well, vital to national security,” he said quoting a Washington Post article during an Oct. 7 press conference.

The NDAA has been signed into law for 53 consecutive years and has been vetoed under Presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush. The difference is the reason for the vetoes was easily solved, said Justin Johnson, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Johnson said the NDAA is being vetoed over something it cannot touch — domestic spending.

“The President won’t increase defense spending without spending increases for his domestic priorities. Because the NDAA can’t address the domestic budget issue, the bill will likely be stuck in limbo until the larger budget debate is settled,” Johnson said in an Oct. 7 email.

Defense acquisition chief Frank Kendall said Oct. 6 that he thinks Congress will send back a bill that looks similar to how it does now when it comes to policies.

The bill calls for major acquisition reforms by giving more power to military services chiefs to run their own acquisition programs.

The bill puts constraints on closing Guantanamo Bay and on another round of Base Realignment and Closures.

The bill also revamps service members’ retirement savings options.

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Real-time info sharing a point of contention in Senate cyber bill [FederalNewsRadio.com » Congress]

The Senate likely will bring the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) to the floor after next week’s recess, but if discussion among industry, agencies and Congress is any indication, consensus over what that legislation will look like won’t come easily.

The bill’s co-sponsors, Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), said they are open to changing the legislation — as long as it stays true to the fundamental basics of the bill.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.(Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.(

One of those key points, they said, is that agencies and private companies should be able to share information with each other in real time.

“It has to transmit in real time, not just from a business-to-government, but from government-to-government,” Burr said Oct. 6 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual cybersecurity summit in Washington. “We can’t have one part of government hold up that data from being broadcast to all of the agencies that would be pertinent to the forensic needs and the identification of the attack software that might be used.”

But Homeland Security Department Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made a clear distinction in favor of “near-real-time.”

“The reason why we — and supported by the administration — believe profoundly that the term ‘near-real-time’ is so critical is because it allows us to scrub — in an automated form — personally identifiable and other information that carries with it significant privacy interests that do not necessarily serve the discrete interests of the enforcement or investigative communities,” he said.

DHS has already been working on tools to share threat data in near-real-time. Mayorkas said the department and the Obama administration agrees and accept DHS’ position as the portal for such information.

Feinstein said initially agencies such as the FBI or Defense Department were considered to be possible portals to receive threat data, but that idea quickly changed.

“It was actually [former NSA Director] Keith Alexander who came to our committee and suggested the concept of a DHS portal in real time, in the belief that this could be done in real time,” Feinstein told reporters Oct. 6. “I have heard no one say that it couldn’t. DHS has entered the picture and said they want some hands on this. But the key is real time. Alexander believed it could be done real time, so I think it’s the appropriate standard.”

Both senators agreed CISA doesn’t protect agencies from every single kind of cybersecurity threat, but it’s a start, they said.

“This is a bill to minimize data loss,” Burr said. “We don’t portray that anything in this bill stops you from being targeted and penetrated. But it makes our response time — as long as we keep the process in real time — it keeps the process to where we can minimize the overall data loss from any attack tool to any country or individual that wants to commit it.”

Despite some discrepancies in the legislative language on DHS’ role in sharing threat information, Mayorkas said he wants to see CISA pass quickly.

“My hope is that the current legislation that is currently working its way through Congress passes,” he said, “and that the trust deficit that we have experienced over the past few years is addressed favorably.”

Trust between industry, government still elusive

The trust deficit Mayorkas described was further demonstrated when one member in the summit audience asked during an industry keynote, “why should we trust the government?”

“Because you have to,” Tom Fanning, president and CEO of the Southern Company, said in response.

For industry, sharing threat data in real time with the government will open up greater privacy questions.

Mayorkas said he understands their concerns and described pressure between the public and private sectors as mutual.

“Companies sometimes feel tension with cooperating with enforcement on the one hand and perhaps cooperating with government’s remedial efforts on the other,” he said. “And just as the private sector feels that tension, quite frankly, the discussions [are] going within the government about that very same tension.”

Mayorkas said industry and government need to build a mutual understanding and foster a culture of confidence with each other, but that relationship, which he said has widened in a post-Snowden era,  has a long way to go.

“We have to shrink that chasm and build a bridge so that it really becomes a thing of the past,” he said. “Until we overcome at least the level of distrust that exists or has existed over the past few years, we’re going to have an uphill battle.”

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Report: Twitter prepping for “company-wide layoffs” next week [Ars Technica]

(credit: Shawn Campbell)

Following the news that Twitter interim CEO Jack Dorsey was fully hired to the post on Monday, the company has been linked to a series of what Re/code has described as "company-wide layoffs" next week.

A Friday report from Re/code cited "multiple sources" in saying that most of Twitter's departments will be hit with layoffs starting next week. Those sources did not specify numbers or percentages of staff, but they did point to Twitter's plans to "restructure" its engineering staff, which may affect how the alleged firings play out in all. When asked to comment on the report, a Twitter representative told Ars that "we’re not commenting on rumor and speculation."

Dorsey had held the interim CEO post since July 1, but the June announcement that former Dick Costolo would step down did little to move the company's stock price needle. Only in the past two days has its value come back above $30, after dipping below that amount ever since the company's Q2 2015 financial report at the end of July disclosed a further net loss of $137 million and a meager worldwide userbase growth of 15 percent in the past year. That report's earnings call pointed to a total Twitter staff of "approximately 4,100 employees."

Read on Ars Technica | Comments

Don’t expect more Game Boy, SNES downloads on modern Nintendo systems [Ars Technica]

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly nine years since Nintendo first launched the Virtual Console, finally offering a legal way to download select games from out-of-print consoles on the Wii (and, later, the 3DS and Wii U as well). That means gamers have been spending nearly nine years now complaining about the limited selection of classic titles that are available for download on the service and the slow pace of those downloadable rereleases.

Now, there are some indications that Nintendo is completely finished rereleasing digital games for some of its classic systems. In a pair of recent tweets, niche publisher Natsume (perhaps best known for the Harvest Moon series) said that Nintendo has "moved on" from publishing Virtual Console games from the original Game Boy and Super NES, specifically. "There's no further SNES games coming from us," one tweet reads. "Nintendo has moved on to other classic systems."

Natsume has been a big supporter of the Virtual Console and is currently in the process of bringing eight older Game Boy Advance titles to the Wii U. So they'd seem to be in some position to know Nintendo's thoughts on the matter. Speaking to Ars Technica, though, Natsume VP of Operations Graham Markay made it clear that "we don't know what Nintendo's plans are," and that the tweets weren't based on any insider information or official notification from Nintendo.

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Obama administration won’t seek encryption-backdoor legislation [Ars Technica]

FBI Director James Comey told a congressional panel that the Obama administration won't ask Congress for legislation requiring the tech sector to install backdoors into their products so the authorities can access encrypted data.

Comey said the administration for now will continue lobbying private industry to create backdoors to allow the authorities to open up locked devices to investigate criminal cases and terrorism.

"The administration has decided not to seek a legislative remedy now, but it makes sense to continue the conversations with industry," Comey told a Senate panel of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday.

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Uber sued over two alleged driver assaults [Ars Technica]

"Uber fills its website with images of young women entering and exiting vehicles, who are meant to appear 'safe,'" a new lawsuit complains. (credit: Uber)

Two women who say they were victimized by their Uber drivers sued the company yesterday, claiming that it fails to sufficiently screen new drivers and doesn't do enough to ensure rider safety.

The lawsuit (PDF), filed by two Jane Doe plaintiffs in San Francisco federal court yesterday, describes an alleged sexual assault and a rape that happened earlier this year.

Jane Doe 1 lives in Boston, where she went to a party in February 2015, and her friend called an Uber around 2:30am. After dropping off her friends, the driver, Abderrahim Dakiri, sexually assaulted her. "When the vehicle was stopped at a red light, Dakiri began groping Ms. Doe 1 in the crotch, upper thigh, and top of her pants," the complaint states. "Ms. Doe 1 was shocked and terrified."

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Firefox dropping NPAPI plugins by the end of 2016—except for Flash [Ars Technica]

Binary browser plugins using the 1990s-era NPAPI ("Netscape Plugin API", the very name betraying its age) will soon be almost completely squeezed off the Web. Microsoft dropped NPAPI support in Internet Explorer 5.5, and its Edge browser in Windows 10 also drops support for ActiveX plugins. Google's Chrome started phasing out NPAPI support in April this year and dropped it entirely in September.

Now it's Firefox's turn. Netscape's open source descendent will be removing NPAPI plugin support by the end of 2016. Some variants of the browser, such as 64-bit Firefox for Windows, already lack this plugin support.

Mozilla's plans resemble Microsoft's and Google's in more than one way. There's one plugin that traditionally used NPAPI that's special: Flash. Chrome and Edge both embed and update their own versions of the Flash plugin, and even after 2016, Firefox will continue to support Flash. Though the scope and capabilities of HTML5 have continued to grow, Flash remains a significant part of the Web, especially for interactive content such as games. Many of these uses are declining, but support for Adobe's technology will still be a practical necessity in a general purpose browser at the end of 2016.

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Apple removes several apps that could spy on encrypted traffic [Ars Technica]

(credit: PhotoAtelier)

Apple has purged its iOS App Store of several titles that it said had the ability to compromise encrypted connections between end users and the servers they connect to. The company advised users to uninstall the apps from their iPhones and iPads to prevent potentially harmful monitoring, but it has yet to name any of the offending titles.

"Apple has removed a few apps from the App Store that install root certificates that could allow monitoring of data," company officials wrote in an advisory posted Friday. "This monitoring could be used to compromise SSL/TLS security solutions. If you have one of these apps installed on your device, delete both the app and its associated configuration profile to make sure your data remains protected."

Apple representatives didn't respond to an e-mail seeking the names of the offending apps and an explanation of why they weren't identified. This post will be updated if they reply later.

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Military looks to upgrade its “tactical biometrics” with Identity Dominance System 2 [Ars Technica]

US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Britain Morris, an infantryman with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, "enrolls" an Afghan into the SEEK II system, part of the Navy and Marine Corps' Identity Dominance System, during a patrol in Washer, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, July 29, 2013. The Marines are seeking an upgrade to their biometric toolkit. (credit: US Marine Corps)

The Navy and Marine Corps are looking to upgrade biometric tools used by forces in the field and at sea that would give them the power to identify individuals both up close and at a distance. In an announcement kicking off the Identity Dominance System (IDS) 2 program, the Marine Corps Systems Command put out a call for information on potential sources for portable systems to collect everything from voice and gait data to DNA samples—tools that would turn troops in the field into high-powered forensics investigators and create profiles to track every human they encounter.

Starting in 2007, the US military fielded a set of biometric tools in Afghanistan intended to achieve what the Defense Department calls "identity dominance"—the ability to identify and track every single human being in the country and, in the process, make it impossible for the Taliban and other insurgents to live undetected among civilian populations. The equipment fielded by the services soon became "programs of record"—established procurement programs with their own management offices; the Army called its system the Biometrics Automated Toolset-Army (BAT-A), and the Navy and Marine Corps called theirs the AN/PYX-1 IDS. These systems, assembled mostly from off-the-shelf technology, allow American forces to record the facial, iris, and fingerprint biometric data of anyone they encounter.

Identity dominance has scored some wins for the military: as Public Intelligence reported, in 2012, an Afghani man was arrested during a sweep of a village in Khost Province because his fingerprint data matched fingerprints found on a cache of explosives found in 2011. And it's believed that the Navy's IDS was used by Navy SEALs to positively identify Osama Bin Laden during the raid on his compound in Pakistan. The systems and data have also been adopted by the Afghan government, which has used it to essentially fingerprint the entire country to control travel and access to certain areas, as well as to create a national identity card system.

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Digital voyeur spied on women’s webcams 5-12 hours a day [Ars Technica]

Leeds Magistrate Court, where voyeur Stefan Riga was sentenced this week. (credit: Wikimedia Commons user Mtaylor848)

A young woman contacted me last week after reading some of my previous reporting on Remote Access Tools (RATs) and how they can be used to spy on people through the webcams and microphones in their computers. The woman had seen an image in one of the articles that, despite being blurred, looked almost exactly like her and her home. She felt worried and violated—and wondered what else may have been seen by her voyeur.

Her story is typical. Few victims even know they are victims, sometimes finding out only years later when a security scan turns up RAT malware on their machines or when law enforcement contacts them after arresting a digital voyeur.

That was the case in England, where the National Crime Agency (NCA) last year arrested 33-year-old Stefan Rigo of Leeds as part of an international effort to take out the major RAT vendors. In May 2014, the FBI arrested the alleged ringleaders behind Blackshades, a sophisticated RAT widely available online for $40. Several months later, the NCA caught up with Rigo, a Blackshades user who had purchased the RAT using his ex-girlfriend's identity. A search of Rigo's computers revealed "a series of images that involved people engaged in sexual acts over Skype or in front of their computers," according to an NCA statement.

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Climate scientists write tentatively; their opponents are certain they’re wrong [Ars Technica]

Graffiti attributed to Banksy. (credit: flickr user: Duncan Hull)

Scientific language, like science itself, is usually pretty tentative. Scientists write cautiously, using words like “possible,” “probable,” and “might” to communicate that their work deals with evidence and suggestions, rather than certainty. Using stronger language in scientific writing is unusual, because it’s not often that evidence leads to absolute knowledge about a subject.

Of course, language itself is not an indication of the strength of the evidence; it can really only tell us how people are using that evidence to make an argument, and whether they’re doing so tentatively or forcefully. So, looking at how two opposing sides of a scientific argument use language to make their case can tell us something about their thinking.

It can be especially interesting to look at the use of tentative and forceful language in the case of climate change, where the language can be inflammatory. Scientists who describe the likely future path of our habitat often face the accusation of “alarmism.”

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Body cam footage clears cops in Cleveland shooting death [Ars Technica]

We've written a lot here at Ars about how video surveillance has captured cops doing bad things. We cover this area because the technology of body cams, Taser cams, dash cams, and even images taken by bystanders has changed our perspective on police behavior that would likely have been swept under the rug previously.

But this surveillance technology also captures officers who, in the words of a local Cleveland county prosecutor, have acted with "remarkable restraint." In this instance, body cam footage of several Cleveland patrol officers shows them doing everything they could to convince a man to put down his weapon.

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Xbox chief: We want to regain trust more than we want to beat Sony [Ars Technica]

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Anyone who's been following Ars Technica's regular looks at quarterly console sales numbers knows the PlayStation 4 has a significant lead as far as worldwide market share is concerned. You might think that this sales deficit has caused some consternation at Microsoft, but Xbox's division chief, Phil Spencer, said he's not that concerned with relative comparisons.

In an on-stage interview at the GeekWire conference earlier this week, Spencer said he was initially very motivated by the thought of beating Sony right after he took the Xbox chief position last March. "I started off making statements like 'We want to win,' making it a competitive thing," he said.

Since then, though, Spencer said he "quickly realized you can only control, as a leader, the things that you can control. Basing your success on an external view of your share of what Sony's doing—Sony's having incredible success with the PlayStation 4, and they've earned that. It was much more beneficial and I could have more impact focusing on the product that we had."

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Do conspiracy theorists see more patterns in randomness? Apparently not [Ars Technica]

Conspiracy theories often emerge when people join up seemingly small, unrelated pieces of evidence and piece them together into a larger, often sinister, picture. Conspiracy theories about the Moon landing, for instance, often join up oddities from photographs to build a theory that the whole thing was a hoax.

This tendency to see meaning in randomness has led researchers to suggest that some people might process information differently, seeing meaningful information in discrepancies and becoming more likely to engage in conspiratorial thinking.

There is already some evidence that belief formation plays a role in conspiracy theories. Earlier studies have suggested that people who believe in paranormal activity are more likely to see patterns in random data, and that there’s a correlation between paranormal belief and conspiracy belief. So, maybe the data processing is affecting both kinds of belief formation.

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LogMeIn buys LastPass password manager for $110 million [Ars Technica]

(credit: LastPass)

The maker of LastPass, a popular password manager, is being acquired by LogMeIn in a sale worth at least $110 million.

LastPass, founded in 2008, makes software that generates strong passwords and stores them in an encrypted vault. The software integrates with desktop and mobile browsers and automatically fills in password fields on websites when a user enters a master password. The basic software can be used for free, but individual users and businesses can pay for premium features.

LastPass CEO and cofounder Joe Siegrist wrote today that his company is "excited to join LogMeIn in delivering the next generation of identity and access management for individuals, teams and companies, with LastPass at the forefront."

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New patent lawsuits down, driven by drop in East Texas “troll” cases [Ars Technica]

Patent trolls are seeking fees from Maine to Idaho. State lawmakers have taken notice. (credit: Kirby Ferguson)

There were 33 percent fewer patent lawsuits filed in the third quarter of 2015 than in 2014, according to data published today by LexMachina.

1,119 new patent cases were filed in Q3 2015, compared to last year's record-setting 1,665 cases in the same quarter. Looking at the year as a whole, 4,255 cases were filed in the first nine months of 2015, compared with 3,941 cases in 2014 and 4,593 cases in 2013.

For the past two years, the Eastern District of Texas has led in new filings, being far and away the most popular district to file in. Large numbers of Eastern District of Texas filings are being created by a relatively small number of non-practicing entities, also known as "patent trolls."

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Elon Musk: “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple” [Ars Technica]

If there's one CEO you can count on for consistently amusing outbursts and quotable sound bites, it's Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Today's EMOTD (Elon Musk of the Day) comes courtesy of German business newspaper Handelsblatt, where the outspoken CEO hopped aboard the banter bus and revealed that his cheeky employees often refer to Apple as the "Tesla Graveyard."

In response to claims that Apple is poaching key members of Tesla staff to work on its long-rumoured self-driving car project, Musk joked: "Important engineers? They have hired people we've fired. We always jokingly call Apple the Tesla Graveyard." But just to make sure that his comments weren't entirely dismissed as harmless CEO-style jostling, he added: "If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding."

The sick burns continued when Musk was asked if he took Apple seriously as a competitor in the automotive market. "Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?" he laughed, as if the seamless stainless steel construction and hand-crafted leather bands of Apple's latest i-thing were nothing to him. "No, seriously: it’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction," he added. "But cars are very complex compared to phones or smart watches. You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: 'Build me a car.'"

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NASA offers 1,200 patents to startups, with no upfront licensing costs [Ars Technica]

As part of an initiative to grow some new high-tech businesses, NASA is providing startups the opportunity to license its technologies without paying any up-front costs. Businesses will be able to choose from a portfolio spanning over 1,200 patents, which in turn is divided into 15 categories. This includes technologies such as multi-purpose humanoid robots, handheld laser torches, and even collapsible aeroplanes.

“The Startup NASA initiative leverages the results of our cutting-edge research and development so entrepreneurs can take that research — and some risks — to create new products and new services," said NASA's chief technologist David Miller in a press release.

Naturally, there are caveats tied to this offer. First, the licences aren't exclusive, although NASA is apparently open to discussion. Second, the patents are only valid for startups intending to commercialise NASA technologies. While companies are not required to pay an initial licensing fee or minimum fees for three years, those who successfully begin selling a product will be expected to pay standard net royalties.

Startup NASA (that's the name of the initiative) represents the government agency's latest attempt to share its research with the public. In the past, it auctioned 12 of its nanotech patents, and has also sold exclusive licences to companies like DynaDX, which then used the technology to construct medical devices for diagnosing strokes and monitoring treatment in dementia patients. 

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95% of European diesels tested flunk emissions standards [Ars Technica]

Yesterday, Volkswagen's US CEO testified before Congress about his firm's ongoing diesel emissions scandal. Although it appears that VW Group's 2L diesel engines are the only models that were designed to fool the EPA, over in Europe questions continue to be raised about other car makers and their products.

Diesel is significantly more popular in Europe, thanks to several decades of government incentives making the fuel cheaper than gasoline. However, EU regulators had until recently been far less concerned about NOx and particulate emissions than their US counterparts. Today, The Guardian reports that diesel-engined cars from Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Mitsubishi all emit more NOx than allowed under the current Euro 6 standards.

The tests were carried out by Emissions Analytics, which told The Guardian that the problem "is a systemic one." The company analyzed about 50 Euro 6 diesels and 150 diesels that conformed to the earlier Euro 5 standard, and found only five emitted NOx levels that matched the regulations.

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Australian prime minister runs private e-mail server, uses Confide and Wickr [Ars Technica]

(credit: @TurnbullMalcolm)

Australia's new prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has confirmed that he is still running a private e-mail server located outside the federal parliament's secure network, which he set up some years ago while Minister for Communications in the preceding Abbott government. However, he insisted that he does not use the private server for sending classified information. As The Guardian reported, he said: “The answer is I can’t do it and I wouldn’t do it and I protect classified information very carefully.”

Another concern is that Turnbull has been using this unofficial system in order to evade freedom of information requests, a central issue with the private e-mail server used by Hillary Clinton in the US. A spokesperson for Turnbull insisted this was not the case: “All communications or records of a minister which relate to his or her duties are (subject to many exemptions) potentially subject to [freedom of information] whether it is on SMS, a private email server or a government email server. The majority of government correspondence is routine and of a non-sensitive nature and is therefore not subject to sensitive security markings.”

Turnbull uses other unofficial channels to communicate with colleagues and journalists, including the self-destructing messaging apps Confide and Wickr. Both services make much of their decentralised systems, and Turnbull's use of them suggests he understands the importance of using such end-to-end encryption to avoid the risk that messages will be intercepted in transit. His spokesperson claimed this was quite common among Australian politicians: “Many MPs and ministers use private messaging systems—including SMS, WhatsApp, Wickr, etc and private emails etc—for non-sensitive material for reasons of convenience and superior functionality.”

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Ex-sheriff’s new gig with smart gun startup triggers ethics concerns [Ars Technica]

Jim Schaff of Yardarm demonstrates the readings that pop up when a gun is holstered, unholstered, and fired at a shooting range in San Jose, California, on Thursday, September 10, 2015. The sensor can alert dispatchers when an officer pulls his or her weapon and when shots have been fired, and transmit the location back to dispatch. (credit: Sarah Rice for Reveal)

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.—Amid the ongoing debate over officer-involved shootings, the county sheriff’s office in this California beach town was the first law enforcement agency in the world to test new technology: a tiny sensor that records any time a deputy’s gun is fired.

Yardarm Technologies Inc., the Silicon Valley startup that makes the sensor, has had only one other testing ground so far—a small police force in Texas—which abandoned the product in January after officials decided it wasn’t a viable technology for the department.

The biggest difference between the two pilot projects? A sheriff gung ho about technology who recently retired and now advises the company.

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A deathblow to the Death Star: The rise and fall of NASA’s Shuttle-Centaur [Ars Technica]

In January 1986, astronaut Rick Hauck approached his STS-61F crew four months before their mission was scheduled to launch. The shuttle Challenger was set to deploy the Ulysses solar probe on a trajectory to Jupiter, utilizing a liquid-fueled Centaur G-Prime stage. While an upcoming launch should be an exciting time for any astronaut, Hauck's was anything but optimistic. As he spoke to his crew, his tone was grave. He couldn't recall the exact quote in a 2003 Johnson Space Center (JSC) oral history, but the message remained clear.

“NASA is doing business different from the way it has in the past. Safety is being compromised, and if any of you want to take yourself off this flight, I will support you.”

Hauck wasn’t just spooked by the lax approach that eventually led to the Challenger explosion. Layered on top of that concern was the planned method of sending Ulysses away from Earth. The Centaur was fueled by a combustible mix of liquid hydrogen and oxygen, and it would be carried to orbit inside the shuttle’s payload bay.

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Photo - Airborne Operations Over Italy [BLACKFIVE]

Paratroopers conduct an airborne operation from a 12th Combat Aviation Brigade CH-47 Chinook helicopter at Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy, Sept. 30, 2015. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projective forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa or Central Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours. The paratroopers are assigned to the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade. U.S. Army photo by Paolo Bovo

Book Review - "The Saturn Run" by John Sanford and Ctein [BLACKFIVE]

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein can best be described as a thriller that takes place in space. It is obvious the authors strove to make this story realistic. Some may put it in the science fiction genre but that is only because there are real scientific concepts in a plausible fictional thriller story. The authors commented they met through a photography website, the Online Photography and became friends. Because Sandford wanted to venture into the science fiction world he decided to consult Ctein who has a dual degree in English and Physics from Caltech. He obviously wrote the science parts and the two collaborated on the rest of the book. But, Sandford wrote in the character, Fiorella, an L. A. Times reporter, to explain science to the reader as she explains it to her audience on the ground. This was a real way to say what the engineer, Captain, photographer Sandy, and scientists were doing. Portions of the book have a very detailed explanation of the technology and science used. For some who are bogged down with too much content, they can skip over those details since they are clustered together. Others will enjoy the particulars of how the spacecrafts and their engines are built. In the author’s note at the end of the book is a description of the science behind the story. This includes the authors' philosophy regarding the science and technology, along with pertinent reference points for those who want to know more, an explanation of the actual science behind the fiction. Another way the authors made the science and technology more understandable is through the character Cassandra Fiorella’s eyes. She is an on board space journalist that sends back reports to Earth, explaining in layman terms the science and technology. The plot begins fifty years into the future when a Caltech employee notices an anomaly from a space telescope. Officials come to an inescapable conclusion; a space ship is headed for Saturn. A race begins between the US and China to see which country will get to Saturn first to discover the alien technology. A quickly assembled crew is chosen for the adventure of traveling to that planet and confronting the unknown extraterrestrial. The conflict arises when the Chinese are not content to allow the Americans to gain the advantage and put themselves at a disadvantage. This is where the action intensifies as the authors explore the questions: Should the Earth nations work as a community or work for their own benefit, and should space law take the same rules from Maritime law? Sandford explained to blackfive.net the “target audience is people who read authors like Michael Crichton. He wrote dinosaur books, but was really talking of a way of using DNA to recreate animals, the ability to create a whole new species. Then there is John Grisham who has nailed down the lawyer market. I hope we get readers from the fields of computer programmers, engineers, and scientists that are interested in science fiction but want realism. But we also want to appeal to thriller fans. I think the closest novel like this book is The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy. The technology of the submarine is advanced but very possible. It is about the struggle between countries and what must be done to return home.” The authors are hoping readers will not know who wrote what scenes and which characters. Obviously, Ctein wrote the science parts because he is an expert who wrote articles on computer and space technology. However, Sandford, a photography enthusiast, wrote many of the scenes involving the description of cameras and their abilities. The characters are a potpourri of personalities and professions. The main character is Sandy, a super rich, good looking ladies man, a patriot, and a surfer dude. He is the direct opposite of Crow, the security chief who is unfriendly and tends to look at everything as a threat. Dr. Rebecca Johansson, who readers will know as Becca, is the one readers will most identify with. The Captain of the ship is Naomi Fang-Castro, whom the authors refer to by her last name throughout most of the story. She is very formal, makes it clear she is in a position of command, and believes in absolute discipline. The authors commented on their desire to travel to space. Sandford told blackfive.net, it does not “appeal to me, being confined in what I see as a giant cigar tube. I had an experience as a reporter when I went on this airplane that flew back and forth between Cuba and the US. They were looking for drug planes and any incursion aircraft from Cuba. We were stuffed in for eight hours and there were no windows. I realized I wanted to be able to go outside. The danger would not bother me since I landed in tight areas in Iraq on a Black Hawk helicopter.” On the other hand, Ctein would go up in a minute. Saturn Run is a tale of courage, treachery, and takes readers on a ride through space. The best parts are the descriptions of how the crew finds their strength and wits against formidable adversaries. An added bonus is the cool cover of the book that is almost in 3-D and seems to be a photographic representation of the technology developed, “the ribbons,” used to help power the spaceship.

And The Next Speaker Is.... [JustOneMinute]

This thread may be subject to daily renewal for a while.

An Apparent School Shooting In Arizona [JustOneMinute]

Breaking news from Northern Arizona University [and do let me add: Arizona is a 'stand your ground' state and from what little we know - the shooting took place during a confrontation between two groups of students - self-defense may...

It Might Take A While To Digest This Report [JustOneMinute]

But the upshot seems to be that we've been fed a steady diet of dietary advice that should have been taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. We'll file this long WaPo article under the heading "Big Government Fail". Which...

Canada Caves on Copyright in TPP: Commits to Longer Term, Urge ISPs to Block Content [Michael Geist]

The final Trans Pacific Partnership intellectual property chapter leaked this morning confirming what many had feared. While the Canadian government has focused on issues like dairy and the auto sector, it caved on key copyright issues in the agreement. As a result, works will be locked out of the public domain for decades at a cost to the public of hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, the government will “induce” Internet providers to engage in content blocking even where Canadian courts have not ruled on whether the content infringes copyright. As a result (and as expected – this was raised years ago), the government’s “made in Canada” approach to copyright – which it has frequently touted as representing a balanced approach – faces a U.S. demanded overhaul.  In fact, even as other countries were able to negotiate phase-in periods on copyright changes, the Canadian negotiators simply caved.

The biggest change is a requirement to extend the term of copyright from life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. The additional 20 years will keep works out of the public domain for decades. The New Zealand government estimates that this change alone will cost NZ$55 million per year for a country that is one-ninth the size of Canada. Moreover, New Zealand was able to negotiate a delayed implementation of the copyright term provision, with a shorter extension for the first 8 years. It also obtained a clear provision that does not make the change retroactive – anything in the public domain stays there. Malaysia also obtained a delay in the copyright term extension requirement.

Canada, on the other hand, simply caved.  The cost to Canadians will be enormous. If the New Zealand’s estimate is accurate, the cost to the public alone will easily exceed $100 million per year. Hundreds of well known Canadian authors and composers who died years ago will not have their work enter the public domain for decades.

The public domain provision is not the only loss for Canada on copyright. The Canadian government was able to preserve the notice-and-notice system for Internet providers, but at a very high price. Canada has now agreed to induce providers to “remove or disable” access to content upon becoming aware of a decision of a court of a copyright infringement. The broadly worded provision could force Canadian ISPs to block content on websites after being notified of a foreign court order – without first having to assess whether the site is even legal under Canadian law.

Canadian negotiators caved on a wide range of other issues. For example, it has increased the criminalization of copyright, adding new criminal liability for the removal of “rights management information” (rules associated with Canada’s controversial protection of digital locks) and it has expanded restrictions on the importation or distribution of goods whose rights management information has been altered. It has expanded border measures rules (just months after passing legislation on the issue), by agreeing to notification system on suspect in-transit shipments that will not even enter Canada.

There is much more to study, but the first reaction to the TPP intellectual property chapter is that Canadian negotiators have agreed to significant changes to Canadian copyright law without an opportunity for public comment or discussion. Given that there was a two-tier approach for the trade talks with insider access and that U.S. lobby groups identified the TPP as a mechanism to extend Canadian copyright term, the outcome is disappointing but not surprising. Unlike other countries that were able to negotiate delayed implementation, however, Canada simply caved to U.S. pressure, seemingly willing to trade away Canadian copyright policy.

The post Canada Caves on Copyright in TPP: Commits to Longer Term, Urge ISPs to Block Content appeared first on Michael Geist.

A Bizarre Blast From the Feminist Past [The Other McCain]

Researching radical feminism has led me to many strange sources, few of them stranger than For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology, edited by Sarah Lucia Hoagland and Julia Penelope, a 596-page compendium of lunacy published in 1988. Weird ideas leap forth from every page, as if the inmates of a mental health facility had been […]

Feminist Tumblr and the ‘Tampon Tax’ [The Other McCain]

  Behold the irrefutable logic of Feminist Tumblr: Tampons and other ‘feminine hygiene’ products are taxed. Women have to pay taxes just to be able to have our periods. So if any anti feminist complains about women in regards to money (or anything really) just tell him: “As a female tax payer my tampon taxes […]

Friday Fiction: 100 Word Challenge [The Other McCain]

by Smitty The proprietor’s impassive face makes monks seem animated. The bedraggled, alcohol-reeking customer struggles to get the jewelry box from the tote, meaningless baubles spilling over the counter. Exchanges words and money. Leaves. The scene clicks. I ask, “Weren’t the two of you across the bar from each other last night at the tavern […]

NBC’s New Sitcom: ‘Abortion Barbie’? [The Other McCain]

Hollywood liberalism beyond parody: Wendy Davis made national headlines in 2013 for filibustering anti-abortion legislation in the Texas Senate. Now the former Democratic state senator is poised for more national attention as the inspiration for a dramedy series in development at NBC. Written by Jennifer Cecil, the untitled project centers on a female Democratic senator […]

That Crazy Buck Rogers Stuff [The Other McCain]

— by Wombat-socho So, a couple of weeks ago in the comments Goodstuff brought up the topic of Buck Rogers, and I was going to write about that last week in the book post, but I Forgot. Going to remedy that failure right here and now. The original Buck Rogers tale, Armageddon 2419 A.D. is […]

Friday Video: Meet the Glowforge 3D Laser Printer [The Travelin' Librarian]

Four months ago, we visited the offices of Glowforge, a company developing a new kind of 3D laser printer. The Glowforge simplifies laser cutting by moving software to the cloud and making use of smartphone sensors. That both lowers the price and allows for incredible user features that makes the Glowforge extremely easy to use. As Glowforge readies to launch, we check in to check out the final product!

Find out more about the Glowforge at http://glowforge.com/

Published on Sep 24, 2015

The post Friday Video: Meet the Glowforge 3D Laser Printer appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

Friday Reads: Map of the Sky by Félix J. Palma [The Travelin' Librarian]

From Amazon.com:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Map of Time returns with a mesmerizing novel casting H.G. Wells in a leading role, as the extraterrestrial invasion featured in The War of the Worlds is turned into a bizarre reality.

A love story serves as backdrop for The Map of the Sky when New York socialite Emma Harlow agrees to marry millionaire Montgomery Gilmore, but only if he accepts her audacious challenge: to reproduce the extraterrestrial invasion featured in Wells’s War of the Worlds. What follows are three brilliantly interconnected plots to create a breathtaking tale of time travel and mystery, replete with cameos by a young Edgar Allan Poe, and Captain Shackleton and Charles Winslow from The Map of Time.
Praised for “lyrical storytelling and a rich attention to detail,” (Library Journal, starred review), Palma again achieves the high standard set by The Map of Time.

The post Friday Reads: Map of the Sky by Félix J. Palma appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

Jeb Bush was asked about the gold standard. He should have gone all Rick Grimes on that zombie idea [AEI » Pethokoukis]

So Jeb Bush was asked on the campaign trail about returning to the gold standard. His answer: “I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t know for sure.” I think the WaPo’s Matt O’Brien is right that the following would have been the far better replay:

This was not the right answer. The right answer would have been that the gold standard was a “barbarous relic” even 80 years ago, and might be the world’s worst idea today.

Bush should have bashed that zombie idea in the head like Rick Grimes dispatching a walker. The case for the gold standard is really pretty awful, as O’Brien details. Just terrible. Too bad the Great Recession reanimated it from the grave. In 2012, the IGM Forum asked top economists: “If the US replaced its discretionary monetary policy regime with a gold standard, defining a ‘dollar’ as a specific number of ounces of gold, the price-stability and employment outcomes would be better for the average American.”

It was not a close decision:


The post Jeb Bush was asked about the gold standard. He should have gone all Rick Grimes on that zombie idea appeared first on AEI.

Former Obama White House economist: $15 minimum wage is a ‘risk not worth taking’ [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, speaks during a media briefing at the White House in Washington November 26, 2012.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

Alan Krueger during a media briefing at the White House in Washington November 26, 2012.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

The Democratic Party platform calls for a $15 per hour national minimum wage. Hmm. Here is economist Alan Krueger, a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, on the “fight for 15,” (via a New York Times op-ed):

I am frequently asked, “How high can the minimum wage go without jeopardizing employment of low-wage workers? And at what level would further minimum wage increases result in more job losses than wage gains, lowering the earnings of low-wage workers as a whole?”

Although available research cannot precisely answer these questions, I am confident that a federal minimum wage that rises to around $12 an hour over the next five years or so would not have a meaningful negative effect on United States employment. One reason for this judgment is that around 140 research projects commissioned by Britain’s independent Low Pay Commission have found that the minimum wage “has led to higher than average wage increases for the lowest paid, with little evidence of adverse effects on employment or the economy.” A $12-per-hour minimum wage in the United States phased in over several years would be in the same ballpark as Britain’s minimum wage today.

But $15 an hour is beyond international experience, and could well be counterproductive. Although some high-wage cities and states could probably absorb a $15-an-hour minimum wage with little or no job loss, it is far from clear that the same could be said for every state, city and town in the United States. … Although the plight of low-wage workers is a national tragedy, the push for a nationwide $15 minimum wage strikes me as a risk not worth taking, especially because other tools, such as the earned-income tax credit, can be used in combination with a higher minimum wage to improve the livelihoods of low-wage workers.

Indeed, there is a risk-free way to boost incomes for low-wage workers. More on this subject:

So if we really, really boost the minimum wage, what happens?

By cranking up its minimum wage, LA is taking an unnecessary gamble

Economist survey suggests a better way to help low-income workers than raising the minimum wage to $15

Why are minimum wage proponents dismissing automation risk?

The post Former Obama White House economist: $15 minimum wage is a ‘risk not worth taking’ appeared first on AEI.

Links and quotations for October 9, 2015: Driverless car accidents, the soul of Seattle, and Chick-fil-a disrupts NYC [AEI » Pethokoukis]

Big news this week with the opening of Chick-fil-a, a “totem of red-state habits, in New York City.” As the New York Times reports, however, the company is doing its business in a way that disrupts the status quo – for instance, paying first-time employees more than $2 over the mandated minimum wage, and a $1 more than NYC favorite Shake-Shack does. That and much more below.

The Dark Side of DNA Databases – The Atlantic

The End of Retirement As We Know It? – BlackRock 

Who is responsible for a driverless car accident? – BBC News – “Volvo says it will accept full liability for accidents involving its driverless cars, making it “one of the first” car companies to do so. It joins Mercedes and also tech firm Google, who have made similar claims.”

Facebook Is Big, But Big Networks Can Fall – Bloomberg View “When your network is growing rapidly, things are splendid! Every new user increases the value of your network and encourages even more people to join. But there’s a small catch: What happens if your network starts shrinking? Suddenly, it’s getting less valuable, which means more people are likely to leave, which makes it even less valuable. Rinse and repeat all the way to the court-appointed receiver’s office. More conventional businesses don’t have this vulnerability.”

Seattle, in Midst of Tech Boom, Tries to Keep Its Soul – NY Times

 The giant sums of money spinning around San Francisco in recent years, fueled by a booming tech sector, have generated hordes of 20-something millionaires and thousands more with six-figure salaries. While that wealth has created a widely envied economy, housing costs have skyrocketed, and the region’s economic divisions have deepened. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is more than $3,500 a month, the highest in the country…. “Seattle has wanted to be San Francisco for so long,” said Knute Berger, a longtime chronicler of life in Seattle. “Now it’s figuring out maybe that it isn’t what we want to be.”

It Just Got a Lot Harder for Big Tobacco to Defend Itself – Wired

… this week, the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the largest regional trade agreement in history—slapped tobacco back down. The TPP, which includes the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries, singles out tobacco as the one industry in which ISDS rules no longer apply. Tobacco companies won’t be able to use the the TPP to block public health-minded tobacco regulations.” TPP’s full text is not yet publicly available, but anti-tobacco advocates who followed the negotiations closely are hailing a win for public health worldwide.

People stand in line for a free meal from a newly opened freestanding Chick-fil-a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York October 3, 2015. The restaurant opened at 6am, 12 hours later people are still lined up around the block for their free food. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri.

People stand in line for a free meal from a newly opened freestanding Chick-fil-a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York October 3, 2015. The restaurant opened at 6am, 12 hours later people are still lined up around the block for their free food. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri.

Chick-fil-A and the Politics of Eating – NY Times 

In recent days, the complicated politics of urban consumerism have been playing out most visibly, with the arrival of Chick-fil-A, a totem of red-state habits, in New York City. … In 2012, Christine C. Quinn, who was then the City Council speaker, spoke out against the company, proclaiming that it was not welcome in the city, and wrote a letter to John Sexton, the president of New York University, urging him to get rid of a Chick-fil-A stall that had a presence in one of the school’s food courts. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg disagreed with her. The year before, N.Y.U.’s Student Senators Council had voted not to ban the chain on the grounds of free expression. Now the city is host to the largest branch of Chick-fil-A in the country, a three-story space spanning 5,000 square feet in Midtown Manhattan, on the Avenue of the Americas at 37th Street.

The new Chick-fil-A franchise in Manhattan begins its salary scale at $11 an hour, for those with no restaurant experience. This exceeds by more than $2 the current minimum wage in New York State, scheduled to reach $15 an hour in several years, and surpasses starting salaries at Shake Shack, a much-admired employer in New York, by $1. Chick-fil-A is also noted for its charitable contributions — the Midtown branch has already given away 250 pounds of chicken to the New York Common Pantry — having contributed more than $68 million during the past three years to charities working to improve education and mitigate poverty.

This is not to say that you should start eating at Chick-fil-A if your instincts tell you otherwise. But eating now demands an increasingly complicated mathematics that never ultimately satisfies.

The post Links and quotations for October 9, 2015: Driverless car accidents, the soul of Seattle, and Chick-fil-a disrupts NYC appeared first on AEI.

More on Bobby Jindal’s tax cut plan [AEI » Pethokoukis]

The WaPo’s Catherine Rampell writes that Bobby Jindal’s tax plan “has made Donald Trump look like a grown-up.” Why’s that? Well, both tax plans would lose about a trillion dollars a year, even accounting for faster economic growth. In other words, they would cut federal tax revenue by roughly a third as a share of GDP.

And here’s the thing: If you are going to (a) propose such a thing and (b) also favor a balanced budget, then you need to (c) have a plan to reduce federal spending by a third. Trump doesn’t. He hand-waves at the issue with word-salad talk about “disciplined budget management and elimination of waste, fraud and abuse.” Entitlement reform, not so much.

Jindal takes a different approach, though it’s not much better. He subscribes to the “starve the beast” theory of government shrinkage. From the Jindal plan:

Governor Jindal’s plan reduces the amount of money the federal government will be able to spend. President Obama has nearly doubled our national debt. It is now over $18 trillion and is the largest debt in the history of the world. The only way to shrink the size and influence of Washington is to starve it.

This seems to be a myth. Rampell points to the Cato Institute work of the late William Niskanen who wrote there are “three major problems with the starve-the-beast argument: (1) it is not a plausible economic theory; (2) it is inconsistent with the facts; and (3) it has diverted attention away from the political reforms needed to limit government growth.” Other than that, it’s good to go.

Then you have a 2009 paper by economists Christina and David Romer, which found “no support for the hypothesis that tax cuts restrain government spending; indeed, the point estimates suggest that tax cuts may increase spending. The results also indicate that the main effect of tax cuts on the government budget is to induce subsequent legislated tax increases.”

And how about recent history where we’ve seen slower spending growth accompanied by tax increases, not tax cuts? Since 2009, federal revenue as a share of GDP has risen to nearly 18% of GDP from 14.6% thanks to faster economic growth and many, many tax hikes. During this period, spending has fallen to 20.3% of GDP from 24.4%. Indeed, as economist Michael Darda has noted, “it’s been the most intense fiscal consolidation since the Korean War demobilization.”

Anyway, government spending isn’t going down by a third. Washington will have to work hard to keep it from rising by a third given demographics.

Rampell also doesn’t like that, on a static basis, the Jindal plan would reduce after-tax income for the bottom 40% by an average of 2.5% while increasing it by 25% for the top 1%. Tax hikes on the poor and working class. So, this chart:

Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation

If you are going that route, you better be pretty darn sure of your dynamic analysis, I guess. And even if you are certain, it’s doubtful lower-income voters getting hit by the tax hikes will accept your “two in the bush for one in the hand” approach.

The post More on Bobby Jindal’s tax cut plan appeared first on AEI.

My guess is, if Mike Harris... [halls of macadamia]

...had set aside $70,000,000 a year to give golf club memberships to one-armed Ontario men, he would have been tarred & feathered.oh baby

"Ontario will add $50 million a year to the $20 million it already spends on 'assisted reproduction.'"
Kathleen Wynne, despite running horrific deficits and apparently unconcerned about the possible appearance of a conflict of interest, will now use additional tens of millions of taxpayer dollars annually to subsidise in-vitro fertilisation.

Obviously, one of the significant demographics interested in IVF will be women suffering from so-called “social infertility” - that is, women who reject the increasingly obsolete and icky idea of male-female procreation... (which would've absolutely, positively in no way influenced Ontario's first gay Premier).

But, hey... let's look at the numbers.

IVF currently accounts for about 2% of live births in Ontario. With only a 30% success rate and an estimated 4000 women taking advantage of the Premier's largesse, this would result in 1200 births annually at a additional cost of $58,000 per Corningware baby.

For the religious and ethically sensitive among us, note that multiple eggs are removed for each procedure and extra fertilised embryos are routinely destroyed if not used.

Now, call me a middle aged, non-disabled, caucasian, Christian male... but surely there are better ways to serve the greater good?

How about 70 million dollars a year to find families for the 47,885 Canadian children in foster care, 62 per cent of whom were aged 14 and under. (source 2011 Census)

That's 12 choices apiece for each of those 4000 Ontario women. Of course, that'll never happen.

Sorry kids, Kathleen Wynne has 1200 hypothetical babies per year who are apparently more important than you.


POSTSCRIPT: If you build it...

...they will come, er... suck you dry...

Note that the province of Quebec which pioneered IVF in Canada, is shutting down after demand and costs soared much higher than expected.

Surprise, surprise.

"Kids are like rookie literary critics, always on the hunt for sentimentality. The camera becomes a worrying signifier to them..." [Althouse]

"... that tells them that they are engaged in something that is good for them or Meaningful. They don’t want to be engaged in any activity that is worthy of being photographed."

John Dickerson applies himself assiduously to the task of analyzing why his children, once so unselfconsciously vulnerable to the camera's inspection, became impossible to photograph as they turned adolescent.

Interesting quote — isn't it? — the way he takes himself out of the vignette. The "worrying signifier" — the camera— is in the hand of a human being, the father. And the meaning of the camera isn't merely that they are doing something "Meaningful," but that the father sees meaning in what they are doing. When they were younger, they lacked the ability to think about the father's mind, and now that they have acquired the great power to imagine things from the perspective of another, they object. Is it that "they don’t want to be engaged in any activity that is worthy of being photographed" or that they demand control over what their now-conscious selves mean?

Looncup, the "smart" menstrual cup. [Althouse]

"Looncup is an old-fashioned silicone cup with a twist: It contains a sensor that collects information about the volume and color of your menstrual fluid and an antenna that sends that information to your smartphone, which alerts you when your cup is getting full...."

I am a woman of childbearing age who has never once wanted more information about the volume and color of my menstrual fluid. But maybe I’m missing something.... I am not so solipsistic that I believe that all women should share my personal concerns about the Looncup.... Maybe other women are far more fascinated by the volume and color of their menstrual fluid than I am....

Time to bring the avocado plant indoors. [Althouse]


That's 5 pits, planted 2 years ago, after 2 summers outdoors and lots of indoor time.

"As Arab Spring demonstrations overthrow governments across the Middle East, a group of children in Daraa, southern Syria, are arrested and allegedly tortured for scrawling graffiti on a school reading 'the people want to topple the regime.'" [Althouse]

The first frame — "It all starts with graffiti" — from "Syria's war: Everything you need to know about how we got here."

MEANWHILE: "A coalition of labor unions, businesses, lawyers and human rights activists won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday “for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011....”

Among the disappointments of what has become known as the Arab Spring — collapsed states in Libya, Syria and Yemen; the return of rule by a military strongman in Egypt; and the rise of the Islamic State in the sectarian caldron of Syria and Iraq — the relative success of Tunisia’s transition to democracy has been a wisp of hope.

No one is hurt, so enjoy the footbridge footage. [Althouse]

Near Lake Waikaremoana, on New Zealand's North Island, last month, a cable snaps and 4 hikers plunge 26 feet and into a river:

"When we get halfway across we hear a muffled sound and before having time to do anything I was thrown into the emptiness, accepting the likelihood I would die."

The new Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice: Rebecca Bradley. [Althouse]

Appointed today by Governor Scott Walker to replace Justice N. Patrick Crooks, who died last month. 

Bradley was already running for election to the seat Crooks had announced he would vacate at the end of his term next spring, and Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling criticized Walker for appointing someone who was a candidate:

"It is unprecedented for a Wisconsin governor of any party to appoint a declared judicial candidate to the Supreme Court this close to an election," said Shilling, D-La Crosse. "This power grab sets a terrible precedent and doesn’t pass the smell test.”
I guess the idea is that Walker could have appointed a place-keeper to finish the term and let the various declared candidates continue on a level playing field toward the spring election.

Would a Democratic governor have resisted giving a favored judicial candidate this boost? There have been many appointments to the Wisconsin Supreme Court of justices who gone on to compete in the next election. Shilling's point is that it's never been this close to the election. That's what's unprecedented and supposedly smelly.

Bradley is a 1996 graduate of Wisconsin Law School. I'm very happy to see our alumna ascend to the high court.

ADDED: The conservative David Blaska had recommended the place-keeper solution:
A dose of political reality: Scott Walker is underwater with Wisconsin voters right now, like it or not. Why put that onus on Judge Rebecca Bradley, who has announced her candidacy in next spring’s election? To the vacancy left by the late Justice Crooks appoint someone like Jim Troupis, now a conservative judge in Dane County, who — I’m guessing — would not seek election to the post. (Although he’d be good.)

The federal government just stopped serving pig products in federal prison — no more pork, ham, or bacon for 206,000 inmates. [Althouse]

You might instinctively cry: Must all go without because some have a religious scruple against eating pork?!

But the government says it's because a survey shows the prisoners don't like pork.

“Why keep pushing food that people don’t want to eat?” asked Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the prison bureau. “Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years"...

“I find it hard to believe that a survey would have found a majority of any population saying, ‘No thanks, I don’t want any bacon,'” said Dave Warner, a spokesman for the Washington-based trade association, which represents the nation’s hog farmers.... 
Warner said pork is healthy and economical.... "Not to throw beef under the bus, but we cost a lot less than beef.”
Why don't they just admit they're doing it to accommodate religion and it's easier to have one rule that works for everyone than to bother with the complexity of alternative meals for the minority who must avoid pig products?
Click for more »

Wolf Blitzer really wants Ben Carson to take a position on whether Barack Obama is a "real black president." [Althouse]

Blitzer didn't think up the term on his own. He had a tweet from Rupert Murdoch: "Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide?"

How did Carson do? Of course, he maintained his utterly unchangeable calm demeanor. Carson's answers included: 1. Murdoch is entitled to his opinion, 2. I don't want to talk about it, 3. It's just "semantics," 4. I don't like political correctness, 5. Obama is the president and he is black, and 6. Murdock was trying to say that a "real black President" would be someone who "really elevated the black community," and Obama hasn't done that.

#6 is the substantive answer, but it's carefully attributed to Murdock. Blitzer, for all his dogged re-questioning, failed to ask the substantive question. I think Blitzer was focused on trying to trap Carson into embracing the concept that of being a "real" black and denying Obama that status (which harkens back to the old "Is Obama black enough?" debate of the 2008 campaign).

Blitzer could have taken the inquiry in a more substantive direction and asked: Do you think that people voted for Obama because they were inspired by the idea of having a black President and that idea meant something important about what would happen as a result of having a black President, something that has not occurred? If yes, do you think that idea still has meaning and that the effect could occur if we had a different black President or do you think it was delusional and people should get beyond attributing meaning to the race of the President?

"At age 48, Frank [Fiorina] decided to retire to (gasp!) to support his wife's career as well as take care of his two daughters..." [Althouse]

"'...something that even her own father didn't quite understand at first."

"As [my father] got older and realized how important a role Frank played in my success — and my happiness, beyond that — he came to really appreciate him,' [Carly Fiorina] said.

Frank has donned several different hats while running his wife's team. While she was CEO of Hewlett-Packard and later when she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Frank would sometimes serve as her personal bodyguard. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Frank received a permit to carry a concealed weapon in 2000.
More in this WaPo article from last May, a time Carly Fiorina "hardly registers in national polls." The reporter follows Frank around as he pushes a shopping cart through the aisles of Costco for 45 minutes and buys "[b]ottled water, toilet paper, paper towels, cashews, Goldfish and a toothbrush."

Key tag: single-earner household.

$500 million later, the Obama administration gives up on the effort to train and equip rebel forces in Syria... [Althouse]

... in what the NYT calls "an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria."

Some of the American-trained Syrian fighters gave at least a quarter of their United States-provided equipment to the Qaeda affiliate in Syria.... More broadly, the program has suffered from a shortage of recruits willing to fight the Islamic State instead of the army of President Bashar al-Assad....

"I swear to you, I think she's totally beautiful and great," says Trump about the Hispanic lady who screams "I love you!" [Althouse]

It's important to establish that Hispanic people love him, but what Trump really wants to talk about is his nose. People Magazine totally screwed around with his nose.

"Don't you worry, boy. I'll get you out of here." [Althouse]

Goodbye to Moochie, Kevin Corcoran, who has died at the age of 66.

"He was the quintessential bratty kid brother or mischievous moppet..." His brother was almost always Tommy Kirk. Kirk lives on, at 73.

I feel for those who need a gun to feel equal. Like smokers and winos and vaccine resisters, they can’t help needing that feeling they need [The Captain's Journal]

The Sacramento Bee:

Yes, the right to carry a gun is a civil liberty, constitutionally protected. But whatever their other uses, firearms also are a lot like liquor and pornography and tobacco.

“Guns,” he said bluntly, “are a vice.”

The majority of guns are being bought by a minority, just as a majority of porn is bought by a minority of users and a majority of cigarettes are bought by a minority of addicts. Only about 6 percent of Americans hunt, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, so these gun fans aren’t arming themselves to shoot groundhogs. Nor are they addressing some practical issue of public safety or government oppression; aside from all these mass shootings, this is one of the safest, most open democracies on the planet. So why are people hoarding assault rifles and military-grade weapons?

Why? What inner imperative is this accumulation of firepower serving? What imagined inequality is being compensated for?

I feel for those who need a gun to feel equal. Like smokers and winos and vaccine resisters, they can’t help needing that feeling they need.

My oldest son Josh sends this concerning the article above.

The juxtaposition presented by the reading of this article back-to-back with the one about the porosity of our southern border highlights the irrational, incoherent, emotionally derived worldview of these people.
“Ban guns! Keep the border open!”
But I just watched five Mexicans literally swim across the border and toss drugs into the back of an Explorer……
Also notice the incessant reflection on how things “feel,” and the continuing push to make all language and ideas equal, abusing and commandeering heavy concepts such as infringement of life and liberty. It’s the same thing these people are doing with the word “racist,” and pushing fat acceptance and gender identification. Now guns are a vice, being categorized as substance abuse. It’s insane.
These people are the products of the hippie generation. They are not thinking men and women.
That they are afforded the luxury of publishing their half-baked drivel for others to read exactly because many someones have picked up a gun and performed the killing of those needing it escapes them entirely.
These are not thinking people.

Concerning this same issue, reader Mack sends these comments by Dennis Prager.

The third reason for the left-right divide on guns is that the two sides ask different questions when formulating social policies. The right tends to ask, “Does it do good?” The left is more likely to ask, “Does it feel good?”

To liberals it feels good to declare a college a “gun-free zone.” Does it do good? Of course not. It does the opposite. It informs would-be murderers that no one will shoot them.

On gun violence, the left doesn’t ask, “What does good?” It asks, “What feels good?” It feels good to call for more gun laws. It enables liberals to feel good about themselves; it makes the right look bad; and it increases government control over the citizenry. A liberal trifecta.

One thing that would make incomparably more difference than more gun laws is more fathers, especially in the great majority of shooting murders …

You fill in with your own observations.

Netgear router exploit detected [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

A flaw in thousands of Netgear routers has been exploited by hackers, according to a security researcher.

The most frequent threats on email [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

As part of World Post Day (October 9th), we take a closer look at the many security risks associated with email, the electronic cousin of regular mail.

The post The most frequent threats on email appeared first on We Live Security.

VIDEO: 4K camera films drone-like video [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

The Chinese drone-maker DJI unveils a camera-on-a-stick that captures the kind of smooth video typically associated with drones.

US groups want Experian hack probed [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Campaigners have questioned whether a hack at credit report company Experian could extend to 200 million customers.

Smartphone thieves face tougher sentencing in the UK [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Smartphone thieves will be punished more severely for stealing smartphones because of the emotional distress it causes victims.

The post Smartphone thieves face tougher sentencing in the UK appeared first on We Live Security.

Pre-roll ads come to Twitter videos [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Twitter users will have to watch pre-roll advertising on videos, thanks to a new service on the platform.

Public Wi-Fi: Convenience trumps risks [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

In the rush for convenience, we have overlooked security when it comes to public Wi-Fi. And, as this feature investigates, there are plenty of dangers.

The post Public Wi-Fi: Convenience trumps risks appeared first on We Live Security.

Webcam hacker spent up to 12 hours a day watching his victims [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

A hacker who used the notorious Blackshades RAT malware to hijack webcams on computers, and secretly watch people engaged in sexual activity, has received a suspended prison sentence.

The post Webcam hacker spent up to 12 hours a day watching his victims appeared first on We Live Security.

Amazon launches handicraft store [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

The retailer takes on artisan website Etsy with an online store for handmade goods.

VIDEO: Islamic State prioritise Telegram app to spread propaganda [The Category5.TV Newsroom » The Category5.TV Newsroom]

Islamic State has started using the mobile app Telegram as its primary method of distributing propaganda

Development Release: FreeNAS 10.2-ALPHA [DistroWatch.com: News]

Jordan Hubbard has announced the availability of the initial test release of FreeNAS 10.2, an upcoming new version of the project's specialist operating system for network-attached storage (NAS) systems - now based on FreeBSD 10.2: "Welcome to the first alpha release of FreeNAS 10, a major upgrade from....

Blognet [hogewash]

BlognetTitleCardMUSIC: Theme. Intro and fade under.

NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

MUSIC: Up, then under …

NARRATOR: You’re a Detective Sergeant. You’re assigned to Internet Detail. A cyberstalker has been served with a temporary harassment prevention order, and a final hearing is pending. Your job … get the facts.

MUSIC: Up then under …

ANNOUNCER: Blognet … the documented drama of an actual case. For the next few minutes, in cooperation with the Twitter Town Sheriff’s Department, you will travel step by step on the side of the good guys through an actual case transcribed from official files. From beginning to end, from crime to punishment, Blognet is the story of the good guys in action.

MUSIC: Up and out.

SOUND: Footsteps in hallway.

FRIDAY: It was Monday, September 28th. It was cloudy and threatening rain in Westminster. We were working the day watch out of Internet Detail. My partner’s Liz Smith. The Boss is Twitter Town Sheriff W. J. J. Hoge. My name’s Friday. It was 9:12 am when I entered Room S-140. The Forensics Lab.

SOUND: Door opens. Footsteps across room.

LAB GUY: Good morning, Joe.

FRIDAY: Hi, Don. Whatcha got for us?

LAB GUY: We’ve been through all of those emails. There don’t seem to be any spoofed headers. It’s our opinion that they’re genuine.

FRIDAY: OK. That helps make the case. What …

SOUND: Door opens. Footsteps across room.

SMITH: Sorry. I got delayed at the courthouse. It took them a while to find the files.

FRIDAY: We’re just getting started. Don says the emails appear to be real.


SMITH: Anything else?

LAB GUY: Uh, huh. We went through all the metadata on the images. The time stamp on the picture he’s most spun up about is consistent with when he says it was taken. Oh, and we now have the serial number of his cell phone.

FRIDAY: Good. That’ll let us verify some other things.

LAB GUY: He used the same Mac to work with all of the images that we’ve reviewed so far. I can’t say anything about the new ones we just got.

SMITH: What about the email timestamps?

LAB GUY: You were right about them. It’s clear that he sent the same image to the people here in Westminster before he sent it to anyone in Massachusetts.

SMITH: So we can prove he’s lying about that as well. Lying is recurring theme with this guy.

FRIDAY: Yeah. With everything else that he’s scrambled, he has to be consistent with something.

MUSIC: Stinger and under.

FRIDAY: Liz and I thanked Don for his work and headed back to our office to put finish writing up our report.

2:49 pm.

SMITH: I spoke with our guy in Massachusetts. He says he’s got 70 pages of exhibits relating to contacts from The Grouch now that he’s added the evidence we found.

FRIDAY: The judge isn’t going to wade through all that.

SMITH: He knows that. It’s just for reference in case the judge as a specific question. He says that he going to try to keep things simple and lay out the basic elements.

FRIDAY: Uh, huh. Knowing The Grouch’s M.O., he’ll try to bring up all sorts of extraneous stuff to try to justify his behavior.

SMITH: If he shows up.

FRIDAY: Yeah. One of his consistent behaviors is failure to appear. Say, wasn’t this guy on some game show years ago?

SMITH: “The Price is Right.” There’s a clip of it on YouTube.

FRIDAY: Well, given his talent, he picked the wrong program.

SMITH: How’s that?

FRIDAY: He should have done “The Gong Show.”

MUSIC: Up and under.

NARRATOR: On September 30th, a hearing was held in the District Court for Ayer, Massachusetts. In a moment, the result of that hearing.

MUSIC: Stinger.

ANNOUNCER: Mmmm, coffee. Are you a proud member of Team Lickspittle and a fan of Blognet? Why not sip your coffee from a Hogewash! Murum Aries Attigit Coffee Mug? Murum Aries AttigitRes Judicata, Team Lickspittle, The Grand Hog, Collateral Estoppel, and Johnny Atsign merchandise is available exclusively at The Hogewash Store. Drop by today, spend some money, and show your support for Team Lickspittle. You can also show your support by hitting the Tip Jar or by doing your Amazon shopping via the link on the Home page.

NARRATOR: On September 30th, a hearing was held in the District Court for Ayer, Massachusetts, to determine whether a final harassment protection order should be issued. Based on the evidence presented the order was issued against The Grouch. Out-of-state restraining orders may be registered with a Sheriff in Wisconsin for enforcement in that state.

MUSIC: Theme up and under.

ANNOUNCER: You have just heard Blognet, a series of authentic cases from official files. Technical advice comes from the office of the Twitter Town Sheriff’s Department.

MUSIC: Theme up to music out.

ANNOUNCER: Blognet is a work of fiction. Anyone who thinks it’s about him should read Proverbs 28:1.

Be sure to tune in on Monday evenings at 6 pm Eastern Time for the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed Twitter account, America’s fabulous Internet investigator—Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign. This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … I tried to read his stuff, but I think he writes in shorthand and smudges it.

Blue Skies on Pluto [hogewash]

blue_skies_on_pluto-final-2Pluto’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by New Horizons. The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that found on Saturn’s moon Titan. The source of the haze is probably sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane. The result is soot-like particles (called tholins) that grow as they precipitate down the dwarf planet’s surface.

Image Credit: NASA

Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? [hogewash]

I think so, Brain … but wasn’t the real winner of the War of 1812 Tchaikovsky?

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

For a while now, folks have been jokingly referring to Breitbart Unmasked as Bunny Boy Unread. Now, that seems to have come true. As I write this, no one can read Matt Osborne’s nonsense, because the server that was supporting it isn’t responding. Here’s the last few legs of a traceroute to that server.BUtracerouteThe path dies inside the PhoenixNAP server farm where is hosted. Either the server has been down for a couple of days without repair (unusual for a facility that guarantees 20 minute response time on trouble tickets), or perhaps someone’s pulled the plug.

popcorn4bkConsidering how some posts have disappeared from BU over the years, it may be that some things will be lost during this takedown. However, the site has been fairly robustly backed up on other servers, so no significant spoliation of evidence is likely.

Stay tuned.


UPDATE—As of about 10 am ET, the server appears to be back online. Not all of the sites are reliably accessible yet, but I’ve been able to view brietbartunmasked dot com using a TOR connection routed through Europe.

Quote of the Day [hogewash]

Men trust their ears less than their eyes.


Kaine: Obama’s strategy in Syria is “a joke” [Hot Air » Top Picks]

"Highly fanciful."

This ain’t exactly a Friday night document dump. Yesterday, even before the White House finally acknowledged publicly that their program to train Syrian rebels was an embarrassing failure, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) put it and the overall plan for Syria in stronger, more direct terms. Kaine tells Virginia radio host John Fredericks that the entire […]

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Sanders: Say, Hillary’s pretty inconsistent on issues, huh? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Partying like its 1995-6?

It’s interesting to see Bernie Sanders attack Hillary Clinton for her positions on the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, since Hillary has embraced the Bern on both. That’s besides the point, Sanders argues in his pretaped Meet the Press interview, which will air in its entirety on Sunday. Sanders tells NBC’s […]

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Paul Ryan as Speaker would be good for the country, says … amnesty advocate Luis Gutierrez [Hot Air » Top Picks]


Via Breitbart. We’re at a delicate moment right now within the commentariat where sounding any critical note about Ryan is proof that you’re a wingnut who wants the House to burn rather than govern. So here’s proof that my RINO credentials are still in good order: I’ve always liked Ryan personally (who doesn’t?) and I […]

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Video: New intifada in the West Bank? [Hot Air » Top Picks]


If the new violence in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv isn’t a new organized intifada, it’s not for lack of effort. So-called “lone wolf” attacks have killed and injured a number of Israelis this month, putting nerves on edge. Today, two more attacks took place: Two Israelis were lightly injured in stabbing attacks […]

View the video »

Here we go: Obama “seriously considering” using executive action to expand background checks for private gun sales [Hot Air » Top Picks]


I don’t get it. I mean, I get that President Overreach has contempt for the idea that new laws are supposed to originate with Congress, not him. What I don’t get is why it took him this long to try something like this. The timeline in brief: On Monday, Hillary announced that she’d use executive […]

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Sixth Circuit blocks EPA water rule nationwide [Hot Air » Top Picks]


Several weeks ago, a federal court issued an injunction against EPA enforcement of a new rule based on the Clean Water Act, arguing that the Obama administration had exceeded its Congressional authority. The ruling only applied in the thirteen states party to the lawsuit, however, but the administration still argued that the North Dakota court […]

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New NBC “dramedy” inspired by Wendy Davis promises love, laughs, and loads of abortions [Hot Air » Top Picks]

That girl.

By day she’s a state legislator heroically crusading against the Republican Party’s war on women. By night she’s a clinician heroically vacuuming the brains out of 28-week-old fetuses and selling them off to tissue researchers. Coming this fall on NBC: “Lady Parts.” “A termination in every episode,” the network vows. No, just kidding. The description […]

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Great news: ISIS swarms Aleppo as Russians attack other rebel groups [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Obama: Golly, Putin's awfully weak, no?

Remember how John Kerry thought Russia’s intervention in Syria might turn out pretty well for the fight against ISIS? Kerry told the UN that the US would “welcome those efforts” as long as Russia focused on areas where “ISIL and al-Qaeda are not operating,” but proposed “deconfliction talks as soon as possible.” Not only did […]

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Ben Carson: If people had been armed, Hitler’s power to achieve his goals would have been “greatly diminished” [Hot Air » Top Picks]

“I’m telling you there is a reason these dictatorial people take guns first."

The man certainly does know his way around a Hitler hypothetical. Just ask his own campaign manager. “It’s an example [Carson] has been using for years and to be honest with you he needs to find a better example because the problem is as soon as you say Hitler, nobody hears anything else you say,” […]

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Rap video leads to one of the strangest police shootings on record [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Poor planning produces predictable result

Another “unarmed black man shot by police” story has cropped up in Los Angeles but this one includes all manner of strangeness, involving social media, a washed up rap group and some very poor decision making. It apparently all started when one of the members of the rappers known as Brownside released a video on […]

View the video »

Chaffetz, Issa: We’ll step aside for Ryan [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Issa: Freedom Caucus would support Ryan.

Republicans have urged Paul Ryan to step up for House Speaker in an attempt to bring unity to the GOP caucus. He may already be having that effect. After a mid-morning caucus conference, two potential rivals publicly endorsed the Ways and Means chair for the post, including formally declared candidate Jason Chaffetz: Chaffetz, who launched […]

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Ted Cruz: Trump won’t be the nominee and I’ll pick up most of his voters [Hot Air » Top Picks]

"I think in time the lion’s share of his supporters end up with us."

Via Politico, skip to 12:00 of the clip below for the key bit. Oh, it’s on. Or is it? Normally, a candidate for president claiming that he’s going to peel away his opponents’ supporters and win the nomination would be so banal that it wouldn’t qualify as news. It’s the ultimate “dog bites man” story. […]

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Vox: Dems totally stoked over Hillary’s plan to rule by decree, or something [Hot Air » Top Picks]


How old am I? I’m old enough to remember the shrieking hysteria on the Left over George Bush’s “unitary executive” philosophy, which largely pertained to wartime authority over military matters — such as Gitmo, military commissions for detainees, and other issues of authority over the war on terror. Ever since 2009, though, the rapid expansion […]

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Politinerds: Cam Edwards of the NRA [Hot Air » Top Picks]

On target

This week on Politinerds Doug and I talk to Cam Edwards, host of Cam & Company on NRA News. Yes, as you would guess we get into all the usual Second Amendment material. Cam is unabashed in his defense of gun rights and is up to date on the mass shooting news, gun control proposals […]

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WaPo: Ryan reconsidering run for Speaker [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Issa floats a trial balloon -- and maybe an endorsement?

His lips keep saying no no no, but everyone else around him keeps pressuring Paul Ryan to say yes. The Washington Post’s James Hohmann and Elise Viebeck report that Ryan has reconsidered his earlier demurral and may reluctantly agree to run for Speaker of the House. At the very least, Hohmann and Viebeck point out, Ryan has […]

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NYT: White House ends Syrian rebel training program [Hot Air » Top Picks]

In: "Enablers."

Consider this the Solyndra of foreign policy. Pressed to do something about the Syrian civil war, the Obama administration put together a $500 million project to build up the Free Syrian Army to fight both Bashar Assad and ISIS at the same time. Only 60 fighters ever got trained, and it worked so well that almost all of them […]

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Solutions: Scott Walker mulls school bathroom gender mandate [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Stay in your lane

A government mandate (even at the state or local level) is rarely the preferred method for dealing with problems, but we may have come across the exception that proves the rule. In Wisconsin, Republican legislators have been keeping an eye on the mess which has erupted in schools across the nation where a handful of […]

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Quotes of the day [Hot Air » Top Picks]


House Speaker John Boehner “seemed to have no inkling on Thursday that his deputy, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, was preparing to withdraw from the speaker’s race,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Said Boehner, a few minutes before the vote: “I’m confident he’ll win today and I’m confident he’ll win on Oct. 29.” *** In the meeting, McCarthy’s […]

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McCaskill: How dare you criticize Hillary for claiming TPP as an achievement and then opposing it! [Hot Air » Top Picks]

“Everybody evolves on positions!"

Sharks gotta swim, bats gotta fly, and surrogates gotta go on the attack to quash criticism of The Queen, or something. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) showed up on Morning Joe with a 4×8-sized chip on her shoulder for the criticism Hillary Clinton was getting for her flip-flop on TPP. Lots of people change positions, McCaskill […]

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Does the Iran nuclear deal violate federal law? [Hot Air » Top Picks]

"Alice-in-Wonderland bootstrapping."

The nuclear deal with Iran may run afoul of federal law — a statute signed into law by none other than Barack Obama himself. Fox News’ James Rosen points out that the JCPOA explicitly requires the US to license economic opportunities for American firms, or at least their foreign subsidiaries. But the Obama administration may […]

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Pew: 66% of Republicans favor legal status for illegals if they meet certain requirements [Hot Air » Top Picks]


Every few months Pew cranks out a poll showing GOPers surprisingly warm to the idea of letting illegals stay, and every few months we scratch our heads and try to make sense of the numbers. I gave it my best shot back in June, the last time they surveyed this issue. Ask Republicans about various […]

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Newt Gingrich: If 218 Republicans wanted me to be Speaker again, I’d have to serve [Hot Air » Top Picks]

"You show up with 218 votes, I'll talk to you,"

I think we have no choice now but to make him Speaker. Apparently, he’s the only man in America who’d accept the job. Good point from Twitter pal “Political Math”: Having Newt back in the House would be a lovely complement to the retro 90s Bush/Clinton election that’s in the offing. “I’m not laughing at […]

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Baltimore still paying off accusers of the police department [Hot Air » Top Picks]

Hush money

After the city of Baltimore paid off the family of Freddie Gray before the accused officers had even stepped into a courtroom you may have been hopeful that this was simply a one off, poor decision on the part of City Hall. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case and the move may have […]

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Model this, basketball defense [Marginal REVOLUTION]

The veteran forward [Jared Dudley] explained concessions are sometimes necessary and the Suns purposely awarded opponents easy buckets occasionally to speed games up, which he emphasized the Wizards are not considering.

Here is more from Jorge Castillo, who is writing about the desire of the Wizards to speed up their offense, and take more three point shots, and all that entails.

Is the way forward here to model the Suns, the Wizards, Dudley, or all of the above?

Robocoach the culture that is Singapore [Marginal REVOLUTION]


Named Robocoach, the fitness-minded cyborg will be deployed to over 20 senior activity centres to help caregivers run exercise classes for residents.

The project is sponsored by Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority as part of the government’s Smart Nation plan — a large-scale multibillion dollar government initiative to use Internet technologies to modernise different facets of Singaporean life and infrastructure.

There is more here.

*Chicagonomics: The Evolution of Chicago Free Market Economics* [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is the new book from Lanny Ebenstein, I found it well-written and useful.  You can read about Henry Simons, the Cowles Commission, Hayek, Jacob Marschak, of course Milton Friedman, and much mmore.  Friedman, by the way, originally had intended to become an actuary.

Here is Friedman on Hayek from an Ebenstein interview from 1995:

Q: How would you describe Hayek personally?

A: In terms of his personal characteristics, Hayek was a very complicated personality.  He was by no means a simple person.  He was very outgoing in one sense but at the same time very private.  He did not like criticism, but he never showed that he didn’t like criticism.  His attitude under criticism, as I found, was to say: “Well, that’s a very interesting thing. At the moment, I am busy, but I’ll write to you about it more later.”  And then he never would!

Friedman is extremely frank about Hayek in this interview, and repeatedly mentions that he objected to how Hayek treated his first wife.  I have never seen Friedman be so negative, or for that matter so emotionally involved, and when it comes to The Fatal Conceit he simply avers: “It’s not up to Hayek at his best.”

You can then turn to two pages of Paul Samuelson, in a letter to Ebenstein, criticizing Milton Friedman.  Ebenstein, by the way, argues that Friedman is essentially a left-wing, utilitarian thinker.

New York prison inmates beat Harvard debate team [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Months after winning a national title, Harvard’s debate team has fallen to a group of New York prison inmates.

The showdown took place at the Eastern Correctional Facility in New York, a maximum-security prison where convicts can take courses taught by faculty from nearby Bard college, and where inmates have formed a popular debate club. Last month they invited the Ivy League undergraduates and this year’s national debate champions over for a friendly competition.

The Harvard debate team was crowned world champions in 2014. But the inmates are building a reputation of their own. In the two years since they started a debate club, the prisoners have beaten teams from the US military academy at West Point and the University of Vermont. The competition with West Point, which is now an annual affair, has grown into a rivalry.

At Bard, those who helped teach the inmates were not particularly surprised by their success.

And what did they debate?

Against Harvard the inmates had to defend a position they opposed: they had to argue that public schools should be allowed to turn away students whose parents entered the US illegally. The inmates brought up arguments that the Harvard team had not considered. Three students from Harvard’s team responded, and a panel of neutral judges declared the inmates victorious.

Note that the inmates learn without the help of the internet.  The article is here, pointer from Phil Hill.  Here is confirmation of the story.

Addendum: Here is commentary on how it might have happened.

The Supreme Court’s Alarming Decision Curbing Free Speech [Ordered Liberty]


This image provided by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles shows the design of a proposed Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate. The Supreme Court has upheld Texas’ refusal to issue a license plate bearing the Confederate battle flag, rejecting a free-speech challenge. The court said Thursday that Texas can limit the content of license plates because they are state property and not the equivalent of a bumper sticker. (AP photo and caption.)

The Supreme Court today accelerated the dangerous erosion of First Amendment protection, making way for government censorship of expression that does not conform to its preferences. In Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, the sharply divided Court ruled that the state of Texas could constitutionally engage in viewpoint discrimination by prohibiting a specialty license plate that depicted the Confederate flag.

You’re thinking, “What’s the harm?” After all, that flag is deemed by many – perhaps most (though I’ve done no research on the matter) – to be an offensive symbol of racism and slavery. Even if everyone doesn’t see it that way, enough do, and passionately so; thus, why should the state not ban the flag’s appearance on property that is issued by the government itself?

This, indeed, was the rationale of the five-justice majority — an interesting mix of the Court’s four consistent liberals (Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the opinion, and Justices Ruth Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) with one of its staunchest conservatives, Justice Clarence Thomas. Reasoning that license plates — specialty or not — are “government speech,” Justice Breyer concluded that the state has the power, unregulated by the First Amendment, to express its views on matters of policy.

But is it really “government speech”? In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito (joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy) pointed out that the state has licensed some 350 specialty plates, some of which cannot conceivably be statements of government policy (e.g., “Rather Be Golfing”; “NASCAR – 24 Jeff Gordon”; “Young Lawyers”; “Get It Sold With Remax”; and “University of Oklahoma” – a major football rival of Texas schools – as well as several other out-of-state institutions). In fact, the dissent pointed out, the state has also authorized a plate honoring “Buffalo Soldiers,” African American soldiers originally of the Army’s post-Civil War 20th Cavalry Regiment. While that outfit would be broadly popular no doubt, the plate offends at least some Native Americans, who protested that they felt the same way about the cavalry as African Americans did about the Confederacy.

The point, of course, is that although the state is the issuer of the license plates (which it requires all automobiles registered in Texas to display), the speech expressed on the specialty plates is associated with the private parties who propose, select, and exhibit the plates. Therefore, it is not reasonably understood as government speech; it is private speech that the government is regulating – and government has no business using its regulatory authority to favor or disfavor competing points of view.

Some Students ‘Offended’ by Clemson’s ‘Maximum Mexican’ Food Day [The PJ Tatler]

Here’s something you don’t see every day: people protesting Mexican food as “culturally insensitive” to Mexicans.

Well, maybe we do see it every day but because we’re so used to it, our sensibilities have been numbed by the totally predictable response of the Outrage Brigade on campuses.

I hate Mexican food (but I love Mexicans) so I don’t have a dog in this show. But what is truly fascinating about this incident is that the overwhelming majority of students love the food and love the idea of having a day devoted to Mexican cuisine.

But because of a handful of people claiming to be “offended,” the school administration apologized.

Campus Reform:

Clemson University issued an apology to students on Thursday after what appears to be a small group of students were offended by an annual Mexican cuisine event put on by university dining services.

Clemson Dining’s “Maximum Mexican” night, has become a student favorite over the last several years, and this year was no different.

Everything was going great. Students were loving the food and festivities. Except for two students, who took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the school’s decision to host such a “#CUlturallyInsensitive” event.

While a few on Twitter were offended, the overwhelming preponderance of students registered absolutely no reaction at all. The one student who did respond to the Twitter complaints wrote, “I’m offended that you’re offended. #CUfiestafiasco.”

Clemson senior Austin Pendergist told Campus Reformhe felt the post-event uproar was “ridiculous.”

“This is something that Clemson Dining has done for years without any sort of backlash. People love the cultural nights in the dining halls,” Pendergist said. “What’s next? Are they going to take away all potato based food as to not offend students from Irish decent? Remove the stir fry station so Asian-American students don’t feel as if they are being misrepresented? When does it end?”

The university, however, took a different position. Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, Clemson University’s Senior Associate Vice President of Student Affairs apologized for the event’s “flattened cultural view of Mexican culture.”

“It is the mission of University Housing & Dining to create supportive and challenging environments that enrich and nourish lives. We failed to live out our mission yesterday, and we sincerely apologize,” Hallenbeck said.

Dr. Hallenbeck went on to promise that the university “will continue to work closely with [its] food service provider to create dining programs that align with Clemson University’s core values.”

You can imagine cuisine that aligns with “Clemson University’s core values.” Oatmeal with Zwieback and Jello? Or perhaps you could really be culturally diverse and mix and match various cuisines. How about a borscht-filled taco? Corned beef and haggis? Stir-fried wiener schnitzel?


If Clemson was only picking on Mexicans, I might understand. But these culture-themed food nights are a regular occurrence at the school:

The event, which Pendergist said consisted of “a couple balloons, sombreros, and some tacos,” is one of many culturally themed events put on by the Clemson Dining Services throughout the year. For one such event, the university held an event titled “Low Country BBQ Bash,” where students were invited to “Pick up a plate of mighty fine fixins.”

The university has also previously held St. Patrick’s Day-themed events, where students were invited to a dinner of “cornbeef, fried fish, and Irish grilled cheese.” Both those events, it seems, were uncontroversial.

No doubt the decorations for Irish night include drunk leprechauns and a lot of shamrocks. I’d get outraged but I’m proud of my Irish heritage and admire drunk leprechauns.

I would say to the students who made this ridiculous protest — get a life. And to the administrator who apologized — grow a pair.

16 Signs of a Great Mexican Restaurant 

Europe Riots: Mass Outrage Over Mass Immigration [The PJ Tatler]

Hundreds of thousands of self-proclaimed refugees from the Middle East (many of them are actually gold diggers who are coming to Europa in order to live off the government’s dime) have arrived in Europe in recent months. This mass exodus out of especially Syria has been partially fueled by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise that her country would take in all the refugees it had to take in.

The only problem? She got more than she bargained for. Much more. And the same goes for the rest of Europe.

In fact, so many “refugees” have made their way to the Old Continent that West European governments are having a hard time dealing with them. In the Netherlands alone, refugee centers are overwhelmed. As a result, the Dutch government has now announced that many refugees with a residence permit will be moved into normal homes. This means that these newly arrived immigrants will live in houses originally meant for Dutch citizens. The latter may have been waiting on waiting lists for years, but to no avail; refugees are given priority.

As a result of the exponential growth of refugee centers and the housing issues, the normally complacent Dutch citizens have started to riot. And no, I don’t mean that figuratively: they’re literally blocking roads and even attacking government officials, as happened a few days ago in the small town of Oranje. Undersecretary of Asylum Klaas Dijkhoff visited the town last Tuesday to explain why the local refugee center had to take in 700 extra asylum seekers. The result? Inhabitants of Oranje blocked highways leading into their town, and even attacked the undersecretary’s car. The woman in the picture below threw herself in front of his car when he tried to leave — which made her famous.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 13.46.10

What’s most remarkable about this is that the protesters are normal people, not diehard activists with a long history of anti-immigrant activities. The reason, of course, is that the average Dutchman is fed up. This is no fringe movement; the protesters gave voice to the worries and anger of ordinary Dutch voters. They’ve had enough. They’re no longer willing to sit and be quiet while their neighborhoods, villages and cities are transformed beyond all recognition because of mass immigration.

$500 Million Program that Only Trained ’4 or 5′ Syrian Rebels Scrapped by Pentagon [The PJ Tatler]

Your tax dollars at work.

The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the beleaguered effort had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria.

Pentagon officials announced the end of the program on Friday, as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter left London after meetings with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, about the continuing wars in Syria and Iraq.

The closing of the program comes as the administration’s attention is shifting to northwestern Syria, where it hopes to assemble a group of Sunni tribes in a “Syrian Arab Coalition” to fight alongside Syrian Kurdish forces against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

To say the program was a failure would be an understatement:

The change makes official what those in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the administration have been saying for several weeks would most likely happen, particularly in the wake of revelations that the program at one point last month had only “four or five” trainees in the fight in Syria — a far cry from the plan formally started in December to prepare as many as 5,400 fighters this year, and 15,000 over the next three years.

Even Common Core math can easily figure the cost per fighter on that one.

It’s been nigh on impossible for the administration to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys in Syria, so they’ve taken a “hope these dudes are less awful” approach.

On the flipside, Russia knows exactly who it wants to back, and it’s making things even messier.

U.S. Officials Say Iran Nuke Deal Violates Federal Law (Video) [The PJ Tatler]

Fox News is reporting that “some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal” have concluded that the Iran nuke deal violates federal law, in part because of legislation that President Barack Obama himself signed into law in 2012.

“Complicated legal language” in the existing federal statute “could jeopardize” a key sanctions-relief provision in the agreement — a concession to Iran that opens up tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with Iran.

James Rosen had the exclusive on Special Report Thursday evening.

At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.

What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction

Click here to view the embedded video.

To pass the nuke deal, the president had to use executive privilege and go through the UN because he knew he would have lost a treaty fight in the Senate. Now it appears that the president is willing to violate his own federal law so that the Islamic Republic of Iran, a leading sponsor of terrorism, can receive billions of U.S. dollars.

This White House of course isn’t known to be deterred by trivial things like existing federal laws and statutes, so it’s extremely doubtful that the Obama administration will alter its course.

State Department spokesman John Kirby swatted away concerns over the issue, telling reporters on Thursday that Secretary Kerry is “confident” that the administration “has the authority to follow through on” the commitment to re-open the foreign-subsidiary loophole.

“Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the president has broad authorities, which have been delegated to the secretary of the Treasury, to license activities under our various sanctions regimes, and the Iran sanctions program is no different,” Kirby said.

Under the Obama administration’s definition of “broad authorities,” is there anything Obama can’t do, if he wishes to do it?

No Truth in Truth says CBS [The PJ Tatler]

First came that movie about the CIA lady, um, what’s her name, you know, the one that evil Dick Cheney or somebody tried to “out.” Yeah,  what’s her name. Now along comes a film about crazy Dan “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” Rather and his hitherto obscure producer, Mary Mapes, at CBS News. Variety reports:

The upcoming movie, starring Cate Blanchett as producer Mary Mapes and Robert Redford as Dan Rather, is an unwelcome reminder of past mistakes for several people who lived through the saga of the 2004 “60 Minutes II” report on President George W. Bush’s time in the Texas Air National Guard. Some who are depicted in the controversial film, which is based on Mapes’ 2005 book “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power,” are critical of the conclusions drawn by the veteran investigative journalist.

“It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth,’” a CBS spokesman said in response to Variety’s inquiry. “There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all. The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom. That’s a disservice not just to the public but to journalists across the world who go out every day and do everything within their power, sometimes at great risk to themselves, to get the story right.”

CBS’ ire and the response from the “Truth” filmmakers and distributor Sony Pictures Classics crystallizes the central debate about the incident that has been re-ignited by the film. Was the problem behind the “60 Minutes II” report an issue of corporate interference with the pursuit of a sensitive story? Or was it journalistic mistakes that compromised the reputation of a trusted news outlet and its primary public face, namely Rather?

Or maybe — just maybe — it was the result of an out-of-control, frothing leftist “journalist” who was determined to try and change the course of a national election with obviously fraudulent documents. Courage.


‘The Devil Has the People By the Throat’ [The PJ Tatler]

Click here to view the embedded video.

This quote from the movie Casablanca always comes to mind when I read stories like this one:

Sitting on a shabby green sofa somewhere in the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, Iraq, the militants laugh and joke as one of them films their excited chatter.  ”Today is the female sex slave market day, which has been ordained,” explains a skinny, black-clad Jihadi, gesturing at the camera. ”With Allah’s permission, each will get a share,” promises another of the fighters. ”Where is my Yazidi girl?” asks the first, a wide grin splitting his straggly-bearded face.

In ISIS territory, Yazidi women can be bought and sold for money, bartered for weapons, even given as a gift; but this is not a simple commercial transaction — ISIS has made rape and slavery part and parcel of its — brutal — theology. ”ISIS fighters told us, ‘This is the rule of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and we must do it,’” Noor explains. “[They said] ‘Anyone who doesn’t convert to Islam, we will kill the males and marry the girls. They are the spoils of war. ‘”

The Yazidis are an ancient people, followers of a unique religion that blends elements of Islam, Judaism and Christianity with even more ancient practices, including sun worship.

It’s not just the “extremists” of ISIS who use rape as a weapon of military policy; that’s been true of militant Islam throughout its history. A western society that believes in its own professed values would make short work of these barbarians, but we don’t seem to want to — so you figure it out.

Ingrate ‘Migrants’ at Calais Raise Charitable Ire [The PJ Tatler]

The soft-headed Eloi of Europe are finally waking up to what those niggardly conservatives have known all along: good intentions never trump reality.

The Human Relief Foundation (HRF) has been giving aid to the migrant camp with the belief that its occupants are fleeing war-torn countries like Syria. However, the charity decided to pull the plug after its deputy chief executive Kassim Tokan recently paid a visit to Calais. The shocked deputy claimed he discovered unwanted clothing and food “being dumped and burnt” by migrants. Mr Tokan said: “I thought they have valid reason, but most of them they haven’t any valid reason… they want to go [to the UK] to get money, a better economic situation.”

He also said that 95 to 97 per cent of migrants in the camp were young, fit men – some of whom allegedly told him they were happy to stay in the camp. Mr Tokan added the HRF will now turn its attention to helping Syrians trapped in neighbouring Labanon and Jordan, claiming migrants at Calais no longer need the help.He told ITV: “They have enough food, they have enough clothes and we have seen clothes everywhere thrown.”

How about that. We saw the same thing earlier, in Hungary.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Here’s the kicker, though:

“I think we need to find other places. These people come from certain countries, which are safe, everything is there, they can work, but I don’t know why they came here.”

Anybody want to help him out?

Obama ‘Seriously Considering’ Using Executive Authority to Tighten Gun Laws [The PJ Tatler]

The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama is considering an end run around Congress to make some changes to existing gun laws.  In particular, he is considering “imposing new background-check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume gun dealers.”

Under Obama’s proposed executive fiat, dealers who sell more than an arbitrary number of guns will need to obtain a license from the ATF and perform background checks on consumers.

This latest overreach comes on the heels of a tragic shooting at the gun-free Umpqua Community College.  Obama has asked his team “to scrub what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

“We are hopeful we can find a way to do this,” said one senior administration official, who noted that lawyers were still working through details to ensure that the rule could pass legal muster. “It’s a lot more clear today than it was a year ago how to work this out.”

So what’s on Obama’s executive action agenda that will presumably stop the gun violence?

“The proposed executive action aims to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year. The current federal statute dictates that those who are ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing firearms need to obtain a federal license — and, therefore, conduct background checks — but exempts anyone ‘who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.’ ”

We now know that the Oregon shooter purchased his weapons legally and passed a background check to do so. “All were traced to a federal firearms dealer,” said Celinez Nunez, an agent with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Sandy Hook shooter stole weapons from his mother.

The Aurora movie theater shooter bought his guns legally and passed a  background check.

The man who shot former congresswoman and gun-control activist Gabrielle Giffords passed a background check.

The man who shot two Virgina journalists live on the air passed a background check.

So, what is the purpose of Obama’s proposed expanded background checks? Do we have any evidence that expanding the definition of a gun dealer will decrease gun violence?

This is just another useless, empty gesture that inconveniences law-abiding citizens and doesn’t deter criminals and lunatics.

Christian Persecution, Not Guns, Is the Real UCC Story




Salute to Newt: Chris Farley’s Impersonation on House Floor Celebrating 1994 Speaker’s First 100 Days [The PJ Tatler]

Click here to view the embedded video.

With John Boehner expiring, Kevin McCarthy reshelved, and Drudge touting Sean Hannity’s interview courting Newt Gingrich as the next speaker of the House (again), a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires a brief review of Chris Farley as Newt.

On Tuesday, April 4, 1995, the House Republican Conference celebrated the Republican majority’s first 100 days in office by bringing in a special guest speaker–as the speaker. A young John Boehner, then-chairman of the Republican Conference, opened the session by introducing Speaker Gingrich. But as the real Newt took the podium, an imposter entered the room, to much applause, and displaced him.

Chris Farley, who used to parody Newt Gingrich on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, began his remarks by showing off a few books he was reading and wished to recommend, including Danielle Steel’s “Chances” and Jackie Collins’ “Hollywood Husbands.”

Among the official business conducted under Speaker Farley:

  • Passing the famous Contract with America, without counting votes, or opening the Contract from its sealed manila envelope.
  • Declaring all Democrats “officially weird.”
  • Prevailing upon Congressman Sonny Bono to take the podium and sing “I Got You, Newt.”

When the real Newt was permitted to join Farley on the floor, the latter administered to the former a new speaker’s oath containing two notable pledges: “not to kill Big Bird,” and that Gingrich’s next book would “be way less boring than Al Gore’s.”

The oath concluded with a promise to see “Tommy Boy,” starring Chris Farley.

If, in a bizarre twist of fate, circumstances should conspire to reinstate Newt Gingrich as speaker, he will have to go it alone. Chris Farley died in 1997.

Obama: Critics Thought Bin Laden at Large Was ‘Golden Era,’ Then ‘I Messed It All Up’ [The PJ Tatler]

President Obama quipped at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala tonight that his critics deemed Osama on the loose as “the golden age” which he then came and messed up.

The gala at the Washington Convention Center included HUD Secretary Julian Castro — Hillary Clinton’s potential running mate pick who got some “VP!” chants from the crowd.

“This president came into office saying ‘si, se puede,’” Castro said. “…He’s championed the issues important to Latinos like no one who’s sat in the Oval Office before.”

Castro called Obama “the best friend that Latinos have had in the Oval Office.”

Obama began his  address by rattling off his standard accomplishment talking points, from the unemployment rate to Obamacare to reversing “a Cold War mentality” with Cuba.

“When I took office, hardworking young people -– Americans in every way but on paper –- lived in constant fear of deportation. Today, more than 680,000 DREAMers live and study and work freely and openly in the country they’ve always called home,” he said. “…And the deferred action policies I announced last year will help millions of mothers and fathers remain in the United States of America with their families –- and although it is taking us longer than we hoped, I know we’re on the right side of the law and we are going to keep fighting to prove it.”

He continued: “More Americans are graduating from college. The deficits are down by two-thirds. The amount of foreign oil we buy is down. Teen pregnancy is down. All of which makes you wonder: Why are some of the folks who are running for my office so down on America?”

Obama lamented that “by most measures, we are better off now than we were seven years ago” never comes up in GOP debates.

“I mean, they have invented this new reality where everything was terrific back in 2008 -– when the unemployment and uninsured rates were rising and DREAMers lived in fear of deportation and we were engaged in two wars, and bin Laden was still at large. That was the golden era, apparently, the good old days,” Obama said to laughter from the audience. “And then I came along and messed it all up.”

He added that “there is nowhere where [Republicans] want to go further backwards than on immigration.”

Obama said the GOP would be better off if the party “got the message” from George W. Bush on immigration reform.

“Leadership is not fanning the flames of intolerance, and then acting all surprised when a fire breaks out.  Saying clearly inflammatory things and then saying, well, that’s not what I meant — until you do it again, and again, and again,” he said. “So we’ve got to decide whether or not we, as Americans, are willing to stand up against this kind of bigotry.”

“…When I hear folks talking as if somehow those kids are different from my kids, as if they’re less worthy in the eyes of God, that somehow their families are less worthy of our respect and consideration and care, as if somehow back in the day everybody had their papers in order when they came here, but now suddenly nobody has their papers in order, I believe we’re better than that.”


Ben Carson Jumps Shark: Open to Federal Control Over State Elections [The PJ Tatler]

Ben Carson is a good guy. He’d make a great secretary of Health and Human Services.  But after what he told CNN today, no constitutional conservative should support him for president.

For a change Jeb Bush was right and Ben Carson was dead wrong.

Carson told CNN that he is open to reviving federal control over state elections through the Voting Rights Act. CNN:

Ben Carson said Thursday that he wants the Voting Rights Act protected, adding he’d like to hear Jeb Bush explain why he does not support its reauthorization. “Of course I want the Voting Rights Act to be protected. Whether we still need it or not or whether we’ve outgrown the need for it is questionable,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Maybe we have, maybe we haven’t. But I wouldn’t jeopardize it.”

This is precisely what the racial-interest groups and the Democrats want — giving an attorney general like Eric Holder revived power to block state election laws by edict, as they did to Texas and South Carolina voter ID and citizenship verification in Florida and Georgia.

To recap, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 forced 16 states to obtain federal approval for every election law change no matter how big or how small.  When a polling placed moved from a school library to a school gym, Washington, D.C., had to approve.  The Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 ruled that such federal oversight upset the constitutional balance by using  circumstances from 50 years ago to justify federal intrusion into state power, and the Court extinguished the oversight.

Since then, the institutional left has sought to reassert federal power because it helps Democrats win elections.  For example, prior to the 2012 presidential race, the Justice Department stopped Florida from checking for noncitizens on the rolls.  In 2009, the DOJ blocked Kinston, North Carolina, from having non-partisan elections because, as the DOJ said, if the word “Democrat” is not next to the name of the candidate, black voters won’t know for whom to vote.

This is the madness that Carson is open to resurrecting.

Perhaps he doesn’t know that the entire Voting Rights Act is still in force, save for the federal pre-approval rule struck down by the Supreme Court.  I’d wager that Jeb Bush and the other top-tier candidates know that.

Carson was already suspiciously naive about the role and agenda of racial-interest groups regarding electoral issues. Earlier this year Carson appeared at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention.

Carson and Sharpton

Carson and Sharpton

The National Action Network is a racial-interest group of the first order, routinely stoking racial tensions and dividing Americans along color lines.  Some have indicated that Carson sought to sway minds, but that explanation only exacerbates the questions surrounding Carson’s understanding of these issues.  Anyone familiar with the National Action Network knows how immune it is to being swayed by opposing viewpoints.

Carson said he “has the same goal” as Sharpton.  Really? Either Carson is frightfully naive, or conservatives should be very concerned about Ben Carson.

Perhaps Carson will walk his comment back about federal control over state elections.  Perhaps he will explain that he didn’t fully understand the issue.  That’s precisely the problem.  Being receptive to empowering bureaucrats to block state election laws is a nonstarter for constitutional conservatives, especially ones who have been paying attention to the abuses of Eric Holder’s Justice Department.



Steady Ted Cruz Raises $12.2 Million for Third Quarter [The PJ Tatler]

Via Reuters:

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz raised $12.2 million in the third quarter, the Associated Press reported on Thursday, citing a campaign aide.

The Texas senator has raised a total of $26.5 million since entering the race in late March for the 2016 Republican nomination, AP said.

Cruz’s total for the three months ended Sept. 30 was more than double that of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another contender in the crowded Republican field. Rubio’s campaign raised $6 million in the third quarter, a source said earlier on Thursday, citing campaign officials.

Largely because he has opted to avoid the almost hourly Trump drama that other candidates get sucked into despite an almost complete lack of upside, Cruz hasn’t been grabbing headlines. He’s obviously still grabbing cash though, and that is probably all he intends to do at the moment.

As we have mentioned here before, Cruz is playing the long game here, and is focused on next March 1st, when he hopes the southerns states’ primaries will boost him to the front of what still may be a crowded GOP pack.

This strategy might not seem as plausible if his “I’ll just be over here while you guys scream at Trump” approach wasn’t bringing in any campaign money. If this keeps up, he should hit March well-funded, rested and ready.

Thousands Expected to Protest Obama’s Roseburg Visit [The PJ Tatler]

Several groups plan to protest President Barack Obama’s visit to Roseburg, Oregon, on Friday.

Many residents of the conservative community are not happy with the president because he politicized the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College before all the bodies had even been identified. David Jaques, publisher of the conservative Roseburg Beacon, put out the word earlier this week that the president would not be welcome in his town because he was coming to further his anti-gun agenda.

On Monday, Jaques told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he had talked to “dozens and dozens of citizens, some family members of the victims, our elected officials.”

He said Douglas County commissioners, the sheriff, and the chief of police had signed a letter stating the the president would not be welcome in Roseburg to grandstand for political purposes.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page called “Defend Roseburg — Deny Barack Obama” emerged this week outlining plans for a protest at 11 a.m. on Friday before the president’s early afternoon arrival.

So far, 7,600 people have indicated that they will be  ”going” to the rally, and another 3,400 have said “maybe.”

The organizers stress that they want a peaceful protest and have asked those attending to behave in an appropriate manner so that 2nd Amendment supporters are not put in a bad light.

“Conduct yourselves like adults,” the event description reads. “Show the nation and the world a strong force of principled, good, responsible patriots. Represent yourself and the country with excellence because the world is truly watching.”The organizers also recognize that gun control opponents will express themselves by carrying weapons.”If you choose to carry a firearm that is your right. Be safe, be responsible. We suggest that you carry a handgun as opposed to a rifle, but again, you have the right to carry what you wish. Whatever you carry, keep it holstered/secure. Show the world that American gun owners are responsible patriots. Look out for each other.”

The Douglas County Tea Party announced that at least two separate protests are planned, with the intention of showing support for County Sheriff John Hanlin, an outspoken opponent of additional restrictions on gun ownership.

The White House insists that this will not be a political visit, but rather a private one for the president to “console” the grieving families.

“I hope that’s the case,” Chris Boice, a Douglas County commissioner, told Bill O’Reilly earlier this week. “It’s difficult to judge one’s motives, but the president has been very clear since the beginning of this that he has an agenda about gun control.”

Boice added that “if the president is truly coming to visit the families, that’d be great.”

O’Reilly asked Boice if he knew how the families of the victims were feeling about the visit.

The commissioner answered that the victims’ family members he had spoken to sounded much like “what we’ve heard already.” He also claimed that one young man told told him he had no interest in talking to the president “about political issues.”

O’Reilly asked if it was true that Umpqua shooting hero Chris Mintz, who was shot by the killer seven times, had indicated he was “not interested” in meeting with Obama.

Is Paul Ryan the GOP’s Speaker White Knight? [The PJ Tatler]

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is now being intensively courted for Speaker of House, but will he give in to the wooing?

Ryan wasn’t having it this morning.

“Kevin McCarthy is best person to lead the House, and so I’m disappointed in this decision,” he said in response to the majority leader announcing he won’t run. “Now it is important that we, as a conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and others reportedly got to work quickly on turning that “no” around.

And Boehner also reiterated he’ll stick around until the caucus can decide on his replacement.

“I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker. We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks,” Boehner said. “Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.”

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who used to head the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN this evening that Ryan started the day as a “no” but is now possibly hovering around “maybe.”

“If he even gets to maybe that will nullify all the other candidates,” Rogers predicted, adding that he believes Ryan is the only one who can unite the GOP factions.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), who received 12 votes including his own in the last speaker election, told CNN he won’t drop out of the race if Ryan jumps in.

The only other declared candidate is House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who jumped into the race last weekend after concluding that the math didn’t add up in McCarthy’s favor.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told MSNBC that Ryan, who has canceled his fundraisers for the next couple of days, can get votes as a “very solid conservative” who hasn’t “burned any bridges.”

“Maybe we can persuade Paul. Paul is — again, he ran for vice president, he’s a real conscience of the party. So I would strongly support Paul. I know many people have said that, but I can understand why, if he says he does not want to run, but again I can tell you there’s a lot of support for Paul,” King said.

King added there’s also good support for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who would be the first Native American speaker of the House. But Cole is a strong Boehner ally who generates backlash from the Freedom Caucus wing.

Ryan released the book Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders with McCarthy and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in 2010. Since running unsuccessfully on the Romney presidential ticket in 2012, he’s made the most Capitol Hill headlines for drafting a budget with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

Just yesterday Ryan told MSNBC that he thought McCarthy “basically comes from the new generation of young conservative leaders; he’s a very good consensus builder, he’s a very good listener, and I think he has the skills to unite our conference.”

“We are a big conference, a big tent party. And I think he has demonstrated that he has the skills to unite our conference around a common cause and be an effective conservative,” Ryan said.

“There are a lot of conservatives here. What I want as speaker is someone who’s an effective conservative at bringing a positive agenda forward for the country so we can show the country how we would do things differently if we had the ability to get all of these reforms that we want to pass in the law.”

Ryan praised McCarthy’s “consensus-building” and stressed that “if you’re the speaker of the House, that’s one of the top skills that’s required of the job.”

“At the end of the day, we have to keep our eye on the prize. And that is, we need to win 2016, we need to show the country how we would do things different, how we would save the country from the dangerous track it’s on. And that’s the kind of majority, I think, we need to have. And I think that’s the kind of majority Kevin McCarthy can help lead us to,” he said.

McCarthy told reporters today that he changed his mind in the span of a few hours because “I don’t want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes.”

“I think the best thing for our party right now is that you have 247 votes on the floor. If we’re going to be strong, we have to be 100 percent united. And I think, you know what, let’s put the conference first. Because that’s what this is,” McCarthy said.

“I’ve been talking with a number of members. We’ve been thinking about this throughout the week trying to see if we can get there. I just think it’s best we have a new face.”

Said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) after McCarthy’s announcement: “I don’t know why anybody would want the job, frankly.”

NBC Developing Dramedy Inspired by Wendy Davis [The PJ Tatler]

Set your calendars to “YAWN”.

Texas Democratic politician Wendy Davis made national headlines in 2013, filibustering anti-abortion legislation in the local Senate. Now the former Texas Senator is poised for more national attention as the inspiration for a dramedy series in development at NBC.

Written by Jennifer Cecil, the untitled project centers on a female Democratic Senator who, after losing the Texas governor’s race, gets her world turned upside down. In the vein of The Good Wife, while she pieces her pride back together, she goes to work in the law firm of her best friend — a black, male Republican — and discovers that with no political future to protect, she can unshackle her inner badass.

This is where the entertainment industry provides far more value for Democrats than the big cash fundraisers ever could. In the real world, a gold-digging loser like Davis would be quickly, and rightfully, forgotten. But because she championed the number one pet issue of the left, she “inspires” the production of a television series. They’ll be invoking her name for decades to come, much like they find a reason to trot out Anita Hill every few years. She will become ingrained in leftist lore simply because she thinks any abortion laws are “restrictive”.

But she will still be a loser.

Asus GX700 deep-dive: Here's what's inside the world's first water-cooled gaming laptop [PCWorld]

Asus' GX700 gaming laptop sure turned a lot of heads when it was introduced at the IFA trade show, but the reason wasn't the hardware—or at least, it wasn't the type of hardware that people usually fawn over.

Sure, the GX700 has an overclockable, quad-core Skylake Core i7-6820HK CPU, Nvidia’s bad-ass GeForce GTX 980, a buttery-smooth G-Sync panel, and up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM, but the real story on this laptop is the water-cooling.

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Asus' gamer-centric RT-AC88U packs more ethernet ports than any other 802.11ac router [PCWorld]

Asus announced a slew of products designed to appeal to gamers this afternoon, but the one that interests me the most is the new RT-AC88U router. It’s a dual-band model that Asus claims will deliver up to 2.1Gbps of throughput on the 5GHz band and 1Gbps on the 2.4GHz band. But more noteworthy, this is the first consumer-oriented 802.11ac router to deliver more than four ethernet ports: The RT-AC88U has an eight-port gigabit switch.

The rest of the specs are more in line with what’s been available for several years now. There’s one USB 3.0 port for sharing storage over your network, and one USB 2.0 port for sharing a printer or scanner. Asus says the USB 3.0 port will be 20 percent faster than what’s been available in previous-generation routers “to achieve read speeds in excess of 100MB/s.” The Linksys WRT1900AC router I just reviewed delivered read speeds of nearly 90MB/s.

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Asus G752 revamps the ROG gaming laptop lineup with Skylake and Thunderbolt 3.0 [PCWorld]

If Asus’ over-the-top, water-cooled GX700 gaming laptop is too unconventional for you, the company has an answer: its new Republic of Gamers G752 laptop, a big and beefy G751 update that offers quad-core Skylake chips across its lineup. 

Asus said the change from the previous model includes a “Mobile 3D Vapor Chamber” cooling system. That essentially means the G752 now features dual heat pipes to independently cool the GPU and CPU.

Why this matters: While many gamers prefer the superior bang-for-your-buck that desktops provide, when you need gaming performance in a semi-portable package, a large 17-inch laptop is hard to beat. The G752's release ensures Asus' flagship ROG line offer the latest and greatest mobile hardware around. 

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Developers getting more help with heterogenous processors [PCWorld]

An effort to help developers get the most out of heterogeneous processors inched forward this week, promising to improve performance and reduce power consumption in applications for smartphones all the way up to high-performance computers.

Imagination Technologies, which designs the PowerVR graphics chips used in the iPhone as well as MIPS CPUs, said it would release its first products next year that comply with a set of specifications called the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture.

Chip companies ARM and MediaTek also said they're working on HSA products, though they didn't give a timeframe. They'll join AMD, which released the very first HSA-compliant product earlier this year, its Carrizo processor.

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Microsoft: the Display Dock for the Lumia 950XL and 950 will cost $99 [PCWorld]

Microsoft will charge $99 for an upcoming Display Dock device to connect next-generation Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL smartphones with full-sized keyboards and large desktop displays, a company spokeswoman told Computerworld late Thursday.

The device, roughly the size of a cigarette carton and with seven different ports, appears like your typical, lowly dock. However, Microsoft marketers have pointed out that the dock can turn a powerful Lumia smartphone into a near-fully functioning PC.

The new Lumia phones, expected to ship sometime in November, will run Windows 10, which is a cross-platform OS that runs on tablets, laptops and desktops as well. With the new OS, Microsoft has promoted the concept of unified apps that can work across various platforms under what it terms the Continuum concept.

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Here are the details of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 chips, and why they matter [PCWorld]

Microsoft has cleared up the mystery about what processors are inside the new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, and here’s the answer: The high-end Surface Pro 4 contains a dual-core Core i7 Skylake chip, while the Surface Book uses a faster, also dual-core, version.

Specifically, the high-end “clipboard” tablet portion of the Surface Book uses a dual-core Intel Core i7-6600U chip with Intel’s HD Graphics 520 integrated GPU inside, Microsoft confirmed. The premium version of the Surface Pro 4 uses a Core i7-6650U with Intel’s premium graphics, the Intel Iris 540.

Microsoft also confirmed some details of the GPU inside the base of the Surface Book. “[The] Surface Book with the optional discrete GPU uses a custom Nvidia GeForce GPU designed for Surface Book and based on the Maxwell architecture. Featuring 1GB GDDR5 high-speed memory, it was customized to deliver accelerated graphics performance within Surface Book’s versatile form factor,” Microsoft said in a statement.

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This week in games: Team Fortress 2 gets spooky, Fallout 4's PC specs revealed, more [PCWorld]

It’s a light week—not because there wasn’t game news, but because all the game news related to like, four games. Mostly Fallout with a dash of Team Fortress 2 added in for flavor, plus uh...Witcher 3 patch notes?

This is gaming news for the week of October 5 – 9.

A million voices cried out

Need something to play this weekend? Let this be your last reminder that the Battlefront beta is currently open to everyone, is free, and runs through October 12. If you want to pew-pew and “Use the force, Luke,” and “Ready, gold leader,” then the beta will give you a few solid hours of Star Wars action before the official release next month.

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Valve polishes up SteamOS 2.0 ahead of impending Steam Machine launch [PCWorld]

Valve’s Steam Machines will launch on November 10, and it looks like they’ll ship with the newly stable SteamOS 2.0. Those Steam mini-stores in GameStop will probably offer Steam Machines running software based on Debian 8 “Jessie.”

SteamOS 1.0—codename “Alchemist”—was originally released at the end of 2013. It was based on Debian 7.0 “Wheezy” and included a newer Linux kernel, proprietary Nvidia and AMD graphics drivers, and Valve’s Steam Big Picture mode provided as the default interface.

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Pick up some cool games for 10 cents each in the latest Play Store fire sale [PCWorld]

It’s Friday. Even if you have a job and stuff to do, there’s always time for some great games.

Head to the Google Play Store for some excellent games that will only cost you a dime. Here’s the list, with links to each game’s page in the Play Store.

Contre Jour is a personal favorite, with its great atmosphere and addictive gameplay. You should note that EA is ending support for Dead Space along with some other titles, but it’s still a great game and should work just fine.

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Five to Try: SwiftKey's brainy new keyboard, and Psych! might power your next party [PCWorld]

Here's another selection of useful apps and amusing games to check out.

12 extreme, obscenely expensive laptop bags [PCWorld]

Outrageously priced laptop bags01 luxury laptop intro

Image by Thinkstock

Did your startup just reach unicorn status? Win the lottery or otherwise come into a massive cash windfall? If so, you're probably ready for a splurge, and we've got some laptop bags for you.

All 12 of the following satchels are crazy expensive — starting at $2,350 —, and you simply won't believe the price tag on the most costly one. (Hint: eight digits.) The luxury items are organized from lowest to highest price. For this roundup, we also focused on bags that offer something a little different than your typical Tumi. We checked out a few of them in person at boutiques in San Francisco's Union Square, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the most expensive bags weren't in stock. One last note: Some of the options aren't made specifically for laptops, and we included their measurements so you can make sure your computer fits.    

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You can change drive letters, but know the risk of doing so [PCWorld]

Luke Lindsay wants to change his drive letters. But he’s worried about the problems it may cause.

Drive letters were part of the PC environment before they were called PCs. My first computer ran CP/M, and the two floppy drives were A: and B:. We’re still using drive letters today, but they’re more pliable—and they can also create more problems.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

As a test before writing this article, I changed my D: partition—the one where I keep my library files—to F:. Nothing worked. Windows couldn’t find my files. It couldn’t run Skype. Carbonite froze. Even my wallpaper went black. Changing the drive back to D: and finding everything good again was a big relief.

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Sony starts selling a TV remote with PlayStation controls built-in [PCWorld]

Sony is now selling a universal remote control for the PlayStation 4, which could come in handy for users who regularly flip to the console for streaming video.

Like other universal remotes, users can program Sony’s Universal Media Remote to control cable boxes, televisions, and audio receivers. The difference with Sony’s remote is that it has PlayStation controls built in, including face buttons, the PS button, and the Share button. It connects with the PlayStation 4 over Bluetooth, and can control up to three other devices (presumably via infrared blaster).

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Comcast Xfinity Home subscribers can now add Nest thermostats and other connected-home devices [PCWorld]

Some installations can be DIY projects, but anything involving the alarm system must be installed by a Comcast technician.

The Windows Control Panel will eventually be killed, says Microsoft [PCWorld]

As Microsoft continues to expand the Settings app in Windows 10, it’s possible that the old Control Panel’s days are numbered.

“Settings will eventually supersede Control Panel,” said Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft’s senior program manager on the Windows Insider program. LeBlanc explained on Twitter that Microsoft will keep adding more advanced options to the Settings app, with the goal of having one experience that’s consistent across all Windows devices, including phones and tablets.

The Settings app first debuted in Windows 8, but at the time it provided just bare-bones access to basic system options. Advanced options, such as File History backups and desktop program management, still required a trip to the Control Panel.

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Firefox will stop supporting plugins by end of 2016, following Chrome's lead [PCWorld]

Google Chrome recently dumped support for plugins such as Java and Silverlight, and now it’s Firefox’s turn. Late Thursday, Mozilla announced on its blog that Firefox would stop supporting plugins based on the Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) architecture by the end of 2016.

For many years, NPAPI plugins helped browsers add functionality such as gaming, rich interactive maps, and video support. But plugins also came with problems such as security vulnerabilities, stability issues, and performance drawbacks. The Web standards community overcame these problems by creating native functionality, such as HTML 5 video, in order to do away with plugins.

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iPhone 6s chips from TSMC and Samsung have similar battery life, says Apple [PCWorld]

Apple is downplaying reports that the iPhone 6s gets inferior battery life when its A9 processor is supplied by Samsung instead of TSMC.

Apple often sources its components from multiple suppliers, and in this case it’s relying on two manufacturers—Samsung and TSMC—to produce the A9 chip inside the iPhone 6s, as confirmed by Chipworks last month. Earlier this week, benchmark tests began popping up on Reddit and MacRumors showing significant battery life differences between the two sources.

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LogMeIn buying password manager LastPass [PCWorld]

Identity and access management specialist LogMeIn has agreed to buy Marvasol, the company behind online password store LastPass.

The companies expect to close the deal, valuing Marvasol at between US$110 million and $125 million, in a matter of weeks.

LogMeIn is firmly in the enterprise market, while Marvasol has been steadily extending the LastPass secure password storage tool in that direction, with password sharing and group access functions.

LastPass stores an encrypted version of its customers' passwords in the cloud, allowing them to unlock and access them with a single password from almost any Internet-connected device through either secure browser plugins or a web interface. The company offers apps for Android and iOS, as well as plugins for Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Using the service on a single device category is free; multiple categories requires a subscription.

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BlackBerry CEO may kill off BlackBerry phones if they don't make money next year [PCWorld]

The end of the BlackBerry handset is nigh—or at least it will be if the company can’t get its phone business in the black before 2016 is out. BlackBerry CEO John Chen already said he’d think about giving up on handsets if the company’s situation didn’t improve. At Code Mobile on Thursday, Chen added a loose deadline for the end of BlackBerry phones.

“Sometime next year we have to make our device business profitable, otherwise I have to rethink what I do there,” Chen said. “My job is to make sure the value of the company is protected and increases...Even if I’m not in the handset business, getting into providing security for Android lets us provide solutions via software.”

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Wi-Fi Alliance reaches for peace over unlicensed LTE [PCWorld]

A Wi-Fi Alliance workshop next month could start to lay the groundwork for peace between Wi-Fi and LTE promoters who have been arguing over potential interference.

If LTE and Wi-Fi can operate peacefully in unlicensed spectrum, mobile users should be able to get a better experience in in crowded areas whether they are using their carrier's service or a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The group will bring together representatives of both sides and lay out proposed guidelines for coexistence between Wi-Fi and LTE on unlicensed frequencies. The workshop, on Nov. 4 in Palo Alto, California, will be the first of several such meetings, the Alliance says.

The goal is to have every unlicensed LTE product tested on its ability to coexist with Wi-Fi. Those tests might be administered by the Wi-Fi Alliance or by another body, said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Alliance. 

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How to add tabs to File Explorer in Windows [PCWorld]

Adding tabs to File Explorer is one of the most-requested features for Windows 10. Despite users clamoring for it, Microsoft so far hasn’t delivered. But you don’t have to wait on Microsoft to get tabs in File Explorer. Heck, you don’t even have to be running Windows 10. If you’ve got Windows XP, 7, or 8 you can add tabs to Windows Explorer/File Explorer right now via the Clover 3 extension.

Even though it’s not officially supported, Clover 3 also works on Windows 10, and Vista users can probably give it a try too (but no promises since I haven’t tested it).

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U.S. will not seek legislation against encryption [PCWorld]

The U.S. administration will not seek legislation at this point to counter the encryption of communications by many technology services and product vendors, but will work on a compromise with industry, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.

"The administration is not seeking legislation at this time," Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said in a statement before a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Comey had previously asked for a "robust debate" on encryption of communications, saying that the technology could come in the way of his doing his job to keep people safe.

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Apple removes apps from App Store that could spy on your data traffic [PCWorld]

Apple on Thursday removed several apps from its store that it said could pose a security risk by exposing a person's Web traffic to untrusted sources.

The company recommended deleting the apps but did not name them, which may make it hard for people to know which apps put their data at risk.

The apps in question installed their own digital certificates on a person's Apple mobile device. It would enable the apps to terminate an encrypted connection between a device and a service and view the traffic, which is a potential security risk.

Most websites and many apps use SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layer/Transport Security Layer), a protocol that encrypts data traffic exchanged with a user. SSL/TLS is a cornerstone of Web security, ensuring data traffic that is intercepted is unreadable.

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New California law requires warrants for access to private communications [PCWorld]

California Governor Jerry Brown has approved a digital privacy bill that protects people from government access to private electronic communications without a warrant.

The new law, backed by a number of tech companies and civil liberties groups, requires a judge to approve such access to a person’s private information, including data from personal electronic devices, email, digital documents, text messages and location information.

The state houses the headquarters of a number of technology companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter, some of whom are seeing a jump in requests from state and federal law enforcement agencies for information on their customers.

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Many vulnerabilities in older Huawei 3G routers won't get patched [PCWorld]

Huawei doesn’t plan to patch more than a dozen models of 3G routers that have severe software vulnerabilities.

The flaws could allow an attacker to change DNS (Domain Name System) settings, upload new firmware without logging into the device and conduct a denial-of-service attack.

The models of affected routers, distributed by ISPs in 21 countries, are now considered out of Huawei’s support cycle, said Pierre Kim, a security researcher who found the issues and listed the models on his blog.

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Android TV: Is Google’s other living-room platform at a dead end? [PCWorld]

I’ve been enthusiastic about Android TV ever since Google first launched the platform a year ago.

The idea of Android TV is to take all the features of Google’s Chromecast dongle and add a full TV interface on top. That way, you get a traditional remote control when you want it, along with Google-powered voice search and recommendations. The concept intrigued me enough to buy an Nvidia Shield Android TV last May, and to make it my main living room set-top box even though it was rough around the edges at launch.

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15 times when people totally judge you for using your phone [PCWorld]

Checking your phone in a movie theater? We see you, and we do not approve.

10 enthralling visions for the future of computing [PCWorld]

For years, our personal computers were made up of monitors, keyboards, and a big beige box. Then laptops came along and changed everything—until a small, flat plate of glass encased in metal, dubbed the iPhone, showed up and changed everything again, followed shortly thereafter by an even larger plate of glass called the iPad that changed things even more.

As exciting as the iPad was, the original came to us five years ago. Today, we once again face major shifts in for computing. What will that future look like, both in the near term and the slightly further-off future?

Peering into that which hasn’t happened yet is a perilous business, but here are some new visions for computing that technology companies are rolling out soon—as well as a few radical, yet compelling dreams that are still years away from becoming tangible.

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The state of VR: Where Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Gear VR, and others stand right now [PCWorld]

Let the countdown begin: We are roughly T-minus one month from virtual reality.

It’s hard to believe that after three years of developer kits and prototypes and trade shows and me-too headsets and so many demos that we’re finally on the cusp of a consumer release. I’m excited. I hope—sincerely—that you’re excited. Or at least willing to give it a shot.

But it’s been one long and convoluted ride, and if you’ve skipped most of the news for the last three years you might be wondering “What the hell is going on in virtual reality these days?” That’s why we wrote a virtual reality for beginners primer a few months back and why, now, we’re going to go over all the hardware barreling down the pipeline—who’s involved, what it’ll look like, why it stands out, when it’ll release, and what you’ll need in order to use it.

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Alibaba sets up second data center in the US in $1B cloud expansion [PCWorld]

Continuing the expansion of its AliCloud cloud computing business, Alibaba Group is setting up a second data center in Silicon Valley.

The Chinese company said customers could apply from Monday for  services from the data center, which will span over 10 cloud services including Elastic Compute Service, offering scalable computing services, an Analytic Database Service that provides real-time, high-concurrency online analytical processing, and a Cloud Monitor System using an open platform for the real-time monitoring of sites and servers.

Alibaba did not respond to a request for more information on the new data center.

The company said earlier this year that it was investing US$1 billion in its cloud computing business.  It launched its first data center in Silicon Valley in March, confirming its ambitions to enter the U.S. market.

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India to Climatistas: Show Us The Money! [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

A few days ago I noted that India has suggested it might go along with the UN’s climate nonsense—if the developed world will cough up $2.4 trillion in foreign aid. (Previously the climate community had spoken of aid in the range of $200—$300 billion for all of the developing world.)

Well, the first draft of a prospective climate treaty agreement was released earlier this week, and there’s nothing specific in it right now about climate aid. And India is not impressed. From the Times of India:

India ‘Disappointed’ at Draft Paris Climate Change Agreement

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday expressed disappointment over the first draft text of the Paris climate change agreement, which was presented to the governments two days ago, and said the country would oppose it during the next round of negotiations at Bonn.

In his first reaction to the draft text that completely ignores the crucial issue of ‘equity’ and transparency of action, environment and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar said, “I would like to underline that the first draft text of the Paris agreement is quite disappointing. It does not inspire.”

(Emphasis added, because “crucial issue of ‘equity’” means where’s the cash?)

But to continue:

It is learnt that besides its strong objection to an apparent attempt by the co-chairs to dilute the element of ‘equity’, India is also not happy with the review of greenhouse gas emission every five years. India has consistently been demanding that the Paris agreement must be equitable so that it can deliver justice.

So, to sum up: India wants a lot of money, and no accountability. And why not? Sounds like standard UN procedure to me. My guess is this is India’s way of scuttling any climate agreement, just like that last several grand climate summits. And for that we should thank India.

How to Fix Hillary [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

I’m struck by the comment on the Pacific trade deal that Scott quotes below:

On Sunday in Iowa, Clinton said that “the President should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”

Seems to me this statement is almost correct. But she should have said this instead [with my interpolations in brackets]:

On Sunday in Iowa, Clinton said [of the Iran agreement] that “the President should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi [Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez], who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers [security], to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”

There, fixed.

Larry Arnn for Speaker? [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

I don’t agree with Paul that Paul Ryan shouldn’t be Speaker of the House because of his—shall we call them idealistic—positions and past votes on key issues, though he’s right that Ryan’s highest and best use is probably where he is right now at Ways & Means. If nothing else, Ryan would match up much better as a point man to argue in public against Obama—tasks for which both Boehner and Mitch McConnell have been stunningly ineffective. Everyone is saying that it would likely mean the end of Ryan’s presidential ambitions, but I doubt he’s ever going to be in position to run for president anyway, chiefly because presidential candidates simply don’t emerge from the House. Full stop.

But there’s another idea that I’m told Steve Hayes floated on “Special Report” on Fox News last night (though I can’t find a clip): there is this argument floating around that the Speaker does not have to be a House member. I’ve heard this disputed and take no position on whether it is right or wrong. Newt Gingrich told someone yesterday that he’d be willing to step back into his old role, for example. But if the House wants a Speaker to bridge the gaps between its factions and serve as a more public face, Steve Hayes suggested Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn. I second the motion.

Larry has been speaking widely (including to the House conference more than once) about the need to restore Congress’s constitutional prerogatives vis-a-vis the executive branch, and he’d give the devil to Obama. And, he’d only be two impeachments away from the White House.  Hmm. . .

P.S. If nothing else, you might as well take this opportunity to order Larry’s forthcoming book, Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government.


New dimensions in cynicism [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

When I was a college senior I raised the money to bring Garry Wills to campus to give a lecture on the 1972 presidential election. Wills had recently published the book Nixon Agonistes, which mightily impressed me, and I wanted to hear what he had to say. He agreed to speak not only on the election, but also to throw in another lecture on Macbeth for free as part of a two-for-the-price-of-one package. The lecture took place in late October or early November, within days of the election. As I recall, Henry Kissinger had just announced that “we believe peace is at hand” in Vietnam (that was on October 26).

Wills framed his election lecture on the theme “Vote for your enemy; he has no one to sell out to but you.” You can get a glimpse of Wills’s thinking at the time in his Times column “Four more years? Learning to live with Nixon.”

Wills’s thesis has stuck in my mind. An impressionable young man, I was impressed by it at the time. Upon further reflection, however, I doubt its truth along with much else that Wills has had to say since, at least about anything connected to politics.

At the time I thought Wills’s thesis was the ne plus ultra in political cynicism. Now I think it has been superseded by Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is the ne plus ultra in political cynicism. She is so cynical that she makes it all but impossible to apply Wills’s proposition.

Consider the case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Madam Hillary: supporter or opponent? CNN’s Jake Tapper reports 45 instances of her support of Clinton pushing for a TPP trade deal while Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. The Free Beacon’s David Rutz has compiled 24 instances of Clinton’s support of the TPP into the video below (Steve posted it yesterday here).

Since she has felt pressure from the left in the course of her pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, however, she has experienced a dark night of the soul. She has had sober second thoughts. Now she tentatively opposes it.

On Sunday in Iowa, Clinton said that “the President should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”

Clinton added, “there are some specifics in there that could and should be changed. So I am hoping that’s what happens now — let’s take the lemons and turn it into lemonade.”

The Washington Post has expressed disappointment on Madam Hillary’s recent tergiversations in a good editorial that bears on my thoughts here. “The most hopeful thing to be said about this deeply disappointing abandonment of the president she served, and the internationalist tendency in Democratic ideology she once embodied, is that it is so transparently political,” the Post editors write. “Cynical? Perhaps, but as we said, that’s the hope.” They’re taking a cue from the Wills school of politics and from the lady herself, taking a lemon and turning it into lemonade.

Thoughts from the ammo line [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

Ammo Grrrll casts questions ASSUMPTIONS, including her own. She writes

I remember an outstanding episode of The Odd Couple in which Felix ended up in court over some minor incident. Naturally, he acted as his own attorney. When a hostile witness used the word “assume,” he pounced. “Aha! When you ‘assume,’ you make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me,’” he said triumphantly.

And nowhere can one go further wrong, or make a bigger “ass” of “u” and “me” than in the complex realm of “racism,” real or imagined. I offer but three examples.

Many years ago, I was in a restaurant with my best friend enjoying a hamburger in a tall booth. The subject of my weekly housekeeper came up and – not for the first time – I said, “I really have to find a way to let her go. She has no common sense. She shows up late or not at all and never the same day of the week. She wants to spend the first hour of her time telling me her problems. She hangs her coat in the back hall and it reeks of cigarette smoke which permeates the whole house. And she is so relentlessly depressed that she brings me down for days. But she needs the job. What can I do?”

To leap ahead in the story just a bit, she solved my problem by quitting on her own without notice not too long after that. But, as it happened, our conversation was being eavesdropped upon by a thin blonde busybody in an adjacent booth. She got up, looked daggers at me, and said, “I heard what you said about your cleaning woman and I think you should be ashamed of yourself for your racism.”

Stunned, I could only say, “I’m sorry you had to overhear that. It may have sounded kind of mean. But my cleaning woman is as white as the driven snow. My own mother is a cleaning woman. Do you think that all cleaning women are black or that all black women are cleaning women?”

She opened her mouth several times like a baby bird and then shut it again and (slinked? slank?) slunk out.

The second incident happened in the early ’80s in Macon, Georgia. It was my first time in the South, other than making a connecting flight in either Memphis or Atlanta.

The event at which I was entertaining wasn’t until evening. I got up fairly early to go for a walk in the lovely town, which still had a functioning downtown. I could smell some kind of awesome flowers, jasmine and possibly magnolias. I wandered for several blocks enjoying the beautiful homes and feel of the place.

And then, like a movie unfolding, I saw trouble up ahead. Imagine two perpendicular streets coming together to form a corner. Down one side came two young white men wearing feed caps, jeans, and t-shirts. They were muscular guys, laughing and punching each other in the shoulder as they joked around. Bubbas! Rednecks! Run!

Down the other side came an old black gentleman who looked like something out of Central Casting as an Old Black Gentleman. He quite literally even had a handkerchief on his head and overalls with just one strap. He shuffled with what looked like arthritis.

The buildings were tall enough that neither party could see the other party coming.

My heart stopped. I thought, “Well, this is where the rubber meets the road, girl. You’ve marched for civil rights, you’ve tried to speak up when it mattered. If there’s trouble, are you willing to put your body on the line?”

The two parties met up at the corner. The young men removed their caps and stood respectfully and said, “Morning, Mr. Johnson. Please say hey to Miz Johnson.” And he allowed as how he surely would and asked after their families. They exchanged a few more pleasantries and then the boys put their caps back on and they all walked away and went on with their lives. By a miracle, no superhero help whatsoever was needed from an ignorant Northerner who felt she had made an ass of herself even if only in her own head.

And I remember quite clearly thinking, “Well, THERE’S a scene that will end up on the cutting room floor in a Hollywood movie about the South.” I didn’t know the phrase yet, but it would never “fit the narrative.” We didn’t have “narratives” yet, just reality.

It was a life-altering moment that blew away a lifetime of assumptions.

About a decade later on a brief January getaway to Barbados with the same best friend, we were walking back to our hotel from a restaurant, and we may even have imbibed sufficient Bajan rum such that we were not exactly in fighting form. We noticed three young Black men across the street and saw them purposely cross over to meet up with us. Uh-oh. (Just ask Jesse Jackson if that seemed a little worrisome…)

They stood a non-threatening distance away and said in that delightful sing-song island accent: “Our island and our jobs depend on tourism. We just wanted to thank you for coming and hope you enjoy yourselves.” We all shook hands, they crossed the street again, and my friend and I wondered aloud if we had dreamed the whole thing.

Environment Minister Totty Watch: Shinzo Babe Edition [Guido Fawkes]


The latest hottie to join our run down of sexy green politicians is former television anchorwoman Tamayo Marukawa, who was appointed Japan’s environment minister on Wesnesday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Marukawa’s first order of business will be to oversee the building of storage and disposal facilities to deal with Fukushima’s radioactive waste.

japan totty電話番号聞いてもいい?

Tagged: Gaia Fawkes, Totty Watch

Straight Outta Westminster: Michael Portillo Raps NWA [Guido Fawkes]

Michael Portillo laid down some sick lyrics on BBC This Week last night with a very special version of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton:

“When I’m in your neighbourhood you better duck, because Portillo is crazy as f*ck…”

Tagged: GuyNews.TV, This Week

Zac Trails Sadiq in First London Poll [Guido Fawkes]

A warning from YouGov that the Zac campaign can’t be complacent despite their good fortune with Labour’s choice of candidate:

Guido wonders if 72% of Londoners will still consider Sadiq “likeable” by the end of the campaign…

Tagged: Mayoral Election, Poll

Tom Watson’s Half-Apology to Leon Brittan’s Family [Guido Fawkes]


After the Met apologised to Leon Brittan’s wife, self appointed nonce-finder general Tom Watson has grudgingly issued a half-apology to his family:

“I have said in the past that I am sorry for the distress Leon Brittan’s family experienced as they grieved for him. I still am. But I wanted the claims made against him properly investigated. I think most people would assume that when an individual is facing multiple allegations of sexual crimes…

As the tributes flowed in from his lifelong friends I felt for those people who claimed he abused them. I repeated a line used by one of the alleged survivors, who said: “He is close to evil as any human being could get”. I shouldn’t have repeated such an emotive phrase.”

Another fine mess Inspector Watson…

Uber Appoint Ex-Balls Spad as Head of Comms [Guido Fawkes]

Uber have appointed former Ed Balls SpAd Alex Belardinelli as their new Head of Communications for UK and Ireland. Wonder if he turned on surge pricing during the contract negotiations…

Let’s hope their drivers don’t go too far, too fast…

Tagged: Techno Guido, Uber

Friday Caption Contest: Gun Nut Edition [Guido Fawkes]


Entries in the comments please…

Tagged: Caption Contest

Zoe Williams: “I Really Don’t Have a Problem” With Protesters Spitting at Journalists [Guido Fawkes]

Guardian charmer Zoe Williams has told the Daily Politics “I really don’t have a problem” with protesters spitting on her journalist colleagues:

“The fact that some people spit and throw eggs… actually I think there is a kind of persistent exclusion from some voices in the debate and you cannot blame people for ultimately becoming quite angry. I really don’t have a problem with it.”

So much for solidarity among hacks, eh.

Reporter Owen Bennett, who along with Michael Crick and LBC’s Theo Usherwood was gobbed on in Manchester, unsurprisingly took exception. Fair to say Zoe did not cover herself in further glory.

Owen has offered to take Zoe for a coffee to discuss why gobbing on journalists is actually not okay. Careful she doesn’t spit on you…

Tagged: Guardian, Media Guardian

Order of the OTT: Tory MP Compares Disused Warehouse Blaze to ISIS [Guido Fawkes]

Two men have been arrested for arson after a derelict warehouse in Gloucester was burned down this week. A nasty incident, certainly, though fortunately no one is believed to have been hurt. Local MP Richard Graham is therefore going somewhat overboard:


As sad as it is to see a section of a disused warehouse collapsing, the destruction by ISIS of world heritage ruins in Palmyra is perhaps slightly worse. Guido awards Graham the Order of the OTT…

Tagged: Twitter

John McDonnell Praises Spitting as a Form of Protest [Guido Fawkes]

Corbyn condemed the actions of the protesters spitting on delegates and journalists as unacceptable, but it appears no everyone holds the same anti-gobbing view. Just four years ago John McDonnell praised a trade unionist who spat in her manager’s tea every day:

“I always give the example of P&O when I worked for RMT, in the P&O dispute we had some real difficulties and all the rest of it – we lost, the strike was difficult and the struggle went on.  There was one woman in all of that… she said I make the manager’s tea; I spit in it everyday. And it’s that form of we’re not taking it any more, and we’re going to give it back, I think builds up a climate of opinion, a climate of dissent, which I actually think, when combined with industrial action, will produce a tipping point that will force this government out of office and that’s got to be our objective.”


H/T: Harry’s place

Tagged: GuyNews.TV, Loony Left, Unions

Vote Leave, Take Control [Guido Fawkes]

The business-backed Vote Leave campaign has hit the media today. The messaging has been tested and aims to commiunicate that staying in the EU is not without risks and costs. The In campaign is going to try to re-run the Mark II version of the Scottish independence referendum’s “Project Fear”, it is a key objective of the Out campaign to counteract the scaremongering from the same people who said we would face economic disaster if we didn’t join the €uro. The In campaign will launch their pessimistic message of doom next week…

Tagged: EU

Verizon to Track Users Through “Supercookies” [VodkaPundit]

This doesn’t seem at all creepy:

The wireless carrier announced the shift via an update on its website, according to The Verge. Unlike most cookies, which originate from an individual site or group of sites, Verizon’s identifier tracks subscribers as they move around the Internet for the sake of the company’s Relevant Mobile Advertising and Verizon Selects ad programs.

The AOL Advertising Network has a presence on some 40 percent of websites, and affiliated parties could potentially build more detailed profiles of Verizon customers as a result. The carrier bought AOL in May.

Although Verizon subscribers can opt out of the supercookie, it’s enabled by default and can potentially allow various parties to follow users around the Internet, including not just advertisers but savvy hackers and government agencies. The U.S. National Security Agency is known to use cookies from companies like Google to monitor people it wants to investigate.

You may opt out here.

The War on Shale [VodkaPundit]

In this Sept. 17, 2015 photo, Part of the 4L RV Ranch is mostly empty, in Gonzales, Texas. To see what’s at stake for Texas in a shrinking oil economy, one need look no further than Gonzales, 65 miles south of Austin and in the central portion of the Eagle Ford Shale area, which stretches roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long in a sweep across what were once some of South Texas’ poorest counties. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

In this Sept. 17, 2015 photo, Part of the 4L RV Ranch is mostly empty, in Gonzales, Texas. To see what’s at stake for Texas in a shrinking oil economy, one need look no further than Gonzales, 65 miles south of Austin and in the central portion of the Eagle Ford Shale area, which stretches roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long in a sweep across what were once some of South Texas’ poorest counties. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

I’m only posting this in order to explain why not to worry about it:

To their credit, shale drillers and operators in Texas and North Dakota have hung on for far longer than anyone expected after Opec launched its pre-emptive oil price war last November. However, a year of oil prices trading at an average of around $50 per barrel is finally succeeding in reversing the dramatic increases in US production that had been so troubling the Gulf’s oil-rich sheikhs.

Total US output has fallen by almost 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) since the end of the first quarter, with the biggest declines occurring recently as operators begin to crack under the financial pressure caused by Opec’s squeeze on prices. By next year, the US government expects output to decline to an average of 8.6m bpd, down from an average of 9.3m bpd in 2015.

It was only a couple of years ago that $70 crude was going to put US shale out of business, but our frackers are so damn good that they’ve brought their breakeven price down by nearly a third in a remarkably short period of time. Yes, there’s still a floor under fracking production, but more importantly the ceiling on Saudi prices is that much lower. Every time the Saudis try and raise prices above that ceiling, another Texas or North Dakota shale field will come back into production.

And the other thing to remember is that our shale isn’t going anywhere — it will just sit there underground, as our frackers wait for better market conditions or improved fracking techniques.

The Saudis can’t wait us out; they can only learn to make do with less.

You Stay Classy, Esquire [VodkaPundit]


I’m old enough to remember when Esquire represented the epitome of classy masculinity.

Just kidding — not even I’m that old.

Required Reading [VodkaPundit]

Kevin Williamson explains why we’ll always have income inequality, and what happens when government tries to say otherwise:

The textbook American case of this happened when President Franklin “The Hyde Park Hammer” Roosevelt decided he was so smart that he knew what every American should be paid and what everything should cost, which he decided to enforce under color of law through federal controls on wages and prices. The Hammer actually wasn’t half as clever as he thought he was, and when he started threatening to throw newspaper editors in jail for giving their staffers raises, people kind of looked askance, and businesses started giving their best employees raises without giving them raises: company health insurance, the company car, the other “fringe benefits.” (When I was little, I thought this was “French benefits,” which turn out to be a lot more generous in reality and come with really good coffee.) This is, incidentally, why you are in the situation of getting your health insurance through your employer, whose incentives on that matter are very different from yours. (See cost-shifting, above.) The people with lots of market power, because their products or labor were more highly valued on the underlying hierarchy of real values, got paid more. It’s just that we had to waste a lot of resources figuring out a way to pay them more while creating an enormously destructive and deeply stupid health-insurance system, which we’re still trying to sort out.

Read the whole thing.

Ain’t No Crime [VodkaPundit]


So much wrong in one little story:

A South Carolina man called 911 early this morning to complain that his girlfriend would not have sex with him, according to an arrest report.

When a cop responded to his Spartanburg residence, Patrick Doggett, 53, “stated he called 911 because his girlfriend, Ms. Faye Woodruff, would not give him any ass.”

Woodruff told police that Doggett had been drinking all day and “didn’t know where he was at.” She added that Doggett got into bed and wanted to have sex, but “she had her grandchild with her.”

So, Woodruff noted, Doggett “got up and then dialed 911.”

Doggett was arrested for public intoxication, but if you ask me the officers should have shown more mercy. If getting drunk because you aren’t getting any was a crime, I’d have spent half of the ’80s in prison.

Pakistan: Too Big to Fail [VodkaPundit]

Kevin Hulbert reports:

Today, Pakistan finds itself in a very complicated security situation where there is little differentiation among radical groups. Terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, are suddenly allied with al-Qaeda, while Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Pakistan Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, and other assorted miscreants and non-state actors are intent on bringing down the elected government of Pakistan. While the Pakistan government dithered, the militancy in the country took firm hold.

But, aside from the very compelling terrorism issue, there is also an overlay of a troublesome and rapidly growing Pakistani nuclear program along with an unusual problem: Pakistan is not a rogue state that might go nuclear, but rather a nuclear state that might go rogue. Such a situation presents an almost endless stream of nightmare scenarios for U.S. policymakers.

Pakistan also has one of the highest birthrates in the world and a population paradigm that is exploding with young people entering the workforce. Into this maelstrom, there is a corrupt, faltering, and virtually bankrupt economy that, for the last 13 years, has limped by, largely financed by the hat trick of IMF “loans,” U.S. coalition support funds, and U.S. foreign aid. There is little hope for millions of young men entering the workforce every year.

I can’t think of a single instance where the United States, the West, the UN or any other organization has managed to rescue a failed state, or to prevent a deteriorating state from failing — certainly not one as large and as populous as Pakistan.

We need to have some serious (and needless to say, extremely quiet) talks with India on how to deal with Pakistan’s nukes if and when the worst comes to pass.

The Truth About Germany’s Muslim Refugees [VodkaPundit]

Migrants and refugees crowd in a line as they wait for their registration at central registration center for refugees and asylum seekers LaGeSo (Landesamt fuer Gesundheit und Soziales - State Office for Health and Social Affairs) in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Migrants and refugees crowd in a line as they wait for their registration at central registration center for refugees and asylum seekers LaGeSo (Landesamt fuer Gesundheit und Soziales – State Office for Health and Social Affairs) in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Good lord:

A Czech doctor, who works in a German hospital, is so disgusted and overwhelmed with the Muslim migrant invaders that she is threatening to leave the country and go back home to the Czech Republic. She explains, via an email letter (because the press is forbidden from reporting on this), how horrific the conditions are in these hospitals, with the Muslim invaders bringing diseases they weren’t even prepared to treat. But that’s just part of it. The superior attitudes of these Muslims and their belief that they should get everything for free is wreaking havoc everywhere, from the hospitals to the pharmacies.

The Right Scoop has the video, along with a quick & dirty transcription for you.

But you might want to hold off until well after breakfast.

The Inmates Really Are Running the Asylum [VodkaPundit]

What you are about to read is not a parody news item, it is in fact a real story written by Tim Mak & Nancy Youssef — two genuine journalists whom this blogger trusts for real news items about things which really happened.


The Russian airstrikes on Syria are a sign that U.S. policy is working, a senior State Department official told shocked Syrian-American advocates in a private meeting on Monday.

The “Russians wouldn’t have to help Assad if we didn’t weaken him,” U.S. special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney said, according to multiple participants in the meeting and contemporaneous notes. Russian intervention, he went on to say, is a sign of success for American policy on Syria.

The special envoy’s remarks come even as Russia began launching long-range cruise missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea. It’s a move that Pentagon officials called an attempt to both emasculate the United States and support the Assad regime.

“This is Russia demonstrating on a global stage that it has a lot of reach,” one U.S. defense official explained. “And we are not responding.”

Rainey isn’t incompetent. He isn’t an amateur. He isn’t even out of his depth.

He’s delusional.

Thought for the Day [VodkaPundit]

RSGB GB2RS NEWS BULLITEN for 11th. October 2015. [GB2RS]


Sunday 11th October 2015

The news headlines:

  • Speak to young people during Jamboree on the Air

  • Renewed NoVs for 146 to 147MHz

  • 5MHz newsletter available

Next weekend is the 58th Jamboree on the Air. It is the largest Scouting event in the world and in 2014 over 1.3 million Scouts participated across 157 countries. In the UK, over 60 callsigns have been registered for the event with many radios clubs helping out. If you hear these stations on the air please exchange greetings messages with the many young people who will be on the air. A full list of participating stations can be found on the JOTA website at http://jotajoti.info/

Ofcom has agreed that Full licence holders, including those with Club or Reciprocal licences, may continue to have temporary access to 146-147MHz for a further 12 months when the existing NoVs expire on the 31st of October. A new NoV must be applied for via the RSGB website. One change on the new NoV is that the exclusion of certain NGR squares is no longer an explicit restriction. Details of the latest 2015-2016 version can be found on the RSGB website.

The 14th edition of The 5MHz Newsletter is now available for free download in pdf format from http://tinyurl.com/ockn2ea and it can also be found on the RSGB 5MHz page. The 5th birthday edition includes news on the CEPT European Common Proposal for an amateur 5MHz secondary allocation for WRC15, allocations in Hungary, Oman, The Netherlands and Honduras, and a pyramid antenna for 5MHz.

Due to unavoidable circumstances, the 40m GB2RS news reading from Germany will not take place on Sunday the 18th of October. Readings will be back to normal on the 25th.

An International Space Station contact is planned for a school in Washington, USA on the 14th of October at 1941UTC and signals from the ISS will be audible in Europe. This will be a telebridge contact between OR4ISS and IK1SLD. Some of the questions they are hoping to ask include are you allowed to have pets in space, is time different in space and if so by how much, and what happens if you get sick in space.

The dates for SOS Radio Week 2016 have been announced. It will start at 0000 on the 23rd of January and end at 2359 on the 31st of January, to coincide with the RNLI’s own SOS Day on the last Friday of January. This year’s event will follow a new format too. As usual all amateur radio stations, individual and clubs, are invited to take part, but instead of making it predominantly a fund-raising event it will be a celebration. Participants are still encouraged to raise money for the RNLI during the event but the aim is to encourage as many stations on the air to simply promote the work of the brave crews that selflessly go out to save lives at sea, often in the most appalling weather conditions. For further details, and to register your intention to operate a special event station during the event, please visit www.sosradioweek.org.uk.

The results of the IARU Region 1 50/70MHz Contest have been released. In the multi 50MHz entry G8T came 2nd out of 79 entries and GM4ZUK/P and G8XVJ/P were 3rd and 7th respectively out of 459 entries in the 50MHz single entry. Congratulations to all.

The RSGB Board has set up a small working group, led by Stewart Bryant, G3YSX, to review the current book publications strategy. The group would be pleased to hear from anyone with a background in publishing via publications@rsgb.org.uk

The latest edition of RadCom Basics is now available to RSGB Members. Look out for articles on PSK31, work the world with low power, what is amateur television, how to use an SDR dongle as a VHF/UHF receiver and making the most of 15m. To download your copy, go to the publications section of the RSGB website.

The RSGB has two vacancies for Trustees to administer the RSGB HF DXpedition Fund, which has been running for many years to provide financial support for groups running HF DXpeditions of interest to stations in the British Isles. Its funds come mostly from the proceeds of the raffle for the generously donated prizes at the RSGB Convention, but individual legacies and donations are also received. Expressions of interest and further information can be obtained from the RSGB President, John, G3WKL by e-mail to g3wkl@rsgb.org.uk

And now for the details of rallies and events for the coming week

Today, the 11th, is the final day of the RSGB Convention at Kent’s Hill Conference Centre, Milton Keynes MK7 6BZ. The principal sponsor for the event is Martin Lynch & Sons, to whom the Society would like to pass on their thanks. Full details at www.rsgb.org/convention

Also today, the 11th, the Hack Green Bunker Rally is at Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 8AL. There will be electronic equipment, amateur gear, components, military radio sets and vehicle spares. Doors open at 10am. Details from Lucy on 01270 623 353.

Next weekend, on the 17th, the North Wakefield Radio Club rally will be held in Middleton Leisure Centre, Middleton Ring Road, Middleton, Leeds LS10 4AX. Tables are £6 if you bring your own, £12 with club tables. There will also be a Bring & Buy and refreshments available. Details from Tony, G0JVI on 07740 003 159.

Next Sunday, on the 18th, the Galashiels & District ARS radio and computer rally will be held in the Volunteer Hall, St Johns Street, Galashiels TD1 3JX. Doors open at 11.30am with disabled visitors gaining access 15 minutes earlier. There will be trade stands, a Bring & Buy and refreshments.

If you have any rally or event information you’d like to appear in future editions of GB2RS News, in RadCom and on the RSGB website, please email details to radcom@rsgb.org.uk.

Now the special event news

West Kent ARS will run a JOTA station from 12 noon to 4pm on the 17th supporting the 4th Sevenoaks Scout group. They will have HF and VHF stations from postcode TN14 5BX in Sevenoaks.

GB2COS will be operating a JOTA station from the 16th to the 18th of October from the Cestrian Scout Group HQ at Vicars Cross, Chester CH3 5LP. They will be active on HF bands, VHF/UHF IRLP, D-STAR and Echolink. Scouts, Cubs, Beavers, Guides, Brownies and Rainbows are all welcome to join them, as are leaders and members of the public who may be interested. The Lord Mayor of the city of Chester will be visiting the station on the Saturday afternoon to lend support.

OT4CLM will be on the air to commemorate the Canadian Liberation March, a 33km march that the Canadian troops did to liberate the town of Knokke in 1944. The event takes place from the 15th of October to the 14th of November.

GB5HDS will be on the air between the 16th and 18th run by Harlow and District ARS for Harlow District Scouts from their club house. Local Scouts, Cubs and Guides are invited to attend.

JOTA station GB0PSG will be active for the 3rd Prestatyn Scout Group on the 16th to 18th October from the Jubilee Community Centre, Prestatyn.

Thurrock Acorns ARC is supporting two stations for JOTA; GB1TDS in Grays, Essex and GB2TDS in Corringham, Essex on the 17th and 18th of October.

GB0RWC will be on the air for the Rugby World Cup on the 12th to 15th of October from Cray Valley RS in Eltham, postcode SE9 2SD. Then from the 16th to 18th of October from Barry ARS at South Road, Sully CF64 5SP.

And now the DX news compiled from 425 DX News and other sources

The TX3X Chesterfield Island DXpedition will continue until the 12th of October. The 12-member TX3X team hopes to log 80,000 to 100,000 contacts before they leave the island. Chesterfield Island is number 21 on ClubLog’s DXCC Most Wanted List.

John, W5JON will be spending a month at his retirement home on St Kitts in the Caribbean from the 6th of October. He will use his V47JA callsign and prefers to confirm QSOs by way of Logbook of the World.

Ulrich, DL2AH will be on the air as NH0/DL2AH from Rota Island, OC-086, in the Mariana Islands until the 16th of October. This will be followed by him activating V63AH from Yap Island in Micronesia from 18th October to 10th November. QSLs for both stations go directly to DL2AH.

Bill, W4WV, Keith, KE4KDY and Jim, KG9LB are at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba until the 23rd using the calls KG4WV, KG4DY and KG4AW. QSL via their home callsigns.

Jay, K4ZLE will be active as 5X2A from Uganda until the 19th of October. He will operate CW and maybe some RTTY on 40-17 metres in his limited spare time, around 0300 to 0500UTC and 0800 to 2000UTC. QSL via K4ZLE and Logbook of the World.

Now the contest news

On Tuesday, the 13th, the 432MHz UK Activity Contest takes place from 1900 to 2130UTC. Using all modes the exchange is the usual signal report, serial number and locator.

On Wednesday it’s the CW leg of the 80m Club Sprint running from 1900 to 2000UTC. The exchange is simply the serial number and your name.

The first contest of the 2015-2016 Super League series takes place on the morning of Sunday the 18th. The 50MHz AFS runs from 0900 to 1300UTC and, using all modes, the exchange is signal report, serial number and locator.

The World All German contest runs from 1500UTC on the 17th to 1500UTC on the 18th. You can use CW or SSB on the 3.5 to 28MHz bands, although single operator stations can enter CW-only or mixed mode. Working German stations only, the exchange is signal report and serial number.

Now the radio propagation report, compiled by G0KYA, G4BAO and G3YLA on Friday the 9th of October.

The sun severely disrupted the HF bands again this week. A high-speed solar wind stream with a south-facing Bz magnetic component continued to interact strongly with the Earth’s geomagnetic field. Strong, G3 level geomagnetic storming was observed at high latitudes and the K index hit seven on Wednesday evening. There were long periods on Wednesday and Thursday where it sat stubbornly at five or more.

The net result was a very depleted F2 ionospheric layer. At noon on Wednesday the critical frequency as measured by the Chilton Ionosonde was just 3.7MHz, indicating a maximum usable frequency over a 3,000km path of only 15MHz.

The only good news is that this means these are good conditions to look for auroral propagation on the higher HF and VHF bands.

Further storming may remain possible during the next week due to ongoing coronal holes. Sky watchers should be alert for visible aurora displays once it is dark.

With the solar flux index at more than 130, if the geomagnetic storming decreases there is a chance of decent DX if and when the F2 layer recovers.

And now the VHF and up propagation news.

The autumn months of October and November are often a good time to expect Tropo lifts due to the presence of areas of high pressure at this time of the year. These can be slow moving and provide several days of enhanced conditions on VHF, UHF and microwave bands.

The indications are that we may have a large high over Scandinavia for most of the coming week, extending a ridge towards the UK and down past Spain to the Azores. This could again bring lift conditions to many parts of Britain, favouring E-W paths across the North Sea to southern Scandinavia and the Baltic states, with a secondary option southwards past western France to northwest Spain and the Canaries.

There is a possibility that the North Sea paths may not quite last to the end of the week though, as low pressure reaches northern Scandinavia by Friday. There are no major meteor showers this week, so continue to look for the best random meteor scatter QSO opportunities in the early mornings as the earth’s rotation and orbital path combine to sweep up the maximum number of meteoric particles.

The moon reaches apogee today and its declination goes negative, meaning shorter, but daylight, Moon windows with high losses in the coming week.

And that’s all from the propagation team for this week.

78s did not come with an EXPLICIT warning [Lint]

78s did not come with an EXPLICIT warning

See the Sketches J.R.R. Tolkien Used to Build Middle-Earth [LISNews:]


WIRED asks, "How did J.R.R. Tolkien create The Lord of the Rings?"

"The simple answer is that he wrote it...The more complicated answer is that in addition to writing the story, he drew it. The many maps and sketches he made while drafting The Lord of the Rings informed his storytelling, allowing him to test narrative ideas and illustrate scenes he needed to capture in words. For Tolkien, the art of writing and the art of drawing were inextricably intertwined.

In the book The Art of The Lord of the Rings, we see how, and why."

Another perspective on ProQuest buying the Ex Libris Group. [LISNews:]


 Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’ve lost another “content-neutral” discovery vendor as a result of this acquisition.  That’s not a good thing for libraries, although most librarians ignore this reality.  In the end, I believe they’ll regret doing so. We’ve had yet another check-and-balance removed from our supply chain. This post explains why content neutrality is so important and why that loss carries a potentially high price for libraries.  So, in this regard, this is not good news.  OCLC with their WorldCat offering remain our only content-neutral discovery solution at this point outside of open source solutions (which don't’ have an aggregated metadata database like Primo Central, which provides important functionality for libraries).

From Thoughts from Carl Grant: Another perspective on ProQuest buying the Ex Libris Group.

My PJ Media interview with Ken Hite of the Dracula Dossier is up! [Moe Lane]

Links (including the audio of the interview) here.  Short version: mixing vampires, spies, and Dracula works well, in a gaming context. Almost… too well.

So, which diesel car companies ARE following European emissions laws? [Moe Lane]

Because it’d be probably easy just to list those.

Another four car makers have joined the list of those whose diesel cars emit more pollution on the road than in regulatory tests, the issue that has created a massive scandal and major recall for Germany’s Volkswagen, the Guardian reported Friday.

So here’s the list, according to that article:

  • Citroen
  • Fiat
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Jeep
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Renault
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

Which suggests a more systematic problem, there. Which is probably why the Guardian took a less harsh tone in its article than one might expect; it is in the best interest of the Left to downplay the fact that nobody can pass its ever-more-stringent pollution controls. One backslider is fine; a dozen suggests that there’s an underlying systemic problem.

Breaking: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals puts a NATIONAL stay on Obama’s EPA Water Power Grab. [Moe Lane]

OK, here’s the background. Once upon a time, the Obama administration decided to implement a ruling – without the input of Congress, mind you – that defined ““waters of the U.S.” to include virtually any wet area — even a rain-fed temporary pool — that is close to any other body of water with a physical connection to a navigable waterway.”  As you can imagine, this was and is a massive attempt to extend the reach of the regulatory State into areas that they do not traditionally have the ability to go into. By making essentially all waters federal waters, federal bureaucrats are then free to institute regulations and fines and exemptions and all the rest.

This naturally offended people. And more importantly, quite a few state governments, which is why there are multiple lawsuits involving this new rule. A judge in North Dakota had already temporarily shut down the regulation in selected states, but the EPA (read: ‘the Obama administration’) decided that the injunction only applied to the specific states, not the entire thing.

Well, now the entire thing is on hold: “This morning a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay against the enforcement of a regulation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defining the scope of the “waters of the United States” subject to federal regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).” As Jonathan Adler noted in that Washington Post link, the fact that there was already a stay in over a dozen states factored into the decision to impose a stay nationwide.  Jonathan is too polite to say “and never mind what the Obama administration thinks:” I, of course, am not. Either way, this case will now continue to wend its way to the Supreme Court.  Whether or not it makes it there before we have a new President is, of course, another question.

Moe Lane (crosspost)


This really makes you think, huh?

I kind of miss not being able to use this tag more often, by the way. It’s just not as much fun without Al Gore to kick around, though. Sorry.

Quote of the Day, Admittedly The Goats Want Him Gone, Too edition. [Moe Lane]

I’m sorry, but I find this hysterical.

Voicemail 15: Paul. John. Man, that voicemail message. I’ve got it memorized now, ha! Ha. I just want to talk to you. Can’t we just talk? About, you know, dreams and stuff? I have a lot of dreams. Last night I had a dream. I dreamed that I was a goatherd and I lived in a deep dark tunnel where there was no regular order and the goats were very critical of my performance. But I was finally going to get to stop. I was climbing up out of the tunnel, up toward the light, where I would never have to see another goat again. I felt the breeze on my face. I saw the sunshine. And then they pulled me back. (long silence, sound like ice cubes clinking in a glass) They pulled me back, Paul. Just when I thought I was out. Just when I was reaching for the light. They pulled me back. But I can’t go back. Paul. I. Can. Never. Go. Back.

Then again, as you all know: I retain a certain rough sympathy for John Boehner. Which is no doubt a flaw in my character, and/or a sign of my being infected by the Beltway – still, there it is.

Moe Lane

PS: Dang straight I’m a goat. When it comes to political analogies… better to be a goat than to be a sheep, pig, cow, or chicken. Better by far.

Quid pro quo: Tammy Ducksworth trades a HRC endorsement for a Benghazi No vote. [Moe Lane]


In April, when [Tammy] Duckworth announced her bid for the senate against incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., she was asked a question about Clinton’s emails. In response, Duckworth talked about transparency, and added that “I’m on Benghazi committee, I’m on Armed Services, I think transparency is better and she needs to come before the Benghazi committee and testify as well.”

But after Clinton endorsed Duckworth, the congresswoman changed her tune.

Of course. Dead Americans are dead Americans, but an endorsement for Senate is a pretty valuable thing. You can’t expect an Illinois Democrat to think differently, can you? It’s practically forbidden to them by their state constitution, or something.

Moe Lane

Tweet of the Day, But Don’t You Dare Call Bernie Sanders A Commie! edition. [Moe Lane]

The guy who found this doesn’t think that Bernie Sanders is a Communist, for what it’s worth. He’s just properly appalled that Bernie Sanders supporters feel the need to appropriate Soviet-era propaganda. Which is… reasonable, da?

The website that it came from looks legit, so I’m gonna go with ‘amazingly tone deaf.’ Remember: there are people who actually miss the Soviet Union. And I don’t mean the folks who used to be KGB agents or Party bigwigs, either.

Woeful Attempt by WaPo Writer to Exonerate Hillary [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by JVW]

Phillip Bump of the Washington Post took to his keyboard earlier today to suggest to us that we, the ungrateful and unwashed, are only fixating on the email security problems of Hillary! Rodham Clinton (the Once and Future Inevitable Next President of the United States) because we don’t understand how the interwebs and that electronicographic-mail thingy work. Carrying the bizarre headline “Why Our Technological Ignorance Is Hurting Hillary Clinton”, Bump’s piece assures us that “[p]eople don’t really understand how the Internet works, and so the stories might sound more ominous than they otherwise would.” Naturally, he finds some New York-based president of a “tech firm” to assure us that “[i]t’s not unusual at all” for hackers to target email systems, something that pretty much every single Internet user ought to know by now. He also goes on a bizarre tangent covering how Team Hillary!’s attempt to “wipe” the email server really wasn’t “wiping” the email server because everybody knows that you can’t “wipe” an email server without actually “wiping” the email server. Or something. I’m apparently too ignorant to understand Bump’s ignorance.

Bump isn’t crazy enough to entirely dismiss the problems that Hillary’s unique arrangement has caused, admitting that “[i]t is fair to question the security of the system and her decision to rely on it,” but counters that sane concession to reality by insisting that “[i]t is also the case that a lot of assessments of Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server make very big mountains out of what might be very small molehills.”

But what else could we expect from a former left-wing attack dog pretending to be a sensible journalist?


Jonathan Chait Has Absolutely No Idea What the Debt Limit Is [Patterico's Pontifications]

Jonathan Chait mocks Ben Carson for supposedly not understanding what the debt limit is, in a piece titled Ben Carson Has Absolutely No Idea What the Debt Limit Is. Problem is, Chait apparently doesn’t understand it himself, while Carson understand it just fine, thank you. Here’s the beginning of Chait’s piece:

The debt limit is a routine vote that Congress must periodically make to authorize payment on debts the government has incurred. It has no impact on the budget, but the failure to lift the debt ceiling means the U.S. government would go into default, a potentially disastrous event.

Two sentences in, Chait already has it wrong. Whether he is ignorant or lying is an open question, but he is wrong either way. Peter Ferrara explained this at Forbes in October 2013, but it bears repeating:

As the outstanding federal debt becomes due, it can simply be paid by newly issued debt, without violating the debt limit, as the total outstanding debt would not change. President Obama’s own budget estimates total net interest on the national debt for this year currently totals $223 billion. But his budget also estimates total federal income taxes for this year at $1.7 trillion, or $1,700 billion. So just as you use a small portion of your monthly earnings to pay your credit card bill, current federal tax revenues are more than enough to pay the current interest due on the national debt. So not increasing the national debt does not mean defaulting on the national debt. QED.

But our party controlled press, like the Washington Post and the New York Times, which behave voluntarily in regard to the Obama Administration just as Pravda did under compulsion in regard to the old Soviet dictators, foolishly echo this Obama party propaganda, “reporting” that default on the national debt is imminent unless Congress increases the debt limit. Even some conservative commentators have been buffaloed into lamely repeating that such default is at issue in the debt limit debate. There should be personal liability for commentator malpractice.

Jeffrey Dorfman elaborated in January 2014:

Second, the net debt payments are under $50 billion per month, while total government revenue is expected to average nearly $250 billion per month this year. There is enough money to pay the interest on the national debt. What will actually happen if the debt ceiling is not raised is the Treasury will use accounting gimmicks, which it can do for several months; after that, government would have to cut spending.

Now let’s look at the questions and answers Carson gave. The underlying assumption of the question, asked three times, is that failure to raise the debt ceiling equals default. Carson refuses to fall for the trap:

Ryssdal: All right, so let’s talk about debt then and the budget. As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, “We’re gonna run out of money, we’re gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November.” Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?

Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.

Ryssdal: To be clear, it’s increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You’d let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.

Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, “Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period.”

Ryssdal: I’m gonna try one more time, sir. This is debt that’s already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?

Carson: What I’m saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You’re always gonna ask the same question every year. And we’re just gonna keep going down that pathway. That’s one of the things I think that the people are tired of.

Each of those bolded questions assumes that Obama would have to default if the debt ceiling were not raised. That is propaganda. Chait knows that, or should.

I don’t have a problem with a single word of Carson’s answer. I do have a problem with someone like Jonathan Chait spreading false memes like this without being challenged.

How About Justin Amash for Speaker? [Patterico's Pontifications]

A week ago, The Week ran a piece titled: This 35-year-old Republican congressman could revolutionize the House. He should be speaker. The congressman in question is Patterico favorite Justin Amash. The author offers (and elaborates on) five reasons, which I will cite in bare bones form, and refer you to the piece itself for the meat:

1. Amash is a stickler for House rules who has never missed a vote.

2. Amash personally explains every vote he casts on his Facebook page.

3. He’d make time for lawmakers to actually read the bills they pass.

4. Amash represents a new generation of Republicans — literally.

5. John Boehner does not like him.

Amash had an op-ed about Boehner this past Sunday that is worth reading in full. Quotable:

Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders have repeatedly favored a “govern by crisis” approach that abandons the regular order of the House. Despite having months to act before legislative deadlines, leaders routinely wait until the last moment to plot a course of action, publicly concede in advance major negotiating points, insist that Republicans have no alternatives, refuse to allow amendments and then criticize colleagues for not voting to avert the crisis leadership caused.

This approach produces constant frustration among representatives in both parties and promotes the partisan finger-pointing that angers Americans at home. Instead of making bipartisan compromises to address long-term issues, Congress constructs desperate, last-minute political deals to obtain the requisite votes simply to clear the immediate impasse.

We could do a lot worse than someone with this sort of clarity.

P.S. Why are you not following me on the Facebook? Fix that now.

Kevin McCarthy Withdraws from Speaker Race [Patterico's Pontifications]

It’s chaos. Paul Ryan says it won’t be him. People are actually floating Mitt Romney’s name. Interesting times.

CPAN Testers needs our help [Perlsphere]

CPAN Testers needs recurring funding to cover its hosting costs. If you, or your company, rely on CPAN, then please seriously consider setting up a standing order to donate £50 (or some multiple thereof) to CPAN Testers every year. We encourage companies to use a multiple of the base £50 that reflects their reliance on CPAN and thus CPAN Testers.

CPAN Testers is an invaluable resource for all of us: it tests CPAN releases across a wide range of operating systems, versions and build configurations of Perl. This benefits the Perl community in two ways: (1) improving quality and (2) avoiding problems. If you use CPAN modules, then CPAN Testers is making those modules more reliable for you.

If you're an author, your releases will be tested on operating systems and versions of Perl that you may not have access to, and you'll be told if there are any failures. Addressing these failures makes your module more dependable. If you're going to use other modules from CPAN in your distribution, then CPAN Testers gives a good indication of how likely it is that they'll break your installation. If there are multiple modules for a given task, you can pick the one with fewest CPAN Testers failures.

The CPAN Testers service is free for all of us to use. CPAN Testers and the Metabase service it relies on were developed, and continue to be maintained, using volunteer effort. They run on serious hardware, hosted in commercial data centres, and these resources cost money, every year. Birmingham (UK) Perl Mongers have stumped up a lot of cash over the years; David Golden, Barbie and others have dipped into their own pockets. The Enlightened Perl Organisation (the good kind of EPO) has been covering the gaps. When things go wrong, they're often left scrambling for funds.

Personally, I'd rather the people working on it could focus on improving the service for all of us. This means that we need a source of recurring funding. So, as a community, I propose that we each commit what we can, every year. To make life simple, I'm suggesting that individuals, small companies, and Perl Mongers groups sign up for £50. Larger companies can hopefully sign up for £100 or some higher multiple of £50, but hopefully enough of us can sign up for at least £50 per year to provide stability, and maybe even growth. Our goal is £5000/year; any extra will go into CPAN Testers, or other parts of the CPAN ecosystem or QA activities such as the QA Hackathon.

These figures are just suggestions — the CPAN Testers team will be grateful for any and all donations, especially recurring ones.

You can set up recurring payments using PayPal at the EPO page for CPAN Testers:


If you want to discuss some other method of payment, please get in touch with Mark Keating.

When you've done that, please get in touch with me (neil at bowers dot com), so you / your company can be acknowledged in all the right places, such as the CPAN Testers sponsors page (which we're going to be reworking soon).

I'm not part of the CPAN Testers team, I'm just a satisfied beneficiary who wants to help them out.

The first three companies have already signed up — see below. Full disclosure: one of them is the small company that I started with a friend.


MaxMind provides services and software for IP Geolocation (GeoIP) as well as fraud detection (minFraud). Perl is a major part of their toolbox, and they support all of the developers contributing to relevant open source communities. You may recognise some of their development team: Dave Rolsky (DROLSKY), Olaf Alder (OALDERS), Florian Ragwitz (FLORA), Mateu Hunter (MATEU), Ran Eilam (EILARA), Andy Jack (ANDYJACK), Mark Fowler (MARKF), TJ Mather (TJMATHER), William Stevenson (WDS), and Gregory Oschwald (OSCHWALD).



Cogendo helps your company and everyone in it perform at their best. We provide online performance management software that companies can use to manage their employees' objectives and performance reviews. The back end is built in Perl, and hosted with Bytemark, another company that has supported CPAN Testers over the years. Our development team also regularly contributes to CPAN: Neil Bowers (NEILB). We're only a small company, but we're happy to do our bit for such a key part of the CPAN ecosystem.



Eligo is a UK-based recruitment agency that specialises in a number of areas, including software development. Their Perl recruiter is Rick Deller, who has presented at a number of Perl events around Europe. They love the Perl community, and leapt at the chance to support CPAN Testers in this way.


Miriam Ruiz: Thick Skin (within Free/Open Source communities) [Planet Debian]

The definition of “thick-skinned” in different dictionaries ranges from “not easily offended” to “largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of other people; insensitive”, going through “able to ignore personal criticism”, “ability to withstand criticism and show no signs of any criticism you may receive getting to you”, “an insensitive nature” or “impervious to criticism”. It essentially describes an emotionally detached attitude regarding one’s social environment, the capacity or ignoring or minimizing the effects of others’ criticism and the priorization of the protection of one’s current state over the capacity of empathizing and taking into account what others may say that don’t conform to one’s current way of thinking. It is essentially setting up barriers against whatever others may do that might provoke any kind of crisis or change in you.

There are a few underlying assumptions in the use of this term as a something good to have, when it comes to interactions with your own community:

In the first place, it assumes that your own community is essentially hostile to you, and you will have to be constantly in guard against them. It assumes that it is better to set up barriers against the influence of others within your own comunity, because in fact your own peers are out there essentially to hurt you. Or, at least, they do not care a damn about you.

In second place, it assumes that changes are wrong, that personal evolution is wrong, and that the more insensitive you are to your peer’s opinions, the best, because they really have nothing to contribute to help you grow as a person. “I’m smart; you’re dumb. I’m big; you’re little. I’m right; you’re wrong; And there’s nothing you can do about it.” (from the film Matilda). Matilda’s dad is in fact the first reference that comes to my mind when we’re talking about really thick skin.


Scene of the film Matilda: I'm smart, You're dumb. I'm big, You're little. I'm right, You're wrong


When the main recommendation when the level of aggressiveness within a community is that someone has to make their skin thicker, they are assuming that a bullying environment will help the results. This is nothing new. It’s the same theoretical base that you can see in hazing and in other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation in college, when initiating a person into some groups. It’s supposed to build character, to make someone closer to the alpha male stereotype and, in essence, make us ‘better men’ (yes, I am using the word men on purpose, because insensitiveness is not usually seen as a positive trait in females). The assumption is that a community with a hard environment and individuals prepared for the war is more effective than a more civilized one.

Luckily, that’s not the point of view of most members of the Debian Community, and many other Free/Open Source projects. The Code of Conduct is very explicit when it says that “a community in which people feel threatened is not a healthy community”, and that is good. ” The Debian Project welcomes and encourages participation by everyone” (Diversity Statement), including those with a thin skin, and I’m happy about that. There are still a lot of things to improve, of course, but I have the feeling that -despite the occasional complains that having to be respectful to others take the fun away- we’re moving in the right direction.

“The best tip I can give you on thickening your skin = don’t.  That is, don’t thicken your skin.  Having a thin skin means you’re letting the world in, you’re letting what’s out there affect what’s in you.  It means you’re connected.  You’re open.  You’re considerate and you’ll consider it — whatever it might be.  Having a thin skin may be dangerous, sure, because you might take in so much that you pop, like that blueberry girl from Willy Wonka.  But life is dangerous. A thick skin protects you from everything, but it also protects you from everything — from the gentle touches of life, from the subtle emotions of others, the deep connections, the meaningful interactions.” (Top Ten Tips on how to Thicken your Skin).

Enrico Zini: extract-xml-from-fattura-elettronica [Planet Debian]

Extracting XML payload from Italian Fattura Elettronica zipfiles

This system does not even export to PDF. In order to provide my accountant with something better than a DER-encoded file with a random-looking name stored inside a zipfile, here is a script that at least extracts the unsigned XML payload out of a saved Fattura Elettronica.

If you're giving a python course in Italy, this sounds like a nice early programming assignment.

Gunnar Wolf: On evolving communities and changing social practices [Planet Debian]

I will join Lars and Tincho in stating this, and presenting a version contrary to what Norbert portraits.

I am very glad and very proud that the community I am most involved in, the Debian project, has kept its core identity over the years, at least for the slightly-over-a-decade I have been involved in it. And I am very glad and very proud that being less aggressive, more welcoming and in general more respectful to each other does not counter this.

When I joined Debian, part of the mantra chants we had is that in order to join a Free Software project you had to grow a thick skin, as sooner or later we'd all be exposed to flamefests. But, yes, the median age of the DD was way lower back then — I don't have the data at hand, but IIRC I have always been close to our median. Which means we are all growing old and grumpy. But old and wiser.

A very successful, important and dear subproject to many of us is the Debian Women Project. Its original aim was, as the name shows, to try to reduce the imbalance between men and women participants in Debian — IIRC back in 2004 we had 3 female DDs, and >950 male DDs. Soon, the project started morphing into pushing all of Debian to be less hostile, more open to contributions from any- and everyone (as today our diversity statement reads).

And yes, we are still a long, long, long way from reaching equality. But we have done great steps. And not just WRT women, but all of the different minorities, as well as to diverging opinions within our community. Many people don't enjoy us abiding by a code of conduct; I also find it irritating sometimes to have to abide by certain codes if we mostly know each other and know we won't be offended by a given comment... Or will we?

So, being more open and more welcoming also means being more civil. I cannot get myself to agree with Linus' quote, when he says that respect is not just given to everybody but must be earned. We should always start, and I enjoy feeling that in Debian this is becoming the norm, by granting respect to everybody — And not losing it, even if things get out of hand. Thick skins are not good for communication.

Matthew Garrett: Going my own way [Planet Debian]

Reaction to Sarah's post about leaving the kernel community was a mixture of terrible and touching, but it's still one of those things that almost certainly won't end up making any kind of significant difference. Linus has made it pretty clear that he's fine with the way he behaves, and nobody's going to depose him. That's unfortunate, because earlier today I was sitting in a presentation at Linuxcon and remembering how much I love the technical side of kernel development. "Remembering" is a deliberate choice of word - it's been increasingly difficult to remember that, because instead I remember having to deal with interminable arguments over the naming of an interface because Linus has an undying hatred of BSD securelevel, or having my name forever associated with the deepthroating of Microsoft because Linus couldn't be bothered asking questions about the reasoning behind a design before trashing it.

In the end it's a mixture of just being tired of dealing with the crap associated with Linux development and realising that by continuing to put up with it I'm tacitly encouraging its continuation, but I can't be bothered any more. And, thanks to the magic of free software, it turns out that I can avoid putting up with the bullshit in the kernel community and get to work on the things I'm interested in doing. So here's a kernel tree with patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface. Over time it'll pick up some of the power management code I'm still working on, and we'll see where it goes from there. But, until there's a significant shift in community norms on LKML, I'll only be there when I'm being paid to be there. And that's improved my mood immeasurably.

(Edited to add a context link for the "deepthroating of Microsoft" reference)

comment count unavailable comments

Dominique Leuenberger: Dominique Leuenberger: openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the week 2015/41 [Planet openSUSE]

Dear Tumbleweed users and hackers,

I decided to try to spread the word even a bit further with those weekly reviews, and you can now also get them aggregated on planet.opensuse.org.

As promised last week, you received a snapshot that contained:

  • systemd 224
  • Linux Kernel 4.2
  • Mozilla Firefox 41.0
  • libQt 5.5.0

Users of Virtualbox were a bit bitten by this update, as virtualbox did not successfully build with kernel 4.2 (not due to a vbox issue, but due to dependency issues with the systemd update, which manifested in virtualbox). Of course, virtualbox has since been fixed and you can expect this problem solved in the next snapshot.

The next snapshot will have some larger updates again, which is why it takes a bit longer to get this out to you guys, in fully working state. The updates that will guaranteed be in are:

  • GNOME 3.18.0
  • KDE Applications 15.08.1

As you’d expect, we’re working hard to get these updates out to you as quickly as possible.

What is currently being prepared in stagings:

  • Python 3.5 update: this will need some work, as there are multiple packages failing to build (e.g. pythonn3-setuptools, which is quite basic requriement).
  • Plasma 5.4.2

Have a great weekend a lot of fun.

openSUSE News: The weekly review: Tumbleweed updates to Firefox 41, Geekos gather in Dublin [Planet openSUSE]

IMG_0374Another large Tumbleweed snapshot was release this week and although the frequency of snapshot haven’t been as often as in previous weeks, the recent snapshot provides plenty of updates for TW users.

A major update to Mozilla Firefox 41 was in the  20151002 snapshot. Another major update in TW was Git going to 2.6.

GNU’s Autoconf Archive jumped from a 2015.02.24 update to a 2015.09.25 update. Systemd updated to 224.

The last snapshot had several updates for the current TW Linux Kernel is 4.2.1, which is just behind the latest stable Kernel 4.2.3. There were also several updates for LibQt 5.5.

There were several more updates in the snapshot.

LinuxCon Europe

This week SUSE had a booth at booth at LinuxCon Europe in Dublin, Ireland, and a few openSUSE Geekos were able to use half the booth to promote openSUSE and all the tools it offers to developers, sysadmins and desktop users.

The event was an astounding success. There were tons of visitors and users at the booth talking about Linux, Free and Open Source Software, openQA, Tumbleweed, Leap and Machinery.

IMG_0381At the booth, there were videos displaying testing of Tumbleweed, Leap and SUSE Linux in openQA. Large groups of developers crowded around the booth to try and figure out what they were watching. It was a great conversation starter and gave Geekos an opportunity to explain why openSUSE is an enjoyable community. Plus SUSE brought beer bottle sleeve coolers and openSUSE brought beer coasters for the booth beer crawl; we know how to have a lot of fun!


Next on the agenda for the Leap 42.1 roadmap is RC1. The beta was well received and we want to thank everyone who tested it.

There are about 80 open bugs for Leap and thanks to openQA, it’s able to catch a lot of bugs before the releases are released.


There are tons of things people can do to help with the release of Leap 42.1 like adding screenshots and features. We hope you all contribute to the wiki and have a lot of fun!

Attention everyone … Tacos are culturally offensive. [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Drop that cilantro and step away from the taco bar …

Clemson University issued an apology to students on Thursday after what appears to be a small group of students were offended by an annual Mexican cuisine event put on by university dining services.

Clemson Dining’s “Maximum Mexican” night, has become a student favorite over the last several years, and this year was no different, at first.

Everything was going great. Students were loving the food and festivities. Except for two students, who took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the school’s decision to host such a “#CUlturallyInsensitive” event. […]

Clemson senior Austin Pendergist told Campus Reformhe felt the post-event uproar was “ridiculous.”

“This is something that Clemson Dining has done for years without any sort of backlash. People love the cultural nights in the dining halls,” Pendergist said. “What’s next? Are they going to take away all potato based food as to not offend students from Irish decent? Remove the stir fry station so Asian-American students don’t feel as if they are being misrepresented? When does it end?”

The university, however, took a different position. Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, Clemson University’s Senior Associate Vice President of Student Affairs apologized for the event’s “flattened cultural view of Mexican culture.”

“It is the mission of University Housing & Dining to create supportive and challenging environments that enrich and nourish lives. We failed to live out our mission yesterday, and we sincerely apologize,” Hallenbeck said.

Dr. Hallenbeck went on to promise that the university “will continue to work closely with [its] food service provider to create dining programs that align with Clemson University’s core values.”

Just once I would like to hear the University spokeshole tell these tantrum-throwing brats to grow up or leave. But noooooo… apologies and re-education of the food service people is offered via some of the most cringe-worthy verbosity EVAH.

Yeah, that’ll placate the fucking little SJWs.

BBRRRAAAAAAIIINNNSSS!! [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Indulge your inner, twisted baker …

Friday Fiction: 100 Word Challenge [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

The inspiration:


A story:

I was in a bad part of town, the room as gloomy as Max’s face. He hunkered over it, jewelers loupe glinting under the single light.

I felt anxious but not unsafe. It would take one of Patton’s Army tanks to breech this hidey-hole. A tattoo of grey-green numbers was visible on Max’s inner arm. One of Life’s hard lessons.


“Oh yes. Beautiful stone, 2 carats, antique cut.”


“Real. Don’t tell me how it got loose from the … owner.”

That worried me. Not the diamond but its setting; a canine tooth – 3 inches long …

… And human.

Speak to young people during Jamboree on the Air [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Next weekend is the 58th Jamboree on the Air. It is the largest Scouting event in the world and in 2014 over 1.3 million Scouts participated across 157 countries. In the UK, over 60 callsigns have been registered for the event with many radios clubs helping out. If you hear these stations on the air […]

5MHz newsletter available [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

The 14th edition of The 5MHz Newsletter is now available for free download in pdf format from http://tinyurl.com/ockn2ea and it can also be found on the RSGB 5MHz page. The 5th birthday edition includes news on the CEPT European Common Proposal for an amateur 5MHz secondary allocation for WRC15, allocations in Hungary, Oman, The Netherlands […]

Also in GB2RS this week… [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Due to unavoidable circumstances, the 40m GB2RS news reading from Germany will not take place on Sunday the 18th of October. Readings will be back to normal on the 25th. An International Space Station contact is planned for a school in Washington, USA on the 14th of October at 1941UTC and signals from the ISS […]

Speak to young people during Jamboree on the Air [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Next weekend is the 58th Jamboree on the Air. It is the largest Scouting event in the world and in 2014 over 1.3 million Scouts participated across 157 countries. In the UK, over 60 callsigns have been registered for the event with many radios clubs helping out. If you hear these stations on the air […]

Renewed NoVs for 146 to 147MHz [Radio Society of Great Britain - Main Site]

Ofcom has agreed that Full licence holders, including those with Club or Reciprocal licences, may continue to have temporary access to 146-147MHz for a further 12 months when the existing NoVs expire on the 31st of October. A new NoV must be applied for via the RSGB website. One change on the new NoV is […]

Federal party candidates debate science funding, muzzling of scientists on Quirks & Quarks [CBC | Technology News]

oilsands emissions

Science takes centre stage for political parties as one candidate from each of Canada's federal political parties debates government science policies on CBC's Quirks & Quarks.

The Buzzing Dead: citizen-science project tracks zombified honeybees [CBC | Technology News]

ZomBee Watch

Honeybees are being threatened by tiny flies that lead them to lurch and stagger around like zombies.

Men's lifestyle affects future kids' health, new study suggests [CBC | Technology News]

There's more and more evidence that men's lifestyle and environment long before they have kids can affect their future children's health. Now, a Canadian-led study on mice has shed some light on how and why that effect occurs.

Chris Hadfield wants to send you off planet with Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can [CBC | Technology News]

Col. Chris Hadfield

Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield recorded songs during his time on the International Space Station. He's now released an album Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can so earthlings can better understand the experience of space travel

Hundreds of new species found in Eastern Himalayas [CBC | Technology News]

Spotted wren babbler

More than 200 new species have been found in the Eastern Himalayas between 2009-14, according to a report published by the World Wildlife Fund. Here is a look at some of the more unique species.

Introducing Reactions, Facebook's solution to the 'dislike button' problem [CBC | Technology News]

Instead of one dislike button, users are getting six more nuanced emojis.

Why neutrinos matter: Bob McDonald [CBC | Technology News]

Fish-eye photo of the SNO Detector

Basic science, such as understanding the nature of neutrinos, is fundamentally important to society,writes Bob McDonald.

Laundry-folding robot gets humanity excited about the machine uprising [CBC | Technology News]

Tired of being pegged as our evil, job-taking overlords of the future, robots have extended an olive branch to humanity by offering to fold our laundry.

Orangutans threatened by Indonesia's haze, agricultural burning [CBC | Technology News]

Indonesia's choking haze and the fires creating it are threatening the country's already endangered populations of orangutans.

Studies warn 1 in 3 young men will die from tobacco use in China [CBC | Technology News]

Smoking is expected to kill more than 2 million Chinese a year by 2030, and most of those victims will be men, according to new studies on tobacco use in China.

Bill Gates-backed carbon capture project unveiled in B.C. [CBC | Technology News]

The mountain air in Squamish, B.C., could soon be even fresher with the launch of a groundbreaking carbon capture operation.

SeaWorld San Diego won't breed orcas, but will expand tank size [CBC | Technology News]

SeaWorld-Orca Tanks

A California agency has approved a $100 million US expansion of the tanks SeaWorld uses to hold killer whales in San Diego — but it has also banned the park from breeding captive orcas.

Guest Post: London Shortwave’s guide to mitigating urban radio interference [The SWLing Post]

London-Urban-CityMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, London Shortwave, who is kindly sharing this guest post–a brilliant article he recently posted on his own website.

I’m very grateful: one of the most common questions I’m asked by readers is how to cope with the radio interference so many listeners and amateur radio operators experience in high-density, urban areas. If this is you, you’re in for a treat–just keep reading:

Dealing with Urban Radio Interference on Shortwave

by London Shortwave

Shortwave radio listening is an exciting hobby, but for many of us city dwellers who either got back into it recently or tried it out for the first time not long ago, the first experience was a disappointing one: we could barely hear anything! Station signals, even the supposedly stronger ones, were buried in many different types of static and humming sounds. Why does this happen? The levels of urban radio frequency interference, or RFI, have increased dramatically in the last two decades and the proliferation of poorly engineered electronic gadgets is largely to blame. Plasma televisions, WiFi routers, badly designed switching power adapters and Ethernet Over Powerlines (also known as powerline network technology, or PLT) all severely pollute the shortwave part of the radio spectrum.

Does this mean we should give up trying to enjoy this fascinating medium and revert to using the TuneIn app on our smartphones? Certainly not! There are many angles from which we can attack this problem, and I shall outline a few of them below.

Get a good radio

The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly holds true even when it comes to such “vintage” technologies as shortwave radio. Believe it or not, a poorly designed receiver can itself be the biggest source of noise on the bands. That is because many modern radios use embedded microprocessors and microcontrollers, which, if poorly installed, can generate interference. If the receiver comes with a badly designed power supply, that too can generate a lot of noise.

So how does one go about choosing a good radio? SWLing.com and eHam.net have fantastic radio review sections, which will help you choose a robust receiver that has withstood the test of time. My personal favourites in the portable category are Tecsun PL310-ET and Tecsun PL680. If you want a desktop radio, investigate the type of power supply it needs and find out whether you can get one that generates a minimal amount of noise.

It is also worth noting that indoor shortwave reception is usually best near windows with at least a partial view of the sky.

Tecsun PL310-ET and Tecsun PL680, my two favourite portable shortwave radios.

Tecsun PL310-ET and Tecsun PL680, my two favourite portable shortwave radios.

Identify and switch off noisy appliances

Many indoor electrical appliances generate significant RFI on the shortwave bands. Examples include:

  • Plasma televisions
  • Laptop, and other switching-type power supplies
  • Mobile phone chargers
  • Dimmer switches
  • Washing machines / dishwashers
  • Amplified television antennas
  • Halogen lighting
  • LED lighting
  • Badly constructed electrical heaters
  • Mains extension leads with LED lights

Identify as many of these as you can and switch them all off. Then turn them back on one by one and monitor the noise situation with your shortwave radio. You will most likely find at least a few offending devices within your home.

Install an outdoor antenna

If you have searched your home for everything you can possibly turn off to make reception less noisy but aren’t satisfied with the results, you might want to look into installing and outdoor antenna. That will be particularly effective if you live in a detached or a semi-detached property and have a garden of some sort. Of course, you will need a radio that has an external antenna input, but as for the antenna itself, a simple copper wire of several metres will do. An important trick is making sure that the noise from inside your home doesn’t travel along your antenna, thus negating the advantage of having the latter installed outside. There are many ways of achieving this, but I will suggest a configuration that has worked well for me in the past.

Fig.1 Schematic for an outdoor dipole antenna.

Fig.1 Schematic for an outdoor dipole antenna.

I have used a three-terminal balun (positioned outdoors), and connected two 6 metre copper wires to its antenna terminals to create a dipole. I then connected the balun to the radio indoors through the feed line terminal using a 50? coaxial cable. In the most general terms, the current that is generated in the antenna wires by the radio waves flows from one end of the dipole into the other, and a portion of this current flows down the feed line into your radio. The balun I have used (Wellbrook UMB130) is engineered in a way that prevents the radio noise current from inside your house flowing into the receiving part of the antenna.

Wellbrook UMB130 balun with the feed line terminal disconnected

Wellbrook UMB130 balun with the feed line terminal disconnected

Antenna preselectors

There is a catch with using an outdoor antenna described above — the signals coming into your radio will be a lot stronger than what would be picked up by the radio’s built-in “whip” antenna. This can overload the receiver and you will then hear many signals from different parts of the shortwave spectrum “mixing in” with the station you are trying to listen to. An antenna preselector solves this problem by allowing signals from a small yet adjustable part of the spectrum to reach your radio, while blocking the others. You can think of it as an additional tuner that helps your radio reject unwanted frequencies.

Fig.2 Schematic of a preselector inserted between the outdoor antenna and the receiver

Fig.2 Schematic of a preselector inserted between the outdoor antenna and the receiver

There are many antenna preselectors available on the market but I can particularly recommend Global AT-2000. Although no longer manufactured, many used units can be found on eBay.

Global AT-2000 antenna coupler and preselector

Global AT-2000 antenna coupler and preselector

Risk of lightning


Any outdoor antenna presents the risk of a lightning strike reaching inside your home with devastating and potentially lethal consequences. Always disconnect the antenna from the receiver and leave the feed line cable outside when not listening to the radio or when there is a chance of a thunderstorm in your area.

Get a magnetic loop antenna

A broadband loop antenna (image courtesy of wellbrook.uk.com)

A broadband loop antenna (image courtesy of wellbrook.uk.com)

The outdoor long wire antenna worked well for me when I stayed at a suburban property with access to the garden, but when I moved into an apartment well above the ground floor and without a balcony, I realised that I needed a different solution. Having googled around I found several amateur radio websites talking about the indoor use of magnetic loop receive-only active antennas (in this case, “active” means that the antenna requires an input voltage to work). The claim was that such antennas respond “primarily to the magnetic field and reject locally radiated electric field noise”[*] resulting in lower noise reception than other compact antenna designs suitable for indoor use.

Interlude: signal to noise ratio

In radio reception, the important thing is not the signal strength by itself but the signal to noise ratio, or SNR. A larger antenna (such as a longer copper wire) will pick up more of the desired signal but, if close to RFI sources, will also pick up disproportionately more of the local noise. This will reduce the SNR and make the overall signal reading poorer, which is why it is not advisable to use large antennas indoors.

The other advantage of a loop antenna is that it is directional. By rotating the loop about its vertical axis one can maximise the reception strength of one particular signal over the others, once the antenna is aligned with the direction from which the signal is coming (this is termed “peaking” the signal). Similarly, it is possible to reduce the strength of a particular local noise source, since the loop is minimally sensitive to a given signal once it is perpendicular the latter’s direction (also known as “nulling” the signal).

It is further possible to lower the effect of local noise sources by moving the antenna around. Because of the antenna’s design, the effect of radio signals is mostly confined to the loop itself as opposed to its feed line. Most local noise sources have irregular radiation patterns indoors, meaning that it is possible find a spot inside your property where their effects are minimised.

Many compact shortwave loop antennas require an additional tuning unit to be attached to the loop base (much like the preselector described above) but broadband loops do not. Wellbrook ALA1530S+ is one such antenna that is only 1m in diameter, and it was the one I chose for my current apartment. I was rather impressed with its performance, although I found that I need to use a preselector with it as the loop occasionally overloads some of my receivers when used on its own. Below is a demo video comparing using my Tecsun PL680’s built-in antenna to using the radio with the Wellbrook loop.

As you can hear, there is a significant improvement in the signal’s readability when the loop is used.

Experiment with a phaser

Although the loop antenna dramatically reduces the levels of ambient RFI getting into the radio,  I also have one particular local noise source which is way too strong for the loop’s nulling capability. Ethernet Over Powerlines (PLT) transmits data across domestic electrical circuits using wall socket adapters, as an alternative to wireless networking. It uses the same frequencies as shortwave, which turns the circuits into powerful transmitting antennas, causing massive interference. One of my neighbours has PLT adapters installed at his property, which intermittently become active and transmit data. When this happens,  it is not merely noise that is generated, but a very intense data signal that spreads across the entire shortwave spectrum, obliterating everything but the strongest stations underneath. Fortunately, a mature piece of radio technology called antenna phasing is available to deal with this problem.

Fig.3 The principle of antenna phaser operation (adapted from an original illustration in Timewave ANC-4's manual)

Fig.3 The principle of antenna phaser operation (adapted from an original illustration in Timewave ANC-4’s manual)

Signal cancellation using phase difference

A phaser unit has two separate antenna inputs and provides one output to be connected to the radio’s external antenna input. The theory of phase-based signal cancellation goes roughly as follows:

  • The same radio signal will arrive at two different, locally separated antennas at essentially the same time.
  • The phase of the signal received at the first antenna will be different to the phase of the same signal received at the second antenna.
  • This phase difference depends on the direction from which the signal is coming, relative to the two antennas.
  • The phaser unit can shift the phases of all signals received at one antenna by the same variable amount.
  • To get rid of a particular (noise) signal using the phaser unit:
    • the signal’s phase at the first antenna has to be shifted by 180° relative to the signal’s phase at the second antenna (thus producing a “mirror image” of the signal received at the second antenna)
    • its amplitude at the first antenna has to be adjusted so that it is the same as the signal’s amplitude at the second antenna
    • the currents from the two antennas are then combined by the unit, and the signal and its mirror image cancel each other out at the unit’s output, while the other signals are preserved.

Noise sampling antenna considerations

To prevent the possibility of the desired signal being cancelled out together with the noise signal — which can happen if they both come from the same direction relative to the antennas — one can use the set-up illustrated in Figure 3, where one antenna is dedicated to picking up the specific noise signal, while the other is geared towards receiving the desired broadcast. That way, even if the phases of both the noise and the desired signals are offset by the same amount, their relative amplitude differences will not be the same, and thus removing the noise signal will not completely cancel out the desired signal (though it will reduce the latter’s strength to some extent).

It is possible to use any antenna combination for phase-based noise signal cancellation. However, one has to be careful that, in the pursuit of removing a specific noise source, one does not introduce more ambient RFI into the radio system by using a poorly designed noise-sampling antenna. After all, the phaser can only cancel out one signal at a time and will pass through everything else picked up by both antennas. This is particularly relevant in urban settings.

For this reason, I chose my noise sampling antenna to also be a Wellbrook ALA1530S+. The additional advantages of this set-up are:

  • It is possible to move both loops around to minimise the amount of ambient RFI.
  • By utilising the loops’ directionality property, one can rotate the noise sampling loop to maximise the strength of the noise signal relative to the desired signal picked up by the main antenna loop.
Two Wellbrook ALA1530S+ antennas combined through a phaser

Two Wellbrook ALA1530S+ antennas combined through a phaser

And now onto the phaser units themselves.

Phaser units


DX Engineering NCC-1 (image courtesy of dxengineering.com)

I have experimented at length with two phaser units: the MFJ 1026 (manual) and DX Engineering NCC-1 (manual). Both solve the problem of the PLT noise very well, but the NCC-1 offers amplitude and phase tuning controls that are much more precise, making it a lot easier to identify the right parameter settings. Unfortunately this comes at a price, as the NCC-1 is a lot more expensive than the MFJ unit. As before, a preselector is needed between the phaser and the radio to prevent overloading.

Below is a demo of DX Engineering NCC-1 at work on my neighbour’s PLT noise. I have chosen to use my SDR’s waterfall display to illustrate the nefarious effect of this type of radio interference and to show how well the NCC-1 copes with the challenge.

Cost considerations

Fig.4 Final urban noise mitigation schematic

Fig.4 Final urban noise mitigation schematic

It would be fair to say that my final urban noise mitigation set-up, shown in Figure 4, is quite expensive: the total cost of two Wellbrook antennas ($288.38 each), a DX Engineering phaser ($599.95) and a Global AT2000 preselector ($80) comes to $1257. That seems like an astronomical price to pay for enjoying shortwave radio in the inner city! However, at this point another old saying comes to mind, “your radio is only as good as your antenna”. There are many high-end shortwave receivers that cost at least this much (e.g. AOR AR7030), but on their own they won’t be of any use in such a noisy environment. Meanwhile, technological progress has brought about many much cheaper radios that rival the older benchmark rigs in terms of performance, with Software Defined Radios (SDRs) being a particularly good example. It seems fair, then, to invest these cost savings into what makes shortwave listening possible. You may also find that your RFI situation is not as dire as mine and you only need some of the above equipment to solve your noise problems.

Filter audio with DSP

If you have implemented the above noise reduction steps but would still like a less noisy listening experience, consider using a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) solution. There are a number of different approaches and products available on the market, and I shall be reviewing some of them in my next post. Meanwhile, below are two demo videos of using DSP while listening to shortwave. The first clip shows the BHI Compact In-Line Noise Elimination Module at work together with a vintage shortwave receiver (Lowe HF-150). The second video compares using a Tecsun PL-660 portable radio indoors on its own and using the entire RFI mitigation set-up shown in Figure 4 together with a DSP noise reduction feature available in the SDR# software package, while using it with a FunCube Dongle Pro+ SDR. As a side note, it is worth remembering that while DSP approaches can make your listening experience more pleasant, they can’t recover what has been lost due to interfering signals or inadequate antenna design.

Set up a wireless audio relay from your radio shack

The above RFI mitigation techniques can result in a rather clunky set-up that is not particularly portable, confining the listener to a specific location within their home. One way to get around this is by creating a wireless audio relay from your radio shack to the other parts of your house. I did this by combining the Nikkai AV sender/receiver pair and the TaoTronics BA01 portable Bluetooth transmitter:

Head for the outdoors!

So you have tried all of the above and none of it helps? As a last resort (for some, but personally I prefer it!), you can go outside to your nearest park with your portable radio. After all, if shortwave listening is causing you more frustration than joy it’s hardly worth it. On the other hand, you might be surprised by what you’ll be able to hear with a good receiver in a noise-free zone.


Many of the above tricks and techniques were taught to me by my Twitter contacts. I am particularly grateful to @marcabbiss@SWLingDotCom, @K7al_L3afta and@sdrsharp for their advice and assistance over the years.

Thank you–!

What I love about my buddy, London Shortwave, is that he didn’t give up SWLing just because his home is inundated with radio interference–rather, he saw it as a challenge. As you can see, over the years, he has designed a system that effectively defeats radio interference.

I also love the fact that he uses an even more simple approach to defeating RFI: he takes his radio outdoors. A kindred spirit, indeed.

I encourage all SWLing Post readers to bookmark and search London Shortwave’s website. It’s a treasure trove for the urban SWL. We thank him for allow us to post this article in its entirety.

Radio Romania International: New frequencies as of October 25 [The SWLing Post]

RomaniaMapMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), for sharing the following additional update from Radio Romania International:

Dear friends,

As of October 25th 2015 RRI broadcasts on new SW frequencies. Please check them out:


RRI Listener’s Day: November 1, 2015 [The SWLing Post]

RRI-RadioRomaniaInternationalMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), for sharing the following from Radio Romania International:


Dear friends, on Sunday, November 1st 2015, RRI celebrates Listeners’ Day. As usual, we invite you to be an active part of our special program airing on that day. The topic of this year’s edition is refugees. We have all followed the news about the refugee crisis, and have seen that hundreds of thousands of people risk their lives leaving their native countries in search of a better life in Europe. This wave has become a big challenge for Europe, for European values, the labor market, economic growth, and the process of integration into society. However, no one can ignore that each refugee has his or her own personal story, which sometimes is very sad.

Therefore Listeners’ Day on RRI invites you to share your opinion on the refugee issue, and to tell us stories you know about refugees. We are sure that many of you know such stories, since the refugee crisis affects the whole world.

We are looking forward to receiving your pre-recorded or written contributions, which you can send by e-mail or by Facebook and of the other social networks on which RRI has a profile. Our address is RRI, 60-64 General Berthelot street, sector 1 Bucharest, PO BOX 111, postal code 010165, e-mail: engl@rri.ro

Vibroplex acquires International Radio Corporation [The SWLing Post]

vibro (1)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike (K8RAT) who shares this press release from Vibroplex:

Vibroplex LLC of Knoxville, TN announces the acquisition of International Radio Corporation of Aptos, CA.

inrad-logoThe sale was finalized on September 23. International Radio, commonly referred to as “Inrad”, is the leading manufacturer of aftermarket and OEM crystal filters for Amateur Radio transceivers and receivers with some 250 different models currently available for present day equipment and obsolete gear dating as far back as the 1950’s.

Inrad is presently the OEM roofing filter supplier for the popular Elecraft K3/K3S series of HF transceivers. The last day of operations in California was September 22. Inrad is now up and running at the Vibroplex offices in Tennessee but the backlog of present orders on hand will take several more days to fill.

The former and new owners say thank you to the Amateur Radio community for more than 40 years of Inrad business. Inquiries about Inrad can be directed to the main Vibroplex email address at vibroplex@vibroplex.com orsales@inrad.net

Carry ‪The Flash‬ with you anywhere and watch the season... [The Flash]

Carry ‪The Flash‬ with you anywhere and watch the season premiere for free on The CW App: on.cwtv.com/FLA201

The Federalist Radio Hour: ‘Chaos’ In The House And Obama The Baseball Fraud [The Federalist]

David Harsanyi, senior editor at the Federalist, and Bill McMorris, reporter at the Washington Free Beacon hosted the Federalist Radio Hour today. After recent news that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for Speaker, the media is asserting that Washington is in chaos and that the disarray of the Republican party is a bad sign.

Harsanyi and McMorris suggest that the media forgets this is how Congress is suppose to work. “The House is the most democratic institution we have, but yet when there is actual democracy going on and people aren’t lockstepping, they act as if everything is falling apart,” Harsanyi said.

The hosts also move to discussions about potential candidates for the Speaker position, as well as Ben Carson’s latest comments on gun control. Carson suggested that if the Jews in the Holocaust had been armed, then things might not have been as bad as they were.

“I think that’s a little nuts, which is how Carson usually comes across to me,” Harsanyi said.

Later in the hour, Rebecca Cusey joins to discuss the recently released movie, The Martian, as well as other upcoming films to look forward to. The hosts debate the notion of prequels and whether Star Wars movies were actually good or if we are just nostalgic about them.

Finally, writer for the Washington Free Beacon, Brent Scher joins tells us why Obama is not the sports fan he portrays himself to be.

“Obama exposed himself as a complete fraud as a White Sox fans,” Scher said. “Yesterday, they asked him who he was rooting for in the playoffs and he said he was rooting for the Cubs. I think this is the final straw that he is completely full of it on baseball.”

Click here to subscribe to the show or listen below.

If You’re Slut-Shaming Bristol Palin, You’re Not Actually A Feminist [The Federalist]

After Bristol Palin criticized a public school program that provides free birth control to children without parental consent, many have taken the opportunity to attack her personal life in an attempt to silence her.

Some of the headlines from around the web show the media isn’t interested in engaging with Palin’s remarks and lodging informed arguments against them, but are intent on shutting her up.

Consider a few of these headlines:

Salon: Just Shut Up, Bristol Palin: You Are The Last Person Who Should Talk About Birth Control

JezebelFormer Teen Mom Bristol Palin Is Very Upset That Washington Teens Can Get IUDs

Wonkette: Bristol Palin Outraged Other Girls Won’t Get Knocked Up In High School Like She Did

Addicting Info: Jealous Bristol Palin Whines That 10-Year-Old Girls Are More Responsible Than She Is

All of these make it a point to mention Palin’s pregnancy in an effort to discredit her opinions on birth control. Their logic is essentially that because Palin had two unplanned pregnancies, she isn’t qualified to have an opinion on birth control.

Granted, Palin isn’t the best person to be a spokesperson for an abstinence advocacy organization, as clearly she isn’t practicing what she preaches, but that doesn’t strip her of the right to have a say on the reproductive process. Palin does have a point. After all, providing 10-year-old girls with IUD’s without getting their parent’s consent is extreme.

Should women have access to birth control? Absolutely. But whether or not it should be provided to them by the state is another question entirely. Additionally, distributing contraceptives to minors without parental consent is a reasonable policy to take issue with, especially when those minors are indeed 10-year-old girls.

Palin wrote:

It is crazy that the government is offering a controversial form of birth control that can have serious life-long side effects to 10-year-old CHILDREN, but then to do all of this behind a parent’s back is simply outrageous!

Wonkette does a pretty bang-up job of sounding like pregnancy-shaming jerks, while ignoring the merits of her concerns:

As for life-long side effects of using birth control, well, Bristol’s not wrong there. One of the life-long side effects of using birth control is being able to plan whether and when to have children instead of just saying oops! every time a baby mysteriously lands inside of your uterus because you don’t understand how to make that not happen. This allows women to graduate from high school without their caps and gowns smelling like baby poo. It allows them to go to college and pursue careers, and we don’t just mean as reality TV stars or spokesdicks for abstinence programs.

Seriously, Wonkette? Attacking a woman for deciding to keep her baby despite the hardships is low. Also, a baby has never mysteriously landed in one’s uterus. They are conceived during sexual intercourse or are implanted under the guidance of a doctor. Preventing pregnancy doesn’t require contraception, it requires abstinence, which isn’t all that weird or unrealistic to encourage.

Claiming that having a baby will stunt a woman’s career is totally bunk, as women are actually more productive in the workplace than their childless counterparts. Shaming a girl for having a baby at a young age and saying that she will be resigned to reality TV is terribly anti-woman. We ought to applaud young girls for having the courage to save the life of their child despite the difficult circumstances they face, and we ought to give young mothers a message of empowerment and self-worth. Yes, you may be young and pregnant, but that does not at all mean you cannot make something of yourself.

As Salon correctly pointed out, just because a girl is on birth control does not in any way imply that she is sexually active. Many rely on it to regulate their periods or deal with other hormonal imbalances. However, contraception can make young girls more vulnerable to sexual abuse. When the consequences of potentially impregnating a young girl disappear, abusers become enabled to take advantage her, as their abuse can remain a secret as long as she doesn’t grow a baby bump. As a mom and once a young girl herself, Palin is definitely qualified to object to a program that could make other girls targets for sexual predators.

While a woman of age or a girl with the help of her parents has the right to decide whether or not the benefits of such a device outweigh the risks, an elementary-aged schoolgirl is not in a place to decide this on her own. She should have her parents guide and help her to make the right decision. She definitely shouldn’t be secretly implanted with hormones — by the government, mind you — behind the backs of her parents. It is not extreme to want to keep government bureaucrats away from your 10-year-old daughter’s private parts.

The reaction to Palin’s remarks shows that many publications, especially those which tout themselves as progressive or open-minded, aren’t all that accepting of other perspectives. When it comes to sex, having an opinion that varies at all from the talking points of pro-abortion feminists will get stamped out by the media. If we really want a debate on the merits of schools providing contraceptives to children, perhaps we ought to let the parents of those children have a say.

Let White Parents Embarrass Themselves On YouTube [The Federalist]

We’ve all seen these videos. White parents sing a parody version of a popular rap song and alter the lyrics to highlight the triumphs and trials of raising a family. Admittedly, they can be sometimes painful to watch. There’s something about the mashup of two very different worlds: rap culture and middle-class white families that make us laugh. We laugh half out of amusement and half out of embarrassment for them.

Recently, they’ve come under attack as perpetuating contemporary blackface. In a piece for Salon, Sarah Watts lambasts these YouTubing parents:

But as a white woman, it would be tone-deaf of me to assume that there’s nothing problematic about me taking a black person’s lived experience and making it cutesy and palatable for a mostly-white audience. Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” isn’t about Trick or Treating with his family; the song is about Snoop’s teen days in Long Beach, which belong to him — warts and all. De-contextualizing his music and obscuring the history behind it is a form of erasure and, let’s be honest here, a form of racism. Similarly, adopting the mannerisms, dress, and slang of black artists, like the white rappers in popular YouTube parenting raps — that’s racism as well. It’s little better than contemporary blackface.

The video that she takes aim at is by the Holderness Family, of #XmasJammies fame. One of their more recent videos is  their own version of LMFAO’s “Party Anthem,” and it pokes fun at helicopter parenting. Set in a park, parents are filmed hovering over their children with hand sanitizer and tissues. They’ve swapped out the words to better fit the comic situation. “Everyday I’m hustlin’,” now becomes: “everyday I’m hoverin’,” as a mom is filmed slathering sunscreen on her child’s face.

While Watts is right that de-contextualizing art can be a form of erasure, the fame from the videos within the “White Parents Parody” genre has yet to eclipse the fame of the original songs. In fact, it’s probably had the opposite effect from what Watts describes. These videos introduce songs to people who otherwise may have never heard them. My own parents, who laugh and repeatedly share these videos on Facebook, will often Google the original song being parodied and listen to it all the way through, while comparing the differences between the two versions. Exposing people like my parents to a different culture through silly parody videos isn’t a bad thing. Nor does it erase the value of the original work.

The song that the Copter Mommy video parodies isn’t a story of struggle or oppression. It’s not an anthem about Snoop Dogs struggle in Long Beach. It’s about partying in a club:

Party rock is in this house tonight

Everybody just have a good time

And we gonna make you lose your mind […]

We just wanna see you, shake that!

Covering up these words with a tale of how overly protective parents are stifling the development of their children isn’t drowning out a message of black struggle. In fact, it takes a silly song about partying in a club and uses it to highlight problematic parenting behaviors.

Watts goes on:

It might seem like a stretch to compare something that’s meant to be clean fun to something as insidious as blackface. But surprisingly, a lot of the same elements of blackface performance are actually at play in videos like “I’m a Mom,” “Parent Rap,” “Dad Life,” and the ever-popular “#Xmas Jammies” that went ridiculously viral at the end of 2013. According to Eric Lott, author of “Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class,” blackface is defined as a practice in which white people “caricature blacks for sport and profit.” In all of these videos, white people not only imitate black vernacular (using phrases like “errday,” “hizzle,” “stone cold player,” and “you best get ready,”) but they also borrow mannerisms typically seen in gangsta rap videos.

Watts’s assessment that these parents are imitating characteristics commonly associated with black culture, particularly with rappers, is true. However this isn’t an example of blackface.

Historically, blackface was used to minimize black people in theater and film by portraying them in an exaggeratedly ridiculous manner. Black actors were commonly denied access to the stage unless they were painted in blackface makeup, or white actors would replace black ones altogether and paint themselves in grease and burnt cork in order to appear black.

These videos aren’t barring black entertainers from the bandwidth of YouTube, nor are they mocking blacking people. They’re mocking themselves. Yes, they mimic characteristics of most rap videos, but it’s clear that their intentions aren’t to make fun of other cultures. The whole point of their videos is to show how ridiculous their own culture is. Protecting your child from the dangers of the monkey bars seems even more insane when contrasted with the easygoing nature of the “Party Rock Anthem” that the video is set to.

Let white parents embarrass themselves on YouTube. It’s good for us all.

Relax. This Is Exactly How Congress Should Work [The Federalist]

No one in America is going to change their mind about anything because Kevin McCarthy won’t be Speaker of the House.

If you listened to the political media, though, you might have been under the impression that something had gone horribly wrong because the House Majority Leader made the surprise decision to withdraw from the race for speaker, leaving Republicans to scramble for a candidate. Yet this is the kind of messiness we should expecting from our most democratic institution. The House is where public sentiment first manifests. And public sentiment—on the Right, and probably in most corners of American political life right now—isn’t in the mood for coronations.

Nevertheless, nearly the entire political media treated a healthy instance of intra-party debate as a failure of governance. Upsetting the status quo (if it’s Republicans, at least) is treated as turmoil rather than change.

Karen Tumulty actually wrote these words in The Washington Post:

Less than a year after a sweeping electoral triumph, Republicans are on the verge of ceasing to function as a national political party.

Chaos! A failure to partisan lockstep is tantamount to anarchy. Majorities in the House and Senate are now useless. You know those 31 Republican governors and 31 GOP-controlled legislatures? Dead. Lincoln’s party is over because it couldn’t agree on a speaker this week. We’ll see if Tumulty is right, but every time they tell me the GOP is dead, conservatives end up on the winning side of a wave election a few months later.

In the real world, this is all far less dramatic. There are many reasons floating around about McCarthy’s change of heart, but here’s how CNN put it:

A source close to McCarthy told CNN the decision to drop out came down to ‘numbers, pure and simple,’ adding that ‘he had the votes to win the conference vote, but there just wasn’t a path to 218′ — the number of votes needed to lock down the speakership on the House floor.

For whatever reason, he didn’t have the votes. Don’t worry, Republicans can find 50 other politicians with the exact same skill set to take his place. Yet, McCarthy told National Review Online he doesn’t believe the House is “governable” anymore. “Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom,” he added, offering us a peek into the conceit of someone who believes everything will fall apart if he’s not in leadership.

Fact is, Republicans have gained 69 House seats since Barack Obama became president. That hardly sounds like rock bottom to me. Many of those seats were won without any help from Republican leadership in Washington. Some of the victims of conservative success have been Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and now McCarthy. So perhaps the majority leader meant that so-called institutionalists were hitting rock bottom.

Whether this fight will be politically detrimental for Republicans is yet to be seen.

It’s an emotional time for institutionalists, no doubt. Peter King from New York claimed (and I’m skeptical) that some GOP congresspeople were crying in the cloakroom (and if you do care about politics that much you definitely shouldn’t be a politician). He went on to say that America was now a “banana republic.”

Why? Because a party embodies a range of ideas regarding tactics and priorities? Does anyone believe the Democrats’ lockstep with the executive branch (other than in rare instances of political expediency) is healthier for the country? Is that sort of deference to partisanship and power what the Founders envisioned for Congress? Or is “chaos” preferable to political subservience?

No, Republicans are not united. But there are those who argue—with little evidence—that Democrats are more ready to compromise, and this sort of stubborn GOP infighting proves this thesis. So it’s worth mentioning that unity does not necessarily tell us anything about a group’s is inclination towards bipartisanship. Though it might tell us that there’s more ideological harmony or discipline among Democrats these days.

Whether this fight will be politically detrimental for quarreling Republicans is yet to be seen. (I’ve long argued that Boehner hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves.) Maybe it’ll be an electoral disaster. But real chaos, it surely isn’t.

One of things that makes D.C. stable is the broad Right-Left consensus that is reached prior to an election. That’s not about to change.  Another way the House helps to stop banana-republicanism is by acting as a counterforce to the activism of other branches of government—or, what partisans like to call ‘obstruction’ when they’re in power. That, too, is not going anywhere.

The politics won’t change much, either. As news and rumors broke about majority leader dropping out, millions of people around the country were undoubtedly saying, “Who the hell is Kevin McCarthy?”

The most important way the House creates stability is acting as bulwark against activism from other branches of government.

Until a new president is elected, the dynamics of DC  remain the dynamics because of structure, not personalities. The Treasury Department says Congress has to raise the debt ceiling by Nov. 5. Congress will agree to bump it again. Congress has to reach a two-year budget deal before funding expires. Republicans will agree, because they will not want to close down government. And conservatives will be mad.

Long-term implications, though, may be different. Certain things can and should get done.

Sooner or later, though, after someone else takes over, that new leadership will strive to maintain intraparty stability and demand disciple. That’s its job. And a bunch of newcomers will show up and want to change things, as they always do. In 1994, there was a Republican revolution in the House. By 1998, there was another House rebellion, this one overthrowing Newt Gingrich. That tension will never go away. It’s not a good thing for professional partisans, but hardly a tragedy for the rest of us. Or, at least, it’s a lot healthier for a republic than watching unprincipled politicians uncritically take orders from their leadership.

The House most directly represents the American voter, yet The Beltway sees pandemonium when the representatives of those voters no longer want to be managed and “governed,” but also have a voice. This doesn’t signify the end of the republic. And it doesn’t mean Republicans are on the verge of ceasing to function as a national political party. Though, you’re free to dream.

Skiing: Freedom’s Final Frontier [The Federalist]

The air is getting crisper; the days are getting shorter; the beer is getting darker. For some, this means we’ve survived another wet, hot American summer without losing an arm to a boat crash, a spine to a diving board, or this life to a shark. But don’t get too comfortable. Winter is coming, and with it, ski season.

Skiing is a classic American pastime, enjoyed from Northeast to Northwest. Next time you spend your money on a lift pass and hit the slopes, consider the bureaucrat by whose kindness your weekend will be spent. There’s no way Enlightened Man can responsibly allow skiing.

Mountains Are Dangerous

Consider the mountain: Thousands of acres of pristine wilderness, untouched by human hands, unsullied by our masses. Now imagine scalping its majestic green crown and plopping down a mid-mountain lodge—one made out of once-living trees, no less, adding insult to injury.

From this central point, man’s tractors spread forth, leaving barren, rocky wasteland. Pipelines are laid, chemicals pumped through their ghastly metal halls. Artificial snow rains from gray skies.

Yes, for centuries man’s conquest of nature and her elements was lauded. Early Man considered draining swamps a critical step in agriculture, against disease, and for civilization. But those dark ages are long gone, my friend. Enlightened Man has reclassified those swamps as wetlands. Under the watchful eye of environmentalists and the Environmental Protection Agency, we are actively filling them back in. See how far we’ve come?

Can anyone say his selfish mountain adventure would meet approval from the Sierra Club? Could anyone even be so shameless as to ask?

Even if permission were granted, it would be an actual hike. Who could consider sullying the base of the mountain with tar? It’s been 45 years since Joni Mitchell bravely condemned her society for paving paradise to put up a parking lot. We’re enlightened now.

I wonder if she skis.

Chairlifts Are Just Asking for Accidents

Consider the chairlift: Monstrous, moving, creaking, slippery metal chairs careening through the freezing air 50 feet above a mountain. No seat belts, no head rests, no air bags. These chairs don’t even come to a complete stop before boarding, clipping the knees of the young and elderly alike, barreling over the weaker among us while stoned and bearded attendants rush to pump the brakes—an emergency procedure that sends thousands of passengers swinging back and forth, clinging to life on a long and strained cable.

That is OSHA’s dream. That is OSHA’s nightmare.

This “emergency” procedure isn’t even rare. Across every mountain’s every lift every day, it’s so common it registers not a blip of concern in the eyes of the pimpled teenagers paid to attend it. That is Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) dream. That is OSHA’s nightmare.

Did you know that, as recently as 2014, parents would let children as young as five board these death traps? How Early Man ever used something so obviously deadly ought to be a mystery to modern scholars. And what is it all for? What terror awaits at the top?

Skiing Itself Is Atrocious

Consider the sport: Once the child-endangering tree-destroyers reach their destination, they strap “a pair of long narrow pieces of hard flexible material” to boots so tight they hurt a child’s ankles. Then—then—they push off down a steep trail padded with icy snow, flanked by deadly trees. Not content with these danger levels, mountain owners instruct those very same stoned teenagers to construct traps: Moguls, jumps, half-pipes made of snow hard as rock.

Once the child-endangering tree-destroyers reach their destination, they strap ‘a pair of long narrow pieces of hard flexible material’ to boots so tight they hurt a child’s ankles.

Classes of children as young as three are lured with skis corporations have decorated in bright colors and their favorite cartoon characters. Then, they are organized into groups called “munchkins” and sent out with strange mountain people who teach them to survive their crucible with methods misleadingly disguised with names like “pizza wedge” and “French fry.” If Child Protective Services had turned a cheek to the chair lift, this should hold their attention.

Meanwhile, parents risk life and limb in their own harrowing journey, punctuating high-speed races over moguls and through trees with pints of beer consumed at altitude. But are there police stops on these slopes? No, not even an officer. The mountain is instead protected by a private army in the mountain’s employ, equipped with barely more than sleds to cart the dead and wounded from their property.

As if that’s not enough, just 20 years ago only 5 percent of these skiers even wore helmets, opting instead to don a woolly hat. To this very day, most mountains permit  older skiers to continue this primitive practice as they barrel down mountain trails.

And there’s more.

The Untamed Brave the Mountain Still

Consider the lodge: A sprawling, sweaty complex where parents continue to drink, pacifying their children with heaping plates of carbs topped with melted calories and ground cattle. It’s hot, it’s unhealthy, it’s inhumane. Often, it’s also loud, with live guitars and dirty jokes blaring.

Politicians make a living and activists a fortune telling us how to dispose of our bottles, which cookies we can eat, how large our sodas are, where we can smoke, which flags we fly.

Meanwhile, baggage as large as duffel bags is tucked in every nook, under every table, filled with skis and mittens maybe—or, maybe, bombs. Who would know? There’s nary a metal-detector in sight; nor a capable office of the Transportation Security Administration for miles and miles.

Finally, consider our country, where politicians make a living and activists a fortune telling us how to dispose of our bottles, which cookies we can eat, how large our sodas are, where we can smoke, which flags we fly, what books we read, how we raise our kids, and if we can even play a damn game of football. This way of thinking has become so deep-seated, it is pathological.

Still, some of us break free of the cities, packing our trunks and roofs like the covered wagons of days past, heading north to brave the land that claimed Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy. We few will not be tamed, nor broken.

We have seen the top of the mountain. And it is good.

Here’s What’s Behind Our Obsession With Zombies [The Federalist]

This is the Age of the Zombie, of the neighbor next door who yesterday smiled and waved to you as you backed your Volvo out of the driveway and today is slavering and growling and trying to chew off your face. Half of the direct-to-video movies on pay-per-view are about flesh-eating ghouls; “The Walking Dead” have overrun our television. Popular culture’s dark fantasies have always reflected our deepest fears about the real world. Today, in a time when Americans are figuratively at each other’s throats, our monsters are our fellow citizens.

In the ’50s, the Bomb loomed over the culture, and the sense that some anonymous functionary could push a red button in a silo in Minot or Semipalatinsk and that would pretty much be that. So we had your straight-ahead nuke melodramas, like “Fail-Safe,” and the aftermath films, like “Panic in the Year Zero” and “On the Beach.” But you also had the fantasies, like “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and “Them!,” where radiation turned benign nature malignant as extinct dinosaurs and enterprising ants became massive monstrosities via radiation.

What they shared was the common threat of impersonal doom. The nuclear war just sort of happened, with individuals sucked into it. The giant monster just sort of happened to wander through the city, unknowable, unstoppable.

Not so with zombies. Regardless of their various forms—running or stumbling, virally-induced or cause unknown—the zombie is an intensely personal, intimate nemesis. It is your friend, your spouse, even your kid, and it’s not going to kill you by radiation from a dozen miles away or via a huge claw that can’t even feel you squish as it stomps on you. A zombie is going to eat you alive, and linger while doing it. And it will all happen not in some ruined wasteland but in your own neighborhood, looking the same as it has always has except that some of its inhabitants are running from other inhabitants who want to have them for dinner.

Our Out-of-Control Society

What does it say that our collective subconscious senses less of a threat from fanatical outsiders who, in the last couple decades, have killed thousands of us via terrorism, than from each other?

There is a sense that at the other end of the tunnel we have walked down is chaos.

Perhaps our ids are onto something. After all, foreigners are relatively easy to deal with. They blew up our buildings, so we went over and slaughtered thousands of jihadis and their medieval buddies. Except for a few attempts with various levels of success, they have been ineffective here since. Those who try shooting up Americans for Allah last a few minutes at best before they get shot down. The foreigners are a threat, but that’s under control.

What is out of control, or what seems like it is out of control, is our society itself. A pervasive unease in America is deepening. It is a sense that our society has become unstable, that the normalcy we took for granted is gone and perhaps not coming back. There is a sense that at the other end of the tunnel we have walked down is chaos. We are at the point where millions look at Donald Trump as the solution to our problems, not a symptom. It’s that bad.

Attacking the American Identity

It started sometime after Reagan vanquished the Soviets and the nuclear threat disappeared. History was supposed to be over, but it didn’t work out quite that way. We elected Bill Clinton, who superficially seems to be the last of the “regular order” presidents but was actually something quite different. The first president from the ’60s generation, he was also the first president who came to Washington with a coterie of fellow travelers who, in a very real sense, despised much of what America is—and many of their fellow Americans.

Not coincidentally, it was the early 2000s when the moribund zombie genre started to reanimate.

Hillary tried to reorganize health care, terrifying much of the country. Her husband warred on the right to keep and bear arms—sometimes literally, as at Waco. In reaction, you had Oklahoma City, which Clinton—in one of his vilest deeds—blamed upon conservative radio and, by extension, its conservative audience. Then you had his disgusting sexual antics, flagrant perjury, and the impeachment attempt. This drama was the opposite of normality.

George W. Bush’s election in 2000 was another dividing line, where half the country felt the other half was stealing the election. The terms “red” and “blue” America entered the lexicon. The Bush years coincided with the growth of the Internet and alternative media, which fueled polarization by rewarding the angriest and the bitterest voices. Not coincidentally, it was the early 2000s when the moribund zombie genre started to reanimate.

Then “No Drama” Obama became president by pretending to reject division, and instead doubled down upon it. He promised to fundamentally change America, which read as a solid plan to one half of the country and as a threat toward the other. He promised to punish his enemies and reward his friends, and he turned formerly neutral mechanisms of governance like the Internal Revenue Service upon those who opposed him. Friends and allies like Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner committed federal crimes and are safe from prosecution. Shrieking social justice warriors police our culture and campuses. The Internet shames anyone with an unpopular belief. Minor functionaries in remote counties get tossed into jail for disobedience.

Americans are turning upon each other. Some lives matter, others apparently don’t. The Bill of Rights is now negotiable. The White House issues instructions to sophomores to hassle their elders about Obamacare at Thanksgiving dinner. Red and blue people barely mix anymore—these days, would you bring up politics at a party where you weren’t sure everyone else was on board?

Apocalypse Stories Are Conservative

The question is, “What’s next?” Does this chaos get walked back, or does it get worse? Will we tear ourselves apart? Mutterings about violence, succession, and even civil war intrude from the margins into mainstream conversation. Have you heard them, too? That didn’t happen a few years ago. We certainly have the means for such self-destruction, and the anger out there certainly could fuel the will. But the apocalypse now is not an equal-opportunity Armageddon; when it comes to chaos, some ideologues are more equal than others.

Mutterings about violence, succession, and even civil war intrude from the margins into mainstream conversation.

The zombie genre is essentially conservative. Survival is always based upon the actions of individuals and small groups, and the government is either useless or an active threat (Max Brooks’ fascinating book “World War Z” is something of an exception, while the movie adheres to tradition). The survivors are not unlike the pioneers, trying to carve a life out of a wilderness while dodging Indians who take scalps not as trophies but as snacks. City slickers need not apply.

As conservatives do, the zombie genre likewise recognizes the necessity, even the obligation, to keep and bear arms. The people who refuse to use guns die; those who hesitate to pull the trigger allow their friends to die. Those who fight prevail. Interestingly, we have a generation of kids who attend schools where they are taught the lie that violence never solves anything and where they will be suspended for fighting back when a bully punches them. Yet on Sunday night they cheer a show that celebrates heroes who ruthlessly make gory headshot after gory headshot. Sure, the heroes wring their hands like liberals, but the ones who survive are the one who choose firepower over feelings.

It may not be a zombie apocalypse, but much of America expects some kind of apocalypse. In a beautiful city a mile or so from the Pacific one recent sunny Saturday morning, a line developed outside a gun store well before it opened. In the Age of the Zombie, the end of the world will take place not far away but at close range, and many Americans seem to have resolved to go down fighting.

The Freedom Of Silence [The Federalist]

All I could hear was the clock ticking quietly at the end of the hall and the soft hum of the air conditioner. I stretched out under the crisp covers of the sofa bed and let my mind wander.

I could always do that at my grandparents’ house in Beaufort, South Carolina. It was set far back from the bustle of the road, nestled near a marsh with still waters and thick-trunked trees, standing like aged sentinels, branches stretched high and covered in clumps of gray Spanish moss.

At night, I would imagine monsters living in the marsh, creeping up the lawn, watching us as we drew the curtains. I would peek out the window to see if any of the shadows moved among the blinking fireflies. I often thought I saw them—the dreaded marsh creatures—and I’d quickly close the curtains, withdrawing back into the safety of the room’s bright lamps.

I can remember every detail of my grandparents’ home. The enormous azalea bushes that surrounded the house and blossomed into a kaleidoscope of color in the spring. The sloping yard in the back and the sprawling garden of tomatoes that grew on six-foot-high posts. It was my grandfather’s pride and joy.

I can still picture him walking up from his garden, bow-legged, hat sloping over his wrinkled face, his overalls covered in dirt, and buckets in both hands loaded with huge, red tomatoes. “Best batch yet,” he’d say, grinning proudly. I’ve never seen or tasted “maters” like those since. They were sweet, juicy, and firm. Nature’s candy, Granddad would say. We ate them with every meal—fried tomatoes and eggs at breakfast, BLTs at lunch, and sliced tomatoes at supper with their juices running into the gravy that we soaked up with homemade biscuits.

The Sounds of Silence

The entrance to the property was a driveway paved with bleached shells that crunched as the car rolled over them. When I was young, I’d take my brother’s dump trucks and sit among the shells in the hot summer sun, hauling them to and fro. The only sounds I heard were the birds overhead, the hum of mosquitoes in my ears, and the bubbling stream of thoughts in my head. For hours I would stay there, the sun toasting my shoulders as I’d create whole towns with those shells.

I’d watch in silence, captivated, as he cracked the shells and separated the halves without breaking them. It was a skill I never mastered.

When I wasn’t playing in the driveway, I’d crawl on an old tire swing hanging from a pecan tree that dominated the front yard. My grandfather often told us the story of how, when he was young, his entire family lived off of that pecan tree for months during the Great Depression. Just pecans and well water, both of which he attributed to a lifetime of good health.

I would gather up pecans from the ground, stuff my pockets full, and take them to my grandfather. I’d watch in silence, captivated, as he cracked the shells and separated the halves without breaking them. It was a skill I never mastered.

Every morning, my grandmother would get up before dawn. I could hear her hushed movements from where I was sleeping in the living room. A strip of yellow light would press in under the pocket door that led to the kitchen.

All the doors in their house were pocket doors that slid in and out of the wall. I’d hear that sound in the silence of the night, the sliding of a door, opening then closing as someone went to the bathroom and returned to his room. Then everything would be quiet again, with just the hum of the air and the tick of the clock.

As soon as I saw the light under the door, I’d crawl out of bed. Blurry eyed and rumpled, I’d shuffle into the kitchen where my grandmother was making grits and baking biscuits. She’d smile when she saw me, and tell me to sit at the counter while she made me some coffee.

It was the only time I ever had coffee when I was young. The smell of it filled the kitchen, warm and toasty. I’d climb up the stool and sit at the counter while she poured me a cup and let me put in as many sugar cubes as I wanted. I’d sip on the sweet, steamy coffee and watch her make breakfast. The only sounds were the clinking of the dishes, the stirring of a wooden spoon against a cast-iron pot, and my grandmother humming a hymn.

An Endless Stream of Noise

I miss those moments. I miss the quiet, the stillness. I’ve realized recently how I’ve allowed too much noise to penetrate my life. I think that’s true for many of us. Our world has become a noisy swarm of voices and distractions. Very few of us spend time alone with our own thoughts. There’s the radio, television, computer, phones, iPods, Apple watches, all demanding our attention, all invading our private, quiet moments. Notifications, alerts, emails, texts, Tweets, bings, dings, and rings.

Our eyes, always scanning the words of others, the feeds, the posts, the pictures from Instagram, the constant stream of information bombarding us from every direction.

Constantly, our stillness is broken. It’s not only audio noise, but visual. Our eyes, always scanning the words of others, the feeds, the posts, the pictures from Instagram, the constant stream of information bombarding us from every direction. We can’t even go to a restaurant or a doctor’s office anymore without a television blasting in the corner, music blaring, voices always forcing us to listen, to turn from our own thoughts, our own reflections, and listen to others.

Our attention is divided, frayed, to the point of not paying attention at all. We can’t even remember most details about our daily lives because we’re so distracted by all the noise.

The memories most clear to me are the ones formulated in quiet. I can still picture my grandparents’ living room, the painting of a waterfall, the cabinet full of crystal, the heavy beige drapes that darkened the room, the chalkboard in the kitchen with a list of appointments, the fig tree at the corner of the house—the one where I found an Easter egg that had been missed from the year before.

Today, I can barely remember what my friend’s house looks like, where I parked my car, or what I need to get from the store. It’s not just age, but a lack of focus as I’m constantly distracted by noise.

Noise Immunizes Us to Privacy

I recently tried to go the entire day in silence. No podcasts, no radio, no iPhone searches, no television. Just me and my own thoughts. It was harder than I thought it would be. I found myself getting anxious and wanting to reach for my phone or turn on the computer. I was uncomfortable not hearing the sounds of other voices. I had lost, to a degree, the ability to self-reflect, to be still.

Millions of people, they said, are developing an addiction to noise.

I knew at that moment that the insightful words written in the 1960s by Vance Packard and Rick Perlstein in “The Naked Society” were true. They wrote that the idea that one can—or should try to—lead a private, unfettered life is losing much of its force, and that intruding noise is a major culprit. Millions of people, they said, are developing an addiction to noise.

“The psychical and physiological damage being done by the fairly continual barrage of sound that reaches millions of citizens probably cannot be accurately assessed for at least a decade,” they wrote. “But the surmises are beginning. Psychiatrists are suggesting that a heavy intake of noise can create the kind of tensions leading to emotional disturbance. Audiologist Joseph Krimsky has stated that the capacity of noise to annihilate privacy is not only aggravating life’s stresses but can produce pathological changes in the auditory system and reduce ‘sensitiveness to the nuances of sound and music.’”

People are finding it increasingly difficult to be alone with their own thoughts. Packard and Perlstein made this observation in the 1960s; imagine what they would think with the endless onslaught of noise we have today. Whether it’s at home or school, children spend very little time in quiet, alone with their own thoughts or reading a book that helps them broaden their imaginations. Instead, they watch television, play games, sit in front on the computer, or talk endlessly with friends on the phone, texting, or social media.

Even schools push children to be extroverts, failing to value moments of quiet reflection as students are pushed from one social setting to another. Often children become anxious if they’re not distracted. They don’t feel comfortable with themselves, and they don’t know how to think their own thoughts, making them highly susceptible to the influence of others. This is true not only of children but also of adults. With the increase of noise has come an increase in anxiety and degraded sense of self.

The Hive Mind Erodes Individuality

Is it any wonder that anxiety levels have increased? Could it be that we are creating a pathological society that is incapable of being alone? Is the lack of privacy—of having our own thoughts without being constantly invaded with others’ thoughts—eroding our individuality? It seems so, as we’re all being pressed to be a part of the hive mind, to share our thoughts and listen to the thoughts of others without having much time to process and reflect on who we are as individuals. The result is a society more like a Borg collective than a healthy community of individuals.

We are distracted from ourselves.

Knowing oneself is integral to living a free, independent, and happy life. We cannot know ourselves if we are constantly bombarded with noise from others. We can’t think, reflect, imagine, and dream. We are distracted from ourselves. The result is chaos in the mind, unsettled emotions, a life controlled by external forces, loss of privacy, and generalized anxiety. When that happens, we are no longer free.

In Silence, We Are Free to Think and Dream

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is “Be still and know that I am God.” To commune with our Creator, we must be still, be silent, and listen. The same is true in knowing ourselves. We must be still to know who we truly are, not just apprehend but intimately know and be aware of who we are.

It’s in the quiet moments that we converse with our authentic selves. It’s in the privacy of our own minds that we order our thoughts, formulate our independent views, discover our fears and our joys, grapple with our weaknesses, realize our potential, and experience the wonder of our imagination. None of this is possible when our minds are scattered by noise and controlled by others.

I returned to the house and helped my grandmother with dinner, slicing up tomatoes as she poured the iced tea. We didn’t talk much. We didn’t need to.

I can still picture sunlight flickering through the leaves of an oak tree in my grandparents’ yard as I sat, staring up at the branches. The moss swayed slowly in the humid breeze and squirrels chattered in the treetop. I imagined many things during those moments, as my grandfather cracked pecans on the porch behind me and my grandmother sat in her swing, fanning away the heat of the day.

I thought of school and talking to boys. I imagined my next piano concert and fighting my nerves. I pictured playing soccer and scoring goals to the cheers of crowds. I wondered why I was so insecure and how I could be stronger, more like my mother who always seemed able to talk to anyone. I felt bad about how I treated a friend and thought of ways to make it up to her.

I wondered what I would do when I was older. Would I become a doctor? A lawyer? Or would I become a writer, telling stories like Ray Bradbury or C.S. Lewis? What kind of magical worlds could I create, what kind of wonders could I make real, bringing my imaginings to life for others to enjoy? I didn’t know, but my thoughts were free to wander, to discover my dreams.

Eventually, the shadows lengthened, the sunlight faded, and the treetops darkened. I returned to the house and helped my grandmother with dinner, slicing up tomatoes as she poured the iced tea. We didn’t talk much. We didn’t need to. We both enjoyed our own thoughts and each other’s company. When I was with my grandmother, I felt no anxiety, no stress—only peace and quiet, outside and within.

How To Travel Well On A Budget [The Federalist]

Rich people often say one should travel, since it “opens up your horizons.” To we poor people, I say that you should read, for in doing so you travel time as well as space, and for a fraction of the cost.

More than that, you travel a world much less spoiled by modern Western cultural putrescence. In books, you will find a virgin world, untouched by contemporary fads. There you can find Chinese people binding women’s feet without shame, for no feminist has yet told them to blush. You can find Cynics walking the polis utterly naked, since no capitalist has yet convinced them that stuff is superior to stuff-less-ness. You can find Franciscans talking to birds, because no psychologist has told them that to do so is crazy, since birds are not people.

You can find thinkers talking to thoughtful men, because no Darwinist has told them that to do so is useless, since men are but animals, no better than birds. You will find Achaean poets singing Iliads, since simple words poorly honor the gravity of Trojan heroes; and Christian hermits dwelling silently in the desert, since simple songs poorly honor the gravity of the eternal God. In books you will find a truly exotic world; a world you wander as a sojourner, a guest, and never as a native.

Culturally Colonizing the World

This sort of traveling is vastly superior to that which involves airplanes and standing in lines. I say this not merely considering its relatively more economical status. Rather, it seems one cannot travel at all these days unless it be through the mists or arcane parchment.

It seems one cannot travel at all these days unless it be through the mists or arcane parchment.

For the most part, “progress,” which, as far as I can tell is synonymous with whatever fashions are current among white, college-educated westerners, has rendered most of the world rather dull. Between the Western colonial empires of yesteryear and the Western cultural empires of today, all the earth has been nearly transformed into a massive amusement park for America. There one can visit and experience interesting food and peculiar languages, but he will never encounter anything likely to truly offend him, some custom, habit, or belief that will cause him to realize he has truly left Kansas.

“Progress” has annihilated all such habits and customs in order to make a sanitized world suitable to Western sensibilities; and wherever such habits still exist, Westerners immediately institute campaigns to end them. Western academics have to reach all the way back to the Crusades to find a reason for the Islamic world’s hatred of the West. However, the Islamic world is not bothered by medieval Western pieties, but by modern Western perversions. It is the crusade to destroy the entire Islamic way of life and to replace it with a materialist occidental hedonism that is the source of much Muslim ire.

Bigotry Rises

The West has lost all patience for foreign ways. One need only think of the offense Americans take at the practice common in North Africa of female circumcision. If it is not my business what Americans do in the privacy of their own bedrooms, I am not entirely sure why it is my business what Arabs do in the sovereignty of their own kingdoms. The Western mind has become, perhaps more than in any point of its past, uncompromisingly bigoted.

We no longer have ‘interesting friends with interesting opinions.’ Instead, we have enemies.

“Bigoted?” you say, “Why, how can you claim we are more bigoted than past souls; we hardly kill anyone anymore!” Neither do Westerners argue with them. Rather, we mock them. The Western mind views any position that is not its own unworthy of consideration. If it is not accepted among a modern secular culture, it deserves nothing but mockery; and if it is worthy of mockery, it is worthy of hatred. Does one disagree with gay marriage? He hates homosexuals, and is probably one himself, if not also a pedophile. Does one believe transsexualism to be somewhat unnatural? He’s just some Paleolithic beast, or worse, a theist, a man who talks to fairies in the sky.

We no longer have “interesting friends with interesting opinions.” Instead, we have enemies. For proof of this decay in public rhetoric, please see the Facebook.

Substituting Suspicion for Sympathy

In the former unenlightened times, the most absurd beliefs were conscientiously refuted with formal logic, for in former unenlightened times, even absurd beliefs were considered worthy of formal logic. Thomas Aquinas may have disputed over the number of angels that could dance the Kalamatiano on a pin head, but at least he was cordial enough to dispute. If anything, such debates over silly things attest to the openness of the antique mind, just as the unwillingness to debate attests to the limitedness of the modern.

The modern education consists in little more than ridiculing the past to assure ourselves of the validity of the present insanities.

Showing sympathy, even for apparently silly questions, has given way to showing suspicion, even for apparently penetrating questions. This is the lesson to be learned from a college education, where Fyodor Dostoevsky is read only to see how he fails to measure up to a feminist standard of gender equality, since he secretly hates women, or a communist standard of proletarian appeal, since he secretly hates the poor. He is never measured against the standard of being a sad Russian, a standard to which he rises quite excellently.

The humanities programs of most liberal arts schools have become remarkably inhumane, for, if my experience is to be generalized, it consists in little more than spitting in the faces of one’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century grandparents for not having had the good fortune to be born as their own twentieth-century grandchildren. The modern education consists in little more than ridiculing the past to assure ourselves of the validity of the present insanities. It is our own version of George Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate.”

Travel So You Can Preen

I sense that today’s youth are urged to travel precisely because of how little they will gain from the experience. All the world has been tamed. To travel these days is to watch tigers pacing in cages. In old times, a Roman traveling in Greece might find himself returning to the Palatine a licentious Cyrenaic, much to the disquiet of his fellow Romans. Nowadays, an American traveling to Westernized Japan will find himself returning merely a pretentious American who speaks too much of Mt. Fuji.

Today’s youth are urged to travel precisely because of how little they will gain from the experience.

There is little to be gained from either probing the corners of our little planet or from pressing the minds of our little academicians. If one wishes in a moment of daring to open his mind to the writhing passions and longing thoughts of the human spirit, tortured and tempered by so many years in so many places, let him attend to the grey hair and blind eyes of dead men, who long ago and not so long ago penned so many curious and penetrating reflections, all in hopes that some hapless youth might stumble across them.

He may find that, in his hands, every good book is a spell book, making the reader a necromancer, raising before himself the spirits of the dead, and a conjurer, summoning up from the waters of time vast and vanished lands, born pure and immortal in the arms of naïve curiosity and childish equanimity.

Homemade Mayonnaise Is The Very Essence Of Conservatism [The Federalist]

Pity poor William Kelly III, whose conception of mayonnaise is limited to the pale gelatin available in vacuum-sealed jars at the supermarket. At that, he casts his suspicious gaze with due cause. But that mayonnaise is a bastardization. If you want to know what real mayonnaise tastes like—nay, feels like—you have to exercise the conservative virtues of self-reliance and individual initiative. You have to make it yourself.

First, crack a raw egg into a bowl and let it come to room temperature. A half hour is plenty. You need to do this because cold eggs don’t emulsify. Is there a risk of foodborne illness here? Absolutely. But you can either rely on the nanny state to save you from yourself with its laws about pasteurization, or you can rely on the brain that God gave you. The usual disease vector is from condensation picking up cooties from the outside of the egg. If you open the egg while it’s cold and throw away the shell, that takes care of the problem, almost always. Assess your risks, and live your life accordingly as you see fit.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

In a food processor, combine the egg with a half-teaspoon of salt, a half-teaspoon of dry mustard, the juice of half a lemon, and a quarter cup of olive oil. Don’t be an elitist: use the olive oil for cooking. Particles of extra virgin olive oil get torn up in a food processor, which amplifies its bitterness.

If you think mayo is just an opaque version of Vasoline, the real stuff will blow your mind.

The next part is key. With the food processor running, add a cup of olive oil, slowly. Drizzle in the oil at a rate just high enough to form a thin bead. Exercise low time preference and delay gratification. Your investment of time now will pay off later in the form of delicious mayonnaise. If you get impatient and dump in the oil, even if it looks like it’s emulsifying pretty well in there, the fluids will break and you’ll ruin your work.

Once you’re done, have a taste. If you think mayo is just an opaque version of Vasoline, the real stuff will blow your mind.

Then There’s the Turbo Version

If you want to step your game up and make mayo with extra virgin olive oil, you’re going to have to earn it. You can blend the initial mixture as above, but when you add that cup of oil, you’re going to have to whisk it by hand. It will require dexterity. Your forearm will wear out and cramp. But after you screw up a batch or two and finally get it right, you’ll be able to look on your work with the kind of pride available only to those who earn their satisfactions honestly.

Is it all a little French? That’s okay. We got some decent ideas from France. The broad principles that underpin a system of government good enough for the Founders, for one.

The author is aware that persons who think themselves clever may attempt to mock this publication by explaining the title of this essay like so: “White, cold, slippery.” We thought of it first. Try harder.

Taylor Swift’s Belly Button Mystery Is Empowering [The Federalist]

Taylor Swift will grace the front page of GQ magazine in a bikini, for the first time ever. The singer and songwriter has kept her belly button mostly hidden from sight and shrouded in mystery, and this latest photo shoot is no exception. Only the edges of her black bikini are visible as they peek out from under her nude-colored cover-up dress. Her belly button remains out of sight, out of mind.

Swift’s navel is one of the few surviving mysteries among female celebrities, as many have been stripping down in the name of feminism. Recently, Naomi Campbell posted a topless photo of herself, to protest Instagram’s nudity policy, but the photo sharing app quickly removed it. Campbell isn’t the only one. Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Genevieve Morton and supermodel Chrissie Teigen have both been pushing Instagram’s limits with varied success.

Last week, Amber Rose hosted a SlutWalk in Los Angeles, where women were encouraged to dress scantily and parade themselves in the name of equality. Some women went topless or held signs that objected to the notion that women encourage sexual attention when dressed in revealing clothing.

Their actions make sense in the context of modern feminism, which emphasizes that women are equal to men in every way. If a man can show some nipple in public, so can a woman. If men aren’t expected to shave their armpits, neither should it be expected of women. But what do these equalities really gain aside from hairy pits and exposed breasts?

Swift’s decision to cover up in the age of #freethenipple seems to undercut many of the cries of the modern feminist. While she may remain unable to post nipple pics to Instagram, Swift has managed to be quite successful in the music industry. She’s won seven Grammys and is the only female artist to have two albums that sold a million copies within the first week.

The decision to cover up is a powerful one. Swift’s music is good. People will listen to it regardless of how much clothing Swift decides to take off, and she knows that.

“I don’t like showing my belly button,” she said last year. “When you start showing your belly button then you’re really committing to the midriff thing. I only partially commit to the midriff thing—you’re only seeing lower rib cage.”

When her navel does make an appearance, everyone loses their freaking minds. Earlier this year, her decision to show off some midriff in a photo with a fan turned into a meme that took over the Internet for about two days. It’s clear she knows how to use feminine mystique to her advantage, a skill few modern women seem to posses.

This Week In Weird Twitter, Volume 21 [The Federalist]

Happy 21st Birthday to TWIWT! Technically it’s only 21 weeks old, as a certain film critic pointed out, but kids grow up fast these days, so we’re counting it. To be honest, it’s always been rather boozy. Now, though, it’s legal as well. So sit back, relax, crack one open, and enjoy, even if it’s morning and you’re working.

Maybe he’s been drinking or thinks he’s on Pinterest.

I’m going to assume this is true.

They’re not as bad as pandas.

At work, we’re trying to solve a bird problem on our rooftop deck. I may try this.

As an owner of both, yeah.

Disney creates unreal expectations for young women.

Johnny Depp creates unreal expectations for everybody.

“Ghostbusters” created some unrealistic expectations, too.

What was he thinking?

When what should be the easiest game of Rochambeau ever goes wrong.

 That’s also discrimination against people with scissor-hands.


This sounds serious.


For the haters.

When you want the funeral to be just right.

I’m surprised it’s not spelled Geoff.


Follow your heart.

When vanquishing foes, you have to eat.

No one did, really.

She should demand a refund.

When Archer does new employee orientation.

“You have insulted my honor and I demand respect.”

Coming soon to SyFy.

Wasn’t this an episode of “The Brady Bunch”?


You know what they say about assumptions.

She’s totes correct.

Nailed it.

If you go through the drive-thru you’re probably alright.

If he maintains full eye contact while putting them on, things will be fine.

Better than rollerblades.

Caine from Kung Fu: Origins.

She’s a keeper.

This is a great costume.

Seriously, men, don’t go there.

People who think it’s the changing of the leaves have it so wrong.

At least he’s communicating.


Well, time to head out and really party down in celebration of the big 2-1. It should be a ripping good time and I invite you all to join me. And then again next week when this thing turns 22. Pretty much just plan on partying for a while into the future because if there’s one thing wrong with the tweet below, it’s everything.

Fox-1A launch 5:49 AM PDT on October 8, 2015 [AMSAT-NA]

Launch and Deployment was Successful!

PE0SAT, ON4HF, and R2ANF heard signals on the first pass!

Video of liftoff

Download your free copy of the AMSAT Journal Fox-1A Launch special issue
(~2MB PDF)

Fox-1A is now AMSAT-OSCAR 85 (AO-85)

Keplerian elements:

1 99992U          15281.53437500  .00015007  00000-0  15580-2 0 00009
2 99992 064.7657 291.6734 0216442 282.3705 182.7702 14.73904028000019

AMSAT’s Fox-1A is set to launch as part of the GRACE (Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment) auxillary payload on the NROL-55 mission October 8, 2015 from Vandenburg AFB on an Atlas V vehicle. The launch is scheduled for 5:49 AM PDT, with the NASA TV webcast starting at 5:29 AM PDT. NRO has released this factsheet about the mission: GRACE_CubeSat_FactSheet

General information on Fox-1A is available in the downloadable  AMSAT Fox Operating Guide.

There will be a briefing on October 7 to discuss the five NASA-sponsored CubeSats on this launch. This briefing will begin at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT) and will be broadcast via NASA TV and the NASA Website. The participants will be:

  • Richard Welle, director, Microsatellite Systems department at The Aerospace Corporation
  • Tim Olson, principal investigator for BisonSat, Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana
  • Morgan Johnson, team lead for the ARC CubeSat, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
  • Jerry Buxton, vice president, Engineering, for AMSAT Fox-1
  • Courtney Duncan, principal investigator for LMRST-Sat, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

FoxTelem software for decoding and submitting telemetry has been made available for download at http://www.amsat.org/?page_id=4532 .

Keplerian Elements: We will provide the Keplerian elements (aka Keps or TLEs) to enable you to track Fox-1a as soon after launch as we get them (and are cleared to release them). The information will be placed on http://www.amsat.org/amsat/ftp/keps/current/nasabare.txt . We have no control over when we can release the information, although we hope it will be within hours of the satellite deployment.

Initial Commissioning Period: Initially the transponder will not be on and will not respond to uplinks. Please do not attempt to uplink while we check out the satellite and commission it. We will publicize when we have opened the transponder to general use. You should expect the checkout phase to last for a minimum of several days and possibly for several weeks.

What To Listen For: During the initial checkout period and when the satellite is in range, every two minutes you will generally hear about 5 seconds of data followed by a few seconds of a voice ID (and possibly a second data packet). You may occasionally hear ‘data’ mode which Chris, G0KLA, has famously described as sounding like an old-fashioned telephone modem. If you should happen to hear what appear to be QSOs, please resist the temptation to join in before the commissioning period is over.

Please Send Telemetry Reports and Data: We would love to have you collect and upload as much data as you can, and to give any other kind of report on the amsat-bb mailing list (which some of the Fox team will monitor). You can also report hearing or not hearing it on http://www.amsat.org/status/

You can upload data using the FoxTelem telemetry program that we recently released. (Check the “upload to server” box in the properties/preference page). More data will help us do the checkout faster! Remember if you hear the “telephone modem” sound, you must switch FoxTelem to high-speed mode manually. Similarly FoxTelem must be in low-speed mode at other times.

We are planning a special award to the person who submits the first data from the satellite (by which we mean the earliest downlinked mission elapsed time), so get your rigs ready!

getting startedAs part of the preparations for the launch and activation of this new satellite, AMSAT is making our “Getting Started With The Amateur Satellites” book available for a limited time as a download with any paid new or renewal membership purchased via the AMSAT Store. This offer is only available with purchases completed online, and for only a limited time. A perennial favorite, Getting Started is updated every year with the latest amateur satellite information, and is the premier primer of satellite operation. The 132 page book is presented in PDF format, in full color, and covers all aspects of making your first contacts on a ham radio satellite.

Please take advantage of this offer today by visiting the AMSAT store (click here) and selecting any membership option. While there, check out our other items, including the M2 LEOpack antenna system, AMSAT shirts, hats, and other swag. Thank you, and see you soon on Fox-1A!

Chesterfield Island TX3X DXpedition Hampered by High Winds, Rain Squalls [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

With just 3 more days to go until it shuts down, poor weather has been literally putting a damper on the Perseverance DX Group’s Chesterfield Island TX3X DXpedition. The team’s 12 operators have been having a time of it, dealing with high winds and rain squalls as well as crummy propagation. Chesterfield Island is #21 on ClubLog’s DXCC Most Wanted List.

“We know all too well the frustration some...

Fox-1A is Now AO-85, Transponder Temporarily Active! [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

In what might have been record speed, AMSAT’s new Fox-1A satellite received its OSCAR designation on the day of its launch, and its FM transponder has been activated temporarily until 0000 UTC on October 10. AMSAT OSCAR Number Administrator Bill Tynan, W3XO, early today announced that Fox-1A is now AO-85, and the CubeSat has been dedicated to the individual who was at the helm of AMSAT’s CubeSa...

The K7RA Solar Update [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

Sunspot numbers and solar flux softened over the past week, with average daily sunspot numbers declining from 120.9 to just 37, and average daily solar flux down from 122.7 to 93.8. These numbers compare the October 1-7 activity against the previous seven days.

Average planetary A index was way up, from 5.1 to 24.3. The planetary A index reading of 77 on Wednesday was a big factor in the high av...

ARRL President Congratulates Hurricane Watch Net on its 50th Anniversary [American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources]

On behalf of the League, ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, has congratulated the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) on the 50th anniversary of its founding by Jerry Murphy, K8YUW.


“Thanks to the efforts of the Net’s dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers across 5 decades, Amateur Radio has played a key role in helping protect the lives of a great many people in harm’s way,” President Craigie told HWN Ma...

Microsoft Wows with Windows [Tech Tent]

Microsoft wows its critics with new Windows 10 devices - is it now the cool kid on the block? Facebook details plans to give 14 African countries satellite internet. We ask Michel de Rosen of Eutelsat, Facebook's partner, whether the tech is up to the job. Europe's highest court says a transatlantic agreement on transferring European internet users' data to America is invalid. Plus, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, authors of a new book "The Red Web" tell us how the Russian state sees the Net as both threat and opportunity. Presented by Rory Cellan-Jones, with special guest Dr Orla Lynskey, from the London School of Economics. (Picture: Microsoft demo of Hololens glasses, Credit: Getty Images).

FriComedy: The News Quiz 9 Oct 2015 [Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4]

A satirical review of the week's news, chaired by Miles Jupp. This week, the programme comes from the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe and Miles is joined by Susan Calman, Hugo Rifkind, Terry Christian and Holly Walsh. Producer: Richard Morris A BBC Radio Comedy Production

Woman votes wearing Potato Sack on her head #elxn42 [Blazing Cat Fur]

Potato sack voter

NB: Google Translate

On the first day of advance voting in Canada, a resident of Quebec is presented in a Quebec poll face covered with a bag.

The incident took place in the afternoon, in the riding of Louis-Hébert, in the Cap-Rouge sector. According to a witness, the woman’s face was covered with a potato sack. She refused to reveal her face, but produced the necessary identification.

Richard Lavigne, the returning officer for the constituency, said that the resident was sworn as provided by law. It then voted with his face still covered the bag.

h/t Gisele

Australia: Links Between Sydney’s Muslim Terrorists Exposed [Blazing Cat Fur]

Muslim terrorist Sydney Australia

They went to school together and their families – migrants from Middle eastern countries – had become friends in in a closely grouped set of suburbs in western Sydney.

When the teenagers and young men from these families were arrested in their homes by counter-terrorism police raids in Operation Appleby last year and again this week, the suburbs read like a list of those in the Parramatta Police Local Area Command.

This weeks’ anti-terror raids followed a strike at the heart of that command – police headquarters at Marsden Street, Parramatta – which house the State Crime Command’s homicide, fraud, counter terror and serious crime units.

The links between the men arrested this week following last Friday’s fatal terror attack, and the raids last year ahead of an alleged terror plot, run much deeper than just casual friendships.

Hillary Clinton used her private email account to pass along the identity of a top CIA Libyan intelligence source [Blazing Cat Fur]

Hillary Clinton Lesbian Communist

Hillary Clinton used her private email account to pass along the identity of one of the CIA’s top Libyan intelligence sources, raising new questions about her handling of classified information, according to excerpts from previously undisclosed emails released Thursday by Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Islamist makes mockery of citizenship ceremony #elxn42 [Blazing Cat Fur]

Niqab Bitch

Zunera Ishaq, who challenged ban on niqab, takes citizenship oath wearing it


Just what this country needs, another Islamist settler.

This is why the PMO was correct to screen the UN recommended Syrian refugees.

Citizenship & Immigration Canada is a politicized ministry run by a bureaucracy of hard left ideologues who seek to undermine Canadian society.

Meet Mohammed, Mohammed and Mohammed – British Slave Masters [Blazing Cat Fur]

Up to 42 ‘slaves’ forced to sleep in two bedroom house in Rand Place, Bradford, court hears

“…Prosecutors said company owner Mohammed Rafiq and two other men who had positions within the firm – Mohammed Patel and Mohammed Dadhiwala – knew that workers supplied to them by Orsos were trafficked…

The prosecutor has told the jury: “The prosecution submit that the three defendants were involved with Janos Orsos and his human trafficking organisation to source them cheap slave labour to work at Kozee Sleep and Layzee Sleep factories.

“The prosecution case is that the three defendants were aware of the circumstances of the Hungarian nationals who were working at these sites and went along with their exploitation as a slave workforce for their own and others’ gain.”

h/t ZD

What Reagan Could Tell Us About Islamic Taqiyya [Blazing Cat Fur]

President Reagan and General Zia

Back in the 1980s, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the president of Pakistan, explained to Ronald Reagan how it was no problem for the Pakistanis to sign the Geneva agreements and yet continue supplying weapons to the Afghan jihadis (“freedom fighters”) combating the Soviet Union.

Why wasn’t it a problem? According to Zia, “We’ll just lie about it. That’s what we’ve been doing for eight years.”

He added, “Muslims have the right to lie in a good cause.”

Why Louise Arbour is Wrong About the Niqab #elxn42 [Blazing Cat Fur]

The Niqab should be banned in all civilized nations

According to the former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, Canada ‘cannot liberate niqab-wearing women against their will’. She is the latest in a string of political high-flyers to come out against the Harper government’s stance on the niqab. Characterizing the debate as insubstantial and strategic is an insult to the many Canadians who have been moved to speak on the issue. Why are the desires of ordinary Canadians being undermined by public figures?

Oct. 10, 2015: Barbaric cultural practices, hump-cations and family feuds [Because News from CBC Radio]

Eric Peterson, Leslie Seiler and Arthur Simeon make games out of the news stories of the week.

Canada PM denies delaying resettlement of Syrians [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected Thursday a report accusing his office of holding up the resettlement of Syrian refugees, less than two weeks before legislative elections.

Deadly clashes at Gaza border as Israel tensions escalate [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Mounting tension between Israelis and Palestinians spread to the Gaza Strip Friday, with Israeli troops killing six in clashes on the border and Islamist movement Hamas calling for more unrest.

US to overhaul troubled Syria rebel training programme [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The US is set to drastically overhaul its troubled programme to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Friday, by working more closely with capable Kurdish and other forces in the country.

World hails Tunisia's 'inspiring' Nobel Peace laureates [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The surprise decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to a group of Tunisian mediators has won plaudits in Tunisia and abroad, and offered the cradle of the Arab Spring symbolic support as it pursues its laborious transition to democracy.

Exclusive: Nobel laureate Alexievich on Putin and Soviet trauma [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich, winner of this year’s Nobel literature prize, tells FRANCE 24 that Russia’s new-found belligerence is a “terrifying legacy” of its traumatic experience under Soviet rule.

Out of Africa, and back: ancient skeleton reveals vast Eurasian migration [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Up to a quarter of the western Eurasian population migrating into Africa: the suggestion may startle readers accustomed to migrants heading the other way, but scientists argue that is precisely what happened some 3,000 years ago.

UN backs EU military action against migrant smugglers [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The UN Security Council on Friday gave its approval to a European military operation to seize and dispose of boats run by migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean off Libya's coast.

Four sentenced to hard labour for life over Madagascar mob lynching [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

A Madagascar court handed four men the maximum sentence Friday of hard labour for life over the mob lynching in 2013 of two Europeans and a local man, who were beaten and then burned on a beach.

First refugees flown from Italy to Sweden in EU resettlement plan [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Italy bid farewell Friday to the first 19 of an estimated 160,000 refugees who are due to be resettled throughout Europe as part of the EU's new redistribution program aimed at moving asylum-seekers out of overwhelmed receiving countries.

US officials want to know why Islamists love Toyotas [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

US authorities have been in talks with Toyota to find out how and why Islamist militant groups across the Middle East are using fleets of brand new vehicles made by the Japanese company.

Libyan rivals agree to form unity government but divisions remain, UN says [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The United Nations proposed a national unity government to Libya’s warring factions on Thursday to end their conflict, but the deal faces resistance from Tripoli’s self-declared rulers and hardliners on the ground.

France launches fresh air strikes in Syria against IS group [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

France launched a new air strike overnight in Syria against an Islamic State training camp and further strikes will follow, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

Hadi dismisses Houthi peace concessions as 'manoeuvre' [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Yemen’s government dismissed as a “manoeuvre” on Thursday the Houthis’ acceptance of a U.N.-sponsored peace plan and demanded that the Iran-backed group hand back territory it has seized since last year.

Volkswagen's US boss apologises but says scandal not his fault [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Volkswagen's top U.S. executive offered deep apologies yet sought to distance himself Thursday from the emissions scandal enveloping the world's largest automaker.

WATCH: 2 videos of the violence in Israel [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Palestinian men burning tires during a clash with Israeli forces near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Oct. 9, 2015. (Flash90)

Palestinian men burning tires during a clash with Israeli forces near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Oct. 9, 2015. (Flash90)

The violence in Israel continued on Friday with multiple stabbings and shootings. Hamas’ chief in the Gaza Strip declared a third intifada, and some are inclined to believe him.

A Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli police officer stationed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba and was killed in the process. Then, around noon, a Palestinian teenager stabbed a 16-year-old Israeli in Jerusalem, inflicting minor injuries.

In the afternoon, five Palestinians were killed and 35 were wounded at a riot near the Israel-Gaza border. Reports say that when Palestinian protestors hurled burning tires and rocks at Israeli border police, the Israeli officers opened fire.

Later, the wife and three children of Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria West Bank settlements, were injured when Palestinians hurled stones at their car as they drove in the West Bank.

A Palestinian woman in the northern Israeli city of Afula was shot and moderately injured by Israeli officers after refusing to put down a knife. The woman reportedly attempted to stab a uniformed Israeli soldier.

This video captures the standoff between the woman with the knife and Israeli officers.

This video, also released on Friday, is a compilation released by the Jerusalem police department. It is highly edited and depicts the aftermath of a series of unspecified stabbings.

Connecticut day school has ‘soft lockdown’ after threatening call [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — A Jewish day school in West Hartford, Connecticut, underwent a “soft lockdown” after receiving a threatening phone message.

The Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford responded Friday morning upon receiving an automated phone call similar to one received at approximately the same time at a public elementary school in Amherst, Massachusetts, the Hartford Courant reported.

The voice on the automated call said, “This is not a drill. There’s someone on campus with a weapon. To repeat this message hit the star button.” The person who answered the phone at the Conservative nursery through eighth-grade school pressed the star button, the message was repeated and then phone line went dead, police told the Courant.

The school immediately called the police who arrived within 90 seconds and found nothing amiss. Under the lockdown, no one was allowed to enter or leave the school and students remained in their classrooms.

Detectives in West Hartford are working to determine the source of the call and whether it was made intentionally.


Israeli security official: ‘Lone wolf’ terrorism, not Abbas, behind violence [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Israeli security officials said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is working to calm tensions in the West Bank, even as violence has surged.

An unnamed security official said Friday that “lone wolf terrorism,” attacks by individuals acting on their own, is the main cause of the current violence, the Times of Israel reported, citing Israel Radio.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders in the Gaza Strip have called on Palestinians in the West Bank to escalate violence, with a member of the political wing of Gaza-based Islamic Jihad urging the PA’s security forces to halt all cooperation with Israel and to confront Israeli troops and settlers.

In addition, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, at weekly Muslim prayers in Gaza City Friday called for “the strengthening and increasing of the intifada.”

Soon after Haniyeh’s speech six Palestinians were killed and 19 others hurt by IDF soldiers in a protest on the Gaza-Israel border.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Friday that Hamas was responsible for the fatalities, because it had encouraged the protesters to approach the border fence, from where they rolled burning tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers on the other side.


Does Susan Rice think Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist? [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

United States National Security Advisor Susan Rice meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Israel on May 7, 2014. (Photo by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 7, 2014. (Getty Images)

Dennis Ross’ book about the United States-Israel relationship is about to come out, and it includes a bombshell revelation about tensions between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ross, in a passage excerpted from the book Thursday in Politico, says that Susan Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, was so furious with Netanyahu’s angry reaction to news of an acceleration in Iran nuclear talks in November 2013 that she told Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s then-director, that Netanyahu did everything but “use the ‘N-word’ in describing the president.”

Ross — the former peace negotiator who worked for Obama on Middle East issues, including Iran says — says he understood Rice to be accusing Netanyahu not of racism, but of attacking the president in nearly every other way. Ross’ book is titled “Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship From Truman to Obama.”

President Barack Obama meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington,  Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.  (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images)

President Barack Obama meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 1, 2014. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images)

Issues of race have popped up more than once in the relationship between Obama and American Jews and Israel. Notable examples are: Obama’s disavowal of his anti-Semitic pastor, Jeremiah Wright; racist expressions about Obama from those identified with Netanyahu; black lawmakers otherwise sympathetic to Israel seeing Netanyahu’s speech to Congress as part of a pattern of white comeuppance, and Obama’s fury with Netanyahu for making a bogeyman of bused-in Arab voters during Israel’s March election .

So did Rice, in her conversation with Foxman, mean to say Netanyahu was a racist?

I’ve asked Foxman to give me his firsthand impression, and I’ll update when he does. Rice’s spokesman gave the New York Times an answer about her relationships with the Israelis, but did not directly address the “N-word” quote.

Ross, in a conversation posted Friday by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, says he does not think Rice thinks Netanyahu is a racist (nor does he think Netanyahu is a racist.) Rather, he says, Rice thinks Netanyahu has pulled out every stop except for racism in his contentious relationship with the president to fight the Iran nuclear deal.

Goldberg asks: “Is there a chance — did she use this expression, ‘N-word,’ just as a way of saying, ‘This is how bad it got,’ or was the president really thinking that Bibi was engaged in some sort of race-based attack?

Dennis Ross, (Wikipedia Commons)

Dennis Ross speaking at Emory University in Atlanta, May 2007 (Wikipedia Commons)

“I think it’s the former,” says Ross. “This is how mad we are at what he’s doing, and doesn’t he realize that we did a deal in good faith, and look at how he’s reacting, or he’s overreacting to it. It’s out of bounds.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to visit Israel, talk anti-Semitism [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at city hall in New York, Sept. 21, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at city hall in New York, Sept. 21, 2015. (Seth Wenig/AP Images)

(JTA) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will visit Israel to speak about ways to combat anti-Semitism.

De Blasio is to leave Thursday for Jerusalem, where he will be the keynote speaker at a conference of international mayors sponsored by the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish groups.

De Blasio, who has been trying to plan a trip to Israel since the summer, will stay roughly three days and hold several events, the New York Times reported.

The first-term mayor, who is of Italian and Catholic heritage, has made strengthening ties with his Jewish constituency a priority since taking office in January 2014. He has spoken at synagogues of various denominations and loosened restrictions on the controversial metzitzah b’peh circumcision ritual at the request of Orthodox Jews.

De Blasio also flew to France soon after the attack on a kosher market in Paris to “stand in solidarity” with world Jewry.

New York politicians regularly visit Israel, in part because of the city’s large Jewish population.

De Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, made headlines for traveling to Israel during the 2014 Gaza war and saying that the country was still a “safe” place to visit during the conflict.

Leading rabbi: Jewish visitors to Temple Mount ‘sparked’ current tensions [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Rabbi Shimon Ba'adani  enters the stage of a convention for Jewish religious women held in Jerusalem on June 28, 2010. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Rabbi Shimon Ba’adani, center, entering the stage of a convention for Jewish religious women held in Jerusalem, June 28, 2010. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

(JTA) — A leading Sephardic rabbi who advises the haredi Orthodox Shas party criticized Jews who have been visiting the Temple Mount, saying they “sparked all the current tumult.”

Rabbi Shimon Baadani, a member of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, said Thursday on a Shas radio program, according to Haaretz: “Do not provoke the nations, even if we are in control here, there is a halakha. I don’t know on whose authority they permit themselves to provoke and cause an armed struggle like is happening now … they are forbidden.”

Israel’s chief rabbis first ruled in 1967, after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, that halakha, or Jewish law, forbids Jews from visiting the Temple Mount to prevent them from inadvertently stepping over the “Holy of Holies,” where the Ark of the Covenant was said to be stored in the First Temple.

The rabbis reaffirmed the prohibition in 2013. In addition, Israeli law bars Jews from praying at the site, which is administered by the Muslim Waqf.

However, a number of Orthodox Jews, among them Rabbi Yehuda Glick, have questioned the ruling and advocated for Jews to have the right to pray on the mount. Such activists have visited the Temple Mount, the site of frequent tensions between Jews and Palestinians, more frequently in recent years.

In his remarks Thursday, Ba’adani said that saving life trumps any mitzvah, and thus asked, “Why enter the Temple Mount?”

On Thursday, in an effort to calm tensions there, Netanyahu ordered members of his cabinet and members of the Knesset, including Arabs, not to enter the Temple Mount.

Settler leader’s wife, children, hurt in stoning attack [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) – Six people, including the wife and three children of a leader of Israeli settlers, were wounded in an accident caused by Palestinians who hurled stones at their car.

Oriya Dagan, the wife of Yossi Dagan, head of the Regional Municipality of Samaria, and their children sustained minor injuries in the accident which occurred Friday afternoon in the West Bank while they were driving to Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported.

The family and two other passengers were driving to Jerusalem to spend Shabbat with Yossi Dagan, who is camped out in front of the residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in protest of what Dagan and other settler leaders perceive as the government’s weak response to what Netanyahu on Wednesday said was a “wave of terror” by Palestinians.

Several Israelis were injured on Thursday and Friday in attacks by Palestinians. Two attacks by Jewish radicals on Palestinians and Arabs also resulted in injuries. In Dimona, four Arabs were injured when a 17-year-old Jew stabbed them, inflicting minor to moderate wounds. In Netanya, a young Israeli Arab was beaten by a few Jews who shouted “death to Arabs.”

On Friday, six Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed by Israeli security during two riots near Israel’s border with Gaza and in one stabbing near Hebron. Another Palestinian woman was shot at the central bus station of the northern city of Afula, reportedly after trying to carry out a stabbing attack against a soldier.

Texas flood victims receive $300k in scholarships [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Houston-area families affected by floods earlier this year received scholarships for Jewish day schools and overnight camps.

The scholarships were made possible thanks to two grants totaling $300,000 from the Jim Joseph and AVI CHAI Foundations, according to a statement published Thursday by the Jewish Federations of North America, which was entrusted, along with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, with allocating the scholarships.

The federation distributed the scholarship funding in August in an effort to keep students registered in their early childhood and day school programs for the current school year.

More than 30 people died and hundreds had to be evacuated from their homes as 160 billion gallons of water descended on Texas and Oklahoma late in the month of May this year.

“The Memorial Day Flood hit neighborhoods with large Jewish populations especially hard,” said Lee Wunsch, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, in the news release. “The support of JFNA, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and The AVI CHAI Foundation helps ensure that children continue the Jewish learning so important to their families’ lives.”

“After a disaster, families need a range of assistance and support to return to normalcy,” said Al Levitt, president of the Jim Joseph Foundation, in the news release. “We can help families continue to access Jewish education that comprise such meaningful and important parts of their lives.”

Demise of Jewish charity under federal investigation [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

NEW YORK (JTA) — The U.S. Attorney’s office is investigating the demise of FEGS Health & Human Services, a Jewish social service organization that filed for bankruptcy in March.

The New York-based charity, which announced in February that it would shut down for financial reasons, disclosed the investigation in an Oct. 2 court filing, the Forward reported Thursday.

Spokespersons for the U.S. Attorney’s office refused the Forward’s request that it confirm or deny the investigation, and it is not clear what exactly is being investigated.

The New York State Attorney General and Manhattan District Attorney are also investigating FEGS’s collapse.

The group has turned over a million pages of internal documents to investigators so far, the October filing said, according to the Forward, and both current and former employees have been asked by one or more of the investigating agencies for documents, interviews or depositions.

Meanwhile, the union for 1,400 FEGS employees who lost their jobs when the organization closed is claiming $6.6 million in federal bankruptcy court, the New York Post reported earlier this week.

Local 215 of District Council 1707, which represents social-service workers, charges in legal papers that FEGS, which was one of the largest nonprofits in the United States, violated its contract by refusing to pay for severance and health-care benefits and failing to give employees notice before firing them.

“An organization that was dedicated to finding people jobs discarded 2,000 employees like so much garbage,” union lawyer Larry Cary told the Post. “They have to at least pay what they’re required under the contract and the law.”

The 2,000-employee agency, which provided health and disability services, home care and job training, was founded in 1934 to “assist young Jewish men and women to identify, prepare for and find suitable jobs.” Over the years FEGS (an acronym for Federation Employment and Guidance Service) evolved to serve a primarily non-Jewish clientele, with an estimated 20,000 Jews among its 135,000 clients. It also became one of the nation’s largest social service agencies of any kind, according to Crain’s New York Business, with an annual operating budget of about $250 million.

During the Great Recession in the late 2000s, FEGS was a major provider for UJA-Federation of New York’s Connect to Care program, which offered career help, financial advice and legal and emotional aid to New Yorkers who had lost their incomes.

Writer Molly Antopol wins Hadassah literary prize [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

NEW YORK (JTA) — Author Molly Antopol has been named winner of Hadassah Magazine’s 2015 Harold U. Ribalow Prize for Jewish fiction.

Antopol, author of the short-story collection “The UnAmericans,” will be honored at a ceremony in New York on Dec. 1.

The prize has been awarded annually for the past 31 years to authors who create “an outstanding work of fiction on a Jewish theme,” according to a news release issued by Hadassah on Wednesday.

“The UnAmericans,” Antopol’s debut story collection, explores the “everyday anxieties and complex past lives” of immigrant characters in various locales, the news release says. A review in The New York Times said the book “has poise and gravity” and described the stories as “bleakly funny.”

Antopol’s book, published by W.W. Norton, was one of three nominated for this year’s Ribalow Prize. The other nominees were “The Mathematician’s Shiva” by Stuart Rojstaczer (Penguin/Random House) and “The Betrayers” by David Bezmozgis (Back Bay Books/Little Brown). 

The independent panel of judges for the prize consisted of Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday; 2014 Ribalow Award winner Helene Wecker, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.

“I am thrilled to be this year’s recipient of the Ribalow Prize,” said Antopol in a statement. “Many of the previous winners are among the writers whose books have been very meaningful to me over the years, and I greatly admire the work of the two other finalists.”

“The UnAmericans” also won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award and the “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation.

NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), October 9 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

It May Be Time For Rand Paul To Start Concentrating On His Senate Seat [Outside the Beltway]

Rand Paul

Republican insiders in Washington and Kentucky are reportedly getting concerned that Rand Paul’s seemingly dying Presidential campaign could endanger their chances of holding on to his Senate seat:

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Rand Paul is under increasing pressure from Republicans here and in Washington to pull the plug on his stagnant presidential campaign and instead recommit his resources to keeping his Senate seat in GOP hands.

D.C. Republicans think Paul’s poll numbers have flat-lined — and operatives worried about retaining control of the Senate are ready for him to start spending a lot more time in Kentucky and a lot less time in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“This presidential dream needs to come to an end,” said a national Republican strategist, granted anonymity to discuss Paul’s situation candidly. “Senate Republicans can’t afford to have a competitive race in Kentucky.”

Paul, however, is showing little sign of giving up. Even with poll numbers so low that he might not appear on the main stage for the third GOP debate and his fundraising slowing to a crawl, Paul has a message for those who say it’s time to suspend his run for the White House and focus on his Senate reelection: I can handle both.

Paul arrived at a recent campaign event here for GOP gubernatorial nominee to a uniformly positive and presidential-focused reception. The approximately 60 people who trudged to the basement of a Baptist ministry across the street from Kentucky State University welcomed Paul with chants of “President Paul! President Paul!” Many attendees wore T-shirts and signs emblazoned with Paul’s torch-like presidential campaign logo.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) introduced Paul as “our candidate for president of the United States.” GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin said the first-term senator “would be an extraordinary president of the United States.”

“Who would say such a thing? Rebuke them!” Paul sarcastically told reporters after the event who asked about suggestions that he drop out and focus on his Senate reelection. “They don’t know anything about politics. They all write for a living.”

Asked directly if he was worried about his Senate seat, Paul was blunt: “No.”

The Republican’s confidence isn’t completely misplaced. With statewide elections set for November, Democrats have yet to secure a challenger — although most expect state Auditor Adam Edelen to jump into the contest if he can win reelection to his post next month.

Still, Paul’s presence in the state has been far from constant. He skipped the annual Fancy Farm gathering in early August, traditionally a must-attend for Kentucky politicians. And local Republicans have noticed.

“He needs to pay attention to the Senate race, or we could lose the seat,” said one member of the Kentucky GOP’s executive council. “Why don’t you ask around the state to see how many Lincoln Day dinners or parades he’s been too? It’s not many.”

Republicans in D.C. aren’t yet panicking about losing Paul’s Senate seat — only about having to spend money to retain it in a year when they need that cash in at least a half-dozen other competitive states.

Paul’s team insists the candidate can run successfully for both offices at the same time. Just last month, Paul demonstrated his commitment to running simultaneously for both by ponying up $250,000 to pay for the Kentucky GOP to hold a presidential caucus instead of a primary — circumventing a Kentucky law that prevents a candidate from being on the ballot for two offices. About three-quarters of executive committee members signed on to Paul’s plan.

Meanwhile, his Senate campaign is staffing up, bringing on Chris LaCivita, the strategist who helped turn around Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts’ faltering reelection bid last year, as a senior adviser. Longtime Paul hand Doug Stafford is also advising the Senate bid. Kelsey Cooper, who worked as the Kentucky GOP’s spokeswoman during McConnell’s reelection, is running the communications operation. Laura Haney is running the campaign’s finance team. The campaign has also started hiring field workers and is on the verge of opening offices in both Louisville and Lexington.


Despite the behind-the-scenes grumblings, Republican officials in D.C. and in Kentucky aren’t ready to push Paul out of the race publicly just yet. Barr, interviewed after the rally, said Paul would know what was best.

“I’m not going to give Sen. Paul advice,” he said. “I trust him to make the right judgment. Obviously, we’re proud of Sen. Paul for representing Kentucky in the presidential race. And if [it] doesn’t work out in the presidential race for Sen. Paul, the Republican Party in Kentucky will rally around him and get him reelected.”

Jim Skaggs, a party veteran who represents Paul’s hometown of Bowling Green on the executive council, has donated to Paul in the past. He sold Paul the plot of land on which the freshman senator’s house now stands. But he said he still worries about Paul’s ability to raise money for a Senate bid after likely losing a run for the presidency.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to just run for a safe Senate seat than make a long-shot bid for the presidency?” he said, emphasizing the choice was ultimately Paul’s to make: “Certainly, he has a right to run.”

Based on the objective numbers available to us, the state of Paul’s campaign hasn’t improved much from where it was the last time I wrote about it, and in some sense may have gotten worse. Most recently, we learned that his campaign had raised a rather disappointing $2.5 million in the fundraising quarter that ended September 30th. This is well below the $6 million he raised in the first quarter of his campaign, and well below the $6 million raised by Marco Rubio, the $12 million raised by the Ted Cruz and the somewhat surprising $20 million raised by Ben Carson. Additionally, the campaign reported that it had $2 million cash on hand, which is both well below the $4.1 million it reported in the previous quarter (which suggests that it spend a lot more than it took in) and certainly not enough to finance a campaign heading into the final months before the Iowa Caucuses. In the polls, Paul’s position has either held steady or deteriorated. He’s at 2.3% in the RealClearPolitics National Poll average, at 3.3% in Iowa, and 4.0% in New Hampshire. At least in the immediate future, the national polls are the most important because they will determine eligibility for the main stage debate on October 28th, and Paul must average at least 2.5% to get that invitation. The RCP poll is slightly deceiving because it includes polls that will not be considered in making the selection, but according to Pollster, Paul is averaging 2.5% in the polls that will be considered after the October 17th cutoff date, putting him right on the bubble. If Senator Paul fails to make the main stage debate later this month, it will likely be yet another nail in the coffin for his campaign.

In reality, the concerns that Republican insiders seem to be having about Paul’s Senate seat are probably overblown, at least for now. While Kentucky voters have had a long habit of elected Democrats to statewide offices, when it comes to the Presidency and the Senate, the state has been solidly Republican for some time now and seems likely to stay that way in 2016. Additionally, it doesn’t appear that Kentucky Democrats have a strong candidate capable of taking on an incumbent right now. Their most promising candidate probably would have been outgoing Governor Steve Beshear but he announced some time ago that his final term as Governor would be his last flirtation with elected office and is now working on helping his son in his bid to succeed Jack Conway as Attorney General. Another possible candidate that’s been mentioned has been Alison Lundergan Grimes, but her rather disappointing showing against Mitch McConnell just last year seems to have soured Kentucky Democrats on putting her up again. The candidate being mentioned now, State Auditor Adam Edelen, seems like an odd choice to take on a sitting Senator in a year when Republicans will be heavily favored in Kentucky. Given all that, Paul is probably right to dismiss these questions now, but there’s not much time left. If his campaign for President doesn’t start taking off soon, then many Republicans are going to wonder when he’s going to start paying attention to a Senate seat that should be easy to win next year, and the pressure on him to drop out will likely increase.

Obama Administration Abandoning Program To Train And Equip “Moderate” Syrian Rebels [Outside the Beltway]

Obama Syria

The New York Times is reporting that the Obama Administration will be abandoning one of the central elements of its current strategy in the effort against ISIS, thus throwing the entirety of American policy in the region into doubt:

LONDON — The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria.

Pentagon officials were expected to officially announce the end of the program on Friday, as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter leaves London after meetings with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, about the continuing wars in Syria and Iraq.

“I wasn’t happy with the early efforts” of the program, Mr. Carter said during a news conference with Mr. Fallon. “So we have devised a number of different approaches.” Mr. Carter added, “I think you’ll be hearing from President Obama very shortly” on the program.

A senior Defense Department official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that there would no longer be any more recruiting of so-called moderate Syrian rebels to go through training programs in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Instead, a much smaller training center would be set up in Turkey, where a small group of “enablers” — mostly leaders of opposition groups — would be taught operational maneuvers like how to call in airstrikes.

While many details of the new approach still need to be worked out, President Obama endorsed the shift in strategy at two high-level meetings with his national security and foreign policy advisers last week, several American officials said.

The change makes official what those in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the administration have been saying for several weeks would most likely happen, particularly in the wake of revelations that the program at one point last month had only “four or five” trainees in the fight in Syria — a far cry from the plan formally started in December to prepare as many as 5,400 fighters this year, and 15,000 over the next three years.

Already, the Pentagon has announced it was “pausing” the transfer of trainee candidates in Syria to training sites in Jordan and Turkey. Several dozen opposition fighters already at the training sites are likely to complete their instruction — learning to help call in allied airstrikes and operating 122-millimeter mortars — and they will be placed in opposition groups in Syria to enhance their combat effectiveness, officials said.

“Training thousands of infantry was not the right model, I think that’s become pretty clear,” said another senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

The official said the training was “to be suspended, with the option to restart if conditions dictate, opportunities arise.” The official also said that support to Sunni Arab fighters in eastern Syria was an example of focusing on groups already fighting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, “rather than using training to try to manufacture new brigades.”

The shift in strategy comes as critics in Congress have increasingly demanded that the administration make changes or face the elimination of the program altogether.The

In a letter to the State Department, Pentagon and C.I.A. last week, four senators — three Democrats and a Republican — criticized the program. “The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars,” the senators wrote. “As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat.”

The senators — Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut; Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia; Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico; and Mike Lee, Republican of Utah — were referring to the latest debacle to plague the program.

From the beginning, the strategy of finding and training so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels who would by allies in the fight against ISIS at the same time that they are allied with ISIS in an effort to depose the regime of Bashar Assad has been one that never really seemed to make a whole lot of sense. For one thing, it has never really been clear just how “moderate” these rebels actually were. While the groups themselves were not in formal alliance with ISIS or al Qaeda, many of them seemed to hold views that were basically compatible with those organizations, and they certainly don’t seem to be all that interested in the idea of a democratic, pluralistic Syria that includes not only its Sunni and Shia Muslim populations, but also the Christian and Alawaite communities that make up a substantial part of the population in the eastern part of the country. That was one of the many reasons why President Obama was obviously so reluctant to actively start arming the rebels even while advisers like Hillary Clinton, people on Capitol Hill like John McCain, and allies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States argued otherwise.

Two years ago, even the nonlethal aid we were providing to rebel groups was cut off when evidence began to surface that Islamist elements were gaining a foothold among the so-called “moderates.” As the war dragged on, President Obama eventually gave in to the pressure and announced a policy to arm and train these so-called “moderates,” but as I noted at the time it was obvious that the plan could not work for many of the same reasons that people were arguing against arming them when the war started. The President’s plan was quickly attacked by many experts, primarily because it was clear that his faith in the “moderates” was completely misplaced. It was also clear that, despite the arguments made by many of the advocates of the President’s plan, arming these groups would not have prevented the rise of ISIS, not the least because there was a long history of the arms supplied to “moderates” ending up in the hands of radical groups, a practice that continues to this day.  There were also reports that one of the groups that were part of this supposed “moderate” coalition sold American journalist Steven Sotloff, to ISIS at some point after he was captured. Sotloff was eventually beheaded in one of the infamous propaganda videos that ISIS was releasing last year. Within three months after the President announced his new strategy, it was clear that whatever trust should have been placed in the “moderate” Syrian rebels was entirely misplaced and that the strategy he had announced in the summer of 2014 was doomed to fail.  Finally, over the summer, the true extent of the failure of the program became clear with the announcement that no more than sixty, and perhaps as few as five, actual fighters have been successfully trained by the American-sponsored program. Given all of that, the announcement that we’re abandoning what is clearly a failed idea was largely inevitable.

The big question, of course, is where this leaves American policy against ISIS going forward. Apparently, the Administration plans to announce some kind of replacement for the Train and Equip Program that would be based in Turkey but it seems as though this will be a much lower scale program than the already low scale program we’ve been undertaking for the past year. This would suggest that we’ll be relying mostly on air power going forward, which of course raises the possibility of unintended confrontations with the Russians also using air power to attack rebel positions as part of their plan to defend the Assad regime. Most importantly, though, this development just seems to reinforce the idea that there is no coherent strategy in Syria from either the United States or Russia, and that we’re pretty much flying blind at this point. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Despite Saying No, Paul Ryan Is Being Heavily Lobbied To Run For Speaker [Outside the Beltway]

In the wake of Kevin McCarthy’s shocking announcement yesterday afternoon that he was withdrawing his bid to become Speaker of the House in the wake of John Boehner’s resignation, the House Republican Caucus was thrown into chaos. The general consensus seems to be that neither of the two other declared candidates, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Florida Congressman Daniel Webster, have either the support necessary to get to the 218 floor votes needed to get the job or the skills needed to bridge the gaps that divide an obviously bitterly divided caucus. Beyond them, though, the list of potential viable candidates seems to be rather short. Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who has served in Congress since winning election in 2006, became the first person to say he was considering getting into get into the race after McCarthy’s bombshell, but he’s still a relative unknown outside Capitol Hill. California Congressman Darrell Issa, who previously served as Chairman of the Government Oversight Committee and who came to prominence during that committee’s investigations of the Fast & Furious and IRS scandals, said that he would consider getting in the race. Other names that have been mentioned in the past day include Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling, Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole, and Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte. There’s also been talk about electing a “caretaker” Speaker who would only serve until the end of the current Congress, but that seems like a desperation move. Finally, as there always is during incidents such as this, there have been those who have pointed out that the Constitution does not require the Speaker to be a Member of Congress, which has led to such bizarre things as people suggesting Mitt Romney as a candidate and Newt Gingrich saying he’d be willing to serve again.

Through all the din of speculation yesterday, though, there was one name that came through the loudest, but it’s the name of the one man in Washington who seems to be the most reluctant to take the job:

As soon as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shocked his fellow Republicans by withdrawing from the race for House speaker, Paul Ryan knew what was coming.

“I will not be a candidate,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a release issued less than 20 minutes after McCarthy’s stunning Thursday announcement, in an immediate bid to cut off any pressure for him to do a job he has repeatedly said he does not want.

But this time, it didn’t take. By mid-afternoon, outgoing speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had spoken to Ryan at least twice, trying to convince the reluctant congressman that he was the only man who could save House Republicans from their self-created chaos.

By day’s end, after hunkering down for two hours in his ceremonial office a few steps from the House floor, after listening to pleas from friends to take the reins of the bitterly divided Republican caucus, he emerged, declining to explicitly state his plans.

“I’ve got no news for you guys,” Ryan told reporters, exiting the Capitol. “I’ve got nothing to add right now. . . . This is not the time or place, guys.”

As soon as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shocked his fellow Republicans by withdrawing from the race for House speaker, Paul Ryan knew what was coming.

“I will not be a candidate,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a release issued less than 20 minutes after McCarthy’s stunning Thursday announcement, in an immediate bid to cut off any pressure for him to do a job he has repeatedly said he does not want.

But this time, it didn’t take. By mid-afternoon, outgoing speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had spoken to Ryan at least twice, trying to convince the reluctant congressman that he was the only man who could save House Republicans from their self-created chaos.

By day’s end, after hunkering down for two hours in his ceremonial office a few steps from the House floor, after listening to pleas from friends to take the reins of the bitterly divided Republican caucus, he emerged, declining to explicitly state his plans.

“I’ve got no news for you guys,” Ryan told reporters, exiting the Capitol. “I’ve got nothing to add right now. . . . This is not the time or place, guys.”

But, as Politico notes, there is a full court press to get Ryan to say yes, or even just maybe, to a run for Speaker:

It’s all about Paul Ryan right now.

House Republicans are frantically lobbying Ryan to run for speaker after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly ditched his bid Thursday for speaker, leaving a gaping hole atop the fractious Republican Conference and no obvious successor to John Boehner.

The Wisconsin Republican is getting bombarded with calls and one-on-one appeals from GOP lawmakers, urging him to be the party’s white knight. Boehner has had multiple conversations with the Ways and Means Committee chairman. Even before he dropped his own bid, McCarthy told Ryan he should do it. And the list goes on: House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) spoke to him about it on the House floor, and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) also has pushed Ryan to reconsider.

It’s unclear whether the 2012 vice presidential candidate will. Soon after McCarthy’s blockbuster decision Thursday, Ryan released a statement that “while I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate.”

But then the arm-twisting began. When asked later in the day whether he would run for speaker, Ryan said, “I have no comment.”

Amid the pressure, Ryan canceled all of his fundraising activity over the next 48 hours.

GOP lawmakers are scrambling to find a replacement after McCarthy’s sudden departure from the speaker’s race and Boehner slated to leave Congress at the end of the month. Boehner, who said he will stay on as speaker until a successor is chosen, scheduled a Friday meeting with the Republican conference to figure out how to move forward.

It took no time for Ryan’s name to surface, yet again, as the best candidate who could unite the divided conference and shepherd through the divided House must-pass legislation, such as raising the debt ceiling and keeping the government funded.

“He is uniquely gifted and qualified for that position,” South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy said, who has also resisted calls to run for a top leadership job. He called Ryan the “smartest kid in the class.”

California Republican Devin Nunes also is pressing Ryan to jump in.

“I think Paul Ryan is the only eligible candidate,” Nunes said.

In addition to all the comments from fellow caucus members, Ryan is also being pressured to run by several top ranking Republicans. Speaker John Boehner, who has said he’ll remain on the job until the party finds a replacement, reportedly spent hours on the phone with Ryan trying to bend his ear, and canceled a scheduled appearance on The Tonight Show to stay in Washington to deal with the fallout from McCarthy’s announcement. McCarthy himself said that Ryan would be an excellent choice for Speaker, as did Wisconsin Governor and close Ryan ally Scott Walker. Throughout it all, though Ryan has remained stoic and non-committal and there is no indication as of yet that he’s willing to change his mind. This is consistent for Ryan, who has had the opportunity at least twice before to make a run for the Speaker’s chair with the support of House conservatives but declined the opportunity in favor of immersing himself in the policy wonk work of being Chairman of the Budget Committee, and now the Ways & Means Committee, that he seems to immensely prefer to the day-to-day political glad-handing that being Speaker or any member of leadership involves.

Looking at it from Ryan’s point of view, there seems to be little incentive for him to take a job that he has no seeming interest in having. If John Boehner’s tenure has proven anything, it is that being Speaker of the House at the head of this Republican Caucus is a completely thankless task filled with immense political risks and little political upside for someone as young as Ryan who still has a potentially long political career ahead of him. No matter who sits in the chair, they will be denounced by the House Freedom Caucus and the others who has pushed the caucus to the right for any signs of impurity and any deals that they make with the White House, the Senate, or House Democrats. This is not the kind of politician that Ryan has been since he was elected in 1998. If anything, he hews closer to the Boehner/McCarthy mold in that he has a long history of being willing to reach across aisles and make deals, as witnessed perhaps most strikingly in the deal that he helped reach with Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray in the aftermath of the 2013 government shutdown. If that’s an indication of how he would govern as Speaker, and it probably is, then it’s likely that the purists who might now be saying that they’d support him will be quickly denouncing him the same way they have gone after Boehner, McCarthy, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Add into this calculus the fact that Ryan has made clear on repeated occasion the fact that being Speaker would make it nearly impossible to spend the time with his young family that he considers important, and it’s hard to see why he’d change his mind from the emphatic denial he issued yesterday. Until he gives that final no, though, or until Republicans settle on another candidate, Paul Ryan is likely to be subjected to pressure to take up a job that he clearly doesn’t seem to want.

Update: The Washington Post reports that Ryan is reportedly reconsidering his previous denials, but has not made any commitments yet:

Paul Ryan is seriously considering a bid for House speaker. He’s consulting his wife, Janna, and should make a definitive decision soon, according to top GOP sources.

Despite repeatedly and sincerely insisting he doesn’t want the job, the Wisconsin congressman is under intense and increasing pressure from all corners of the House Republican Conference to assume a position that puts him second in the presidential line of succession.

That includes public support from Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader who shocked Washington by abruptly withdrawing from the speaker’s race yesterday, and private support from John Boehner, who had two long phone conversations with Ryan after the McCarthy bombshell. The current speaker told Ryan that he’s the only person who can now unite the House GOP.

It seems unlikely that we’ll hear anything from Ryan on this before the end of the day, though, and with the long Columbus Day Weekend coming up it’s probably that the fate of the Speakership will remain up in the air for the time being.

Update #2: Shortly before Noon, Ryan’s Communications Director released the following statement:

Brendan Buck, Ryan’s communications director, said “Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he’s getting from his colleagues but is still not running for Speaker.”

After meetings today on the Hill, Ryan is headed back to Wisconsin, where I’m sure this week’s developments will be a topic of conversation.

Ben Carson, Political Ignoramus [Outside the Beltway]

Dr. Ben Carson Speaks At Launch Of New Media Online Network In Scottsdale, Arizona

My co-blogger Doug Mataconis argues at length that Ben Carson’s repeated conflation of the budget and the debt ceiling is proof that he’s a zealot appeasing the worst elements of the Tea Party. As someone who has been a political news junkie for decades, Doug simply can’t believe someone could be so clueless, especially when the interviewer is desperately trying to explain the distinction. But everything I’ve seen of Carson going back to the first debate leads me to believe that, yes, he’s that clueless.

Seven years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a post titled “Sarah Palin, Ignoramus.” I explained, in part,

She’s likable and, I presume, of above average intelligence.  She is, however, utterly lacking in knowledge or training about matters of public policy, law, or international affairs that one expects a vice presidential nominee to bring to the table.

I didn’t call her an idiot or a moron. I don’t think she’s too stupid to learn about any of those things but she’s demonstrably spent the first 44 years of her life without displaying the curiosity to do so.

Scott Adams (of “Dilbert” fame) says we’re all idiots, just about different things.  Sarah Palin knows more about moose hunting and snowmobiling than I’ll ever know.  Unfortunately, those things are of only tertiary help for one who could, in a little over four months, be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Based on his credentials, I’d guess Carson has a higher IQ than Palin and, indeed, me. But based on his media interviews and the two Republican debates thus far, he makes Palin look like a Rhodes Scholar.  (Aristotle? Plato? Socrates? Morons.)

To some degree, that’s not shocking. While she ultimately demonstrated that she was unprepared for the vice presidency, she had significant political accomplishment. She’d first been elected to the Wasilla City Council in 1992–16 years before McCain tabbed her to be his running mate–and was elected mayor in 1996, serving two terms. She ran and lost for lieutenant governor, was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and ultimately elected governor in 2006.

While nothing about her performance on the national level suggests that she was particularly studious about policy, it’s reasonable to presume she developed some significant knowledge about local and state government over the span of that career. She simply didn’t have the curiosity about national and international politics that would have prepared her to seriously discuss those issues. (In fairness to her, the strategy of Team McCain in preparing her for and handling her media appearances did her no favors, either.)

Carson’s career has been nothing short of extraordinary. He’s not only a retired neurosurgeon, impressive enough on its own, but was a pioneer and leader in his field. He’s an incredibly talented and accomplished man. Nor was he a mere technician. The list of awards he’s received over the years—I’m relying on Wikipedia here—shows a breadth of involvement in the community:

-In 2000, he received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
-In 2001, he was elected by the Library of Congress on the occasion of its 200th anniversary to be one of the 89 who earned the designation Library of Congress Living Legend.
-In 2004, he was appointed to serve on The President’s Council on Bioethics.
-In 2005, Carson was awarded the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.
-In 2006, he received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, their highest honor for outstanding achievement.
-In 2008, the White House awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
-In 2008, Ford’s Theatre Society awarded Carson the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal, for exemplifying the qualities embodied by President Abraham Lincoln—including courage, integrity, tolerance, equality, and creative expression—through superior achievements.
-In 2008, U.S. News & World Report named Carson as one of “America’s Best Leaders”
-In 2010, he was elected into the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine

One would expect a man with those credentials to be interested in world affairs, if too busy to spend hours a weak reading news and commentary. But by all recent indications, he simply doesn’t know much about the world of politics and policy. Your average 24-year-old TownHall or Heritage staffer knows more about the issues—or, at least, can talk about them in a more nuanced fashion—than Carson. The good doctor seems to have barely mastered the broadest talking points.

I’d be willing to chalk this all up to priorities. Again, a man who has pioneered radical advances in brain surgery, led academic and surgical departments, and been a philanthropist on the side might be a tad busy. What I can’t fathom is why he hasn’t seen fit during the months he’s been actively running for the most powerful policy job on the planet to throw his considerable energy and brain power into boning up.

UPDATE: (Originally written in the comment thread.) With Palin, a career politician, I was somewhat contemptuous that she’d displayed so little curiosity about and put so little mental energy into her chosen profession. I’m not at all disappointed in Carson for having devoted his mental energy into saving people’s lives and making them better. But, if he’s even remotely serious about being president—or just using the campaign as a platform to get a message out—he needs to throw himself into it in the way Arnold Schwarzenegger did when he ran for Governor of California. Or, hell, Barack Obama did when he ran for President in 2008.

News About New Zealand for 9 October 2015 [RNZ: News about New Zealand]

A summary of news around New Zealand over the past week.

College Radio Watch: Is October College Radio Month? [Radio Survivor]

I hope that you took the opportunity to celebrate College Radio Day last Friday. Did you check out a new station? Do something special at your own station? We’d love to hear your stories, so please feel free to comment on this post. This week’s edition of College Radio Watch will be brief, with just […]

The post College Radio Watch: Is October College Radio Month? appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Support for Pot Growing in Swing States [RedState]

Quinnipiac has released a new poll showing that support for legalized marijuana is growing in key swing states, which could make things interesting in a number of ways. Here’s what the Q poll says:

With noticeable gender gaps, voters in Florida and Ohio back legalization of marijuana for personal use – so-called “recreational marijuana” – while Pennsylvania voters are divided, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.

In each state, men support legalized marijuana for personal use more than women, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states. By overwhelming margins, voters in each state support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. On this question, there is no gender gap.

Also in each state, most voters say they would not use marijuana if personal use were legalized.

The marijuana fight has been a very long and drawn out one, and politically speaking, it is one of the most divisive while simultaneously being one of the lowest issues on almost everyone’s list. In a world where foreign affairs are going to hell and domestic policy is once again debating gun control and abortion, legalizing marijuana put off to the side.

The reason this is so notable is because this comes from that Quinnipiac swing state poll I referenced earlier. I don’t expect legalizing marijuana to suddenly become a major movement in the next year or so, but I do expect that folks like Chris Christie, folks who are on Team Keep Marijuana Illegal, could lose some support in those states if they take a very hard line against the drug. That’s not to say Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) 88% is going to get a huge uptick in support in Pennsylvania if he takes the strong legalization route, but it could hurt Christie.

The issue itself is probably best saved for a rainy day. We have lots of policy to get through between now and the swearing in of a Republican president in 2017, but there is no reason to think that we can’t have that talk as early as 2017. In the meantime, states can work on policies that ease penalties for possession and similar crimes in an effort to bide our time until having that debate makes sense.


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Quinnipiac Poll Shows Senate Split in Swing States [RedState]

A new swing state poll released by Quinnipiac is showing a split on U.S. Senate races, which doesn’t necessarily put the party at risk of losing the Senate, but does make things more difficult in a year where Republicans should be doing well across the board.


The tragic loss of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 92% in the Senate could very well give way to a Democratic replacement, according to the poll results.

In Florida’s 2016 U.S. Senate race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) 19% leads Republican Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera 37 – 29 percent and tops U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) 89% 37 – 30 percent. Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) 15% gets 35 percent to Lopez-Cantera’s 32 percent and leads DeSantis 37 – 31 percent.

The presence of Alan Grayson makes this a much closer game, hence the reason every Republican should support Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary (primary polling shows voters going back and forth between Grayson and Murphy). Proof that God loves Moe Lane would come in the form of Grayson getting the nomination from his party.


In a state that the Ace of Spades Decision Desk chief says is the most important in the 2016 cycle, we see the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator enjoying a comfortable lead.

In the 2016 U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey leads Democratic challenger Joe Sestak 49 – 34 percent and tops Democrat Katie McGinty 51 – 31 percent.

Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes and is usually hard to predict the ways of. There is a big opportunity for Republican presidential candidates to appeal to the blue collar work force there, and as I mentioned recently, Obama’s outright hostility to non-green energies can be a big way to make gains in the state.


The state that gave us John Kasich and has caused people to melt down on live television in presidential years is back with not-so-great news for the Republican party.

In the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Ohio, Democratic challenger Ted Strickland has 46 percent, with Republican incumbent Sen. Rob. Portman at 43 percent. Portman leads Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld 49 – 27 percent.

Quinnipiac says it’s “Too close to call,” and we will have to wait and see on this one. Give or take a few points and it’s anyone’s race, but that the Democrats can organize solid competition against an incumbent in a swing state like Ohio doesn’t bode well for the claims that we should have John Kasich on the presidential ticket because Ohio, now does it?


This isn’t very strong news for Republicans, because it does not reflect the strength a lot of Republican voters and commentators feel going into the 2016 election cycle. Swing states are vital places in election years, and if there is a sign that Democrats are making some solid gains in support, resources will have to be redirected to those states pretty soon.

However, it is still a ways away. We’ve got time to see how each candidate in the Senate and Presidential races will handle places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, and we’ll see if they are worthy enough to represent not just the party, but the nation.


The post Quinnipiac Poll Shows Senate Split in Swing States appeared first on RedState.

Philip Bump is a Hack. Clinton’s email was at risk. [RedState]

Philip Bump, Washington Post reporter, is ready to criticize or talk down every candidate for President not named Hillary Clinton. But her, he’s ready to stick up for. He claims that “our technical ignorance” is hurting her.

Sorry, I’m not technically ignorant. I’ve personally set up email servers from scratch. And Hillary Clinton was negligent in keeping her email on servers far below the appropriate standards of security. Even if Clinton’s server was secure enough to protect cookie recipes or photos of grandchildren, it was nowhere near up to proper standards for data relevant to US national security and foreign policy interests.


Bump is a real Forrest Gump. He’s been a climate expert, economic expert, and now he apparently is a systems administration expert in his own mind.

He makes a few points attempting to defend Clinton. Let’s take this apart one step at a time to show why she was recklessly negligent with classified data:

First, Bump says “that someone from China tried to hack into Clinton’s server doesn’t mean 1) that they were targeting Clinton specifically, 2) that they were agents of the Chinese government, or 3) that they were actually able to access information.” Well, in truth: 1) It is evidence it’s possible, 2) it’s evidence the server was vulnerable to password guessing, and 3) unless the server had logs of every login, we can’t know if they got access or not.

If classified email had been kept on secured servers accessed via VPNs, we wouldn’t have to cross our fingers and hope a determined Chinese script kiddie with a dictionary attack script didn’t guess a password. The data should never have been on a server with login ports open to the whole Internet to begin with.

Second, Bump shills “Hackers will often ‘port scan’ IP addresses to find vulnerable systems.” Yes, and there are ways around that. You put servers on VPNs, adding a layer of defense between the broad Internet and your precious data. You block ports to connections from unauthorized IP addresses, so that you’re limiting access only to known good locations (like, say, the State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom). You can even use sophisticated techniques like port knocking to defeat simple, broad sweeps.

Third, Bump (trying out for the role of Napoleon’s sheep) bleats, “a full ‘wipe’ of the server would be a best practice when decommissioning a server.” That’s true, and the fact that it was claimed the server was wiped, when in fact the data was recoverable, shows that industry best practices for the wipe were most definitely not followed. Had the drives been erased and repeatedly overwritten according to government standards until the data could not be retrieved, then it would have been successfully wiped. The fact that they tried to wipe it, but failed, shows Clinton’s email server has not ever been managed in a secure manner.

Bump tries to cover for this by suggesting “it can be assumed that the account was deleted at some point,” but that’s exactly the point. The account was deleted. Someone tried to erase this sensitive data, including satellite intelligence, and did not use standard practices to erase it correctly. It was treated like some throwaway email account on gmail.com, and erased with no care about who could unerase it. Insecure administration by unqualified administrators.

Fourth, Bump desperately hopes you won’t notice the failures with respect to malicious emails sent to her. “But it could not, Fidler said, directly compromise her e-mail server, unless she was checking her e-mail on the server itself,” he writes. Well, getting access to Secretary Clinton’s personal user account would have been disastrous enough. Email is a common means of sending passwords, and on top of that, any ‘notes’ she had on a phone (including passwords, a common practice) would have been stored in a folder within her email account.

But why was she receiving these malicious emails in her inbox to begin with? Actual government servers have layers of filtering and quarantining, leveraging the fact that they’re monitoring lots of accounts to catch them before the user can ever accidentally click. That Clinton was getting these demonstrates that her server, once again, was simply not up to the standards of security we see even from less-sensitive government servers, let alone the State Department.

WaPo says “Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix.” He should stick to politics, because systems administration is not his area. Clinton’s email situation was a wreck, and demonstrates why it’s a terribly bad idea for important government officials to roll their own email at home. Clinton was negligent, and must be held accountable. Any expert can see this.

The post Philip Bump is a Hack. Clinton’s email was at risk. appeared first on RedState.

Andrew Malcolm on the Crazy Race for Speaker of the House [RedState]

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On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Francis Cianfrocca discusses the minutes from the recent Fed meeting, then legendary journalist Andrew Malcolm talks about Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) 61%‘s surprise exit from the House Speaker race and where the GOP goes from here.

Related Links:

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Buried in the Fed minutes is another downgrade to the U.S. economy

Gee, that felt good to dump Boehner, McCarthy as Speaker, but now…
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The hosts and guests of Coffee and Markets speak only for ourselves, not any clients or employers.

The post Andrew Malcolm on the Crazy Race for Speaker of the House appeared first on RedState.

Hillary Clinton Disclosed Identity Of CIA Source From Sid Blumenthal [RedState]


There comes a time when a “scandal” becomes a crime and in the case of Hillary Clinton, revealing the identity of a CIA source certainly seems to fit that description, even to a non-lawyer like me.

Trey Gowdy, tired of leaks from Democrats on the Select Committee on Benghazi, designed to make Hillary Clinton look sympathetic, sent a blistering letter to Elijah Cummings who has been calling for the committee to be shut down since its inception.

The letter contained excerpts of emails Hillary Clinton sent from her private account that could have had national security implications. The purpose of the letter was to blunt the loud criticism that Gowdy et al are engaging in nothing but a political witch hunt against Hillary in an attempt to derail her presidential ambitions.

One of the excerpts was particularly galling: 

Hillary Clinton used her private email account to pass along the identity of one of the CIA’s top Libyan intelligence sources, raising new questions about her handling of classified information, according to excerpts from previously undisclosed emails released Thursday by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) 80%, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

On March 18, 2011, Sidney Blumenthal — Clinton’s longtime friend and political adviser — sent the then secretary of state an email to her private account that contained apparently highly sensitive information he had received from Tyler Drumheller, a former top CIA official with whom Blumenthal at the time had a business relationship.

“Tyler spoke to a colleague currently at CIA, who told him the agency had been dependent for intelligence from [redacted due to sources and methods],” the email states, according to Gowdy’s letter.

The redacted information was “the name of a human source,” Gowdy wrote to his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) 16% of Maryland, and was therefore “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community.”

“Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to a colleague — debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address,” wrote Gowdy in a letter to Cummings.

There is absolutely no good explanation Hillary can give for sending along this information to somebody else. Yet, Clinton’s flacks took up for her anyway:

A Clinton campaign official, who asked not to be identified by name, said that as described in Gowdy’s own letter, “the information at issue was not only unmarked, but also was transmitted by no fewer than two individuals who were outside the government before it ever reached Hillary Clinton’s inbox.”

The obvious question here is, “So what?” Hillary Clinton can’t use a fax machine, responded to work emails with questions about interior design and sent emails to ask others to find somebody to fetch her iced tea. Does anybody really think she could tell this was transmitted by others outside the government?

Essentially what they are suggesting is that she get a pass because the email was “unmarked” and therefore she was too stupid to understand there might be sensitive information she was passing along. Yes, let’s hand the keys to the most powerful position in the world to this woman.

This raises an important question.

How is what Hillary did any less egregious than what David Petraeus did? 

**** UPDATE: Originally, this post said Hillary SENT the information to Blumenthal when in fact, Blumenthal sent the information to Clinton who then sent it along to somebody else. 



The post Hillary Clinton Disclosed Identity Of CIA Source From Sid Blumenthal appeared first on RedState.

After getting its butt kicked, Obama administration warns Russia of Syrian “blowback” [RedState]

Ever since the Russians started their intervention in Syria, the theme coming out of the White House has been that the Russians will get “bogged down” in Syria. When you read stuff like:

Two U.S. officials told The Daily Beast they more or less hoped that Russia did dive into what they called the “quagmire” of Syria, a conflict that the U.S. has kept at arm’s length by limiting its involvement to airstrikes directed exclusively at ISIS and al Nusra forces.

“If he wants to jump into that mess, good luck,” one official said, noting that Russia had become bogged down in Afghanistan a generation ago in a fight against Islamic radicals.

Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told reporters that the Russians may be “making a terrible strategic mistake” by deepening their military involvement in Syria. He also warned of the “risk of running into a quagmire.”

You have the sense of people trying to convince themselves that this is the case rather than trying to convince others. As things stand today, there is no chance of Russia becoming “bogged down.” Unlike the Afghan mujahadeen, no major nation is going to arm ISIS. On the other hand, Russia doesn’t have to commit combat troops because Assad, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and Lebanese Hezbollah are acting a proxy armies.

As the US is being turfed out of the region by a high visibility but small footprint Russian operation, the newest warning is “blowback.” This is a tired only left wing trope that, at its core, is utterly racist. We saw this in the Iraq war when the left was actually insisting that the more jihadis you killed the more were created as if the typical Arab or Muslim was so lowly evolved that they don’t possess even the sense of self preservation one finds in lower order animals. The fact is, what we saw in Iraq was that the supply of jihadis prepared to go to almost certain death was limited and, surprise, Arabs and Muslims, behaving very much like humans everywhere else, weren’t all excited about being killed.

Now blowback is becoming the new watchword of our failed Machiavellis:

And U.S. officials note that every bomb against a non-ISIS Sunni target puts them more in bed with Iran and Hezbollah, which are Shiite. U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf warn that this could set off a huge sectarian conflict and that the deeper the Russians get into this, the harder officials believe it will be to get a diplomatic process with the Saudis and others restarted.

“It is going to be hugely tempting for the Saudis to start financing their guys again,” another senior administration official said. “Syria will be a magnet for every jihadi, who will rush to fight the Russians, just like they did in Afghanistan. The problem is while this will cause problems for the Russians, it will also mean trouble for the Gulf, when the jihadists come home.”

“The Russians can’t be stupid,” another senior administration official said. “This is going to be wildly expensive. And they can’t hold out long. They know in the end there is no future for the guy (Assad) because the whole reason they had to come in is because Assad and his forces were extremely vulnerable. So we are hoping they will come to their senses, stabilize the situation and then we can agree on the Assad piece.”

(Hilariously, this piece is not even two weeks old and already the last paragraph is, to use Nixon-speak, ‘inoperative.’)

Now, POLITICO, ever the dutiful stenographers of the Obama message du jour are predicting Armageddon: Putin faces blowback from Syria intervention.

U.S. intelligence officials warn that Russia’s military intervention in Syria has stirred the wrath of Islamic radicals who may retaliate by staging terrorist attacks inside Russia.

Terrorism analysts say they are already seeing signs of fresh militant anger toward Moscow, which could raise the domestic political cost to Putin for his foreign intervention and further complicate the decisions facing U.S. policymakers.

Such attacks would serve as revenge for Putin’s defense of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad against a rebellion fueled by militants tied to al Qaeda and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

“There are very public calls on social media by terrorist groups to attack Russian targets,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) 15%, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “It could very well result in a renewed focus on attacks in the Russian homeland.”

This is the kind of boogeyman that keeps Obama national security people clenching their sphincters. Oddly enough, the story presents a couple of very good reasons why blowback, if it happens, isn’t going to bother Putin very much.

In 1999, a series of apartment complex bombings killed nearly 300 people in Moscow and other cities. Then an acting prime minister hoping to succeed Boris Yeltsin as president, Putin blamed Islamic militants seeking vengeance for Russia’s brutal military campaign to suppress the Chechen republic’s bid for independence from Moscow. Vowing to hunt down and kill terrorists “in the outhouse” if necessary, Putin led a bloody crackdown in the region.

His poll numbers surged and the episode cemented Putin’s place as Russia’s next president, Hill says.

Putin largely managed to crush the Chechen independence movement. But he wasn’t able to prevent horrific terrorist attacks, as militants — including Chechnya’s notorious female “Black Widow” suicide bombers — struck airports, subways, hotels, and even more chilling targets.

In 2002 Chechens captured a Moscow theater during a performance; a subsequent gassing and storming by security officers left 129 hostages died. Two years later, Chechens seized an elementary school in Beslan, where a military assault left 385 dead, including dozens of children.

Putin responded ruthlessly, vowing the “total annihilation” of terrorists in his country, and was hailed as a strong and decisive leader at home. After two female suicide bombers struck the Moscow subway in March 2010, one former U.S. ambassador to Russia wrote that Putin’s circle “remains seemingly impervious” to political damage from terrorism.

Read that carefully. In the Moscow theater standoff, the Russians killed at least 129 people in the theater. Over 700 Russian hostages were hospitalized from exposure to the nerve gas used. Many of those suffered permanent injury and several died. In Beslan, to get at 32 terrorists the Russian government killed 385 and wounded over 700 people. Civilian casualties in the two Chechen wars are northwards of 150,000.

This is willingness to kill as many people as it takes without regards to killing your own civilians is not lost on the Islamists. The surety with which the Russians will extract vengeance makes it much more difficult for militants to carry out attacks because people are reluctant to aid them. Even if they do carry out attacks, they know it will not cause Russia to change its policies.

This is not new. The Soviet Union operated the same way. Back in the 1980s, the main industry of Lebanon was kidnapping Westerners. Our CIA station chief, William Buckley, and a USMC colonel, Bill Higgins, were both kidnapped, tortured, and executed. There was only one instance of a Soviet citizen being kidnapped:

The recent videotaped beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the bloodthirsty savages of ISIS bring to mind a story which took place in Lebanon almost 30 years ago. On September 30, 1985, a group of gunmen seized four Soviet diplomats and embassy workers (Arkady Katkov, Valery Myrikov, Oleg Spirin, and Nikolai Svirsky) in Beirut. During the kidnapping right outside the embassy, Katkov was wounded in the leg.

The abductors called themselves “The Khaled Al-Walid Force” and the “Islamic Liberation Organization”. According to SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) Colonel Yuri Perfilyev, who at the time was the KGG rezident (station chief) in Lebanon, the kidnapping was orchestrated by infamous Hezbollah operative Imad “Hyena”Mugniyeh in response to an offensive by Syria-backed leftist militias in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. The Shiite radicals demanded that Moscow force Damascus to suspend the Tripoli offensive and close its embassy in Beirut. To demonstrate that they meant business, only two days after the kidnapping, Mugniyeh murdered the wounded Katkov by riddling him with machine gun bullets and left his body in a Beirut rubbish dump.

[T]he KGB kidnapped a man they knew to be a close relative of a prominent Hezbollah leader. They then castrated him and sent the severed organs to the Hezbollah official, before dispatching the unfortunate kinsman with a bullet in the brain.

In addition to presenting him with this grisly proof of their seriousness, the KGB operatives also advised the Hezbollah leader that they knew the indentities of other close relatives of his, and that he could expect more such packages if the three Soviet diplomats were not freed immediately.

Soon thereafter, the surviving three hostages were dropped off by the Soviet embassy “from a late-model BMW that couldn’t drive away fast enough” and never again was a Soviet (diplomat or otherwise) kidnapped in Lebanon. As Benny Morris put it: “This is the way the Soviets operate. They do things – they don’t talk. And this is the language the Hezbollah understand.” Not only Hezbollah, but ISIS and every other Muslim terror group.

There may very well be retaliation against Russia for its role in Syria. Personally, I doubt it. But if there is we know one thing for a fact: it will not cause the Russians to stop what they are doing.

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Breaking: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals puts a NATIONAL stay on Obama’s EPA Water Power Grab. [RedState]

OK, here’s the background. Once upon a time, the Obama administration decided to implement a ruling – without the input of Congress, mind you – that defined ““waters of the U.S.” to include virtually any wet area — even a rain-fed temporary pool — that is close to any other body of water with a physical connection to a navigable waterway.”  As you can imagine, this was and is a massive attempt to extend the reach of the regulatory State into areas that they do not traditionally have the ability to go into. By making essentially all waters federal waters, federal bureaucrats are then free to institute regulations and fines and exemptions and all the rest.

This naturally offended people. And more importantly, quite a few state governments, which is why there are multiple lawsuits involving this new rule. A judge in North Dakota had already temporarily shut down the regulation in selected states, but the EPA (read: ‘the Obama administration’) decided that the injunction only applied to the specific states, not the entire thing.

Well, now the entire thing is on hold: “This morning a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay against the enforcement of a regulation issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defining the scope of the “waters of the United States” subject to federal regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).” As Jonathan Adler noted in that Washington Post link, the fact that there was already a stay in over a dozen states factored into the decision to impose a stay nationwide.  Jonathan is too polite to say “and never mind what the Obama administration thinks:” I, of course, am not. Either way, this case will now continue to wend its way to the Supreme Court.  Whether or not it makes it there before we have a new President is, of course, another question.

Moe Lane

The post Breaking: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals puts a NATIONAL stay on Obama’s EPA Water Power Grab. appeared first on RedState.

Obama to throw up hands and quit on Syria [RedState]

So three years, billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of shattered lives later the Obama administration is contemplating, according to Bloomberg, a “retreat” on Syria.

A week into Russia’s military intervention in Syria, some top White House advisers and National Security Council staffers are trying to persuade President Barack Obama to scale back U.S. engagement there, to focus on lessening the violence and, for now, to give up on toppling the Syrian regime.

In addition, administration officials and Middle East experts on both sides of the debate tell us, Obama’s foreign-policy team no longer doubts that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to prop up President Bashar al-Assad and primarily target opposition groups other than the Islamic State, including those trained by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The war in Syria, the deaths there, the refugee crisis, and the destruction of American alliances by the Russian intervention in Syria are all directly the fault of Barack Obama and his national security team, which included the aged harpy, Hillary Clinton. This war started because the Obama administration was intent on proving that George Bush was an idiot. They believed they had developed a model for overthrowing random despots at virtually no cost to the United States. They were wrong as only a bunch of Ivy League academics with no real-world experience in anything more complicated than faculty lounge politics can be. In a just world, they would be hauled before the same court that tried Serbia war criminals, who, in all fairness, did a helluva lot less destruction.

Apparently, the Obama administration actually thought that Russia would react to one of their client states being toppled and a hostile government being installed in the same way that the US has under Obama: with supine indifference. Russia understands, as we no longer do, that the world looks at how your client states prosper for an indication of what kind of ally you will be. While Obama was complicit in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Putin is pulling out all the stops, even to the extent of attacking US trained rebels, in order to save Assad. That this comes as a surprise to the White House indicates the near fatal level of naivete that has taken root there.

The new strategy is to “de-escalate.”

At the same time, Obama has ruled out engaging in a proxy war with Putin’s military, leaving few good options. One path, however, would mean finding ways to tamp down the fighting by negotiating small, local ceasefires with the Assad regime.

“The White House somehow thinks we can de-escalate the conflict while keeping Assad in power,” one senior administration official told us.

That view, being pushed by top White House National Security staffers, including senior coordinator for the Middle East Rob Malley,is not new. But it has received fresh emphasis given Russian intervention.

If Assad is staying and there’s no political process in sight, this argument goes, the U.S. might as well focus on alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people and mitigate the growing refugee crisis.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but isn’t this something that should have been thought out before the administration decided to turn one of the episodic revolts in Syria into a full blown regional war?

To that end, the administration is pulling the plug on the Department of Defense program to train Syrian rebels.

The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria.

The problem with this is not that the program was cancelled, it was a monumental failure:

General Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command leading the war on ISIS, told Congress today that only “four or five” of the first 54 U.S.trained moderate Syrian fighters remain in the fight against ISIS.

Christine Wormuth, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are currently between 100 and 120 fighters in a program that was slated to have trained 5,400 fighters in its first 12 months.

Austin told the panel that goal was not going to be met and that options are being explored about how to retool the program which was intended to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. So far, $42 million has been spent to develop the $500 million program which began training in April.

But a public announcement of the cancellation simply adds to the narrative of a US foreign policy rout… not that much addition is needed to embellish that narrative. And there is even more naivete.

The administration came to this conclusion late. Despite warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Putin’s military buildup was intended to keep Assad in power, the White House nonetheless decided to explore cooperating with Russia on the ground. Throughout the summer and into the fall, top Russian officials — including Putin himself in a meeting last month with Obama at the U.N. — said they were not committed to keeping Assad in power for the long term, and would only target Islamic State fighters in their military offensive, according to U.S. officials.

These officials no longer believe Russia was telling the truth.

Who, exactly, did these clowns think they were dealing with. I just don’t know what to say but this joke comes to mind:

Let’s be very clear on what has happened here. The US provoked this war in Syria. By our actions in Iraq we managed to turn a localized Syrian conflict into a regional war. We created the refugee crisis. The blood of the people killed in Syria is on the hands of this administration. In a just world they would be hauled before the international war crimes court in The Hague and tried just like Serbian war criminals who actually caused much less destruction than this administration.

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Feature, Not Bug. [RedState]

You need to read the opening of Ben Domenech’s Transom today. Just ponder this part.

But for those in the media claiming this lack of leadership clarity and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) 61%’s failure to launch is some terrible thing for the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential stakes – I’m sorry, it is to LOL. This Congress is incredibly unpopular, and disrupting its leadership is a good thing for a party whose base is incredibly frustrated with those they see as ignoring their frustrations. This is also the way the House was originally envisioned to work – with a lot more upheaval and changes in leadership in response to public will. 43 of the 53 Americans who have been Speaker held the job for less than 5 years, and that’s a good thing.


The passion in the House was a feature baked in by the Founding Fathers — like gridlock. Both are features in the system, not bugs. If anything, the gregarous, get along to go along House of the last forty years has been the bug in the system.

The Founders knew that democracy was messy, so they created a representative democracy instead of relying on direct democracy. And they knew that the House would be the messy House, the House of Common(er)s. I mean consider that, though there was no real party composition in the beginning, 44% of the House of Representatives was anti-George Washington. Only 31% of the Senate was.

Just consider who was in the House in 1789. Sure you had James Madison and Roger Sherman, but you also had a ton of people no really remembers. Contrast the House then with the statesmen of the Senate who included Richard Henry Lee, James Monroe, Robert Morris, and was presided over by John Adams.

The House is supposed to be passionate. It represents the people, not the states, and the American people are passionate. Factions and factionalism are supposed to run rampant in the House. In fact, James Madison, in writing Federalist 58, warned of precisely what has been happening in the House over the past few decades.

One observation, however, I must be permitted to add on this subject as claiming, in my judgment, a very serious attention. It is, that in all legislative assemblies the greater the number composing them may be, the fewer will be the men who will in fact direct their proceedings. In the first place, the more numerous an assembly may be, of whatever characters composed, the greater is known to be the ascendency of passion over reason. In the next place, the larger the number, the greater will be the proportion of members of limited information and of weak capacities. Now, it is precisely on characters of this description that the eloquence and address of the few are known to act with all their force. In the ancient republics, where the whole body of the people assembled in person, a single orator, or an artful statesman, was generally seen to rule with as complete a sway as if a sceptre had been placed in his single hand. On the same principle, the more multitudinous a representative assembly may be rendered, the more it will partake of the infirmities incident to collective meetings of the people.

Ignorance will be the dupe of cunning, and passion the slave of sophistry and declamation. The people can never err more than in supposing that by multiplying their representatives beyond a certain limit, they strengthen the barrier against the government of a few. Experience will forever admonish them that, on the contrary, AFTER SECURING A SUFFICIENT NUMBER FOR THE PURPOSES OF SAFETY, OF LOCAL INFORMATION, AND OF DIFFUSIVE SYMPATHY WITH THE WHOLE SOCIETY, they will counteract their own views by every addition to their representatives. The countenance of the government may become more democratic, but the soul that animates it will be more oligarchic. The machine will be enlarged, but the fewer, and often the more secret, will be the springs by which its motions are directed.

As the House has gotten larger, it has traded democracy for oligarchy.

This disruption we are now seeing is good. It is a restoration of the very democracy the House was designed to both perform and contain. The people pissed off about it are the people who love the oligarchy and the elite calling all the shots because they tend also to be the people contemptuous of the heartland.

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Paul Ryan is a Dangerous Pick for Conservatives [RedState]

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% is one of less than a dozen Republican congressmen to have voted for every bailout to come before Congress.”

There is a cult of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% that is as strong as any cult of personality in American politics. It’s just the people who eschew populism and conservative politics are the ones in the cult. And these people would never consider themselves part of a cult as they kneel in their prayer closets and thank God for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57%.

Ryan is, to be sure, not a bad guy. But his cult of personality will make it problematic for conservatives should he be Speaker because everyone calls Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% a conservative and you are a loon if you think otherwise. In other words, House conservatives who might take issue with Ryan in the future will immediately be labeled as fascist totalitarians more willing to set everything on fire than work hard.

Personally, given Washington these days, I think the default should be to burn it to the ground (metaphorically speaking), but you know what I mean. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% will give the veneer of conservatism to whatever he touches.

For example, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% collaborated with Senate Democrat Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 0% to raise taxes. Republicans then ran to every media outlet to declare it was not a tax increase. It is just a “user fee” because only productive citizens who have to travel for work and families on vacation will pay it.

Likewise, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% has been the brains behind most of the fiscal deals Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) N/A% has cut with Barack Obama. Then there are his votes.

While in Congress, he voted for No Child Left Behind, the Prescription Drug Benefit, TARP, caps on CEO pay, the AIG bill, the GM bailout, the debt ceiling, and now the fiscal cliff. In fact, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% is one of less than a dozen Republican congressmen to have voted for every bailout to come before Congress.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% is a creature of Washington. He worked on Capitol Hill, worked in a think tank, then went back as a congressman. He speaks Washingtonese with the best of them.

But the editoral page of the Wall Street Journal and the “smart pundits” of the right love Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57%. He is dreamy. He is also actually a competent, good guy. He has just not really been the leader out front. He’s been the draftsman for bailouts behind the scenes.

In a world of modern media, Ryan would make an attractive Speaker with a young, fresh face and a comfortable demeanor in front of the camera. But he would make it very difficult for House conservatives because to oppose Ryan is, in the minds of much of the press, to oppose conservatism itself.

That’s not true. But that storyline is already baked in.

For conservatives to confront Ryan, they’d have to make it first about Scalise and McCarthy. They’d have to point their fingers at them, not Ryan. But they would still need to fight. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% has voted for every bailout, TARP, No Child Left Behind, etc. He is a team player and conservatives in Washington cannot afford to be on Team DC-GOP when the American people are mad as hell at Washington.

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Chaos in the House [RedState]

There’s a lot of speculation going on right now that the chaos in the House of Representatives illustrates to the public that the Republican Party is dying. While I think the party is perhaps deathly ill, what’s going on in the House is proof that there is a panacea for the illness.

Ask any moderate Republican in the House what the illness is, and they will tell you it is the extreme Right and the people they have elected that are causing every major issue the party is facing. Tea Party Conservatism to them is a cancer on the GOP because it seeks to divide rather than bring together. In modern day psychology, we call the moderates’ diagnosis of this “projection.”

Are the moderates the problem? Not necessarily. Moderation comes in various degrees, and not everyone who is moderate on a particular issue is going to capitulate on every thing, every time. We need moderates on our side because they are a good indicator of where negotiations should end. Negotiations are not a bad word, after all. Reagan scored great conservative victories because he knew how to negotiate to keep the other side happy and still come away with big wins.

So, if neither the moderates nor the conservatives are the illness within the GOP, what is?

It’s power.

Power does things to people. It shifts your priorities, makes you lose focus of what matters, and can corrupt you. It may not be the Evil Overlord type of corruption, but it is the type that lures you off the path you were supposed to take. Power was handed to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) N/A% and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 54%. It was the power to fight what their supporters saw as tyranny and government overreach. When they got their power, when they became leaders in their respective chambers, they had all this power. They had the press wanting to talk to them. They had big corporations and special interests wanting to give them money and hang out with them. They were popular in D.C.

Fighting might risk that. Fighting might make you unpopular. If you’re unpopular, if you lose, all the shiny things go away.

The chaos in the House of Representatives comes from the party leadership’s capitulation of responsibility in favor of a seat at the table of power. When the cacophony of unpleasantness finally became unbearable, rather than try to right the ship, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) N/A% quit. He wished to make himself appear a martyr, “for the good of the institution,” to make it sound like he went out by choice. But, his time was up before then.

The conservatives get blasted for not having a replacement ready. I was disappointed myself that there didn’t seem to be a plan. However, despite no replacement of their own handy, the conservatives (led by the House Freedom Caucus) banded together and demanded to be heard. And they were. For the first time in a long time, all voices were heard and had equal weight.

Yes, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) 61% bowed out. Yes, it looks like Webster and Chaffetz won’t get it either. We may end up with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57%. But now the Republican Party knows that all voices have to be listened to, and that you cannot simply operate in dark, smoke-filled rooms and make deals while ignoring those colleagues of yours who actually represent ideologically what your voting base does. This chaos is not an illness. It is the remedy. The Party may yet survive through 2016.

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The Washington Whirlwind and the Rumor Mill [RedState]

“I would rather err on the side of telling readers what is going on in a play by play and having to update than have a media elite in Washington decide what you and I should know.”

Let’s get everybody up to speed here.

Yesterday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) 61% backed out of the Speaker’s race after he, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) 60%, and others received an email from a conservative activist/philanthropist openly talking about a rumored relationship between the two. It was the second of two emails, the first of which went out to other congressmen last week.

Overnight, reporters started buzzing that McCarthy was going to resign. They were also telling me that Ellmers was resigning. Neither appear to be true. In fact, this morning McCarthy is denying it.

Concurrent to that rumor is the one that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 57% is in as Speaker. I talked to two congressmen overnight and both were adamant that Ryan is getting in. They seem a lot more confident of it than anyone else I’ve spoken to and Ryan is very non-commital. He says he is going to Wisconsin this weekend to sort it out.

The point of this catch up is that the media has gone into a feeding frenzy and I recognize I’ve been a part of it over the last 24 hours. Lots of rumors are thrown out there. I view my role here as keeping you abreast of what people are chattering about in Washington and will update posts throughout the day as rumors die and new ones come about.

But it is worth noting that had I not posted on the emails to McCarthy and Ellmers, it might not have gotten out there. Matt Lewis and I both knew they were there and we wrote about them. I think they explain the missing piece of the puzzle as to McCarthy’s sudden withdrawal.1

Neither of us accept the rumors as true, but the rumors were deeply relevant to the story. Mark Halperin tweeted this yesterday:

Exactly. Had I and also Matt Lewis not run with the story, you probably would not know. But subsequent to our coverage of it, Michael Calderone ran a more lengthy story on the situation. Still, most major news outlets refuse to talk about it.

It is, however, the most logical explanation for his abrupt quitting. It does not matter that the rumor is not true — but who in their right mind would want to subject himself, his family, and his colleagues to something like that?

Back in 2008, Washington reporters refused to treat stories about John Edwards having an affair as having any legitimacy. They were sympathetic to the likable Edwards and did not want to hurt him nor did they want to deal with a dirty story like that. Turns out the National Enquirer beat them all as a result.

The Washington whirlwind spins off all sorts of rumors that turn out not to be true, see e.g. McCarthy resigning. But occasionally there are facts out there based on rumors that are true, see e.g. the emails sent out. I would rather err on the side of telling readers what is going on in a play by play and having to update than have a media elite in Washington decide what you and I should know.

1. I had originally placed that piece at RedState, but management above us thought it best that we remove it for lack of further sourcing. The piece, however, did inspire numerous other media outlets including the Huffington Post, New York magazine, and the Daily Caller

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Former Prostitution Ring Leader Thinks the GOP Has a Governance Problem [RedState]

Politico has trotted out Barney Frank to explain to its readers what is wrong with the House of Representatives these days. Predictably, Barney Frank’s hot take is that the GOP is a “plague on government.” I mean, exact words.

Now, the first thing that we ought to observe about this tiresome and predictable explanation is that it is a pretty ballsy take for a guy who was caught having a gay prostitution ring running out of his Congressional office. I mean, literally, you could call Barney Frank’s house and order yourself a gay prostitute, if you wanted one. Frank’s defense, which the voters of his Massachusetts district inexplicably bought, is that he had no idea that his office had become hooker central on Capitol Hill and that he fixed 33 traffic tickets for the guy who actually ran the prostitution ring just out of the goodness of his heart.

You might think someone with this personal and professional history would be a little more careful with throwing the word “plague” around. Sadly, once you get past the title, the article gets even worse. These are words that Barney Frank literally wrote and allowed someone to print under his name:

What has made effective governing so difficult in recent years is that that wing of the GOP is determined to ignore the normal constraints on achieving its policy goals—constraints that are imposed both by the Constitution and the traditions of a democratic system in which power alternates among advocates of conflicting policy outlooks.

Get it? Barney Frank says the problem in government is that the GOP is ignoring constraints placed on the power of Congress by the Constitution.


Not that Barack Obama is ignoring constraints placed on the power of the Presidency, that the GOP is ignoring constraints placed on the power of Congress.

How, pray tell, does Barney Frank think the GOP is ignoring constraints placed on it by the Constitution? By threatening (and causing) shutdowns and/or refusing to raise the debt ceiling:

This crucial last point has been too little discussed. Governance is not obstructed simply because an important political faction advocates radical changes in policy. The problem comes—today and for the past five years—when these advocates try to take the country hostage in response to their inability to effect change through the normal legislative process. Why this is the case? In a system governed by free elections, there is, after all, no necessary linkage between believing strongly in a set of issues and insisting on the right to shut down the government if you fail to advance them. Nor has this been the historical pattern in the U.S., with the exception of the bitter moral struggles that led to the Civil War (and even Ben Carson has backed away from equating Obamacare with slavery).

Predictably, Barney Frank does not even mention which portion of the Constitution the Congressional GOP is violating by attempting to extract policy concessions with the power of the purse. The reason for that is blatantly obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Constitution: it’s because the Constitution explicitly grants this power to Congress in Article 1, section 9, Clause 7It’s pretty ballsy to claim that Congress is upsetting the balance of power set forth in the Constitution by doing what the Constitution specifically gives them the power to do.

On the other hand, Frank is summarily untroubled by the fact that, since 2009 (the time he pinpoints as the beginning of all these troubles), the executive branch under President Obama has arrogated to itself powers that are explicitly prohibited to it under the Constitution. To name just a few examples:

  • The Obama administration’s unilateral decision to rewrite Obamacare on countless occasions and to change statutory deadlines, in blatant violation of the President’s duties as set forth in Article 2, section 3;
  • The Obama administration’s breathtaking arrogance in declaring that Congress was in recess in spite of the fact that, under Article 1, Section 5, the Senate was not allowed to be recess without the consent of the House. This astonishing move earned Obama a unanimous rebuke from the Supreme Court, even from the two Justices that were appointed by Obama himself;
  • The Obama administration’s decision to interpret Congress’ refusal to pass an immigration proposal he accepted as carte blanche to rewrite America’s immigration policy via executive order, in spite of the fact that Article 1, Section 8 specifically reserves the right to set immigration policy to Congress;
  • The Obama administration’s willful disregard for the work requirements set forth in the welfare reform bill passed into law by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton;
  • The Obama administration’s decision to implement via EPA regulation carbon control policy in spite of the fact that Congress refused to do so per their prerogative under Article 1.

And the list goes on and on. No President in recent memory has shown more contempt for the constitutional authority of Congress or had their actions unanimously reversed by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional more often.

But to Barney Frank, the problem is not that President Obama habitually usurps the power of Congress in violation of the Constitution, the problem is that Congress responds by wielding the power of the purse as they are specifically allowed to do under the Constitution.

Whether you agree with what the GOP is doing in terms of using the power of the purse as a policy brake on the President or not, it takes a lot of balls (and a lot of ignorance) to claim that it is unconstitutional. But then, Barney Frank was never short on either of those.

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Matthew Keys is guilty and should go to prison for his hacking [RedState]

Sometimes you can read a story about an alleged criminal, and it’s hard to tell if the person was actually guilty or not. But in the case of Matthew Keys, convicted of breaking into the LA Times website as part of a conspiracy with the online network Anonymous, it’s obvious he’s guilty as sin and deserves to be put away.


How do I know he’s guilty? His lawyer isn’t even denying he did it:

Leiderman, one of Keys’ lawyers, also told Ars that in the appeal phase, he would argue that no real damage was done to the Tribune’s systems.

“Here, they can click a button and click revert to backup story, so we’re asserting that there’s no damage under the meaning of the CFAA— that’s probably our main argument at this point,” he said.

That’s basically an admission he did it. The claim here by his lawyers, undercutting his own weak claims of innocence, is that even if he did it, it wasn’t really illegal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), under which he was convicted. This is clearly a reference to 18 USC 1030(a)(5).

Speaking as an experienced professional who’s worked on news websites, vandalizing a website clearly qualifies. This sort of thing can blow a whole afternoon for multiple salaried or contracted people in the organization, trying to revert, and then dealing with the bad version of the story getting disseminated and cached.

Keys helped break something. That thing could be fixed, but it still took time paid for by the company to get it fixed. That’s a loss, and he deserved to be convicted for helping cause that loss.

I have a preferred punishment for anarchists who break into servers, but the Congress has not yet seen fit to impose it on Anonymous and the group’s allies. Until then we’ll have to settle for felony convictions and prison time.

Photo by Pierre (Rennes) on flickr

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Moderates Are the Problem in the House GOP [RedState]

In the wake of the stunning exit of McCarthy from the leadership race, fingers are pointing and blame is flying like crazy. The media is happily carrying the narrative that the current chaos in the House GOP is the result of the conservative caucus being intractable and unreasonable, even though no one knows for sure why McCarthy ultimately exited.

Here is the problem with this narrative: it is directly contradicted by the facts. The Freedom Caucus united behind Webster, as is their right. At no point did any of them suggest, publicly or privately, that if they did not get their wish they would forge a coalition with Democrats to elect Pelosi or someone else as speaker. They asked, as reasonable concessions, to be given more committee assignments and for the regular order of debate to be restored. However, all indications were clear that they would have worked out their differences with leadership within the actual Republican caucus.

Immediately after McCarthy’s announcement, CNN’s Dana Bash caught “moderate” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) 30% (R-PA) in the hall and asked him about these developments, and his spoiled brat response demonstrated very clearly that the moderates are the reason right now that the caucus is in chaos:

Among other things Dent said during the course of this incredible tirade, he explicitly stated that he would rather elect a Speaker with the help of Democrats than with the help of conservative Republicans:

“The next Speaker should not appease those who make unreasonable demands. There are a number of members of our conference. You cannot get the yes on anything. For them the end will be the good. In my view it’s come time to marginalize those members who doesn’t want to be part of the governing majority.”

“We might have to assemble a bipartisan coalition on the floor to elect the next speaker then. I mean, that’s what it could come down to.”

I don’t know what will happen. Anything is possible now. It’s pretty clear to me that a number of us are not going to simply appease or exceed to those who will make unreasonable demands. And so I suspect in order to govern around here we need a bipartisan coalition on all major bills. If we can’t get 218 Republican votes for a Speaker, then we’ll have to try other options. I don’t know what those options are, but I certainly don’t want to put somebody in the Speaker’s job who is going to appease those who are making unreasonable demands.

This is not how any of the conservatives have behaved. They have not threatened to cut a deal with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 15% to put her or another moderate Dem in the chair in exchange for getting what they wanted. They merely negotiated from the position of whatever strength they had in order to try to get something from leadership in exchange for their votes. In return they were repaid with this kind of rhetoric from moderates like Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) 30%, who also moseyed over to MSNBC to share his pearls of wisdom about House conservatives for all the Democrats to see.

Several years ago, I wrote this about moderates in the Republican party, and nothing has changed:

While I am a conservative, I respect and understand the concept of coalition politics. In other words, I believe in the concept of hashing things out in the primaries between conservatives and moderates, and (with a few exceptions) voting for the lesser of two evils in the general. Sometimes you win the primaries, sometimes you lose, and there is almost never a benefit to taking your ball and going home. This year, conservatives get Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100%, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 92%, and Joe Miller. Moderates get Carly Fiorina, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) 16%, and (probably) Mike Castle. I don’t know a lot of conservatives out there who are going to donate money to and/or vote for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 6%, Alexi Giannoulias or Chris Coons out of spite. The worst thing they will do is just pretend that the election doesn’t exist.

By far the biggest problem the Republican coalition has right now is moderates who refuse to accept defeat at the hands of conservatives. Think Dede Scozzafava endorsing the Democrat in NY-23. Think Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter bailing the party and running against the Republican when it became clear that they would lose their primaries. Think Lincoln Chafee currently running as an independent for Governor of Rhode Island despite the NRSC spending millions to help him defeat a conservative in the primary. I defy Meghan McCain to identify a conservative candidate who acted or behaved in this way towards the party after a primary loss.

I know many decent moderates who I get along with well who understand this principle. But in my admittedly anecdotal experience, moderates are far more likely to fail to understand that they need conservatives than conservatives are to fail to realize that they need moderates.

Conservatives accept the results of intra-party contests. Moderates don’t. That’s why there’s chaos in the caucus right now. That’s why no one knows which direction to turn. No one currently in leadership or in a position to appeal to moderates knows how to even negotiate with conservatives in good faith, or to treat them like people whose desires are entitled to as much consideration as snot nosed Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) 30%‘s. Instead it’s “our way or the highway” and before conservatives can even make a choice, moderates are rushing before the eager TV cameras of the liberal media to condemn those crazy unreasonable tea partiers.

The conservatives are not the problem in the House GOP caucus – it’s the moderates who don’t understand the concept of team play.

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A President for All Women [RedState]

Josh Kraushaar, the political editor of the National Journal, spent ten paragraphs today kicking around the subject of Hillary Clinton’s rather wide and deep unpopularity among Male-Americans. I say “kicking around” because Kraushaar accidentally stumbled upon the reason why it’s happening, but he didn’t notice it.

Pretend you are surprised to hear that a new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll…

shows her fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing with men at a mere 27 per­cent, while two-thirds view her un­fa­vor­ably.

When you’re a political expert like Kraushaar, instead of some average Joe like me, your first thought is whether she might be able to overcome one gender gap by exploiting another. Which is why Kraushaar tells us, “she’s not per­form­ing at nearly a strong-enough level with wo­men to coun­ter­act the prob­lem.” But I read that and I think, “now that would be a problem.”

Can you imagine what sort of culture we would have here if men and women went to political war with one another? Could any society survive that? And yet, isn’t that exactly what Hillary Clinton is all about? How can anyone listen to her talk without concluding that her mission on this Earth is to firmly press the thumb of government on the scales in favor of women and girls. It’s practically all she talks about.

A certain amount of that sort of thing, such as the amount you might get from Joe Biden, is understood by most people to be a kind of blather that all politicians say to get elected. Joe Biden would say that, but the next day Joe Biden would say similar things to pander to Hawaiians, or dog owners. With Hillary it’s all women, all the time. Which is creepy.

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Hillary Clinton? Still Not Inevitable [RedState]

Are you exhausted yet? It’s only October of 2015. We still have more than a year until the general election, and between now and then, much will happen.

If you would have asked most of us a year ago, we would have anticipated things to be quite different right now. The GOP race is unexpected both in who inhabits the frontrunner’s space and which candidates have already bowed out. Just as unexpected is the race for the Democrats, with a strong performance by Bernie Sanders and discussion about a possible run by Vice President Joe Biden. However, the most surprising of all is Hillary Clinton’s less than stellar candidacy and her inability to be the shoe-in candidate this cycle.

I’m sure Hillary assumed her time as a criminal wallflower while Barack Obama took his turn as Prom King would earn her a place up front. Well, that isn’t as easy as she once considered it to be. According to Wednesday’s Quinnipiac poll of swing states Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania:

…former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds her leads but loses ground among Democrats in all three states…

Clinton and Trump continue to have the worst overall favorability ratings among all voters of any of the leading candidates, and the lowest scores for being honest and trustworthy…

Shouldn’t she be full-steam ahead given these three things: 1. The “it’s my turn!” factor., 2. her gender., 3. her last name? Well, no. The “my time now” factor has worn off substantially, and her gender doesn’t elicit strong feelings of unity or sympathy for a supposed “victim” status. As far as her last name, she holds none of the charm that family possesses. This is nothing compared to what being investigated by the FBI for shady email conduct does to a candidate’s chances. While the Right certainly sees this, polls and general excitement for candidates other than Hillary – in the Left’s sphere – say much.

Clay Aiken, the second place finisher in 2003 on American Idol, and former Congressional candidate for N.C. in 2014, had some things to say about Hillary this week. As reported by CNN Politics:

“To some extent, I kind of feel like Secretary Clinton is a leaky boat at this point and that concerns me as a Democrat,” Aiken said.

Aiken, who won the hearts of millions of Americans in 2003 when he placed second on “American Idol,” backed Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary and expressed his support when Clinton declared her second presidential bid in April.

Aiken told CNN that while he has “nothing but respect” for Clinton,” he worries that “a lot of (moderates) have negative feelings towards (her).”

“…I really want a strong boat next year on the Democratic side and I think Joe Biden is a better candidate.”

Aiken isn’t my go-to guy for political commentary, but he represents a moderate Democrat who is aware of the political climate and has been recently been among the voting public as a candidate. For Hillary, Aiken would have been a near-lock for support in the past. Now, however, she’s the “leaky boat”.

Slate’s recent article “Hillary Clinton Has a Lot to Worry About Right Now” expands on the concerns over Hillary as nominee.

Meanwhile, Biden isn’t the only potential dark cloud looming on Clinton’s horizon. The former secretary of state is scheduled to testify later this month before the GOP-led House Benghazi committee, where she will be grilled on her private email account, which has dogged her campaign even before it officially became one.

Hillary, then, is stuck campaigning on multiple fronts: past, present, and future. Bernie, meanwhile, can keep forging straight ahead.

As many have mentioned, Hillary has a past. A long, messy past dotted with plenty of controversies, cover-ups, and non-accomplishments. She’s been on the national scene for quite some time, with none of the schmoozy-Bill-Clinton charm. And for several months, her popularity, once expected, is waning or not growing at all. Bernie Sanders is a thorn in her side. The talk of a run by Joe Biden is a thorn in her side. Most importantly, she has more than one sizable scandal surrounding her, and questions looming from not just the Right, but from many on the Left.

On October 13, the first Democratic presidential debate will be held. Though the Anderson Cooper-moderated debate will most likely contain softball questions, it will an eye-opening display from all the candidates. Hillary, not a fan of the unscripted, has already had a tough sell. Presenting herself to the country in a debate will prove even more of a challenge, and will most likely cement the fact that no, she is not inevitable.

The post Hillary Clinton? Still Not Inevitable appeared first on RedState.

Should House Republicans Draft Paul Ryan To Be Speaker? [RedState]

<span class="js-scorecard-info" data-cong="R000570" data-member-name="Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)"><span class="scorecard-name">Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)</span> <span class="scorecard scorecard-tag">57%</span></span>

The great subplot of the moment, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) 61% stepping aside from the race to replace Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) N/A% and become the 54th person to serve as Speaker of the House, is whether Boehner and others in the GOP caucus can convince Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan to step up and take the job. Ryan continues to insist he does not want to be Speaker and is quite happy running Ways and Means (which has been his ambition since he entered the House 16 years ago), but with a bunch of people (Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) 81%, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) 77%, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) 88%) seeking the job and the caucus almost as deeply divided as it was in the epic 1855 battle over the Speakership at the dawn of the Republican Party, there has been muttering from many corners that Ryan may be the only person acceptable enough to enough different factions to gain the 218 votes needed to become Speaker. Boehner and possibly other party bigwigs are appealing to Ryan to step up and take the job despite his objections. But would that be a good thing?

On the plus side, to start with, Ryan would be the best possible public face for the House GOP. He’s the best-known Republican in the House, possibly including Boehner, after being the party’s nominee for Vice President in 2012. He’s reasonably young (45), intelligent, handsome, articulate, diligent, and earnest. He represents a traditionally Democratic-leaning (though currently R+3) district in Wisconsin, a battleground state that has never produced a Speaker of the House and has put only one candidate – Ryan himself – on a major-party national ticket. As a Jack Kemp disciple and a policy wonk, Ryan understands the language both of green-eyeshade fiscal conservatism and hope-growth-and-opportunity supply-side conservatism, yet he’s also a reliable pro-lifer. Ryan is also seen as a good guy and an honest broker, trusted by most everyone on the Hill, not so much for his ability to be a dependable ally as his ability to work with people. Thus, the sense that every faction in the House GOP could live with him even if they don’t wholly agree with everywhere he would like to go. And the fact that Ryan very publicly does not want the job suggests that, if he took it, he’d be choosing to place the interests of the party over his own personal ambitions.

But there are also downsides. Some conservatives, more or less the Trump-ish faction of the Right, mistrust Ryan’s policy goals because he’s in favor of path-to-legalization immigration reform, free trade, and an internationalist foreign policy. Others who are more in line with Ryan’s principles and goals have the same questions about him that linger over Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 92% and, in a different context, over Chief Justice Roberts – whether this polite, intelligent, reasonable and eloquent spokesman for our ideas really has the spine to play the stubborn bad cop and sacrifice some of his own reputation for reasonableness when it’s necessary to get to the dirty, knife-fighting business of brinksmanship with ruthless progressives of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid variety. Ryan has gotten along with Boehner, and with a lot of Democrats in his district and family, and voted for things like Medicare Part D and the auto bailout, in large part because he’s been unwilling to be the skunk at the garden party. The fact that Ryan has never been willing to do the dirty work to seek out either the Speakership or the Presidency suggests a virtue of character but a deficit of political ruthlessness of this sort. Ryan is likely to seek much-needed common ground between House moderates, the Freedom Caucus, the Senate leadership of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 54%, and Senate hardliners of the Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 100% variety; whether that exists, and whether he has the necessary bloody-mindedness to impose it on them, is another story.

Moreover, it remains unclear whether Ryan will ultimately bend to the pressure and take the job even if friends like Boehner and Mitt Romney (who has stayed publicly noncommittal) beg him to. His personal reasons for not wanting the job should not be underestimated. Ryan has three young children, whom he already doubtless sees less of than he would like; he’s also devoted to his daily workouts and enjoys hunting and fishing back home in Wisconsin. The demands of the Speakership would obviously intrude on his life, of which we all only get one. He’s also somewhat haunted by the fact that his father died of a heart attack at 55, and the Speaker of the House is perhaps the most needlessly stressful position in Washington, one with many anxieties and few joys. Kemp, Ryan’s mentor and hero, was well-known for often declining to pursue higher positions that his fans wanted him to seek. Ryan may well feel that life is simply too short to be Speaker of the House. It’s far easier to foresee yourself as influential and long-lasting as Ways and Means Chairman (the most powerful committee in Congress). Consider the numbers. The House has had 53 different Speakers in its history (61 overall, because a number of them have served as Speaker two or three times):

22 of the 53 lasted less than 2 years.
27 lasted less than 3 years.
35 lasted less than 4 years.
43 lasted less than 5 years.

None lasted more than 10 consecutive years (Tip O’Neill was closest, just a few days short of a decade). Two of the ten Speakers to serve more than five years (Sam Rayburn and Henry Clay) did so over three different tenures. This is in some ways a reassuring fact – the House is not dysfunctional today in some unique way, but is rather acting more or less the way the Founding Fathers envisioned it, raucous and vibrant and full of populist enthusiasms. But it’s not an encouraging picture for a man considering wagering his career on the Speakership.

House Republicans might not have a better answer than Paul Ryan right now, and maybe he will accept that call. But he’s not an ideal answer, and there’s significant reasons to think he may not answer the call even if it grows to a crescendo.

The post Should House Republicans Draft Paul Ryan To Be Speaker? appeared first on RedState.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Expand Freedom And Reward Excellence. [RedState]


President Barack Obama has taken some valuable time off from wrecking the Middle East and fomenting cultural civil war within our nation. He has gotten bored enough with community organizing to actually accomplish something that could be in the long term best interests of The United States of America. That would be a free trade agreement known as The Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I generally like free trade agreements. They are meritocratic and allow for greater individual choice. I tend to think that producers and buyers of any given product know vastly more about how it works and how much it should cost than the average government regulator. I say that as someone who estimates the cost of complex manufactured items for a living and therefore, know how uncertain the necessary facts needed to estimate accurate prices as a 3rd party truly are. I also know that the sufficient data needed to ameliorate this information asymmetry can be expensive and hard to obtain. Therefore, given the absence of unusually high negative externalities, it is a better policy for the government to butt out completely and let the people who make and drive cars negotiate how much a car will cost. Free Trade, in the abstract, is a morally decent idea. The freer the trade, the better the deal for all informed parties.

I find it a rare day when I disagree with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 87% from Alabama on much of anything. But here I break with him. I believe that the US Senate should ratify the TPP for 3 reasons. It expands and improves our relationships with countries all around The Pacific Rim. The elimination of 18,000 tariffs makes American goods and services more widely available to people all over the world. The people who oppose this agreement (Senator Sessions serves as the exception that proves the rule) comprise a veritable Halloween Coalition of malcontents, big government totalitarians and enemies of giving individual freedom to the American People. Therefore, I hope that the US Senate will ratify the TPP despite the fact that Barack Obama is President.

When the Obama Administration announced that new American foreign policy would involve a pivot to Asia, I figured it was his way of slinking away from any potential confrontation with the Russians. Sinophiles saw this as unnecessarily provocative and potentially bellicose. To be workable, the policy had to have both military and diplomatic components. A policy that adds extra military bases in some region must address the question of “Why should we consider you a defense force instead of occupiers?” There has to be something in it beyond just military security for people to want your nation to be active in their backyard. There has to be an open hand to go along with the mailed fist.

The TPP Agreement motivates countries all around the Pacific Rim (Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Japan) to continue to cooperate with the United States. While nobody rational would ever want to see the US and China engage in active warfare, the list of countries in the TPP reads like at least a partial who’s who of nations we would need to work with in order to maintain naval and air supremacy in the tragic event of such a frightening war. The TPP will both militarily and diplomatically strengthen the US throughout the Pacific Rim.

The elimination of tariff barriers will allow American Companies to sell in many new markets. This will naturally give them at least the option of being more amenable to adding jobs. Many other government policies (immigration visas and border enforcement, Federal Reserve Policy, and healthcare employer mandates) will have to be reformed or scrapped before hiring a Native-Born American is a non-toxic decision with respect to the corporate balance sheet. However, giving us access to more markets is always a step in the right direction. It is necessary although not sufficient. People do need actual revenues before they can go out and hire.

The TPP is currently opposed by Bernie Sanders, The Donald™, The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and just in time for political fundraising season, Hillary Rodham Clinton. What all these groups have in common is that they are wire-pullers and manipulators who make their livings off of monopolies over political force.

All of them oppose any sort of arrangement that takes power out of the hands of state and devolves it so far down the chain that it resides in the wallets of people such as you and me. When you look at what all of these enemies of the TPP have in common, you can see their sneering disdain for individual freedom. The hideous visage beneath the Populist mask is revealed when they support things such as Carbon Taxes, Eminent Domain, Single-Payer Healthcare and rampant Gun Control. Think of this Rogues Gallery of opponents to TPP as a list of America’s foremost totalitarian want-to-bees. Think of the TPP as a measure that spikes at least a few of their canons.

Free Trade will help determine who amongst our current elite deserve Economic Darwin Awards. It will help sort out on a basis of quality and service who deserves to be winners in the great game of life. The TPP may be flawed and imperfect like all things emanating from government. Yet it remains a positive vehicle for enhancing the freedom of individuals throughout the world. If you believe that you can decide things for yourself better than some Commissar can decide them for you, then support the TPP in spite of the fact that it comes from the desk of Barack Obama.

The post The Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Expand Freedom And Reward Excellence. appeared first on RedState.

Obama’s Iran Deal Violates a Law Obama Signed in 2012 [RedState]

Wouldn’t you know it? Barack Obama’s Iran Deal promised things it legally can’t do:

At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

It’s one thing for the president to use executive privilege and run to the U.N. in order to avoid an actual treaty fight in the Senate – he knows he can’t win in Congress at all – but it’s another to violate federal law in order to give a nation that openly sponsors terrorism billions of U.S. dollars in order to secure a legacy. But, Barack Obama is his own man, and he will not listen to the poor judgment of other men, like this Barack Obama guy that signed such a foolish provision into law in 2012.

That it’s the White House’s own people admitting this is a foul-up is even better, in that we get to see that they know what they are doing is not at all legal, and they don’t care. They want Iran to have some money and let them stabilize the Middle East locally, so that the evil, imperialist United States doesn’t interfere in the affairs of the outside world. Because of this mentality, “slip-ups” like this occur. The White House won’t alter its course, and things will be able to go ahead without prosecution because this administration believes more in itself than it does actual law.

The post Obama’s Iran Deal Violates a Law Obama Signed in 2012 appeared first on RedState.

"Organic" Is The Latin Word For "Starve The World" [Small Dead Animals]


Earlier this year, the activist organization US Right to Know (USRTK), bankrolled largely by a $47,500 donation from the Organic Consumers Association, submitted Freedom of Information requests asking certain US academics for e-mails dating back to 2012. This was to ascertain whether their 'messaging' was being coordinating with 14 companies, including Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow and other biotechs, food industry trade groups and their communication firms. The academics had all contributed to an industry-backed website called GMOanswers.com and/or had spoken out against California's GM food labeling proposition. Over the summer, the activists broke their 'news'.

These headlines focused on Kevin Folta, a University of Florida researcher, because USRTK leaked his e-mails to three journalists. Two of them co-posted a PLOS blog (now removed), while the third wrote a front-page New York Times news story highlighting a $25,000 donation from Monsanto to Folta's institution. In both cases, the reporters cherry-picked sentences from several thousand e-mails, highlighting Folta's communications with Monsanto, often out of context, to insinuate that he is an industry shill--and thus presumably unfit to talk to the public.

The Sound Of Settled Science [Small Dead Animals]

Study: CO2 "acidification" does not harm Coral

Wynneing! [Small Dead Animals]

Y2Kyoto: I'll Miss The Polar Ice Caps [Small Dead Animals]

Operation Empty Chair [Small Dead Animals]

Edward N. Luttwak;

In reality Putin's young bombing campaign has hit very few Islamic State targets. Yes, aircraft have flown and bombs have been dropped, but the Russians have no ground intelligence in place to identify targets any more than the United States has, except in those rare occasions when black-flagged vehicles are actually seen driving around in broad daylight--which is why the Islamic State has expanded ever since the U.S. bombing started. But Putin must certainly be innocent of the accusation that his air force has bombed the U.S.-trained "pro-democracy" freedom fighters, because the trainers themselves have admitted that the first lot on which one-tenth of the budget has been spent, i.e., $50 million, are exactly five in number, the rest having deserted after receiving their big family-support signing bonus and first paycheck, or after they were first issued with weapons (which they sold), or after first entering Syria in groups, when they promptly joined the anti-American Jabhat an-Nuṣrah, whose Sunni Islam they understand, unlike talk of democracy. That guarantees Putin's innocence: All five extant U.S.-made freedom fighters are reportedly alive and well, though one may have defected since the last count. (It would really be much cheaper to hire Salvadoran contract gunmen and fit them out in Arab head-dresses.)

Update: White House Is Weighing a Syria Retreat

Reader Tips [Small Dead Animals]

In tonight's amusement en route to the tips we learn how to draw an Occupy Wall Street Protestor.

The comments are open, as always, for your Reader Tips.

Publishers: Give illustrated book illustrators cover credits! [TeleRead]


Book illustrator Sarah McIntyre  has put up a suitably graphic plea for something very simple: that publishers should give cover credits to the illustrators of illustrated books. “David Walliams’ and Tony Ross’s illustrated novel is at the top of the overall UK sales chart today,” she points out, “but many illustrators are getting cut out of almost all career-advancing publicity.” And note, we’re not talking about plain-print books with a handful of line drawings. Sarah McIntyre means children’s and other illustrated books where the pictures are almost the entire selling point of the book.

Think The Gruffalo, for instance. Fortunately, and properly, illustrator Alex Scheffler is credited as the artist on the covers of these books. But Julia Donaldson is the namebrand author associated with the series. Yet do kids and other readers identify the Gruffalo first with her words or Alex Scheffler’s images? No question.

And that’s only in the case of a very famous illustrated book series with absolutely indivisible pictorial associations. In many other series, the illustrator’s name is relegated to the back cover or inside the book.

Sarah McIntyre explains what happens to illustrators. “While they’re often credited on the back cover or inside the book, it’s the front cover that does the publicity rounds, and what readers and reviewers use to judge who created it. If the illustrator’s name isn’t on the front cover, they’re far less likely to get proper recognition in metadata, so their books won’t be searchable online. They may get left out of award lists. Their names may not be included at all in Advance Information sheets sent to reviewers.”

Her solution? A call to agents “to unite in your efforts to make sure that in contracts, illustrators get a guarantee that their names will be on the front covers of the books they illustrate.” And she’s launching her campaign under the #PicturesMeanBusiness hashtag with a campaign site here. It seems only fair and reasonable, as she says, to support the cause.

Inside the publishing rights smorgasbord [TeleRead]

Shark attack

Writers, pay close attention: This is why publishers are getting richer while you are getting poorer. Because, as I’ve commented elsewhere, aggressive exploitation of subsidiary rights is where publishers are able to grow fat at the expense of writers.

In advance of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, due to commence on October 14, The Bookseller has shared a two-part list of the hot literary properties due to be hawked at the Frankfurter Buchmesse. Part One is now unfortunately locked away behind The Bookseller‘s paywall, but you can still access Part Two, as well as Part One and Part Two of the equivalent 2014 list, to give you even more of an idea.

The list goes agent by agent, with details on the titles offered to international publishers this year by each major agency. For instance, Darley Anderson Literary TV & Film Agency “takes début action thriller Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey,” with “North American rights sold to Scribner for six figures,” while “Defender by G X Todd is a début. UK and Commonwealth rights sold to Headline in a six-figure pre-empt.” Hardman & Swainson, meanwhile, has “playwright Miranda Emmerson’s début, Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars … a 1960-set literary mystery. Fourth Estate pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada.” Lucky old Janklow & Nesbit, meanwhile, has non-fiction by Ben Platts-Mills, with Tell Me the Planets, “acquired by Fig Tree in the UK after an eight-way auction,” and informs us that “there is an auction ongoing for début writer Nell Stevens’ Bleaker House, an account of how she tried and failed to write a great novel by going to live on an uninhabited island in the Falklands.”

That should give you some idea of the flavor of the list. Six-figure pre-empts; eight-way auctions: hotsa hotsa! And The Bookseller has already kindly shared with us the words of Jason Bartholomew, rights director for Hodder & Stoughton, Headline, John Murray Press, and Quercus, on how his team “work incredibly hard to help acquire and then sell our authors to as many territories as possible.” He quotes the example of Sarah Winman’s When God Was a Rabbit. “Within a few months of Headline acquiring the book, my team had finished auctions in about 25 territories.” How much of the revenue from all those territories went to the author, you wonder? Was Sarah Winman’s God-rabbiting properly compensated to the appropriate percentage in each of those 25 deals?

Actually, the UK Society of Authors is pushing for fairer contracts on precisely the grounds that publishers don’t explain the various rights and monetization opportunities to authors, and some agents may miss the fine print as well. But if you want to know why Big Publishing is growing bigger and more bloated, just take a look into the Frankfurt shark pool to watch the sharks circle each other.

The Atlantic warns of the perils of DRM, but misses some important details [TeleRead]

DRMWhat happens to your digital media titles when the digital media store goes out of business? The Atlantic has a thoughtful piece on this that isn’t quite as thoughtful as its author, The Atlantic staff writer Adrienne LaFrance, seems to think.

The central thrust of the article is that publisher, recording label, or movie studio DRM and license terms restrict us from backing up the digital media we purchase, which can lead to problems if a media provider goes out of business. This is not exactly anything new to TeleRead readers, of course. We’ve witnessed the passing of many, many digital media stores or DRM formats (such as Yahoo, Google, Wal-Mart, Embiid, Fictionwise and eReader, JManga, Microsoft, and Microsoft again) and we mostly know how to deal with that sort of thing when it happens.

But LaFrance seems to be a bit more sketchy on the details than she ought to be for someone writing in this field.

For starters, she opens with a look at digital music as opposed to physical music:

“In the good old days, you purchased a CD, which meant that you owned the medium outright and had an authorized copy that you could do anything you liked with, subject to copyright,” said Dan Hunter, the dean of Swinburne Law School. “For example, you could give it away to a friend, or resell it, or whatever. These days we live in a world where we generally license copyright content, like games and music. This means you’re given a limited right to do things with the content—generally this is limited to playing it on a small number of devices—and you definitely can’t resell the content or even give it away. You haven’t really bought the song, you’ve bought a contract to play the thing for a while.”

Except…nobody’s sold digital music with DRM on it for years. When Apple went DRM-free, most of a decade ago, it automatically upgraded nearly every album I’d ever bought from iTunes to DRM-free versions. If Apple (or Amazon or Google) suddenly went out of business tomorrow, I could continue to play nearly every song I bought from iTunes (or Amazon or Google) to my heart’s content, contract or no contract—or, for that matter, upload them to my lockers on rival services, like Amazon Prime or Google Play Music. (Only a couple of albums somehow got passed over in the upgrade, and I’ve since replaced those by other means.)

Then there’s the problem with digital movie purchases:

In order to keep a film in your collection watchable, there’s a constellation of pieces that must be in place: The software that streams the video has to work, the devices you want to use to run that software have to remain compatible with it, and the film itself has to be accessible on that software. None of these things is guaranteed. The films you buy could already, at any time, automatically disappear from your Instant collection. (Again, that’s right there in the Amazon service terms.)

This is a valid issue, I’ll agree. And unlike e-books (more on which later), digital movie purchases take up a lot of space, so you can’t just store them in the cloud. So, simple solution: I don’t buy any commercial digital movies. DVDs and Blu-rays don’t cost all that much more. If I should want to watch them on a digital device for some reason, well, the DRM on them is understood and can be cracked, so they can easily be ripped and converted. (If I didn’t mind breaking the law, at least, which I’m not saying I would ever do.)

The only commercial digital copies of movies I “own” came bundled with Disney- or Ultraviolet-enabled discs that let me request the digital copies free. But even though those services also offer digital movies for stand-alone purchase, you won’t see me spending good money on one of those.

And then there’s the “problem” with streaming subscriptions:

For streaming purchases, the unfortunate fate of one’s collection is pretty straightforward: “Let’s imagine Amazon goes out of business,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia. “In the case of streaming videos, yeah, you just lose it. It’s just not stored locally.”

Yeah, so? If you subscribe to cable television, you don’t “own” the shows you receive from that, either. If you want to “own” (or even own without the scare quotes) something, you buy that particular something, rather than buy access to a service that just lets you watch that something at any time. It’s not as if you’re paying them enough money to let you keep everything.

I’m honestly surprised she didn’t also bring up the fact that streaming services like Netflix are always dropping old licenses and buying new ones since they can’t afford to license everything all the time. What’s your recourse if a movie or show you were watching leaves a streaming service? Well, gee, guess you’ll just have to shell out a little cash and actually buy it. What an imposition!

But the real gem—the absolute zenith of the article’s inanity—comes in this paragraph:

Even in the realm of personal collections, the changing media landscape has implications beyond movies and music, too. “If Amazon were to go out of business, all of my Kindle books would be inaccessible [because] Kindle books are tethered to Kindle software,” Vaidhyanathan said. He suspects that if Amazon were to go under, hackers would quickly figure out how to unlock the Kindle format, and hopefully salvage materials as PDFs or plain text that way. “It might end up completely liberating that content, which of course, would drive publishers crazy,” he said.

Wait, what? “Hackers would quickly figure out…”? Where has LaFrance—and, for that matter, Vaidhyanathan, who is ostensibly an academic speaking within his area of expertise—been for the last fifteen years?

The only e-book DRM format that I know of that wasn’t permanently broken shortly after its original release was iBooks—and that’s only because Apple tends to be dogmatic about patching against DRM hacks as they happen and, given that relatively few people even bother buying commercial iBooks anyway (and almost everything they sell is also available in more-easily-cracked formats), the hackers probably decided it wasn’t worth keeping up the effort. A number of people habitually crack and back up their Kindle e-book purchases as a matter of course—as they did for the other DRMed e-books they bought before the Kindle even came along. I know of people who still have every e-book they ever bought from Peanut Press and Fictionwise since the late 1990s in their Calibre libraries in the Dropbox cloud, including the ones Barnes & Noble didn’t port over to the Nook system when it shut down those stores. How many people still own every paper book they bought since the late 1990s in as-good-as-new condition?

Oh, and they don’t have to “salvage” those e-books “as PDFs or plain text,” either. Many e-book-reading applications can easily deal with DRM-free Mobipocket format, which is what Kindle is if you unlock it (with the exception of a relative few titles that use one of Amazon’s new vector-drawn formats). And Calibre can convert it to any other format (including, yes, PDF or plain text if you want). Seriously, where does The Atlantic get these people?

And I don’t know of too many publishers who will admit to having been “driven crazy” by this dire strait. Indeed, the ease with which DRM has been cracked means that people can even liberate and back up e-books they check out from public libraries, which they didn’t even pay for, which ought to drive publishers berserk if anything would. But I don’t recall seeing much in the way of publisher complaints about even that circumstance. It’s as if everyone is happily pretending that the emperor actually has clothes on.

I will grant that the average person would have trouble with this—the sort of person who is so un-technical that they’ll happily pay money to download an e-book that they could simply copy over from their computer for free. But there are always people out there on the Internet who will be glad to help that sort. And yes, the fact that cracking DRM is against the law as it now stands is also a problem, but given that there’s no way to catch someone breaking DRM for their personal use in the privacy of their own home, the law is effectively toothless against anyone except firms who try to do it commercially. But LaFrance at The Atlantic seems blissfully unaware that it’s even possible at all.

At The Digital Reader, Nate doesn’t trifle with these flaws, but notes that the overall problem inherent in DRM is one that anyone who’s been paying attention has known about since the first DRMed computer games showed up decades ago. This is why it’s so important to be able to crack DRM—and happily, DRM hackers continue to oblige us on that front. On The Passive Voice, Passive Guy points out that properly-backed-up digital media can outlast damage-prone physical goods (and the lively discussion that follows re-emphasizes the point). It’s puzzling that The Atlantic doesn’t seem aware of these issues.

(Time stamp changed—so this post is at or near the top of the home page during a peak traffic period. – D.R.)

My Kindle Fire can do handwriting recognition: Here’s how [TeleRead]

Google Handwriting appAs readers may know, I’m an avid fan of handwriting recognition for mobile devices. This may not be everyone’s favorite input method, but it works well in many situations – writing one-handed on the move, for instance. And with my new Kindle Fire 7 in hand, I naturally wanted to use my preferred input method.

Problem. Unlike the Google Play Store, which includes the Google Handwriting Input app for free, as well as a bunch of other free and paid solutions, the Amazon Appstore is low on HWR apps. What’s more, one of my preferred past solutions, 7Notes, has a version on the Amazon Appstore – which only does handwriting in its own notetaking app. It won’t do HWR for search boxes in the main Fire OS, or do anything else in the system as a whole except provide a less capable keyboard. Unless there’s some setting there which I haven’t discovered, or the Premium version does it across the entire system.

Enter the Android .apk hack we’ve already detailed elsewhere for swapping apps from other Android devices to the new Kindle Fire. I backed up the Google Handwriting Input .apk using EZ File Explorer’s Android app backup feature, then copied it to my new Kindle Fire. The app installed from the .apk smoothly, and took me through its usually series of steps to change system input to HWR. The entire procedure worked exactly the same as on stock Android.

Now, whenever I want to switch into HWR, the stock Kindle Fire keyboard gives me the option, through a little keyboard button at bottom right. Switch back, ditto. That said, I won’t be using my Kindle Fire as my mobile productivity platform. I’ll just be reserving it for leisure reading and will stick to my old Lenovo A7-10 for writing on the move. Reasons? Partly it’s the limited software choice on the Kindle Fire, with, for example, no Google Drive app for online backup. However, it’s also the weight of the thing. I chose the Lenovo primarily for size and weight, and the Kindle Fire 7 may be cheap and cheerful, but compared to the A7-10, it’s also a tad chubby.

(Time stamp changed so this post displays at or near the top of the home page during a peak traffic period. – D.R.)

New York Comic Con gives anti-harassment top billing [TeleRead]

NYCC bannerThe New York Comic Con, just kicking off at the Javits Center, has given very prominent billing to its anti-harassment policy. As you can see from the billboards snapped at the event.

The NYCC site states in detail that “New York Comic Con has a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY for harassment of any kind, including but not limited to:” stalking, intimidation, offensive verbal comments, physical assault and/or battery, harassing or non-consensual photography or recording, sustained disruption of Panels, signings, and other events, bathroom policing, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome physical attention. And it warns,”if a person engages in harassing behavior, New York Comic Con (NYCC) Staff will take prompt action in any form they deem appropriate, including expulsion from NYCC with no refund. Our policy applies to EVERYONE at the convention.” Plus, “Be nice, be cool and respect each other” has got to be one of the most inoffensive, commonsensical policy guides ever issued for a con.

Since we’ve seen, sadly, harassment entrenched at the highest levels of comicdom, this kind of approach is all too necessary. And it’s good to see major cons giving it the prominence it deserves.

Here’s why good editors are future-proof [TeleRead]

John-PettigrewEditors seem to fall prey to a sort of odd love-hate relationship. They more than anyone else are responsible for improving author manuscripts into something of publishable quality—just look at how often we’re inclined to complain when a book is “badly edited.” But on the other hand, a lot of authors (particularly famous-name authors) seem to enjoy a sort of adversarial relationship with their editors—especially the ones who grow “too big to edit.” And more to the point, a number of publishers seem to consider editorial jobs a place where they can do some cutting of their own.

Or so contends John Pettigrew (photo), in a guest column on Publishing Perspectives. Pettigrew is the founder and CEO of Cambridge Publishing Solutions, and the creator of the Futureproofs editing workflow software, so he has some strong feelings on the matter. He writes:

Sensible authors seek out good editors. At the moment, the best way to do that (for most) is to work with a publisher. Insofar as publishers fail to provide their authors with this support, they’re fundamentally failing, and will drive more and more authors away. This is why I believe that the future for editors themselves is rosy – we’ll always be needed, even if it’s operating as freelancers through networks like Reedsy or Bibliocrunch.

While I don’t recall seeing any other articles lately specifically mentioning a reduction in the number of editors employed by publishers, it seems reasonable that it could be happening. I do recall hearing that individual editors are becoming responsible for more and more books at publishers these days, giving them less time and attention to spare to any individual book.

One of the most common complaints against self-published works is that they don’t get the benefit of editing. If one of the ways publishers are economizing in the face of self-publishing competition is by cutting back on the number of editors they employ, that would be ironic. Given that self-pub authors can pay for freelance editors, rather than simply make do with whatever scanty support their publisher assigns, it’s possible the works of those self-publish do might be better-edited than some professional publishers’ novels.

On a related note, Futureproofs looks like a very interesting software package. Pettigrew wrote a piece about it for Publishing Perspectives last year. It seems to be a multi-user editing software package that allows on-screen mark-up and annotation, so that multiple editors on a given project can work together in real time—sort of a collaborative document editor for professional editors. Pettigrew explained that he created it because the existing digital tools weren’t proving effective for the job.

Most tools that the publishing business uses were not built for the job we use them for. We were fortunate that word processors turned out to be a good fit for our needs. But the fit is often much poorer. My own pet hate is the software editors have to use to mark up page proofs for books and magazines. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with software itself, but it’s being forced into service for proofreading — a job for which it’s poorly suited.

The problem is that proofreading has a specific set of needs and expectations. Over their decades working on paper, they have developed sophisticated, standard systems of notation that let them be very quick and precise. The move on-screen has robbed them of this, requiring many instructions to be written out longhand to make sure that the designer understands what is needed. This slows things down and makes proofs harder to handle.

It’s about time that editing received some benefit from the digital revolution. Though I do have to wonder if, by making it possible for editors to edit books better and more efficiently, Pettigrew might be helping to enable the very trimming of editors he complained about in his more recent column. After all, the publishers might think, if editors can edit multiple books more easily, why do we need so many of them?

How Android was my Kindle Fire [TeleRead]

12087235_10153044923346269_7854234467990630229_oEveryone knows that Amazon’s Fire OS is a pretty close cousin to stock Android. With the latest version in the new Kindle Fire 7, Amazon Fire OS 5.0 Bellini, it seems closer than ever. It wasn’t until I got it in my hands that I realized how close, though.

My closest experience with Amazon’s Kindle OS so far has been with my aging fourth generation Kindle and occasional tryouts on Kindle Fires owned by the rest of the family. So it’s not exactly deep. All the same, everything I have seen up till now looks nothing like Android. Yet with the Kindle Fire 7 running Fire OS 5 Bellini, I’m very often looking at something where the menu options, icon layouts, and even the gestures, are practically identical to Android 5 Lollipop on my Android tablet.

It’s not just menus, though: it’s the whole app and user experience. By syncing the Kindle Fire’s Contact’s app to your Gmail account, you can import all your Android contacts. Ditto with your Facebook contacts, incidentally. The same process also syncs the Fire’s Calendar app to your Google Calendar – and any Facebook events linked to it too. The interfaces look damn similar to Google’s current Material design. Even the current Mail app looks pretty much identical to the Mail in Android 5 Lollipop. Many of these apps have the little bottom-corner action button that is now a fixture of Google Inbox and other latest-generation Google apps.

So you’re actually working with something that’s very close to Android’s latest OS. That’s no criticism – it still all runs smoothly and integrates well, and means that you’re missing out on precious little of the full Android experience. (Though the Google Play Store and Google’s own apps would be nice.) But it does make the vexing omissions all the more exasperating. Why is the Amazon Appstore still missing so many perfectly good ereader apps? Why not treat the Amazon Fire OS stuff like a mobile phone manufacturer’s proprietary skin, and stop pretending about the rest? Would be nice eh.

Dot-gay bid fails again: This time because it is too gay [The Register]

ICANN evaluation takes absurdity to new levels

This time last year, the applicants for the internet top-level domain .gay were stunned to find that their application to be recognized as a "community" was rejected because they weren't gay enough.…

Biz founded by Chris 'I hack airplanes' Roberts files for bankruptcy [The Register]

Meanwhile, new FAA committee to develop cybersecurity protections

One World Labs, the infosec biz founded by Chris Roberts – the security expert famous for allegedly making an airplane move sideways mid-flight without leaving his passenger seat – has filed for bankruptcy protection.…

Meg Whitman: Next HP Enterprise CEO is already on the payroll [The Register]

Failure rate 'very high' when hiring outside leaders

Canalys Channels Forum  Meg Whitman this week refused to say when she'll quit as chief exec of HP Enterprise – the chunk of HP that will split away from the other half that makes printers and PCs.…

Chinese dragon Alibaba ramps up cloud war with second US data center [The Register]

China cloud unit pushes deeper into Silicon Valley

Chinese cloud purveyor Aliyun, a division of the Middle Kingdom's Amazon equivalent Alibaba, has opened its second data center in Silicon Valley.…

Furious LastPass fans fear favorite tool's fate amid LogMeIn's gobble [The Register]

Password wrangler says nothing will change as users grumble over $125m deal

LastPass has been acquired by LogMeIn, and people are none too happy about the deal.…

China cuffs hackers at US request to stave off sanctions [The Register]

Cooperation – what a concept

Hacking suspects have been arrested in China by the nation's authorities at the behest of the US government for the first time, The Washington Post reports.…

What's not up, Docs? Google Docs goes titsup in time for Friday beers [The Register]

Total Inability To Sustain Usual Productivity

Updated  It's not you – it's Google. The web giant's Docs cloud has fallen off the internet, leaving US office workers eyeing up the boozer early.…

Who gets Teslas made and throws Apple shade? It's… MUSK! [The Register]

That Elon is one vengeful *shut your mouth*

Billionaire business mogul Elon Musk is taking some time away from his electric car and space exploration ventures to slag off Apple.…

EU justice ministers agree on police data-sharing law [The Register]

But directive still needs Euro Parl approval - get the popcorn

European justice ministers on Friday reached an agreement on a new EU law governing how police agencies share information.…

Micron pulls up its flash SOCs, slurps up Tidal [The Register]

Gains in-house system-on-chip controllers for flash

The Non-Volatile Memory Express technology wave is rising and Micron has bought Tidal Systems, an early stage NVMe PCIe controller developer.…

Google uses humans as Matrix-style ‘data batteries’ – Open Xchange CEO [The Register]

Europe takes the Red Pill

OX Summit 2015  If any Americans are in doubt about what European technology business thinks of Silicon Valley’s data-slurping giants, it wouldn’t take them long to find out from a gathering in Berlin of European companies who look after personal data.…

Oracle ZFS appliance sales hit $1 billion [The Register]

Four times slower than EMC’s XtremIO

Oracle blogs it’s sold more than a billion dollars’ worth of its ZFS appliance, with almost 15,000 systems installed by more than 5,000 customers.…

Don't panic, biz bods: A guide to data in the post-Safe Harbor world [The Register]

Sweat the details

The Safe Harbor agreement this week suddenly became of interest to a lot more IT managers than had previously given a stuff about it.…

BT to shoot 'up to 330Mbps' G.fast into 2,000 Gosforth homes [The Register]

Fast times in Newcastle

BT customers in Gosforth, Newcastle, are being given a chance to test copper's last hurrah, G.fast.…

Ex-Logicalis UK boss Starkey signs up as EMC SDS biggie [The Register]

Forget the hype, this is going to be bigger than the biggest thing ever, says exec

Exclusive  Former Logicalis UK boss Mark Starkey has crossed the fence into vendor land for the first time, rocking up as the lead for EMC’s software defined storage unit.…

Playmobil cops broadside for 'racist' pirate slave [The Register]

US mum up in arms over neck-shackled figurine

A California mother is less than impressed with a Playmobil pirate ship set which includes a dark-skinned figurine with a shackle around his neck.…

So how does an SQL background help you survive 2.5 years as a hostage? [The Register]

Peter Moore delivers final Reg lecture of 2015

Reg events  If you’ve ever wondered how you’d cope under the sort of pressure that can crack the hardest of military nuts you’ll want to get along to our final lecture of 2015 on December 1.…

Ofcom chief warns that carrier aggregation may be bad for consumers [The Register]

But what should Ofcom do? Here’s a suggestion.

Analysis  The mergers of O2 and Three, and BT and EE, could drive prices up for consumers and be A Bad Thing.…

Apple borks Apple News ad-blocking app due to 'privacy concerns' [The Register]

Cupertino claims it is working with the developers to get the apps back in the App Store

Apple has confirmed having removed "a few apps" from the App Store, including Been® Choice - which blocked advertisements even within the native Apple News app - over what it claims are privacy concerns.…

Hortonworks dismisses reports of Hadoop droop [The Register]

Customer base growing, but staff still outnumber punters

Hadoop-pusher Hortonworks has dismissed reports by analyst house Gartner that the big data market is "yet to take off".…

How much do UK cops pay for Microsoft licences? £30 a head or £137? Both [The Register]

42 negotiations mean MS, Oracle costs differ wildly

Coppers are wasting millions on negotiated software licences, with some forces paying more than four times more than other constabularies of a similar size for Oracle and Microsoft licences, The Register can reveal.…

Reseller SCC slurps up 'minority' stake in SIPCOM [The Register]

Enter hosted voice and UC-as-a-service space

Rigby Group, the parent of Midlands-based tech dynasty SCC, has acquired a minority stake in hosted voice and unified comms-as-a-service outfit SIPCOM.…

Dell hooking up with EMC and going public again? Come off it [The Register]

We live in interesting times – especially if you've got $51bn going spare

The rumour mill about a Dell-EMC deal is going hyper, with a $51bn takeover by Dell being mentioned. Is Elliott Management holding a gun to EMC's head?…

Noughty by nature: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Rock Band 4 [The Register]

Bang, crash, wallop

Game Theory  It's the noughties all over again as two franchises from very different genres, Uncharted and Rock Band, are repackaged and re-released for a new generation of consoles.…

The IT Pro generation gap strikes again [The Register]

Wot, never heard of thin clients?

Study  Readers are usually pretty quick to tell us when we use jargon in our surveys that we haven’t defined, and quite rightly so. We work in an industry that is riddled with language abuse, and marketeers who take liberties by redefining long-established terms and inventing buzzwords to make old stuff sound new.…

Oracle, SAP, IBM: They're rubbish and charge you billions for Excel, says man [The Register]

I have the answer. But no profits. Buy my IPO!!

Oracle and SAP have badly let down customers by charging them through the nose, while leaving them with nothing more than Excel spreadsheets to plan budgets, claims Frederic Layulaux, the chief executive of software-as-a-service outfit Anaplan.…

Exagrid, Simplivity and Zadara: Storage slowdown? Not for us [The Register]

Newbies boast of growth, quiet about actual numbers though

Comment  Three storage startups claim they are still experiencing strong growth, even while mainstream vendors' revenue expansion remains disappointing.…

Adobe to brick eight Acrobat, Reader flaws next Tuesday [The Register]

No visible attacks yet, but bet your creative tendencies there will be

Adobe will be brick over eight holes in a patch run next week.…

Outlook.com had classic security blunder in authentication engine [The Register]

Redmond pays $25k to hacker who spotted flaw allowing anyone to own your email

Synack senior security researcher Wesley Wineberg has received US$25,000 from Microsoft for quietly disclosing a bug that allows any Hotmail account to be hijacked.…

NASA boffins on Pluto: We see skies of BLUE and... RED water ice [The Register]

More New Horizons snaps space bods just can't explain

Pluto's skies are a lovely blue, NASA says, after releasing new data and colour-corrected images from the New Horizons mission's swing-past the former planet.…

World's oldest person scoffs daily ration of bacon [The Register]

116-year-old living testament to the power of sliced pork

The world's oldest person is living proof of the awesome power of bacon, having achieved supercentenarian status on a daily dose of sliced pork goodness.…

Singapore Post tests drone delivery services [The Register]

In a city where most people live in apartments, this t-shirt landed on open ground

Video  Singapore's postal service has trialled delivery-by-drone.…

Crypto cadre cloud-cracks SHA-1 with just $75k of compute cost [The Register]

Plans to retire cipher in 2017 may need to be brought forward

A crypto cadre has busted the SHA-1 security standard after using $US75,000 of cloud computing resources, handily undercutting conservative crypto cracking estimates and putting such an attack within reach of well-resourced groups.…

HP creates laptop for SITH LORDS [The Register]

Is this really what Meg Whitman meant by 'innovative new computing experiences'?

HP will soon release a special Star Wars edition laptop it says will allow you to “Unleash your inner Sith”.…

Mozilla to boot all plugins from Firefox … except Flash [The Register]

NPAPI plugins get death date of Christmas 2016

The Mozilla Foundation has revealed that some future versions of its flagship Firefox browser will ship without support for plugins of any sort.…

PC shipments slump in Q3, thanks to free Windows 10 [The Register]

Businesses are spending on mobile transformations, not boring old computers

The world's personal computer factories could only shove just over 70 million machines out the door during 2015's third quarter, according to box-watchers IDC and Gartner.…

Cops must get a warrant before raiding phones, email, etc (in California) [The Register]

Super Cali: Be realistic, get a wa– ah, screw it

California has passed a law requiring police to obtain a warrant before searching phones, tablets, and other electronic devices, and accounts in cloud services, too.…

Australian Prime Minister runs private email server [The Register]

Any hacker capable of sinking a tinnie of Fosters will be trying to crack it as you read

Australia's newly minted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has admitted to running a private email server.…

Whoever hacked Uber's driver database wasn't our CTO, says rival Lyft [The Register]

Exec's IP address used to eyeball leaked security key, but not the addy used to snatch info

Uber's sleuthing to find out who hacked its database of drivers has turned up an interesting snippet regarding its chief competitor, Lyft.…

TRANSISTOR-GATE-GATE: Apple admits some iPhone 6Ses crappier than others [The Register]

Samsung-made mobe brains chomp through battery charges faster than TSMC chips

Apple has confessed that some iPhone 6Ses have worse battery life than others because their processors are made by two different chip bakers.…

Dell seeking $40 BEEELLION to buy EMC NEXT WEEK say reports [The Register]

Cunning plan calls for EMC to go private, VMware stay public as cash cow

Dell is figuring out how to borrow the US$40 billion it would need to acquire EMC, according to reports quoting the usual folks familiar with the deal.…

Hey, Facebook – these are the new Like buttons you should have used [The Register]

'Yay'? 'Sad'? Nah, this is what we really need

Pic + vid  Facebook has announced a range of new buttons intended to give its users the ability to express a wider range of emotions – certainly wider than today's "Like."…

Elon Musk doesn't hate Apple, but he's not (yet) a fan of the Apple Watch [The Verge - All Posts]

Elon Musk is quickly putting out a fire that began after some pointed, headline-grabbing quotes from the Tesla CEO appeared in German newspaper Handelsblatt. A transcript of that interview shows that Musk and his fellow Tesla executives (jokingly) refer to Apple as "the Tesla graveyard," and Musk reportedly said, "They have hired people we've fired." But now Musk is making it very clear that he in fact carries an enormous amount of respect for Apple. "Yo, I don't hate Apple," he tweeted this evening. "It's a great company with a lot of talented people. I love their products and I'm glad they're doing an EV."

In the interview, Musk emphasized that Apple faces an enormous challenge in stepping up from designing smartphones and...

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Can't use AT&T's Wi-Fi calling with your iPhone? This could be why [The Verge - All Posts]

For the launch of the iPhone 6S, I elected to buy the T-Mobile version from Apple instead of the AT&T one, because I was planning on paying full price for the phone and the T-Mobile one comes unlocked out of the box. (I don't plan on leaving AT&T, necessarily, but an unlocked phone is easier to use internationally and has a higher resale value.)

I suspect there are some folks out there who did the same. What you may not have known, though, is that using this version of the phone on AT&T sets off a weird chain of events that you'll want to be aware of.

First off, there's the consideration that AT&T has a special version of the 6S that includes support for the WCS band, which will eventually lead to faster LTE in some markets. (PC...

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Twitter plans layoffs in Jack Dorsey's second week as CEO [The Verge - All Posts]

Jack Dorsey was named permanent CEO of Twitter on Monday, and a big reason he got the job was that as a co-founder, Dorsey isn’t afraid to make the tough, necessary decisions. He isn’t wasting much time.

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Google will now link to iPhone apps in mobile Safari [The Verge - All Posts]

Google announced today that it will display links to iOS apps directly within Google search on Apple's mobile Safari browser. The links will display when users search for those apps or for content found within those apps and, once tapped, will route users either to the App Store or to the downloaded app. This feature will let iPhone owners search for, say, a restaurant or "puzzle games iOS" and find a Yelp or game link as a result. In the past, this was only available while using Google's Chrome app or its general Google app. The feature already exists on Android devices, where Chrome is the default mobile browser.

"That means that you can start getting your app content into the Search results page on Safari in iOS, simply by adding...

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The VR View-Master is Google Cardboard for kids [The Verge - All Posts]

Next year is when we find out whether people will buy high-end virtual reality headsets. But this fall is when we find out whether cheaper ones — like the new $99 Gear VR or the variety of super-simple cardboard designs — can hold their own during the holiday shopping season. This is especially true of the new View-Master, a VR headset created by toy giant Mattel. As its name suggests, the $29.99 View-Master is pitched as a next-generation version of the miniature slide projectors that many of us used as children. In reality, it's a plastic headset compliant with Google Cardboard's standards. We got a first look at it early this year, but only from behind glass.

Now that it's officially shipping, we got to play with the finished...

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Microsoft's first Surface Book ad doesn't make you feel pumped [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft's Surface Book unveiling video earlier this week was super exciting. A gradual buildup braced us for the big wow moment when the removable display was revealed. Microsoft had a good opportunity to build on that hype and bring something similar over to TV screens, but the spot the company has chosen could be a commercial for any laptop.

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Paul Thomas Anderson's new movie Junun is now streaming on MUBI [The Verge - All Posts]

Paul Thomas Anderson's new documentary Junun is now available on MUBI, the specialty streaming service that handpicks 30 movies at a time for its users. It's a subscription service just like Netflix and Hulu, so you'll have to add another bill to your collection to see Anderson's film. (At $4.99 a month or $39.99 a year, it's a little cheaper than those services.) Because MUBI swaps out one of its selections for a new movie every day, you'll have 30 days to watch Junun before it leaves the service.

For his follow-up to last year's stoner dream Inherent Vice, Anderson travelled to India with frequent collaborator and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood as he sought to make an album with Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur. (Greenwood has...

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This is your next jam: Janet Jackson, Neon Indian, and more [The Verge - All Posts]

Welcome back to The Verge’s's weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and I hope you find your next jam this week!

This week we’ve got options for attention spans of all sizes: Shopping’s brisk, snappy "Wind Up" clocks in at less than two minutes; monsters from Deafheaven, Nicolas Jaar, and Tortoise span almost 25 minutes combined. There’s enough stylistic breadth in those latter three alone to keep you on your toes. Epic shoegaze-metal, cerebral dance music, contemplative post-rock: We’ve got it all!

Our running playlist is embedded at the bottom for your listening convenience, and you're also welcome to share your own favorite cuts in the comments. Let's go:

Deafheaven, "Gifts for the Earth":

If your curiosity...

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After US talks, China cracks down on trade-secret stealing hackers [The Verge - All Posts]

When Chinese president Xi Jinping visited the White House in September, many observers saw it as the beginning of a new accord on cybersecurity between the two nations. Now, we may be seeing the first results of that accord. According to The Washington Post, China has arrested "a handful" of Chinese nationals for economic espionage against US firms, apparently as a show of good faith in cyberespionage talks. Notably, the accused individuals appear to have been hand-picked by US officials. "We gave them a list," an unnamed source told the Post, "and we said, 'Look, here’s these guys. Round them up.'"

It's unclear which cases are involved in the new crackdown, but US officials would have had plenty of incidents to choose from. Trade...

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What it's like to illustrate a cover for Marvel Comics [The Verge - All Posts]

As embarrassing as this is to admit, my first foray into art was through furries and anime. (I can’t believe I am putting this on the internet after thoroughly obliterating any trace of my middle school art from the web.) Fandom was seminal in the beginning stages of my art career; I loved all of it and the fan art community was great at giving feedback. I slowly moved away from my “nerd” roots while studying art in school, and fashion, beauty, and film soon filled the space where manga and Harry Potter used to live. My senior thesis was 20 watercolor pieces of black women in high-fashion clothing and now I’m an editorial designer at Racked, Vox Media’s fashion site.

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Shuttle/Centaur [Transterrestrial Musings]

A history, over at Ars Technica. In addition to the balloon tanks, there were concerns with the common bulkhead between the LOX and LH2 tanks (though AFAIK this has never caused a Centaur failure). As I’ve written before, there was an alternative approach, that NASA never considered.

Massive Environmental Spills? Forget Those, EPA Celebrates Worker Winning Award For… ‘Clean Cookstoves’…. [Weasel Zippers]

Check out our #Sammies2015 winner, Jacob Moss, on the importance of clean cookstoves to health and #climate: https://t.co/6Khf7db4Ju — U.S. EPA (@EPA) October 8, 2015 Just forget they caused another toxic spill. They’re busy working on cookstoves, because that’s really a problem in the United States, you know, that area the EPA is supposed to […]

Boehner Plotting To Stay Till December, Conservatives Working On Plan To Remove Him… [Weasel Zippers]

Better have someone coming in that can take back the reins. Via Breitbart: Some on Capitol Hill believe that House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) is going to attempt to remain in his position through mid-December. The election to replace outgoing Boehner was unexpectedly and indefinitely postponed Thursday after front-runner and current Majority Leader Rep. […]

If You Thought Obama’s Abuse Of Executive Power Was Bad, Wait Till You See What Hillary Is Promising… [Weasel Zippers]

And the Left is bragging about it, as though this is a great thing: Hillary Clinton's sweeping executive power agenda is unprecedented http://t.co/zeaEEVMB4L via @voxdotcom — Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) October 8, 2015 HT: Twitchy

Slime Of The Day: Odious ‘Talking Points Memo’ Editor Josh Marshall Attacks Grieving People Of Roseburg [Weasel Zippers]

Here’s some of the pictures and video from the protest. How dare these people have a problem with President Obama specifically saying that he was politicizing this tragedy to push his gun control agenda? How dare they question the royal presence before he goes off to his fundraiser in Seattle? Apparently, not believing what Josh […]

Hundreds Turn Out In Roseburg To Protest Obama Politicizing Tragedy, “Go Golf!”…Update: More Video, Pics [Weasel Zippers]

Update: More video, pics from Roseburg: Good heavens. Stay classy, #Roseburg. #UCCShooting @JaredCastle pic.twitter.com/KcOZ4NfqCP — Mark S. Cogan (@markscogan) October 9, 2015 HT: GWP

Martin O’Malley: Democratic Debate Schedule Shows Party’s Fear [Weasel Zippers]

Major meltdown coming when she goes to prison. Via The Hill: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) said on Friday that the Democratic presidential debate schedule exposes the party’s unease about Hillary Clinton. “It would appear to me that they’re trying to circle the wagons around this year’s inevitable front-runner,” he said of Clinton’s presidential campaign. […]

Rolling Stone: No Such Thing As “Real Hillary” [Weasel Zippers]

But she’s a real person! Via Rolling Stone: In the last day, Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal that she will likely claim she only championed as part of her duties as secretary of state and that, in reality, she just as likely helped to create. She probably opposes it […]

Google Guy Startup Trying To Put Hillary In The White House… [Weasel Zippers]

But it’s time to stick it to those billionaires, y’all! Via QZ: An under-the-radar startup funded by billionaire Eric Schmidt has become a major technology vendor for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, underscoring the bonds between Silicon Valley and Democratic politics. The Groundwork, according to Democratic campaign operatives and technologists, is part of efforts by Schmidt—the […]

Man Fined After Drone Lands On Ellipse Near White House… [Weasel Zippers]

Fine? Via Washington Post A District man was cited by police Friday for flying a drone near the Washington Monument and landing it on the Ellipse adjacent to the White House, authorities said. Sgt. Anna Rose, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Park Police, said the incident occurred about 1:30 a.m. Friday. She said police seized […]

World’s Most Delusional Beta Male: “Russian Campaign In Syria A Sign Putin’s Weakness” [Weasel Zippers]

He’s completely out of his mind… Via Fox News Latino: U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that Russian airstrikes in Syria are a sign of the growing weakness of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in an interview on CBS News, of which an excerpt was released Friday. Obama questioned whether Putin is defying U.S. leadership in the […]

Russia Says It Has Killed 300 Militants In Latest Raid… [Weasel Zippers]

Via Reuters: Russia’s air force hit 60 Islamic State targets in Syria over the past 24 hours and killed around 300 militants, the Defense Ministry said on Friday, in Moscow’s most intense raids yet since it first launched strikes on Syria 10 days ago. In the previous updates, the Moscow had been reporting hitting about […]

Democrat Posts Sophomoric Ad On Craigslist Advertising For New GOP Speaker Job [Weasel Zippers]

Via PJMedia: A California Democrat took out an ad on Craigslist today to give House Republicans a hand in finding a new Speaker of the House. Rep. Mark Takano posted the ad on the government jobs board after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) dropped out of the race. “It seems like we’re having a hard […]

Biden Inching Closer To Presidential Run… [Weasel Zippers]

Can’t wait for Uncle Creepy to join the race and split the moron ticket even more. Via New Yorker: Joe Biden has taken another step toward entering the Presidential race. Representatives of the Vice-President held a meeting this week with Democratic National Committee staffers. They briefed Biden’s aides on arcane but crucial rules that the […]

Hitler Is Back And He’s A TV Star… [Weasel Zippers]

File under “wish this was a joke, but isn’t”. Via Yahoo: Imagine Hitler wakes up in today’s Berlin, is mistaken for a hilarious impersonator of the Nazi leader and ends up a TV celebrity, widely cheered for voicing his demented worldview. That’s the premise of “He’s Back” (“Er ist wieder da”), a biting social satire […]

Mother Was Shocked By Her Son’s ”Racist” Playmobil Pirate Toy Set… [Weasel Zippers]

Oh boy…. Via E! Online: One mother was outraged when she realized that a birthday gift for her son included a “racist” toy. Ida Lockett told Sacramento’s local CBS station that a Playmobil pirate toy set given to her 5-year-old boy by his aunt included instructions that showed how to shackle one of the dark-skinned figures, who […]

60% Of Americans Think Government Has Too Much Power [Weasel Zippers]

When even the President is taking power which is not his, then don’t be surprised if Americans catch on. Via Free Beacon: A majority of Americans, 60 percent, believe that the government has too much power, according to a Gallup poll. This marks the third year in a row that at least 59 percent of […]

Breaking: Reports Representatives McCarthy, Ellmers May Resign By Monday… [Weasel Zippers]

There’s a lot more to this and maybe if they resign, they can fink on who is behind the blackmail and spill the whole mess.

CAIR Confronts Bill O’Reilly Over Muslim-Themed ‘Watters’ World’ Segment [Weasel Zippers]

The thing they don’t want people to pick up? The support being stated for sharia law over the Constitution. Via The Blaze: A Muslim advocacy group is angry with Fox News producer Jesse Watters over a recent video segment featuring interviews with residents of Dearborn, Michigan, with a spokesperson for the group appearing on “The […]

Gowdy Reveals Clinton Emails Had More Secrets, Including Naming CIA Source [Weasel Zippers]

Security? Proper secrecy over agents? What’s that? Via Fox News: Longtime Hillary Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal allegedly sent her an email with the name of a CIA source, further casting doubt on her claim she never sent or received classified information on her private email address, according to the Republican chairman of the committee investigating […]