Overnight Open Thread (29 Aug 2014) - Under The Influence Edition [Ace of Spades HQ]

Evenin' morons. I'm back with this abbreviated ONT. I blame the pain killers....

Music Thread [Ace of Spades HQ]

So y'all's can write about whatever you like, musically. I'll just write a little bit up here because I wanted to write something about this anyway. Lately -- I think because it's the 25th anniversary of Kick, or something --...

Obama: The News Makes it Seem Like the World Is Falling Apart, But Actually It's Fine, It's Just That We Hear Too Much from Social Media [Ace of Spades HQ]

Speaking to Democrat donors at, get this, a fundraiser: "If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart,” Pres Obama told Dem donors, citing ISIL, Russia and Ukraine.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 29, 2014 Pres...

Media Ignores Obama's "We Don't Have a Strategy" Statement In Order to Focus on the Important Thing -- Obama Fashion [Ace of Spades HQ]

A partisan Democrat media, hungry for an Obama victory, finds one in his sartorial choices. Our media: https://t.co/bRgUlLQlmq https://t.co/eszcKU3LFW https://t.co/c7uNskWMWL https://t.co/VIOdCKWSMJ https://t.co/4E04sJHYxZ— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) August 29, 2014 Good photoshop about this, too: And you may find yourself in a beautiful Oval Office... pic.twitter.com/m7N8DDQrZe— Doktor...

AoSHQ Podcast: Guest, Conn Carroll [Ace of Spades HQ]

Conn Carroll, Editor of Townhall Magazine, joins Ace, Gabe, Drew and John on this week's episode. Intro/Outro: Moneypenny Goes For Broke-Burt Bacharach/One Tree Hill-U2 Listen: Stitcher | MP3 Download Subscribe: RSS | iTunes Browse (and even search!) the archives Follow...

The Man With a Plan: Obama To Attend Celebrity-Studded Wedding, Lead Three Partisan Fundraisers; Ed Henry Asks His Spokesman Why He's Taking a Long Weekend When He Still Doesn't Have a Strategy for IS [Ace of Spades HQ]

Obama does have a strategy -- and that strategy is to Party Like it's 1999. So his weekend is jam-packed with events. President Obama has a busy Labor Day weekend planned as he leaves on Air Force One for New...

Texas Department of Public Safety Issues Bulletin Warning of Increased "ISIS Interest on the Southwest Border" [Ace of Spades HQ]

This is Judicial Watch's claim, but, as you'll see, they're claiming multiple sources. We'll see if anyone else can confirm it themselves. Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the...

A Diverse Assortment of "Children" Now Taking Advantage of Obama's DACA to Enroll in Local Schools [Ace of Spades HQ]

Think of the children. The mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts gave a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Here is what she said of the "children" taking advantage of DACA and enrolling in her schools. "One of...

Paczkowksi: Apple Wearable Won’t Ship Until Next Year [Daring Fireball]

John Paczkowski:

So that new wearable device Apple is introducing on September 9? It’s going to be a while before anyone is actually wearing it. Sources in position to know tell me it won’t arrive at market for a few months. “It’s not shipping anytime soon,” said one. So when does Apple plan to ship its eagerly anticipated wearable? That’s not clear, but my understanding is that we’re unlikely to see it at retail until after the holiday season — think early 2015.

If true, why? I’m guessing something similar to why they pre-announced the original iPhone — otherwise it would leak through regulatory filings with various governments around the world. Plus, they have no worries about the Osborne Effect with a new product category.

Gizmodo Is Off Apple’s Shitlist [Daring Fireball]

Brian Barrett, writing for Gizmodo:

Apple has just sent out its invitations to an event on September 9th. You can expect at least one iPhone, and possibly an iWatch as well. And hey… we’ll be there!

Some subtle changes so far in the post-Katie Cotton era. Gizmodo hasn’t been invited to an Apple event since the unpleasantness back in 2010. They’re holding the event at The Flint Center, a big venue the company hasn’t used in over a decade. And they sent the invitations out a week earlier than usual.

Samsung licenses HERE maps, still trying to escape the Google ecosystem [Ars Technica]

Samsung has lots of ammunition against Google, but will it ever pull the trigger?

Samsung and Nokia have signed an agreement to bring Nokia's HERE mapping service to just about every Samsung device imaginable. Nokia announced that HERE for Android will be exclusive to Samsung's Galaxy smartphone line, and it will also be bringing a mini version of HERE to Samsung's Tizen-based smartwatches, including the newly-announced Samsung Gear S.

Nokia HERE's origins lie in Nokia's Ovi mapping service and the company's 2007 purchase of Navteq. HERE data is one of the main competitors to Google Maps—besides the in-house app, the data also powers Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps, Amazon Maps, and Garmin GPS devices. This Nokia has nothing to do with Microsoft, which only bought Nokia's "Devices & Services" division. The remaining parts of the company deal with maps, cellular networking technology, and R&D.

The move is Samsung's latest attempt to distance itself from the Google ecosystem. "What will you do without Google Maps" is one of the biggest questions any company (or customer) needs to answer if it wants to ask itself how it could survive a Google-free existence. While it's not very difficult to dump the Play Store or Gmail for a different client, Google Maps is much harder to replace.

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Gencon: My journey into the heart of the nerd kingdom [Ars Technica]

The crush as Gencon's main exhibition hall opens.
Nate Anderson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—"The Reavers in your bed," sang the kilted duo, "are going to eat your face!"

Sitting in the back row of a windowless conference room packed with 125 Firefly lovers, I listened to this demented lullaby while duly jotting down the chorus: eat... your... face. And I wondered, not for the first time, what I was doing among the 50,000 other attendees at Gencon.

I mean to say, when your job involves listening to a percussionist with more than a passing resemblance to Smee play a djembe while singer Marc Gunn strums an autoharp and belts out Irish drinking songs with lyrics like, "It's good to have Jayne Cobb on your side," certain questions inevitably arise. Chief among them: after seeing this, could I even call myself a 'nerd' anymore?

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Internet Archive posts millions of historic images to Flickr [Ars Technica]

Image from page 400 of "Breeder and sportsman" (1882).

Earlier this year, communications technology scholar Kalev Leetaru began culling over 14 million images from the Internet Archive’s public domain ebooks and uploading them to the Internet Archive’s Flickr account. As of today, 2.6 million images are now easily searchable and downloadable.

When the Internet Archive originally scanned the books, they used Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which made the book text searchable, but that didn’t mean much if you were looking for images. So Leetaru wrote some software to take advantage of the OCR program that the Internet Archive had used to scan public domain works published and written between 1500 and 1922.

According to the BBC, the OCR program scanned the books and discarded sections of the text that it recognized as images. Leetaru had his software go back and find those discarded portions of text, automatically converting those sections into Jpeg images and uploading them to Flickr. "The software also copied the caption for each image and the text from the paragraphs immediately preceding and following it in the book,” the BBC wrote.

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Steve Jobs gets posthumous design patent on iconic NYC Apple store [Ars Technica]

The original design of Apple's 5th Avenue NYC store, which stood from 2006 until 2011.

The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs and several other Apple employees are listed as inventors on a newly granted design patent, which describes the design of the company's flagship New York City retail outlet. Jobs is listed as one of the seven co-inventors of the design, although he passed away about a year before the application was filed in October 2012.

The company is an enthusiastic proponent of patenting and trademarking just about everything it can, and its retail stores are no exception. Apple actually acquired a US trademark on its interior store design last year, and it has patented other elements of the stores, such as their special architectural glass panels and floating glass staircases.

Apple's newest patent grant shows that it was especially proud of its iconic Manhattan store on 5th Avenue. The actual store exists beneath a 32-foot glass cube, an older version of which is pictured above. Its subterranean entrance is open 24 hours a day.

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Los Angeles cops do not need to hand over license plate reader data, judge finds [Ars Technica]

This LAPD patrol car is equipped with a LPR unit, mounted just in front of the light bar on the roof of the vehicle.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge will not force local law enforcement to release a week’s worth of all captured automated license plate reader (ALPR, also known as LPR) data to two activist groups that had sued for the release of the information, according to a decision issued on Thursday.

In May 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) in an attempt to compel the agencies to release a week’s worth of LPR data from a certain week in August 2012. The organizations have not determined yet whether they will file an appeal.

The organizations had claimed that these agencies were required to disclose the data under the California Public Records Act. In late July 2012, the ACLU and its affiliates sent requests to local police departments and state agencies across 38 states to request information on how LPRs are used.

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ALS Association drops ‘ice bucket challenge’ trademark app after complaints [Ars Technica]

Just two days after a controversial trademark application by the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA) was made public, it has been dropped.

The group has made nearly $100 million from donations related to viral videos of people doing the "ice bucket challenge," in which ice water is dumped on a person's head. In the last month, ALSA has made far more money from the campaign than the association made in all of 2013.

Last week, ALSA filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office seeking to trademark the term for use in charity fundraising. That move quickly sparked an outcry, since ALSA didn't invent the phrase "ice bucket challenge" and the concept has been used to raise money for other charities before.

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Report: Next iPhone will use NFC for mobile wallet functionality [Ars Technica]

We heard it in 2011 and again the following year, but this time it's (maybe) true—the new iPhone will reportedly come equipped with a near field communication system that powers a brand-new payment platform. On Friday, Wired reported that "sources familiar with the matter" have confirmed that a mobile wallet will debut on the new iPhone and that its inclusion will be treated as a "hallmark feature" during the phone's reveal event on September 9.

This news follows a report from The Information in July that linked Apple to credit card and payment processing companies, suggesting that such conversations were building the retailer backbone necessary for a wide "iWallet" launch this fall. The company's growing iBeacon push may also factor into how new iPhones' mobile payment information would be gathered.

The iPhone has long lagged in the smartphone-NFC department, an issue that could be thanks to Apple's insistence on wireless-unfriendly aluminum casings. According to our last rumor roundup, that technical issue may have been fixed with a number of plastic cutouts in the new phone's design, but it also stands to reason that a mobile-wallet rollout was probably slowed more by Apple working to secure any such communication protocol. As Wired's report notes, an Apple patent filed in January could be the final key in resolving such security worries; in it, the company described coupling NFC with either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi as a second check in the protocol.

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The long game: How hackers spent months pulling bank data from JPMorgan [Ars Technica]

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said attacks were "going to be non-stop." It looks like he was right.

The electronic attack on JPMorgan Chase’s network, now under investigation by federal law enforcement, apparently spanned months, according to a report by Bloomberg News. Starting in June, hackers used multiple custom-crafted bits of malware to infiltrate the bank’s infrastructure and slowly shipped bits of bank transaction data back out through computers in several countries before it was sent onward to Russia.

The attack, which went on for more than two months before being detected by JPMorgan in a security scan, bears the fingerprints of similar long-game attacks against corporate targets by cybercriminals from Eastern Europe, some of whom have developed capabilities more advanced than state-sponsored hackers. While the details obtained by Bloomberg’s Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley are sparse, the information provided by their sources is consistent with attacks on a number of European banks earlier this year.

While the FBI and National Security Agency are reportedly investigating whether the attack came from Russian state-sponsored hackers—or at least state-sanctioned ones—in retaliation for sanctions against Russia, making that connection will be difficult at best. It seems more likely, based on recent security reports, that the attacks were criminal in nature—but relied on tools and techniques that may have a mixed provenance, using methods honed in attacks on other banks and on government targets for financial gain.

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An era ends as Microsoft completely shutters MSN Messenger [Ars Technica]

The last trace of Microsoft's once-dominant Messenger network will disappear at the end of October, reports TechNode. After October 31st, Chinese users chatting on the instant messaging network will have to use Skype, not the Live Messenger client, for their communication.

In late 2012, Microsoft announced that it would discard the Messenger brand for its instant messaging client in favor of the Skype client and brand. The company started blocking the official client early in 2013.

But one part of the Messenger user base was left behind: Chinese users. The Messenger service in China was operated by a separate company and wasn't part of the initial Skype transition.

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Scare tactics: See how big ISPs demonize city-owned broadband [Ars Technica]

As part of its investigation of municipal broadband, the Center for Public Integrity put together some audio and visual imagery to show just how the fight plays out at the local level.

Large telecommunications companies have bankrolled campaigns to try to defeat referendums that would allow cities to build or expand their own high-speed broadband networks.

First up, two examples of anti-muni broadband robocalls and push polls—one from Longmont, Colorado, and the second from Lafayette, Louisiana.

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Update: JPMorgan, other banks hacked, and FBI looks to Russia for culprits [Ars Technica]

JPMorgan Chase was one of at least five US banks hit by a sophisticated attack against its networks that netted the attacker large volumes of bank account data—for an unknown purpose.

The FBI is reportedly investigating whether a sophisticated attack on JPMorgan Chase and at least four other banks was the work of state-sponsored hackers from Russia. The attacks, which were detected earlier this month, netted gigabytes of checking and savings account data, according to a report by The New York Times.

Update: According to one source Ars contacted who claims to be familiar with the investigation at JPMorgan Chase, the attack on the bank stemmed from malware that infected an employee's desktop computer. It was not clear whether the malware was delivered by a web attack or by an email "phishing" attack. That is contradicted by information shared with Bloomberg, which indicates the attack started with a zero-day exploit of one of JPMorgan's web servers.

In a statement sent to Ars, John Prisco, CEO of the security firm Triumfant said, "The nature of the JPMorgan breach was a persistent threat with a backdoor that enabled the attacker to enter whenever they wanted." He expressed surprise that the breach went undetected for so long, claiming that it was "fairly easy breach to detect."

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Google doesn’t need Twitch for game streaming [Ars Technica]

When it comes to the game and e-sports streaming scene, Twitch is the 800-pound gorilla. But when it comes to online video as a whole, YouTube is the dominant force, which is why the early reports that Google was going to buy Twitch were a little strange. Google has all the infrastructure and technology to deliver video—including live game streaming—and in fact, Google does the job better than Twitch.

What Twitch has is a very strong brand, as the site people go to for livestreams of people playing games. It wasn't crazy for Google to consider a buyout of that brand and its loyal users, but in the end, it probably wasn't the easiest way for Google to make a play in the space.

It's all a bit moot, since Google backed down its reported plans for a Twitch buyout (reportedly amid antitrust concerns), and Twitch is now a part of Amazon instead. But if Google wants to be a part of the game streaming market—and there are good reasons why it would—it's extremely well positioned, even without Twitch.

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Feds balk at court’s order to explain no-fly list selection process [Ars Technica]

The Obama administration is fighting a federal judge's order requiring it to explain why the government places US citizens who haven't been convicted of any violent crimes on its no-fly database.

The administration is challenging the demand from US District Judge Anthony Trenga, who is presiding over the Virginia federal court case. In asking Trenga to reconsider his August 6 order, the government responded last week: "Defendants request clarification of the purpose of the requested submission so that defendants may respond appropriately."

Trenga's decision is among a series of setbacks to the government's insistence that any serious discussion about the no-fly list—about how people get on or off it—would amount to a national security breach.

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The executive order that led to mass spying, as told by NSA alumni [Ars Technica]

The Oval Office as it looked at the end of President Reagan's second term, as seen in the replica at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today.

The problem does not begin with political systems that discourage transparency or technologies that can intercept everyday communications without notice. Like everything else in Washington, there’s a legal basis for what many believe is extreme government overreach—in this case, it's Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981.

“12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US," whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. "My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.”

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California Library Leadership Failed [Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton]

Last Friday, August 22nd, the California State Senate voted unanimously to confirm Governor Brown’s nomination of Greg Lucas as California State Librarian.

When Lucas was nominated I had some things to say. I wrote letters to senators, reached out to CLA leadership, and talked extensively with other California librarians about the nomination.

Now that Lucas has been confirmed I have some more things to say.

I cannot overemphasize that I have no negative feelings toward Greg Lucas whatsoever. Although his lack of education and experience in libraries (or anything library-related, or large-organization-related) bothers me tremendously, ignorance is not a personal flaw. Libraries’ core mission is to help people learn more and combat ignorance. I have met Lucas twice and am convinced he is trying to learn.

That being said, as I pointed out in my original blog post, the California State Education Code clearly states:

19302. The division shall be in charge of a chief who shall be a technically trained librarian and shall be known as the “State Librarian.”

In his confirmation hearing with the Senate Rules Committee, Lucas stated that he had just begun, this month, taking a class (yes, that’s “a class” singular) from San Jose State University’s controversially newly renamed School of Information. A few weeks of one class does not a librarian make. Can you imagine a state attorney or physician being appointed with as little training? “Well, I’ve taken ‘Intro to Human Biology’ for a few weeks so I think I’m good to go leading up the State’s efforts on healthcare reform.” Never. That would never, ever happen.

Again, this isn’t Lucas’s fault–he’s trying. It’s the Governor’s and the Senate’s fault for not doing their job and appointing an actual librarian to be the State Librarian.

Let’s take a few facts from the hearings and look at what they tell us.

1) Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg said to Mr. Lucas, “We have all known you for a long time.”

Because knowing someone for a long time in your inner circles qualifies him for a trained, professional post. Oh no, that’s right–that’s cronyism.

2) Current President of the California Library Association, Deborah Doyle, said in the same breath that she’s impressed by Lucas’s performance and also that “It is a political appointment. He seems to have lots of connections that sometimes people who have been born and raised in the library system don’t normally have.” Following Doyle’s lead, CLA’s President-Elect, Robert Karatsu, said much the same thing.

Wow. So, yes, you’re right Ms. Doyle. It’s a political appointment. So why bother stand up for librarians’ professional values, your responsibility to communities across the state, and say what’s on the minds of the state’s librarians? Oh yeah, politics. Politics infiltrate the library world as much as anyplace else. That doesn’t mean that it’s moral or acceptable to not speak up and advocate for those you are tasked to represent.

3) Lobbyists from the California School Library Association, the California SEIU, and the California Student Aid Commission also testified in support of the nomination.

Really? These groups, especially the California SEIU who represents degree-holding librarians across the state, did not have a problem with this? Or is it again, at the risk of being cliche, politics as usual?

I am convinced that the State Senate did not question Lucas’s qualifications because of two factors: 1) They assumed that librarians, quiet little meek mice that we are, would not raise objections about the technical lack of qualifications of the nominee; and 2) They were right, at least in regard to the organizations tasked with advocating for libraries in California.

I will echo what I said in my first post: I sincerely hope Greg Lucas turns out to be a truly kick-ass State Librarian.

And yet I am hugely disappointed by the actions of the California Library Association’s leadership, by the actions of people who supported these actions, actively or implicitly, and by those who stood silently by as this unfolded.  Shame on all of you. You failed. You let a bad thing happen without fighting it.

I’m a librarian, I’m proud of being a librarian, and I’m not going to stand idly by while our profession and the services we provide to our communities get stomped into the ground and devalued by politicians in Sacramento.

Will a ‘Recovery Fall’ + Facebook help Democrats keep the Senate? [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Despite many forecasts that 2014 would be the year the US economic recovery finally — finally! — would hit its stride, that optimism has so far been unfounded. While job growth has been stronger, not so GDP growth and wages. Disappointing news for Democrats hoping that economic acceleration would help their candidates in the midterm congressional elections. With September approaching, time has run out for that theory. Or has it? From The New York Times last month:

Nonetheless, the Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who works with Mr. McInturff, the Republican, on polls for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, predicted “the economy may produce a positive wild card” for Democrats. He also took issue with Mr. McInturff’s contention that the year’s political dynamic is “set.” While Democrats suffer from the fact that Senate battles are mostly in conservative states that Mr. Obama twice lost, Mr. Hart said, “in this era of social media, the old formula — that anything that happened after July 1 did not count in terms of the economy — is no longer the case.”

So even though the economy has been meh all year, if the September jobs report to be released on Oct. 3 or the third-quarter GDP report to be released on Oct. 30 come in gangbusters, they will alter the political landscape. The good econ numbers will blow up on Facebook and Twitter (#RecoveryFall) and be the subject of numerous BuzzFeed listicles. Optimism will rise. Democratic voters will get enthused. The GOP will fail to take the Senate on Nov. 4.

Anyway, I think that’s the theory. Two problems: First, the economy doesn’t seem to be a big vote changer in midterm elections. National Journal: “A plethora of political-science research suggests the economy, except in extreme circumstances, doesn’t matter much in midterm elections anyway. A boost in growth certainly wouldn’t hurt, but its effect on candidacies would be indirect and minor.”

Second, for a good economic surprise to help the Dems, there needs to be a good economic surprise. And the chances of that seem to be uncertain, at best. A Barclays research note from this morning:

Personal spending in the US fell 0.1% m/m in July, well below our forecast and the consensus (both 0.2%). Personal income was also softer than we had expected, rising only 0.2% versus our forecast of a 0.4% gain. Headline and core PCE inflation rose 0.1% m/m and are now up 1.6% y/y and 1.5% y/y, respectively. Both readings were in line with our forecast. Adjusting for inflation, real personal spending fell 0.2% on the month and weakness was broad based, as declines were registered in durables, nondurables and services. The largest drop came in durables, which is unsurprising given the 14.3% (q/q saar) rise in durable goods consumption in Q2. However, we were not expecting weakness in the remaining categories. Altogether, the report suggests a much softer start to consumption in Q3 and is a negative for our GDP tracking estimate as the level of real personal spending in July is below the Q2 average. After today’s report, we are now tracking 2.2% for Q3 real GDP, down five-tenths from 2.7% prior to the report.

In other words, the third-quarter — as of now — is looking like a fairly typical one for this anemic recovery. And it’s that persistent weakness is why “71 percent think the country is on the wrong track, [and] 60 percent believe the United States is in a state of decline,” according to a recent WSJ survey.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

When economists talk about mismanaged US states, one gets special mention [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

A new IGM Forum poll of economists finds large, confident majorities who think US states are (a) understating pension liabilities and (b) at risk — at least some of them — of eventually needing a combo of austerity budgets, a federal bailout, and/or default unless they soon increase taxes, cut spending, or change their pension systems.

Now this post really isn’t about pension liabilities. It is about how in the survey of these economists one state repeatedly received special mention for its fiscal woes: Illinois.

But the Prairie State has lots of problems, in addition to government making promises it can’t reasonably keep. The US Chamber of Commerce recently looked at the difficulty of starting a business in different cities. I choose Dallas and Chicago. As you may know, Texas has been a leading state for job creation, Illinois not so much — as this chart shows:


So how do Dallas and Chicago compare on the regulatory ease of starting a business? Here is Chicago:

US Chamber of Commerce

US Chamber of Commerce

And here is Dallas:

US Chamber of Commerce

US Chamber of Commerce

How to fix Illinois? Spend and regulate less would seem to be a smart start.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

"Under pressure from nervous Democratic Senate candidates in tight races, President Obama is rethinking the timing..." [Althouse]

"... of his pledge to act on his own to reshape the nation’s immigration system by summer’s end, and could instead delay some or all of his most controversial proposals until after the midterm elections in November, according to people familiar with White House deliberations."

The NYT reports.

I wonder who the "people familiar with White House deliberations" are and what they are trying to achieve. Something principled? Is anyone familiar with White House deliberations principled?

The President of the United States in a light-colored suit. [Althouse]

What was so unsettling about President Obama in a light-colored suit?

Do we think of the comic-book villain?

That's Lex Luthor as President. It's pretty awful!

Beyond the comic-book realm, where villains are villains and heroes are heroes, we have FDR:

That's Franklin Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act. There were plenty of light-colored suits in that crowd on August 14, 1935. Was there air-conditioning in the White House back then? Yes!

Reconstruction of the West Wing in 1930 after extensive damage by a Christmas Eve fire in 1929 included a central air-conditioning system installed by Carrier Engineering Company. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his staff experienced their first warm season at the White House in 1933, air-conditioning units were added to the private quarters on the second floor.
And it should be noted that President William H. Taft (1909-1913) tried to get the White House air conditioned with a system of "electric fans [that] blew over great bins of ice in the attic, cooling the air, which was forced through the air ducts of the heating system." Like many presidential projects, it didn't work.

And back to FDR and his many projects: Did they work? FDR was no comic-book character, and you can decide for yourself whether to regard him as a hero or a villain or something in between. But since the question here is why do we find Obama in a light suit unsettling, I will consult the mysterious recesses of my own mind, and I hear the echoes of my own earliest memories in the sound of my father's voice, stating as fact: Worst President Ever.

"Everyone knows she is no longer the queen, but she thinks as long as she keeps this crown she's the winner. She's not." [Althouse]

Said David Kim director of director of media for the Miss Asia Pacific World pageant, after 18-year-old May Myat Noe of Burma, who "was described as a disappointment from the start."

"We thought she should be more beautiful... so as soon as she arrived we sent her to the hospital to operate on her breasts. It's our responsibility... If she has no good nose, then maybe, if she likes, we can operate on her nose. If it's breasts, then breasts."

Mr Kim said it was then that the troubles started.
The tiara is supposedly worth $100,000 to $200,000, but the teenager got to walk around with it? Plastic surgery required of the person after she wins? Absurd!

"Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women." [Althouse]

"They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard."

Said Former GWU President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, participating in a Diane Rehm Show panel discussing the role of fraternities on campus. He'd just touted their "philanthropic activities" and "leadership training" and segued to: "They get other kinds of training as well. Combatting sexual misconduct..."

He was interrupted by Rehm, who asked whether fraternities were — as opposed to combatting sexual misconduct — "participating in sexual misconduct"? That is, Trachtenberg wanted to present fraternities as serving the greater good, and, in that light, they might fight against "sexual misconduct," but isn't that at least partly because they are the source of the problem? Now, it's a good idea for those who are doing what is wrong to take charge of eliminating what is wrong, so why not get Trachtenberg to come out and say that?

Of course, Trachtenberg is getting excoriated for saying that women need "to be trained not to drink in excess," but, to be fair, he had just spoken about men training each other not to commit assaults. If you can get past the static of that one word, does Trachtenberg deserve all the abuse he's getting?

He prefaces the remark with a disclaimer: "Without making the victims responsible for what happens...." That actually works as a confession that he knows he's saying that women should take responsibility for avoiding becoming victims, and I think he means to say it and to acknowledge he's going to be criticized.

As for the advice — good advice to everyone — "not to drink in excess," he's including women as "one of the groups." What are these groups? The other group, I take it, is: men. There are two groups: men and women. Neither should drink to excess. All human beings, in their youth, should acquire the skill of not drinking to excess. Kind of a no-brainer, but Trachtenberg didn't say it quite correctly enough to deflect abuse. And — to use a phrase — he asked for it.

ADDED: Hours after this post went up I noticed a slip: "There are two groups: men and women. Neither should drink to access." Yikes! Corrected.

Former High School Basketball Player Sues in Federal Court After Being Cut From Team [The PJ Tatler]


A former Ohio high school basketball player is suing his high school, the athletic director, the school’s principal, and his former basketball coach, alleging they violated his First Amendment right of free speech and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, resulting in a “loss of liberty” when he was cut from the team.

The suit was originally filed in Medina County Common Pleas court  [read the complaint here] by Chase Johanson, who graduated from the school  in 2013 and is currently on the track team at the University of North Carolina — Wilmington. The case was transferred to the U.S. District Court Aug. 27 at the request of the defendants, who said the lawsuit belongs in federal court because the claims involve constitutional issues.

Johanson, who says in an online profile that he was a 6′ 7″ power forward for Medina High School and “my father played basketball at the University of Tennessee,” claims the problems at the school began in December of 2010 during his sophomore year when there was a conflict between a school-sponsored musical performance (in which Johanson participated) and a basketball game. “Following the code of conduct for the school, when such a conflict arises, there was an agreement that he could participate in the musical performance with no clarification of penalty,” the complaint explains.

But Johanson claims that he was forced to sit on the bench for half of the next basketball game as a result of his choosing to attend the musical performance, which ultimately led to two years of conflicts and meetings between Johanson, his mother, the athletic staff, and school administrators. Coaches claim that Johanson’s lackluster athletic performance and bad attitude didn’t warrant being rewarded with much playing time while Johanson and his mother say that he was being unfairly targeted and punished by a coach who didn’t like him.

Islamic State’s English Magazine Published Online; Calls Obama an ‘Apostate’ [The PJ Tatler]

The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, publishes a slick English-language magazine to justify its actions and exhort jihadists to support it financially, through attacks, and other ways. It also serves as a recruitment tool.

At the same time, it serves as a glimpse into the minds of the terrorist group/growing military threat in Iraq and Syria.

Here is the third edition of Dabiq: A Call to Hijrah, in full. “Hijrah” means “the path to jihad.”

It includes a longer statement from James Foley than was included in the IS execution video. That begins on page 39. The magazine blames that beheading on the US airstrikes that began on August 7. Dabiq calls President Barack Obama an “apostate” and a “crusader.” It depicts its jihadists as happy warriors, and its enemies as dead or shortly to be killed.

Warning: The magazine includes graphic images of dead bodies and other imagery of war and brutality, including a severed head and photos of mass executions.

Judicial Watch: A Terrorist Attack On the Texas-Mexico Border is ‘Imminent’ (Updated) [The PJ Tatler]

Government watchdog Judicial Watch published a post today that the group says is based on conversations with multiple government officials.

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued.  Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

El Paso is Texas’ sixth-largest city.

The Texas-Mexico border has been overrun with thousands of illegal aliens, mostly from Central America, over the past several months. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called for the Obama administration to provide more border security. Instead, President Obama is threatening to grant amnesty to about 5 million illegal aliens who are already in the US, a move that is sure to attract even more to cross illegally. If children can cross, so can others.

There have been rumors and suggestions in the past that Islamic terrorist group Hizballah is operating in the border region over the past several years. Hizballah is confirmed to have operations in South America, in the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

A former deputy sheriff in the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department told me in 2012 that captured Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, where he served in the United States Army, had confessed that they were training operatives from drug cartels in Mexico.

Judicial Watch’s report says that “Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to ‘carry out an attack on the border,’ according to one JW source.  ’It’s coming very soon,’ according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron raised the United Kingdom’s terrorism threat to “severe” earlier today. During a press conference Thursday, President Obama admitted that he has “no strategy yet” for dealing with ISIS in Syria, its home base and where it is establishing a capital city in Raqqa. The president will spend the Labor Day weekend attending Democratic Party fundraisers and a wedding.

Two American citizens have recently been killed fighting with ISIS. They were among the hundreds of ISIS fighters who hold western passports.

Update: Fox reports on a Texas Department of Public Safety bulletin on the threat.

“A review of ISIS social media messaging during the week ending August 26 shows that militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of US, for terror attack,” warns the Texas Department of Public Safety “situational awareness” bulletin, obtained by FoxNews.com.

“Clandestinely infiltrate..?” They could just walk right across the border. Kids literally do it every day.

“Social media account holders believed to be ISIS militants and propagandists have called for unspecified border operations, or they have sought to raise awareness that illegal entry through Mexico is a viable option,” states the law enforcement bulletin, which is not classified.

It has been a viable option for years. The Texas-Mexico border is 1,200 miles long. Much of it is barely guarded wilderness. The Rio Grande is a large, placid creek in many places.

The Fox and Judicial Watch stories contain far more specific pointers than the pre-9-11 memo that liberals made a huge issue of during the entire Bush presidency. Yet Barack Obama is not only not taking any known action to curb the threat. He is actively making the border less secure with his amnesty threat.

More: A laptop was found in Syria in January. It belonged to an Islamic State operative who had studied physics and chemistry at two Tunisian universities. It contained 146 gigabytes of information, some of that on the subject of creating and deploying biological weapons on the cheap.

ALSO READ: Islamic State’s English Magazine Published Online.

MSNBC Ditches Interview on ISIS Strategy for a Stupid ‘Surprise Guest’ Schtick While Obama Sings Taylor Swift to the Iraqis [The PJ Tatler]

The White House followed up Thursday’s pointless presidential press briefing with two additional pointless briefings Friday, one conducted by White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the other run from the Pentagon by Rear Admiral John Kirby.

The message of all three seemed to be to tell ISIS to relax, because the White House has no strategy to defeat them, and whatever strategy it does come up with will not ever, under any circumstances, involve US ground troops.

They’re the equivalent of Obama serenading the Iraqis with Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together.” Barack Obama is never ever ever putting troops and their boots on the ground in Iraq. Even if ISIS takes over the whole country, snaps up Syria and Jordan, and then announces that it has stolen a nuke from Iran.

Never ever ever getting back together.

So here’s MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, newly appointed master of Meet the Biased Beltway Press, breaking off with Josh Earnest to favor “Mama” Savannah Guthrie.

That’s not insular and idiotic at all!


EARNEST: “Well, Chuck, the thing we wanted to make sure people understood is what the president was trying to communicate. And what he was trying to communicate is that we’re still waiting on some military plans as it relates to what military options are available to the president for hitting ISIL in Syria. But the president has laid out a comprehensive plan for dealing with ISIL in Iraq. It includes American military strikes, but also includes shoring up the Iraqi government to unite that country to face their threat. It includes engaging regional governments, that’s why Secretary Kerry is heading to the region. So the president has laid out a comprehensive strategy for what he thinks we should do for ISIL. How military action in Syria fits into that strategy, is something that remains to be seen.”

TODD: “Do you really believe — is it fair to say, that when it comes to the issue of Syria, the president just — the big question is he doesn’t know what does the day after the bombing look like? Is that his caution? Is that his concern?”

EARNEST: “Well, I think what the president’s concern is that we’ve learned lessons, this country has learned lessons about going into authorizing the use of military force without having a really clear plan about what you’re hoping to accomplish. And the president wants to make sure that he is very conscientious, and he’s determined to think through what our options are, before making the most serious decision that a Commander-in-Chief can make, which is to deploy America’s military might, to put American servicemen and women in harm’s way in the conduct of our foreign relations. So the president is going to be very thoughtful and deliberative about this and he’s going to make sure that he’s very clear, both in terms of his own thinking and in terms of — with the American people about what that strategy is. Chuck, I’m actually told right now your producers are telling me you do have a surprise guest today, that’s not just me.”

TODD: “Oh, so it was a gag!”

EARNEST: “Well, not a gag!”

TODD: “Whoa! Look at this. Now that’s the surprise guest that I expected. No offense, Josh.”

EARNEST: “None taken, none taken.”

TODD: “But you know what? Hurry up. Get off the stage, will ya?”

GUTHRIE: “Hi, guys.”

TODD: “Miss Mama Guthrie. Can I call you Mama Guthrie?”

Dear Lord. These people expect to be taken seriously. Or is MSNBC really just one long punk prank on the left?

The Only Things Andrea Tantaros Needs to Apologize for Are Being Whip Smart and Distractingly Gorgeous [The PJ Tatler]

The other day on Outnumbered, Fox commentator Andrea Tantaros said this about ISIS and the possibility of “dialogue” with them.

Remarking about the brutality of the ISIS terrorists who beheaded journalist James Foley, Tantaros said, “You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand.”

Is any part of that wrong?

The Asian American Journalists Association has a problem with it, though. They want an apology from Tantaros.


For journalists, the Association sure missed a huge fact. I saw the segment. Tantaros was clearly talking extemporaneously about ISIS and jihadists, not all Muslims everywhere for all time (too many of whom fail to stand up and denounce the jihadists in their midst and in their pulpits, out of a mix of fear and tacit support). She noted that historically, going back to the days of President Jefferson and the Barbary pirates, Muslim raiders have attacked Americans. That’s simply a fact. It’s not in our politically correct history books anymore, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Again, though, Tantaros was talking about jihadists and radicals in the wake of the Foley beheading.

Question: Why is an ethnic journalist association even defending a religion?

Are they playing a race card in the name of a religion?

If you go over to the AAJA apology demand page (the URL of which includes the politically correct smear “islamophobic”), take a look at the video clip they have embedded. It bears the MMFA logo in the upper right corner. That’s the leftwing Media Matters outfit, which exists to bother Fox and defend the left. AAJA captions the video as “Video Source: Media Matters” without ever identifying what MMFA really is. MMFA is an anti-Fox News, hard left, unfair and totally biased vipers’ nest.

Question: Why is the Asian American Journalists Association carrying water for a hard-left agitprop outfit?

Is there some undisclosed background arrangement? What’s going on here?

The AAJA seems to have taken its cue to attack Tantaros from Media Matters. The Association needs to apologize for that and disclose any relationship that it has with MMFA, if there is one. If they don’t, they have no credibility.

Reporter Thinks Posters Warning Women About Date Rape Drugs Are ‘Victim Blaming’ [The PJ Tatler]


Put-in-Bay, a popular Lake Erie island resort in Ohio, is well-known for its party scene and this summer, has earned the unfortunate nickname, “Roofie Island,” after more than a dozen women reported being drugged and at least three were raped. On weekend nights, island police regularly transport young women who suspect they’ve been slipped date rape drugs to the hospital — some tourists, others island employees.

To combat the problem, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS)  has posted signs around the island warning women, ”Do You Know Where Your Drink Is? Don’t Turn Your Back — ACT!” The poster shows a woman seated at the bar next to a man who is slipping something into her drink behind her back.

“We want friends to look out for their friends, fellow bar-goers to look out for fellow bar-goers and bar staff
to look out for their patrons,” said Agent-in-Charge Eric Wolf from the Ohio Department of Public Safety. “We want everyone to be safe. If you see someone tampering with another person’s drink – don’t turn your back on them, don’t be afraid to step up and act.”

An August 15th ODPS advisory said that bystanders and bar staff should let the person know their drink may have been compromised, get the individual out of the situation and call 9-1-1 immediately, and contain the evidence if possible. “According to the Ohio Incident Based Reporting System (OIBERS), nine forcible rapes with
drugs as a weapon were reported in 2013.”

But Alissa Widman Neese, a reporter for the Sandusky Register thinks something is missing. “Where is the poster telling men — or whoever is allegedly drugging individuals in Put-in-Bay — to stop distributing drugs?” Neese asks.

“If officials are going to advocate individuals protecting themselves from a potential problem, perhaps they should also acknowledge the source of the problem is at fault,” Neese added.  ”The victim or careless bystander is not to blame.” She added via Twitter:

Is warning a woman that her drink could be tampered with any more “victim blaming” than warning someone to look both ways before she crosses the street? Anyone who walks out into traffic without looking both ways is taking unnecessary risks. A woman in a bar who is falling-down drunk has to know that it’s risky to leave her drink unattended when there are men on the prowl with roofies at the ready. Warning someone of a very real danger is not blaming someone for a crime that has yet to be committed.

Neese thinks that the perpetrators need to be warned.

Does anyone seriously think that a violent pervert who is willing to drug a girl, drag her to an alley or a hotel room, and force her to have sex without her knowledge or consent is going to be swayed by a poster or a public service campaign?

Ladies, heed the posters and protect yourselves (and your girlfriends) from these sex offenders. Better yet, steer clear of situations where you could have your drink compromised and never put yourself in a position where you are not in control of your mental faculties.  This is not “victim blaming,” this is common sense advice that could save your life. There are some guys that are creeps — violent losers who are bigger and stronger than you and who will take advantage of you and hurt you if given the opportunity.

A poster warning the perpetrator to leave you alone is not going to help you if you encounter this guy. Being and alert — and sober — and having a friend watch your back will. So will a gun, if you’re planning to stay sober.


IBM Watson cooks up some new dishes [PCWorld]

When not busy helping to find new treatments for cancer, IBM Watson is helping to cook up a few new dishes as well.

To show off Watson’s powers, IBM is training its cognitive computing system to suggest new combinations of ingredients that could help cooks to create new, and sometimes quite delicious, recipes. It does so by analyzing the chemical compounds in each ingredient.

IBM joined Bon Appétit magazine to create a Web application called Chef Watson, now in beta, that offers lists of ingredients that can be used to create recipes. Bon Appétit is also working up a cookbook of the best Watson-based creations submitted by users.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Nike gets into smartwatch software with Samsung Gear S app [PCWorld]

The Nike+ Running app will let users track their routes and get “cheers” from Facebook friends while leaving their phones at home

Facebook testing mobile searches for old posts [PCWorld]

Facebook is testing a way to let users of its mobile app search for posts shared with them in the past.

The tool is designed to let people find posts that otherwise might get lost in the mix. With the update, users can search for posts they’ve previously seen on Facebook from friends and the Pages to which they’re connected.

People who have access to the update can search for, say, “kayak trip John Smith,” and a previous post that the user saw in his or her feed about the trip might pop up.

“We’re testing an improvement to search on mobile,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “In this test you can use keywords to search for posts you’re in the audience for on Facebook.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Apple will keep pushing for a sales ban on Samsung products [PCWorld]

Apple will appeal a judge’s order this week that denied its request for a sales ban on Samsung products that were found to infringe its patents.

A jury in California decided in May that Samsung infringed three of Apple’s patents and awarded the iPhone maker $119.6 million in damages.

Apple had been looking for $2 billion in damages, so the award was far smaller than it had hoped, but it also asked the court to prevent Samsung from selling the infringing products, including its Galaxy S III smartphone, in the U.S.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Having problems updating Windows 7? Try changing DNS settings [PCWorld]

Microsoft may have republished its botched August update, but some Windows 7 users are reportedly still having problems with Windows Update. Fortunately, they've also found a simple solution.

On Wednesday, Microsoft reinstated its August update, which had caused font issues and system crashes on some machines.  The problem, however, was that even though the new 2993651 update cleared up the issue, Microsoft still recommended that users manually purge security update 2982791, through a process that involved wading through the registry. And that caused its own set of issues.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor preview: Killer of orcs, controller of minds [PCWorld]

"You can either kill him or mind-control him," says the handler watching over my shoulder as I play Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor. I'm staring down at Kaka the Legend, an orc war chief, as he begs for his life.

This is the same Kaka the Legend who murdered fifteen of my best men. It's the same Kaka the Legend who taunted me on the battlefield, and then killed me with a blow from behind. It's the same Kaka the Legend who ran away from our next encounter like a coward.

I chased him, I knocked him down, and here we are—me, a man of the resplendent White City of Gondor, towering over this bleeding uruk leader, his fellow orcs scattered about at odd angles where they fell to my sword.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Appeals court denies Oracle request to restore $1.3 billion judgment against SAP [PCWorld]

Oracle has failed to persuade a federal appeals court to restore US$1.3 billion judgment in its copyright-infringement lawsuit against SAP, but will have the options of taking a lesser amount of money or pursuing a new trial.

The jury initially awarded the $1.3 billion to Oracle in 2010, but the judgment was subsequently vacated by U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who had overseen the case. Hamilton found the jury overreached and said Oracle could accept a lower award of $272 million or seek a new trial.

Oracle at first opted for a new trial, but then reached a settlement wherein SAP would pay out $306 million, with Oracle reserving the right to appeal Hamilton’s ruling overturning the $1.3 billion judgment.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

How to clear absolutely everything off your desktop in Windows 8.1 [PCWorld]

I'd bet that if you polled 10 PC users on the best way to use the desktop on Windows you'd get 11 different answers. How to use the desktop is one of the most personal choices each PC user makes. We've already covered ways desktop hoarders can better manage files that cover up their wallpaper, for example.

Today, we're going to look at a method to keep your desktop as spartan as possible so that all you see when you boot up your PC is a pristine background image.

Here's how to do it in Windows 8.1.

Dump the files and shortcuts

The first thing you're going to want to do is get rid of any files sitting on your desktop. Sometimes this is harder said than done, because there are files that defy any logical categorization.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Look but don't touch: Apple wearable won't ship until 2015, report says [PCWorld]

A September announcement seems likely, but a 2014 launch doesn't

Boston's Bolt launches hardware companies [PCWorld]

Tucked away in downtown Boston, Ben Einstein looks for the next multimillion-dollar idea. As the co-founder of Bolt, Einstein—who wouldn’t confirm or deny his relationship to Albert—is in charge of choosing hardware startups and launching them to success.

Bolt includes office space and a complete machine shop with more than a million dollars of prototyping equipment that the startups can use. Bolt invests in about one company each month and has a portfolio of about a dozen.

“Most of our companies are actually software companies,” Einstein said. “They just happen to sell a piece of hardware.”

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Criticism of Obama is OK, But We Draw the Line at Unfairness to Barney Fife [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

We have long been critics of Barack Obama, sometimes harsh ones. But we have always tried to be fair. So when unfairness comes to light, we feel obliged to object to it.

That happened yesterday when Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert lit into Obama for his incompetent foreign policy. The Daily Mail has the story:

Lawmakers are fuming over President Barack Obama’s admission on Thursday that his White House lacks a strategy for dealing with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Syria….

And as House and Senate members piled on with sharp criticism, a former senior aide to a retired defense secretary told MailOnline that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are “seeing red” and “spitting nails” following Obama’s candid admission.

“They’re losing confidence in their mission,” said the long-time Pentagon insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “When the president doesn’t know what direction to point people in, all his advisers can do is guess at what he wants. That’s not good.”

Those criticisms are entirely justified. Pretty much everyone who isn’t a paid Democratic Party operative, or an unpaid operative like a reporter or editor, sees Obama’s paralysis in the face of ISIS and similar terrorist groups as a disastrous failure.

Most of what Congressman Gohmert said about Obama’s foreign policy was right on point:

“I don’t know where he’s getting his information,” said Gohmert. “Maybe it’s CIA Director [John] Brennan who said earlier this year that ‘No, these guys don’t want a caliphate.’

“He must have his head buried in a hole somewhere on the first green.”

That is a fair and rather mild comment on Obama’s ineptitude. But this is where Congressman Gohmert went astray:

Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert told Fox News on Thursday that Obama articulated “a pitiful foreign policy, and Barney Fife is in charge.”

This is, I think, deeply unfair to Barney Fife. Those who watched Andy of Mayberry many years ago recall Barney as the nervous, seemingly ineffectual deputy sheriff who could never do anything right. And yet…there was more to Barney than that. He may have been confused at times, but he was no dummy. And he may have been nervous, but he was no coward. Take this clip, for instance:

To put Barack Obama in the same category as Barney Fife is deeply insulting to Fife. Therefore, we must protest. Has Barack Obama ever shown the courage and moral clarity that Fife exhibits in that brief video? No.

So: if you want to criticize the Obama administration, go right ahead. They have it coming. But leave Barney Fife out of it: we should be so lucky as to have him for a president.

Advice on Strategy From Dilbert [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

President Obama can’t come up with a strategy to deal with ISIS. It’s just so…complicated. Here’s an idea: how about if we kill them?

I don’t suppose Obama will go with that one. But hey: even Dilbert has a better grasp of strategy than our clueless president:


OK, it may not be optimal, but it’s better than anything the Obama administration has come up with!

Imminent Terror Warning: Is It Time For a Strategy Yet? [Updated] [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

It was revealed today that Islamic terrorist groups are operating in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and that federal agencies have issued a warning of an “imminent terrorist attack on the border”:

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source. “It’s coming very soon,” according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms.

So, I don’t know, not that there’s any hurry or anything, but maybe the Obama administration should start thinking about a strategy to defeat ISIS?

The administration is obviously stung by President Obama’s repeated admission, yesterday, that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to deal with ISIS. Today White House spokesman Josh Earnest went on MSNBC to explain that, sure, we have a strategy–God only knows what it is–but we are waiting for a few final pieces to fall into place. Or something like that. Apparently the military is the holdup. Whatever. Earnest can’t sell that even on MSNBC; Chuck Todd looks on with amused contempt, then cuts away for an interview of sorts with someone named Savannah Guthrie, apparently a higher priority:

Never have we seen such a clown show. But when the next terrorist attack strikes, no one will be laughing.

UPDATE: The Department of Homeland Security and the White House have denied that they are aware of a threat from ISIS originating in Mexico. Judicial Watch stands by its sources.

From the land of sky blue waters [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

Sometimes it seems that Minnesota is ground zero in the war against terrorism. The problem is that we’re on the wrong side. This week we learned that two men identified as Minnesotans had died fighting for the Islamic State in Syria and now is such a time. Reporting from ground zero, we pause to ask what is happening here?

One of the two — Abdiraaman Muhumed — was a Somali Muslim. He is one of several such “Minnesotans” to have departed Minnesota to fight with Islamic terrorists. The other reported to have died — the inauspiciously named Douglas McAuthur McCain — was a former Minnesota resident by way of Chicago and a Muslim convert. He was a friend of another such Muslim convert — Troy Kastigar. McCain and Kastigar were classmates at Robbinsdale high schools. Their path to Islam is not clear, but it undoubtedly originated in Minnesota, from which they joined several other “Minnesotans” who following a similar path to jihad. McCain reportedly moved in to live Kastigar in 2000-2001. One infers that McCain followed Kastigar’s path, Kastigar enlisting in al Shabab and McCain in IS. Among the common denominators were their friendship in Minneapolis, their conversion to Islam and their pursuit of jihad.

According to the Star Tribune, they both converted to Islam in early adulthood. The Star Tribune also reports without explanation that Kastigar “went by the nickname Abdirahman.” Before he blew himself up for jihad, Kastigar appeared in the al Shabab recruiting video featuring jihadists from Minnesota. The New York Times circles around McCain and gets approximately nowhere.

This much we have on good authority. The Minnesota connection to the jihad phenomenon “began in 2007 with the young Somali men traveling from Minnesota to Somalia,” according to the director of the local FBI Chief Divison Counsel quoted by ABC News. “In Somalia, it started as a nationalistic call…[but] we’ve now seen where some individuals perhaps are not interested or not inclined to travel to Somalia, [they] start to branch out to other hot spots around the globe, obviously Syria being among them.”

“Nationalistic” is a euphemism. For “nationalistic,” read “religious.” And the problem is growing. To borrow the cliché invoking dots, Michael Walsh connects them here.

As I have noted here several times, and I am repeating myself now, Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States. We know amazingly little about them, probably because we are afraid to ask the relevant questions. We know they are mostly Muslim — we can see the hijabs, we are familiar with the many local controversies to which their faith has given rise over the past 10 years — but are they loyal residents or citizens of the United States? In the conflict between the United States and the Islamist forces with which we are contending, whose side are they on?

Only three years ago a terror trial in Minneapolis concluded with a raft of guilty verdicts that raised serious questions of loyalty. The two defendants were women convicted of charges including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, of providing support, and of lying to the FBI. The “terrorist organization” was al Shabab.

The ringleader was not exactly remorseful after the jury returned its guilty verdicts. According to a contemporaneous AP report, she stood before the judge and stated through an interpreter: “I am very happy.” She added that she knew she was going to heaven. As I noted here at the time, she may be going to heaven, but she’ll be stopping off in prison first. As for the rest of us, she advised: “You will go to hell.” The feeling was mutual.

I have been told by law enforcement authorities that the investigation leading to the 2011 trial has consumed the local FBI office for the past seven years. The investigation also resulted in a string of guilty pleas (at least one such plea dating back as far 2009) involving local Somali men supporting al Shabab. Investigators believe at least 21 Somali men have left Minnesota to join al Shabab. We’re a little concerned the that the departed jihadists might choose to return to Minnesota and continue the jihad.

What about the rest of the local Somali community? Members of the local Somali community materialized at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis to support the women at trial, but not because they held the charges to be unfounded. The members of the local Somali community appearing at the courthouse never bothered to cite any evidence of innocence. The question was beside the point. No voice expressly spoke up on behalf of law-abidingness or loyalty to the United States.

In the National Affairs essay “The Muslim-American muddle,” Peter Skerry expressly raised the question of loyalty in the context of America’s Muslim population in general. The essay is by turns infuriating and illuminating, but at least it licensed inquiry into the question.

Indeed, Skerry took the question seriously and provided evidence supporting the concerns of “alarmists,” noting the striking absence of any acknowledged tie to the United States on the part of important Muslim organizations. Skerry contrasted “complacent elites” with “alarmist populists.” I would place Skerry on the complacent side of the divide and myself on the alarmist side, although Skerry placed himself (of course) in the middle as the voice of reason mediating between the two camps. But Skerry concludes the essay on what I would characterize as an alarmist (i.e., realistic) note.

Along the way, Skerry seemed to me to treat several basic issues (including assimilation) in a conclusory and question-begging fashion. He cited the naturalization of Muslim immigrants and their involvement in American politics, supporting Democrats, as factors supporting (I will say) complacency. Yet the two defendants in the Minneapolis terror trial were both naturalized citizens. And CAIR has formed a fruitful alliance with Democrats going back to its days as a Hamas front group (Skerry suggests that those days are behind it). Skerry rightly observed: “It is astonishing, given th[e history of CAIR], that the mainstream American media should routinely describe CAIR as ‘a Muslim civil rights organization.’”

Skerry failed to raise the question whether the immigration spigot should remain open while we sort out the serious issues that he addressed in his essay. The question didn’t even seem to cross his mind. In any event, Skerry’s essay badly needs to be updated. In the meantime, we can only try to be clear about what is happening here.

Obama’s FBI’s Threat Matrix Excludes Islamic Terror [Wizbang]

As Islam remains the biggest threat facing the world today, Obama’s feckless FBI has released a “threat assessment” report that doesn’t mention Islamic terror at all. According to Obama, it is white people who are the threat. The FBI’s internal threat report claims that white supremacists, patriot militias, anti-abortion activists, and black separatists are the real threat. But despite the Boston Marathon bombing, despite stories that some ISIS fighters in Iraq have been discovered to be American citizens, despite that the FBI itself has busted dozens of would-be home-grown Islamic terrorists, Obama’s FBI does not once mention in this report

Obamaville, RFD [Ed Driscoll]

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Documents obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services reveal that the Obama administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air national television ads promoting Democrats’ health care overhaul plan.

The ads, starring television icon Andy Griffith, were meant to educate “Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act.” However, multiple media outlets, including the nonpartisan FactCheck.org, called the ads misleading.

“How Much Did Taxpayers Pay for Andy Griffith to Promote ObamaCare?”, the Blaze, December 1st, 2010.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) slammed President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and characterized him as “Barney Fife” who has “his head buried in a hole somewhere on the first green” on Thursday’s broadcast of “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

He reacted to Obama’s announcement that the United States does not have a strategy on ISIS by saying, “He did say we don’t have a strategy, but he followed that up by saying the strategy is to nip it in the bud. Well, unfortunately it’s not in a bud, it’s full blossomed, and do you know who made that line famous? Barney Fife. We have Barney Fife running our foreign policy now.”

“Gohmert: Obama Is ‘Barney Fife’ on Foreign Policy,” Breitbart TV, yesterday.

Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes [played by an astonishingly manic Andy Griffith in an early star turn -- Ed] arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes.

–”Our ‘Face in the Crowd’”, Victor Davis Hanson, August 17th, 2014.

I’d ask when we can expect the ghost of Aunt Bee to become intertwined with the hapless Obama administration, but she appears to be shilling for Elizabeth Warren these days.

Ferguson Fizzles [Ed Driscoll]

“It was televised, but it wasn’t the revolution,” Charles C. W. Cooke writes:

Michael Brown’s death remains a great mystery. The witnesses’ accounts disagree, there is confusion as to which pieces of evidence are legitimate and which are not, and the police officer at the heart of the matter has not yet spoken. In lieu of hard information, two possible routes have presented themselves: speculation or patience. By and large, the American people have opted for the latter.

Which is to say that when Harvard Law School’s Charles Ogletree proposed this week that Brown’s killing was similar to the murders of Emmett Till and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. he had it precisely backwards. The cases of Till and of King were so powerful because they were so clear-cut — because both victims were self-evidently innocent parties whose lives were publicly taken from them by hate-filled men. Michael Brown, by contrast, could still turn out to have been the villain of the piece. We simply do not know what happened. This has made it difficult for those with an agenda to profit from the case. Ambiguity does not national outrage make, nor can effective political conversations be scripted by know-nothings.

The riots, too, served only to muddy the waters. It was damaging enough to the emerging narrative that those responsible for the unrest had so prematurely determined the officer’s guilt, but it was fatal that their anger was directed at private businesses whose owners and customers were unconnected to the matter at hand. The most effective revolts are simple in nature and morally clear. Legally, it would not have been more acceptable if Ferguson’s mutineers had elected to burn down the police station or to sack the town’s courthouse. But it would have brought their complaint more clearly into focus. Rash and irresponsible as their cry of “injustice!” was, agitators were nonetheless trying to convey to the general public that they are routinely mistreated by the system — that, in other words, Michael Brown is just one of many. There are many among us who would not dismiss this claim out of hand. Most of them, however, will fail to see the connection between striking a blow for the universal rights of man and burning down a QuikTrip. It is tough to keep the attention on the participants in the fight when you have, by your actions, created another set of victims on which the newspapers may fixate.

Gee, you mean taking your protest strategy from the ending of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing is a pretty stupid idea? Other than 99 percent of the American public, who knew!

Related: Rather than dwell in the lurid revenge fantasies crafted by Lee and other “Hollywood Violence Profiteers” as Michelle Malkin dubs them in her new column, “Blacks Must Confront Reality,” Walter E. Williams writes at Townhall:

The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities — for example, violence and predatory sex. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it’s 22 times that of whites. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Coupled with being most of the nation’s homicide victims, blacks are also major victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery.

Unfortunately for everyone in America, the elite left cannot preach what it practices, as Charles Murray brilliantly put it, and instead, quietly practices conservative day-to-day values which they refuse to pass on to others less fortunate who would benefit from them as well:

That’s because the new upper-class has “lost self-confidence in the rightness of its own customs and values, and preaches nonjudgmentalism instead.” Non-judgementalism, he writes, “is one of the more baffling features of the new upper-class culture. The members of the new upper class are industrious to the point of obsession, but there are no derogatory labels for adults who are not industrious. The young women of the new upper class hardly ever have babies out of wedlock, but it is impermissible to use a derogatory label for non-marital births. You will probably raise a few eyebrows even if you use a derogatory label for criminals. When you get down to it, it is not acceptable in the new upper class to use derogatory labels for anyone, with three exceptions: people with differing political views, fundamentalist Christians, and rural working-class whites.”

As Marco Rubio said last month, “I was taught certain values that led me to live my life in a sequence that has a proven track record of success. In America, if you get an education, find a good job, and wait until marriage to have children, your chances of achieving economic security and professional fulfillment are incredibly high.”

But success and self-reliance don’t feed the left’s ever-growing victim-industrial complex, which helps to explain why elite leftists  can’t preach what they quietly practice amongst themselves.

It also helps to explain why, “After Hearing What a Tea Party Group Recently Did in Ferguson, You Likely Won’t Be Surprised That You Haven’t Heard About It.”

(Click here for my recent interview with Murray on his new book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead.)

What If There’s No There There? [Ed Driscoll]

Jay Cost is asking if the clothes have no emperor, in the Weekly Standard:

Toward the end of Ronald Reagan’s second term, a friend of Vice President Bush encouraged him to think carefully about what a Bush presidency should look like. According to Time, Bush responded, “Oh, the vision thing.” Fairly or unfairly, this phrase came to characterize the Bush 41 tenure. Despite his impressive résumé spanning three decades in government, he seemed not to have a clear view of what he wanted to do.

When Barack Obama campaigned for the White House in 2008, that hardly seemed like his problem. Obama would take in the whole sweep of American history in his speeches to suggest that his candidacy was its culmination. His heavy-handed propaganda​—​from the Greek columns to Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster​—​suggested a man with a vision surplus.

In the sixth year of his presidency, it is clear that Obama does not have much of a vision at all. Sure, he is a man of the left and possesses a commitment to its goals; he thinks government should grow larger and taxes should increase. Beyond that, he does not seem to have a firm sense of the reforms he should implement, how to implement them, how he fits into the constitutional schema, what a sensible U.S. foreign policy should be or how to execute it.

This is not to say that the White House does not offer positions on the issues. We are inundated with Obama positions. We are also treated periodically to longer “think pieces” from sycophantic authors granted extraordinary access to reinforce the point that this is a president deeply engaged in the issues of the day, struggling to bring order from chaos.

Yet the constant positioning and propagandizing belie deep-rooted ambiguities in this administration, which​—​it must be noted​—​has taken flak from left and right for years. Radical academic Cornel West recently suggested that Obama is a corporatist stooge, while Rand Paul fretted about the “socialist nightmare” the president is creating. Some might think these critiques accidentally demonstrate that the president is down-the-center. More likely they point to the absence of “the vision thing.” Sometimes he’s a corporate crony, sometimes a socialist; it all depends on what side of the bed he wakes up on.

Read the whole thing. Of course, corporatism and socialism have been deeply intertwined by their very nature since the days of Otto Von Bismarck, as Jonah Goldberg noted in Liberal Fascism. And as Jonah writes in his latest G-File regarding Mr. Obama’s own lack of the vision thing:

The reality, alas, is that Obama is — and has always been — out of his depth on the international stage. Given the prestige of the presidency and the incredible institutional forces behind the office, particularly when a liberal is elected, it takes time to burn through all of the political capital that comes with the job. But Obama has been throwing that political capital on an Oval Office bonfire like so much kindling on a clean and safe Anchorage night. In yet another metaphor that threatens to burn out the dilithium crystals , the credibility inferno is reaching China Syndrome proportions (“You should have said ‘literally’ a lot! Literally means ‘pay attention to how smart my metaphors are.’ Wheeeeee!” — Joe Biden). For a depressing but brilliant analysis of this meltdown, see Bret Stephens’s piece in the new Commentary coincidentally titled “The Meltdown.”

Remember the famous SNL clip where Phil Hartman plays Ronald Reagan? He’s an amiable dunce in public, but get him behind closed doors and he’s a master strategist? Well, maybe that stuff about Obama being the liberal opposite of Reagan is true. Out in public, he seems like he’s the Chess Master (though I never saw it). But get him behind closed doors and he’s in the chair next to Biden shouting “I can spin faster than you!”

Unlike Reagan, who was a master orator at the podium, while the introverted GWB was often painfully inarticulate on the world stage (there are many, myself included, who sympathize deeply with his fear of public speaking), as left-leaning pundit Jonathan Rauch noted in the Atlantic back in 2003 in “The Accidental Radical,” Bush #43 came to Washington with a clear vision of reform, much of which came from observing the mistakes his father made, and set about executing his plan.

In his new article, Cost compares the distance between Obama’s mesmerizing performance on the campaign stump in 2008 and 2012 and behind-the-scenes, his sleepwalking haze as chief executive to FDR and LBJ, who were excellent campaigners and could shape policy behind closed doors. But FDR had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy and governor of New York before becoming president, and LBJ spent decades in both houses of Congress before circumstances thrust him into his own role as an accidental radical.

In sharp contrast to the long careers of both men, Obama made three brilliant calculations to leapfrog so quickly into the White House: One: Since the McGovern debacle, Democrats often nominate a chameleonic newcomer to the national scene onto whom they can project whatever policies they wish to advance that year. Two: Race trumps gender on the left, and a majority of Americans would be thrilled to vote for a black president, provided he wasn’t a radical far left bomb thrower in the Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson mold. And finally, even though Obama was precisely that, given the background he marinated in all his life, from his radical parents to his years at the foot of Rev. Wright, that the media would be similarly thrilled to push all of that aside for him. And he was certainly right about that:

As MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough told Hugh Hewitt a couple of weeks ago, the memoirs to come from Obama White House insiders will make for astonishing reading, once the former president makes it official and leaves office:

This president wants yes men around him. And again, I hear that from my Democratic friends, I hear that from his own former chiefs of staff. If anybody steps out of line, they’re immediately insulated and pushed out. You know, I said this on set after the cameras were turned off to a couple of people who I knew wouldn’t say it on the air. I said guys, you know as well as I do that the second this administration is over, the books are going to come from former secretaries of state. The books are going to come from former chiefs of staff. The books are going to come, and this president is going to have to deal with 20-30 years of disparagement from his own side, calling him one of the least effective presidents, because he’s one of the most insulated presidents.

I suspect the material that emerges will be alternately thrilling, terrifying, and laugh-aloud funny, often within the same sentence. Not the least of which being when we discover how the famous conclusion of Robert Redford’s 1972 movie The Candidate played out in real life, once a real-life far left tyro senator won the biggest political title in the land in 2008:

How to Speak Leftist, Vol. 1 [VodkaPundit]

Another helpful public service from Andrew Klavan.

Two depressing things about Obama’s sudden return to DC. [Moe Lane]

Here’s the background:

And here are the two depressing things:

  • That President Obama thinks that going back to DC while the world is melting down instead of staying where he was after a busy day of fundraising* is an improvement in Obama’s behavior.
  • And that it actually is**.

Barack Obama: a man who does not so much believe in being graded on a curve as he more or less demands it.

Moe Lane

*Because God forbid that Barack Obama temporarily not fund-raise while there are bad things happening.

**Note: I am not saying that Obama’s behavior is good.  Just that it’s slightly better than what he was doing before.

The New York Times’ meaningless refusal to endorse Andrew Cuomo. [Moe Lane]

I mean, it shouldn’t be meaningless:

New York had had enough corruption, [Andrew Cuomo] said, and he was going to put a stop to it. “Job 1 is going to be to clean up Albany,” he said, “and make the government work for the people.”

Mr. Cuomo became governor on that platform and [the NYT made a silly claim here], but he failed to perform Job 1. The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it. Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9.

…but it is, for the basic and simple reason that Andrew Cuomo will win the Democratic nomination for Governor of New York; and once that happens the endorsement of him by the NYT in the general election will be as inevitable as the sunrise. Put another way, Glenn Thrush is precisely right, here:

The New York Times will support Andrew Cuomo; but some vestigial sense of shame is apparently still rattling around in their editorial board’s collective head, so nobody at that paper really wants to face the fact that they’re reliable shills and propagandists for the Democratic party.  So they’ve come up with this wheeze to make the NYT feel better about itself.  Shame that they’ve never read Shakespeare’s Scottish play:

Act II, Scene 3

Knocking within. Enter a Porter.

Porter: Here’s a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of hell-gate, he should have old turning the key. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer, that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty: come in time; have napkins enow about you; here you’ll sweat for’t. [Knocking within.] Knock, knock! Who’s there, in th’other devil’s name?Faithhere’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven: O, come in, equivocator.

We’ve never really been fond of people who can’t make up their mind; or more, accurately, ones that have made up their mind, but want to get credited for doing it the other way.

Moe Lane

Alleged ISIS laptop had a checklist for creating bioweapons. [Moe Lane]

Background: …well, read my friend and RedState colleague Aaron Gardner, who wrote on this subject himself (including stuff about the laptop mentioned below).  But specifically… Syrian rebels (against pretty much both Assad and ISIS these days) reportedly found a laptop and handed it off to Foreign Policy magazine.  Said laptop apparently turned out to have quite a number of alarming files in it.  How alarming?  Well, FP is calling it “The Laptop of Doom:”

The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State’s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another.

But after hours upon hours of scrolling through the documents, it became clear that the ISIS laptop contains more than the typical propaganda and instruction manuals used by jihadists. The documents also suggest that the laptop’s owner was teaching himself about the use of biological weaponry, in preparation for a potential attack that would have shocked the world.

The details of the materials quoted in that Foreign Policy article are sufficiently detailed that I’m not comfortable repeating them: you never know what foreign bad actors might be trolling this site for intel.  And if that bald statement doesn’t disturb you, nothing will.  Glenn Reynolds put our situation regarding ISIS quite bluntly: “Obama may not have a strategy, but they do.”  Fortunately for the country, there is a major political party that does think about this sort of thing; unfortunately, we’re not in the White House.


While we’re on this subject, let me take this opportunity to note something.  Quite a few people on the Left are now reassessing their previous stance on the Iraq War, and I would like to believe that at least some of them are sincere about it.  But both those who are sincere, and those who are not, should be aware that they’d be well-suited to step back and let the grown-ups fix this particular mess.  We’ve already let this walking disaster of Barack Obama’s go on for too long as it is.

And no, the Once-and-Future-Antiwar-Left may not claim moral superiority in this matter, because they have none themselves and I have no interest in conceding any of mine.  You see, back in the far-off days of 2008, we had a situation in Iraq where terrorists did not take other people, enslave them, and gang-rape them in prison until it was time to sell the survivors to people who would rape them individually.  That was not happening then.  This is happening now.  And this is not a failure of Obama’s policies.  This is the inevitable result of those policies.  And the White House has its priorities:

“Is [Barack Obama] detached? Does he feel like the critics coming after him, it just doesn’t matter anymore?” [Fox News' Ed] Henry asked. “Why is he still raising campaign money, playing golf, when he’s acknowledging he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?”

“The job of any U.S. president is to be able to handle a lot of different responsibilities at the same time,” Earnest replied, in defense of Obama’s fundraising and golfing. The secretary added that Obama has a national security team, to whom he has outsourced the job of looking after America’s national security challenges.

“One of his responsibilities as the head of the party is to support Democratic candidates who are on the ballot,” Earnest noted.

Free translation: Yeah, sure, the President feels bad that the pullout of Iraq that he set in motion turned out so bad.  But, hey: how much money do you think that a fifteen year old Yezidi girl in a sex prison can give to the Democratic National Committee, anyway? …And as you may have guessed, if that translation bothers you then take it up with someone who cares.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

YAPC::EU videos start appearing online [Perlsphere]

@yapceu has posted a link to the start of videos from the conference.

YAPC::EU 2014 was the biggest conference in Europe, dedicated to the Perl programming language.

http://www.yapc.eu/ lists other Perl conferences and workshops around Europe.

I learn something about tell(), then abuse it. [Perlsphere]

I learned a new thing today, or remembered a forgotten one. I can use tell to affect the file handle that $. uses.

It all started very simply. I was going too far in my answer to How do I add the elements of a file to a second one as columns using Perl?, a question I found by looking for the most down voted open questions without an accepted answer. As usual, I thought the answer would be easy. And, for the most part it was.

Then I wanted to make it even easier. I thought Perl might not be necessary at all when we have things like paste and head and tail and other command-line thingys. The problem was a header in one input file and no corresponding header in the other. How could I make paste ignore the header?

I bet there's something that I'm missing, but I started working with the Perl Power Tools version of paste. To fast forward through a file to get to the right starting point, I wanted to look at $. to know when to stop, but that only works for the last read filehandle. To use it on another filehandle, I need to do something to to that handle without disturbing the data. tell was just the thing.

tell( $fh )
readline( $fh ) while $. < $starting_line - 1;

But, now I think that's also stupid because I didn't need the magic because I don't need to know the number of the currently read line:

readline( $fh ) foreach 1 .. $starting_line - 1;

As Perl gives, so Perl takes away (brain cells).

Dirk Eddelbuettel: BH release 1.54.0-4 [Planet Debian]

Another small new release of our BH package providing Boost headers for use by R is now on CRAN. This one brings a one-file change: the file any.hpp comprising the Boost.Any library --- as requested by a fellow package maintainer needing it for a pending upload to CRAN.

No other changes were made.

Changes in version 1.54.0-4 (2014-08-29)

  • Added Boost Any requested by Greg Jeffries for his nabo package

Courtesy of CRANberries, there is also a diffstat report for the most recent release.

Comments and suggestions are welcome via the mailing list or issue tracker at the GitHub repo.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Lior Kaplan: The importance of close integration between distribution and upstream [Planet Debian]

Many package maintainers need to decide when to upload a new version to Debian. Should the upload be done only after the official release, or is there a place for uploads during the development process. In the latter case there’s a need to balance between the benefit of early testing and feedback with the stability and not complitly breaking user’s environment (and package relationships) too often.

With the coming PHP 5.6.0 release, Debian kept being on the cutting edge. Thanks to Ondřej, the new version was available in experimental since alpha1 and in unstable/testing since beta3. Considering the timing of the PHP release related to the Debian freeze, I’m happy we started early, and did the transision to PHP 5.6 a few months ago.

But just following the development releases (betas ,RCs) isn’t enough. Both Ondřej and myself are part of the PHP community, and know the planned timelines, current status and what are the critical points. Such knowlege was very useful this week, when we new 5.6.0 was pending finale tagging before release (after RC4). This made take the report of Debiab bug #759381: “php5: TLS connections broken in 5.6.0 RC4″ seriously and contact the release managers.

First it was a “heads up” and then a real problem. After a quick disscussion (both private mails by me and on github by Ondřej), the relevant commit was reverted by the release managers (Julien Pauli & Ferenc Kovacs), and 5.6.0 was retagged. The issue will get more checks towrads 5.6.1 without any time pressure.

Although 5.6.0 isn’t production for anyone (yet), and like any major release can have issues, the close connectivty betweeen everyone saved compliants from the PHP users and ecosystem. I don’t emgine the issue been sorted so quickely 16 hours later. This is also due to the bug been reported on difference between two close release (regression in RC4 comparing to RC3).

To close the loop, if we’ve uploaded 5.6.0 only after the release, the report would be regression between 5.5.x and 5.6.0, which is obviously much harder to pinpoint. So, I’m not sure I have a good answer for the question in the begining of the post, but for this case our policy proved itself.

Filed under: Debian GNU/Linux, PHP

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho: A milestone toward a doctorate [Planet Debian]

Yesterday I received my official diploma for the degree of Licentiate of Philosophy. The degree lies between a Master’s degree and a doctorate, and is not required; it consists of the coursework required for a doctorate, and a Licentiate Thesis, “in which the student demonstrates good conversance with the field of research and the capability of independently and critically applying scientific research methods” (official translation of the Government decree on university degrees 794/2004, Section 23 Paragraph 2).

The title and abstract of my Licentiate Thesis follow:

Kaijanaho, Antti-Juhani
The extent of empirical evidence that could inform evidence-based design of programming languages. A systematic mapping study.
Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä, 2014, 243 p.
(Jyväskylä Licentiate Theses in Computing,
ISSN 1795-9713; 18)
ISBN 978-951-39-5790-2 (nid.)
ISBN 978-951-39-5791-9 (PDF)
Finnish summary

Background: Programming language design is not usually informed by empirical studies. In other fields similar problems have inspired an evidence-based paradigm of practice. Central to it are secondary studies summarizing and consolidating the research literature. Aims: This systematic mapping study looks for empirical research that could inform evidence-based design of programming languages. Method: Manual and keyword-based searches were performed, as was a single round of snowballing. There were 2056 potentially relevant publications, of which 180 were selected for inclusion, because they reported empirical evidence on the efficacy of potential design decisions and were published on or before 2012. A thematic synthesis was created. Results: Included studies span four decades, but activity has been sparse until the last five years or so. The form of conditional statements and loops, as well as the choice between static and dynamic typing have all been studied empirically for efficacy in at least five studies each. Error proneness, programming comprehension, and human effort are the most common forms of efficacy studied. Experimenting with programmer participants is the most popular method. Conclusions: There clearly are language design decisions for which empirical evidence regarding efficacy exists; they may be of some use to language designers, and several of them may be ripe for systematic reviewing. There is concern that the lack of interest generated by studies in this topic area until the recent surge of activity may indicate serious issues in their research approach.

Keywords: programming languages, programming language design, evidence-based paradigm, efficacy, research methods, systematic mapping study, thematic synthesis

A Licentiate Thesis is assessed by two examiners, usually drawn from outside of the home university; they write (either jointly or separately) a substantiated statement about the thesis, in which they suggest a grade. The final grade is almost always the one suggested by the examiners. I was very fortunate to have such prominent scientists as Dr. Stefan Hanenberg and Prof. Stein Krogdahl as the examiners of my thesis. They recommended, and I received, the grade “very good” (4 on a scale of 1–5).

The thesis has been accepted for publication published in our faculty’s licentiate thesis series and will in due course appear has appeared in our university’s electronic database (along with a very small number of printed copies). In the mean time, if anyone wants an electronic preprint, send me email at antti-juhani.kaijanaho@jyu.fi.

Figure 1 of the thesis: an overview of the mapping processFigure 1 of the thesis: an overview of the mapping process

As you can imagine, the last couple of months in the spring were very stressful for me, as I pressed on to submit this thesis. After submission, it took me nearly two months to recover (which certain people who emailed me on Planet Haskell business during that period certainly noticed). It represents the fruit of almost four years of work (way more than normally is taken to complete a Licentiate Thesis, but never mind that), as I designed this study in Fall 2010.

Figure 8 of the thesis: Core studies per publication yearFigure 8 of the thesis: Core studies per publication year

Recently, I have been writing in my blog a series of posts in which I have been trying to clear my head about certain foundational issues that irritated me during the writing of the thesis. The thesis contains some of that, but that part of it is not very strong, as my examiners put it, for various reasons. The posts have been a deliberately non-academic attempt to shape the thoughts into words, to see what they look like fixed into a tangible form. (If you go read them, be warned: many of them are deliberately provocative, and many of them are intended as tentative in fact if not in phrasing; the series also is very incomplete at this time.)

I closed my previous post, the latest post in that series, as follows:

In fact, the whole of 20th Century philosophy of science is a big pile of failed attempts to explain science; not one explanation is fully satisfactory. [...] Most scientists enjoy not pondering it, for it’s a bit like being a cartoon character: so long as you don’t look down, you can walk on air.

I wrote my Master’s Thesis (PDF) in 2002. It was about the formal method called “B”; but I took a lot of time and pages to examine the history and content of formal logic. My supervisor was, understandably, exasperated, but I did receive the highest possible grade for it (which I never have fully accepted I deserved). The main reason for that digression: I looked down, and I just had to go poke the bridge I was standing on to make sure I was not, in fact, walking on air. In the many years since, I’ve taken a lot of time to study foundations, first of mathematics, and more recently of science. It is one reason it took me about eight years to come up with a doable doctoral project (and I am still amazed that my department kept employing me; but I suppose they like my teaching, as do I). The other reason was, it took me that long to realize how to study the design of programming languages without going where everyone has gone before.

Debian people, if any are still reading, may find it interesting that I found significant use for the dctrl-tools toolset I have been writing for Debian for about fifteen years: I stored my data collection as a big pile of dctrl-format files. I ended up making some changes to the existing tools (I should upload the new version soon, I suppose), and I wrote another toolset (unfortunately one that is not general purpose, like the dctrl-tools are) in the process.

For the Haskell people, I mainly have an apology for not attending to Planet Haskell duties in the summer; but I am back in business now. I also note, somewhat to my regret, that I found very few studies dealing with Haskell. I just checked; I mention Haskell several times in the background chapter, but it is not mentioned in the results chapter (because there were not studies worthy of special notice).

I am already working on extending this work into a doctoral thesis. I expect, and hope, to complete that one faster.

Costales: Destino Ubuconla 2014 - #11 The End [Planet Ubuntu]

Antes del viaje todo el mundo me advertía de que Colombia es un país muy peligroso para el turista... ¡Colombia... ays Colombia! ¡Qué país! El viajero encontrará paisajes extraordinarios, vertiginosas ciudades llenas de historia grabada a fuego durante siglos, una gastronomía exquisita y su gente que hace a este país especial, al ritmo de su música rumbera, abiertos, alegres y muy hospitalarios. Como bromean por aquí, el peligro es que te quieras quedar :P

perdiéndose por los mercados callejeros

de sus calles
y disfrutando el alma de este pueblo
con sus junglas de asfalto
y sus junglas reales
(jue con la 'hormiguita')
... hasta el infinito y más allá

Del viaje en particular podría destacar muchísimas cosas, las playas, las islas, los pueblos, las ciudades, la gastronomía, incluso el calor sofocante; pero no, no voy a destacar nada de todo eso.
Destaco los momentos únicos con personas únicas, que hicieron de este viaje, un viaje único ;) ¡Gracias a todos/as! ¡Hasta la próxima!

Next station? El destino dirá

Todas las entradas del viaje:

Gracias a todos/as por 'acompañarnos' en este relato

... The end ...

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S07E21 – The One with the Rumour [Planet Ubuntu]

Laura Cowen, Alan Pope, and Mark Johnson are in Studio L for Season Seven, Episode Twenty-One of the Ubuntu Podcast!

In this week’s show:-

We’ll be back next week, when we’ll be interviewing Daniel Holbach, and we’ll go through your feedback.

Please send your comments and suggestions to: podcast@ubuntu-uk.org
Join us on IRC in #uupc on Freenode
Leave a voicemail via phone: +44 (0) 203 298 1600, sip: podcast@sip.ubuntu-uk.org and skype: ubuntuukpodcast
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Mission accomplished [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Liberal fascism

A Christian couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host a lesbian wedding on their New York farm has decided to close the venue rather than violate their religious beliefs.

Cynthia and Robert Gifford decided not to host ceremonies anymore, other than those already scheduled, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney James Trainor told The Blaze. ”Since the order essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions, even though it will likely hurt their business in the short run,” he said.

New Jersey couple Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin took the Giffords to court when they refused to host their 2012 wedding at Liberty Ridge Farm, where the Giffords host about a dozen weddings a year.

The Giffords were willing to host the reception, but not the actual ceremony.

'Sailing rocks' mystery of Death Valley solved [CBC | Technology News]

A team of scientists say they believe they have solved the mystery of how hundreds of rocks slide mysteriously across a dry lake in Death Valley, Calif.

Japanese artist projects visual effects onto human faces [CBC | Technology News]

Artist bends the mind by changing people's faces with three-dimensional visual projection system.

Why science literacy matters: Bob McDonald [CBC | Technology News]

Science literacy science culture tablet blackboard

The news this week that Canadians are tops when it comes to understanding science in the media is encouraging, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to making policy decisions that involve science, writes Bob McDonald.

New Ebola treatment cures infected monkeys [CBC | Technology News]


Giving ZMapp, a cocktail of antibodies, to rhesus macaques up to five days after infection with the Ebola virus completely protected the animals — a finding that a Canadian-led research team says supports use of the treatment during the current outbreak in West Africa.

Imported garlic a source of plant viruses [CBC | Technology News]

Next time you plant the garlic that's sprouted in your kitchen cupboard you could be contributing to the spread of exotic viruses, say researchers.

Canadians' science literacy, engagement may be highest in world [CBC | Technology News]

Science literacy science culture tablet blackboard

Canadians are among the most scientifically literate population in the world, a new report reveals. But don't get too smug yet.

The NYPD Has A ‘Hip-Hop Squad’ That Keeps Tabs On Rappers’ Parties To Prevent Shootings [Weasel Zippers]

Waste of resources, NYC is a gun free zone. Via NRO The New York Post reports that the NYPD boasts a special unit known as the “Hip-Hop Squad,” responsible for monitoring area parties and concerts that might feature stars from the rap/hip-hop industry. The squad’s “watch list” includes rappers Drake, Chris Brown, and French Montana. […]

Mexico Operations Thwart Child, Family Illegal Aliens [Weasel Zippers]

Mexican government doing the job the American government won’t. Via Stars and Stripes Mexico’s largest crackdown in decades on illegal migration has decreased the flow of Central Americans trying to reach the United States, and has dramatically cut the number of child migrants and families, according to officials and eyewitness accounts along the perilous route. […]

White House Finally Responds To Petition Asking Obama To Demand Release Of Marine Held In Mexico [Weasel Zippers]

The White House has finally responded to a petition from May calling for it to demand the release of Sgt. Andrew Tahmoressi. The petition was signed by 134,933 people before the cutoff time. Does the White House demand the Marine’s release? What do you think? OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO Demand Release of U.S.M.C. Sgt. […]

Obama At Fundraiser: If You Watch Nightly News, Feels Like World Is Falling Apart [Weasel Zippers]

Obama at fundraiser, per @dsupervilleap: "If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart." — Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) August 29, 2014 And the leader of the free world is helping it implode… Update: It’s all social media’s fault! Via Breitbart: At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York Friday, […]

FBI National Domestic Threat Assessment Omits Islamist Terrorism [Weasel Zippers]

CAIR approved. Via WFB The FBI’s most recent national threat assessment for domestic terrorism makes no reference to Islamist terror threats, despite last year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the 2009 Fort Hood shooting—both carried out by radical Muslim Americans. Instead, the internal FBI intelligence report concluded in its 2013 assessment published this month that the […]

Clueless Lib Alan Colmes: ISIS Not A Threat To America… [Weasel Zippers]

Via RSS News: Gutfeld to Colmes: Why Do Liberals Have a Hard Time Identifying Actual Existential Evil Tonight on “The Factor,” Greg Gutfeld took on Alan Colmes over those on the left who are downplaying the threat of ISIS. “Why is it that lefties like you though […] have a hard time identifying actual existential […]

‘ISIS Poses A Greater Threat To Britain Than We Have Known Before’: Prime Minister Warns An Attack On The UK Is Now ‘Highly Likely’ [Weasel Zippers]

Is the UK waking up? Via Daily Mail A terror attack on the UK is now ‘highly likely’, David Cameron said today. The Prime Minister’s remarks came after the official threat level was raised from substantial to severe – the second highest – amid growing fears over the number of extremists returning to the UK […]

UN Invokes Trayvon Martin And Mike Brown To Slam America For Having Racist Police Officers… [Weasel Zippers]

Two words for the UN: Piss off. (AFP) – The United States must stem police racism and brutality, a UN watchdog said Friday, as debate rages over the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white officer in Missouri. “The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities […]

Fed Judge Strikes Down Texas Law Requiring Improved Health Standards At Abortion Clinics [Weasel Zippers]

Because who would want to have health standards in abortion mills? AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge Friday threw out new Texas abortion restrictions that would have effectively closed more than a dozen clinics in the state. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of the most disputed measures of […]

France: Two Teenage Muslim Girls Arrested Over Suicide Bomb Plot To Attack Lyon Synagogue… [Weasel Zippers]

You know your country has a serious Islamist problem when teenage girls are plotting suicide bombings. Via Times of Israel: Two teenage French girls arrested last week in a crackdown on citizens who consider traveling to other countries to join ‘jihad,’ were planning to attack a synagogue in Lyon with a suicide bomb, French media […]

Rep. Congressman On Obama: We Have “Barney Fife” In Charge [Weasel Zippers]

Obama’s ‘failures’ are a conscious choice, because nobody can be this consciously harmful to the U.S. so frequently unless that was the desired effect. Yet even so, even as a cog, he is, as this shows, dumber than a bag of rocks… Via Daily Mail: Lawmakers are fuming over President Barack Obama’s admission on Thursday […]

Senior Pentagon Officials Confirm Special Ops Mission To Save Foley Failed Because Obama Hesitated For 30 Days… [Weasel Zippers]

But Obama comes across as such a decisive leader not afraid to make the tough decisions, yeah, maybe not. Via Daily Caller: President Barack Obama’s “hesitation” to make a decision about American reporter James Foley’s rescue mission delayed the failed operation, according to a report. Toby Harnden, a reporter at The Sunday Times, tweeted Friday […]

White House Campaign Plan: Keep Obama Out Of Battleground States [Weasel Zippers]

Obama= candidate kiss of death… Via Politico: In an election that Republicans want to make all about President Barack Obama, the White House is determined to make him all but disappear in the battleground states that matter. The White House is putting the finishing touches on a post-Labor Day schedule that will send the president […]

Jon Stewart on filming in — and talking about — the Middle East [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Zionist stooge or  self-hating Jew? Depends on who you ask. (Comedy Central/YouTube)

Zionist stooge or self-hating Jew? Depends on who you ask. (Comedy Central/YouTube)

Jon Stewart’s directorial film debut, “Rosewater,” is set to premiere at film festivals in the United States and Canada this September. So the Hollywood Reporter took the opportunity to grab some golden quotes (and glam shots) of the iconic “Daily Show”comedian about filming in the Middle East — and his own take on the region’s politics.

“Rosewater” tells a story that Stewart was drawn to because of his own — real-life — involvement: the film is adapted from the memoir of Maziar Bahari, a journalist taken captive by the Iranian government just days after appearing on a “Daily Show” segment. Clips of the segment were used in Bahari’s interrogation as “proof” that Bahari was acting as a spy (although perhaps this just confirms that Revolutionary Guard members in Iran are not widely known for their senses of humor).

Stewart filmed the movie in Amman, Jordan, which proved challenging due to lack of an established film industry in the area.

Israel, despite its well-established film infrastructure, was not considered as a location, Stewart told the Hollywood Reporter: “You’ve already got a Jewish guy directing it. They’re already putting out seven-minute pieces, the Iranian press, that I’m a CIA and a Mossad agent. So the last thing we want to do is add fuel to that.”

Even so, the Iranian government has used Stewart’s Jewishness to discredit the upcoming film, postulating in state media that Rosewater was sponsored by Stewart’s Jewish “masters.”

“I guess I’m still waiting for the money,” Stewart said to suggestions that a “Zionist lobby” helped him fund the film.

Back at home in his regular role as one of TV’s most recognizable faces, and a pioneer of the faux-news genre, Stewart has received criticism from the opposite end of the Middle East spectrum.

At first, Stewart drew ire from vocal Zionists when he expressed sympathy for the Palestinians in Gaza and drew attention to the asymmetrical nature of the conflict.

Then he ran a popular segment attesting to the difficult of having rational, dispassionate conversations about the Israel-Gaza conflict, due to the polarizing nature of the conflict (but it’s funnier than we’ve made it sound):



On accusations of being a “self-hating Jew,” Stewart made a strong distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism — a heated topic of discussion in recent weeks, as anti-Semitic incidents have vastly increased in Europe.

“Look, there’s a lot of reasons why I hate myself — being Jewish isn’t one of them,” Stewart told the reporter. “So when someone starts throwing that around, or throwing around you’re pro-terrorist, it’s more just disappointing than anything else. I’ve made a living for 16 years criticizing certain policies that I think are not good for America. That doesn’t make me anti-American. And if I do the same with Israel, that doesn’t make me anti-Israel. You cannot outsmart dogma, no matter what you do. If there is something constructive in what they’re saying, hopefully I’m still open enough … to take it in and let it further inform my position. But I’m pretty impermeable to yelling. As soon as they go to, ‘Your real name is Leibowitz!’ that’s when I change the channel.”


Pew poll: More U.S. sympathy for Israel than Palestinians [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — More Americans express sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians, according to a new survey.

A poll released by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press found that 34 percent of Americans sympathize with Israel “a lot,” as well as 32 percent who sympathize “some,” versus 11percent who sympathize “a lot” with the Palestinians and another 35 percent who sympathize with them “some.” 37 percent sympathize with both sides, while 18 percent sympathize with neither.

As has been common with recent surveys of American public opinion surrounding the conflict in Gaza, responses break down differently along partisan lines. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans expressed “a lot” or “some” sympathy for Israel, versus 66 percent of  independents and 62 percent of Democrats. By contrast, only 29 percent  of Republicans expressed “a lot” or “some” sympathy for the Palestinians, while independents were at 50 percent  and Democrats at 57 percent.

There were likewise partisan divides on opinions of President Obama’s handling of the Middle East situation. Just 10 percent of Republicans thought he was favoring Israel too much, versus 45 percent who said he favored the Palestinians too much and 32 percent who said he struck the proper balance. Independents were somewhat more favorable, with 17 percent saying he had overly favored Israel, 22 percent that he had favored the Palestinians too much, and 45 percent saying he had struck the right balance. Democrats were by far the most supportive of the president’s policy, with 12 percent saying he favored Israel too much, 6 percent saying he favored the Palestinians too much and a whopping 71 percent saying that he was striking the right balance.

Young people were the most optimistic about the two sides reaching a peaceful two-state solution, with 53 percent of 18-29 year olds saying they thought it was possible, versus 42 percent who did not. This compared with a negative overall sentiment among adults, with just 43 percent saying such a solution was possible versus 48 percent saying that it was not. Each successively older age cohort was successively less optimistic that a solution could be reached.

Report: Rivers in induced coma [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Joan Rivers is reportedly in an induced coma.

CBS reported Friday that the veteran comedian was placed in a medically induced coma after she stopped breathing during throat surgery.

Rivers, 81, was undergoing throat surgery at a New York clinic on Thursday when she stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. She was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital.

Her daughter and reality show and red carpet companion, Melissa, was by her side.

“I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming love and support for my mother,” she said in a statement. “She is resting comfortably and is with our family. We ask that you continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.”

Rivers, a stand-up comic and a reality star with a career launched in the 1950s, in recent weeks drew attention for her vigorous defense of Israel during its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Yale chaplain blames anti-Semitism on Israel [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Yale's Episcopal chaplain got into a heated exchange with scholar Deborah Lipstadt over anti-Semitism and Israel. (Wikimedia Commons)

Yale’s Episcopal chaplain got into a heated exchange with scholar Deborah Lipstadt over anti-Semitism and Israel. (Wikimedia Commons)

Discontent is brewing in New Haven after Rev. Bruce M. Shipman, an Episcopal chaplain at Yale, wrote a letter to the New York Times that some have deemed deeply offensive to Jews.

On Aug. 20, Deborah E. Lipstadt, an author and Jewish history professor at Emory University, published an editorial in the New York Times entitled “Why Jews Are Worried,” detailing a rise in European anti-Semitic incidents.

Shipman responded by tying rising anti-Semitism to “the carnage in Gaza over the last five years” – and encouraging “Israel’s patrons abroad” to push the Israeli government for peace as a means to stop similar attacks.

On Twitter, Lipstadt called Shipman’s response “beneath contempt” and accused him of victim-blaming.

Rabbi Leah Cohen, executive director of Yale’s Slifka Center for Jewish Life, strongly condemned Shipman’s sentiments:  “We are adamantly against any justifications of anti-Semitism and hatred of any kind,” she wrote. 

Shipman issued an apology Friday in the student newspaper, stating that “Nothing done in Israel or Palestine justifies the disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in Europe or elsewhere,” but reiterating his belief in the “correlation between the uptick in anti-Semitic violence in the world and the events taking place in Israel/Palestine and Gaza.”



Appeals court hears claims in Adelson v. NJDC lawsuit [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A federal appeals court heard arguments in a bid by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to reinstate a defamation lawsuit against the National Jewish Democratic Council and two of its formal principals.

Arguments in the 2nd Circuit on Thursday focused on whether a hyperlink in an online NJDC news release constituted adequate attribution to a source, which would protect the NJDC and its former chairman, Marc Stanley, and president, David Harris, from charges that they were peddling the allegedly defamatory claims, according to a report by the Courthouse News Service.

The federal judge who dismissed the case last year said hyperlinks provided even stronger protection than footnotes.

The lawsuit was based on an NJDC news release during the 2012 election campaign that linked to an Associated Press account of a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by a fired casino employee against Adelson, a major funder of Republican candidates.

The former employee alleged that Adelson allowed prostitutes to ply their trade in his casinos in Macau, China. The three-judge panel reserved its decision.

Obama administration targets array of Iran entities with sanctions [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration sanctioned a broad range of Iranian companies, banks, individuals and institutions, highlighting what it says is its determination to maintain pressure on the country while nuclear talks are underway.

Among the entities targeted in statements released simultaneously Friday by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and State were shipping lines alleged to have bypassed existing energy sector sanctions, banks that violated financial sector sanctions and airlines said to have transported weapons to Iran.

“These actions underscore U.S. resolve to enforce sanctions as the P5+1 and Iran work toward a comprehensive solution to address the international community’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program,” the State Department release said, using the acronym for the six nations now negotiating with Iran: Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany.

It added that the terms governing the talks, which in July were extended to November, provide “Iran with limited, temporary, and targeted sanctions relief in return for important steps Iran took to constrain its nuclear program.”

The Obama administration has been at pains to show that Iran, contrary to claims by Israel, Republicans and a number of pro-Israel groups, has not benefited from the limited sanctions reliefs under the terms of the talks.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations praised the new sanctions.

“This action by the Department of State and Treasury will put companies and individuals on notice and block assistance to Iran’s nuclear and terror activities or avoidance of sanctions,” it said in a statement.

Analysts say similar sanctions have had the effect of driving away third-party business from targeted entities and individuals, resulting in a crush on Iran’s economy.

Separately, the State Department called on Iran to assist it in tracking Robert Levinson, a U.S. citizen missing in Iran for seven years. The appeal Friday came as part of a statement urging the release of three other Americans detained by Iran.

“We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Jason Rezaian and respectfully request the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran work cooperatively with us to find Mr. Levinson and bring him home,” it said.

Levinson, 66, a private detective and former FBI agent from Coral Springs, Fla., disappeared seven years ago from Kish Island while on a business trip. The Iranian government has said it is not holding him.

Wait Wait At The Zoo! Our Favorite Animal Stories And Guests [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

This week we take a break from the week's news and enjoy some favorite segments from our animal archives.

Best Of Not My Job With Tim Gunn, Alice Cooper, Mavis Staples And More [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

We take a break from the week's news and listen back to some favorite segments.

Summer Vacation Spectacular With John Waters, Roseanne Cash And More [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

We take a break from the week's news and listen back to some favorite segments.

Author Amy Tan [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

Recorded in San Francisco with Not My Job guest Amy Tan and panelists Alonzo Bodden, Paula Poundstone and Maz Jobrani.

Drag Queen Peaches Christ [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

Recorded in San Francisco with Not My Job guest Peaches Christ and panelists Luke Burbank, Amy Dickinson and Brian Babylon.

Chef Thomas Keller [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

Recorded in San Francisco with Not My Job guest Thomas Keller and panelists Roxanne Roberts, Roy Blount Jr. and Bobcat Goldthwait.

Olympic Gold Medal Skier Mikaela Shiffrin [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

Recorded at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., with Not My Job guest Mikaela Shiffrin and panelists Brian Babylon, Paula Poundstone and Tom Bodett.

Best Of Wait Wait With Terry Crews, Tony Shalhoub And More [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

We take a break from the week's news and listen back to some favorite segments.

Actress Scarlett Johansson [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

Recorded in Chicago with Not My Job guest Scarlett Johansson and panelists Roxanne Roberts, Luke Burbank and Shelby Fero.

Nick Hitchon, From The Documentary Series 7 Up [NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Podcast]

Recorded in Madison, Wis., with Not My Job guest Nick Hitchon and panelists P.J. O'Rourke, Kyrie O'Connor and Maz Jobrani.

Fit for the future: five things to take away from IFLA Birmingham [Public Libraries News]

I was unable to get to the satellite IFLA conference in Birmingham but I heard many good things about it. I was therefore delighted when Dr Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer at the Carnegie UK Trust agree to write something for Public Libraries News on the main points she took away from it.  Have a read of it below, it’s worth it.

Fit for the Future: five things to take away from IFLA Birmingham

jenny peachey

Dr Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

Written by Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

The IFLA 2014 satellite conference sparkled: from high-tech mobile libraries that serve as spaces where senior citizens reminisce and teens receive sex ed, to displays and book clubs that bridge the physical and digital divide, to the first all-digital library. It bubbled with examples of how to engage communities, fizzed with ideas of how to support learning, literacy, social relationships and access to information – but most of all, it effervesced with a passion for public libraries and with positivity. Here are five things I took away from the conference.

1. Innovation is only fresh for a moment 

Providing a contrast to an overarching concern with digital and high-tech, Corinne Hill from Chattanooga Public Library informed us that 3D printers have been moved from the ‘test zone’ to the ‘regular’ section of Chattanooga library. Meanwhile, gigantic hand operated weaving looms have been brought in. When asked how she made innovative ideas come to fruition, Corinne’s (paraphrased) response was: ‘be proactive, build a network, be comfortable with losing control, and keep moving – innovation has a shelf-life!’

2. How to integrate digital and physical 

A presentation on ZLB Topic rooms in Berlin revealed how to blend librarianship with ‘creative civic engagement.’ These rooms combine elaborate book displays with films and online resources (twitter and the news) displayed on screen. These curated displays bring together in-depth and up-to-speed information around themes – Israel after the election, poor and rich, the Eurozone. Meanwhile, book clubs can bring people together physically and, via skype, across a country or an international border. These online book clubs can help the socially excluded and rurally isolated feel part of a community.

3. People and a sense of ownership are key to successful change

Time and time again, presenters emphasised the value of ‘their amazing staff’. Staff define the culture of the library, transform a service into an experience and imbue a building with spirit and heart. The message to individuals having to change the nature of their library service was to engage their staff in this journey as far as possible and not forget ‘the hearts and minds’. Equally, conference attendees were reminded not to relegate their communities to mere guests, but treat them as key stakeholders with whom libraries should work with rather than for. Ownership, we were reminded, is a process.

4. Skills

Some presentations and conversations touched upon the skills and qualities required to deliver the public library of the future. Skills identified included working in partnership, business management, and digital knowledge and literacy. The opposing abilities of collaborating versus competing, and controlling versus creating, were also lauded as important capacities to be identified and nurtured in (different!) members of staff.

5. General trends but specific solutions

An Independent Senior Adviser and Consultant from Denmark observed that though it is possible to identify general trends in how public libraries are developing, the solution for each library must always be specific: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Just as assets, needs, wants and communities differ, so too must the specificities or form of libraries’ offers.




  • A response to “This Librarian Is Not Impressed With Your Digital, No-Books Library” – Phil Bradley’s Weblog. “It’s not the format that’s important surely, it’s the words and images contained within them … what I see are information professionals who want to see how they can best harness different technologies to improve the lot of their members, and to make their activities better and more effective …  don’t believe that it’s the right, or indeed the responsibility of the librarian to make assumptions based on what they see people doing. I think that it’s an arrogant and patronising librarian who says  that socializing on Facebook is of little gravity”.  Libraries need to promote online resources more. “We cannot interpret the future by looking at what we have today – we need imagination and vision, and yes, we need to be prepared to take risks, to try things out and to learn from our mistakes” [See Yet Another Bookless Library for another, similar perspective, to that Phil responds to - Annoyed Librarian]

“It doesn’t matter if we like it or not – the provision and availability of information is changing faster than we are able to comprehend. We need to embrace that change, not to fight against it. Yes, of course we’ll have books for a long while to come, but if we’re to work with our communities, and particularly our children and students, we need to embrace digital as a tool and effective resource, not to decry it as a pale shadow. We need to concentrate on the community and the activities of that community and by having a wide understanding of all the tools assist them in the most appropriate way. And that’s increasingly going to be digital.” Phil Bradley

  • Librarian of the year is from Newbury – Newbury Today. “Mrs Cooper has been involved in many community activities together with her work as a librarian, including a call for local residents to highlight what living in the area means to them in the form of hand-made postcards. The initiative attracted 740 submissions ranging from art to poetry, which were displayed at Newbury library earlier this year. “Libraries are changing significantly” Jacquie said. “What we are trying to do in West Berkshire is to see them exist in community spaces. The link with the community is the natural way to go.”
  • Little libraries aim to make a big, big difference – Independent. “At a time when library closures are making the headlines, the idea of opening 100 new ones within a year may seem a little fanciful. But book-loving communities are signing up to help do just that, with libraries popping up everywhere from front gardens to cafés. The not-for-profit Little Free Library Project (LFLP) is installing small, house-shaped wooden boxes outside the homes or businesses of volunteers who stock them with books. Local people can then help themselves to the titles, or donate their own volumes.”

“Nick Cheshire, 39, who set up the LFLP with his wife, Rebecca, stressed the project was not designed to replace local council libraries but to be an additional source of books. The project has an informal partnership with Waltham Forest borough in London, where little libraries promote events at the mainstream libraries and receive their surplus books in return.”

  • Malorie Blackman: “Children’s books still have a long way to go before they are truly diverse.” - Guardian. ” “I was always at my local libraries,” she says, “and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be talking right now. There is no way I would be a writer without libraries.”
  • Ray of light – Times Higher Education / Letters. “It is important to highlight three misleading claims in “ ‘Dismal’ start for free public open access service” (News, 14 August), since these will potentially damage a valuable new service that local libraries are offering to the public” … level of usage, Finch Report, scheme not funded by public money.
  • Recent consultation case highlights the court’s willingness to intervene in public sector - Lawyer. “All health sector bodies thinking about taking decisions that are subject to a period of public consultation should take heed of the High Court’s recent judgment against Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to dramatically reduce its number of funded libraries. In that decision, the court demonstrated its willingness to intervene if it considers that the consultation process that was undertaken prior to the final decision being made was either flawed or failed to take into account relevant information.”
  • Wikipedia, Librarians and CILIP – UK Web Focus.  Looks at encouraging librarians to be creators of information on Wikipedia as well as just users of it [You know you all are, despite earlier protestations against it - Ed.].  Also looks in detail at CILIP memberships, discovering in 2013/14 “a sharp decrease in membership numbers in Spring (possibly when annual subscriptions must be paid) with a much smaller increase in numbers over the rest of the year, perhaps when new members join.”  Down from 23,000 at time of establishment in 2002 to around 14,000 now.


UK local news by authority

  • Brighton and Hove – New chapter as library opens - Argus. “The new Mile Oak library has been built as part of the development of Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (Paca). The new library, which opened on Monday, is a joint initiative by Brighton and Hove City Council library service and Paca. Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the economic development and culture committee, said: “I am delighted that we are opening this wonderful new facility, particularly at a time when many local authorities are closing libraries.”
  • Devon – Union warns Devon County Council not to ignore public views on library cuts - Express and Echo. “Andy Bowman, Branch Chair at UNISON Devon County Branch, said: “Whilst it’s great that thousands of people have responded, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the response rate was so high because the people of Devon are seriously concerned about the Council’s proposals and they don’t want to see services cut and libraries closed. “Consultation should be meaningful but the Council’s ruling Conservative administration hasn’t got an exemplary record when it comes to genuinely listening to the views of others. It banned key council officers, trade unions, families and carers from giving evidence at its scrutiny meeting back in June on the decision to close residential care homes and day care centres. We don’t want to see the same level of disregard dished out to library campaigners.”
  • Devon – Young East Devon campaigners interview top authors for You Tube video in bid to save their library – Exeter Express and Echo. “Ollie MacAllister and Milo Godwin-Coombs, both aged 12 and from Budleigh Salterton, took the initiative to enlist support from some of the high profile authors on the line-up of this September’s Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival. In their video, Save Budleigh Library The Interviews, which has had hundreds of views on You Tube, the Exmouth Community College pupils conduct numerous interviews of a range of people pledging their support for the campaign to save the library. Ollie said: “The message that came out of the film was that our libraries are important and the authors all said they won’t want our libraries to shut.”
  • East Sussex – Public Art Project: Transparent Newhaven – East Sussex County Council. Artists invited for three glass/window commissions in libraries. “We wish to test a new model for engaging the public. We will ask you to share your creative process with our customers and the wider community. We want to avoid the compromise of obliging you to design by committee but ensure your creative process is Transparent in order to engage people and encourage an affinity with the final results.” … “The selection panel will be made up of library customers, elected members, members of our Youth Cabinet, members of our Seniors Association, members of the local access group, a library specialist and arts specialists.”
  • Halton – Plans to cut library opening hours attracts record response from residents - Runcorn and Widnes World. 1000 residents given views. “The library service currently costs £2 million to run annually and two proposals to reduce opening hours could save £400, 000.” … “The move comes as the Government further reduced the money it gives to Halton Council, which means that the local authority must find savings of £46m over the next three years.”
  • Hampshire – Closing time for Emsworth library? – Chichester Observer. “Following outcry over the news, Hampshire county councillor Keith Chapman defended the proposal, saying no decision had yet been made.”
  • Leicestershire – Meeting to find staff to run library - Loughborough Echo. “The council has warned that if community groups do not come forward to run the libraries, they may close and be replaced by a weekly mobile library service. The council says the consultation findings will be considered by cabinet in early autumn.” see also Consultation on libraries to end - Burton Mail.
  • Oxfordshire – Parishes team up to keep librarian on the books - Oxford Mail. “Councillors in Milton-under-Wychwood, Shipton-under-Wychwood and Ascott-under-Wychwood have agreed to pay more than £7,000 between them. This will cover a third of library manager Ruth Gillingham’s wages, allowing the Milton-under-Wychwood library to operate 21 hours a week with a professional librarian. Remaining costs will be covered by Oxfordshire County Council’s library service but one part-time librarian will be made redundant. It comes as the county council will halve staff funding from 21 of its 43 libraries from April next year.” … “Volunteers working nine hours per week will help”

“We felt quite strongly that the library is a central part of these villages.”

  • Sandwell – Future uncertain for five Sandwell libraries in bid to cut £700k – Express and Star. £700k cut expected 2015/17. “Sandwell Council will launch a consultation on proposals which will cover a range of options from closure to combining services with community centres and libraries being run by more volunteers.”. Five libraries (Hill Top in West Bromwich, Oakham in Tividale and Langley, and Brandhall and Rounds Green) are under threat. “The major costs of the service are staff and buildings, but the closure of any library is the absolute last result and I am hopeful we can find another way. “There are three main suggestions, including working with volunteers and community partners, moving libraries into shared premises or bringing other services into libraries to reduce running costs and provide multi-use centres for local people.”
  • Sheffield – Community group prepares for a new chapter for library – Sheffield Telegraph. “Community volunteers in Stannington are gearing up to take over the local library from September 29 – and it will be on their minds at the Stannington gala on Saturday, August 30.” … “Obviously the loss of experienced library staff remains a disappointment for everyone who uses the library, but we have two former members of the Sheffield libraries service on our team and they are able to lead this part of the project with confidence and professionalism”
  • Southend – Victory in library cuts battle – Southend Standard. “A review into the borough’s libraries, currently being done by the Independent, Lib Dem, and Labour administration, is to propose that the facilities should not be completely reliant on volunteers. The previous Tory administration put in place changes to the borough’s libraries in a bid to shave £378,000 over three years, which led to mass demonstrations. The changes included making Westcliff and Southchurch Libraries volunteer-run only, but the new administration put the plans on ice after taking office in June and could now staff them.”

Tagata o te Moana for 30 August 2014 [RNZ: Tagata o te Moana]

A Papua New Guinea volcano blows and drops ash over a wide area; A New Zealand academic wants the SIDS Conference to address 'blatant inequalities; We hear about the growing links between Papua New Guinea's West Sepik Province and neighbouring Indonesia; A Fiji election candidate says the pre polling rules are unclear; A Tongan MP lays out his ideas on more collaborative approach in the Parliament; New partnership to promote ocean conservation.

College Radio Watch: Music Director Manual, WSCS License Sold, CBI Awards, Boston Radio Tours, and a New LPFM [Radio Survivor]

It’s a new school year on many college campuses, so many college radio stations are in active recruitment mode as they invite students to join their stations. The Orange County Register notes that Chapman College radio station Chapman Radio is the biggest student organization on campus, with 250-275 student DJs. CMJ posted an interview with […]

The post College Radio Watch: Music Director Manual, WSCS License Sold, CBI Awards, Boston Radio Tours, and a New LPFM appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Alleged ISIS laptop had a checklist for creating bioweapons. [RedState]

Background: …well, read my friend and RedState colleague Aaron Gardner, who wrote on this subject himself (including stuff about the laptop mentioned below).  But specifically… Syrian rebels (against pretty much both Assad and ISIS these days) reportedly found a laptop and handed it off to Foreign Policy magazine.  Said laptop apparently turned out to have quite a number of alarming files in it.  How alarming?  Well, FP is calling it “The Laptop of Doom:”

The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State’s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another.

But after hours upon hours of scrolling through the documents, it became clear that the ISIS laptop contains more than the typical propaganda and instruction manuals used by jihadists. The documents also suggest that the laptop’s owner was teaching himself about the use of biological weaponry, in preparation for a potential attack that would have shocked the world.

The details of the materials quoted in that Foreign Policy article are sufficiently detailed that I’m not comfortable repeating them: you never know what foreign bad actors might be trolling this site for intel.  And if that bald statement doesn’t disturb you, nothing will.  Glenn Reynolds put our situation regarding ISIS quite bluntly: “Obama may not have a strategy, but they do.”  Fortunately for the country, there is a major political party that does think about this sort of thing; unfortunately, we’re not in the White House.


While we’re on this subject, let me take this opportunity to note something.  Quite a few people on the Left are now reassessing their previous stance on the Iraq War, and I would like to believe that at least some of them are sincere about it.  But both those who are sincere, and those who are not, should be aware that they’d be well-suited to step back and let the grown-ups fix this particular mess.  We’ve already let this walking disaster of Barack Obama’s go on for too long as it is.

And no, the Once-and-Future-Antiwar-Left may not claim moral superiority in this matter, because they have none themselves and I have no interest in conceding any of mine.  You see, back in the far-off days of 2008, we had a situation in Iraq where terrorists did not take other people, enslave them, and gang-rape them in prison until it was time to sell the survivors to people who would rape them individually.  That was not happening then.  This is happening now.  And this is not a failure of Obama’s policies.  This is the inevitable result of those policies.  And the White House has its priorities:

“Is [Barack Obama] detached? Does he feel like the critics coming after him, it just doesn’t matter anymore?” [Fox News' Ed] Henry asked. “Why is he still raising campaign money, playing golf, when he’s acknowledging he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?”

“The job of any U.S. president is to be able to handle a lot of different responsibilities at the same time,” Earnest replied, in defense of Obama’s fundraising and golfing. The secretary added that Obama has a national security team, to whom he has outsourced the job of looking after America’s national security challenges.

“One of his responsibilities as the head of the party is to support Democratic candidates who are on the ballot,” Earnest noted.

Free translation: Yeah, sure, the President feels bad that the pullout of Iraq that he set in motion turned out so bad.  But, hey: how much money do you think that a fifteen year old Yezidi girl in a sex prison can give to the Democratic National Committee, anyway? …And as you may have guessed, if that translation bothers you then take it up with someone who cares.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

The post Alleged ISIS laptop had a checklist for creating bioweapons. appeared first on RedState.

A Game of “Top This” With Democrat Amanda Curtis [RedState]

Unintentionally Hilarious

Unintentionally Hilarious

Image Credit And That’s Why Your Single

“I think she’s a lovely young lady and very courageous, and I think she [Curtis] is, you know, a fine character and all that,” said Paul Edwards, a former member of the Montana Democratic Party’s executive board. “I don’t think she has a chance in hell.” – (HT:Townhall)

The Montana Democratic Party has a genuine asset* in Amanda Curtis. I mean she’s way funnier than Sarah Silverman or Amy Schumer. It’s unintentional you say? Well, darn! Here I thought I’d found the Chris Rock of Atheistkult. That’s OK. I still like the woman. She reminds me of a recent funny incident that I enjoyed helping to cause while at work.

So it was last Friday and I went to lunch with three of my co-workers. One of them complained about an impending stint of jury duty. As we dug into the chips and salsa, we commiserated and joked about how he could freak out the attorneys and get stricken before he ever gets to the trial. By the time our main course had arrived; we were engaged in a game of “Top This.” The object was to invent the best simple answer to the question “So, tell me something about yourself” that positively nukes our poor, beleaguered coworker from any further consideration as a potential juror.

The guy from a cube down the hall started. “On those rare and solemn occasions,” He began. “When I’m called upon to dispense justice, I choose the Metallica Method – kill ‘em all!” This wasn’t a bad start. The gentleman sitting next to me went next. “That is good, very good, but Conan, what is best in life?” He then attempted his best Ahnold imitation and replied. “Crush your enemies! See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.” If this was all they had, I knew victory was mine. “I’d like to share with you my most special hobby.” I started. “Every weekend I go to a different city park. I put pantyhose on over my head, run around and scare people. It really helps me blow off steam and concentrate better at work.” Yep, that would be worth using a challenge on to keep off a jury of your peers.

My friend was only at the courthouse one day. He also never got far enough to get interviewed by anyone’s attorney. But if he had…. Oh, he probably wouldn’t have used any of the three. However, he wouldn’t have even needed the three of us for material. We have to try too hard to come up with anything serviceable. With Amanda Curtis, it’s just stream-of-(un) consciousness Hipster irony. Sure, I should stop being so mean. The woman is obviously three beers short of a twelve-pack and her speech patterns give me a pretty good idea of where she lost them. But that’s OK, as a Democratic nominee; she’s the life of the Republican Party. But I’m still not convinced that she hasn’t missed her calling. With a little coaching, she could flat-out kill over at The Laugh Factory on Sunset.

*-No! Not @$$hat, Asset!

The post A Game of “Top This” With Democrat Amanda Curtis appeared first on RedState.

When You Go Shopping, What Political Policies Are You Funding? [RedState]

Conservatives live in a world that is often set against them. Whether it is marriage, gun rights, abortion, or any other issue that conservatives have a stake in, a rather loud part of the culture and government are there as a stumbling block. Even the items we purchase and the brands we support often are involved in providing financial support to causes that run anathema to conservatism.

I am not a fan of boycotts, so I certainly wouldn’t suggest that as a response to the challenges conservatives face when spending their hard earned money. Instead, I would suggest that more conservatives shop intelligently and be informed.

Fortunately, this could be much easier thanks to a group called 2nd Vote.

2nd Vote has developed a consumer-focused app for the conservative sphere. By giving its users easy to understand information on how our shopping influences public policy, 2nd Vote gives conservatives a way be informed on where their dollar goes and make better purchasing decisions.

For years, the left has dominated corporate-related activities and funding. Groups like the Center for American Progress and the Human Rights Campaign have received millions of dollars in corporate donations. Companies such as AT&T, Bank of America, CitiGroup, Coca-Cola, CVS, Comcast NBC Universal, Facebook, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Time Warner, Toyota, Walmart, and Visa all donate to left-leaning groups.
2ndvote_screenshot_sq_2With 2nd Vote you can follow the money and see which companies work to fund these groups and which ones lean more conservative or neutral. 2nd Vote launched by scoring five issues: Second Amendment Rights, Abortion, Environment, Marriage, and Corporate Welfare. As of this week, they announced the addition of their sixth issue: Education.

“We are continually looking for ways to provide consumers with the information they need to make conservative shopping choices,” said Chris Walker, Executive Director of 2nd Vote. “The 2nd Vote app is changing the way conservatives can shop by giving them an easy way to hold their dollars accountable and giving them a way to engage and act on public policy every day, not just on Election Day.”
The app rates everything from banks to coffee shops as liberal, lean liberal, neutral, lean conservative, or conservative on a corresponding scale of 1 to 5. The lower the number, the more liberal the company. 2nd Vote extensively researches both corporate political contributions and company policies to form their ratings, and they watch the companies closely so company ratings can go up or down depending on their contributions and policies.

On the issue of education, 2nd Vote’s research has found that companies such as General Electric, AT&T, State Farm, IBM and even Taco Bell have all supported Common Core. They’ve also found that a lot of business-related groups support school choice as well, so it can be tricky to paint an overall picture since these issues tend to be on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

2nd Vote seeks to connect the dots on public policy and corporate spending, and they expect the issues they score to continue to grow.

“Our members have been great to work with, and the feedback has been tremendous,” said Walker. “We’ve been asked to look and see which products are made in the USA and which companies have actively lobbied for and are profiting off of the federal takeover of health care for starters, and we’ve got some other ideas up our sleeve for the coming months as well.”
The device is available for free as an Apple, Android, Web, and Kindle app and is also available on the 2nd Vote website, as are the details on how the scorecard works. Additionally, you can follow 2nd Vote on Twitter and on Facebook.

The post When You Go Shopping, What Political Policies Are You Funding? appeared first on RedState.

We Are At War With ISIS And They Are A Real, Sophisticated, Threat [RedState]

Despite comments to the contrary by the White House spokesman, we are at war with ISIS and they are a real and sophisticated threat. The intentions of the Islamic State have been made crystal clear: kill the infidel and establish the caliphate by any means necessary. The escalations in just the last few weeks, specifically the beheadings, have awakened many to the dangers of the Islamic State, but is has also caught the President flat footed on the back nine.

There are a few things you should understand about ISIS. This isn’t Al Qaeda. They aren’t operating under duress with the full weight of the United States Military coming down upon them. They have advanced rather freely and have taken over not just territory, but the resources that come with that territory, whether it be oil fields or University labs, they own it right now.

According to a Buzzfeed report from earlier this week, ISIS controls “seven oil fields and two refineries in northern Iraq, and six out of 10 oil fields in eastern Syria.” The article goes on to note ISIS is “currently making millions daily from oil revenues.” ISIS is the richest terrorist organization in the world and has the sophistication to keep it that way. ISIS also has enough money to pay the soldiers in its ranks at a higher rate than the Iraqi military.

As I said, ISIS isn’t Al Qaeda, and we should all keep that in mind when we assume what the Islamic State is and isn’t capable of doing.

While the idea of a real chemical weapon threat, or WMD threat, is looked upon with skepticism after years in Iraq and Afghanistan at war with Al Qaeda, I must stress again that ISIS isn’t Al Qaeda. ISIS has a different infrastructure and aims. The gains made in land and treasure set ISIS apart from Al Qaeda and should give everyone pause. In an article yesterday at Foreign Policy, two authors reported on a ISIS laptop found in Syria with instructions for making a chemical weapon on it and noted that ISIS may have access to the facilities to take this next step, which long eluded Al Qaeda.

The Islamic State’s sweeping gains in recent months may have provided it with the capacity to develop such new and dangerous weapons. Members of the jihadi group are not solely fighting on the front lines these days — they also control substantial parts of Syria and Iraq. The fear now is that men like Muhammed could be quietly working behind the front lines — for instance, in the Islamic State-controlled University of Mosul or in some laboratory in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital — to develop chemical or biological weapons.

In short, the longer the caliphate exists, the more likely it is that members with a science background will come up with something horrible. The documents found on the laptop of the Tunisian jihadist, meanwhile, leave no room for doubt about the group’s deadly ambitions.

This particular laptop was owned by a Tunisian who had gone to college and studied chemistry and physics. Those two studies would certainly come in handy when making a bomb. I wouldn’t doubt ISIS also has people who have studied other areas within its ranks that may help it along in the creation of chemical weapons.

Despite all of this, along with members of Congress, the intelligence community, and a few Generals, raising the alarm, this President and his Administration have no real strategy to address the threat of ISIS. Our aimless foreign policy, directed from the golf course by President Obama, has impacted the world. Just not in any positive fashion.

As a knowledgable friend relayed to me regarding the last year and the rise of ISIS:

Let’s accept, arguendo, that the outgoing DIA chief is right, and that we are now in an era of danger similar to the mid-1930s. How did we get here? It’s worth looking back into the mists of time — an entire year, to Labor Day weekend 2013. What had not happened then? It’s quite a list, actually: the Chinese ADIZ, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the rise of ISIS, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Mosul, the end of Hungarian liberal democracy, the Central American refugee crisis, the Egyptian-UAE attacks on Libya, the extermination of Iraqi Christians, the Yazidi genocide, the scramble to revise NATO’s eastern-frontier defenses, the Kristallnacht-style pogroms in European cities, the reemergence of mainstream anti-Semitism, the third (or fourth, perhaps) American war in Iraq, racial riots in middle America, et cetera and ad nauseum.

All that was in the future just one year ago.

What is happening now is basically America’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The President of the United States — supported to an exceptional extent by an electorate both uncomprehending and untrusting of the outside world — is Clarence the Angel, and he’s showing us what the world would be like if we’d never been born, Unsurprisingly, Bedford Falls is now Pottersville, and it’s a terrible place. Unfortunately we do not get to revert to the tolerable if modest status quo at the end of the lesson: George Bailey will eventually have to shell the town and retake it street by street from Old Man Potter’s Spetsnaz.

But the larger point here is not what’s happening, because what’s happening is obvious. Things are falling apart. The point is how fast it’s come.

It takes the blood and labor of generations to build a general peace, and that peace is sustained by two pillars: a common moral vision, and force majeure. We spent a quarter-century chipping away at the latter, and finally discarded the former, and now that peace is gone. All this was the work of decades.

Look back, again, to Labor Day weekend 2013, and understand one thing: its undoing was the work of mere months.

So what does the next year bring? Maybe a weaponized version of the bubonic plague, maybe an airplane crashing into a building, maybe something far worse.

Considering the advance of the Islamic State in just a year, and no clear strategy to address the growing threat, it would be foolish to expect anything less than more horror, more terrorism, more death, and a ultimate goal of attacks upon the united States in densely populated urban areas.

At the very least we should acknowledge that we are at war, clearly state who the enemy is, even if that enemy is an extremist ideology, and prepare the people of the nation to be on guard.

Right after this next round of golf, of course.

The post We Are At War With ISIS And They Are A Real, Sophisticated, Threat appeared first on RedState.

NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away [The Register]

Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work

IT administrators at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are preparing to perform an interplanetary remote wipe and reboot on its Martian Opportunity rover after the decade-old explorer began to get a bit senile.…

Angry Birds CEO hops into slingshot, goes 'WEEEEE!' [The Register]

Mikael Hed steps down as Rovio boss

The CEO of the company behind mobile gaming hit Angry Birds has announced his intention to leave the gaming firm.…

Kaspersky backpedals on "done nothing wrong, nothing to fear" company article [The Register]

Company founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious

Russian security software vendor Kaspersky has yanked an article from its website arguing that people shouldn't fear state surveillance unless they had done something wrong in the first place.…

Intel unleashed octo-core speed demon for the power-crazed crowd [The Register]

Haswell-E processors designed for gamers and workstation crowds

Intel has released its first eight-core desktop chip, the Intel Core i7-5960X processor Extreme Edition, formerly known as Haswell-E, along with two other slightly slower chips.…

America's CTO leaving role for Silicon Valley in White House shakeup [The Register]

Google exec floated as possible replacement for departing tech chief

The CTO of the United States is set to resign his post, but will remain with the Obama Administration.…

Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER [The Register]

'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy

Apple is preparing to release a MacBook which tabloid newspapers might describe as "worryingly thin", supply chain sources have claimed.…

Russia-based hackers prime suspects in JPMorgan mega-breach [The Register]

FBI working on sanctions reprisals hack theory - report

The FBI has begun investigating a suspected hacking attack against JPMorgan Chase and another unnamed bank that resulted in the leak of gigabytes of sensitive data.…

See the gorgeous luxury submarine made by a former James Bond villain [The Verge - All Posts]

It turns out that James Cameron is far from the only wealthy individual who likes exploring the oceans. For the past 18 years, a company called DeepFlight has specialized in creating high-end, recreational submarines for well-off aquatic adventurers. As the company proudly notes on its website: "DeepFlight personal submarines are ideal toys for superyachts, resorts, and tour operators because of their capability to open up the undersea world in three dimensions."

In an added twist that...

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Snapchat lets you watch and create group videos of live events with 'Our Story' [The Verge - All Posts]

Snapchat isn't just for sharing slices of your life with your friends anymore. A new feature called "Our Story" has begun rolling out to all users today, which lets you create and view public collections of photos and videos captured at the same live event  — say a concert or sports game — even with people who aren't on your Friends list.

Here's how it works: if you're using Snapchat at a big event where other people are also using the app, you can choose to add your video and photo snaps to a larger public collection. Anyone in the world with Snapchat can then open their app, find the collection of snaps from that event, and watch it as a single Snapchat Story. The feature doesn't identify who created which snaps, only showing that...

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Cable companies want to stop the best internet in America from growing [The Verge - All Posts]

A group representing giants in the cable industry is trying to shut down two municipalities' proposals to expand their public broadband networks, arguing that public broadband has a "mixed record" and can be harmful to taxpayers, despite these two networks already being successful where they're already operational. Laws in 20 states prevent municipalities from from creating their own broadband networks — much to the pleasure of private cable companies, which have shown an impressive dedication to avoiding any competition and any suggestion that their service is merely a utility. Municipalities have on occasion created their own public networks to make up for shortcomings from local internet providers, and it's easy to see why private...

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Lyft says Uber's recruiting tactics caused drivers to lose money [The Verge - All Posts]

Earlier this week, The Verge's Casey Newton published exclusive details of Uber's "Operation SLOG," an aggressive campaign aimed at recruiting drivers away from its competitor Lyft. Now the company claims that Lyft drivers taking calls from SLOG recruiters saw their hourly earnings drop by as much as 48 percent, as a result of unusually short rides and a huge surge in cancelled pickups.

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Check out these insane new bikes from designer Philippe Starck [The Verge - All Posts]

Industrial designers love to be provocative almost as much as they enjoy being original. Fulfilling both briefs with a furious disregard for common sense, leading French designer Philippe Starck has this week unveiled a new range of electric bikes. Dubbed Starckbike and built by e-bike specialists Moustache, the new collection features four distinct styles, each with "specific ergonomics adapted to its terrain and field of exploration."

The Mud Starckbike is designed for all-terrain...

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The voice of Mario and Luigi has brought Nintendo's plumbers to Instagram [The Verge - All Posts]

There's no telling how Nintendo feels about the whole thing, but voice actor Charles Martinet has brought the iconic characters of Mario and Luigi to life on Instagram. And he's doing it with action figures. Martinet has taken a liking to carrying Mario and Luigi toys around and voicing conversations between them based on what's going on in the real world. He's been at it for nearly a month now, and considering it's little more than some cute, harmless fun, it's doubtful Nintendo would take issue.

The company has worked with Martinet for over two decades. Most gamers first heard his instantly recognizable Mario voice in Super Mario 64, and he's stayed around for basically every Mario game since. Aside from Mario and Luigi, he's also...

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Ikea's catalog now uses 75 percent computer generated imagery [The Verge - All Posts]

Browsing through an Ikea catalog is basically a modern adult's version of playing make-believe, letting you imagine just how gorgeous your apartment will never be. And it turns out, an Ikea catalog is even further from reality than you may have already thought: 75 percent of its product images are now CG. The surprising fact was noted by the The Computer Graphics Society, which spoke at length with Ikea about why it's eschewing photography for digital renders. Basically, it gives Ikea's designers a lot more flexibility, and it removes hurdles associated with getting products shipped around the globe in time to photograph them when on a deadline. Ikea actually said back in 2012 that it was moving toward having a quarter of its catalog be...

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Watch NASA's 3D-printed rocket part survive a 6,000 degree test-firing [The Verge - All Posts]

From pizza to rocket engines, its safe to say that NASA is really interested in 3D printing these days. But the agency's latest experiment in that realm may be its most spectacular yet. Using a technology known as "selective laser melting," NASA was able to create a rocket injector — the part that shoots fuel into a rocket engine — out of just two separate components, instead of the 163 that were required using traditional manufacturing techniques.

The idea is to improve efficiency and cut costs, without sacrificing reliability or safety. So far, NASA's tests of its 3D-printed rocket injector seem to be going well: this week, the agency announced that the injector recently survived a 6,000-degree Fahrenheit test-firing at the Marshall...

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Workplace Violence Update [Transterrestrial Musings]

The Fort Hood shooter wants to join the Caliphate. Like the shouts of “Allahu Akbar,” I’m sure that’s just coincidence. He was just having a bad day.

The SpaceX Vehicle Loss [Transterrestrial Musings]

Apparently it was a blocked sensor port: “I can tell you that it certainly looks like it was basically a single-point failure that existed on that test article that does not exist on the Falcon 9,” Reisman said. “We think it was a failure of a single sensor, and Falcon 9 has multiple sensors in […]

War In Europe [Transterrestrial Musings]

It’s not an hysterical idea. And the more you think it unthinkable, the more likely it is to occur.

The Border [Transterrestrial Musings]

Remember, it’s more secure than it’s ever been: Judicial Watch’s report says that “Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to ‘carry out an attack on the border,’ according to one JW source. ’It’s coming very soon,’ according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the […]

Public School As Child Abuse [Transterrestrial Musings]

And overpriced colleges as young-adult abuse: The student was given two options: face an “administrative panel” whose decision would be final and unable to be appealed (but suspension or expulsion not an option) or face a Student Conduct Panel, which would leave room for appeal but put suspension/expulsion back on the table. The administration’s “bright […]

Want To Stop ISIS? [Transterrestrial Musings]

Unlike Barack Obama, Angelo Codevilla does have a strategy: The IS ideology is neither more nor less than that of the Wahabi sect, which is the official religion of Saudi Arabia, which has been intertwined with its royal family since the eighteenth century, and which Saudi money has made arguably the most pervasive version of […]

Optionals Case Study: valuesForKeys [Swift Blog - Apple Developer]

This post explores how optionals help preserve strong type safety within Swift. We’re going to create a Swift version of an Objective-C API. Swift doesn’t really need this API, but it makes for a fun example.

In Objective-C, NSDictionary has a method -objectsForKeys:notFoundMarker: that takes an NSArray of keys, and returns an NSArray of corresponding values. From the documentation: “the N-th object in the returned array corresponds to the N-th key in [the input parameter] keys.” What if the third key isn’t actually in the dictionary? That’s where the notFoundMarker parameter comes in. The third element in the array will be this marker object rather than a value from the dictionary. The Foundation framework even provides a class for this case if you don’t have another to use: NSNull.

In Swift, the Dictionary type doesn’t have an objectsForKeys equivalent. For this exercise, we’re going to add one — as valuesForKeys in keeping with the common use of ‘value’ in Swift — using an extension:

[view code in blog]

This is where our new implementation in Swift will differ from Objective-C. In Swift, the stronger typing restricts the resulting array to contain only a single type of element — we can’t put NSNull in an array of strings. However, Swift gives an even better option: we can return an array of optionals. All our values get wrapped in optionals, and instead of NSNull, we just use nil.

[view code in blog]

NOTE: Some of you may have guessed why a Swift Dictionary doesn’t need this API, and already imagined something like this:

[view code in blog]

This has the exact same effect as the imperative version above, but all of the boilerplate has been wrapped up in the call to map. This is great example why Swift types often have a small API surface area, because it’s so easy to just call map directly.

Now we can try out some examples:

[view code in blog]

Nested Optionals

Now, what if we asked for the last element of each result?

[view code in blog]

That’s strange — we have two levels of Optional in the first case, and Optional(nil) in the second case. What’s going on?

Remember the declaration of the last property:

[view code in blog]

This says that the last property’s type is an Optional version of the array’s element type. In this case, the element type is also optional (String?). So we end up with String??, a doubly-nested optional type.

So what does Optional(nil) mean?

Recall that in Objective-C we were going to use NSNull as a placeholder. The Objective-C version of these three calls looks like this:

[view code in blog]

In both the Swift and Objective-C cases, a return value of nil means “the array is empty, therefore there’s no last element.” The return value of Optional(nil) (or in Objective-C NSNull) means “the last element of this array exists, but it represents an absence.” Objective-C has to rely on a placeholder object to do this, but Swift can represent it in the type system.

Providing a Default

To wrap up, what if you did want to provide a default value for anything that wasn’t in the dictionary? Well, that’s easy enough.

[view code in blog]

While Objective-C has to rely on a placeholder object to do this, Swift can represent it in the type system, and provides rich syntactic support for handling optional results.


I Guess Joe Scarborough Must Be Up For Contract Renegotiations at MSNBC [Ace of Spades HQ]

Joe Scarborough is full of #SmartTakes lately, the kind that seem geared to appeal to Rachel Maddow, who I'm told actually runs the network. Just last week, when even Politico writers were horrified that Obama had once again gone golfing...

Friday Morning News Dump [Ace of Spades HQ]

The 'We Can't Wait' Clause Niebuhr, Iraq, And Moral Clarity VDH: Obama's Hazy Sense Of History President Obama On ISIS 'Fetch Me My Brown Pants!' No Easy Exit From The Euro Nidal Hasan Applies to Become Citizen Of The...

Top Headline Comments 8-29-14 [Ace of Spades HQ]

Happy Friday. For the second time this week, a flight had to be diverted because of passengers fighting over seat reclining. This is ominous: Putin's speaking at the pro-Kremlin Seliger youth camp. He's just said "The Russian and Ukrainian peoples...

Overnight Open Thread (8-28-2014) - Strategy-less Edition [Ace of Spades HQ]

Stuff Jefferson Actually Said, Vol. VII "...I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independance to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too...

Polygamy Decriminalized in Utah as Federal Judge Strikes Down Criminal Prohibition [Ace of Spades HQ]

Strange days indeed. Judge rules banning cohabitation violated religious freedom of the Browns Kody Brown and his four wives appear in the TLC reality show 'Sister Wives' Kody Brown, who stars in the TLC reality show with his four wives,...

WATCH: Videos of Some Things DESTROYING Some Other Things [Ace of Spades HQ]

I wrote the headline because I see there's been another outbreak of "Jon Stewart DESTROYS ISIS" crap, as well as a "Steven Colbert DESTROYS White Privilege" jag. Little Kid DESTROYS Mom for Getting Pregnant With Another Baby...


In Canberra: A former public servant says she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after attending a workplace respect and diversity workshop four years…


The left doesn’t want to know about female genital mutilation. The left doesn’t want to know about books praising Hitler and shaming women.…


It turns out that the latest climate consensus was led by Mark Steyn, who now finds that scientists agree with his prescient global warming…

Paczkowksi: ‘Apple Plans to Announce Wearable in September’ [Daring Fireball]

John Paczkowski, writing at Recode:

Remember back in June when I said Apple hoped to schedule a special event in October to show off a new wearable device? Remember how I also said this: “Could things change between now and fall? That’s certainly possible.” Turns out that was a prescient hedge, because things have changed. Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones we told you the company will debut on September 9. (Funny “joke,” Gruber.) The new device will, predictably, make good use of Apple’s HealthKit health and fitness platform.

I’ve been working on a new joke — about NFC and a new secure enclave where you can store your credit cards, so you can pay for things at brick and mortar retail stores just by taking out your iPhone, but only if it’s one of the new iPhones — but no one seems to get my sense of humor.

Follow-up joke: It would be cool, and would make a lot of sense, if the new wearable thing had the same magic payment apparatus.

New ‘Hyperlapse’ App From Instagram [Daring Fireball]

Very cool new video time-lapse/stabilization app for iOS from Instagram. I’d never heard of “hyperlapse” until that research paper from Microsoft a few weeks ago. But while Microsoft was publishing research, Instagram was building an app that will soon be in the hands of hundreds of thousands of people.

From the profile by Cliff Kuang for Wired:

By 2013, Dimson was at Instagram. That put him back in touch with Alex Karpenko, a friend from Stanford who had sold his start-up to Instagram in 2013. Karpenko and his firm, Luma, had created the first-ever image-stabilization technology for smartphone videos. That was obviously useful to Instagram, and the company quickly deployed it to improve video capture within the app. But Dimson realized that it had far greater creative potential. Karpenko’s technology could be used to shoot videos akin to all those shots in Baraka. “It would have hurt me not to work on this,” says Dimson.

“It would have hurt me not to work on this” — that’s the sort of passion that leads to great new products.

Two Countries, Two Vastly Different Phone Bills [Daring Fireball]

Anna Bernasek, writing for the NYT, compares typical iPhone monthly bills in the U.S. (Verizon) and U.K. (Three UK):

So why the $41.50-a-month difference in price? Several factors are involved, but an important one is regulatory policy. Britain has forced companies to lease their networks to competitors at cost. The United States has not, allowing a formidable barrier against competitors.

Update: Benedict Evans says the Times is all wrong:

Odd fact-checking failure by the NYT. MVNOs aren’t mandated in the UK & aren’t why mobile is so much cheaper than US.

FriComedy: Special Message from John Finnemore [Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4]

John Finnemore tells us why you'll have to wait until Thursday 11th September for your topical comedy fix, because that's when the first of the new series of The Now Show records. Then come back and download the Friday Night Podcast on Friday 12th September.

Tech Tent 33: High-Flying Tech [Tech Tent: Business and Technology]

First came driver-less cars. Now Google reveals it is working on planes without pilots. A key adviser to Facebook is urging the company to protect users from stumbling across gruesome videos by making them click their consent before they can view them. Why has retail giant Amazon stumped up nearly $1bn to buy a niche video-streaming service popular with gamers? And as a video blogger who posted a film complaining about the misogynistic portayal of women in computer games herself becomes the target of hate messages and threats, we discuss whether her concerns are justified, and how to address them if they are. Presented by Zoe Kleinman, with Leo Kelion and Dave Lee from the BBC Online Tech Desk and special guest Eileen Burbidge, venture capitalist.

Rival may have roasted Keurig’s coffee-pod DRM [Ars Technica]

Mother Parkers is getting in on Keurig's new brewing machines, whether Keurig likes it or not.

Back in March, Keurig announced plans to lock down its popular coffee pod system in an effort to make third-party pod makers pay for a license. But the company's plans may be foiled. A press release last week from Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee suggests that the Keurig "DRM" used to lock out third parties has been cracked and that Mother Parkers is now making coffee pods that can work in Keurig's brewing machines.

New Keurig machines reportedly require pods to have a special "ink marker" on their foil top, according to The Verge. If that marking isn't detected, the machine will display an "Oops!" message and refuse to do anything further.

The Mother Parkers press release states that the company "will launch a new version of the RealCup capsule that is compatible with Keurig Green Mountain's K2.0 brewer scheduled for launch later this year." The release quotes Bill VandenBygaart, Mother Parkers' vice president of business development, as saying that the company's "new technology" means that "consumers will be the ultimate winners by having the best tasting coffees and teas available."

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Haswell-E arrives, bringing a $999 8-core desktop CPU with it [Ars Technica]

Most of Intel's announcements lately have focused on low-power chips, but every now and again it throws a bone to its high-end desktop users. Today we're getting our first look at Haswell-E and a new Core i7 Extreme Edition CPU, a moniker reserved for the biggest and fastest of Intel's consumer and workstation CPUs (if you want something faster than that, you'll need to start looking at Xeons).

We already got a little bit of information on these chips back in March, when Intel made announcements related to refreshed Haswell chips ("Devil's Canyon") and a handful of other desktop processors. Though much of today's information has already leaked, we'll run down the most important stuff for those of you who don't follow every leaked slide that makes its way to the public.

The CPUs

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It’s made-for-TV patent war, as AT&T sues Cox [Ars Technica]

The majority of patent lawsuits today are brought by "patent trolls" that do nothing but sue—but suits between actual competitors do still happen.

Case in point: AT&T has sued Cox Communications, saying that Cox has infringed seven AT&T patents covering everything from DVRs to methods for hiding "packet loss or frame erasure" over a network.

In its complaint (PDF), AT&T claims it "provided a detailed explanation" of how Cox's products infringe its patents during meetings that took place in 2009 and 2010.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nintendo tweaks portable line with new, more powerful 3DS for Japan [Ars Technica]

That grey blob on the right side is actually a second analog stick.

Continuing its tradition of splitting its portable hardware partway through its lifecycle, Nintendo today announced that a new version of its 3DS line, simply called the "new Nintendo 3DS," will be coming to Japan on October 11.

The new model features a number of internal and external hardware improvements. Much like the Game Boy Color before it, the new 3DS has a slightly improved CPU from the version that preceded it, though Nintendo didn't say specifically just how much more powerful. While the new revision will still support all existing 3DS and DS games, it will also be required to run some exclusive games, such as a newly announced port of the Wii's Xenoblade Chronicles.

The new 3DS sports some new features on the outside as well. A smaller, second analog nub, dubbed the "c-stick" in a nod to the old Nintendo GameCube, sits on the right side of the system, just above the face buttons. This addition removes the need to buy a bulky analog pad attachment for certain games, such as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tripping through IBM’s astonishingly insane 1937 corporate songbook [Ars Technica]

The songbook of the damned—or at least of the employed.

"For thirty-seven years," reads the opening passage in the book, "the gatherings and conventions of our IBM workers have expressed in happy songs the fine spirit of loyal cooperation and good fellowship which has promoted the signal success of our great IBM Corporation in its truly International Service for the betterment of business and benefit to mankind."

That’s a hell of a mouthful, but it’s only the opening volley in the war on self-respect and decency that is the 1937 edition of Songs of the IBM, a booklet of corporate ditties first published in 1927 on the order of IBM company founder Thomas Watson, Sr.

The 1937 edition of the songbook is a 54-page monument to glassey-eyed corporate inhumanity, with every page overflowing with trite praise to The Company and Its Men. The booklet reads like a terribly parody of a hymnal—one that praises not the traditional Christian trinity but the new corporate triumvirate of IBM the father, Watson the son, and American entrepreneurship as the holy spirit:

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Report: Google developing product delivery service via drones [Ars Technica]

Google / The Atlantic

On Thursday, Google unveiled its latest project: a product delivery service powered entirely by drone aircraft. Coming from the same Google X teams that developed the likes of self-driving cars and Google Glass, the drone program, currently dubbed Project Wing, received a feature-length reveal in The Atlantic.

The article's video showed a prototype drone dropping a package at an apparent height of dozens of feet, which was guided to the ground by a combination of a wire and an attached "egg" that slowed the drop to a near-halt just before reaching the ground and releasing a box. MIT roboticist Nick Roy received the lion's share of credit for putting the machine together during his two-year stint with Google X; he came to the project with experience in helping Navy drones navigate through zones that lacked GPS signals.

In particular, Roy pushed for Google to employ a hybrid design, combining fixed-wing and helicopter elements, so that it could take off vertically in tail-sitter configuration. Google did not confirm that it will settle on this design for any final model. However, the wired "egg-drop" configuration will probably remain for the sake of both wind factors and safety concerns. Speaking of safety, Roy admitted the drones' detect-and-avoid system is far off, and this, among other concerns, has added years to Google's Project Wing time expectations.

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The death of the “gamers” and the women who “killed” them [Ars Technica]

A screenshot of a domestic abuse scene from Watch Dogs used as an example in Anita Sarkeesian's "Women vs. Tropes in Video Games" series.

"Oh, Anita, you're so beautiful and sexy, you know that?" was the nicest terrible thing a random Twitter user said to Anita Sarkeesian, creator of the Tropes vs.Women in Video Games series, as he peppered her with threats of rape, death, and the address of her home and that of her parents following the posting of her latest video on Monday. The video, which would be right at home on PBS in tone if not content, suggested that many mainstream games represent women as accessories and shorthand rather than as humans, a viewpoint that generated swift and unrelenting rage.

The attack on Sarkeesian was among a number of incidents in the last few weeks that exposed some of the ugly (yet familiar) attitudes and prejudices that remain deeply ingrained in the gaming culture. This time, those sentiments have gotten tied up in ethical arguments in an attempt to highlight the toxic behavior.

A lie gets halfway around the world

The tide of abuse first surged over Zoe Quinn, creator of the game Depression Quest, who got a deluge of negative attention, abuse, threats, and harassment over a blog post written about her by an ex-boyfriend that was published August 16. The post, composed of narcissistic analysis mixed in with screenshots of several online conversations, exposed many personal details about Quinn irrelevant to her profession or professional conduct.

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FTC picks winners in latest robocall-defeating contest, scammers keep scamming [Ars Technica]

On Thursday the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the winners of a robocall-defeating contest that the commission held at DefCon in early August. Three groups of contestants each won $3,133.70, and two runners-up each won $1,337 (for being just that elite). The FTC says it receives 150,000 robocall complaints each month, down from 200,000 per month one year ago.

The contest was called “Zapping Rachel,” for the well-known scam in which a pre-recorded woman's voice tells an unsuspecting phone answerer, “Hi this is Rachel at cardholder services." The FTC separated the contestants into Creator, Attacker, and Detective categories—Creator entrants were asked to build a honeypot to lure robocallers, Detective entrants were given the honeypot data and asked to analyze it, and Attacker entrants were tasked with finding honeypot vulnerabilities. Contestants were given between 24 and 48 hours to submit their entries, depending on the category they entered.

For the Creator category, Jon Olawski, who is a software engineering director for an Internet marketing company by day, won the prize. He built a honeypot that used “an audio captcha filter, call detail analysis, and recording and transcription analysis” to automatically rate an incoming call as to whether it came from a robocaller or not. In an e-mail to Ars, Olawski described his idea as “a 10-point 'strike' system,” and if a caller hits a certain number of strikes, that number is known to be a robocaller and can be placed on a blacklist.

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Popular gamer’s real-life SWAT raid livestreamed on Twitch [Ars Technica]

The raid and its aftermath start at the 6:30 mark.

Police in Littleton, Colorado are investigating a prank call on Thursday that led a SWAT team to raid an online video gamer's office. Heavily armed officers forced a well-known gamer to the ground in what is believed to be a case of "swatting" by an unknown rival gamer.

"This is not a game. It's not an online game. We have real guns and real bullets. There's some potential there for tragedy," Littleton Police Department Chief Doug Stephens told local media.

Nearby schools and businesses were immediately closed and sealed off after a 911 caller said he had shot at least two coworkers and was holding others hostage at the local gaming facility on Wednesday.

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Microsoft finally tries to de-crap the Windows Store [Ars Technica]

The Windows Store has come under fire recently for its sheer amount of misleading apps. Scam apps that claim to offer downloads or training for other applications are abundant, and these bogus programs routinely abuse others' trademarks.

This situation doesn't sit well with an app store that's supposed to be curated and vetted to avoid scams.

Similar complaints have been made practically since the Windows Store's inception, and it appears that Microsoft has at least responded. Stricter rules on application naming and icons have been introduced and are being retroactively applied to existing apps.

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IRS wiped Lerner’s BlackBerry after Congress inquiry began, lawyer says [Ars Technica]

While controversy still swirls over whether the Internal Revenue Service has backup tapes with the “lost” e-mails of former IRS executive Lois Lerner, an IRS attorney confirmed that the agency had disposed of Lerner’s government-issued BlackBerry in June of 2012.

That would mean that the destruction of the data on the phone—including e-mails that may have been part of the missing messages both Congress and the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch have sought from the agency—happened after congressional staffers had begun asking her about the alleged targeting of conservative nonprofit groups. But it was over a year after the loss of e-mails on Lerner’s personal computer due to a reported hard drive crash.

In a declaration by the IRS in response to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, IRS Deputy Assistant Chief Counsel Thomas Kane wrote that the BlackBerry phone had been “removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.”

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IPv6 adoption starting to add up to real numbers: 0.6 percent [Ars Technica]

Packets on packets...

In a paper presented at the prestigious ACM SIGCOMM conference last week, researchers from the University of Michigan, the International Computer Science Institute, Arbor Networks, and Verisign Labs presented the paper "Measuring IPv6 Adoption." In it, the team does just that—in 12 different ways, no less. The results from these different measurements don't exactly agree, with the lowest and the highest being two orders of magnitude (close to a factor 100) apart. But the overall picture that emerges is one of a protocol that's quickly capturing its own place under the sun next to its big brother IPv4.

As a long-time Ars reader, you of course already know everything you need to know about IPv6. There's no Plan B, but you have survived World IPv6 Day and World IPv6 Launch. All of this drama occurs because existing IP(v4) addresses are too short and are thus running out, so we need to start using the new version of IP (IPv6) that has a much larger supply of much longer addresses.

The good news is that the engineers in charge knew we'd be running out of IPv4 addresses at some point two decades ago, so we've had a long time to standardize IPv6 and put the new protocol in routers, firewalls, operating systems, and applications. The not-so-good news is that IP is everywhere. The new protocol can only be used when the two computers (or other devices) communicating over the 'Net—as well as every router, firewall, and load balancer in between—have IPv6 enabled and configured. As such, getting IPv6 deployed has been an uphill struggle. But last week's paper shows us how far we've managed to struggle so far.

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LG G Watch R is official, potentially the best looking smartwatch yet [Ars Technica]

Do you want your smartwatch to look like a regular watch? While some companies are designing wearables that look more like smartphones that you wear on your wrist, the most compelling designs are the smartwatches that look more normal. With its round display and stainless steel body, the Moto 360 has been the standard-bearer for this school of thought. Today, LG has announced the LG G Watch R, which looks even more like a normal watch than Motorola's offering.

After teasing the device over the weekend, LG has come clean about its newest gizmo. The awkwardly named LG G Watch R is modeled after a normal diving watch, and if the press pictures are accurate, you'll have a hard time telling it's a smartwatch at all.

The device has mostly the same specs as the two-month old LG G Watch: a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage. It's also water resistant and runs Android Wear. What's new is the stainless steel body, leather strap, a slightly bigger 410mAh battery (up from 400mAh), heart rate monitor, and, most importantly, a round 1.3-inch P-OLED display.

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Homelessness: Myth and Menace [The Other McCain]

Years ago, the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case brought attention to a fact of which social scientists have long been aware, but which the high priests of political correctness have attempted to conceal from the public: Homeless people are dangerous. Brian David Mitchell, the perverted self-proclaimed “prophet” who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart, had been a homeless panhandler […]

LIVE AT FIVE: 08.29.14 [The Other McCain]

– compiled by Wombat-socho TOP NEWS Ukraine Accuses Russia Of Invasion Obama rules out military response Pro-Moscow rebels say they’ll allow trapped Ukraine forces to withdraw Invasion of Ukraine prompts UN Security Council meeting Poroshenko accuses Russian soldiers of backing rebel attack Fighting In Syria Spawns Civil War In Jihadist Movement Islamic State and Al-Qaeda: […]

Emma Jackson, Victim of #Rotherham Rape Gangs: ‘They Like Us Naive’ [The Other McCain]

Julie Bindel (@bindelj) was the first to report on The Rotherham Horror — the vicious sex-trafficking gangs of Muslim men who preyed on English girls, an atrocity officials ignored for fear of “racism” — and I want to begin this by giving her full credit for her work. One of the things that most shocked […]

Friday Video: Feminist Frequency: Women as Background Decoration [The Travelin' Librarian]

In [these episodes] we explore the Women as Background Decoration trope which is the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they’re created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.

The post Friday Video: Feminist Frequency: Women as Background Decoration appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

What we’re reading today: August 29, 2014 [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Check out the top pieces we’re reading today on the economy, technology, education, and more.

1.)The Atlantic goes inside Google’s secret drone-delivery program here.

2.) From WSJ: Ebola virus outbreak could hit 20,000 within nine months, warns WHO.

3.) Is Ed reform tripping with a testing high? asks Jap P. Greene at Education Next.

4.) Eric Pianin looks at why we’re so down in the dumps about the economy in his piece at The Fiscal Times.

5.) US workers, kick off Labor Day weekend with some depressing charts, says Quartz. Here’s one of them:

Labor's share of US national income

6.) IEEE explains how to turn tires into batteries for electric cars.

7.) Money is not the answer for our bloated public education system, according to Diana Furchtgott-Roth in e21.

8.) From the IMF blog comes a post titled “More jobs that pay decent wages: How to fight poverty in the US.”

9.) Neil G. Ruiz at Brookings writes on the geography of foreign students in US higher education: origins and destinations.

10.) From MIT Technology Review: Massive internet outage points to flaws in policy and technology.

Follow AEIdeas on Twitter at @AEIdeas.

This map shows where slavery and forced labor are happening around the world [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Citigroup has a fascinating — and harrowing — report out about modern slavery and child labor. Here is a bit from the summary:

An estimated ~21-30m people are in slavery around the world, including forced labour, bonded labour, human trafficking and child slavery. There are also estimated to be 168m child labourers, including 85m children in hazardous work. Human rights controversies including modern slavery and child labour could be detrimental to shareholder value, through reduced sales or business opportunities, or diversion of management and board resources. …

We would encourage investors to look favourably on companies that become more transparent about occasional instances of child labour, modern slavery and human trafficking discovered within their supply chains, as long as breaches are not widespread, the companies generally have robust programs designed to avoid them, and corrective action plans are implemented to address breaches. Some companies’ codes or supplier policies and some industry initiatives include explicit requirements relating to recruitment fees and/or document retention, to avoid instances of bonded labour/modern slavery – e.g. Apple, Nike, HP, Motorola, and Procter & Gamble.



Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

If you are excited about driverless cars, you will find this very depressing [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Google has been working on self-driving cars, and while there has been a lot of progress made, here, according to MIT Technology Review, are some of the obstacles left to be conquered:

  • The self-driving car can’t drive itself in 99% of the country.
  • It knows almost nothing about parking, and can’t be taken out in snow or heavy rain.
  • If a new stoplight appeared overnight, the car wouldn’t know to obey it.
  • Google’s cars can detect and respond to stop signs that aren’t on its map, but at an unmapped intersection stop sign the car wouldn’t know what to do after it had stopped, and would probably remain stationary until a human driver intervened.
  • The car hasn’t yet tackled big, open parking lots or multilevel garages.
  • The car’s video cameras detect the color of a traffic light, and they’re still working to prevent them from being blinded when the sun is directly behind a light.
  • Pedestrians are detected just as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels—meaning that the car wouldn’t be able to spot a police officer at the side of the road frantically waving for traffic to stop.
  • The car’s sensors can’t tell if a road obstacle is a rock or a crumpled piece of paper, so the car will try to drive around either. The car also can’t detect potholes or spot an uncovered manhole if it isn’t coned off.

What’s next? Well, researchers “say the unsolved problems will become increasingly difficult. For example, John Leonard, an MIT expert on autonomous driving, says he wonders about scenarios that may be beyond the capabilities of current sensors, such as making a left turn into a high-speed stream of oncoming traffic.” And Alberto Broggi, a professor studying autonomous driving, “says he worries about how a map-dependent system like Google’s will respond if a route has seen changes.” Chris Urmson, director of the Google car team, is more optimistic, aiming to have the car ready in about five years.

The technical issues may not be the only barriers the driverless cars face though, according to Jim Pethokoukis. Government regulation could also prove to be a problem.

Follow AEIdeas on Twitter at @AEIdeas.

What we’re reading today: August 28, 2014 [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Check out the top pieces we’re reading today on the economy, technology, family, and more.

1.) Should the SAT be optional? Jonathan Wai weighs in at Quartz.

2.) Carson Bruno looks at the economic impact of the Napa earthquake in this Real Clear Markets piece.

3.) Here are the hidden obstacles for self-driving cars, according to MIT Technology Review.

4.) In City Journal, Dennis Daffran writes on Colbert, Fallon, and the crony capitalism of the creative class.

5.) From Brookings comes this chart that shows today’s college-educated parents spend a lot more time with their kids than any parents did in the 1970s:

Growing class gap in time spent with parents

6.) Research from the St. Louis Fed finds that despite aggressive deleveraging, Generation X remains “Generation Debt.” They found that “on average by 2008, members of Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1980) had accumulated about twice as much total debt at a given age as birth-year cohorts observed at the same age in 2000.”

7.) It seems there has been progress on a powerful new way to generate electricity, says this MIT Technology Review piece by Kevin Bullis.

8.) In this Education Next piece, Jed Wallace looks at California, a case study for charter school success.

9.) From the Manhattan Institute: “New York’s rent-burdened households: Recalculating the total, finding a better solution.”

10.) DARPA project starts building human memory prosthetics, notes this IEEE article. “The first memory-enhancing devices could be implanted within four years.”

11.) Right-to-work laws could come to a city near you, according to this e21 piece.

Follow AEIdeas on Twitter at @AEIdeas.

"One would have expected that in 67 years that we would become more democratic, more tolerant — rather than become more intolerant and narrow-minded." [Althouse]

In India, the censorship of a film about the assassination of Indira Gandhi, which took place in 1984. ("67 years" refers to India achieving independence.)

From the censor: "Look at the complexities. You have multiple languages, multiple religions, multiple social strata, multiple advantages, disadvantages. It can be very problematic."

Overheard at Meadhouse. [Althouse]

"This is what I want. Except it's ugly as sin."

"Sin can be pretty ugly."

"The problem is sin is not ugly."

"If only sin were uglier."

Too soon? [Althouse]

"Other than an off-colour tweet and subsequent apology by the British Embassy, the bicentennial of the punitive mission of 1814 that left the US capital in flames has received little attention this week...."

What cakes will be baked and tweets tweeted on September 11, 2201?

"Each of the couple’s six children had a job in the nuptials. The bride was walked down the aisle by eldest sons Maddox and Pax..." [Althouse]

"... while daughters Zahara and Vivienne tossed flower petals. Shiloh and Knox served as ring bearers."

Nice. The kids were central, and it was the kids who wanted the wedding. Angelina Jolie had been explaining to them for years that "our commitment when we decided to start a family was the greatest commitment you could possibly have," but the movie stars' kids were "watching movies featuring weddings, including 'Shrek,' and had been asking a lot of questions."

Earlier this year, she joked that the kids would serve as wedding planners, and the nuptials would be Disney-themed or feature paintball.

“It means something to them,” [Brad] Pitt said of a wedding in 2012. “We will [get married] someday, we will. It’s a great idea. ‘Get mommy a ring.’ ‘OK, I will, I will.’ ”

“Most kids have a wish for their parents to be married, even or especially kids of celebrities,” says Lisa Brateman, a New York-based psychotherapist. “I think marriage offers a perception of emotional security.”
"Perception," says the psychotherapist. We adults know marriage doesn't make permanence, but the kids believe.

On the subject of the faith of children, Jesus said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

After collecting "about 538 tons of food waste, paper contaminated with food waste and pet waste," Madison gives up on its organic waste composting project. [Althouse]

"The Streets Division can’t afford a $120,000 filter needed to remove non-compostable material, and it makes no sense to seek money for it and significantly broaden the program with uncertainty about when the [$20.6 million] biodigester will be built...."

The Streets Division was poised to add 1,600 households and 25 to 30 businesses this summer to get more residents, events and businesses used to separating organics....

Dan Schwartz, a participant in the pilot program who lives near East High School, said he does some of his own composting, but he wasn’t able to compost bones, paper plates and pizza boxes, all items allowed in the city program.

“It’s unfortunate they’re stopping it, because it will be harder to start it up again and get people used to it again,” he said. He’s already contacted his alderperson and the mayor to complain, he said.
I added the boldface. That phrase "get used to it" keeps coming up in the context of recycling/composting. We're being trained.

ADDED: Were disposable baby diapers allowed in this program? I'm guessing no, but if pet waste was allowed, why not? From the Madison website, a question:
Also, question, on diapers and sanitary products...these have plastic liners, should the interiors be removed from the liner part ew, but I'm willing to do that for the greater good or can the whole thing be dropped in?
The answer is no diapers and sanitary napkins, because: "We do not want to face regulation as a sewerage treatment facility." Ironic, no? The city government doesn't like all that government regulation.

But here's an old NYT report of a dirty diaper composting program in Toronto. And here's the Toronto website, still saying put "Diapers, sanitary products" in the Green Bin. But not: "Dryer sheets, baby wipes, make-up pads, cotton tipped swabs, dental floss."

The 6th Circuit reverses the hate-crime conviction of 15 Old Order Amish for cutting off the beards of Amish men and hair of Amish women. [Althouse]

Marty Lederman criticizes the court:

A critical part of the majority's decision is based upon its conclusion that the evidence did not necessarily prove that the victims' religion was a but-for cause of the assaults. That conclusion strikes me as untenable — indeed, deeply disturbing in its implications....

[T]he assaults... came in the wake of a profound rift within this particular Amish community.  [The Bishop of the Bergholz community, Samuel] Mullett had excommunicated several church members for challenging his leadership.... Mullett was angry.... The series of assaults then followed, under Mullett's direction. The victims were all Amish individuals who were apostates in Mullett's view.... As the court notes, Amish men do not trim their beards, and Amish women do not cut their hair, "as a way of symbolizing their piety, demonstrating righteousness and conveying an Amish identity.
The criminality of the assaults is obvious, but is it a federal crime, a "hate crime" under 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(2)(A)? It is if it's done "because of the actual or perceived . . . religion . . . of [that] person." The problem is that the trial judge's instructions translated that into a need to find that the victims' religion was "a significant motivating factor," but the appellate court said religion needs to be the "but-for" cause (that is, without this motivation, the act would not have taken place).

Lederman assumes the court is right about that but buys the government's argument that the error was harmless.
Based solely on the undisputed facts described in Judge Sutton's opinion... it appears to be clear that at least some of the victims--those who were excommunicated or who left voluntarily, at a minimum--would not have assaulted but for the fact that Mullett viewed them as heretical.  (Mullet said that beard and hair cuttings would stop people from being “Amish hypocrites.”) And that's true even if the particular assailants were motivated in the first instance by other factors, such as interfamilial disputes or anger about nonreligious actions of the victims....

[And] isn't it plain beyond any doubt that the victims' religion was a but-for cause of the type of bodily injury that occurred here — the cutting of beards and hair?  The assailants obviously chose to use that very unusual form of assault because the hair and beards were of deep religious significance to the victims — indeed, to strike at a fundamental component of their religious identity, by deliberately imparting a tangible, humiliating public sign that the victims were religious outcasts.
The court, however, stresses the motivation to attack. You might attack someone for nonreligious reasons, but choose as the form of attack to do something that would hurt them because of religion.

The court uses this striking analogy:
[G]iven that this is the Matthew Shepard Act, imagine that a child tells his parents he is gay.  As a result of their faith, the parents ask the child to undergo reparative therapy. The child resists, the parents dig in, all three fight verbally about everything from faith to family obligations.  At some point, the child snaps.  He assaults the parents and does so in a faith-offensive way—by physically forcing them to eat non-kosher food, by tattooing 666 on their arms or by taking some other action that deeply offends their faith. No doubt faith entered the mix from both sides of the assault, but there is doubt about whether the parents’ faith broke the camel’s back in terms of why the child committed the assault. That the means of assault involved religious symbolism confirms only that he knew how best to hurt his parents. It does not seal the deal that his parents’ faith, as opposed to their lack of support for him, was a but-for motive of the assault.
Whether you, like Lederman, reject the court's separation of the form of the attack from the motive to attack may depend on what you think taking the kinds of crimes that were traditionally prosecuted at the state level — physical attacks — and making them federal crimes because of a "hate" element. Lederman notes that the court may have been trying to avoid getting to the question whether the federal statute is supported by the commerce power.

"And if [the rapists] are providing [love], plus drugs, and alcohol and freedoms, or perceived freedoms, then we're never going to be able to keep [young girls] safe." [Althouse]

That's a quote from BBC's unnamed source who was a home-care worker in in Rothingham during the period when 1,400 young girls were systematically raped over a period of years:

"Sometimes, [the men] would phone and they would pick up around the corner, but sometimes they would just turn up and pick up at the children's home.... It depended on how brazen they were or how much heat they thought was on at the time. They did genuinely think who was on shift, who would be likely to go outside the children's unit. I used to make a deliberate attempt to let them know that I had clocked their car, that I was taking their registration plate. They would laugh it off with a good smirk.... They would sometimes say that they would have you stabbed or shot by one of their associates."

Police were called each time a girl went missing, but officers usually only arrived when the child got back to the home, sometimes "high on drugs" or "incredibly drunk", our source said.

"They led us very much on a merry dance and there wasn't much we could do apart from keep documenting. And we documented every single night, and we spoke to social workers. The social workers were passing that on. Everything we passed on, nothing seemed to go further in any way shape or form."...

He said he eventually left the home over his frustrations he was failing the children in his care and said he was not surprised at recent revelations of widespread and long-running abuse in the town.

"These young people have already been sexually abused, in many cases," he said, but children who have been abused do not blame their attacker simply because they "are struggling for love. [But] you cannot provide love in a children's unit.... It's one thing that you can't provide, and as a corporate parent it's where we fail. And if [the abusers] are providing that, plus drugs, and alcohol and freedoms, or perceived freedoms, then we're never going to be able to keep them safe."
Despite the criticism of the police, Mr. Anonymous is blaming the parents: Their failure to provide love created the vulnerability of their daughters to strangers posing as boyfriends. Reading between the lines, I'm seeing the police regarding the girls as wild and debauched, running off with boyfriends and then telling stories of rape. What can the "corporate parent" do if the real parents fail? Is that to be the government's explanation for its failure to intervene and save these children?

There's much talk about the government workers fear of being seen as racist: The accusations were made against men of Pakistani descent. Reading between the lines again, I'm inclined to speculate that instead of seeing a group of predators acting together in a criminal scheme, the government authorities saw the girls as attracted to these men as handsome, exciting strangers. If the police are not otherwise intervening in the sexual activities of adolescents, they might have indeed thought it would be racial profiling to go after these men and not men who share the ethnicity of girls who leave their homes at night.

John Rocker — the baseball player destroyed by a Sports Illustrated profile in 1999 — comes back into the culture spotlight as a contestant on "Survivor." [Althouse]

The new season starts on September 24, so let's talk about the old SI article that ruined his career.

I don't remember the old controversy, but I'm interested in looking at what sort of sexist-racist-homophobia material was stirring people up back in the year when Bill Clinton was acquitted in his impeachment trial, "The Sopranos" TV show began,  Dr. Jack Kevorkian was convicted of second degree murder for assisting in the suicide of a terminally ill man, there was a war in Kosovo and a massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado,  "Fight Club," Being John Malkovich," and "The Matrix" were playing in the movie theaters, and — most memorably — Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj, Sultan of Selangor became the 11th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

Here's the SI article. He doesn't like "foreigners":

"The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?"
Rocker is rarely tongue-tied when it comes to bashing those of a race or sexual orientation different from his. "I'm not a racist or prejudiced person," he says with apparent conviction. "But certain people bother me."
People have learned to tie their tongues since then. It will always be the case that people "bother" people. It's just harder to hear about it these days. But we're always hanging around ready to pounce on those who do violate the new speech norms.

"For those at Northeastern, breaking into the U.S. News top 100 was like landing a man on the moon, but Freeland was determined to try." [Althouse]

"Reverse-engineering the formulas took months; perfecting them took years."

“We could say, ‘Well, if we could move our graduation rates by X, this is how it would affect our standing,’” Freeland says. “It was very mathematical and very conscious and every year we would sit around and say, ‘Okay, well here’s where we are, here’s where we think we might be able to do next year, where will that place us?’”
Via Tax Prof.

Development Release: Ubuntu 14.10 Beta 1 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Stéphane Graber has announced the availability of the first beta release of Ubuntu 14.10, code-named "Utopic Unicorn". Besides Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME and Ubuntu Kylin, who all took part in alpha testing, Xubuntu has now also joined the list of sub-projects that provide official CD/DVD images for beta....

Gender Affects Types of Crashes for Young Drivers [Dr. Helen]

A study finds that the gender of young driver’s plays a role in the types of crashes they are involved in:

(HealthDay News) — The types of vehicle crashes involving young drivers often vary by gender, a new study has found.

Researchers analyzed data from 2007 to 2011 for all crashes involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 in Kansas and found a number of differences between male and female drivers.

Young women were 66 percent more likely to wear a seat belt, 28 percent more likely to drive on a restricted license and they had more crashes at intersections and with pedestrians. They were also more likely to have crashes on weekdays.

Young men, on the other hand, had more crashes at night, more off-road crashes and were more likely to have crashes on weekends, according to the study published recently in the Journal of Safety Research.

“There are often different risk factors for young male and young female drivers because their behavior and attitudes are generally different,” lead researcher Sunanda Dissanayake, a civil engineering professor at Kansas State University, said in a university news release.

The article mentions education materials being aimed at each gender to help them reduce car accidents: perhaps more instruction for girls are how to prevent driving errors at intersections and around pedestrians and instructions for guys on why wearing a seat belt is important, though this may or may not work. Any ideas on how to get guys to wear seat belts? It seems to be a big problem for them in fatal crashes.

The Islamic-Supremacist Enclave in Minnesota [Ordered Liberty]

There are several news stories making the rounds today expressing great surprise that young Muslim men who reside in Minnesota – particularly those having ties to the state’s substantial Somali community – are fighting for the Islamic State terrorist organization (aka “ISIS” or “ISIL”). Two Minnesota Muslims have reportedly been killed. What surprises me is that anyone is surprised. In my 2010 book on the Muslim Brotherhood, The Grand Jihad, I devoted a chapter to the Islamic supremacist infiltration of Minnesota. Even then, that infiltration was marked by ties to al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as a concerted effort to implement sharia principles in U.S. law and institutions, including the classroom and the economy. The chapter is reproduced below.

The questions came rat-tat-tat at this townhall meeting for Amy Klobuchar.  A member of Minnesota’s hard Left Democratic Farm Labor Party, she was campaigning as the Democrats’ nominee for the United States Senate.  Her answers sounded like babble, or perhaps clipped laughter:  Haa, haa, haa.  But she wasn’t laughing.  Klobuchar was speaking Somali.

And she was saying “yes”:  Yes to “comprehensive immigration reform”; yes to foreign language programs; yes to helping Somali money-service businesses that her constituents used to send the American dollars they learned back “home”; yes to meeting regularly with the Somali community so they could monitor that she was producing on the commitments that, absolutely haa, she was making.

The two hundred Somalis in the audience seemed pleased.  They were no doubt happier still when Klobuchar won in a landslide.  She rode the same wave that carried Keith Ellison into Congress.  Another Farm Labor Party member, Ellison became the first Muslim to sit in the House of Representatives.  He credited his victory to the enthusiastic support of Somalis. He took the oath of office, swearing on the Koran, to represent Minnesota’s fifth congressional district.  In that district lies the entire City of Minneapolis.  It is the Muslim enclave.

The local Somali population that has been estimated at 100,000, representing somewhere between half and two-thirds the the total number of Somalis now living in the United States.  There may be many more.  The actual population size is unknowable because of rampant illegal immigration, widespread identity and documentation fraud, and what the FBI gingerly describes as “a cultural reluctance to share personal information with census takers [that] has prevented an accurate count of the ethnic Somali population inside the United States.”

Somalis began pouring into America in the mid-Nineties thanks to the State Department’s refugee resettlement efforts, such as the “Africa Priority Three Program” that gives special attention to Somalis, Ethiopians and Liberians.  These initiatives were robust and incompetently supervised.  They targeted dire African countries without any evident concern about cultural differences that made assimilation unlikely.  In 2008, State was forced to concede that there had been immigration fraud on a massive scale:  nearly 40,000 aliens admitted into our country after falsely claiming family ties to immigrants already here. If Klobuchar delivers on her promises to push for an immigration “reform” package that would not just legalize aliens who are here unlawfully but streamline the process for importing their chains of family members, the numbers could increase geometrically.

The Somalis are the dominant Islamic group in Minnesota, but hardly the only one.  As we’ve seen [in a previous chapter on Congressman Ellison], CAIR was a prominent player in Ellison’s campaign, which appealed to Muslims across the board, including American- and Arab-born Muslims, as well as to the Islamists’ reliable allies on the Left.  But the Somalis are an especially potent, aggressive force. That is the case here as it is in their war-torn homeland, where life-expectancy for men is less than forty-eight years (for women, it hovers just above fifty-one), where the dead-end of Islamism is thriving, and where the scourge of piracy is again on the rise.

Besides Minneapolis, insular Somali communities have sprung up in Seattle, San Diego, Columbus, Atlanta, and—it almost goes without saying—Washington. There are other pockets throughout the country. The Tennessee town of Shelbyville is one. Hundreds of Somalis found work there in the local Tyson’s Chicken plant, and two were soon elected to the union’s eight-member board. When it came time for a new collective bargaining agreement to be struck in 2008, the union pressured the company to abandon Labor Day.  In its place, the Somali workers demanded a Muslim holiday: the Eid (Eid ul-Fitr), which marks the end of Ramadan.  The company capitulated, to much gnashing of teeth by the majority, non-Muslim employees.

It is in Minneapolis, though, where the greatest political and legal strides are being made by Somalis, and thus by Islamism. The Fifth District has become such a safe seat for Ellison that, on the campaign trail, he is more needed than in need. In 2008, he stumped vigorously for Al Franken’s Senate bid. During his Minneapolis appearances, by his side was Abdullahi Ugas Farah, described in one press account as a “highly regarded prominent Somali traditional leader”—which, my friend Diana West acidly observed, translates to “a Somali leader from Somalia, not Minnesota.” Farah urged the faithful that “in order for Keith to be helpful to the situation in Somalia, you must also elect Al Franken to the Senate.” That’s the job of the U.S. Congress, right?  To fix the situation in Somalia.

What exactly is the situation in Somalia?  Well, the failed state has been engulfed in a civil war for well over a decade, going back to the shattering “Black Hawk Down” days of the early Nineties. Islamists seek to take over the country and impose strict sharia law under the auspices of leadership known as the “Islamic Courts Union,” together with the local al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab (“the lads”). As Diana West found, Abdullahi Ugas Farah was one of two speakers who presided in 2003 over the opening ceremony for a new sharia court in Mogadishu’s Shirkole area. It was apparently a short distance from there to Democratic Party politics in Minneapolis. [ACM note: After ruling much of Somalia for a time, the Islamic Courts Union was driven from power by U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces, with many of its militant members formally joining their al-Shabaab allies. See Thomas Joscelyn & Bill Roggio, “Shabaab fomally joins al Qaeda” (The Long War Journal, Feb. 9, 2012).]

Import Somali Aliens, Export Islamist Militants

In Somalia, the Islamist factions are linked to the al Qaeda cells that bombed the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. They also maintain ties with al Qaeda leaders in Northwest Pakistan. Somalia has thus become crucially important to bin Laden’s network as both a rich recruiting vein and a staging ground for regional and global terrorist operations—including strikes against the United States. Reciprocally, al Qaeda training has proved critical to the Somali Islamists. Recruits, who have often been led to Somalia from mosques or diverted there while on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, are steeped in Salafist ideology while being trained in military assault tactics and the use of machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and other explosives. Terror tactics apt to intimidate civilian populations are stressed. In late 2008, for example, Shabaab “produced a videotape depicting the slow decapitation of an accused spy,” according to the FBI.

Incorporating familiar al Qaeda tactics like simultaneous bombings (frequently using suicide attackers), the campaign has been frightfully successful.  The Islamists took over much of Somalia in 2006 before being beaten back by U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces.  By 2009, the Islamists had surged back as Ethiopia retreated under the usual pressure from “human rights” groups—ever notice how they always seem preternaturally interested in the humans doing the killing versus the humans being killed? Shabaab terrorists and the Islamic Courts Union seized much of the country’s south again, including the strategically important port city of Kismayo. (See here and here.) Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s deputy, was moved to proclaim that Shabaab gains were “a step on the path of victory of Islam.”

The offensives had significant, U.S.-based help.  Our Somali immigration pipeline, you see, is far from a one-way street.  We not only import Somali aliens, including their “traditional leaders.” We also send back aspiring Islamist militants, including suicide bombers. Since 2006, the FBI has detected that many Somalis are returning to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab, and more are launched from Minneapolis than from any other U.S. haven.

Despite the extensive history of Muslims flocking to any “field of jihad” where Islamists are in combat, the Bureau was instinctively quick to rationalize that “the primary motivation” for their travel to Somalia was “to defend their place of birth [i.e., the place they couldn’t get out of fast enough] from the Ethiopian invasion.” But the criminal charges filed by the Justice Department tell a different story: one of a call to jihad that sounded in mosques from Minneapolis to Mecca. Thus, even the FBI has had to concede, however grudgingly, that “an appeal was also made based on their shared Islamic identity.” You don’t say? In fact, Somali Islamists have been bold in stressing their attachment to the global Islamist project. They’ve issued public statements of solidarity with their allies in al Qaeda’s rambunctious Yemeni satellite (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Moreover, on New Years Day 2010, a Somali Islamist in Denmark attempted to murder Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew one of the riot-inspiring depictions of Mohammed in 2005.

Shabaab recruitment drives have become intense in the United States and Canada.  Some relatives of the young men who’ve gone missing from Minneapolis point to the Abubakar as-Saddique mosque as the catalyst that radicalized them. And then there is the familiar Muslim Brotherhood route. Omar Hammami grew up as a Baptist in Alabama before converting to Islam while studying at the University of South Alabama. He became president of the Muslim Students Association [the first building block in the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure], duly opposed “terrorism,” and was quick to express his “shock” at the time of the 9/11 attacks that “a Muslim could have done this.”  In short order, though, the young American gravitated to Somali areas of Toronto before joining al-Shabaab, taking on the nom de guerre Abu Mansour al-Amriki. He is now a top Shabaab commander who regularly appears in recruiting videos, denouncing democracy and Western notions of human rights as being implacably set against sharia principles. (See here, here and here.)

The recruitment drive is taking its toll. Shirwa Ahmed, a twenty-seven-year old Somali who had lived with his family in Minneapolis, blew himself up at a UN checkpoint in 2008, killing twenty-nine people. In September 2009, another Somali immigrant left his Seattle community to return home and carry out a truck bombing in Mogadishu, killing twenty-one people. The case of Ahmed is especially grating.  Thanks to the State Department’s refugee resettlement mania, he’d become a naturalized American citizen.  So, after his mass-murder attack against U.S.-supported allies in northern Somalia, the FBI, at the expense of the American taxpayer, had his remains (which had become evidence in the Bureau’s terrorism-support investigation) transported back to America so he could be given a proper Islamic burial at “home.” (See here, here and here.)

To be fair, the Bureau, however ham-handedly, is trying to ingratiate itself within the community for intelligence purposes. The palpable fear of American and Canadian investigators is that the young men who leave North America with a jihadist fervor will return as trained, lethally capable terrorists, committed to carrying out terrorist strikes against the West. As David Harris, the former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service starkly puts it, “it is just a matter of time before someone who went abroad comes back to North America in an effort to carry out an attack.”

Driver Flying ISIS Flag Makes Bomb Threat in Chicago [The PJ Tatler]

For a group that has no ideology beyond violence, as the Obama administration claims, it sure is good at drawing support.

A Chicago man led police on a chase Wednesday morning, while flying the ISIS flag from his car.

Emad Karakrah, 49, was charged with felony counts of disorderly conduct and aggravated fleeing; and a misdemeanor count of driving on a never-issued license, according to Chicago police. He was also issued three traffic citations.

Someone called police after seeing a “suspicious person” driving a silver Pontiac southbound in the 7700 block of South Kedzie at 9:18 a.m. with an ISIS flag waving out the window, according to a police report.

Officers attempted to pull over the vehicle, but the driver took off, according to the report. The officers called for assistance, and another officer pulled the vehicle over after it went through several red lights.

The man told police during his arrest that there was a bomb in the car and he would detonate it if they searched the vehicle, according to the report.

There was no bomb, this time.

Video Chat App Confirms Authenticity of Ferguson Shooting Audio [The PJ Tatler]

The audio recording purported to be of the Ferguson, MO shooting turns out to be real after all. CNN aired it without verifying it, bringing to mind how both NBC and ABC mistreated evidence in the Trayvon Martin shooting. Glide video chat app exonerates CNN in this case.

According to Glide, which bills itself as “The fastest way to send and receive video messages,” the audio was recorded on their service at the time of the shooting. It is timestamped, and the unidentified user who recorded it had no ability to edit it after the fact.

A Glide user living nearby (whose identity is being protected) was simply using the Glide app on their smartphone exactly as it was designed – to instantly communicate with a friend through our real-time video texting service. Simultaneously, they also captured audio in the background of the gunshots allegedly fired at Michael Brown.

Because Glide is the only messaging application using streaming video technology, each message is simultaneously recorded and transmitted, so the exact time can be verified to the second. In this case, the video in question was created at 12:02:14 PM CDT on Saturday, August 9th.

The audio does not settle many questions. The pause and the number of shots — at least 10 — could suggest a few possible scenarios, favorable to either Michael Brown or Officer Darren Wilson.

The audio does not settle one way or the other whether Brown was trying to surrender to Officer Wilson, as some witnesses say, or whether he was attacking the officer, as Wilson claims.

Brace Yourselves for this Awful News, America: Chelsea Clinton Is Leaving NBC [The PJ Tatler]

America is due for some good news, what with the sputtering economy, the border crisis, an abdicating president, Russia going neo-Soviet, the rise of ISIS and the return of retread Jerry Brown to office, but this story will be no solace and, certainly no port in a storm.

Chelsea Clinton, arguably the most brilliant journalists on the planet, is leaving her post at NBC News.

I know, I know. It’s hard to take. The Tatler is here for you.

Journalism’s leading light broke the terrible news in the modern era’s most prestigious news publication, People magazine.

Chelsea Clinton says she’s stepping out of her correspondent job as she looks forward to taking on mom duties

After not quite three years as a special correspondent for NBC News – and with just a little while until she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expected to become parents – the former first daughter is now leaving that position, she tells PEOPLE in a statement, “to continue focusing on my work at the Clinton Foundation and as Marc and I look forward to welcoming our first child.”

No one will ever forget Chelsea Clinton’s massive contribution to journalism.

Her hard-hitting interview with the Geico gecko for Rock Center will never ever be surpassed. It even left a deceased Dan Rather envious.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dan Rather isn’t dead yet? Well, whatever. Maybe he’ll fake that too.

Chelsea proved that she has the chops to go toe-to-toe with Putin in that interview. She was a bargain at $600,000 per year to file one or two puff pieces annually. A steal.

She’ll be missed. Terribly.

Blow For Cameron as Tory MP Defects to UKIP [The PJ Tatler]

*Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to Cameron’s press conference Friday morning.

UKIP – the insurgent right-of-center party that has been shaking up the British political scene for the past couple of years, and which won elections for the European Parliament earlier this year, pulled off another coup today when it announced the first defection to its ranks from Prime Minister David Cameron’s governing Conservative Party.

Douglas Carswell, MP for the seat of Clacton in south-east England, said he was leaving the Tories because Cameron was not serious about plans to reform the European Union ahead of an in/out referendum, due to be held in 2017 if the party wins an overall majority in next year’s General Election – it’s currently in a coalition with the center-left Liberal Democrats.

Carswell will now contest a special election for his seat – and if, as expected, he wins he will become UKIP’s first MP in Westminster. His defection is a triumph for UKIP and its leader Nigel Farage, and a major blow to Cameron, who had hoped to patch up splits in his party over Europe in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Announcing his defection, Carswell told a press conference: “The problem is that many of those at the top of the Conservative Party are simply not our side. They aren’t serious about the change that Britain so desperately needs.”

UKIP has pledged to take Britain out of the EU, a policy that increasing numbers of voters support. Cameron has pledged to negotiate with the EU to secure major reforms ahead of the 2017 referendum, but Carswell said he believed the party leadership was not being sincere. He said he had been told by senior advisers to the Prime Minister that voters would be offered “just enough to persuade enough of them to stay in”.

What is particularly damaging for Cameron is that Carswell is not some fringe figure or publicity-seeking opportunist whose defection the Conservatives can easily dismiss. He’s highly principled, and a serious thinker who’s been a leading voice for reform, both in his party and the UK political system in general.

The timing of Carswell’s announcement was particularly unfortunate for Prime Minister Cameron, coinciding as it did with the release of official figures showing net migration to Britain has risen to 250,000 in the past year, despite Cameron’s pledge to reduce the level to “tens of thousands.” The inability of Britain to control immigration from EU countries has been a hugely successful campaigning issue for UKIP.

Friday’s papers are filled with speculation about which other Tories might follow Carswell to UKIP, with claims that as many as eight MPs are in talks with Farage’s party. But while Farage might be celebrating, the real winner from Carswell’s defection may be the left-wing Labour party, which despite its current modest showing in the polls could win next year’s election if UKIP and the Tories split the center-right vote in enough ‘swing’ seats. The pro-Europe Labour party has refused to offer voters a referendum on the European Union, and for all his smiles today Farage must fear that the chances of Britain escaping the EU’s clutches any time soon just got a little slimmer.

Fort Hood Jihadist Wants to Join ISIS [The PJ Tatler]

Nidal Hassan, the Muslim who shouted “Allahu Ackbar!” as he gunned Americans down at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, has sent a letter to the Islamic State. He wants to join the radical army that is carving a caliphate out of Syria and Iraq.

The Obama administration still classifies Hassan’s nassacre as “workplace violence.” Similarly, the Obama administration claims against all the facts that ISIS has “no ideology.”

The letter, obtained by the Fox News Channel, is a request by Hassan to become a “citizen” of the Islamic State.

In the undated letter, Hasan — who fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 at Fort Hood in 2009 in what the Defense Department called “workplace violence”– tells ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that he wants to join the caliphate.

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State,”Hasan says in the handwritten document addressed to “Ameer, Mujahid Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.”

The two-page letter includes Hasan’s signature and the abbreviation SoA for Soldier of Allah.

The Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley earlier in August.

In response to a question about whether the US government has a strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria, where the group rules by sharia and is creating a capital city, President Obama admitted Thursday that “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

Hassan does, even though he sits in prison with a death sentence over his head.

h/t Washington Examiner

Washington Post Covers Voter Fraud Inaccurately and Incompletely [The PJ Tatler]

Sometimes voter-fraud deniers are forced to discuss the truth of voter fraud.  This happened today at the Washington Post (“Fairfax officials say some people may have crossed Va.-Md. line to vote twice in 2012“). While the Post deserves credit from emerging from its cocoon of voter-fraud denial, it deserves scorn for bungling the emergence.

Reporter Susan Svrluga notes that “tens of thousands of voters” were registered to cast ballots in both Virginia and Maryland.  That’s true, and it is a big problem nationwide.  Hundreds of thousands of people are registered to vote in multiple states, and many of them have voted.

It wasn’t Eric Holder’s Justice Department that discovered the problem.  That won’t happen because as I reported at PJ Media in 2010, Obama political appointees expressly shut down the efforts at DOJ to detect this sort of fraud and inadequate voter-roll maintenance.

Hans von Spakovsky notes who deserves the credit for detecting the problem:

It was the VVA — along with another citizens’ group dedicated to election integrity, Election Integrity Maryland (EIM) — that did the research on the voter files in Virginia and Maryland to find these illegal voters. And this may be only the tip of the iceberg: VVA and EIM turned the names of 43,893 individuals who appear to be registered in both states over to the State Boards of Elections in Virginia and Maryland. Fairfax County alone has more than 10,000 such duplicate registrations. These 17 voters are only a subset of at least 164 voters their research showed voted in both states in the 2012 election.

Naturally the Washington Post makes no inquiry as to why the Eric Holder Department of Justice has failed to do anything about the scourge of double registration.  It’s in DOJ’s job description.  DOJ isn’t doing the job.  Instead, groups like the American Civil Rights Union, Judicial Watch and True the Vote have had to bring the cases Eric Holder has refused to bring to clean up voter rolls.

Those who create and manage the left-of-center election narrative ignore entirely this DOJ history, as does the Washington Post.

The other key fact ignored by the Washington Post is that in 2013 Virginia Democrats sued to stop election officials from trying to detect and cure this problem!  I know because I, along with Judicial Watch, defended Virginia’s use of the cross-state check program to detect double registrations.  The Post should not have omitted this fact when tracing out the partisan battle lines of the issue.  The Democrats have gone all-in on the side of corrupted voter rolls.

Post Reporter Susan Svrluga

Post Reporter Susan Svrluga

Some newspapers fully informed their readers of this fact, unlike the Post.  The Richmond Times Dispatch:

Purging voter rolls, however, can. Yet when the State Board of Elections took steps last year to clean up the voter rolls and asked localities to remove names of those no longer eligible from the rolls, the state Democratic Party sought an injunction to stop the process, and Chesterfield’s registrar, Lawrence Haake, declined to participate, citing inaccuracies. Haake might have been justified, and the board might have pushed too hard to execute what should be a painstaking process. But when those particular concerns are set aside, the general point stands: Localities should keep their voting rolls as up to date as reasonably possible.

Finally, the Post reporter downsizes the reason states are on the front lines of this issue:

It’s a federalist, states’-rights tradition that leaves a confusing mishmash of laws, rules and records, he said.

The reason states are in charge of their own elections is a “federalist, states-rights tradition that leaves a confusing mishmash of laws”?  Really?

The reason states are in charge of their own elections is the United States Constitution (Article 1, Sec. 4).  The Constitution gives states power over their own elections because it promotes liberty.  The federal government does not have control over state election laws because centralization of power is unhealthy for liberty.

It’s good to see the Washington Post finally report on voter fraud.  It’s not so good to see the predictable sanctuary given to the Democrat Party’s attempted facilitation of the fraud, and the usual criticism of our Constitutional arrangement for running elections.

Taco Bell Drive-Thru Work of Art Shows Capitalism Is All About Heart [The PJ Tatler]

Because this experience is so rare, not only did I visit TellTheBell.com to answer their customer-service survey — something I never do — but I just came in from the mailbox (yes, the snail-mail box) where I placed this letter, and put up the red flag for the postman. I share it with you now, as I would a visit to a fine museum, an inspiring concert, or a thrilling spectator sport.

Taco Bell 022872, 11829 Abrams Rd., Dallas, TX 75243

To the Manager,

I had such an experience at your restaurant drive-through yesterday, I had to take a moment to let you know. Over the years, I have worked in customer service, in restaurants, in sales and in customer-service training. My family frequently visits Taco Bell and other fast-food places.

But yesterday was far and away the finest drive-through experience I have had…even better than Chik-fil-A, which was the previous standard-bearer.

Laquiata H. (as her name appears on my receipt), greeted me through the speaker with a clear and cheerful voice. She immediately let me know that she was ready to serve when I was ready to order, no hurry. This little touch I found immediately endearing and comforting. Drive-throughs always feel rushed, menus are complicated and, if you don’t have perfect vision, difficult to read. (BTW, the small type on yours meant that we had to read the choices aloud to my wife in the passenger seat, inevitably fouling your speed stats.)

Laquiata was an island of peace and happiness in a hectic day. When we got to the window, she greeted us with a smile. When she handed us our food, she repeated the order clearly to eliminate errors. That little gesture made me feel like she really cared about us, and wanted us to have a terrific experience.

I don’t know if you realize how extraordinary this is in your industry. I have come to loathe drive-throughs, with their squawk boxes, fast-talking, inarticulate automatons, and frequent errors. Most folks in this line of work seem more concerned with getting rid of you, than with serving you.

Please convey my gratitude to Laquiata, and the support team that made it possible for her to be the voice and face of joyful welcome.

She singled-handedly turned a commodity into a work of art.

Thank You,

Scott Ott

One of the things that makes America great is folks like Laquiata, who bring this attitude to work each day.

Capitalism, after all, isn’t about prices, and markets, and margins, and finance.

It’s about people, and beauty, and emotion, and excellence, and human need, and joy, and love and liberty.

All of that other stuff is just mechanism.

This is heart.

This is real.

Support Burger King Against the Soviets [The PJ Tatler]

This November will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet, many living among us today would eagerly help rebuild it. Take Fox News’ Howard Kurtz as an example. His Thursday rant against Burger King’s choice to move its corporate headquarters to Canada and benefit from lower taxes brims with Soviet-style angst over escaping slaves. He writes:

70 U.S. companies have engaged in similar maneuvers, known by the stupefyingly boring name of “inversions,” and the media have collectively yawned, relegating the debate to the inside business pages…

Why have journalists and commentators failed to bang the drum over this outrage?

Outrage? What’s so outrageous about people voting with their feet?

The difference between corporate tax inversions and immigration from East to West Berlin is a matter of degree. In either case, those moving have sought escape to freer pastures.

Like a good Soviet, Kurtz longs to erect a legal wall boxing people in. Because nothing conveys the prosperous effect of a nation’s policies like barring folks from leaving.

Despite his portrayal of an ambivalent media and impotent government, Kurtz should recognize that his tyrannical desire to herd people into oppressive jurisdictions retains plenty of support. It wasn’t that long ago that the National Labor Relations Board harassed Boeing for moving part of its operations to a right-to-work state. More recently, Walgreens succumbed to similar pressure applied by the Obama administration and chose not to proceed with a proposed inversion.

This should be remembered come November, when politicians and media figures feign reverent remembrance of the Berlin Wall’s collapse. Unless they fully support the freedom of association, including the freedom to vote with your feet against restrictive regulations or debilitating taxes, they have no business pretending they’re better than Soviets.

Study: People Less Likely To Discuss Controversial Issues On Social Media [The PJ Tatler]

On what planet?

When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, he designed it to be a nicer place than the real world. People you barely know are “friends”; people you have drinks with now and then, “close friends.” You get a notification if someone deems you a friend, but if they later think better of it and delete you, you’ll never know about it. You can approve of anything anyone does with the click of a button, but to register disapproval, you need to resort to words. And so on.

Sanding away the spiky bits of human interaction was a canny way of getting people to do all sorts of things online that they might feel uncomfortable doing in a non-virtual crowd — sharing baby photos, talking about surgeries and deaths in the family, bragging about their charitable work. But it appears not to have been a good method of getting them to have hard conversations about politics.

Earlier this week, the Pew Research Internet Project published a study about the so-called “spiral of silence” as it applies in social media. That terms describes the tendency people have to keep their opinions to themselves when they believe listeners are likely to disagree with them.

This is some alternative universe stuff here. I’m pretty sure the first MySpace user after Tom posted, “The president sucks!” as soon as he or she could. If anything, social media seems to encourage people who have never paid attention to politics between election days to weigh in on everything from the tax code to complex foreign policy issues. True, when I say “weigh in” I mean “belch up a talking point heard on television,” but, still, they’re definitely not shy about it. Actually, I’m still waiting to meet the one person on Twitter or Facebook who shuts up about controversial issues. It’s sort of a personal quest. I may quit the Internet when I do.

Also, the fact that Zuckerberg wanted social media to be nicer than the real world shows that one can become a billionaire even while completely failing at one’s objective.

Because it’s nasty out there.

NFL: ‘OK, Maybe Knocking A Woman Out Is Worse Than Smoking Pot’ [The PJ Tatler]


In the wake of criticism over a two-game suspension for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, the NFL has established a six-game unpaid ban for personnel who violate the league’s policy on domestic violence, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday.

A second incident would be punished by a lifetime ban from the league, Goodell said in a letter and memo to the owners of the league’s 32 teams.

Without referring to Rice by name, he acknowledged in his letter that he made the wrong decision in that case.

“I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will,” he wrote.

Goodell has been trying to destroy football with an almost missionary zeal. While busy attempting to remove almost all on-field violence from an inherently violent game, he’s pretty much ignored the off-field variety. When Rice received a two game joke of a suspension in the midst of the league doling out much harsher punishments for substance abuse, even the most devout football fans (“Present.”) were appalled.

Hopefully, the threat of a lifetime ban for a second violation will give this policy some teeth.

The Islamic State Is Building a Capital [The PJ Tatler]

While President Obama dithers over a strategy and considers cobbling a coalition together to implement it, the Islamist State in Syria is entrenching and enforcing its barbaric law on the local inhabitants, reports Bloomberg.

In the Syrian city of Raqqah on the banks of the Euphrates River, Islamic State militants are busy building a capital fit for their followers.

Human rights observers say they have stoned women to death for adultery, while residents report that religious textbooks have been imported for schools and the market flooded with black cloaks for girls as young as 6 years old. Even as it wages war on multiple fronts, the group has had time to focus on the details, recruit thousands into its forces and celebrate victories by parading the heads of its enemies.

This is not a passage in a history book about some band of savages who pillaged their way across territory a thousand years ago. It’s happening right now.

The local victims mostly dislike the Islamic State’s hyperviolence and radicalism. The Islamic State and its leaders and street thugs don’t care. There is no force nearby that’s capable of overthrowing them.

Mohammad, a Raqqah resident who declined to give his full name because of fear of reprisals, said people are unhappy with the strict social codes imposed by the Islamic State.

Women cannot leave home without a male guardian, shops have to close five times for prayer and people accused of theft have their hands cut off in public, he said. “People yearn for the pre-war days,” he said after arriving in Beirut. “But they’re too intimidated to speak out.”

President Obama and his national security advisers keep insisting that the Islamic State doesn’t have any ideology beyond violence. That’s not correct. The Islamic State has an ideology, based on the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to return Islam to its roots and the Koran. They are an expression of the Islamic revival that has been underway for about 30 to 40 years now, across the Islamic world. They’re the most radical expression of that revival so far, but they are an expression of it.

By “revival,” I’m using Christian terminology but this is nothing like a Christian revival, except in one sense. Christian revivals are efforts to bring believers back to what the New Testament actually says, about sin, about grace, about living the Christian life, about the Revelation. The New Testament never teaches war against anyone (the Old Testament does in some passages, but Christians revivals are almost always about the New Testament). It teaches peace, submission to even ungodly authorities, and many other things, but not violence.

The Koran teaches violence against non-Muslims, mainly Jews and Christians, in the portions thought to have been written after Mohammed had won secular power in warfare. Therefore an Islamic revival will not bear many similarities with a Christian revival. If both faiths have revivals aimed at getting them back to what their written teachings say, it matters a great deal what those teachings actually say. Contrary to soft beliefs that all religions basically teach the same things, they don’t.

If the Obama administration’s rhetoric that ISIS has no ideology is aimed at creating a split between IS and other Muslims, then it might be worthwhile as public relations. But this administration has had a cozy relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood for years. The Muslim Brotherhood started the Islamic revival. Even if the administration views the IS as too radical to have an ideology, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology seems to be seeping into the administration’s strategic thinking — to the extent that there is any.

The strongest public relations with the most impact would be to destroy IS root and branch and therefore discredit them. But that doesn’t appear to be the goal, at least not in any meaningful way.

I’ll end this post with this shoutfest between Sean Hannity and terrorist imam Anjem Choudary from Fox Wednesday night. Choudary is an Islamic supremacist who supports terrorism and any other means to further what he sees as Islam’s war against the rest of the world.

Most of the discussion is useless shouting, but near the end, Hannity gets Choudary to admit that the end game for him and al Qaeda and ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood is the same — to impose Islamic sharia law on the whole world.

Click here to view the embedded video.

That’s an ideology, as extreme an ideology as the world has ever seen. Sharia is the Islamic law behind everything from forcing women to cover themselves head to toe, to forcing all non-Muslims to pay a tax and live under repression, to beheading journalists and selling non-Muslim women into sex slavery. ISIS believes that its actions are in accord with sharia.

Most Muslims do not support the likes of ISIS or Choudary. But millions do support the global imposition of sharia, as part of the overall Islamic revival.

Anjem Choudary doesn’t live in Syria and isn’t taking up a gun to fight for the cause. He lives in London on welfare. He encourages other Muslims to live on welfare in the West and turn it into a “jihadi allowance.” His weapon is his mouth. He may have radicalized the British Muslim rapper who joined ISIS and is believed to have beheaded James Foley.

Does Anjem Choudary have an ideology?

Man Loses Half His Skull. 3D Printing Gives Him the Lost Half Back [The PJ Tatler]

3D printing is incredibly disruptive technology. It has already impacted the debate over guns. Researchers are using it to recreate antique musical instruments.

At 3DPrint.com, they have the story of a Chinese man who lost half of his skull in a fall. 3D printing will give him that half of his skull back.

The 46-year-old was working at his construction job one day when he fall three stories to the ground. The fall left him disfigured, as if he had a large dent in the side of his head.

Surgion [sic] MaoGuo Shu, of Xijing Hospital, who has seen a vast array of head and skull injuries, says that cases like Hu’s are very rare, and finding a solution to fix the damaged skull is very complex and difficult. To try and come up with a solution, the hospital brought in dozens of experts in the field. What they came up with was an idea for a 3D printed titanium mesh which would cover Hu’s brain and help make his skull look normal again. Thankfully for Hu, he won’t have to pay a dime for the surgery, as the hospital is covering the cost, and an American company, Stryker has agreed to pay for the 3D printing and materials used in the printing process.

The titanium printed mesh should return his skull to his normal shape over time. His brain, which was badly damaged in the fall leaving Hu unable to talk and write, might regenerate itself, according to the doctors.

VIDEO — Obama on ISIS: ‘We don’t have a strategy yet.’ [The PJ Tatler]

President Barack Obama delivered a press conference on foreign policy crises this afternoon. While the president apparently did not have an overarching message in mind for either the crisis in Ukraine or ISIS’ rise in the Middle East, he did make one admission that is bound to be the headline.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Obama said. “We don’t have a strategy yet [for dealing with ISIS].”

Obama did allow that he may consult with Congress at some point, and the United States might “cobble together” some kind of coalition to combat ISIS.

Is There a ‘Debate’ Now Over Handing 9-Year-Olds Fully Automatic Firearms? [The PJ Tatler]

The Wall Street Journal reports that there is a new “debate” over firearms, in the wake of a terrible fatal accident at a gun range this week.

The death of a shooting instructor at an Arizona gun range when a 9-year-old girl lost control of a powerful automatic weapon has raised the issue of age limits at such operations.

The girl, on vacation with her parents at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Ariz., accidentally shot and killed the instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca, while firing an Uzi submachine gun Monday, officials said. The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office said the gun’s recoil sent the weapon over the girl’s head, its bullets striking Mr. Vacca, who stood next to her.

Mr. Vacca, who was shot in the head, was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he died from his injuries Monday evening, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Video of the incident released by the sheriff’s office shows Mr. Vacca adjusting the girl’s stance and then saying, “All right, now go ahead and give me one shot,” apparently before the gun was set on fully automatic. With her back to the camera, the girl successfully fires a single round at a target.

“All right, full auto,” Mr. Vacca then says before the girl releases a series of shots, apparently losing control of the gun before the video ends.

The shooting touched off a debate on social media among gun-control advocates, parents and gun-rights supporters, with many questioning why the girl’s parents would let her fire such a powerful weapon.

I’m about as pro-Second Amendment as one can get, but this was irresponsible. The instructor evidently had the girl fire a single shot from the Uzi before telling her to go full auto. If that’s standard practice, then the practice needs to change.

I was an adult male when I joined the Air Force, and received training on the M-16 at full auto during basic training.

In that training, the instructors did not allow us to fire on full auto until we had fired several rounds on semi. I don’t recall the exact number or rounds we fired, it was probably around 10. We had to get used to the weapon’s weight and feel, and get accustomed to the recoil, and we had to get used to using the weapon to put lead on target downrange. Then we were instructed to fire on full auto, but only in three-round bursts. Anyone who fired more in a burst got the classic military training instructor hair dryer treatment.

Firing on full auto is a different experience from firing a single round on semi. Weapons on full auto can have a tendency to “climb,” or go up at the muzzle end the longer you hold the trigger down to fire. If the operator is not prepared for that, it can surprise the operator and a loss of control can occur.

The last thing you want is surprise, when you’re handling a fully automatic weapon. Or any firearm.

This firearm in this terrible case clearly climbed, and the girl was totally unprepared for it.

Can a 9-year-old safely fire a gun on full auto? Probably, with the proper instruction. Is it a good idea? I don’t think so. It would depend heavily on the child and their previous experience with firearms. A child who has never fired a gun before should not start, under any circumstances, with a fully automatic weapon.

When you introduce kids or anyone else to firearms, you have to drill them on safety first, safety last, safety always. If they’re not familiar with the firearm, then they need information on how they can expect the gun to behave. How to load it, how the safety works, how to tell if you have a round chambered or it’s clear, everything relevant to keeping things safe.

I don’t see a debate to be had here. It’s not a good idea to hand fully automatic firearms to kids. It’s a terrible failure to not prepare them for how the gun will behave.

The instructor failed and a fatal tragedy occurred. The girl has to live with what happened for the rest of her life. It all could have been avoided.

The Muslim Rape of Christian Nuns [The PJ Tatler]

Despite how unsavory and barbaric Islamic groups and persons around the world have been behaving—whether Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Mesopotamia’s Islamic State, Somalia’s Shabaab—perhaps few things are as disgusting and cowardly as the Muslim rape of nuns: defenseless Christian women who sacrifice much of their lives to help sick and needy Muslims.

The latest such attack comes from Bangladesh, which is over 90% Muslim in population.  In early July, dozens of men armed with machetes, knives and iron rods attacked the convent of PIME (Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions nuns in Boldipuku), a village mission in north Bangladesh.

“The nuns were beaten and molested, ending when police arrived,” reported Bishop Sebastian Tudu.

Catholic Online has the complete story:

[S]ome 60 men attempted to loot the building and rape the nuns… The attackers first tied the hands and legs of the mission’s two night watchmen and gagged them in the early morning hours. They then broke down the door of the room where the assistant pastor Father Anselmo Marandy was sleeping. They then raided the convent located in the mission campus…. Three PIME nuns suffered attempted rape and were sent to their provincial house in Dhaka, the national capital where they are trying to overcome the shock and mental suffering.  “It’s very sad that the sisters cannot continue to work for the people, but our sisters are no longer safe,” Rosaline Costa, a Catholic human rights activist lamented.  Local Christians are currently living in fear since the attack. Christians form only 0.8 percent of Dinajpur district’s three million people.

Although some of those quoted in the Catholic Online report portray this attack is “unprecedented,” the fact is, nuns raped by Muslims is a phenomenon that goes back centuries.   According to Muslim historian Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi (1364-1442), during his raids on then Christian-majority Egypt, Caliph Marwan II (r.744–50) “made captive a number of women from among the nuns of several convents. And he tried to seduce one of them.”

The account describes how the enslaved nun tricked him into killing her, by claiming she had a magic oil that make skin impenetrable: “She then took some oil and anointed herself with it; then stretched out her neck, which he smote with the sword, and made her head fly.  He then understood that she preferred death to defilement.”

Writing in the tenth century, the Coptic chronicler Severus ibn Muqaffa records that “the Arabs [i.e., Muslims] in the land of Egypt had ruined the country….  They burnt the fortresses and pillaged the provinces, and killed a multitude of the saintly monks who were in them [monasteries] and they violated a multitude of the virgin nuns and killed some of them with the sword.”

After the Islamic conquest of Constantinople in 1453, according to eyewitness accounts, “Monasteries and Convents were broken in. Their tenants were killed, nuns were raped, many, to avoid dishonor, killed themselves. Killing, raping, looting, burning, enslaving, went on and on according to tradition.”

Such is history—expunged as it is in the modern West—even as it repeats itself today. Thus, in August 2013, after torching a Franciscan school in Egypt, “Islamists,” in the words of the AP, “paraded three nuns on the streets like ‘prisoners of war’” and “Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.”

Indeed, the rise in attacks on Christian nuns throughout the Islamic world further demonstrates that they are no more inviolable than other “infidel” women:

  • Somalia: In response to Pope Benedict’s historical quotes which, like so many other things so enraged the Islamic world, Muslims in Somalia shot Leonella Sgarbati—a 66-year-old nun who had devoted 30 years of her life working in Africa—in her back.  Her last words before dying in hospital were: “I forgive; I forgive.”
  • Pakistan: In September 2012, gunmen on motorbikes dressed in green (Islam’s color) opened fire on the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral in Hyderabad, murdering at least 28 people.  Their immediate target was a nun, Mother Christina.
  • Libya: In February 2013, after the fall of Col. Gaddafi, Islamic rebels threatened nuns into fleeing the nation. They had been there since 1921, focused primarily on helping the sick and needy.
  • Palestinian Authority: Last year, nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property.
  • Philippines: In an article discussing a Christmas Day church bombing in a Muslim-majority region, we learn that the jihadi group responsible “has been blamed for several bomb attacks on the Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo since the early 2000s and for kidnapping priests and nuns.”
  • Guinea: In June 2013, during a mob-led frenzy, Christians and their churches were savagely attacked in the Muslim-majority nation—with some 95 Christians slain and 130 wounded—including “the quarters of the nuns, [which] was looted before being torched.”
  • Syria: Islamic rebels forcibly abducted 13 Christian nuns and three maids, holding them captive for three months.  They were finally released after the Bashar government agreed to release some 150 female criminals in exchange.

The above examples come from several countries that have little in common with one another—neither race, language, culture, nor economics—only Islam.

That alone should say something.

But no matter.  Far from discussing Islamic history and doctrine, and how they tie to current events—especially the subhuman treatment of non-Muslim “infidels”—the predominant Western mentality simply dismisses Muslim violence as the West’s fault, or, in the words of ex-nun Karen Armstrong and Islamic apologist extraordinaire, “We did this.”   Armstrong—who quit the nunnery only to engage in pro-Islamic mummery—insists that what’s needed is for us to focus more on “Muslim pain, Muslim suffering.”

Such, according to the leftist mentality, are the “real” reasons why, wherever Muslim-majorities live near non-Muslim minorities, from the dawn of Islam till today, the latter are being attacked into extinction.

Bloomberg Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Cummings Mimics Democrat Birth Control Talking Points [The PJ Tatler]

Bloomberg News Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Cummings needs to apologize or find another line of work.

In an MSNBC segment on a recent poll detailing women’s impressions of both political parties, Bloomberg News Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Cummings said this:

Cummings said that the GOP has “moved the debate over abortion into birth control.”

That is categorically false.

The Obama administration moved the debate into birth control, by mandating abortion-causing drug coverage under Obamacare. That’s how the debate got moved into birth control.

Cummings continued: “This is a huge step where women — that’s a threshold issue for women. That’s about birth control, controlling your life. This is being in control of your life. And they want to talk about taking that away? That’s a whole different conversation than abortion.”

That conversation, again, was spurred by the Obama administration, not any Republican. It is not and never was about “taking away” anyone’s birth control.

The Obama administration used Obamacare regulations to force abortion-causing drugs to be covered, even over the religious objections of many Americans. That coverage is not written into Obamacare. The Obama-Sebelius Department of Health and Human Services forced it.

The Hobby Lobby case, which the administration lost at the Supreme Court, only dealt with four abortion-causing drugs — not the 16 other types of birth control that the company covered and still covers without objection.

Bloomberg News Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Cummings is ill suited to reporting facts. Perhaps writing DNC talking points is more in her wheelhouse. She is clearly good at reciting them.

IDC: Tablets sales growth to slow this year [PCWorld]

Tablet shipments worldwide will continue to grow this year, but not as quickly as previously expected, according to a forecast released Friday.

After four years of double- and triple-digit growth, worldwide tablet shipments this year will grow by just 6.5 percent over last year, according to IDC. The research firm had previously forecast 12.1 percent growth.

The tablet market is maturing and long-term trends are becoming clearer, said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets.

More money is being spent on cheap laptops, smartphones or wearables, and people are keeping tablets longer than expected, Bouchard said.

“We originally thought the [ownership cycle] was two years. We realized it was closer to three years,” he said.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Nokia's Here Maps is coming to Samsung Galaxy phones [PCWorld]

The Here beta is part of a licensing deal to tie people into Samsung's Tizen-powered Gear S watch.

Intel turns its attention to desktop performance, unveils 8-core Haswell-E processor [PCWorld]

Intel took the wraps off its most powerful consumer CPU at the PAX video-game conference in Seattle, WA, today. Intel’s Core i7 High-end Desktop Processor Family, code-named Haswell-E, consists of three unlocked processors that support hyperthreading, DDR4 memory, and Intel’s all-new X99 chipset.

The top-of-the-line Core i7-5960X boasts eight cores (16 processor threads), 20MB of cache, and 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This $999 processor runs at a base clock frequency of 3.0GHz and torques up to 3.5GHz in turbo mode. 

Intel Haswell-E CPU

Intel manufactures server chips with almost twice as many cores as this, but the company won't bring that technology to its consumer business any time soon. It doesn't need to—it's already competing with itself on that front.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Alienware's Area-51 gaming desktop reborn as a powerful Haswell-E-packing triangle [PCWorld]

The first thing you notice about Alienware's new Area-51 refresh is that it's a freakin' triangle. Yeah, you heard me right—Alienware is bringing its Area-51 desktop line back from the dead, and the thing is shaped like a triangle. Pythagoras would be proud.

But let's talk the interior first. Underneath the hood, the 2014 incarnation of the Area-51 is a beastly machine. Alienware's announcement matches up with some other news you might've read this morning—Intel's new high-performance Haswell-E Core processors. The Area-51 has them, with both six- and eight-core Intel Haswell-E processors available. While many games still use only one or two cores and Intel's four cores have been the standard for PCs in recent years, we can expect that to change now that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are eight-core machines.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Pixlr's free photo editor goes native on Windows and OS X [PCWorld]

Windows and Mac users in need of a free photo editor can now download a desktop version of Pixlr.

The popular web app is now available as standalone software, no longer requiring an Internet connection to use. But be aware that the free version isn't quite the same as as what you get online.

In many ways, the desktop software is similar to the web-based Pixlr Express. Users can crop, resize and rotate images, adjust color and contrast, apply red-eye reduction, or just use the “auto-fix” button. The app includes dozens of filters, overlays, borders, effects and stickers as well.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Hands-on: Chrome beta gets guest mode and a new profile switcher [PCWorld]

Google is changing how people switch between different user profiles and also moving guest mode from a hidden feature to a regular part of the browser, at least in beta.

The latest beta build of Chrome moves user profiles from the upper left-hand corner of the browser to the right-hand side next to the minimize, maximize and close buttons. User profiles are designed to personalize your Chrome experience even if you're on a shared PC. Each profile contains a different set of browser cookies, logins, extensions and apps, browsing history, and bookmarks.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CryptoWall ransomware held over 600K computers hostage, encrypted 5 billion files [PCWorld]

A file-encrypting ransomware program called CryptoWall infected over 600,000 computer systems in the past six months and held 5 billion files hostage, earning its creators more than $1 million, researchers found.

The Counter Threat Unit (CTU) at Dell SecureWorks performed an extensive analysis of CryptoWall that involved gathering data from its command-and-control (C&C) servers, tracking its variants and distribution methods and counting payments made by victims so far.

CryptoWall is “the largest and most destructive ransomware threat on the Internet” at the moment and will likely continue to grow, the CTU researchers said Wednesday in a blog post that details their findings.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Controversial ads slip into Firefox nightly test builds [PCWorld]

Mozilla's advertising experiment for the new tab page in Firefox is popping up in the nightly test builds of the browser. Called Directory Tiles, the new program mixes website suggestions from sponsors and sites based on your browsing history in the new tab page for Firefox, and the mere hint of advertising in Firefox has created a fierce backlash from many of the browser's devotees.

Sponsored Tiles are only meant to appear if you don't have a browsing history, as typically the new tab page shows the sites you visit most often.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Nokia's navigation service Here comes to Samsung smartwatch and Galaxy [PCWorld]

Samsung has partnered with Nokia to bring navigation service Here to its new smartwatch and Galaxy Android phones.

Here is a Nokia subsidiary that provides navigation, mapping and location services comparable with Google and Apple Maps.

Here will be available on Samsung’s Tizen devices including the Gear S, a curved smartwatch that was announced this week, Nokia said.

On the Gear, Here will power an app called Navigator, offering turn-by-turn navigation as well as public transit routing. The app works stand-alone and map data can be stored on the device to use for offline navigation, Nokia said. However, Navigator can also pair with Here’s Android app to let users calculate routes on their phones and send them to their smartwatch, it added.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

As smartphone screen sizes max out, stylish designs expected at IFA [PCWorld]

New smartphones expected to bow at the IFA show in Berlin next week will likely show that makers are taking a step back from larger screen sizes and emphasizing better design.

The Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 4 is one of the most anticipated launches, expected for Sept. 3 ahead of the public show opening.

Over time, the Note’s screen size has increased from 5.3 inches to 5.5 inches to 5.7 inches on last year’s Note 3. This year the company is expected to forgo the customary bump in size and instead stick with a 5.7-inch screen on the Note, but boost resolution to 2560 by 1440 pixels.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Fujitsu to deploy thousands of contactless cash machines for Spanish bank [PCWorld]

Fujitsu is set to manufacture 8,500 contactless bank machines for Spain’s CaixaBank, a move that may help move the technology to the mainstream.

The machines use NFC (near field communication) contactless readers to allow users to withdraw cash with smartphones or wearable devices.

“CaixaBank is the world’s first financial entity to add this revolutionary technology to its cashpoints, allowing customers to withdraw cash without having to insert their card,” the bank said in a statement. It first announced contactless ATMs (automated teller machines) in a limited deployment in 2012.

Contactless technology makes withdrawing cash 30 percent faster compared to conventional methods, according to the bank.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

What to expect when you're expecting the Moto X+1 [PCWorld]

Motorola's next flagship phone lands next week. Here's everything we know about it.

10 obscure Steam features that can power up your PC gaming [PCWorld]

Let’s cut to the chase: For many people, PC gaming is synonymous with Steam. Valve’s ubiquitous gaming client is both storefront and service, delivering a one-stop shop for buying games, playing and managing those games, and even building out a friends list to chat with while you game.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Steam’s rife with hidden features that can help you get more out of your PC gaming experience—tricks that few people ever touch. Here are some of the most useful.

Steam in-home streaming

Let’s start with a powerful yet quietly advertised feature that has revolutionized the way I play games around the house: Steam in-home streaming.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

HTC One (M8) for Windows review: a novel new take on Windows Phone [PCWorld]

Lumia, Lumia, Lumia. Lest you forget that Microsoft’s Windows Phone business is more than a single Nokia product line, HTC has released the One (M8) for Windows. It's just as much a flagship phone as the Android version of the One (M8), and in some ways it feels even fresher thanks to the fact it runs Windows Phone 8.1, a veritable OS curiosity.

In fact, the HTC One (M8) for Windows might be the best Windows Phone available—but that’s simply because not many Windows Phone devices have been released lately. And let's not lose perspective: Most people will probably conclude that the Android version of this phone is the better choice.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Baidu, Tencent help Chinese shopping malls take on Alibaba [PCWorld]

Baidu and Tencent are teaming up with a Chinese shopping mall operator in a joint venture that could steal business away from local e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.

The two Internet companies are partnering with Dalian Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate, to spend 5 billion yuan (US$811 million) on a new e-commerce company, they announced on Friday.

Wanda will control a 70 percent stake in the joint venture, while Baidu and Tencent will each hold a 15 percent stake.

Baidu, China’s largest search engine, and Tencent, a social networking and gaming company, have both made forays into China’s online retail space in the past. But neither have managed to crack Alibaba’s hold over the country’s growing e-commerce market.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

LG playing waiting game for plasma TV exit [PCWorld]

LG is waiting for the right time to exit the plasma TV business, a move that would leave almost no major companies making the flat-screens.

The company is in a “wait and see mode” about possibly ending production of plasma TVs, according to a spokesman.

“Weve known for a long time that demand for plasma units was declining,” the LG spokesman wrote in an email. “When demand falls to a point where its no longer a viable business is where were trying to determine.”

LG announced earlier this week the world’s first 4K OLED TV.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Google's Project Wing building drone delivery service [PCWorld]

For two years, Google has quietly been developing autonomous flying vehicles that can be used to deliver packages for disaster relief or for commerce purposes, the company revealed Thursday.

The program, dubbed Project Wing, has been housed under Google X, the company’s secretive facility where it created other projects like Google Glass and its self-driving cars.

“Self-flying vehicles could open up entirely new approaches to moving goods—including options that are cheaper, faster, less wasteful and more environmentally sensitive than what’s possible today,” the company says in a document describing the effort.

The drones are designed to follow a pre-programmed route at the push of a button, flying at 40 to 60 meters above the ground.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Poaching drivers may be the norm for ride-sharing companies [PCWorld]

It seems like poaching drivers is par for the course in the ride-sharing industry.

Like Lyft, Sidecar drivers have also been targeted by Uber’s recruitment efforts, Sidecar’s CEO said Thursday—though he admitted that his own company has tried in-car recruitment in the past too.

Recruiters working for Uber have been ordering rides with Sidecar for some time then trying to get the driver to switch companies, Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul said in an interview.

It’s happened in nearly all of the 10 cities where Sidecar operates, and recruiters sometimes offer drivers $500 to make the switch, he said.

Sidecar knows about the recruitment efforts because it hears about them from its drivers, Paul said. It hasn’t received reports about Lyft using similar techniques.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Toshiba sensor to sharpen smartphone photos [PCWorld]

Toshiba has developed a new image sensor for smartphones and tablets that promises better image resolution for run-of-the-mill smartphones when it goes into mass production.

The T4KA7 is a 1/2.4-inch, 20-megapixel backside illuminated sensor with a 1.12 micrometer pixel size, which provides for a smaller sensor size overall.

The sensor allows for a lower module height of under 6 millimeters compared to the current 20-megapixel, 1.2-micrometer sensors, the company said.

“T4KA7 is the first 1.12-micrometer, 20-megapixel sensor on the market with a high frame rate of 22 fps at full resolution,” a Toshiba spokeswoman wrote in an email.

The frame rate is 1.8 times the speed of Toshiba’s previous 20-megapixel sensor, the T4K46.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Hillary Clinton: 'Our technology companies are not part of our government' [PCWorld]

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a “global compact” on surveillance and the use of collected data, saying the U.S. isn’t the only country that does it and American technology companies are unfairly targeted for the government’s actions.

“The U.S. government doesn’t use information for commercial purposes,” while other countries do, Clinton said.

“We need to make it clear to other countries that our technology companies are not part of our government, and that we have more legal processes than any other country that I’m aware of” covering government requests for information, Clinton said during her appearance at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit, a technology conference in San Francisco.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Poll: Obama receives more than twice as much strong disapproval as strong approval [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

The latest Gallup poll on President Obama job performance is out. At the top line, things could be worse for the president and his party. 44 percent approve of his performance, while 53 percent disapprove.

That’s considerably worse than in the run-up to the 2010 election, and certainly cause for concern among Democrats. But Dems won’t be surprised by this split which, as I said, could be worse.

The intensity numbers, however, are terrible for Obama and the Dems. 39 percent of Americans (essentially 2 in 5) say they strongly disapprove of the president’s performance. Only 17 percent say they strongly approve. In mid-2010, the split was adverse to Obama, but far less so. 34 percent strongly disapproved, compared to 27 percent who strongly approved.

Obama’s current standing with independents is terrible. He’s underwater on the approve/disapprove axis at 39-54. And only 11 percent of independents say they strongly approve, compared to 39 percent who say they strongly disapprove.

So much for claims that Obama is the victim of Republican partisanship. Independents are disgusted with him too.

What does this mean for November? Big trouble for Democrats, one would imagine. As Gallup politely puts it, “the intensity of opinions about the president could affect. . .the forthcoming midterm election.”

OPEN THREAD: Pentagon’s Everything MUST Go Sale! [Wizbang]

Consider this an open thread, but I had to start out with this funny video from Reason.com… If your town has a Strawberry Festival… YOU NEED A TANK! Aaaaaaannnnd, Open Thread… GO!

Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™ [Wizbang]

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for the Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™. Enter your best caption for the following picture: Winners will be announced Monday morning.

Illinois Celebrates Loser Adlai Stevenson, Ignores Ronald Reagan [Wizbang]

Leave it to leftist Illinois to use a museum dedicated to celebrating Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest presidents in history, as a platform to celebrate a loser like Adlai Stevenson while at the same time ignoring Ronald Reagan, a native son, big winner, and another greatest president. If you think this isn’t just another example of why Illinois is the single worst state in the union in nearly every metric that makes up a successful state, then you are immune to logic. Illinois spent billions building the Lincoln Library near the state capital in Springfield. The place opened to

When You’re a Leftist President Who’s Lost Esquire… [Ed Driscoll]

Say what you will about the man, but at least until today, the one thing Obama could do reasonably well was look sharp in a suit — hence all of the “clothes have no emperor” gags, dating back to 2008 when conservative blogs attempted to warn voters, Cassandra-like in retrospect, to think twice about the national purgatory they were about to inflict upon America. (And it’s actually not a bad suit; but it is such a dreadful choice when you’re trying to project power on the world stage that you have to wonder if he chose it deliberately for that purpose. But to paraphrase Hanlon’s Razor, never attribute to conspiracy that which is adequately explained by incompetence.)

Of course, today’s tweet was only a matter of time from Esquire — after all, this is the far left magazine which declared “John Kerry: Political Badass” on its cover in June of 2004, and was so in the tank to the Democrat party, it was publishing throne-sniffing “Summer of Obama” pieces around this time in 2011:

Before the fall brings us down, before the election season begins in earnest with all its nastiness and vulgarity, before the next batch of stupid scandals and gaffes, before Sarah Palin tries to convert her movie into reality and Joe Biden resumes his imitation of an embarrassing uncle and Newt and Callista Gingrich creep us all out, can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph. Whatever happens this fall or next, the summer of 2011 is the summer of Obama.

No really, Esquire honestly allowed that to be printed, and I don’t even think they meant it at all ironically. Twenty years from now, we’re going to look back at this time in which a nation’s pundit class went absolutely insane — and no matter how badly they disclaim knowledge of their past writings, it’s up to the rest of us to preserve their glorious nonsense as a warning to future generations.

Of course, in his defense, Obama could just claim that hey, at least I wasn’t stupid enough to trust Esquire’s latest fashion advice

(That last link via Kathy Shaidle. I for one, prefer to remember a much more elegant Esquire, from a relatively more civilized time.)

Update: Also in the president’s defense, he can claim that he wasn’t stupid enough to take Vox’s sartorial advice:

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds goes all contrarian on his readers.

By the way, Esquire speaks about being the president of Sears as if it was a bad thing.

Is There Nothing It Can’t Do? [Ed Driscoll]



As Britain’s Malcolm Muggeridge noted a half century ago, there’s no way for any satirist to compete with real life — and real leftists — for pure absurdity.

(Of course, the moral equivalence that compares global terror with global warming is nothing new for the far left. Freud called it displacement — as did columnist Julia Gorin, when she noted the connection in 2006 in the Christian Science Monitor.)

Quote of the Day [Ed Driscoll]



More: Legacy really is a fickle bitch:

More Mush from the Wimp [Ed Driscoll]

“Obama REFUSES to call 1,000 Russian troops and tanks in Ukraine an ‘invasion’ and sticks to sanctions but McCain says he’s living in ‘Putin’s Orwellian universe,’” the London Daily Mail notes, reporting on the former president’s speech today. I’m not sure why the “But” is included in their headline though:

President Barack Obama refused to label Russia’s military action inside eastern Ukraine as an ‘invasion’ on Thursday, calling it an ‘incursion’ despite facing a reporter’s specific action [sic] about his choice of words.

Following a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama told reporters that the two leaders agree ‘that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine. … Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.’

‘And the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see.’

He insisted that the Russian tanks filmed rumbling through Ukraine on Thursday are merely ‘a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now.’

* * * * * * *

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republicans’ top dog on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reacted angrily before Obama’s brief press conference.

‘Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine can only be called one thing: a cross-border military invasion,’ he said. ‘To claim it is anything other than that is to inhabit President Putin’s Orwellian universe.’

‘A sovereign nation in the heart of Europe is being invaded by its larger neighbor,’ McCain declared. ‘This runs completely contrary to the civilized world that America and our partners have sought to build since World War II.’

Of course, as Victor Davis Hanson writes today in “Obama’s Hazy Sense of History,” the recently retired president apparently believes that postwar world was something that merely happened organically:

Obama often parrots Martin Luther King Jr.’s phrase about the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice. But King used that metaphor as an incentive to act, not as reassurance that matters will follow an inevitably positive course.

* * * * * * *

A Pollyannaish belief in historical predetermination seems to substitute for action. If Obama believes that evil should be absent in the 21st century, or that the arc of the moral universe must always bend toward justice, or that being on the wrong side of history has consequences, then he may think inanimate forces can take care of things as we need merely watch.

In truth, history is messier. Unfortunately, only force will stop seventh-century monsters like the Islamic State from killing thousands more innocents. Obama may think that reminding Putin that he is now in the 21st century will so embarrass the dictator that he will back off from Ukraine. But the brutish Putin may think that not being labeled a 21st-century civilized sophisticate is a compliment.

As VDH concludes, “Obama’s naive belief in predetermined history — especially when his facts are often wrong — is a poor substitute for concrete moral action.”

And speaking of a lack of concrete moral action, “President Obama said Thursday he doesn’t have a strategy yet for defeating Islamist militants in Syria,” the Washington Times adds:

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Mr. Obama said in a news conference at the White House. “We don’t have a strategy yet. As our strategy develops, we will consult with Congress.”

Really, Mr. Obama will consult with Congress? Well, there’s a first time for everything I guess. (Not the least of which is the former president’s tan gaberdine suit. It’s a nice choice — if you’re hoping to project an image that says, “Hey, I’m a friendly laid-back toff enjoying this fine summer day. Say, who’s up for a few Mojitos at the bar!” And Putin, if not ISIS, will very likely understand the semiotics of the president’s rather blasé image.)

Speaking of which, if the former president does sound rather blasé about Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, or ISIS slaughtering troops and journalists and uploading videos of the carnage to YouTube, there is one foreign affairs issue that fires him up and finds him “enraged” and ready to punch back twice as hard:

In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel. That’s right, Israel–our stalwart ally, a lighthouse of liberty, lawfulness, and human rights in a region characterized by despotism, and a nation filled with people who long for peace and have done so much for so long to sacrifice for it (including repeatedly returning and offering to return its land in exchange for peace).

Yet Mr. Obama–a man renowned for his lack of strong feelings, his emotional equanimity, his disengagement and distance from events, who New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd refers to as “Spock” for his Vulcan-like detachment–is not just upset but “enraged” at Israel.

As Peter Wehner of Commentary writes, “It’s clear to me, and by now it should be to others, that there is something sinister in Barack Obama’s constant anger aimed at Israel.”

Great priorities there, Barry. By the way, if you’ve lost CNN…

Update: At Strategy Page, Austin Bay notices the timing of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine:

In August 1939  — 75 years ago this week — Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin signed the Hitler-Stalin Pact. In the wake of the Russo-German alliance, newspaper wits coined the term “ComunNazi.” Communist-Nazi. Yes, “red” and “brown” entwined as the dictatorships they are.

The two dictators’ legions of liars hailed the deal as a peace treaty. Peace? Eastern Europeans in the dictators’ gun sights scorned the falsehood.

“Peace in our time, ” Neville Chamberlain had proclaimed after the wretched Munich deal of 1938, which gave Hitler permission to annex slices of Czechoslovakia. Of course, when given a slice, Hitler annexed the whole.

Expansionist dictators take until stopped by superior power.

Or until blinded by really sharp lightweight bespoke summer suits, and/or the power of the #hashtag:

More: “Wish he was as angry with ISIL as he is with the GOP.”

Comment of the Day [VodkaPundit]


From CFBleachers:

No attendance at briefings, no Constitutional basis for actions, no full time jobs for recovery, no strategy to address monumental problems caused by leftist inane programs.

Um….about the rest of your Presidency…can we play through?

Fore more years.

Socialism’s Timeless Endgame [VodkaPundit]

Venezuela may have to import crude oil, I kid you not:

Venezuela is pondering the possibility of importing crude oil for the first time ever and could use light oil from its partner in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Algeria, to dilute its own heavy crude, according to a document of state-run oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

Despite holding the largest oil reserves in the world, in recent years Pdvsa has been buying increasing amounts of heavy naphtha for blending with heavy crude from the Orinoco Oil Belt, the largest oil producing region in the country.

These blends are made to convert extra-heavy oil into an exportable product. Local production of medium and light crude oils previously used as diluents has declined and the construction of new oil upgraders is lagging behind.

Begin the excuse-mongering in five… four… three…

Time for Obama to Embrace Tax Reform? [VodkaPundit]

Krauthammer on taxes, Burger King, and inversions:

America’s 35 percent corporate tax rate is absurdly uncompetitive. Companies are doing what they always do: legally lowering their tax liabilities.

What is maddening is that the problem is so easily solved: tax reform that lowers the accursed corporate rate. Democrats and Republicans agree on this. After the announcement of the latest inversion, Burger King buying Tim Hortons and then moving to Canada, the president himself issued a statement conceding that corporate tax reform — lower the rates, eliminate loopholes — is the best solution to the inversion problem.

It’s also politically doable.

I doubt however that it’s politically desirable for this White House. Except for the occasional embarrassment like the Burger King inversion, our convoluted tax code affords too many opportunities for graft and punishing enemies for this Chicago crew to ever give it up.

Required Reading [VodkaPundit]


David Harsanyi on executive imperialism:

Enforce laws at your political leisure. Name recess appointments when there’s no recess. Legislate through regulation. Rewrite environmental laws. Rewrite immigration policy. Rewrite tax legislation. Bomb Libya. Bomb Syria. All by fiat. All good. The only question now is: what can’t Barack Obama do without Congress?

How about joining binding international agreements without the Senate’s consent? Also, good. The New York Times reports that Obama, who failed to pass sweeping domestic climate-change legislation in his first term, is “working to forge a sweeping international climate-change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.”

Compel? That’s ok. Just ask Jonathan Chait, who argues that there are a number of reasons why the Senate’s consent isn’t really necessary.

Read the whole thing.

One of the many, many problems with the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany is that they raised the bar on what we expect from tyrants — death camps, ethnic cleansing, global wars, etc. But the defining element of tyranny isn’t that it leads to death camps, although those are probably inevitable on a long enough time scale. The defining element of tyranny is that the law is arbitrary. It means what he says it means; he may act how he feels he may act.

It’s clear that Obama believes he is well within his rights and powers to act arbitrarily on any number of issues, with few checks or balances beyond what he thinks the public will let him get away with.

It’s also clear what that makes him.

Ukraine to Seek NATO Membership [VodkaPundit]

Here’s what Vlad Putin’s invasion-not-invasion has bought him:

Arseny Yatsenyuk said the government was sending a bill to MPs urging that Ukraine’s non-bloc status be cancelled.

The remarks come as Nato holds an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The West has stepped up its accusations of direct Russian involvement in the conflict, following advances by pro-Russian rebels.

On Thursday Nato released satellite images it said showed Russian forces inside Ukraine. and said more than 1,000 troops were operating there.

Our answer must be a polite but firm No.

Thought(s) for the Day [VodkaPundit]

I might have gone a little Twitter-crazy during the President’s press conference yesterday.

My Love Letter to Canada [VodkaPundit]

No, really — it’s up on the PJM home page.

Caliphate Executes 250 Prisoners [VodkaPundit]


The picture is a few weeks old, but the story is new and from the Not F****** Around Department:

Islamic State fighters have executed 250 Syrian soldiers captured when the group seized an air base in the province of Raqqa at the weekend, according to a video posted on YouTube on Thursday and confirmed as genuine by an Islamic State fighter.

The video showed the bodies of dozens of men lying face down wearing nothing but their underwear. Their bodies were stretched out in a long line that appeared to be dozens of meters long.

The video also showed a separate pile of bodies nearby.

“The 250 shabeeha taken captive by the Islamic State from Tabqa in Raqqa have been executed,” read the caption posted with the video, referring to the soldiers by the name to forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad by Islamist militants fighting him.

Talking to Reuters via the Internet, an Islamic State fighter in Raqqa said: “Yes we have executed them all.”

Meanwhile, Russia has invaded Ukraine and the President of this country is expected shortly to make a statement.

Of course, armored columns and mass executions — now those make a statement.

I’d Like to Exchange This Exchange [VodkaPundit]

There’s something rotten in Maryland’s ♡bamaCare!!! exchange:

The exchange is now being revamped but [Republican Congressman Andy] Harris says there’s a growing federal investigation into the millions of taxpayer dollars already spent on the website.

He says the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General is issuing subpoenas for fraud.

“There were invoices literally for hundreds of dollars an hour in charges with no reason for the invoices, no specific work done and these were approved by the executive director,” Harris said.

It’s almost as if the whole thing was just a sham to divert taxpayer dollars into the accounts of favored contractors.

Despite all the overcharges, Maryland’s website — I really must stop calling them “exchanges” — still isn’t fully functional.

Full Circle #88 is out NOW! [Full Circle Magazine]

This month:
* Command & Conquer
* How-To : Minimal Ubuntu Install, LibreOffice, and GRUB2.
* Graphics : Blender and Inkscape.
* Linux Labs: Ripping DVDs with Handdrake, and Compiling a Kernel
* Arduino
plus: Q&A, Security, Ubuntu Games, and soooo much more.

ALSO: Don’t forget to search for ‘full circle magazine’ on Google Play/Books.



Bad call by the Florida Democratic party with regard to The Shark Tank, here. [Moe Lane]

On the one hand, I understand why they tossed The Shark Tank out of a campaign event on general principles: Javier Manjarres is a born troublemaker*. On the other hand, the Florida Democratic party then had to deal with flak from local news people, given that Javier is in fact local media.  On the gripping hand? …Well, Florida Democrats did nominate Charlie Crist, so their judgement wasn’t really all that great in the first place.

Seriously, how bad is it for Florida Democrats right now if they don’t dare have an open media policy?

Moe Lane

*I do a little of that myself, hopefully.

Let me solve the ‘original Star Wars is not available’ dispute. [Moe Lane]

I have absolutely, positively, I respect these people utterly, no problems with those who are reconstructing the original Star Wars movie frame by frame because George Lucas is a frustrated would-be auteur who can’t stand the fact that he will go down in movie history for creating the greatest space opera of his century.  But the man is a would-be auteur who got bought out by the Mouse.  For an insane amount of money – and if Disney didn’t lock down the redistribution rights to George Lucas’s cocktail napkin scribbles in the process, well, I can’t believe that Disney didn’t do that.

So, here’s how it can play out:.

  • Disney collectively realizes that enough people will pay cash money for the original Star Wars trilogy to justify a DVD set.
  • Disney collectively realizes that those same people will visibly not care if Disney breaks George Lucas’s hands if that’s what it takes to get access to the original footage.
  • Disney releases the dang movies.
  • George Lucas whines about it, and goes back to obsessively trying to edit his epic space operas into something that doesn’t burn his soul.

I think that this is reasonable.

Via… hrm. :clickety click click: Ah, Hot Air Headlines.

I wonder whether this suit thing Obama’s dealing with might actually have legs. [Moe Lane]

I didn’t think that it would, but check out the casual cruelty of Esquire.

I’ve been dealing with Barack Obama’s constant and comprehensive litany of failure for going on six years now. This is the first time that I’ve seen Esquire treat the President like he was just like any other schlub with no sense of taste: which is to say, roughly, and with a casual indifference to how it made Obama feel. It’s… kind of refreshing, really. Although I don’t think that Obama’s going to feel the same way, what with the way he’s been treated as a God-King since 2007…

I don’t think Harry Reid will run again. [Moe Lane]

I think that – as this article notes – Harry Reid is old, sick*, and he’s about to become the Senate Minority Leader in a world where the incoming majority will have a great number of opportunities for malice, and revenge**. I do note that Jon Ralston, the author of said piece, thinks that Reid will not only survive but thrive… but if you read that article, the impression you get is that Harry Reid has a hard crust and a hollowed-out interior.  Break through – or even give a good enough blow to the outside – and he’ll shatter like a piece of punk wood.

Mark my words: when Harry Reid eventually falls it will all happen in the course of one or two weeks. He’s not going to dig in his heels, although there is a small part of me that kind of hopes that he does.  A small and horrible part of me.

Moe Lane

*Take that any way that you like.

**The Senate has always been a place where comity warred with spite.  Spite has been winning, the last few years; and its victims are increasingly eager to return the favor.  And driving Harry Reid from office probably would soothe the Senate’s breast, as it were.

The Washington Post: Mary Landrieu ‘lives’ with her parents. [Moe Lane]

Well, as is typical for that paper, the Washington Post saved the really bad-for-Democrats quote for close to the end of the article:

“A U.S. senator shouldn’t be living with their parents,” [Louisiana Senate Republican candidate* Rob] Maness said. “She’s got plenty of good pay, she’s employed, but she says she’s living with her parents? . . . It’s time for one of us from the state of Louisiana to go fill this seat.”

It’s the usual: Mary Landrieu – who has lived in DC for almost twenty years now – doesn’t actually have her own house in Louisiana.  She instead uses her parents’ New Orleans house as her ‘home’ address for those pesky residency requirements and instead lives in a built-from-scratch dream mini-mansion on East Capitol Street. It’s worth about $2.5 million, but you simply need multiple bedrooms and bathrooms when you’re hobnobbing with the rest of the rich and the powerful on behalf of the People.

Sacrifices must be made, after all.  Some people sacrifice for the Democratic party by giving it money roughly twenty-seven times a day (or whatever the average number of begging emails are, these days). Others shoulder a more spiritually draining sacrifice via attending Beltway cocktail parties.  Who is to say that one set of sacrifices is less than the other?

Via @RalstonReports.

Moe Lane


*One of several.

Tweet of the Day, …I Roll To Disbelieve! I ROLL TO DISBELIEVE! Edition [Moe Lane]

I hope to God this isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Because if you don’t have a strategy, here’s a free one: shut your mouth until you do.

Rep. Annie Kuster (D, New Hampshire-02) can’t find an actual Republican supporter? [Moe Lane]

Meet Robin Partello. And who is she?  Well, she was someone who was featured as a Republican offering praise for Annie Kuster in a recent campaign ad for New Hampshire’s Second District. Just one, small, teeny-tiny problem:

That sounded a bit odd, so I called myself to confirm that.  And it’s true: Ms. Partello is not actually currently a Republican*. Despite the fact that the camera zoomed in for a closeup so that they could dramatically show Ms. Partello saying “I’m a Republican.” Seriously, you have to ask yourself: why didn’t the Kuster campaign do this oppo first? …Because of course the VRWC is going to do this oppo. There is absolutely no reason why we wouldn’t do this oppo. It’s Oppo 101. You check the people who are telling a story, just in case there’s a problem with their story.

Ach, well. Maybe we now know why Annie Kuster’s polling took an abrupt nose dive, huh?  Bad planning catching up to her, perhaps?

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: For the record: the problem here is not Ms. Partello.  It’s that Rep. Kuster is so hard up for cross-party appeal that she’s apparently willing to cut all the corners in the world to get the sound bites that she feels she needs.

*As you might imagine, historical data of this sort is not exactly freely available, and I was careful to make it clear that I was not trying to social-engineer the Clerk’s Office to give me information that was not freely available via the public record.  Given Ms. Partello’s military service record, this post is enough of a potential minefield as it is.

PBP: 034 Single-Character Strings [Perlsphere]

The PBP suggests never using “” or ” for empty strings, and using q{} instead.  Because clearly that’s so much more readable.The concern here is that ” (two single-quotes) might look like ” (a single double quote) on it’s own in some fonts.  I really think that context and, in a modern editor, syntax highlighting, will help keep the difference clear.  I don’t like the quote-like operators, and don’t think it’s worth dragging Perl back into the land of lines full of line-noise with the extra braces to protect some poor sucker from their poor font choice.

Using a pair of double quotes remains unambiguous and is, in my opinion, much clearer.  I’m horrified to discover my empty string might interpolate something by accident!  I just can’t care, and find it too ugly to use.

This is one of the PerlCritic warnings I turn off right away.

Task::Date::Holidays [Perlsphere]

I have just revived a lot of my CPAN distributions after they where stranded in migration. One these distributions is Date::Holidays a wrapper/adapter to modules in the Date::Holidays namespace and related. Since development started up again I have made several releases and I am on a quest to get all of the RTs/issues out of the way.

Some release history:

0.19 2014.08.27 bug fix release, update not required (see below)

- This release addressed reports on failing tests for perl 5.21
The use in this distribution of UNIVERSAL is now deprecated,
see: Github issue [#3] and [RT:98337]

0.18 2014.08.24 feature release, update not required

- Added adapter class for Date::Holidays::BR [RT:63437]

0.17 2014.08.22 maintenance release, update not required

- Migrated from Module::Build to Dist::Zilla

- Fixed issue in some test, which would break if Date::Holidays::DK
was not installed

0.16 2014.08.18 maintenance release, update not required

- Fixed POD error

- Aligned all version numbers

- Added t/kwalitee.t Test::Kwalitee test

- Added t/changes.t Test::CPAN::Changes test

What struck me when I was shifting back and forth between perl versions on my laptop and had to install some of the Date::Holidays modules over and over again, was:

  1. I have to refamiliarize me with my own code
  2. I have to get an overview of what new distributions have been added to the namespace and acquire my attention, I feel like I have been on a looooong holiday
  3. I seriously need to get some work done and get some releases out

Enter Task::Date::Holidays! – using this distribution it will be easy for me to get all of the interesting distributions installed when I have completed point 2, then I can focus on point 3 and point one will solve itself.

Task::Date::Holidays 0.01, contain the following list of distributions:

- Date::Holidays::AT
- Date::Holidays::NO
- Date::Holidays::DK
- Date::Holidays::DE
- Date::Holidays::GB
- Date::Holidays::PT
- Date::Holidays::ES
- Date::Holidays::PL
- Date::Holidays::CZ
- Date::Holidays::KR
- Date::Holidays::SK
- Date::Holidays::FR
- Date::Holidays::BR
- Date::Holidays::CA_ES
- Date::Holidays::USFederal
- Date::Holidays::CA
- Date::Holidays::CN
- Date::Holidays::NZ
- Date::Holidays::AU

Many of these are completely new to me, so this will be very interesting – so expect plenty of releases of Date::Holidays as I chew my way through the list…

jonasbn, Copenhagen

Steve Kemp: Migration of services and hosts [Planet Debian]

Yesterday I carried out the upgrade of a Debian host from Squeeze to Wheezy for a friend. I like doing odd-jobs like this as they're generally painless, and when there are problems it is a fun learning experience.

I accidentally forgot to check on the status of the MySQL server on that particular host, which was a little embarassing, but later put together a reasonably thorough serverspec recipe to describe how the machine should be setup, which will avoid that problem in the future - Introduction/tutorial here.

The more I use serverspec the more I like it. My own personal servers have good rules now:

shelob ~/Repos/git.steve.org.uk/server/testing $ make
Finished in 1 minute 6.53 seconds
362 examples, 0 failures

Slow, but comprehensive.

In other news I've now migrated every single one of my personal mercurial repositories over to git. I didn't have a particular reason for doing that, but I've started using git more and more for collaboration with others and using two systems felt like an annoyance.

That means I no longer have to host two different kinds of repositories, and I can use the excellent gitbucket software on my git repository host.

Needless to say I wrote a policy for this host too:

#  The host should be wheezy.
describe command("lsb_release -d") do
  its(:stdout) { should match /wheezy/ }

# Our gitbucket instance should be running, under runit.
describe supervise('gitbucket') do
  its(:status) { should eq 'run' }

# nginx will proxy to our back-end
describe service('nginx') do
  it { should be_enabled   }
  it { should be_running   }
describe port(80) do
  it { should be_listening }

#  Host should resolve
describe host("git.steve.org.uk" ) do
  it { should be_resolvable.by('dns') }

Simple stuff, but being able to trigger all these kind of tests, on all my hosts, with one command, is very reassuring.

Jakub Wilk: More spell-checking [Planet Debian]

Have you ever wanted to use Lintian's spell-checker against arbitrary files? Now you can do it with spellintian:

$ zrun spellintian --picky /usr/share/doc/RFC/best-current-practice/rfc*
/tmp/0qgJD1Xa1Y-rfc1917.txt: amoung -> among
/tmp/kvZtN435CE-rfc3155.txt: transfered -> transferred
/tmp/o093khYE09-rfc3481.txt: unecessary -> unnecessary
/tmp/4P0ux2cZWK-rfc6365.txt: charater -> character

mwic (Misspelled Words In Context) takes a different approach. It uses classic spell-checking libraries (via Enchant), but it groups misspellings and shows them in their contexts. That way you can quickly filter out false-positives, which are very common in technical texts, using visual grep:

$ zrun mwic /usr/share/doc/debian/social-contract.txt.gz
| …an Free Software Guidelines (DFSG)
| …an Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) part of the

|    Bruce Perens later removed the Debian-spe…
| by Bruce Perens, refined by the other Debian…

Ean, Schuessler:
| community" was suggested by Ean Schuessler. This document was drafted
                              ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^

| The "GPL", "BSD", and "Artistic" lice…

| created "contrib" and "non-free" areas in our…

| their CDs. Thus, although non-free wor…

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho: Licentiate Thesis is now publicly available [Planet Debian]

My recently accepted Licentiate Thesis, which I posted about a couple of days ago, is now available in JyX.

Here is the abstract again for reference:

Kaijanaho, Antti-Juhani
The extent of empirical evidence that could inform evidence-based design of programming languages. A systematic mapping study.
Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä, 2014, 243 p.
(Jyväskylä Licentiate Theses in Computing,
ISSN 1795-9713; 18)
ISBN 978-951-39-5790-2 (nid.)
ISBN 978-951-39-5791-9 (PDF)
Finnish summary

Background: Programming language design is not usually informed by empirical studies. In other fields similar problems have inspired an evidence-based paradigm of practice. Central to it are secondary studies summarizing and consolidating the research literature. Aims: This systematic mapping study looks for empirical research that could inform evidence-based design of programming languages. Method: Manual and keyword-based searches were performed, as was a single round of snowballing. There were 2056 potentially relevant publications, of which 180 were selected for inclusion, because they reported empirical evidence on the efficacy of potential design decisions and were published on or before 2012. A thematic synthesis was created. Results: Included studies span four decades, but activity has been sparse until the last five years or so. The form of conditional statements and loops, as well as the choice between static and dynamic typing have all been studied empirically for efficacy in at least five studies each. Error proneness, programming comprehension, and human effort are the most common forms of efficacy studied. Experimenting with programmer participants is the most popular method. Conclusions: There clearly are language design decisions for which empirical evidence regarding efficacy exists; they may be of some use to language designers, and several of them may be ripe for systematic reviewing. There is concern that the lack of interest generated by studies in this topic area until the recent surge of activity may indicate serious issues in their research approach.

Keywords: programming languages, programming language design, evidence-based paradigm, efficacy, research methods, systematic mapping study, thematic synthesis

Daniel Pocock: Welcoming libphonenumber to Debian and Ubuntu [Planet Debian]

Google's libphonenumber is a universal library for parsing, validating, identifying and formatting phone numbers. It works quite well for numbers from just about anywhere. Here is a Java code sample (C++ and JavaScript also supported) from their web site:

String swissNumberStr = "044 668 18 00";
PhoneNumberUtil phoneUtil = PhoneNumberUtil.getInstance();
try {
  PhoneNumber swissNumberProto = phoneUtil.parse(swissNumberStr, "CH");
} catch (NumberParseException e) {
  System.err.println("NumberParseException was thrown: " + e.toString());
boolean isValid = phoneUtil.isValidNumber(swissNumberProto); // returns true
// Produces "+41 44 668 18 00"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.INTERNATIONAL));
// Produces "044 668 18 00"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.NATIONAL));
// Produces "+41446681800"
System.out.println(phoneUtil.format(swissNumberProto, PhoneNumberFormat.E164));

This is particularly useful for anybody working with international phone numbers. This is a common requirement in the world of VoIP where people mix-and-match phones and hosted PBXes in different countries and all their numbers have to be normalized.

About the packages

The new libphonenumber package provides support for C++ and Java users. Upstream also supports JavaScript but that hasn't been packaged yet.

Using libphonenumber from Evolution and other software

Lumicall, the secure SIP/ZRTP client for Android, has had libphonenumber from the beginning. It is essential when converting dialed numbers into E.164 format to make ENUM queries and it is also helpful to normalize all the numbers before passing them to VoIP gateways.

Debian includes the GNOME Evolution suite and it will use libphonenumber to improve handling of phone numbers in contact records if enabled at compile time. Fredrik has submitted a patch for that in Debian.

Many more applications can potentially benefit from this too. libphonenumber is released under an Apache license so it is compatible with the Mozilla license and suitable for use in Thunderbird plugins.

Improving libphonenumber

It is hard to keep up with the changes in dialing codes around the world. Phone companies and sometimes even whole countries come and go from time to time. Numbering plans change to add extra digits. New prefixes are created for new mobile networks. libphonenumber contains metadata for all the countries and telephone numbers that the authors are aware of but they also welcome feedback through their mailing list for anything that is not quite right.

Now that libphonenumber is available as a package, it may be helpful for somebody to try and find a way to split the metadata from the code so that metadata changes could be distributed through the stable updates catalog along with other volatile packages such as anti-virus patterns.

Robert Collins: Test processes as servers [Planet Debian]

Since its very early days subunit has had a single model – you run a process, it outputs test results. This works great, except when it doesn’t.

On the up side, you have a one way pipeline – there’s no interactivity needed, which makes it very very easy to write a subunit backend that e.g. testr can use.

On the downside, there’s no interactivity, which means that anytime you want to do something with those tests, a new process is needed – and thats sometimes quite expensive – particularly in test suites with 10’s of thousands of tests.Now, for use in the development edit-execute loop, this is arguably ok, because one needs to load the new tests into memory anyway; but wouldn’t it be nice if tools like testr that run tests for you didn’t have to decide upfront exactly how they were going to run. If instead they could get things running straight away and then give progressively larger and larger units of work to be run, without forcing a new process (and thus new discovery directory walking and importing) ? Secondly, testr has an inconsistent interface – if testr is letting a user debug things to testr through to child workers in a chain, it needs to use something structured (e.g. subunit) and route stdin to the actual worker, but the final testr needs to unwrap everything – this is needlessly complex. Lastly, for some languages at least, its possibly to dynamically pick up new code at runtime – so a simple inotify loop and we could avoid new-process (and more importantly complete-enumeration) *entirely*, leading to very fast edit-test cycles.

So, in this blog post I’m really running this idea up the flagpole, and trying to sketch out the interface – and hopefully get feedback on it.

Taking subunit.run as an example process to do this to:

  1. There should be an option to change from one-shot to server mode
  2. In server mode, it will listen for commands somewhere (lets say stdin)
  3. On startup it might eager load the available tests
  4. One command would be list-tests – which would enumerate all the tests to its output channel (which is stdout today – so lets stay with that for now)
  5. Another would be run-tests, which would take a set of test ids, and then filter-and-run just those ids from the available tests, output, as it does today, going to stdout. Passing somewhat large sets of test ids in may be desirable, because some test runners perform fixture optimisations (e.g. bringing up DB servers or web servers) and test-at-a-time is pretty much worst case for that sort of environment.
  6. Another would be be std-in a command providing a packet of stdin – used for interacting with debuggers

So that seems pretty approachable to me – we don’t even need an async loop in there, as long as we’re willing to patch select etc (for the stdin handling in some environments like Twisted). If we don’t want to monkey patch like that, we’ll need to make stdin a socketpair, and have an event loop running to shepard bytes from the real stdin to the one we let the rest of Python have.

What about that nirvana above? If we assume inotify support, then list_tests (and run_tests) can just consult a changed-file list and reload those modules before continuing. Reloading them just-in-time would be likely to create havoc – I think reloading only when synchronised with test completion makes a great deal of sense.

Would such a test server make sense in other languages?  What about e.g. testtools.run vs subunit.run – such a server wouldn’t want to use subunit, but perhaps a regular CLI UI would be nice…

Russ Allbery: git-pbuilder 1.33 [Planet Debian]

git-pbuilder is a script to integrate git-buildpackage with pbuilder or cowbuilder. My long-term hope is to rewrite it in Python and just incorporate it into git-buildpackage's source base directly, but in the meantime I've been maintaining it as a separate script.

This new release is a relatively minor bug fix. git-pbuilder has always removed the *_source.changes file built as part of the pbuilder process, since this file is normally useless. It's used to generate the source package to move into the chroot, but then the build in the chroot normally regenerates the Debian source package. The *_source.changes file hangs around with invalid checksums and just confuses matters, so git-pbuilder has always deleted it.

However, Debian is now increasing support for source-only uploads, which means that source-only builds might now be interesting. One can do a source-only build with gbp buildpackage -S. But that also generates a *_source.changes file, one that's actually useful, and git-pbuilder was deleting that as well. This release, thanks to work by Guido Günther, refrains from deleting this file when doing a source-only build.

You can get the latest release of git-pbuilder from my scripts distribution page.

Bernhard R. Link: Where key expiry dates are useful and where they are not. [Planet Debian]

Some recent blog (here and here) suggest short key expiry times.

Then also highlight some thing many people forget: The expiry time of a key can be changed every time with just a new self-signature. Especially that can be made retroactively (you cannot avoid that, if you allow changing it: Nothing would stop an attacker from just changing the clock of one of his computers).

(By the way: did you know you can also reduce the validity time of a key? If you look at the resulting packets in your key, this is simply a revocation packet of the previous self-signature followed by a new self-signature with a shorter expiration date.)

In my eyes that fact has a very simple consequence: An expiry date on your gpg main key is almost totally worthless.

If you for example lose your private key and have no revocation certificate for it, then a expiry time will not help at all: Once someone else got the private key (for example by brute forcing it, as computers got faster over the years or because they could brute-force the pass-phrase for your backup they got somehow), they can just extend the expiry date and make it look like it is still valid. (And if they do not have the private key, there is nothing they can do anyway).

There is one place where expiration dates make much more sense, though: subkeys.

As the expiration date of a subkey is part of the signature of that subkey with the main key, someone having access to only the subkey cannot change the date.

This also makes it feasible to use new subkeys over the time, as you can let the previous subkey expire and use a new one. And only someone having the private main key (hopefully you), can extend its validity (or sign a new one).

(I generally suggest to always have a signing subkey and never ever use the main key except off-line to sign subkeys or other keys. The fact that it can sign other keys just makes the main key just too precious to operate it on-line (even if it is on some smartcard the reader cannot show you what you just sign)).

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S07E22 – The One with the Joke [Planet Ubuntu]

We’re back with Season Seven, Episode Twenty of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson, and Laura Cowen are drinking tea and eating homemade tiffin in Studio L.

In this week’s show:

  • We interview Daniel Holbach from the Ubuntu Community Team…

  • We also discuss:

    • Playing with old console games…
    • Raising a bug on Ubuntu…
    • Attending JISC SOC Innovation…
  • We share some Command Line Lurve that sets up a Socks proxy on localhost port xxx which you can use to (say) browse the web from some_host (from @MartijnVdS):
      ssh -D xxx some_host
  • And we read your feedback. Thanks for sending it in!

We’ll be back next week, so please send your comments and suggestions to: podcast@ubuntu-uk.org
Join us on IRC in #uupc on Freenode
Leave a voicemail via phone: +44 (0) 203 298 1600, sip: podcast@sip.ubuntu-uk.org and skype: ubuntuukpodcast
Follow us on Twitter
Find our Facebook Fan Page
Follow us on Google+

Lubuntu Blog: Lubuntu Utopic Unicorn 14.10 β1 [Planet Ubuntu]

We’re preparing Lubuntu 14.10, the Utopic Unicorn, for distribution in October 2014. With this early Beta pre-release, you can see what we are trying out in preparation for our next version (with  3.16.0-11 Ubuntu Linux kernel). Remember that this is an early beta pre-release, so don't use it on daily production computers.

We'd like you to join us for testing, especially if you have a PPC machine. We didn't have PPC testers this release, do there is no PPC release.

Read the release notes before getting the disc images, and contact us with feedback.

Kubuntu Wire: Kubuntu on LinkedIn [Planet Ubuntu]

We can sit in our own nerdy world in open source communities too much so at Kubuntu we have been setting up social media forums and we have just added a LinkedIn page for Kubuntu which should get the usual news stories of new releases and updates.  There is also a Kubuntu Users group on LinkedIn if you want to share experiences with people who like to take more of a business approach to their computers than users of other social media websites.

14.10 Beta 1 is out, you can give us feedback on Google +https://plus.google.com/u/0/107577785796696065138/posts or Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/kubuntu.org or Twitterhttps://twitter.com/kubuntu or Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/company/kubuntu

The Fridge: Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) beta-1 released! [Planet Ubuntu]

The first beta of the Utopic Unicorn (to become 14.10) has now been released!

This beta features images for Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, UbuntuKylin, Xubuntu and the Ubuntu Cloud images.

Pre-releases of the Utopic Unicorn are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavor developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this release ready.

Beta 1 includes a number of software updates that are ready for wider testing. This is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs.

While these Beta 1 images have been tested and work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Utopic Unicorn. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Beta 1 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 14.10 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date before reporting bugs.


Kubuntu is the KDE based flavour of Ubuntu. It uses the Plasma desktop and includes a wide selection of tools from the KDE project.

Kubuntu development is now focussing on the next generation of KDE Software, Plasma 5. This is not yet stable enough for everyday use, so our default option is the trusted Plasma 4 desktop. A tech preview of Plasma 5 is available for those who want to try out the future.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:


More information on Kubuntu Beta-1 can be found here:


Lubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu based on LXDE and focused on providing a very lightweight distribution.

Lubuntu development is currently focused on the transition away from GTK+ to the Qt framework. This is not stable enough for everyday use, so the focus this version is on fixing bugs.

The Beta 1 images can be downloaded at:

Ubuntu GNOME

Ubuntu GNOME is a flavor of Ubuntu featuring the GNOME desktop environment.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:

More information on Ubuntu GNOME Beta-1 can be found here:


UbuntuKylin is a flavor of Ubuntu that is more suitable for Chinese users.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:

More information on UbuntuKylin Beta-1 can be found here:


Xubuntu is a flavor of Ubuntu shipping with the XFCE desktop environment.

The Beta-1 images can be downloaded at:

More information on Xubuntu Beta-1 can be found here:

Ubuntu Cloud

These images can be run on Amazon EC2, Openstack, SmartOS and many other clouds. Beta-1 images have been published to Windows Azure and Amazon EC2.


Regular daily images for Ubuntu Cloud can be found at:

Daily Images

Regular daily images for Ubuntu can be found at: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com

If you’re interested in following the changes as we further develop Utopic, we suggest that you subscribe to the ubuntu-devel-announce list. This is a low-traffic list (a few posts a week) carrying announcements of approved specifications, policy changes, beta releases and other interesting events.


A big thank you to the developers and testers for their efforts to pull together this Beta release!

Originally posted to the ubuntu-devel-announce mailing list on Thu Aug 28 21:04:39 UTC 2014 by Stéphane Graber

Xubuntu: Xubuntu 14.10 Beta 1 is released! [Planet Ubuntu]

The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 14.10 Beta 1. This is the first beta towards the final release in October. Before this beta we have landed various of enhancements and some new features. Now it’s time to start polishing the last edges and improve the stability.

The first beta release also marks the end of the period to land new features in the form of Ubuntu Feature Freeze. This means any new updates to packages should be bug fixes only, the Xubuntu team is committed to fixing as many of the bugs as possible before the final release.

The beta 1 release is available for download by torrents and direct downloads from

Highlights and known issues

New features and enhancements

  • Inxi, a tool to gather system information, is now included
  • To allow users to use pkexec for selected applications instead of gksu(do), appropriate profiles are now included for Thunar and Mousepad
  • The display dialog has been updated, multiple dispays can now be arranged by drag and drop
  • The power manager can now control the keyboard-backlight and features a new panel plugin, which shows the battery’s status, other connected devices with batteries and controls the display’s backlight brightness
  • The themes now support Gtk3.12
  • The alt-tab dialog can now be clicked with the mouse to select a window
  • Xubuntu minimal install available – information on installation and testing will follow shortly.

Bug fixes

  • Setting-related menu items earlier available only under Settings manager are now shown and searchable in Whiskermenu (1310264)
  • Presentation mode in Xfce4 power manager is now working (1193716)
  • apt-offline is now functional, previously “Something is wrong with the apt system” (1357217)

Known Issues

  • Video corruption when booting a virtual livesession (1357702)
  • Failure to configure wifi in live-session (1351590)
  • com32r error on boot with usb (1325801)

New application versions in the Xubuntu packageset

  • Catfish 1.2.1
  • Xfwm4 4.11.2
  • Updates to xfdesktop4 (4.11.7), xfce4-panel (4.11.1), login screen (lightdm-gtk-greeter 1.9.0)
  • xfce4-appfinder (4.11.0)
  • xfce4-notifyd (0.2.4-3)
  • xfce4-settings (4.11.3)
  • xfce4-power-manager (1.3.2)
  • xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin (1.4.0)
  • Light-locker-settings (1.4.0)
  • Menulibre (2.0.5)
  • Mugshot (0.2.4)

Other changes

XChat is removed from the default installation; we recommend trying the Pidgin IRC feature if you need to connect sporadically. Otherwise, if you prefer XChat, it’s still available for installation in the repositories.

Kubuntu: Kubuntu 14.10 Beta 1, Adds Plasma 5 Preview Option [Planet Ubuntu]

Kubuntu 14.10 beta 1 is out now for testing by early adopters. This release comes with the stable Plasma 4 we know and love. It also adds another flavour - Kubuntu Plasma 5 Tech Preview.

Canonical Design Team: Saving ubuntu.com on download day: Caching location specific pages [Planet Ubuntu]

On release day we can get up to 8,000 requests a second to ubuntu.com from people trying to download the new release. In fact, last October (13.10) was the first release day in a long time that the site didn’t crash under the load at some point during the day (huge credit to the infrastructure team).

Ubuntu.com has been running on Drupal, but we’ve been gradually migrating it to a more bespoke Django based system. In March we started work on migrating the download section in time for the release of Trusty Tahr. This was a prime opportunity to look for ways to reduce some of the load on the servers.

Choosing geolocated download mirrors is hard work for an application

When someone download Ubuntu from ubuntu.com (on a thank-you page), they are actually sent to one of the 300 or so mirror sites that’s nearby.

To pick a mirror for the user, the application has to:

  1. Decide from the client’s IP address what country they’re in
  2. Get the list of mirrors and find the ones that are in their country
  3. Randomly pick them a mirror, while sending more people to mirrors with higher bandwidth

This process is by far the most intensive operation on the whole site, not because these tasks are particularly complicated in themselves, but because this needs to be done for each and every user – potentially 8,000 a second while every other page on the site can be aggressively cached to prevent most requests from hitting the application itself.

For the site to be able to handle this load, we’d need to load-balance requests across perhaps 40 VMs.

Can everything be done client-side?

Our first thought was to embed the entire mirror list in the thank-you page and use JavaScript in the users’ browsers to select an appropriate mirror. This would drastically reduce the load on the application, because the download page would then be effectively static and cache-able like every other page.

The only way to reliably get the user’s location client-side is with the geolocation API, which is only supported by 85% of users’ browsers. Another slight issue is that the user has to give permission before they could be assigned a mirror, which would slightly hinder their experience.

This solution would inconvenience users just a bit too much. So we found a trade-off:

A mixed solution – Apache geolocation

mod_geoip2 for Apache can apply server rules based on a user’s location and is much faster than doing geolocation at the application level. This means that we can use Apache to send users to a country-specific version of the download page (e.g. the German desktop thank-you page) by adding &country=GB to the end of the URL.

These country specific pages contain the list of mirrors for that country, and each one can now be cached, vastly reducing the load on the server. Client-side JavaScript randomly selects a mirror for the user, weighted by the bandwidth of each mirror, and kicks off their download, without the need for client-side geolocation support.

This solution was successfully implemented shortly before the release of Trusty Tahr.

(This article was also posted on robinwinslow.co.uk)

Zygmunt Krynicki: Checkbox Project Insights [Planet Ubuntu]

Another day behind us. Another day hacking on the Checkbox Project.

Today we got a few issues on the 3.2 SRU kernel for precise. I've recorded a short explanation of how the SRU process looks like from our (Certification) perspective. We're investigating those to see if those are kernel problems or test bugs.

I've started the day by working on a few code reviews and SRU reviews. The bulk of the time was spent on the new validation subsystem for Checkbox. As before, you can see most of that via the Live Coding videos, specifically episodes #17, #18, #19 and #20) on my YouTube channel.

You can always find us, checkbox hackers in #checkbox on freenode. If you care about testing hardware with free software, join us!

Mammas, don’t let your boys grow up to attend California universities and colleges [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

California Democrats have passed a so-called “affirmative consent law” that covers the sexual activity of students who attend California’s public universities and colleges.

The bill’s language clarifies the definition of consent by stating what it is not. “Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent,” it reads. “Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”

The bill’s language does not require verbal consent, said Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for [State Senator Kevin] de Leon [Democrat and the bill's author], adding that it would allow for “verbal and non-verbal” consent. Conlon said the intent of the bill was to change the way school administrators approach their definition of sexual assault. Instead of asking: “Did she say no?” We are having them ask, did she consent?,” Conlon said. The bill does not require specific punishments for students found in violation of the policy.

The vast majority of college students are adults. So if this is the new standard of how we are to define rape and sexual assaults (which are already covered by criminal statutes) why is this law limited only to college students? Why not all adults?

Because it really has little to do with “rape culture” — Conlon giving the clue above by using “she” in her remarks about consent.

Last March we covered how California Seeks to Redefine Consensual Campus Sex as Rape, and we asked the question: “How does classifying most consensual sex as rape help rape victims?”

It doesn’t, of course. The California affirmative consent legislation was not about preventing rapes or other sexual assaults, which already are crimes, but about redefining inter-personal relationships in accordance with radical feminist demands which always view the female as victim of the male patriarchy. [...]

Campus relationship regulation now is about the predominance of “rape culture” theory which ensnares men into kangaroo campus courts, and even opposes objective preventative measures, like “Undercover Colors” nail polish that reacts to date-rape drugs.

The normal sequence of romantic interaction now is a violation of law unless there is something more than objectively willing conduct. It’s no longer “against our will,” but rather, a matter of procedural steps imposed on willing, consensual participants in order to avoid creating a crime where none exists.

William Jacobson states the follow parody may soon be California law ….

However, even a signed consent form will mean nothing since the law specifically says consent can be “revoked at any time.”

Teh Womyns Rule!

About those Junior Varsity beheaders? Obama let slip “We don’t have a strategy yet.” [Darleen Click] UPDATED [protein wisdom]


President Obama admitted today that his administration does not yet have a strategy to combat the militant Islamic group ISIS that has seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria.

When the president was asked if he would seek Congressional approval for U.S. attacks on ISIS targets in Syria, he responded, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

This is beyond pathetic … but don’t count out the perennial Obamessiah tongue bathers

There’s also a more sympathetic interpretation.

Viewed in context with the rest of his remarks, Obama’s point might be that there is no good strategy available for fully defeating ISIS in both Iraq and Syria — which is both consistent with his approach the crisis in those countries, in which he has primarily avoided risky escalation, and perhaps true.

Throughout Obama’s addresses on ISIS, including this press conference, he’s emphasized the need for a political strategy to defeat ISIS, one that focuses not on Washington but on Baghdad and, in an ideal world, Damascus. Barring political reform in the Iraqi government, and the development of some sort of peace in Syria, it’ll be really hard to fully defeat ISIS. In a changing, complicated situation, Obama’s thinking has long seemed to be, it’s better not to prematurely commit to a specific problem that might not fit the changing situation.

You can’t have a strategy for what can’t be done, in other words.

Holy Jaysus, but Zack Beauchamp needs a right-good beating …


We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Canada's starving gannets pose 'mystery' to researchers [CBC | Technology News]

Seabird experts are deeply worried about the state of Canada's northern gannet population, with chicks appearing to be starving to death while their parents struggle to find food.

Baby turtles talk to each other before hatching [CBC | Technology News]

Giant South American turtle hatching

When it comes to speaking their first "words," baby Giant South American river turtles are precocious - they talk to each other before they even hatch.

Inuit were not the first people to settle in the Arctic [CBC | Technology News]


A study published Thursday in the journal Science shows the first people to settle in the Arctic weren't Inuit but rather ‘Paleo-Eskimos’ — a Siberian people not genetically related to today’s Inuit or First Nations people.

Haiti mangoes, coffee fields under threat from climate change [CBC | Technology News]


Coffee and mango fields that help form the backbone of Haiti's agricultural economy are at risk of withering if the country does not take steps soon to prepare for climate change effects.

Google's secretive delivery drone project heats up race for air supremacy [CBC | Technology News]

Google's secretive research laboratory is trying to build a fleet of drones designed to bypass earthbound traffic so packages can be delivered to people more quickly.

IPhone 6? Smartwatch? Apple books big event for Sept. 9 [CBC | Technology News]

Apple Logo for Apple event story

Apple will show off its newest products Sept. 9, suggest invitations mailed Thursday to reporters and others who typically come to see the unveiling of Apple's latest twists on technology.

Address for WSY70 New York VOLMET? [The SWLing Post]


Perhaps you can help SWLing Post reader, John Cooper:

I have a mystery I am trying to solve.  Apparently there are 2 VOLMET stations with the same call sign of “New York Radio.” The address I am looking for is from WSY70- New York Radio. The address I was given is a different station that uses New York Radio as a station identifier,  and is located in Bohemia, NY.  It is a AIRINC Com Center station with the call sign KEA5.

WSY 70 is a New York FAA Flight Service Station.  I have searched all over to no avail for an address. The frequency is 6,604 kHz USB.

The station manager from the other NY radio KEA5 said the transmitter site was located in Barnaget, NJ; remember that the Bohemia, NY address is a different station, not WSY70.

Hopefully someone out there can be of assistance. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Please comment if you know an address for WSY70.

Can you identify this shortwave broadcasting site? [The SWLing Post]

Today, I had the fortune of spending a great deal of time at this impressive shortwave broadcasting site. No doubt, many of you have heard it.  Can you guess the name of the station?


(Matt and Doug: you are excluded from this guessing game)

Stay tuned, of course:  more photos (and a full tour) to come…!

Conn Carroll [Ace of Spades HQ Podcast]

Conn Carroll, Editor of Townhall Magazine, joins Ace, Gabe, Drew and John on this week's episode. Intro/Outro: Moneypenny Goes For Broke-Burt Bacharach/One Tree Hill-U2

Amateur Radio Newsline Report 1933 August 29 2014 [Amateur Radio Newsline Podcast]

  • A ham radio floater balloon makes two trips around the world
  • IARU Region One official says 23 centimeters is in jeopardy 
  • Moldavia joins the CEPT universal licensing system
  • International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend sets a new record
  • Morse sprint will honor the memory of the late Nancy Kott, WZ8C

Amateur Radio Newsline Report 1932 August 22 2014 [Amateur Radio Newsline Podcast]

  • Hams in Hawaii are ready as tropical storm Iselle heads their way 
  • The Global Amateur Radio Emergency Conference looks at the future 
  • Ham radio gets the message through when all else fails 
  • New ham radio research microsat is hand launched from the ISS 
  • A retirement community that has adopted ham radio

Terrorist Scumbag Nidal Hasan Wants to Become ‘Citizen’ of Islamic State [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Well, since this piece of shit has already been sentenced to death for his outbreak of workplace violence, perhaps we can just fulfill his wish and airdrop him into Syria or Iraq. Strapped to a JDAM.

The convicted shooter in the Fort Hood massacre has written a letter to the leader of the Islamic State saying he wants to become a “citizen” of the caliphate, in the latest example of the terror group’s reach inside the U.S.

The letter from Nidal Hasan, obtained by Fox News, comes after two Americans reportedly died fighting for ISIS in Syria. Sources late Wednesday identified the second as Abdirahmaan Muhumed, of Minneapolis. Fox affiliate KMSP-TV in Minneapolis reported that Muhumed was killed in the same battle as Douglas McArthur McCain, who grew up outside Minneapolis in the town of New Hope and most recently lived in San Diego.

The State Department said Thursday it could not confirm Muhumed’s death and efforts to reach his family were unsuccessful.

In the undated letter, Hasan — who fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 at Fort Hood in 2009 in what the Defense Department called “workplace violence”– tells ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that he wants to join the caliphate.

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State,”Hasan says in the handwritten document addressed to “Ameer, Mujahid Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

“It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.”

The two-page letter includes Hasan’s signature and the abbreviation SoA for Soldier of Allah.

We wonder if Obama has a strategy to help deliver his letter.

Marched to their deaths: Sickening ISIS slaughter continues as 250 soldiers captured at Syrian airbase are stripped then led to the desert for mass execution [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Sickening footage appears to show Islamic State militants parading 250 captured soldiers through the desert in their underwear before they are killed and their bodies piled on the bare earth.

An Islamic State fighter said the men were from the Syrian government’s Tabqa air base which extremists seized on Sunday – handing them warplanes, helicopters, tanks, artillery and ammunition.

The video, too graphic to be published in full, first shows dozens of men being marched through the desert and made to chant in Arabic wearing only their underwear.

It then fades to black and resumes on an image of a pile of bloodied bodies stacked on top of one another.

As the horrific footage progresses it pans slowly across a vast line of men who appear to be dead, and whose bodies have been laid out one by one.

The line forms a slow crescent across the desert, seemingly stretching to the horizon as militants stand beside it. Eventually, after more than a minute, the cameraman reaches the end of the line.

At least 150 bodies are visible in the shaky video. Its description on Youtube said it showed the execution of Army officers and Nusayri people, a significant minority of Shia Muslims in Syria.

A caption to another version of the video said: ‘The 250 shabeeha taken captive by the Islamic State from Tabqa in Raqqa have been executed,’ referring to the Islamist name for soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Talking to Reuters via the Internet, an Islamic State fighter in Raqqa added: ‘Yes we have executed them all.’

Full story.

After tensions with residents, Lev Tahor leave Guatemalan village [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Members of the controversial Haredi sect Lev Tahor left a Guatemalan village after religiously tainted disputes with its Roman Catholic Mayan residents.

Over 200 members of the community began leaving Thursday after local leaders said they would cut services to Lev Tahor members.

The move is one of many recent disruptions for the group, which has been targeted with child abuse allegations in Canada.

Lev Tahor had maintained a small presence in San Juan La Laguna, a village about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, for about six years, but it expanded considerably in March after a contingent arrived complaining of persecution by Canadian authorities.

Tensions appear to have flared after the newcomers arrived, and leaders of the village told news agencies that the group sought to impose its practices on the indigenous peoples.

Miguel Vasquez Cholotio, a member of the elders’ council, told Reuters the sect members refused to greet or have physical contact with anyone outside their community.

“We felt intimidated by them in the streets. We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs,” he said. Vasquez Cholotio told AFP that the villagers “need to conserve and preserve our culture.”

Uriel Goldman, a spokesman for Lev Tahor, told Reuters that the group had friendly relations with the locals, and was the victim of charges by a minority among the village’s leaders. He said the group would seek another site in Guatemala to settle.

This Week in Jewish Farming: Battling the blight [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

tomatoblightThe first signs of problems with the tomato plants showed up in June, but a combination of inexperience, cockiness and distractions caused me to ignore them.

This week, I paid the price.

Tomatoes are a great money-maker. At the market, they are both our highest-priced and highest-volume crop. We can easily move 50-100 pounds on a Sunday, not including those glorious sungolds. We have also built a reliable wholesale business that, for most of July, was taking an additional 80-100 pounds off us each week. And of course, our CSA members love receiving several pounds of those ripe and beautiful fruits each week.

So when signs of an advanced case of blight turned up on our tomato plants, I was deeply concerned.

Tomato blight refers to a number of species of fungus that infect tomato plants. Spores are carried on the wind or hang out in the soil waiting for the right combination of heat and water to do their thing. First signs are typically lesions on the leaves that, if left unchecked, eventually will fell the entire plant. In places like northern California or the Mediterranean basin where summers are largely dry, tomato blight generally isn’t a problem. In the wet, humid summers of Connecticut, the disease can be a killer.

Our field tomatoes started showing signs of blight soon after transplanting, but we foolishly didn’t react. Last week, with the disease clearly advancing and desperate to know exactly what I was up against, I bagged a few plant samples and drove them up the road to the plant pathology lab at UCONN. The email I received the next day detailed three separate strains of fungus at work.

For the organic grower, the primary defenses against blight are preventive: Keep the air circulation high and the leaf moisture low. Organically approved fungicides are available, but they’re not curative.

The dead plants aren’t coming back. The only recourse at that point is to try to make sure it doesn’t spread.

For us, battling the disease was an uphill climb. By the time we started spraying a copper fungicide, some of our plants already had lost 80 percent of their foliage.

This week it was undeniable: We are losing the fight. Already, our tomato supply has shrunk by half. Within the next two weeks, I expect our field production to be basically over. The greenhouse will probably limp along for a few more weeks.

We’ve been incredibly fortunate not to have lost any major crop so far this season. For a first-year farmer, I consider that a significant accomplishment. Even the loss of the tomatoes isn’t a terrible blow considering we’ve had nearly two months of production already. But the lost revenue hurts a lot — almost as much as the pain of knowing I could have done better.

Veteran JTA journalist Ben Harris is chronicling his new life as a Connecticut farmer. Read more of his weekly dispatches here.


From the annals of Jewish farming: On Israel’s 10th anniversary in 1958, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Benson lauded the country’s “outstanding progress” in developing its agricultural potential.

Hollande calls for easing blockade, demilitarizing Gaza [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — French President Francois Hollande called for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and the easing of Gaza’s blockade.

Hollande’s speech Thursday to the French diplomatic corps was the latest sign that the international community plans to press for demilitarization after the latest war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Reports emerged in the Lebanese media on Friday that the United States is pressing the United Nations Security Council to call for such steps.

The terms of this week’s cease-fire “must be strictly, precisely and rigorously implemented, because Gaza must not remain an armed base for Hamas, nor should it be an open prison for its residents” Hollande said. “We must advance toward a progressive lifting of the blockade and a demilitarization of the territory.”

He outlined French proposals that included international supervision of the destruction of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, reopening Gaza’s border crossings with Israel and Egypt, and giving Hamas’ rival, the Palestinian Authority, the means to rebuild Gaza.

Hamas officials have said they would resist any steps to demilitarize and that they plan to re-arm.

In Iran, the head of the Basij, the militia best known for brutally repressing protests after the 2009 election, widely seen as rigged, said this week that Iran would arm Palestinians in the West Bank.

LPFM News: 11 More Construction Permits, 7 Dismissals, and a Couple Radio Stations Launch [Radio Survivor]

Following last week’s bumper crop of new LPFM grants, this week a number of applicants also got good news from the FCC, bringing the grand total of granted applications to 1292. Additionally, some stations that have held their construction permits for awhile are starting to get off the ground, with a few launching their first […]

The post LPFM News: 11 More Construction Permits, 7 Dismissals, and a Couple Radio Stations Launch appeared first on Radio Survivor.

Race: A Conservative View [RedState]

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, ought to cause us to pause and reflect on the issue of race in America. It seems like after every incident similar to what is happening in that St. Louis suburb, we hear calls from our friends on the Left for a “national conversation on race”. It is a conversation we have needed to have for decades, and it is unfortunate that there has been little serious study of race from a conservative point of view, outside of perhaps Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Shelby Steele. To a large degree, discussing how conservatives see race has largely been confined to those on the Left who are, essentially, on the outside looking in, and who might be trying to fit their observations to their own agendas. I am writing this essay in an attempt to spell out how the conservative sees race. It is my attempt to give us something to look back upon when that fabled national conversation finally happens.

I do not pretend to suggest that my views are held by all conservatives. What I am trying to do here is merely present a view of race that is truest to conservative principles. I would prefer to talk about major socio-political problems that one must deal with when discussing the issue of race, including affirmative action, the welfare state, and the justice system, but this essay is already long enough. I will deal with those in a future piece, along with other topics. I must also note that the race problem, including the related problems with ethnicity, is not binary. It extends beyond merely black and white. Nevertheless, my focus here is to provide a conservative perspective on the issue of race in America as it concerns blacks and whites in America.

Bruce Douglass Revels

L-R: Sen. Blanche K. Bruce of MS, Frederick Douglass, and Sen. Hiram Revels of MS. All three were Republicans.

Conservatives’ Issues with Talking about Race

If the Conservative is more reluctant than his Liberal friends to talk about the issue of race, it is because he has seen how it has been misused by those who, frankly, ought to know better. There are four major reasons for this reluctance. First, he is leery of dividing humanity into immutable groups whose differences and experiences are inscrutable to outsiders. Second, he is apprehensive about the concept of subsuming an individual’s identity to a group to which he is told he must belong. Third, particularly in light of advances in genetic research, he has come to see race less as an issue of biology and more of a social construct used by a small elitist few to tar their opposition, to empower themselves and maintain that power, and in the case of whites in this group, to assuage their own guilt. Finally, he has seen how certain groups have used the issue of race as a way to push for the revolutionary overthrow of American government and society.

As the Conservative sees it, the obsession so many on the Left (and even among those ostensibly on the Right) with forcing people into these racial groups comes at the detriment of remembering our common humanity, our individuality, and our status as Americans. Furthermore, using categories of merely “black” and “white” neglects the great variety of experiences and identities in these groups. Using the phrase “the black community” might be useful shorthand to refer to the entire population of black people in America, but it is important to not read too much into it. As an example, the experiences of the blacks who are descendants of slaves brought to the United States are different from the blacks who have immigrated here from Africa or the Caribbean (even though the latter themselves are descendants of slaves). The experiences of Northern blacks are different from those of Southern blacks, and the same could be said for those who lived in rural and urban settings. There are a similar variety of experiences across economic classes and religious faiths. While they are all united by the fact that they are black, the question arises of just what that actually means, and if there a single, unified definition of blackness can even exist.

One could can see the exact same kinds of issues when talking about whiteness, and there are many aspects of our identities that are transracial. You might be black and I might be white, but we could both be Orthodox Christians, sports fans, Atlantans, or products of a middle class upbringing. A great danger of identifying people solely as black or white lies in the tendency to believe that these groups are monolithic. This is demonstrably not true. There are communities within these groups and spanning between them, and at the smallest level, we are all individuals with our own beliefs, dignity, and rights.

As regards race as a social concept, it is important to note that our definition of race falls apart at the genetic level. As R.C. Lewontin, the Alexander Agassiz Professor Emeritus of Zoology at Harvard University explains it:

Historically, the concept of race was imported into biology, and not only the biology of the human species, from social practice. The consciousness that human beings come in distinct varieties led, in the history of biology, to the construction of “race” as a subgrouping within species. For a long time the category “race” was a standard taxonomic level. But the use of “race” in a general biological context then reinforced its application to humans.


[A]s genetics developed and it became possible to characterize the genetic differences between individuals and populations it became apparent, that every population of every species in fact differs genetically to some degree from every other population. Thus, every population is a separate “geographic race” and it was realized that nothing was added by the racial category. The consequence of this realization was the abandonment of “race” as a biological category during the last quarter of the twentieth century, an abandonment that spread into anthropology and human biology. However, that abandonment was never complete in the case of the human species. There has been a constant pressure from social and political practice and the coincidence of racial, cultural and social class divisions reinforcing the social reality of race, to maintain “race” as a human classification. If it were admitted that the category of “race” is a purely social construct, however, it would have a weakened legitimacy. Thus, there have been repeated attempts to reassert the objective biological reality of human racial categories despite the evidence to the contrary.

As he astutely notes, the fact that race is not genetic has not stopped the social and political obsession with race. All too often the people, both black and white, who talk about the race problem in America are those who materially and socially benefit from maintaining the status quo, especially among self-appointed “leaders” of the so-called “black community” and white academics and those who have pretensions toward the latter. Should one dare to question this orthodoxy or disagree with its leaders’ prescriptions, he is immediately tarred a racist, the fear which is usually enough to silence the opposition.*

As for the fourth reason, the very term “conservative” implies the conservation of something or things. For the Conservative in America, he chiefly desires the preservation of Constitutional government, civil order and society, and the Judeo-Christian tradition that has informed our civic virtue. He is not adverse to change, of course, but the change must be precise in scope, beneficial, and it must address a prudent need. Russell Kirk, unsurprisingly, explains it best:

[T]he intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. He thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old.

Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism. Just how much change a society requires, and what sort of change, depend upon the circumstances of an age and a nation.

Accordingly, the conservative rejects the call by those on the Left who insist that we institute a radical upheaval of America’s social and political order in order to address the issue of race and racism. The Conservative shares Zora Neale Hurston’s conviction on the subject, as seen in her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road:

It seems to me that if I say a whole system must be upset for me to win, I am saying that I cannot sit in the game, and that safer rules must be made to give me a chance. I repudiate that. If others are in there, deal me a hand and let me see what I can make of it, even though I know some in there are dealing from the bottom and cheating like hell in other ways.

Obviously, we should strive, wherever possible, to eliminate racial discrimination in the system. There is nothing unconservative about that suggestion, but that is not an endorsement of the idea that the entire system should be overthrown. A survey of American history shows that, time and again, it has been able to reform itself, including by passing the 13th, 14th, and 15 amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to name only a few. A survey of world history, meanwhile, shows the terrible consequences of attempts to partake in a wholesale overthrow of existing orders.

Ideally, the Conservative wishes that race would cease to be an overriding factor in American politics and culture. This includes racial discrimination, both the negative and positive varieties. This, of course, is a state of affairs that may never be reached, but we still believe in striving for it. We do so not because we believe it is a goal that can necessarily be attained, but because in the process we will forge a more perfect union.

A Matter of Perspective

As Michael White, writing at the Pacific Standard, notes in the conclusion to his article “Why Your Race Isn’t Genetic”:

Without natural genetic boundaries to guide us, human racial categories remain a product of our choices. Those choices are not totally arbitrary, biologically meaningless, or without utility. But because they are choices, we have some leeway in how we define and apply racial categories. We shouldn’t deceive ourselves; how we define race does not just reflect biology, it reflects culture, history, and politics as well.

Whatever the genetic truth of race, it is a very real thing to many people. Race most certainly does exist in the public consciousness. Arguably, nowhere has this been displayed so prominently and forcefully as in the events surrounding the killing of Mike Brown in the town of Ferguson, Missouri. It has brought a whole host of issues to the surface, including black attitudes towards the police, the issue of racism in the justice system, among others. The questions we should be asking extend beyond inquiring if black attitudes towards the police are justified, if police attitudes towards blacks are justified, or if the justice system is biased against blacks in certain ways. We should not just concern ourselves with whether these are objectively true or false, we should also be asking, “Why do these perceptions exist, and how did they develop?” Whether we agree with them or not, these issues are true to many people, both among blacks and whites, and it is not just confined to the Left (nor should it be, in my opinion).

If we wish to get the “black perspective” on an issue, the first thing we must realize is that there is no “black perspective”. There are black perspectives, and if we want them, we must speak with black people and listen to their stories. I do not mean the elites and “thought leaders” either. I mean the ordinary black person, who does not have access to a television camera or hordes of journalists at will. This has, thus far, been one of the GOP and conservatism’s biggest problems in explaining their philosophy to minority voters. In an interview with Newsmax TV, Thomas Sowell gets it right:

“When [Reagan] set out to win the black vote, he went to the Urban League,” Sowell said. “He was going to these black establishments as his entrée into the black public, as if the establishment owned the rest of the black people.”

Now, Sowell says, in plans unveiled recently by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, “they’re talking about going to the NAACP, which is the next thing to a fully-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party — and that’s how they’re going to try to reach blacks.

“All they’re doing is increasing the sense that those are the blacks who matter and that they are the entryway for the rest of the black people,” he says.

I cannot stress it enough that we must be willing to listen to what blacks have to say. This is where understanding begins, and even when we disagree with what they say, we must address these differences while respecting the intelligence of those who hold them.

First Black Senators & Representatives

The first black Senator (Revels) and Representatives. All Republicans.

Towards a Common Destiny

As a basic description of the racial problems in America, I agree with Albert Murray, a black literary critic and essayist, when he states in the introduction to his seminal 1970 book The Omni-Americans:

To race-oriented propagandists, whether black or white, the title of course makes no sense: they would have things be otherwise. But the United States is in actuality not a nation of black people and white people. It is a nation of multicolored people. There are white Americans so to speak and black Americans. But any fool can see that the white people are not really white, and that black people are not black. They are all interrelated in one way or another. Thus the title The Omni-Americans is among other things an attempt to restate the problem formulated by the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders by suggesting that the present domestic conflict and upheaval grows out of the fact that in spite of their common destiny and deeper interests, the people of the United States are being mislead [sic] by misinformation to insist on exaggerating their ethnic differences. the problem is not the existence of ethnic differences, as is so often assumed, but the intrusion of such differences into areas where they do not belong. (pg. 3)

Of course, the book is some 44 years old by now. Race relations in the country have developed in ways positive and negative. We have seen the policies of the Great Society and the War on Poverty as well as the War on Drugs bear their poisonous fruits in full since then. Still, at its most fundamental level, I believe Murray’s description still holds true.

As the conservative sees it, our racial and ethnic identities can be important parts of our identity, but they are only part of each individual’s conception of who he is. We are men and women. We belong to different religions, or perhaps belong to no religion at all. We live in different geographic communities and regions. We are rich, poor, or somewhere in between. We have different jobs. We have different hobbies and interests. I could go on and on, but when it comes down to it, we are all united by the fact that we are Americans and human beings. Conservatives reject the suggestion that we must be kept separate, if not physically then culturally, because we see the common threads that run between our lives beyond race and upon which understanding is built. We reject the notion that “black problems” must be confined to the so-called black community. Black problems are American problems, just as black successes are American successes. If many of us conservatives are poor at articulating these ideas, it is because we have not seriously confronted them before, but we are learning as we go along. In order to build this better understanding between us, it is incumbent upon our Liberal friends across America, both black and white, to make an honest effort in good faith to discuss the issue of race with us, setting the epithets and insults aside.

We are waiting.


*=For more reading about race and genetics, the Center for Responsible Genetics has an excellent list of articles discussing the subject. This transcript of a PBS interview with Hampshire College Professor of Biological Anthropology Alan Goodman is also worth a look.

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Germany’s Green Energy Gamble [RedState]

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On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Francis Cianfrocca to discuss the Burger King merger, Angela Merkel’s green energy gamble and what it means for the future of the EU.

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Read my lips: We don’t have a strategy yet…. [RedState]

**Promoted from the diaries. – Aaron**

There are misspeaks…there are gaffes..there are cases of political foot-in-mouth disease, and then there are monumentally self-destructive comments like Obama uttered yesterday:

“We don’t have a strategy yet….” for dealing with ISIS

The WH scrambled to try and dismiss this as just a verbal gaffe…Obama paying an “aw shucks” homage to  Harry Reid. Maybe they should invoke Joe Biden instead, because this really is a “big f***in’ deal.”

It’s so damaging because it reinforces what many already know, and many more are starting to understand..there is a dearth of ideas, an utter lack of  competency inside the Obama administration, and it is likely to prove dangerous to America.

“Read my lips: No new taxes!”

Rush Limbaugh believes that GHWB would have easily won re-election had he not broken that pledge, and gone on to increase taxes. GOP pollster Richard Wirthlin called the promise the “six most destructive words in presidential politics.” Ed Rollins termed it as “probably the most serious violation of any political pledge ever made.”

Pat Buchanan, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot were able to use it effectively against Bush in the 1992 election. His popularity , which was at a record 80% after the Gulf War, collapsed.

This all occurred in a pre-internet, pre-Twitter, pre-24/7 news cycle world.

Obama has gift-wrapped and hand delivered to the GOP six words that will likely  be more damaging than Bush’s broken 6 word pledge. Though Obama is not actually on the ballot..in many ways he still is, as Democrats are tied to him.

The GOP will also be able to successfully hang this on Hillary..it perfectly summarizes the failed “reset” button, and of course, Benghazi. It will force her to try and distance herself sooner, and further, from Obama..which will only split the Democrat base.

I happily give you the text for a 30 second GOP ad in 2016..perhaps a Red Stater with more ability than I can do the actual commercial.

1. The clip of Hillary testifying..near-shrieking..”What difference does it make?”

2. Obama saying,”We don’t have a strategy yet.


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When Fear Of The Race Card Destroys People [RedState]

Unless The Rapist Threatens To Drop The Race Card

Unless The Rapist Threatens To Drop The Race Card

Professor Alexis Jay will probably regret forever accepting the tasker to investigate and author “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997 – 2013).” Like the PI played by Nicholas Cage in the movie “8MM” she has seen and heard things that cannot be unseen and unheard. Her first two paragraphs in the executive summary of her report are the sort of thing you would find in fiction by Stephen King.

No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1400 children were sexually exploited over the full Inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013…..It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated. There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone….Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators.

The authorities in charge in Rotherham were in no way ignorant of this. When Council Leader Roger Stone stepped down; he probably did so one step ahead of being tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail. Professor Alexis describes the attitude of Rotherham’s authorities towards what they knew was happening.

Within social care, the scale and seriousness of the problem was underplayed by senior managers. At an operational level, the Police gave no priority to CSE, regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime. Further stark evidence came in 2002, 2003 and 2006 with three reports known to the Police and the Council, which could not have been clearer in their description of the situation in Rotherham. The first of these reports was effectively suppressed because some senior officers disbelieved the data it contained. This had led to suggestions of coverup. The other two reports set out the links between child sexual exploitation and drugs, guns and criminality in the Borough. These reports were ignored and no action was taken to deal with the issues that were identified in them.

The evil in Rotherham prospered and reveled in the glacial indifference shown by government and law enforcement. This we may be tempted to chalk up to “The British Disease” and write off as the corruption that is endemic from overdosing on too much socialistic hope and change. Not so fast, Kimosabe. A less virulent but growing version of the same problem is occurring in the United States. Fred Reed described this trend in one of his Cop Columns for The Washington Times. Here is a letter he got from a patrol officer in Prince George’s County, MD.

“Fred — After having read your article on 11/20/00 I have to state that YES!! We on the P.G.P.D for the most part are now looking the other way. After almost [deleted] years on the job I find this disheartening but a necessary fact to survive in today’s, what appears to most officers, an ANTI-POLICE environment. We are even being told by some supervisors to keep a low profile so “you’re not next on the front page”! I became a police officer to help people [deleted] years ago in P.G. County . . . but I now share the attitude of most officers, just let them eat each other, we have to survive.

Now what would give these officers such an incentive to quietly renege on a sacred, sworn trust? Fred Reed explains in a way that could, quite sadly, demean Eric Holder’s people.

The problem, stated or implied, is invariably race. Almost any interaction with blacks can destroy their careers, they say. If they stop blacks for traffic violations, it’s racial profiling. If they watch suspicious people, who in all-black neighborhoods will be black, they’re discriminating. If they’re involved in a shooting, then it’s excessive force with the powerful implication in the press that the motives were racial. A dozen politicians will try to fry them to get votes. They can’t win. They can, however, avoid losing. And that’s what’s happening. ….This sort of undeclared strike is absolutely racially driven. Cops in white regions still do their jobs. A white cop who stops a white drunk doesn’t get sued by Jesse Jackson.

So riddle me this one, Colin Flaherty. How does this British rape scandal relate to a bunch of whinging coppers in PG, MD? It has to do with why no justice was enforced and no peace was preserved. Dr. Alexis explains how Rotherham earned a well-deserved reputation as the rape capital of Northern England.

By far the majority of perpetrators were described as ‘Asian*’ by victims, yet throughout the entire period, councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue. Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.

So we’ve seen the terrible consequence of this squeamish fear of police racism in Great Britain. 1400 girls in Rotherham England were raped without any legitimate recourse to the law. The questioned I’d like to ask the politically correct who assume all police action against minorities is racist. What if it was your 11 year old daughter getting gang-raped? Would it be a mortal sin then if we demeaned certain people? Or would it be ok because she bleeds a lot? When the potential accusation of racism hung over the heads of government officials, where was the pious crusade to end all violence against women?

*-“Asian” is often a euphemism used to describe unassimilated Muslim immigrants in Great Britain

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What Leading From Behind Looks Like [RedState]

I do not think Barack Obama is a closet sympathizer of muslim Jihadists bent on our destruction, but God help me I suddenly understand how some have arrived at that conclusion. To stand up and tell the world that we are going to do zero to help Ukraine and have no strategy to defeat ISIS is just insane.

That the White House staff had to go into complete and total damage control afterwards is telling. But even their damage control was insufficient. They told Wolf Blitzer we had a strategy, just not a strategy to go after them in Syria. But that’s the problem. They keep their leadership in Syria knowing they’ll be perfectly safe from us.

Here’s Josh Earnest doing damage control on CNN:

[T]he president was asked a specific question about what approach he was going to pursue when it came to possible military action in Syria against ISIL. That was the specific question he was asked and the president was explicit, that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options that he has for going into Syria.

How long has Syria been a problem? The President addressed the nation on September 10, 2013, about Syria and the actions we would take. But he said we would not get involved outside of forcing Syria to give up chemical weapons. Our military leaders have insisted we do more, but the President has dithered, much like he dithered trying to save James Foley.

And what of the strategy to defeat ISIS in Iraq? “Just words” and a few tactical missile strikes. More from the White House Press Secretary.

But when it comes to confronting ISIL, the president has been very clear for months about what our comprehensive strategy is for confronting the ISIL threat in Iraq. It starts with a unified Iraq government, that can unite that country to meet the threat that’s facing their country right now.

It includes strengthening our relationship with the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, to make sure that they have the equipment and training that they need, to take the fight to ISIL on the ground in their country.

The third component of our strategy is engaging regional governments. It’s certainly not in the interest of governments in that neighborhood to have ISIL wreaking havoc and perpetrating terrible acts of violence in the region.

The fourth aspect of the strategy is engaging countries around the world in this effort.

And then, of course, the fifth aspect of the strategy, the fifth component, is the use of American military force.

So to kill the bad guys we have to let Iraqis set up a new government, then we need to rebuild relationships with people who don’t trust us because of Obama, then we need to engage regional governments who’ve taken to launching strikes in Libya without telling us, then we need to sing kumbaya with the world . . . .

The President is not a jihadi sympathizer. He’s just a damn fool. How many will die because of this President and his foolishness? Too many.

The post What Leading From Behind Looks Like appeared first on RedState.

Rep. Annie Kuster (D, New Hampshire-02) can’t find an actual Republican supporter? [RedState]

Meet Robin Partello. And who is she?  Well, she was someone who was featured as a Republican offering praise for Annie Kuster in a recent campaign ad for New Hampshire’s Second District. Just one, small, teeny-tiny problem:

That sounded a bit odd, so I called myself to confirm that.  And it’s true: Ms. Partello is not actually currently a Republican*. Despite the fact that the camera zoomed in for a closeup so that they could dramatically show Ms. Partello saying “I’m a Republican.” Seriously, you have to ask yourself: why didn’t the Kuster campaign do this oppo first? …Because of course the VRWC is going to do this oppo. There is absolutely no reason why we wouldn’t do this oppo. It’s Oppo 101. You check the people who are telling a story, just in case there’s a problem with their story.

Ach, well. Maybe we now know why Annie Kuster’s polling took an abrupt nose dive, huh?  Bad planning catching up to her, perhaps?

(Image via Shutterstock)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: For the record: the problem here is not Ms. Partello.  It’s that Rep. Kuster is so hard up for cross-party appeal that she’s apparently willing to cut all the corners in the world to get the sound bites that she feels she needs.

*As you might imagine, historical data of this sort is not exactly freely available, and I was careful to make it clear that I was not trying to social-engineer the Clerk’s Office to give me information that was not freely available via the public record.  Given Ms. Partello’s military service record, this post is enough of a potential minefield as it is.

The post Rep. Annie Kuster (D, New Hampshire-02) can’t find an actual Republican supporter? appeared first on RedState.

MT-Sen: Things aren’t going well for Dem Nominee Amanda Curtis [RedState]

The Montana Senate race has been perhaps the most interesting contest thus far in the 2014 Senate election cycle. Original nominee, and sitting interim Senator, John Walsh was busted for plagiarism on a 14 page (!) Master’s thesis*. Sensing that this might be a liability on the campaign trail, he was replaced with single term Montana State Representative Amanda Curtis. She’s already come under fire for some rather unfortunate statements from her days as a vlogger. As if that wasn’t enough of a signal that she might not be ready for prime time, it appears that she has trouble with interviews as well. As our Salem compatriot at Townhall Guy Benson notes, she apparently has trouble getting through scripted interview responses:

There are a lot of things Ms. Curtis doesn’t seem to know, such as her positions on major issues.  From a CNN profile:  “When asked her position on the situation in Iraq, Curtis told CNN, ‘Give me a little more time.’ On the border crisis, ‘I’ll need more time, you know only 11 days ago I was painting my storm windows.’”  What she does know is that she’s against “the one percent” and hates Paul Ryan’s budget.

But that alone might not be the most embarrassing part about this interview. In her introduction, she actually froze for a good 5 seconds. Check the video:

And while all of this is embarrassing, there’s still more issues about her views that we can dig up. She is, in common parlance, a WobblyIn other words, she’s the kind of Leftist who has no problem with Revolutionary Socialism, even if it means roughing a few people up and destroying some property along the way, and at one point, her Facebook profile photo was of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the head of the Communist Party USA and recipient of a state funeral from the Soviet Union.

So hey, Bernie Sanders might get some company among the actual socialists in Congress, but thankfully, Montana voters seem to be rejecting her in favor of our guy, Republican Steve Daines. Pop on over to his website and give him a donation if you can. It’ll be a hard fought contest, even if it looks like we’ll win.

*=Man, I wish I knew how to write a 14 page paper that would get me a Master’s Degree. My thesis ended up being 172 pages in total.

The post MT-Sen: Things aren’t going well for Dem Nominee Amanda Curtis appeared first on RedState.

The Atlantic’s Factually Challenged Attack on the Supreme Court [RedState]


Garrett Epps, writing yesterday in The Atlantic, unleashed a nakedly partisan and brazenly inaccurate attack on the Supreme Court that is transparently designed to sway the way the Justices decide the Halbig case. The headline of Epps’ piece blaringly decries “The Extreme Partisanship of John Roberts’ Supreme Court”:

“Politics are closely divided,” John Roberts told scholar Jeffrey Rosen after his first term as chief justice. “The same with the Congress. There ought to be some sense of some stability, if the government is not going to polarize completely. It’s a high priority to keep any kind of partisan divide out of the judiciary as well.”

No one who observes the chief justice would doubt he was sincere in his wish for greater unanimity, greater judicial modesty, a widely respected Supreme Court quietly calling “balls and strikes.” But human beings are capable of wishing for mutually incompatible things—commitment and freedom, for example, or safety and excitement. In his desire for harmony, acclaim, and legitimate hegemony, the chief was fighting himself. As he enters his 10th term, his quest for a non-partisan Court seems in retrospect like the impossible dream.

Literally the only support Epps can muster for this allegation is that the Court ended its term with two 5-4 decisions that were decided along “partisan lines” – at least insofar as the partisan lines in question are determined by the party affiliation of the Presidents who nominated them. The rest of his article is a confusing mish mash of half truths, contradictions, and non-sequiturs, such as the fact that the 2013 term “began with oral arguments in a divisive, highly political case about campaign finance,” (how does this make the Court itself more partisan for hearing these arguments?) and the following, which if you pay attention closely, actually is evidence that the court is not partisan:

In 2012, the Court had let stand the “individual mandate,” but only as a tax, not (as most scholars had expected) as a regulation of commerce. At the same time, it had allowed the expansion of Medicaid but had empowered individual states to close their borders to federal health policy.

Besides the non sequiturs and other logical problems, the main weakness Epps’ piece suffers from is that it’s contradicted by readily available facts. As even the New York Times noted last year:

WASHINGTON — There has been a remarkable outbreak of harmony at the Supreme Court. Of the seven decisions issued in the last two weeks, six were unanimous.

There have been no dissents in more than 60 percent of the 46 cases decided so far this term. At this point last year, the justices were unanimous just 48 percent of the time, according to statistics compiled by Scotusblog. In the two terms before that, 52 percent of the cases decided by now were unanimous.

* * *

The recent unanimous cases are noteworthy for a second reason: many truly speak with a single voice. The court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has set records for faux unanimity, where the justices agree on the result but barnacle the majority opinion with concurrences expressing caveats, interpretive glosses or wholly different rationales.

The recent unanimous cases are different. In five of the six, there was just one opinion.

Such authentically unanimous decisions are built to last. By contrast, when the justices agree on the result but disagree about the reasons for it, the majority opinion has less force.

This year, the Roberts Court continued to make remarkable strides towards unanimity and furthermore split along “partisan” lines less frequently than any Court in recent history:

From affirmative action, campaign spending, public prayers, and labor union power– the justices continue to stack their docket with cases spanning a range of constitutional and legal questions.

What was surprising was how often they agreed to agree. Two-thirds of the 72 cases fully decided this term were unanimous, the highest percentage in years.

* * *

Also amazing was that only 14 percent of the court’s decisions were 5-4, with just four of those 10 splits along the liberal-conservative marker.

There are a lot of things that both conservatives and liberals can either like or dislike about the way that the Supreme Court under Roberts conducts business. But only a fool would suggest that Roberts has been a failure at unifying the Court especially as compared with his predecessors.

The real reason for this article, of course, is the protection of Obamacare. It is clear throughout Epps’ meandering piece that Obamacare holds a special place of privilege for him in terms of laws the Supreme Court Must Not Touch:

Hobby Lobby may have been about religious belief, but it was also very much about politics, about the bitterest divide between the parties.Hobby Lobby was a challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is Barack Obama’s signature achievement. It also represents the fondest wish of the Democratic Party. Democratic presidents since Harry Truman have sought to extend medical coverage to the nation as a whole. Republicans had bitterly fought this—even in the limited form of Medicare—as “socialism.”

In applying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act broadly to the ACA, theHobby Lobby majority did just what it had done two years before in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Without striking the ACA down, it weakened it, hollowed it out, and suggested that in some way it was less legitimate, less worthy of respect, than other laws. In 2012, the Court had let stand the “individual mandate,” but only as a tax, not (as most scholars had expected) as a regulation of commerce. At the same time, it had allowed the expansion of Medicaid but had empowered individual states to close their borders to federal health policy.

Now, it has empowered individual employers to thwart national health policy and deprive their female employees of health benefits the law said they had earned.

It is no secret that received wisdom states that Roberts cast the vote that saved the individual mandate (and thus invalidated Epps’ thesis) because he perceived that to do otherwise would cast the court in a negative and partisan light. Whether that is correct or not, liberals are betting the farm that it is true as it seems to be their only path to success against the current Halbig challenge to Obamacare. As I noted back when the D.C. Circuit decided Halbig, before the certiorari petition had even been filed with the Supreme Court, liberals like Josh Marshall were already publicly throwing slime on the Supreme Court as a way to hopefully influence their decision:

Against this background, Marshall decided yesterday to loose an unhinged screed aimed directly at the legitimacy of the Supreme Court based on a case they have not even ruled on yet. Forget having ruled on it - no one has even petitioned the Supreme Court to grant cert on the case. And yet despite all these facts, Marshall feels fully qualified to sally forth and pronounce with confidence the future course of the Halbig decision, from which he has already concluded – I kid you not – that the Supreme Court is “corrupt.” (In his defense, he completely redefined the word “corrupt” so that he could still call the Supreme Court “corrupt” according to his own definition without the embarrassment of resorting to facts.)

* * *

From a polemic standpoint, however, Marshall’s attack is even more troublesome. On what basis should the Supreme Court be called “corrupt” even if they did rule that where a statute says “State” it means “State” and where it says “Federal” it means “Federal”? Argue all you want about the overall intent and structure of the statute, to say nothing of the overarching difficulty of unwinding the subsidy issue at this point if the IRS Rule is struck down, but the D.C. Circuit’s current ruling simply cannot be called unreasonable or facially absurd even if you disagree with the result (at least not by anyone whose partisan interests have trumped their better judgment). And it certainly cannot be said that anyone who agrees with it must necessarily be on the take or ruling from improper or corrupt motives. Marshall’s attack is so baseless and without any factual merit that if he were a member of the Bar, he would be subject to legitimate disciplinary action for violations of Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2.

Moreover, the suggestion that the imaginary course of action taken by the Roberts Court in Marshall’s fevered imagination, would somehow be worse or more “corrupt” than the the decades-long romp of the Warren Court, which fundamentally rewrote wholesale broad swaths of the entire Constitution, inventing “rights” whole cloth out of the imaginations of dedicated partisan liberals and removing hot-button societal issues from the Democratic process forever, beggars the imagination. If Marshall feels comfortable treating the Supreme Court like an illegitimate institution ripe for a spanking over this, will he support the same treatment at the hands of conservatives over judicial abominations of decades past?

The truth of course, is that Marshall is in fact interested in none of these things, and that something far more venial is in play here. The legitimacy of the court, its processes, or its standing among the American people – these are not things that interest Josh Marshall. What interests him is winning at all costs, and he has heard somewhere that John Roberts allegedly saved Obamacare because of concern about the Court’s reputation. And so Marshall – sure to be followed by other equally ill informed and careless liberal commenters – have decided to send a message, in whatever way they can, that they are prepared to continue the public pressure they believe won them the day last time Obamacare came before the Court.

So now the once-proud Atlantic has joined this particular fray in spite of the patent absurdity of the claims it is offering. I hope liberals find that the defense of this flawed law, which is widely disliked and may cost them numerous elections, is worth the cost to the reputation of the institution (the Supreme Court) that has been responsible for implementing so many of their favored policy goals which could never have won at the ballot box over the years.

The post The Atlantic’s Factually Challenged Attack on the Supreme Court appeared first on RedState.

Designers & Dragons vol. 3 now available to Kickstarter backers [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

A quick update on the Designers & Dragons Kickstarter, whose first volume I reviewed a few weeks ago. The second volume in the 4-volume series, covering the 1980s, has been available for a while to those (such as myself) who kicked in at least $15. Today, the ‘90s volume came out. The second and third […]

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The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014: Some concluding images [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

Here is a montage of shots from the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 – just to give you all a taste. And here’s to next year – in another country, perhaps ?

The post The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014: Some concluding images appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Ninja Pirate Zombie Vampires versus Chuck Norris and the Space Marines [The Register]

Harvest of Brains

Weekend Big Data Project  No fewer than 1,784 of you kindly volunteered to have your brains slurped in the initial stage of the Weekend Register's pioneering attempt to use hefty-data techniques to solve the most pressing puzzle of our era - namely who would win in a fight: pirates, ninjas, zombies, vampires, werewolves, aliens, robots, jedi, various kinds of human troops, and plucky civilians with improvised weapons?…

They're not a travelling polka band, they're German HPC kids packing Big Iron [The Register]

Close-up look at students vying for ISC'14 Kluster Kup

HPC blog  Home country Germany was well represented at the recent Student Cluster Competition at the 2014 International Supercomputer Show in Leipzig, Germany.…

Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts [The Register]

Samba implementation? Time to get some devs on the job

Storagebod  Linux and *BSD have completely changed the storage market. They are the core of so many storage products, allowing startups and established vendors alike to bring new products to the market more rapidly than previously possible.…

Siri: Helpful personal assistant or SERIAL APP KILLER? [The Register]

Will we even need apps any more?

Comment  In a world of where every mobile device contains a personal assistant, who will need mobile apps?…

Too slow with that iPhone refresh, Apple: Android is GOBBLING up US mobile market [The Register]

... And everywhere else too

Android made further inroads into the US market at the expense of Apple, according to latest market share snapshot from tech analyst Kantar. Meanwhile, Windows Phone has stalled in 2014.…

Larger iPad could target big biz, save Apple from low-end scrum [The Register]

12.9-inch iPad to reverse tablet slowdown?

Analysis  As has been increasingly the case with smartphones, the tablet market is shifting away from an Apple/Samsung head-to-head, and becoming a free-for-all.…

FIRST LOOK: Gartner gurus present all-flash prognostications [The Register]

Diagram key to array success?

Gartner's gurus have completed their prognostications and their all-flash array magic quadrant has been released upon an anticipative flash array world - and The Register has seen a copy.…

BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven... [The Register]

Oh Beancounter, don't make us get the hose

Episode 9 

KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION [The Register]

Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat

Victims of the CryptoWall ransomware have been extorted out of at least $1m.…

Nokia: Read our Maps, Samsung – we're HERE for the Gear [The Register]

Only on the Tizen smartwatch...

Getting Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, to use Nokia's HERE Maps is a huge win.…

Brit chip biz CSR rebuffs US takeover bid from Microchip Technologies [The Register]

Bluetooth firms suggest a pairing, but it's not going smoothly

Fabless Bluetooth chip firm CSR, the second biggest chip design company in Cambridge, has rebuffed a takeover bid by customer and partner Microchip Technology.…

SIEMs like a good idea: How to manage security in real time [The Register]

Join us in Reg Studios on September 29

Live webcast  Register now for this webcast that explains how security information and event management (SIEM) can work, what it does, and how to fit it into your existing security environment.…

We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie [The Register]

EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum

Europe’s digital chief Neelie Kroes will reiterate her commitment to “international governance of the internet” later today – that’s code for a smaller role for the US.…

Hyper-converged flash appliances are COMING. Here's one I dreamed up earlier... [The Register]

Kind of EVO:FlashRACK like. Sort of, roughly, you know

Hyper-converged server/storage/networking systems use disks for storage. This is a temporary situation and all-flash hyper-converged appliances will come soon.…

Exclusive SPB t-shirt flies into Kickstarter [The Register]

'The Shed Knows No Bounds', and we hope your wallets are similarly limitless

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter tin-rattling is, er, rattling along nicely, and we offer sincere thanks to those who've already chosen to back our audacious spaceplane ballocket launch in New Mexico.…

Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy [The Register]

Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic

Analysis  More allegations have emerged of dodgy tactics on the part of car ride app Uber and rival Lyft – this time relating to so-called "brand ambassadors".…

The A-to-Z of storage news: Your quick 'n' dirty tasting menu [The Register]

Weren't at VMworld? Here's what you missed

The time around VMworld - which runs from 25 to 28 August in San Francisco – saw a frenetic pace of announcements which were obliterated from the main news radar screens by things like VMware’s EVO: RAIL. Here’a catch-up list of many of them.…

Euro banks will rip out EVERYTHING and buy proper backend systems ... LOL, fooled ya [The Register]

Survey says everyone's winging it with IT, as usual

European banks are in a "holding pattern" when it comes to integrating the latest technology into their core banking systems, with the majority only carrying out modernisation initiatives when necessary rather than with a view towards long-term transformation, according to a new survey.…

Server sales show signs of slight surge [The Register]

Hooray for hyperscale, which now outsells Oracle and Cisco

Server sales continue to rise, according to IDC's new Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, which suggests the long-term outlook for servers might even be half-way decent.…

Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen [The Register]

I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!

Ice cream mogul Dairy Queen appears to have been breached with hackers likely stealing credit cards from some of its many US stores.…

Like condoms, data now comes in big and HUGE sizes [The Register]

Linux Foundation lights a fire under storage devs with new conference

If condoms were made in a range of different sizes, the old joke goes, the options would be “huge”, “gigantic” and “enormous”.…

Ofcom will not probe lesbian lizard snog in new Dr Who series [The Register]

Telly regulator unmoved by 6 whingers

Ofcom has declined to probe the BBC after it received complaints about the screening of a kiss between a lizard-like character and her human wife during an episode of Doctor Who.…

Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality [The Register]

Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away

The European Space Agency's (ESA's) embarrassment at having two of its Galileo satnav birds land in the wrong orbit has been blamed on bad programming of the Soyuz craft that hauled the satellites aloft.…

Australia makes pinkie-promise to end Indonesia spying [The Register]

Agreement aims to 'do no harm'

Australia has signed a code of conduct to promise not to spy on Indonesia's elected officials in a bid to heal seeping wounds opened by NSA leaks.…

Feds salute plucky human ROBOT-FIGHTERS [The Register]

Winners of DEFCON robocall-crushing competition showered in cash, praise

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced over US$12,000 in prizes in its “Zapping Rachel” robocall contest, which was held at this year's DEFCON hacking conference in Las Vegas.…

Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies [The Register]

You can try turning them off and on again

The Mozilla Foundation's controversial plan to bring ads into the Firefox browser has commenced, with new nightlies of the Firefox browser now including the Directory Tiles feature that users hated in its last implementation.…

Suppose they gave a VMworld and vSphere didn't show up? [The Register]

Virtzilla's flagship was hard to find in SFO, but is coming along nicely

VMworld 2014  A hypothetical VMworld 2014 attendee utterly unfamiliar with VMware could conceivably have emerged from the event unaware that the company's flagship product is called vSphere.…

Google's 'Captain Moonshot': I will BOMB you with DELIVERIES [The Register]

Project Wing tests auto-craft for remote drops

Google has unveiled a new programme to build autonomous delivery drones that are capable of carrying items into remote areas.…

Gamma's not a goner! UK ISP sorts out major outage [The Register]

Says BT is the root of the problem

British ISP Gamma Partners is blaming BT for a 13-hour break in its data and communications services but says the problem has now been fixed.…

TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit [The Register]

Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers

Google will pocket a tidy $1.3m in fees after prevailing in a case against a patent holding firm that turned on its customers.…

Want to buy T-Mobile US? Yours for $35 per share – report [The Register]

Deutsche Telekom sets the price of its honor

The parent company of US mobile telco bad boy T-Mobile has reportedly decided it will sell the firm, after two failed bids, and has set its price at $35 per share.…

End of buttons? Apple looks to patent animating iPhone sidewalls [The Register]

Filing suggests handset with display strips

Apple has filed for a patent on technology to put small displays in the sidewalls of a smartphone.…

The 13 movies and TV shows we're most looking forward to this fall [The Verge - All Posts]

The air is getting cooler and fall is coming up fast: time for apple-picking, sweaters, and, well, a lot more time indoors. For us, that's as good an excuse as any to start mulling over the next season's line-up for movies and TV: whether you're watching in a 3D megaplex or on the tablet propped up on your bedside table, there's some good stuff coming up this season. So here's what we're daydreaming about, from the retro-futurism of Ascension to the weird superhero counterpoint of Birdman and...

Continue reading…

The Euro [Transterrestrial Musings]

There is no easy exit from it: Yes, we’re back to our old friend path dependence. As I noted the other day, the fact that you can avoid some sort of terrible fate by stopping something before it starts does not mean that you can later achieve the same salutary effects by ceasing whatever stupid […]

The Justice Department And The IRS [Transterrestrial Musings]

Cant it investigate impartially? No, of course not. As she points out, it has an intrinsic conflict of interest.

The Future [Transterrestrial Musings]

It could work, if we let it. I do think that driverless cars are going to make things like high-speed rail (particularly California’s plan) look even more monumentally stupid in retrospect than it does now (and that’s a high bar). But history teaches us that it’s very difficult to predict the societal side effects of […]

Bitcoin’s Earliest Adopter Is Cryonically Freezing His Body to See the Future [WIRED » Threat Level]

"He’s always been optimistic about the future," says Hal Finney's wife, Fran. "Every new advance, he embraced it, every new technology. Hal relished life, and he made the most of everything."

Federal Cybersecurity Director Found Guilty on Child Porn Charges [WIRED » Threat Level]

As the acting cybersecurity chief of a federal agency, Timothy DeFoggi should have been well versed in the digital footprints users leave behind online when they visit web sites and download images. But DeFoggi—convicted today in Nebraska on three child porn charges including conspiracy to solicit and distribute child porn—must have believed his use of […]


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