Scottish Independence Vote Count Update [Ace of Spades HQ]

The best available information shows "No" with 0 votes thus far counted, tied with "Yes" with 0 votes counted. Okay so I lied. But I can give you some polling news: per the Guardian, the latest poll has "No" leading...

"Catalist," Obama's Borg-Like Base-Turnout Machine [Ace of Spades HQ]

Interesting/scarifying post from J. Christian Adams on the power of Obama's voter-targeting software, sent along by @comradearthur. The Democrats and the institutional left have a new political tool that allows them virtually to ignore moderates yet still win elections. This...

Australia Arrests 15 Alleged IS Terrorists, Claiming They Planned to Kidnap Citizens and Publicly Behead Them [Ace of Spades HQ]

Helter Skelter. Police said the planned attack was to be "random." The killers were to behead a victim and then drape the body in the black Islamic State flag, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The Associated Press reported 800...

Thursday Morning News Dump [Ace of Spades HQ]

Scotland Votes On Independence Today Why Is Wikipedia Deleting All References To Neil Degrasse Tyson's Fabrication? ISIS Calls For "Lone Wolves" To Attack Service Members In America Forgiving Biden A War By Any Other Name Economies Survive On Hope,...

Overnight Open Thread (9-17-2014) [Ace of Spades HQ]

PJ O'Rourke: Up to a Point: A Free Scotland Would Be a Hilarious Disaster And PJ is in rare classic PJ form as he preemptively piles on the future craphole country of Scotland. With love and affection. I, however, have...

Every Cynical Thing You've Ever Thought About Romance, Marriage, and Sex Is True [Ace of Spades HQ]

At least according to "studies." So what are some harsh truths that the science of sex has shown us? 1) Those things we say we hate actually make us more attracted to people. When someone plays hot-cold, keeps you guessing,...

Politico "Experts:" Fareed Zakariah Plagiarized Quite a Bit [Ace of Spades HQ]

Patchy. It is the slight changes to language -- what Drechsel identified as "patch writing" -- that mask Zakaria's plagiarism. To wit, a sentence in the Time magazine article reads, "... in Dutch-speaking Flanders, locals handed out free French fries,...

Great: Amendment To Permit Obama to Arm and Train Allegedly "Moderate" Syrian Extremist Militants Passes House [Ace of Spades HQ]

We're doing this because Obama has no allies willing to contribute ground forces, so any port in a storm. So supposedly these Moderately Extremist Militants will be "vetted" by Obama and Congress or something. During a closed-door morning meeting, Speaker...

After 30 Years in the Vaults, A Long-Suppressed Album is Finally Released, By PrinceWait I Mean by Bernie SandersWait What the Hell Do I Mean? [Ace of Spades HQ]

For some reason -- and I'm sure it wasn't a good reason -- Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders recorded a folk music album in 1987. Was it any good?, you don't ask. Well since you didn't ask I'll tell you. No....

AM station gone [American Bandscan]

Thermopolis, Wyoming: 1240KHz:
KTHE license surrendered for cancellation.

Technical changes to Canadian stations [American Bandscan]

Oakville, Ontario: 1320KHz:
CJMR proposes to reduce daytime power from 20,000 watts to 10,000 and switch from DA-2 (directional, different patterns day & night) to DA-1. (directional, same pattern 24 hours)

The change would allow CJMR to remove 64 relays from the antenna system! These relays are necessary to switch between daytime and nighttime antenna pattern.

CJYE-1250 shares the CJMR towers, and proposes to make the same change.

New station and not [American Bandscan]

Calgary, Alberta: 700KHz:
Permit granted for new station.

50,000 watts daytime; 20,000 watts night.
Gospel music.
Previously authorized, but permit expired before a site could be found. This time they promise they have a site.

Brampton, Ontario: 1350KHz:
Application for new station withdrawn.


At the beginning of Occupy, the movement split into various working groups and committees. After the end of Occupy, the movement is split into…


The Spectator‘s Rod Liddle reviews Russell Brand: I watched Russell’s latest address to the world, which he delivers regularly from his bedroom…


Remember Catherine Deveny? No? Anyway, she’s being an idiot again: I regard heterosexual marriage as a much more important feminist issue and…


Look who is speaking at tonight’s Muslim rally in Lakemba:


Someone actually paid for this:


Massive anti-terrorism operations in NSW and Queensland: 7News reporter Robert Ovadia has received information about an alleged plot to kidnap a random…

Sign of the Impending Culture Clash [Daring Fireball]

Phil Nickinson, writing for Android Central:

Sure, the Horween Leather on the Moto 360 is mighty fine, but watches are all about customization, particularly when it comes to the straps. But because of the size and shape of the Moto 360, we’ve had to be a little careful of shoving just any old strap in there. A good many have turned out to just be too thick to fit in the curved plastic casing.

Meanwhile, a good many of us are waiting for the official steel bracelets to be made available (at a hefty a la carte price of $79.99). But it turns out that you might already have an alternative on hand, or can get one for a mere $20.

$80 for a steel watch band is a “hefty price”. That’s adorable.

(Via Rene Ritchie).

‘I Have a Great Way of Saying the Government Has Ordered a Pizza’ [Daring Fireball]

Geoffrey Fowler and Joanna Stern:

Now the latest version of Apple’s iPhone software, iOS 8, adds a layer of smarts on top of autocorrect called QuickType, predictive typing of a sort previously found on Android. Not only does it suggest spelling, it also suggests words you might want to type next. If you keep following its train of robotic thought, QuickType will form entire sentences on your behalf.

The result is so goofy that it is brilliant. For the last week, we — your WSJ personal technology columnists — have been conducting serious tests of the new iPhones and iOS 8, while also holding nonsensical auto-generated conversations with each other.

Tim Cook on Apple and Privacy [Daring Fireball]

Tim Cook:

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple. […]

Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.

That Tim Cook and Steve Jobs are very different people has been a common refrain for three years, and it came up again this week in his interview with Charlie Rose. But one trait they share is the ability to write in simple, straightforward words. I say clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Tim Cook and the rest of Apple’s leadership are serious about this — both as a moral issue and as a competitive advantage to tout over Google. They should have called this “Thoughts on Privacy”, because it reads an awful like Jobs’s “Thoughts on Music” and “Thoughts on Flash”.

Apple Pulls iOS 8 HealthKit Apps From the App Store [Daring Fireball]

Apple statement:

We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today. We’re working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month.

These iOS releases are usually rough, because the software release dates are set in stone by the iPhone hardware release dates.

Apple Updates Privacy Policy [Daring Fireball]


The Apple Privacy Policy was updated on September 17, 2014. The changes were made predominantly to cover new features that will be released with iOS 8 or to provide additional information on current data use such as date of birth and third party user data provided by our users (for example when sending products or gift certificates). None of the changes are retroactive.

We added language to cover Spotlight Suggestions, Analytics, Family Sharing and AppleID for users under the age of 13 or equivalent age in their countries. Finally, we added a description of technologies used by location-based services, including GPS, Bluetooth, IP address, and crowd-source wi-fi hotspot and cell tower locations.

Most privacy policies are written in opaque legalese. Apple’s isn’t. It’s straightforward and readable. They really want you to read it, and understand the privacy implications of using their products and services.

One More Thing [Daring Fireball]

Going through my notes, I realized that I neglected to write about pricing and storage tiers in my iPhones 6 review. I really wanted to, and blame exhaustion for omitting it. I just went back and added it, but assuming most of you have already read my review, I’ll quote the new section here for your convenience:

Pricing decisions are sometimes subjective, but to me it feels just right that the 6 Plus costs $100 more than the regular 6 at each storage tier. The superior display quality, optical image stabilizer, and larger battery seem like a fair deal for $100. This also means this is the first year ever in which I’m not buying myself the most expensive iPhone.

I’m glad to see Apple double the middle and high storage tiers, from 32/64 to 64/128. I like to store my entire music library on my iPhone, but with “only” 64 GB of total storage, that meant I kept running out of space as I shot videos and took photos. (I love panoramic photos, but they’re very large.)

But I don’t understand why the entry level storage tier remained at a meager 16 GB. That seems downright punitive given how big panoramic photos and slo-mo HD videos are, and it sticks out like a sore thumb when you look at the three storage tiers together: 32/64/128 looks natural; 16/64/128 looks like a mistake. The original iPhone, seven years and eight product generations ago, had an 8 GB storage tier. The entry-level iPhones 6 are 85 times faster than that original iPhone, but have only twice the storage capacity. That’s just wrong. This is the single-most disappointing aspect of the new phones.

(Don’t even get me started on the 8 GB iPhone 5C.)

Using the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on a Trip to Disneyland [Daring Fireball]

Matthew Panzarino reviews the iPhones 6:

Last week I decided to test the most secretive, hotly anticipated smartphones on earth in a place where there was no danger of them being recognized or damaged or both: Disneyland.

Both my wife and I are Disneyphiles of sorts, and visit a dozen times a year or more. I have an appreciation for it because my daughter loves to go, but also because of how carefully the place is planned, constructed and run. Disneyland is the Apple of theme parks. What better place to test the new models?

I’ve had a ton of experience using phones to navigate, communicate and photograph in the park. It’s tens of thousands of people packed into the same square mile, all using devices to do the exact same thing you are. The network is crushed, it’s bright and hot and you’re juggling kids and strollers and other vacationers. It’s an ideal real-world test for smartphone batteries, screens, usability and cameras.

What a great conceit for a review. Panzarino’s is probably my favorite iPhone 6 review so far. I’m really impressed by the digital image stabilization on his video footage shot with the iPhone 6 (on Big Thunder Mountain — a good test). Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I don’t think the optical image stabilization in the 6 Plus makes that much of a difference.

Room to Spare [Daring Fireball]

The original iPhone fits entirely within the display, just the display, of the iPhone 6 Plus. One of these iPhones, I love to death.

Thursday Threads: Patron Privacy on Library Sites, Communicating with Developers, Kuali Continued [Disruptive Library Technology Jester]

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In the DLTJ Thursday Threads this week: an analysis of how external services included on library web pages can impact patron privacy, pointers to a series of helpful posts from OCLC on communication between software users and software developers, and lastly an update on the continuing discussion of the Kuali Foundation Board’s announcement forming a commercial entity.

Before we get started on this week’s threads, I want to point out a free online symposium that LYRASIS is performing next week on sustainable cultural heritage open source software. Details are on the FOSS4Lib site, you can register on the LYRASIS events site, and then join the open discussion on the discuss.foss4lib.org site before, during and after the symposium.

Feel free to send this to others you think might be interested in the topics. If you find these threads interesting and useful, you might want to add the Thursday Threads RSS Feed to your feed reader or subscribe to e-mail delivery using the form to the right. If you would like a more raw and immediate version of these types of stories, watch my Pinboard bookmarks (or subscribe to its feed in your feed reader). Items posted to my Pinboard bookmarks are also sent out as tweets; you can follow me on Twitter. Comments and tips, as always, are welcome.

Analysis of Privacy Leakage on a Library Catalog Webpage

My post last month about privacy on library websites, and the surrounding discussion on the Code4Lib list prompted me to do a focused investigation, which I presented at last weeks Code4Lib-NYC meeting.
I looked at a single web page from the NYPL online catalog. I used Chrome developer tools to trace all the requests my browser made in the process of building that page. The catalog page in question is for The Communist Manifesto. It’s here: http://nypl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/18235020052907_communist_manifesto. …

So here are the results.

- Analysis of Privacy Leakage on a Library Catalog Webpage, by Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, 16-Sep-2014

Eric goes on to note that he isn’t criticizing the New York Public Library, but rather looking at a prominent system with people who are careful of privacy concerns — and also because NYPL was the host of the Code4Lib-NYC meeting. His analysis of what goes on behind the scenes of a web page is illuminating, though, and how all the careful work to protect patron’s privacy while browsing the library’s catalog can be brought down by the inclusion of one simple JavaScript widget.

Series of Posts on Software Development Practices from OCLC

This is the first post in a series on software development practices. We’re launching the series with a couple of posts aimed at helping those who might not have a technical background communicate their feature requests to developers.

- Software Development Practices: What&aposs the Problem?, by Shelly Hostetler, OCLC Developer Network, 22-Aug-2014

OCLC has started an excellent set of posts on how to improve communication between software users and software developers. The first three have been posted so far with another one expected today:

  1. Software Development Practices: What&aposs the Problem?
  2. Software Development Practices: Telling Your User&aposs Story
  3. Software Development Practices: Getting Specific with Acceptance Criteria

I’ve bookmarked them and will be referring to them when talking with our own members about software development needs.

Kuali 2.0 Discussion Continues

…I thought of my beehives and how the overall bee community supports that community/ hive. The community needs to be protected, prioritized, supported and nourished any way possible. Each entity, the queen, the workers and the drones all know their jobs, which revolve around protecting supporting and nourishing the community.

Even if something disrupts the community, everyone knows their role and they get back to work in spite of the disruption. The real problem within the Kuali Community, with the establishment of the Kuali Commercial Entity now is that various articles, social media outlets, and even the communication from the senior Kuali leadership to the community members, have created a situation in which many do not have a good feel for their role in protecting, prioritizing, supporting and nourishing the community.

- The Evolving Kuali Narrative, by Kent Brooks, “I was just thinking”, 14-Sep-2014

The Kuali Foundation Board has set a direction for our second decade and at this time there are many unknowns as we work through priorities and options with each of the Kuali Project Boards. Kuali is a large and complex community of many institutions, firms, and individuals. We are working with projects now and hope to have some initial roadmaps very soon.

- Updates – Moving at the Speed of Light, by Jennifer Foutty, Kuali 2.0 Blog, 17-Sep-2014

As the library community that built a true next-generation library management system, the future of OLE’s development and long-term success is in our hands. We intend to continue to provide free and open access to our community designed and built software. The OLE board is strongly committed to providing a community driven option for library management workflow.

- Open Library Environment (OLE) & Kuali Foundation Announcement, by Bruce M. Taggart (Board Chair, Open Library Environment (OLE)), 9-Sep-2014

Building on previous updates here, the story of the commercialization of the Kuali collaborative continues. I missed the post from Bruce Taggart in last week’s update, and for the main DLTJ Thursday Threads audience this status update from the Open Library Environment project should be most interesting. Given the lack of information, it is hard not to parse each word of formal statements for underlying meanings. In the case of Dr. Taggart’s post about OLE, I’m leaning heavily on wondering what “community designed and built software” means. The Kuali 2.0 FAQ still says “the current plan is for the Kuali codebase to be forked and relicensed under the Affero General Public License (AGPL).” As Charles Severance points out, the Affero license can be a path to vendor lock-in. So is there to be a “community” version that has a life of its own in under the Educational Community License while the KualiCo develops features only available under the Affero license? It is entirely possible that too much can be read into too few words, so I (for one) continue to ponder these questions and watch for the plan to evolve.

Occupy Wall Street activists sue over Twitter account [Ars Technica]

On Wednesday, three years to the day since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street, one of its former leaders has sued another leader over a disputed Twitter account.

@OccupyWallStNYC has 177,000 followers, and it's apparently controlled by Justin Wedes, a self-identified "educator and activist based in Detroit, Michigan" and a "founding member" of the New York City General Assembly. Wedes did not respond to Ars’ requests for comment.

According to the suit, which was filed by the OWS Media Group in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Wedes "hijacked" the account in early August 2014, "making himself the sole person in control of the Twitter Account."

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

AT&T/DirecTV merger boosts incentive to kill copper service, opponents say [Ars Technica]

Aurich Lawson

AT&T’s proposed $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV will reduce competition for TV subscribers, increase AT&T’s “incentive to discriminate against online video services,” and give AT&T more reasons to neglect its aging copper network, consumer advocacy groups argue in a petition to deny the merger.

AT&T has claimed the merger would help it expand fiber buildouts to an additional two million locations, but this claim is unverifiable because AT&T hasn’t said how much fiber it will deploy if the merger is not approved, says the petition to the FCC filed Tuesday by Public Knowledge and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

AT&T has a lot of copper throughout its 22-state wireline footprint, but it has no intention of deploying faster fiber networks throughout the entire territory. Some customers prefer copper over fiber for telephone service anyway, because of its ability to work through many power outages. But AT&T has been accused of failing to maintain its copper networks, and the petition says purchasing a satellite TV provider would increase AT&T’s incentive to push customers from copper to wireless.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Charges of China’s military hacking into corporate America piling up [Ars Technica]

China's military broke into Pentagon contractors' computer networks at least 50 times—hacks that threaten "to erode US military technical superiority," according to a federal investigation.

The Senate Arms Services Committee found that nearly two dozen intrusions were of the well-orchestrated "advanced persistent threat" variety. The yearlong probe [PDF] blamed the Chinese government for hacks targeting civilian transportation companies that the US military employs for the movement of troops and equipment. According to the investigation, hackers from the People's Liberation Army started in 2012 and put malware onto an airline's computers, stealing computer codes, e-mail, documents, and user accounts from firms the government declined to name.

"These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defense contractors are more evidence of China's aggressive actions in cyberspace," said committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

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In-depth: How CloudFlare promises SSL security—without the key [Ars Technica]

CloudFlare has developed a way to separate SSL from private crypto keys, making it easier for companies to use the cloud to protect their networks.

Content delivery network and Web security company CloudFlare has made a name for itself by fending off denial-of-service attacks against its customers large and small. Today, it's launching a new service aimed at winning over the most paranoid of corporate customers. The service is a first step toward doing for network security what Amazon Web Services and other public cloud services have done for application services—replacing on-premises hardware with virtualized services spread across the Internet.

Called Keyless SSL, the new service allows organizations to use CloudFlare’s network of 28 data centers around the world to defend against distributed denial of service attacks on their websites without having to turn over private encryption keys. Keyless SSL breaks the encryption “handshake” at the beginning of a Transport Layer Security (TLS) Web session, passing part of the data back to the organization’s data center for encryption. It then negotiates the session with the returned data and acts as a gateway for authenticated sessions—while still being able to screen out malicious traffic such as denial of service attacks.

In an interview with Ars, CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince said that the technology behind Keyless SSL could help security-minded organizations embrace other cloud services while keeping a tighter rein on them. “If you decide you’re going to use cloud services today, how you set policy across all of these is impossible," he said. "Now that we can do this, fast forward a year, and we can do things like data loss prevention, intrusion detection… all these things are just bytes in the stream, and we’re already looking at them.”

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Verizon, enemy of Open Internet rules, says it loves the “open Internet” [Ars Technica]

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

No company has gone to greater lengths than Verizon in trying to stop the government from enforcing network neutrality rules.

Verizon is the company that sued to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order from 2010. Verizon won a federal appeals court ruling this year, overturning anti-discrimination and anti-blocking rules and setting off a months-long scramble by the FCC to get enforceable rules into place.

Verizon has also been spending money to press its case with lawmakers. "An analysis by San Francisco-based data firm Quid found that Verizon alone spent $100 million to lobby Congress on net neutrality since 2009," NPR reported yesterday.

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Natural gas in some drinking water due to leaky gas wells, not fracking [Ars Technica]

A shale gas well being drilled in Louisiana.

The primary public concern surrounding fracking—the fracturing of shale rock layers with hydraulic pressure to release the natural gas and oil they contain—has been the perceived risk to drinking water. After all, the water used to fracture the rock is laced with chemicals that enhance the process, and some of them are hazardous. While those chemicals haven’t really shown up in water wells, natural gas has. If natural gas isn’t identified and vented, it could collect in buildings and pose an explosion hazard—videos of garden hoses turned into flame-throwers have made the rounds.

But tying that natural gas to fracking projects isn’t as straight-forward as many assume since there are natural sources of methane as well. One group of researchers has been studying this question for several years, focusing on Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus Shale has been targeted by the natural gas industry. A controversial analysis the group performed concluded that natural gas in well water was more common near active natural gas production wells, indicating that much of the contamination was related to recent human activities rather than natural conditions.

The researchers also looked for hints of natural migration of fluids from the Marcellus Shale, which is deep underground, to the well water, which is taking from sources closer to the surface. By analyzing elements like chlorine and strontium, they identified the fingerprint of briney Marcellus fluid in some of the water wells, which pull from an aquifer where concentrations of those elements are much lower. They concluded that some of those fluids were present, casting doubt on the idea that the Marcellus Shale was too tight a seal to allow fluid to escape upward into drinking water. That work also indicated that some of the methane-contaminated wells seemed to be impacted by naturally occurring methane, but typically the ones close to natural gas production wells weren't.

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Apple releases OS X 10.9.5 with fixes, new code signing requirements [Updated] [Ars Technica]

Yesterday evening Apple released OS X 10.9.5 to the general public, the fifth major update for OS X Mavericks. As usual, the update comes with a handful of fixes for user-facing features as well as a small pile of security updates. Many of these security patches are also available for OS X 10.7.5 and 10.8.5 in separate updates.

Like OS X 10.9.4, the update focuses on smaller problems that affect a subset of Macs. The new features include Safari 7.0.6, improved "reliability for VPN connections that use USB smart cards for authentication," and better reliability for connecting to file servers that use the SMB protocol. For businesses using OS X, the update fixes a problem that could keep system admins from "performing some administrative tasks successfully" on larger groups of Macs, and it also speeds up authentication "when roaming on 802.1x networks which use EAP-TLS."

Among the security updates are fixes for Bluetooth, CoreGraphics generally and the Intel graphics driver specifically, and OS X's version of OpenSSL among many others. The latter problems were fixed by updating from OpenSSL version 0.9.8y to 0.9.8za.

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Addressing allegations of “collusion” among gaming journalists [Ars Technica]

A little over four years ago, before I joined Ars Technica (and while I was working as a freelance writer), I started a Google Group called "Game Journalism Professionals." As I stated in an introductory post at the time, the group was intended as "a semi-private way to connect and talk" with colleagues based well outside my home base of Pittsburgh and whom I saw in person only a few times a year.

Yesterday, that group came under fire for being a secret clearinghouse where "elite" journalists discuss how best to collude on covering the video game industry to "shape industry-wide attitudes to events." In reality, the group was and is simply a place for business competitors (and journalists are definitely competitive!) to discuss issues of common professional interest.

Unfortunately, in the wake of initial attacks on game developer Zoe Quinn, I wrote one message to the group in which I said several things that I soon came to regret. In private conversation, we've all had the experience of throwing out ideas, only to realize after further thought that they weren't appropriate or productive—and life moves on. The bad ideas are forgotten. Thanks to the Internet, though, such conversations can now be archived and then dredged up for display to the public weeks or months later.

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iCloud for Windows update means PCs can use iCloud Drive before Macs can [Ars Technica]

iCloud Drive is now available on Windows, but not OS X.
Andrew Cunningham

Apple officially released iCloud Drive yesterday as part of the iOS 8 update, but it came with a caveat: turning it on disables the "old" way of iCloud syncing, but OS X doesn't yet support iCloud Drive and won't until OS X Yosemite is released later this fall. If you use iCloud to sync application data between your phone, tablet, and desktop, this means you'll need to keep living with the more limited version of iCloud until Yosemite is out (or roll the dice and give the Public Beta a try).

If you're a Windows user with an iPhone, though, you can go ahead and pull the trigger on that iCloud Drive update now. Apple today released an updated version of the iCloud for Windows application that adds full support for iCloud Drive. Install the program and sign in, and iCloud Drive will appear in your user profile folder and your Favorites menu in Windows Explorer, much like Microsoft's own OneDrive cloud storage service. This is the first opportunity that Windows users will have to view and directly manipulate iCloud data, not counting the more limited capabilities of the iCloud.com Web apps, and it's a nice new addition for people who like iOS but don't care to use Macs.

Otherwise, iCloud for Windows continues to be more limited than iCloud on either iOS or OS X. It can sync with your Photo Stream and sync Safari bookmarks with either Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome, and if you have Outlook 2007 or later installed it will also offer to sync your iCloud mail, calendars, contacts, and reminders. However, it can't use iCloud Keychain to sync passwords, nor does it provide any kind of "Find My Device" functionality as it does in both iOS and OS X. You can't sync Notes data directly either, though that feature is accessible via iCloud.com.

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Galaxy Note 4 pre-orders start tomorrow in the US; releases October 17 [Ars Technica]

Left: The Note 3, Right: The Note 4.
Ron Amadeo

Phablets are all the rage these days, and the originator of this market segment, the Galaxy Note Series, has a fresh update coming out soon. If you're interested in picking up the Galaxy Note 4, Samsung and friends will be happy to officially take your money starting tomorrow. Pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 4 start September 19, and delivery will come about a month after when the Note 4 releases on October 17.

If you need a quick refresher on the specs, the Note 4 is packing a 5.7-inch, 2560×1440 AMOLED display, 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 16MP camera, and a 3220 mAh battery.

The Note 4 will be available just about everywhere in the US. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular have all signed up to sell it, and you can find it in Best Buy, Amazon, Costco, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart. Samsung says pricing and availability will vary by store, but it can't vary that much.

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Apple expands data encryption under iOS 8, making handover to cops moot [Ars Technica]

Tim Cook unveils iOS 8 at WWDC 2014.
Megan Geuss

Apple has updated its privacy policy as part of the rollout of iOS 8, announcing that devices with the latest version of the operating system installed can no longer be accessed by the company itself.

Previously, as we reported in May 2014, if law enforcement came to Apple with a seized device and a valid warrant, it was able to access a substantial portion of the data already on an iPad or iPhone. But under the latest version of iOS, even that will be impossible.

"On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode," the company wrote on its website Wednesday evening. "Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

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iOS 8 and the Apple TV: Flattening the living room [Ars Technica]

The Apple TV's interface is only vaguely similar to the one on your iPhone or iPad, but inside the set-top box is the same hardware and software that runs the rest of the iDevices. Alongside iOS 8, Apple today introduced "Apple TV Software version 7.0," a fancy name for "the Apple TV's version of iOS 8."

The Apple TV's software was never as skeuomorphic and texture-soaked as iOS 6 was on the iPhone and iPad, but the old interface still used thicker fonts and glassy buttons. The new update tweaks the design to bring it in line with iOS 7, iOS 8, and the upcoming OS X Yosemite. Helvetica Neue Light is everywhere, and glassy buttons and faint blue glows are replaced by flat black-and-white buttons.

The new design is what you'll notice first, but the Apple TV picks up a few other iOS 8-related features, too. The box supports Family Sharing, the feature that lets family members with different Apple IDs share purchases with one another. There's a new Beats Music channel, which ties in to the streaming service Apple picked up when it bought Beats earlier this year. And AirPlay now works with other iDevices, even if they're not on the same Wi-Fi network—now, devices can form an ad-hoc wireless network and stream that way. We recommend using the Apple TV's built-in security features to keep strange iPhones from finding and streaming to your Apple TV without your consent.

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Microsoft’s rejigged developer program increases appeal to the wrong developers [Ars Technica]

Microsoft has unveiled a revamp of its developer program today, ending the annual fees to have apps published in the Windows and Windows Phone stores, in favor of a single up-front payment. Individuals can pay about $19 and companies about $99 to gain perpetual access to both storefronts.

The company is also promoting a new reward scheme for developers. Registered devs are divided into three categories, Explorer, Expert, and Master. The Explorer category, open to all, offers design and architecture guidance for developers. Developers can upgrade to the other categories by having successful apps; the more downloads and revenue apps receive, the better the status that's earned. Expert level gives improved ad terms, and Master level adds marketing support and early access to future SDKs.

The new scheme is clearly a nice gesture toward one developer demographic: the hobbyist. While $19 a year was never going to break the bank, scrapping the annual fee partially addresses one of the more paradoxical aspects of the platform: if Microsoft is so desperate for apps, why does it charge people to publish them? From a pure cost of entry perspective, this change clearly makes Windows and Windows Phone somewhat more attractive than they were before, and substantially more attractive than iOS.

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Amazon reveals sleek new e-reader, beefed-up HDX tablet, keyboard [Ars Technica]

A Fire Keyboard + Fire HDX 8.9 + origami case.
Casey Johnston

Amazon announced a slate of new Kindle products late Wednesday, including two new e-readers, a handful of new tablets, and a new version of its Android-based Fire operating system. Among the products are the new, ultra-thin Kindle Voyage e-reader and a new version of the 8.9-inch Fire HDX tablet, which now has an optional keyboard reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface.

A couple of new e-readers...

The Kindle Voyage is designed to be Amazon's new high-end Kindle model at 7.6 millimeters thick with a magnesium metal back. The Voyage has a 300ppi Paperwhite display that is 39 percent brighter than the previous model. The screen is front-lit and adaptive, so not only can it adjust to the ambient light in the room, Amazon says it will also perform a gradual adjustment over the course of 30 minutes to compensate for the adjustment of readers' eyes to the display in that environment.

The Voyage also slightly revamps the controls: instead of the page-turning buttons used in older Kindles, the Voyage has pressure-sensitive pads with haptic feedback on either side of the screen that are meant to be quieter. The screen in the Voyage is a single piece of glass flush with the bezel that is micro-etched to minimize reflections and mimic the feeling of paper, according to Amazon.

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Credit card data theft hit at least three retailers, lasted 18 months [Ars Technica]

Goodwill Industries was one of three companies affected by an attack on a retail managed service provider that went undetected for over 18 months.

In July, it was revealed that Goodwill Industries had suffered from a credit card data breach that affected the charitable retailer’s stores in at least 21 states. The Goodwill breach seemed by many to be just the latest case of criminals taking advantage of the weak underbelly of retailers—their point-of-sale systems. But now, as it turns out, the Goodwill breach was just part of a much larger attack on an outside managed service provider that affected at least two other companies. And many more may have been affected without their knowledge.

Security reporter Brian Krebs first broke the news on the Goodwill breach in July and traced the breach back to C&K Systems, a reseller of retail software systems from NCR, Retail Pro, and other retail software and systems providers. Goodwill had outsourced much of the operation of its retail systems, including its point-of-sale (POS) systems, to C&K through a managed service contract.

In a statement published on Monday, C&K Systems admitted that they had suffered a breach of point-of-sale systems tied to their “Hosted Managed Services Environment.” The company determined with the assistance of outside forensic investigators that the breach began sometime in early 2013. “The unauthorized access affected our Hosted Management Services Platform intermittently between February 10, 2013 and August 14, 2014.”

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Perpetrators of alleged hate crime in crosshairs thanks to CCTV, social media [Ars Technica]

Suspects in the brutal beating of two gay men were caught on CCTV, and social media stepped in to connect the dots.

Last Thursday night, a gay couple was brutally beaten by a group of two men and six women who were “visibly intoxicated.” NBC Philadelphia reports, “Witnesses say someone in the group asked, 'Is this your f****** boyfriend?' When one of the victims told them yes, the group allegedly attacked them, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest.” One of the attackers grabbed a victim's bag and fled. At least one of the victims was taken to the hospital for fractures to his face and had to have his jaw wired shut.

Generally after an attack of this kind, the investigation can draw out indefinitely. The Philadelphia Police Department said it was looking for as many as 12 people in relation to the attack.

But today Philadelphia's ABC News syndicate reported that some of the suspects are expected to surrender to police in the near future.

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Sorry, AT&T and Verizon: 4Mbps isn’t fast enough for “broadband” [Ars Technica]

Contrary to what AT&T and Verizon would have you believe, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today said 4Mbps is too slow to be considered broadband and that Internet service providers who accept government subsidies should offer at least 10Mbps.

Last week, we reported on AT&T and Verizon urging the FCC to abandon a proposal that would redefine broadband download speeds from 4Mbps to 10Mbps. If the standard is raised, ISPs that accept government subsidies to build networks in hard-to-reach rural areas would have to provide the higher speed. AT&T and Verizon argued that 4Mbps is good enough, but Wheeler said otherwise today at a hearing in front of the US House Committee on Small Business.

US Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) pointed to communities with little or no access to high-speed broadband, saying if the minimum speed isn’t high enough, “rural constituents in my district will be left on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

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iOS 8 HealthKit app support delayed until “end of the month” [Ars Technica]

HealthKit may record a lot of data, but until third party apps can access it, it will sit lazily on a figurative couch.
Andrew Cunningham
On Wednesday morning, apps designed to connect to the new iOS HealthKit framework were set to launch alongside the brand new iOS 8, but those apps, hungry for your data about calories and fitness progress, apparently hadn't laced their jogging shoes. Shortly after the new version of iOS launched, developers learned that their HealthKit-ready apps and updates had been pulled from the App Store.

A few developers, including the creator of Carrot Fit, soon reported receiving calls and e-mails from Apple confirming that "HealthKit... isn't ready to launch," and later in the day, Apple publicly confirmed that HealthKit support would have to wait until a bug was fixed.

"We discovered a bug that prevents us from making HealthKit apps available on iOS 8 today," an Apple spokesperson told Ars in a statement. "We're working quickly to have the bug fixed in a software update and have HealthKit apps available by the end of the month."

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Eight days later, Bungie leaving disconnected Destiny players stranded [Ars Technica]

While opinions have been mixed on Destiny, Bungie's first post-Halo video game, most impressions and reviews of the game thus far—including our own—have at least praised its online stability. That's no small feat for an always-online game, especially in its first week, but error reports are beginning to accumulate from Destiny players across all four of the game's consoles.

There's a reason for that: Bungie launched its "shared world shooter" without much of a customer support structure in place. Eight days after launch, users who haven't been able to connect—including one of Ars Technica's own contributors, who still can't get online with an Xbox 360 copy of the game—have exhausted all of the suggestions listed at help.bungie.net. At that point, those users are directed to visit Bungie's forums, "staffed by community mentors who are here to help you."

The end result is a funneling of complaints to a forum whose topics are broken down not by official categories but by hashtags. With nothing in the way of a trackable "ticket" system or a customer service hotline, users are stuck with a "#help" page that is currently dominated by topic titles like "I've Given Up on Destiny and Got My Refund; Here's Why Maybe You Should Too" and "Bungie Please Give Us Info."

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Artificial sweeteners may leave their users glucose intolerant [Ars Technica]

People who are watching their weight will often opt for a diet soda, reasoning that the fewer calories, the better. But the availability of drinks and foods made with artificial sweeteners like saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame hasn't seemed to help much with our booming obesity levels. Now, some researchers might have identified a reason for this: the sweeteners leave their users with elevated blood glucose levels. But they don't seem to act directly on human metabolism. Instead, the effects come through alterations in the bacterial populations that live inside us.

The paper that describes this work, which was performed by a large collaboration of researchers from Israel, is being released by Nature today. The researchers note that epidemiological studies about the effects of artificial sweeteners have produced mixed results; some show a benefit, while others indicate that they're associated with weight gain and diabetes risk. Given that human populations haven't given us a clear answer, the researchers turned to mice, where they could do a carefully controlled study.

They started taking a group of genetically matched mice and spiking their drinking water with either sucrose or a commercial prep of an artificial sweetener (either saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame). After five weeks, they checked the blood glucose levels of these animals. Eleven weeks later, the groups that were given the artificial sweeteners all had elevated blood glucose levels compared to those that received sucrose. This is typically a sign of metabolic problems, most often caused by insulin losing its effectiveness. It can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

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Secure Freedom Radio- Syria, ISIS & Gen. Dempsey's oops [BLACKFIVE]

Did Frank Gaffney's radio show today talking Syrian rebels, ISIS, and Gen. Dempsey's oopsie testifying to the Senate and saying the forbidden "boots on the Ground" phrase. Hanson [ 10:00 ] Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Those Sledgehammering Librarians [Annoyed Librarian]

Sometimes I feel sorry for library school students who want to become librarians. It’s not just the lack of good jobs available for graduates. Sure, it’s annoying that so many people get tricked into going to library school by idiots who keep claiming there’s a librarian shortage when there’s never a librarian shortage. It’s not [...]

An Inconsistent Mess: Government Documents Reveal Ineffective and Inconsistent Policies Amid Widespread Demands for Subscriber Information [Michael Geist]

One day after NDP MP Charmaine Borg received a government response to her request for more data on subscriber requests and disclosures, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler received a response to his request for information. While there is some overlap between the documents, Cotler asked some important specific questions about the number of requests, which providers face requests, and the results of the information disclosed. Departments such as CSIS and CSEC unsurprisingly declined to provide much information, but several other departments were more forthcoming.

The results paint a disturbing picture: massive numbers of requests often with little or no record keeping, evidence to suggest that the disclosures frequently do not lead to charges, requests that extend far beyond telecom providers to include online dating and children’s gaming sites, and inconsistent application of the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent Spencer decision.

The Department of Justice provided data on requests arising from the International Assistance Group, which submits requests on behalf of foreign states. In 2013, there were more than 100 requests for subscriber information. Perhaps most interesting is the wide variety of providers and websites that have faced requests. In addition to the large telecom companies, there have been requests to Plenty of Fish (an online dating site), Club Penguin (a children’s game site), Kik (an online messaging service), Yahoo.ca, and Contact Privacy (a site that protects the privacy of domain name registrants).

The Department of Defence was unable to provide specific information, acknowledging there may be thousands of requests. Most notably, the department indicated that it has changed it policy on subscriber requests in light of the Spencer decision. The report signed by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson notes:

Until now, Military Police typically requested such information through a voluntary request for disclosure from the provider in accordance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. In some cases, judicial authorizations by way of production order or search warrant were obtained. In light of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Spencer, judicial authorization will be obtained in the future for all such requests.

In contrast, Public Safety Canada indicates that “the Government of Canada is still examining this decision.” Further, Public Safety tries to downplay the privacy importance of subscriber information, arguing that it “is akin to speaking to witnesses at the scene of the crime.” It also claims that “subscriber information is useful in 100% of the cases in which it is requested.” The submission also notes that law enforcement and CSIS met with many Canadian telecom providers in early June (days before the release of the Spencer decision) to discuss issues such as subscriber information disclosures.

While Public Safety claims 100% usefulness, the data from other departments suggests that hundreds of requests for subscriber information rarely, if ever, lead to actual charges of a crime. For example, Environment Canada made over 400 requests for subscriber information in 2012, leading to disclosures involving hundreds of people. The disclosures did not lead to a a single person being charged with an offence under Canadian law.  In fact, over the past five years only one person has been charged despite hundreds of requests for subscriber information.

Similarly, the Competition Bureau has made nearly 100 requests for subscriber information over the past five years. The Bureau acknowledges that it does not seek a warrant for basic subscriber information. It also states that “in no case did the disclosure of data lead to action or proceedings being commenced by the Bureau.”

Record keeping of subscriber requests is also non-existent in some departments.  For example, the Department of Fisheries indicates that it requests subscriber information, frequently to identify the registered owner of a seized cellphone. The department does not track the number requests, to whom the requests are made, or if the information leads to any charges.

Finally, the CRTC’s response is interesting since it provided detailed information, but noted that its requests are linked to accessing subscriber information in connection with complaints with the do-not-call list. A wide variety of providers have been asked to provide information including U.S. giants such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and Google, though those tend to be isolated requests. Among Canadian providers, Bell faces by far more the most requests for subscriber information (more than Rogers, Telus, Sasktel, and Shaw combined).  The numbers also point to the relatively small number of investigations relative to complaints. For example, last year there were a total of 411 requests, though the CRTC receives more than 10,000 complaints every month.

The overall picture painted by the data shows remarkable inconsistency by government departments and agencies about when they ask for subscriber information, whether they seek a warrant, the records that they keep, and the effectiveness of requests. Given the privacy importance of subscriber data, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada should consider launching a detailed audit on department practices with the goal of establishing consistent policies that respect the privacy rights of all Canadians.

The post An Inconsistent Mess: Government Documents Reveal Ineffective and Inconsistent Policies Amid Widespread Demands for Subscriber Information appeared first on Michael Geist.

The CRTC TalkTV Hearing: The Gap Between Can’t and Won’t [Michael Geist]

In August 1999, I wrote my first technology law column for the Globe and Mail. The column was titled The Gap Between Can’t and Won’t and it focused on the CRTC’s new media decision that was released earlier that year. The decision was the first major exploration into the applicability of conventional CRTC regulation to the Internet, with the Commission ruling that it had the statutory power to regulate some activities (such as streaming video), but it chose not to do so.

That column came to mind yesterday as I read through some of the CRTC’s TalkTV transcripts and listened to Jesse Brown’s Canadaland podcast on the prospect of a “Netflix tax.” It seems to me that both the discussions before the CRTC (particularly the CBC’s decision to urge the Commission to establish a fee-for-carriage model and a Netflix tax) and the Brown podcast with Steve Faguy fail to distinguish between the gap between can’t and won’t.

Consider the CBC’s effort to institute a fee-for-carriage system that would force broadcast distributors to pay for carriage of local signals. CBC’s plan – echoed by Bell (which owns CTV) – would establish a wholesale fee for the carriage of their signals that would presumably be passed along to cable and satellite subscribers. While the likelihood of the Commission agreeing to the proposal is approximately zero (the government would trumpet the proposal as a “CBC tax” and move to stop it), it should be noted that this issue was before the Supreme Court of Canada less than two years ago. In a December 2012 ruling, the court ruled that the CRTC can’t institute a fee-for-carriage system under its current Broadcasting Act mandate. Given the court’s decision, CBC and Bell would be advised to take their case to the government, not the CRTC [a reader notes that one way to distinguish the SCC case would be to combine a new fee with the removal of over-the-air signals].

Meanwhile, the issue of a Netflix tax is clearly politically dead, hastened by the Ontario government’s decision to propose it last week before the Commission. The Conservatives seem ready to campaign on the issue and the Prime Minister even referenced it in a speech yesterday. That said, the death of the Netflix tax proposal is an example of something that won’t happen, not something that can’t. I am big fan of both Brown and Faguy, but when they scoff at the prospect of a Netflix tax with claims that it is impossible, “regulating the Internet” or involves government censors, they are wrong. It is not impossible to structure a system that would require Netflix (or any other online video provider with Canadian subscribers) to pay a fee. Such a system might be overbroad, difficult to enforce, and very bad policy, but it is not an impossibility.

In fact, aspects of the Internet and online video are already regulated by the CRTC. The most obvious example is net neutrality regulations that are essential to the success of companies such as Netflix. Similarly, Canadian privacy law surely applies to Netflix. If the company were to violate PIPEDA with its use data related to subscriber viewing habits, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada would undoubtedly adopt the position that the law applies, regardless of whether it involves the “Internet”.

The good news is that the CRTC seems to get all of this. As Faguy notes on the podcast, the Commission seems at times frustrated by the unwillingness of many hearing participants to look beyond obvious self-interest and engage in a genuine discussion on the future of the Canadian broadcast regulatory system. Indeed, skeptics of some of the current players might argue that that is an example where can’t and won’t merge into much the same thing.

The post The CRTC TalkTV Hearing: The Gap Between Can’t and Won’t appeared first on Michael Geist.

Revamping Refresher Training, now with bonus polling [Pegasus Librarian]

Every fall, the helpdesk student supervisor and I lead “refresher training” for the IT helpdesk student workers who have shifts at the Research/IT desk in the library. Usually this consists of the two of us talking to the student workers about responsibilities and rules and then helping them figure out the ever-vexing microfilm reader/scanners. Again.

Needless to say, this always goes over super well, especially from 5-6 during the first week of classes. A couple students engage and the rest try not to fall asleep.

For some reason, I’ve had this mental block where I think of “training” as that boring thing that has to be done but that I try never to do when I’m “teaching.” Training is “here is how,” and teaching is something much more engaged and interesting. Turns out? I was wrong.

This year the helpdesk supervisor said “I want to change it up. We should make it interactive.” And I said, “I’ve been wanting to experiment with Poll Everywhere.” And so we ran an almost entirely poll-based training session, followed by a “microfilm race” (each group had to complete one task on one of the three reader/scanners) and it was good. The only thing that we didn’t cover was having every student touch every reader/scanner, and the students got to engage while also participating in their irreverant cohort culture via free-text responses here and there in the poll. Oh, and they still got paid for being there. So while it was definitely still training, I think it was definitely better.

Improving WiFi, the shelves of our electronic collections [Pegasus Librarian]

Wifi is like oxygen for so many of us these days. I expect to be able to hop on the internet in public spaces even though I don’t have a smartphone. If I’m in a library, coffee shop, conference hall, hotel, or my house and there’s no wifi, I can hardly concentrate on anything else even if I really wasn’t doing anything on the wifi anyway. And for libraries, as we move more and more of our collections towards e-content, having robust wifi is like having robust shelving for our physical collections — it’s absolutely essential.

But here’s the thing. Robust wifi for people wandering around with laptops in large spaces is technologically really really hard to accomplish, especially given the history and assumptions behind current wifi protocols. Carleton’s network architect (a networking genius and also amazing at explaining things in words I understand), recently attended a conference where he learned the very latest in how to set up more robust wifi networks, and he invited me to attend the debrief presentation he then gave to his IT colleagues. This presentation went over the main points from a talk by Peter Thornycroft of Aruba Networks, apparently one of the great thinkers on this topic.*Here are some of the salient points that you might want to know when talking to your IT folks about wifi in your libraries.

Philosophically, network architects have so far been far more concerned about coverage than about speed. When push comes to shove, they say, “Well, nobody will be working at their very fastest, but there’s plenty of wifi for all.” As it turns out, this has been the wrong decision. The nature of network communication is very “bursty.” Each device gets a time slice out of the access point’s attention and then waits while the attention turns to other devices or to the routine housekeeping it has to get done. If the network optimizes for speed, then more happens in each time-slice — more bursty bits of communication or housekeeping happen each cycle — and therefore more devices get along merrily while sharing the access point. The fast devices will get their work done and out of the way faster and leave some time and attention for the slower devices that would otherwise get crowded out.

On the device side, all the decisions are made by the manufacturers, and faster wifi rarely makes it on the priority list. Apple, cell phone companies, etc prefer to put their money into other parts of their products to keep the over all device price point lower. What’s more, when they list their device specs, they list the results of tests that were done in ideal environments (no other devices in range, access point ideally placed, etc). In the real world, devices almost never operate in such a clean network environment. The result: optimizing the network for speed will help get signal to all of these slow devices, and there will never be enough incentive for the solution to come from the device side of the market.

A word about institution- and library-type networks. They are very different from home wifi setups. Your access point at home is made for a stable environment in which it either can or can’t reach your device. It doesn’t know anything about other access points and it doesn’t communicate much about the environment with your client devices. On the other hand, WLANs (wireless local area networks, like those at most of our institutions) are made up of many access points that talk to each other, adjust themselves to maximize their signals as the environment changes, and communicate a lot with the various devices in the area. We’re talking about WLANs here.

When a device moves, a new access point takes over where the old access point’s signal peters out. However, this process is plagued by three issues.

  1. Device manufacturers market their products based on battery life. It costs (slightly) less battery power to lock onto a single wifi signal. Therefore the devices are made to prefer staying in contact with a favorite access point rather than move from access point to access point throughout the day.
  2. Networking, in bygone times, was assumed to be useful in an environment where things didn’t move around. Hence the “sticky client” issue I wrote about previously.
  3. Early on, it was assumed that the client device would be the smartest about its network needs, so the device should choose a favorite access point rather than have the access points choose devices.

How do these issues play out in a WLAN environment?

  1. The 2.4GHz signal carries farther than the 5GHz signal, so as you approach a building your device may glom onto a far-away 2.4GHz signal. Meanwhile, in all but the fanciest access points, having a device access at 2.4GHz will slow down the entire access point for everyone else.
  2. Your computer may not want to let go of a particularly satisfying relationship with an old access point that is no longer in range. This means that you may enter a room and find that you have no signal even though other people there are internetting along quite happily. Your device is refusing to try out a new relationship in hopes of remaining faithful to its lost love.
  3. A well-behaved device would take the access point’s report “you’re getting a little far away from me, so please transfer to this other access point over here” and would do exactly that. What usually happens, though, is that the device hangs on until things get dire and then probes every access point in the area (a lot of wasted time slices and energy) and then chooses a new access point often based on previous familiarity rather than optimal signal. Meanwhile this whole process bogs down the entire network.
Peter Thornycroft, "Gigabit Wi-Fi, 802.11ac in depth," Presented at AirHeads, 2013.

Peter Thornycroft, “Gigabit Wi-Fi, 802.11ac in depth,” Presented at AirHeads, 2013.

How to improve performance given all these issues?

  1. One solution is denser signals (visualized to the right, where each dot is the number of ones and zeros the network can process at a time). If we do the exponential bump-up from a 4×4 network to an awesome 8×8 network more things can happen at once. If Jack has a 3×3 laptop and Jill has both a 1×1 smartphone and a 2×2 tablet, our awesome 8×8 access point could serve both of them in a single time-slice rather than cycling through them one by one. The problem here is that you need more and more signal strength to decode the denser signals, so we’ll need more access points with higher signals strength and greater speed. The problem, of course, is that more access points means that each access point has more neighbors, and neighbors interfere with each others’ signal. So this will be a delicate balancing game.
  2. Another solution is to use software to force clingy devices to allow a handoff to a new access point. In this scenario the network tells a device “Look, you should really move to that access point over there for best results.” If the device doesn’t do as it’s told, the current access point will actually shut off communication, forcing the device to choose a new access point. Carleton’s network has been running this upgrade for a few months now and all indications are that it has helped with performance.
  3. A third solution is to upgrade access points. Older ones simply don’t have the memory or CPU power to handle all the stuff they need to do these days. Also, older access points are only able to handle 1/3 to 1/2 the number of connected devices as newer ones, and people come into our areas these days with a laptop and a phone and maybe a tablet… That’s a lot of devices for a single person. Also newer access points can emit both fast and slow signals so that the entire area doesn’t slow down when one slow device connects.

So those are the main points that I understood from the presentation. There is clearly not enough here for you or me to start improving our WLANs, but hopefully there is enough here that if you’re in conversations with your network folks you may have some context and even some concrete suggestions to offer.

*You can find a lot of useful videos of Peter Thornycrof presenting online. Many of them will be more useful to you if you speak network, but even I was able to get a lot out of the clips Carleton’s network guy showed us. One of the ones we watched some of was about Beamforming.

The Mythic World of Women’s Studies [The Other McCain]

Are you tired of reality? Do you feel that you are being oppressed by facts and logic? Then you should consider majoring in Women’s Studies at one of our nation’s elite universities, where your liberated consciousness is protected from these hateful forces of patriarchy. Just ask Sarah Blugis of George Washington University: Why you should […]

LIVE AT FIVE: 09.18.14 [The Other McCain]

– compiled by Wombat-socho TOP NEWS Obama Insists Ground Forces Won’t Join ISIS Fight; Pentagon Less Sure Odierno, former SecDef Gates say not putting boots on the ground won’t work House approves arms for Syrian rebels Iraq PM rules out US ground troops Obama’s approval hits all-time low in ISIS crisis Doctor Confirms Toronto Mayor […]

Two Lego librarians [The Travelin' Librarian]

Mary’s friend made it to the party.

Mary & Jacosta Nu

The post Two Lego librarians appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

Throwback Thursday: TARDIS Tennis [The Travelin' Librarian]

I originally posted this back in July 2003, and amazingly it still works.


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Size Comparison of Science Fiction Spaceships: The Final Update [The Travelin' Librarian]


Q: And where’s TARDIS?
A: It’s both too large and too small for the chart.

Source: DeviantArt

The post Size Comparison of Science Fiction Spaceships: The Final Update appeared first on The Travelin' Librarian.

Guess what, US workers sure think there is a skills gap [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

This piece from Harvard Business Review says something about higher education and the changing nature of work:

The new survey, commissioned by Udemy, a company that provides online training courses, sharply challenges the view that the skills gap is a corporate fiction. Polling 1,000 randomly selected Americans between the ages of 18 and 65, the survey found that 61% of employees also feel that there is a skills gap. Specifically, 54% report that they do not already know everything they need to know in order to do their current jobs. Moreover, about one third of employees report that a lack of skills held them back from making more money; a third also report that inadequate skills caused them to miss a promotion or to not get a job.

The most important skills that employees are missing are computer and technical skills. Of those reporting that they needed skills for their current job, 33% reported lacking technical skills, including computer skills. Management skills were second most important.

The skills gap is not mainly about too little schooling. Survey respondents made clear that the skills learned in school differ from those required on the job; so while schooling is important, it’s not sufficient preparation for success at work. Of survey respondents who went to college, only 41% reported that knowledge learned in college helps them succeed in their current job. Seventy-two percent of respondents report that they needed to learn new skills for their current job. More generally, respondents reported acquiring those new skills in a variety of ways: some took formal, in-person classes, some took online courses, and many relied on informal learning from colleagues and other sources.

Michael Woodford on nominal GDP targeting [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Here is a bit on NGDPLT from a long interview (via the Minneapolis Fed) on monetary policy with economist Michael Woodford:

A nominal GDP target path would have the advantage of being a single criterion, yet one that conveyed concern both about the real economy and about the price level and nominal variables at the same time. It would have given an explanation for which substantial stimulus would have continued to be appropriate for some time to come. But it was also a criterion that was intended to reassure people that what looked like very aggressive monetary policy wasnot going to allow inflation to get out of hand. If inflation picked up very much, the FOMC would quickly have reached the nominal GDP target and then would have to restrain nominal demand growth in order not to shoot past the target path. The public wouldn’t have to be worried that we were pushing so hard on stimulating the economy that maybe we were going to let demand get totally out of control, and we were just not thinking about that because it wasn’t the fire that had to be put out this year.

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

Don’t exaggerate how fracking helps the US economy [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

The economic impact of the shale revolution — while a significant positive —  is still often exaggerated. We likely cannot frack our way back to prosperity or 4% GDP growth. (I understand, though, the temptation to make oversized growth claims given the constant push-back from environmentalists.) As Goldman Sachs recently put it:

We estimate that the overall impact from the increase in US energy supply on real GDP growth is currently in the range of 0.2-0.3pp per year. Most of this is due to the direct effects from increased energy output and drilling activity, while the spillovers to other industries or via lower household energy bills have been more modest.

Now those impacts are hardly beanbag — really, not at all — especially given the continued anemic pace of economic growth. But they shouldn’t preclude all manner of other economic reforms the economy needs. It can’t be cut business taxes, frack more, and call it a day (though that would be quite a productive day.) A new Fed study looks at how fracking is only modestly affecting the nation’s manufacturing industry:

Over the past eight years, the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques has significantly increased U.S. natural gas production. This production increase has pushed U.S. natural gas prices down and has also provided a competitive advantage to those U.S. manufacturers that are intensive users of energy. This paper uses industry-level data on capital expenditure, production, employment, producer prices, imports, and exports to offer a preliminary empirical assessment of the impact of the drop in natural gas prices on U.S. manufacturing through this competitiveness channel. …

Overall, our estimates suggest that the roughly two-thirds decline in the price of natural gas in the United States relative to the price of natural gas in Europe has boosted activity in the manufacturing sector as a whole by perhaps two to three percent. Although a few industries are expanding, as of yet there does not appear to be a large effect across the entire manufacturing sector. For the handful of industries that are heavy users of natural gas, the estimated effects are much larger, on the order of a 30 percent or larger increase in activity. However, given that firms typically adjust their production processes only gradually, it may be that the full effect of the energy boom is still some years away.

Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve

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

What we’re reading today: September 17, 2014 [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

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

1.) Nearly half of Americans in major cities are in a state of financial insecurity, writes Patricia Cohen in The Upshot.

2.) Use data to fix the small business lending gap, recommends this post from the Harvard Business Review.

3.) Matthew M. Chingos, at Education Next, says classroom observations offer the biggest room for improvement in teacher evaluations.

4.) Sorry NYT, the Medicare cost problem remains unsolved, argues Charles Blahous in e21.

5.) From the San Francisco Fed: Do young Americans hate cash?

6.) Scott Gottlieb and Tevi Troy look at Ebola’s warning for an unprepared America in their Wall Street Journal piece.

7.) In The New York Times, Thomas B. Edsall discusses the question, “Does moving poor people work?”

8.) Abandoning the clean power plan is the wrong move for US climate policy, according to Brookings.

9.) At RCM, Richard Reeves writes on the scary implications of modern wealth inequality.

10.) This Breakthrough pieces covers some real-world barriers to carbon pricing.

11.) From the Mercatus Center: The Federal Reserve’s exit strategy: Looming inflation or controllable overhang?

Follow AEIdeas on Twitter at @AEIdeas, and Natalie Scholl at @Natalie_Scholl.

Once again, where’s the inflation? Answer — don’t wait for the translation! [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

From the WSJ: “The Federal Reserve said it would end the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing in October, but retained its guidance that short-term interest rates will remain near zero for a “considerable time” after that program ends.

Let me again ask, where the’s inflation? The Fed doesn’t see much, the WSJ notes, forecasting its preferred price gauge — the personal consumption expenditures price index — to come in at between 1.5% and 1.7% this year, 1.5% to 1.9% next year. The Fed’s official target, recall, is 2%. And here is a summary of today’s inflation report from JPMorgan:

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) surprised noticeably to the downside in August. The headline figure fell 0.2% — the weakest since March 2013 — while the ex-food and energy core index was unchanged — the weakest since January 2010. The year-ago increases in both the headline and core measures now stand at 1.7%

What economist Mike Darda wrote just before the announcement still holds:

Despite a bevy of Wall Street hawks falling all over themselves to predict an abrupt change in Fed language and an earlier than expected ZIRP exit, the case for a sharp Fed U-turn lacks credulity, in our view. With inflation running below the Fed’s target (and recently decelerating) and inflation expectations back below the 200 bps threshold at the five year horizon, there simply isn’t a compelling case for the Fed to pull forward the gradual tightening path now priced into financial markets.

Another reason for the Fed to be patient / gradual is the lopsided history of ZLB exits being premature instead of late. To wit: the Fed tried to exit prematurely (and thus failed) in 1936-1937; the BoJ presided over two premature (and thus failed) ZLB exits in 2000 and 2006 and several European central banks blew it in 2011 with premature tightening, triggering double-dip recessions and deflation risk. Looking ahead, we believe the Yellen Fed will continue to use underemployment gaps, wage growth and core inflation trends as rough guideposts for the equilibrium short rate.

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

How to keep government from stalling the driverless car [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Given that (a) driving errors and accidents cost $300 billion and 34,000 lives a year, and (b) traffic congestion caused drivers to spend an extra 5.5 billion hours on the road and purchase an extra $121 billion gallons of fuel … well, you could say driverless cars could potentially be a pretty big deal. That, if the government doesn’t put a regulatory hammerlock on this emerging technology. In a new Mercatus paper, Adam Thierer and Ryan Hagemann offers some advice on how to apply the principle of “permission innovation” to autonomous vehicles. Here’s a taste:

The government’s approach here should be  guided by humility and patience, allowing intelligent vehicle technology to develop while refraining from overbearing regulation. Lawmakers should sunset any laws that inhibit innovation and experimentation. Policymakers should also examine infrastructure and network operations, as well as licensing issues. In the private sector, businesses should work together and with policymakers to overcome hurdles to the widespread adoption of intelligent vehicle technology, and stakeholders should develop clear and fully transparent guidelines and best practices to allay safety, security, and privacy concerns.

Additionally, government data collection should be constrained to the fullest extent possible. Consensual data collection should be allowed between consumers and producers of goods and services, which will translate to practical benefits, cheaper systems, and a more robust marketplace.

Policymakers should embrace permissionless innovation when dealing with intelligent vehicle technologies. They should not live in fear of hypothetical worst-case scenarios related to security, safety, and privacy. While disruptive at times, these new technologies will bring incredible economic and social benefits to society. In the near future, it will be very difficult to use a car to hurt yourself or others. The sooner that day arrives, the better.

If this is an effective technology that creates consumer-relevant value, it will happen. But bad decisions by government could delay it.

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

The tiny little problem with carbon taxes [AEIdeas » Pethokoukis]

Economists frequently offers carbon taxes as a market-friendly policy for dealing with climate change. It’s pretty simple: tax what you don’t want (or as an economist would put, tax unwanted externalities.) And if you want less fossil fuel consumption and the carbon emissions that go with it, make coal, oil and natural gas more expensive with a levy. But there is a slight– I feel embarrassed even to mention it — problem with carbon taxes, according to Jesse Jenkins of the Breakthrough Institute:

There’s only one hitch: people generally want their energy to be cheaper, not more expensive!  In July, Australia repealed it’s carbon tax, ending a brutal, decade-long fight over climate policy. The repeal is just the latest and most glaring example of the extremely up-hillpolitical battle facing any effort to put a hefty price on carbon—i.e., a price sufficient to fully internalize the social costs of CO2 emissions and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a new peer-reviewed paper published in the June edition of Energy Policy (Vol 69), I dive in to these “political economy constraints on carbon pricing policies” and their impacts on the economic efficiency and environmental efficacy of climate policy.  …

What I find is that while estimates of the full social cost of carbon range from $15 to $150 per ton of CO2 in 2012 dollars (rising steadily each year), households in the United States may be willing to pay as little as $2 to $8 per ton to combat climate change, according to a range of public values and willingness-to-pay research. … In the real-world, political constraints can mean carbon pricing policies end up falling far short. That creates an opportunity for improved climate policy designs that perform much better under political economy constraints.

One other political problem: some conservatives have embraced the carbon tax as a substitute for top-down environmental regulations, such as fuel economy standards. But many on the left see such a levy as additive, which is not surprising given the above analysis. So, indeed, there are other options

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

"So, the woman perhaps most responsible for putting the phrase 'war on women' into the political bloodstream is also now responsible for taking the rhetoric too far." [Althouse]

Writes Nia-Malika Henderson in a WaPo piece titled "How gender mattered in the rise and fall of Debbie Wasserman Schultz."

The "too far" incident is the one we discussed here on September 3rd: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz says: 'Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand' and 'What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.'" And, the next day: "The violent imagery deployed against Scott Walker by Debbie Wasserman Shultz is gendered — it's domestic violence." ("Wasserman Schultz can be accused of subtly purveying a rape metaphor.")

We've also been discussing Wasserman Schultz's problems in this post from last night: "Democrats tire of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — especially her efforts to get them to pay for her clothes," in which I say: "She served their gender-based interests in 2012, and that's not the thing this year, so they launch a gender-based attack on her?"

"Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant...." [Althouse]

"Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data...."

"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said on its Web site. "So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."
Apple doesn't know our passcodes? 

"Public university required students to submit sexual history or face disciplinary action." [Althouse]

"Clemson is requiring students and faculty to complete an online course through a third party website that asks invasive questions about sexual history."

“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks one question.

“With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks another....

“I don’t know what they’re doing with the data, but I’ve been told time and time again that the data that they are collecting, they aren't analyzing or using the data for anything, so then I don’t understand why they’re asking the questions either,” the student, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the university, went on to say.
Sex and coercion.

"This dramatic announcement marks a sad and grim turn to the [Toronto Mayor Rob] Ford story, which always mixed tragic elements with heavy doses of the comic and the surreal." [Althouse]

"These are the sort of dark reversals of fortune which probably haunt all of us, either about our loved ones or ourselves. I would feel remiss not saying that this latest development somehow continues the surreal nature of this man's public story, larger than life, almost operatic in its improbability and drama, almost difficult to even believe."

Josh Marshall, having had his fun with Ford, seems to feel a need to perform in the Theater of Purple Prose. Me, I've always ignored Ford. I didn't care to amuse myself with him when he was supposedly so amusing. Now, we learn he is one of the millions of human beings with cancer alive in the world today, and there's nothing I would "feel remiss not saying." If there was, I guarantee I wouldn't use that phrase.

ADDED: Getting cancer is not "operatic in its improbability." It may be improbable in the sense that it's more likely than not that you don't have cancer, but the likelihood is enough that there's nothing "operatic" about your number coming up. Maybe Josh Marshall is thinking of opera because of the stereotype that opera singers are fat and Rob Ford is both fat and afflicted with cancer of the fat.

Why the U.S. opposes Scottish independence (though we can't say much about it). [Althouse]

CNN's Kevin Liptak explains.

All of Britain's nuclear weapons -- its only contribution to a Western nuclear deterrent -- are housed at the Royal Navy's base on Scotland's West Coast. A "yes" vote would throw into question the future of the Trident nuclear program, which consists of four Vanguard-class submarines armed with ballistic missiles on lease from the United States....

Also in dispute: an independent Scotland's ability -- and willingness -- to contribute to Western military coalitions, which have become ever-more visible as the U.S. rallies support behind its efforts against Russia and ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria....

In rejoining [NATO] Scotland would need to commit to spending 2% of its gross domestic product on defense spending, which given the uncertain economic outcome of an independence vote appears unachievable....

Perhaps the greatest fear for the United States is that a successful independence movement in Scotland could spark further movements in the rest of Europe. Potential breakaway regions in Spain and Belgium are already eyeing the Scottish vote carefully.
ADDED: "Is it really imaginable today that if part of the United States genuinely wanted to secede, it would be stopped with the kind of violence we saw in the American Civil War?"

"Even as a child, I didn't understand why Darren was so against using the magic." [Althouse]

Wrote MayBee in the comments to last night's post marking the 50th anniversary of the premiere of "Bewitched." I answered:

It's an allegory of relations between the sexes. Darren wants to provide for his wife and protect her. He can't do that if she has powers, or so he thinks. Instead of working together to find a new way to live in which the woman can use her full powers and the man can still feel empowered, he forbade her to use them and she tried to live like that, but she nevertheless acted out on her frustration from time to time, though only to help make their traditional life together work out.

"If our parents had not forced us to marry at such a young age, our lives would be so different." [Althouse]

"Recently I spoke to a school friend who told me he was going to engineering college. The news left me feeling ashamed and pitiful.... would have liked to have gone to engineering school. If we were allowed to finish our educations, Rajkumari and I would have learned about family planning. Maybe I would have gone to college. Forcing children to marry doesn’t just push them deeper into poverty and threaten their health. It crushes their ambitions—whether they are girls or boys."

From "The Sad Hidden Plight of Child Grooms."

"Reading insecurity. It is the subjective experience of thinking that you’re not getting as much from reading as you used to." [Althouse]

"It is deploring your attention span and missing the flow, the trance, of entering a narrative world without bringing the real one along. It is realizing that if Virginia Woolf was correct to call heaven 'one continuous unexhausted reading,' then goodbye, you have been kicked out of paradise."

But you won't read the whole thing. You've just enjoyed this juicy morsel, and who wants Virginia Woolf's heaven anyway? Maybe my next morsel is better than reading that whole thing, that whole thing that's about reading the whole thing. I might satisfy you with something sharper and clearer, like: If Virginia Woolf really thought heaven was sitting around reading continuously, why didn't she stay in her room reading instead of heading out to drown herself?

Enough! That's all I want to say here. I've got another blog post to write. Up there, above this. It's a better place, I'm sure.

Democrats tire of Debbie Wasserman Schultz — especially her efforts to get them to pay for her clothes. [Althouse]

Politico reports.

Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming.

One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe. In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser — and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop....  One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Wasserman Schultz denies it. But what's going on here? Who are these sources that have it in for Debbie? She served their gender-based interests in 2012, and that's not the thing this year, so they launch a gender-based attack on her? It is a gender-based attack, don't you think? Is a woman behind this attack? The only name I see named is Valerie Jarrett. What's up with the Democratic Party? If you make women your stock in trade, you'd better watch out for women against women.

"A fetching suburban house­witch in the person of Elizabeth Montgomery ar­rived on the television screen last night in a series entitled 'Bewitched.'" [Althouse]

For "last night," read: 50 years ago tonight.

Both Miss Montgomery and [Dick] York are extremely at­tractive and personable and there is a durable element of fun in watching someone out of this world solve life's mundane problems by making them go away with a snap of the fingers or a twitch of the mouth....

Agnes Moorehead is play­ing Miss Montgomery's moth­er and, with more substan­tial scenes in the installments to come, should be a reward­ing figure as a senior witch given to disdain for human ways. “Bewitched” promises to be a bright niche of popu­lar TV.
And so it was, for 8 years. Note that the above-quoted NYT review accurately says "twitch of the mouth." We were tricked, perhaps by witchcraft, into thinking we were looking at a twitch of the nose.

MORE: Thoughts on why Darren didn't accept Samantha's use of witchcraft here.

"We've gotta dispense with calling guys who are effeminate or who throw like girls 'sissies.' You know why?" [Althouse]

"Because that diminishes women... We've got to stop this making fun of guys. I think part of it's to protect Obama, because he's the one that's well known for that," Rush Limbaugh said (sarcastically) yesterday, in the midst of a monologue that centered around something an ESPNW columnist, Kate Fagan, said about the problem of violence in football. She said:

Holding NFL's feet to the fire should mean getting men to throw the kitchen sink at domestic violence...
What's up with the anti-violence lady using 2 violent metaphors?
... to invest millions of dollars in grassroots organizations, in going into middle schools and high schools and colleges and talking to young men about dealing with anger, about how they treat women. I think that's where you're gonna see change. Going into the school systems and the younger spaces and really reprogramming how we raise men.
Rush made much of the word "reprogramming." His transcript headline paraphrases Fagan's statement as "We Must Reprogram Men." His monologue goes on to paraphrase her repeatedly like this:
We have been in the process of reprogramming men and the way they are raised for a long time... we need to reprogram the way we're raising men... it's the guys that have to be reprogrammed... I've never run across anybody who suggested that women need to be reprogrammed. I don't think I've even come across anybody who wanted to teach a girl how to throw right. They just accept it is what it is. But honestly, folks, it's always reprogramming men... this effort to reprogram men has been going on a long time.
But Fagan didn't say "reprogramming men." She said "reprogramming how we raise men." Who's getting reprogrammed? Which human beings are analogized to computers and capable of programming? It's got to be those who are raising men, which is mostly women — mothers (more than fathers) and early childhood educators (mostly women). So in fact, in Fagan's statement itself, Rush was encountering what he says he never runs across: a suggestion that women need to be reprogrammed. He doesn't notice it when he sees it, perhaps because reprogramming women is so deeply embedded in the culture that it just looks natural. Feminists continually pressure for the reprogramming of women. That's what the "lean in" campaign is all about.

Maybe during the commercial break somebody pointed out the discrepancy in the paraphrase, because when Rush came back, he was more accurate, referring to "this business of reprogramming the way we raise men" (before detouring into the topic of Ohio State's description of what consent to sex means, which is funny/disturbing because it seems to demand that couples agree about "why" they are doing what they're doing), and "We have got to reprogram the way we raise men" (which relates to expecting men to "think with their brains" rather than their other "head," as Rush frat-boyishly put it). 

You know, I hate all the human-as-computer metaphors, including speaking of how people are "wired." It's dehumanizing, to men and to women. Fagan was trying to talk about what parents and teachers can do to raise good children. Conservatives should agree that boys and girls should be raised into adults who have good character, who understand right and wrong, and who embrace virtue and avoid vice. That's not controversial at a high level of abstraction. As to the details, is Rush saying that the best way to raise boys to be good men is to mock them by calling them "sissies" when they do something in a way that seems stereotypically female?

Does Rush embody and project ideal masculinity? Is he a good role model for boys? Is he carrying on some fine, old, valued tradition of raising boys to manhood? He has no children of his own, and he seems to have a lot of opinions about how parents and teachers — mostly women — are attempting to do well as they shape the new generation of Americans. They're doing many things wrong, it may be presumed, because anyone who tries to do something that difficult will get many things wrong. But how do you do it right?

The New D.C. “May Issue” Law [The Captain's Journal]

Is D.C. finally finished fighting the supreme and appeals courts and the constitution of the United States?

Within weeks, civilian gun owners could be free to apply to carry a concealed weapon in the nation’s capital for the first time in decades, after a federal judge’s ruling prompted city leaders to create new firearms law.

The proposed law, set to be unveiled at a Wednesday afternoon news conference, was drafted by city officials after the city’s long-standing ban on carrying firearms in public was declared unconstitutional in July.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), who played a lead role in developing the gun-carry proposal and spoke about it ahead of the news conference, said the emergency legislation put together in recent weeks will be scheduled for a council vote on Tuesday.

The bill, Mendelson said, will permit city residents who own duly registered handguns and non-residents who hold state carrying licenses to apply to the D.C. police for a concealed carry permit. So-called open carry, such as the wearing of a weapon in a holster, will not be allowed under the proposed law, he said.

D.C. carry permits will be issued on a “may carry” basis, giving great discretion to D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on who will be allowed to carry firearms in the city. Applicants will have to state a reason for seeking a permit, Mendelson said.

So things are not so well in D.C. after all.  “May issue” states become no issue states in practice unless they are forced by law to be otherwise.  The wealthy, politically connected and powerful get their permits, while others have to demonstrate why they need one to the approval of the top cop, as if self defense isn’t good enough and the constitution doesn’t speak loudly enough on the issue.

There is more from The Washington Times: “People who have a “good reason” to feel threatened — for example, stalking victims — would be able to seek a concealed carry permit for a legally owned handgun under a new D.C. law proposed Thursday. But those with generalized fears, such as apprehension about living in a neighborhood with high crime, would not be considered eligible for such a permit, officials say.”

I sense yet another court case – or cases – coming for D.C.  Apparently they haven’t given up being totalitarians.  They like their control and aren’t ready to share it yet.

Distribution Release: Webconverger 26.0 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 26.0, a new update of the specialist distribution designed for web-only computers - now with Firefox 32.0: "Webconverger 26 release. Highlights of this 26.0 signed and tagged snapshot: revised boot menu, helping you get started with Neon, our web signage....

Distribution Release: KNOPPIX 7.4.1 [DistroWatch.com: News]

Klaus Knopper has released KNOPPIX 7.4.1, a bug-fix update of the project's Debian-based live CD/DVD that provides the LXDE (default), GNOME 3.12 and KDE 4.13.3 desktops, as well as a separate "ADRIANE" edition designed for visually impaired users: "Version 7.4.1 of KNOPPIX is based on the usual picks....

Well, this explains a lot about the state of our workforce. [Dr. Helen]

According to this article, 10% of Americans go to work high:

Showing up to work high? You’re not alone.

A new report has found nearly 1 in 10 Americans are showing up to work high on marijuana. Mashable.com conducted the survey in partnership with SurveyMonkey, and found 9.7 percent of Americans fessed up to smoking cannabis before showing up to the office.

The data analyzed the marijuana and prescription drug habits of 534 Americans. What’s more, nearly 81 percent said they scored their cannabis illegally, according to the survey.

Cannabis and the workplace seem quite linked lately. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel recently chimed in on marijuana and work. While criticizing Twitter during an appearance on CNBC Wednesday, Thiel said Twitter is a “… horribly mismanaged company—probably a lot of pot smoking going on there.”

I find it amazing that this many people would confess to smoking at work and 81% stated that they obtained the cannabis illegally. Some businesses drug test but others don’t or can’t afford it.

Do you mind if your Barista or server is high? What about your doctor? Isn’t this a problem to be taken more seriously? How are these high people getting to work? I see a lot of people in my area riding bikes on the main roads these days. Maybe they are high just trying to get to work. I guess a bike is better than driving but it still doesn’t seem like a great idea.

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

I thinks so, Brain … but waffles are flat. Why do they need ironing?

No Confidence? [hogewash]

Politico is reporting top Democrat insiders are beginning to figure out something about Debbie Wasserman Shultz that has been obvious for several years.

She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.

Yep, and her recent comments such as equating the tea party with wife beaters is an example of her desperation.


Occupy OccupyWallStNYC [hogewash]

A bunch of the founders of the Occupy movement are suing one another over access to the @OccupyWallStNYC Twitter account. One of the members took control of it when he thought the others were being too censorious.

Group members took on the task of limiting others to “1 to 2 tweets per day” (or week) on a topic, a form of censorship that would never have been allowed in the earlier days of the boat. I had to say enough!

The others want back in.

We can either go and beat him up or we can go to court.

The group is seeking control of the Twitter account as well as $500,000 in damages.

Follow the money.

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

I think so, Brain … but how will be get the beet juice out of our fur?

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day [hogewash]

After The Dread Pro-Se Kimberlin rested his case during the Kimberlin v. Walker, et al. trial, we defendants moved for a directed verdict in our favor because he had not presented evidence establishing the element of defamation or false light. Here is a small part of Judge Johnson’s extended colloquy with TDPK on whether he has shown that what we said and wrote about him was false.

THE COURT: I’m not asking you to prove anything. I’m asking you who in this courtroom yesterday or today said that those statements were false?

MR. KIMBERLIN: Your honor, in a defamation case —

THE COURT: You hate answering questions —

MR. KIMBERLIN: No, no, I’m just trying to —

THE COURT: Who said it was false?

MR. KIMBERLIN: Who said it was false? They —

THE COURT: Did you want to read this? I mean —

MR. KIMBERLIN: I know what it says —

THE COURT: I didn’t make this up. This is Maryland law.

MR. KIMBERLIN: I think that the jury has to make that call, whether it’s false. And whether —

THE COURT: But there has to be some evidence. They just can’t pull things out of the air. A jury, they just can’t go back there and decide what they want to decide. I have to give them instructions on the law. And the instructions on defamation — Maryland pattern jury instruction 12.1 “a defamatory statement is a false statement about another person that exposes that person to public scorn, hatred” — so nobody in here, in this case said that they hated you, you haven’t put any evidence up that they hated you — “contempt or ridicule” — there’s no evidence of that — “thereby discouraging others in the community from having a good opinion of or from associating or dealing with the person. Defamation may result from a statement communicated to a third person either orally or in writing.” And here you have — I’ll call them, well, bloggers, I guess they’re reporters — reporting stories and bantering back and forth regarding stories that, I think it originated, the whole thing started back in Indiana many, many, many years ago. And so what is the jury going to — how are they going to consider whether there was public scorn?

MR. KIMBERLIN: Your honor —

THE COURT: This’ll go lot faster if you try to answer my question. If you don’t have an answer, say you don’t have an answer.

MR. KIMBERLIN: Being called a pedophile is automatically public scorn, I mean —

THE COURT: Look, I’m getting — you’ve said that, I understand it. But I’m focusing on the Maryland law that I have to tell the jury. Now what I’m asking you — let’s take it one by one. The statement has to — you have get to] to contempt. Any evidence of that?

MR. KIMBERLIN: Well, I put my daughter on the stand and she testified that we had suffered —

THE COURT: That she had suffered?

MR. KIMBERLIN: No, that our family had suffered. That I had suffered.

THE COURT: Look, you’re the only party in this case.

Narratives are not false just because TDPK doesn’t like them. There were very few possible witnesses that Kimberlin could have produced who could have testified of their firsthand knowledge that he had not engaged in any of the behavior that led folks to be suspicious of him. There were the women who were the girls he was allegedly involved with in Indiana (as reported by Mark Singer). There was his estranged wife who did not come to court to support him. There was the possibility of his own testimony, given that the judge seemed willing to bend the Maryland Rule on perjurers and let him testify. No one else would have been a competent witness.

I suspect that TDPK stayed off the stand because he was afraid of cross examination and being caught in perjury.

popcorn4bkJudge Johnson ruled in our favor. TDPK is making noises about an appeal and a second federal lawsuit. It seems that he’s beginning to understand that the Kimberlin v. The Universe, et al. RICO Madness is doomed. It will be interesting to see what federal issue he might use in a second federal suit.

I’m sure Acme is working overtime.

Quote of the Day [hogewash]

Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.

—Julia Child

German airline markets in everything [Marginal REVOLUTION]

In case you don’t like Wiener Schnitzel and doner kebab:

Now Germany’s Air Food One is a subscription service that lets anyone get airline meals delivered to their home once a week.

Offered by online grocery Allyouneed.com, members can choose between two options — classic or vegetarian — just like on a real flight. The service has teamed up with LSG Sky Chefs, which provides airline food for Lufthansa, to prepare a different meal each week that matches the business class menu on airplanes. For example, this week it’s serving Arabic seafood or panserotti with porcini mushrooms. The meals are delivered every Wednesday evening and are suitable for freezing. When it comes time to cook, members can simply place the meal in the oven. The idea is that the healthy subscription meals can be ordered by busy professionals who would otherwise be ordering a takeaway. Additionally, the service lets LSG Sky Chefs get rid of the excess meals not needed by its flying customers, avoiding waste and acting as an advertisement for its food quality.

The full story is here, and for the pointer I thank Michael Rosenwald.

Do I wish to revise my time management tips? [Marginal REVOLUTION]

I wrote this in 2004 on MR:

Here are my suggestions:

1. There is always time to do more, most people, even the productive, have a day that is at least forty percent slack.

2. Do the most important things first in the day and don’t let anybody stop you.  Estimate “most important” using a zero discount rate.  Don’t make exceptions.  The hours from 7 to 12 are your time to build for the future before the world descends on you.

3. Some tasks (drawing up outlines?) expand or contract to fill the time you give them.  Shove all these into times when you are pressed to do something else very soon.

4. Each day stop writing just a bit before you have said everything you want to.  Better to approach your next writing day “hungry” than to feel “written out.”  Your biggest enemy is a day spent not writing, not a day spent writing too little.

5. Blogging builds up good work habits; the deadline is always “now.”

Rahul R. asks me if I would like to revise the list.  I’ll add these:

6. Don’t drink alcohol.  Don’t take drugs.

7. At any point in your life, do not be watching more than one television show on a regular basis.

8. Don’t feel you have to finish a book or movie if you don’t want to.  I cover that point at length in my book Discover Your Inner Economist.

I think I would take back my old #5, since I observe some bloggers who have gone years, ten years in fact, without being so productive.

The agricultural productivity gap [Marginal REVOLUTION]

That is the recently published (QJE) paper by Douglas Gollin, David Lagakos, and Michael E. Waugh, the abstract is here:

According to national accounts data, value added per worker is much higher in the nonagricultural sector than in agriculture in the typical country, particularly in developing countries. Taken at face value, this “agricultural productivity gap” suggests that labor is greatly misallocated across sectors. In this article, we draw on new micro evidence to ask to what extent the gap is still present when better measures of sector labor inputs and value added are taken into consideration. We find that even after considering sector differences in hours worked and human capital per worker, as well as alternative measures of sector output constructed from household survey data, a puzzlingly large gap remains.

There are ungated copies here.

I believe there is something “funny” about agriculture.  Productivity convergence is also slowest in that sector, especially compared to manufactures.  I see a few possible factors at work:

1. Status quo bias keeps a lot of workers living in rural areas and employed in agriculture, lowering productivity in that sector and also hindering the transfer of new ideas and technologies.  Wages stay low and approaches remain hidebound and old-fashioned.

2. The influence of “non-rational” culture — in the Weberian sense — is usually stronger in rural and agricultural areas.

4. Liquidity constraints limit movement into urban areas.

5. Fear of loss of status and local friendships also limit the movement into urban areas and prevent an equalization of returns as defined in terms of pecuniary variables only.

Or put agriculture aside, and let’s pose the same question about wage equalization in Puerto Rico and the mainland United States, given that free migration is allowed and wages in the U.S. are considerably higher.  In a lot of different settings, factor price equalization isn’t as strong as you might think.  Maybe this is just showing that agriculture is in fact a remarkably human activity.

The language of restaurant reviews [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Jennifer Schuessler at The New York Times reports on the work and new book of Dan Jurafsky:

In a study of more than a million Yelp restaurant reviews, Mr. Jurafsky and the Carnegie Mellon team found that four-star reviews tended to use a narrower range of vague positive words, while one-star reviews had a more varied vocabulary. One-star reviews also had higher incidence of past tense, pronouns (especially plural pronouns) and other subtle markers that linguists have previously found in chat room discussions about the death of Princess Diana and blog posts written in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In short, Mr. Jurafsky said, authors of one-star reviews unconsciously use language much as people do in the wake of collective trauma. “They use the word ‘we’ much more than ‘I,’ as if taking solace in the fact that this bad thing happened, but it happened to us together,” he said.

Another finding: Reviews of expensive restaurants are more likely to use sexual metaphors, while the food at cheaper restaurants tends to be compared to drugs.

Previous MR posts on Jurafsky are here.

Livestream of Solow and DeLong vs. Cowen and Roberts debate on Piketty [Marginal REVOLUTION]

Friday, 1:15, EST.  The LiveStream is here.  I commend the Center for Equitable Growth for sponsoring this event.

Chris Matthews Is Bothered ‘Deeply’ By Your Worries About ISIS (VIDEO) [The PJ Tatler]

Oh, Tingles. The essential flaw with leftists when it comes to foreign policy is that they never grasp that the enemies of freedom in the modern world always have the United States in mind for their end game.

No, Jillian, Spanking Is Not Sex [The PJ Tatler]

New York writer and self-proclaimed kink (NTTAWWT!) Jillian Keenan says in Slate that “spanking is great for sex,” which makes it “grotesque for parenting.” Here’s more:

I have a spanking fetish. In my case, that means I like to be spanked, usually with a hand, belt, hairbrush, wooden spoon, switch, or paddle. It sexually gratifies me. I’ve had submissive fantasies for as long as I can remember, and it’s part of my identity. I consider my kink to be my sexual orientation.

To be clear—because apparently I have to be—I am an adult. My husband, who is not kinky, is an adult. My first boyfriend (the only other sexual partner I’ve had) was an adult, too. Everyone is an adult. Everyone consents.

So I have a question: If it’s “somewhat pedophilic” when my adult husband consensually spanks me in a simulated “punishment,” what should we call it when parents do the same physical thing to actual children in an actual punishment?

I make no judgements about what consenting adults do for enjoyment, so I’ll leave it to you, gentle (or not-so-gentle) reader, to make your own judgement, if you must, about Keenan’s little hijinks.

But the flaw in Keenan’s thinking lies in that single word “consensually.” Punishment is not consensual, or it wouldn’t be punishment. Sex is consensual, or it isn’t sex — it’s rape.

On the flip side, spanking a child without cause isn’t discipline or punishment — it’s abuse. And I’m sure Keenan would agree that if her husband spanked her without her consent or past her safe word, that would be abuse, too.

But spanking a child with cause is not abuse (to a point), and nor is it remotely sexual. It’s not fun for the child, and it certainly shouldn’t be any fun for the parent. Any parent getting any sort of sexual thrill out of discipling their child is no longer a parent, but a molester.

My view on spanking is that the occasional, single swat on the bottom can sometimes be necessary. A temper tantrum can cause a child to stop listening to your sweet voice of reason, and some public bad behavior can be so awful that it must be stopped at once. That aside, the old-school method of “bring me a belt and bend over my knee so I can swat you repeatedly” strikes me, so to speak, more like parental terror than parental discipline — but that’s my own conclusion and I don’t expect or require any other parent to agree. On the other hand, again so to speak, my boys have never been punished in that manner, and both are about as polite and well-behaved as a parent could hope for.

But the few times they did deserve and get a swat? The temper tantrums stopped at once — and dad’s heart broke a little. Each and every time.

If that’s “gross” and a “sex act,” as Kennan says, then the oversexualization of absolutely everything in America is now complete. And as a dad, that breaks my heart more than a spanking ever could.

Another Day, Another Domestic Abuse Arrest In The NFL [The PJ Tatler]

Time to punt?

Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer head-butted his wife and broke her nose after she bit his lip to stop his sexual advances, and he punched her in the face the next day, according to a police report made public Thursday.

Dwyer later threatened to kill himself in front of their 17-month-old son if the wife alerted the police, according to the report, which detailed the latest domestic violence allegations against an NFL player. Dwyer was arrested Wednesday and benched by the team.

The police report describes two altercations between Dwyer and his wife, on July 21 and 22. In the first, Dwyer tried to kiss her and take off her clothes, according to the report. She told him to stop and bit his lip when he wouldn’t, the report said. Dwyer then head-butted her, it said. Police were called to the home by someone who heard arguing.

“Publicist for the National Football League” would now be a candidate for the old “Dirty Jobs” show if it were still on the air.

While it isn’t statistically an epidemic yet, it is now a problem that seems to be spiraling away from the previously cool, collected, and always in charge Roger Goodell. He is now in a difficult position where he has to be extremely proactive all the while avoiding turning the league into one that operates on a “guilty until proven innocent” policy.

Very often in large organizations, the best way to regain control of a situation is for some management heads to roll, even if management isn’t directly responsible. Goodell, however, isn’t removed from these actions anymore. His awful handling of the Ray Rice situation carries over to each new case now, despite his admission that he was wrong.

What Does Kerry Call ISIS? ‘The Enemy of Islam’ [The PJ Tatler]

In the question of what the group that calls itself the Islamic State should be called, France has decided to officially use “Daesh” — an insulting Arabic acronym used by Kurds and others in the region.

Secretary of State John Kerry has his own moniker for the terrorists that the administration formally refers to as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

“What would you call — I call them ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) asked Kerry today at a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on the administration’s strategy.

“What would you tell the American people? OK, we are doing this support. We are at war. We are a counter-terrorism operation. Whatever you want to call it,” Poe said, referring to Kerry’s insistence on “war” terminology not being important. “Who is the enemy? Define the enemy for me. What would you call them?”

“Well, I call them the enemy of Islam, because that’s what I think they are, and they certainly don’t represent a state, even though they try to claim to,” Kerry replied.

“So, officially, we should refer to them as the enemy of Islam?” Poe asked.

“Well, I do,” said Kerry. I don’t know if there’s an official whatever. But I hope you join me in doing that, because that’s what I think they are, and [they] don’t they deserve to have a reference in their name that gives them legitimacy.”

“Are they the enemy of the United States?” Poe continued.

“They are an enemy of humanity,” Kerry responded. “…Definitively, it is in the national security interest of our country, with Americans over there with passports learning how to fight and taking part in this.”

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) said he thought “many” people were “shocked” when Obama “emphasized that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was in fact not Islamic.”

“They now simply refer to themselves as the Islamic State. You know, they don’t call themselves the Methodist State or the Episcopalian State or the Baptist State. They’re the Islamic State, and I think for good reason,” Chabot said.

“You know, when Christians, for example, are told to convert to Islam or die, that would seem to fly in the face of the president’s insistence that the Islamic State is not the Islamic State. And an indication that he may not fully accept that radical Islam is indeed something that does exist and in fact is growing.”

Kerry said the U.S. “shouldn’t compound the sin by allowing them to get away with” calling themselves the Islamic State.

“Now religious leaders, Islamic leaders are reclaiming legitimate Islam. And they’re separating it, too. So I wouldn’t compound the crime by calling them a state whatsoever. They’re the enemy of Islam. That’s what they are,” Kerry said. “And as the 21 clerics yesterday said in Saudi Arabia, they are in fact the Order of Satan. And there’s nothing in Islam that condones or suggests people should go out and rape women and sell off young girls or give them as gifts to jihadists, and you know, cut people’s heads off and tie people’s hands behind their backs, and put them on their knees and shoot them in the head.”

“These are war crimes. And they’re crimes against humanity. And we need to make clear that that is exactly what is the reality here.”

“It’s clear to me that their motivation is their religious fervor, this fanaticism, however misguided it is,” Chabot interjected. “I mean, that’s their motivation here.”

“Well, I don’t know. They use that,” Kerry replied. “I don’t know if that is in truth — it’s part of it. The caliphate is certainly on the minds of many. But I think a lot of them are thugs and criminals and people who simply want to go out and maraud and take part in the success of — vanquish and be opposed to modernity and a whole bunch of other things.”

Mullahs Happily Dish Out Suspended Sentences to Seven Iranians for Making ‘Happy’ Video [The PJ Tatler]

Did the mullahs do this because of some “grievance,” or because they’re totalitarians who base their rule on the Koran?

A group of seven Iranian men and women who created and starred in their own version of a video for Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’ have each been given suspended sentences of prison time and 91 lashes.

The fun-loving friends were arrested in May after posting their homemade music video ‘Happy in Tehran’ to YouTube.

They were forced to publicly confess and apologise on national television before being released on bail, with police chief Hossein Sajedinia warning others that the video was “a vulgar clip” which “hurt public chastity”.

The suspended sentences mean that the “Happy” seven won’t go to prison immediately, but the possibility of prison time hangs over their heads if they step out of line again.


“We wanted to tell the world that the Iranian capital is full of lively young people and change the harsh and rough image that the world sees on the news,” said Neda, one of its stars.

The end credits of the video – which can still be viewed online though the original has been made private – reads: “We have made this video as Pharrell Williams fans in 8hrs with iPhone 5S. ‘Happy’ was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face.”

Instead, Iran’s harsh image has been reinforced. The only ones smiling are the mullahs who control everything.

And probably drink liquor and listen to “Happy” on their iPhones when they think no one is watching them.

NY Times Best Seller List Ignoring New David Limbaugh Book, Despite Sales Numbers [The PJ Tatler]

Common Core math?

There they go again.

The New York Times Book Review, which has a history of belatedly recognizing conservative bestsellers, has banished conservative legal author David Limbaugh’s latest, Jesus on Trial, from its upcoming best seller list despite having sales better than 17 other books on the list.

According to publishing sources, Limbaugh’s probe into the accuracy of the Bible sold 9,660 in its first week out, according to Nielsen BookScan. That should have made it No. 4 on the NYT print hardcover sales list.

Instead, Henry Kissinger’s World Order, praised by Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post, is No. 4 despite weekly sales of 6,607.

As Secrets wrote about a similar banishment early in the sales of conservative Dinesh D’Souza’s America, the Gray Lady is mysterious in how it calculates its list. A spokeswoman said, “We let the rankings speak for themselves and are confident they are accurate.”

The September 28 list of the top 20 print hardcover best sellers includes one book that sold just 1,570 copies.

It must be galling for the Times to have to constantly deal with the fact that, year in and year out, conservative authors dominate the Best Seller list. This, despite their nonstop marginalizing of conservative thought. Now if only we voted as well as we bought books.

J. Christian Adams posted a review of the book on PJ Media earlier in the week, and I just taped an interview with David that will be up soon on PJTV.

You can purchase “Jesus On Trial” here.

Islamic State Atrocities: Products of ‘Grievances’? [The PJ Tatler]

While many have rightfully criticized U.S. President Obama’s recent assertion that the Islamic State “is not Islamic,” some of his other equally curious but more subtle comments pronounced in the same speech have been largely ignored.

Consider the president’s invocation of the “grievances” meme to explain the Islamic State’s success: “At this moment the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the Islamic State.”

Obama’s logic, of course, is fortified by an entire apparatus of professional apologists who make the same claim.  Thus Georgetown professor John Esposito — whose apologetics sometimes morph into boldfaced lies — also recently declared that “The “primary drivers [for the Islamic State’s violence] are to be found elsewhere,” that is, not in Islam but in a “long list of grievances.”

In other words and once again, it’s apparently somehow “our fault” that Islamic State Muslims are behaving savagely— crucifying, beheading, enslaving, and massacring people only on the basis that they are “infidels”:  thus when IS herds and slaughters “infidel” and/or Shia men (citing the example of the prophet)—that’s because they’re angry at something America did; when IS captures “infidel” Yazidi and Christian women and children, and sells them on the sex-slave market (citing Islamic teachings) — that’s because they’re angry at something America did; when IS bombs churches, breaks their crosses, and tells Christians to convert or die (citing Islamic scriptures) — that’s because they’re angry at something America did.

Although the “grievance” meme has always flown in the face of logic, it became especially popular after the 9/11 al-Qaeda strikes on America. The mainstream media, following the Islamist propaganda network Al Jazeera’s lead, uncritically picked up and disseminated Osama bin Laden’s videotapes to the West where he claimed that al-Qaeda’s terror campaign was motivated by grievances against the West — grievances that ranged from U.S. support for Israel to U.S. failure to sign the Kyoto Agreement concerning climate change.

Of course, that was all rubbish, and I have written more times than  I care to remember about how in their internal Arabic-language communiques to fellow Muslims that never get translated to English, al-Qaeda and virtually every Islamist organization make it a point to insist that jihad is an Islamic obligation that has nothing to do with grievances.

Consider Osama’s own words in an internal letter to fellow Saudis:

Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue — one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice — and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually?

Yes. There are only three choices in Islam: [1] either willing submission [conversion]; [2] or payment of the jizya, through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam; [3] or the sword — for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die. (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 42)

Conversion, submission, or the sword is, of course, the mission of the Islamic State — not alleviating “grievances.”

Worst of all, unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, from day one of its existence, has made it very clear — in Osama’s words, “with power and determination, with one voice” — that its massacres, enslavements, crucifixions, and beheadings of “infidels” are all based on Islamic law or Sharia — not silly “grievances” against the West… Keep reading 

Ukrainian President to Congress: Ready to Compromise for Peace Except on Territorial Integrity [The PJ Tatler]

Addressing a joint session of Congress this morning, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he’s willing to negotiate to bring peace to his country but draws the line at anything that compromises Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“Over the last months, Ukrainian have shown that they have courage to stand up to the most powerful enemy. We will never obey or bend to the aggressor,” Poroshenko said. ”We are ready to fight, but we are people of peace, and we extend the hand of peace to Russia and the Russian-inspired separatists.”

“I am ready to do my utmost to avoid the further escalation and casualties, even at this point when the war has already started feeding on itself. Sooner or later, I’m absolutely sure peace will return to the Ukrainian homes.”

Despite “the insanity of this war,” he said, “I am convinced that peace can be achieved sooner rather than later, and I’m ready to offer the separatists more rights than any part of Ukraine had ever had in the history of nation.”

“And I’m ready to discuss anything except one thing: Ukrainian independence, Ukrainian territorial integrity, Ukrainian sovereignty,” Poroshenko stressed, garnering applause from the U.S. lawmakers. “And I am confident if this war is about the rights and not about the geopolitical ambition, the solution must and I am sure, will be found.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, in 1991, independence came to Ukraine at a very low cost and peacefully. Yet the more real this independence become, the higher grew its cost. Today, the cost is as high as it gets.”

The president said Russia’s invasion has taught his country to “learn the value of independence and to recognize the true friends.”

His country needs “to root out the seeds that drain Ukraine’s potential,” Poroshenko said, including those problems “largely inherited from the era of Soviet Union — decay, corruption, bureaucracy and the self-preserving cynicism of political elites.”

He asked Congress  ”to create a special fund to support investment of American companies in Ukraine and to help us with the reforming of our economy and our justice system,” a request met with applause. “And I assure you that all aid received from the west will be utilized by non-corrupt institution and that the new generation of official will make sure that the funds are distributed effectively.”

“By supporting Ukraine, you support new future of Europe and the entire free world. By supporting Ukraine, you support a nation that has chosen freedom in the most cynical of the times. In Ukraine, you don’t build a democracy. It’s already exist. You just defend it.”

Poroshenko reference New Hampshire’s motto: “Live free or die.”

“Live free or die was the spirit of the revolutionary on the Maidan during the dramatic winter months of 2014 with a significant presence of the member of United States Congress,” he said. “And we thank you for that.”

“Live free or die are words of Ukrainian soldiers standing on line of freedom on this war. Live free must be the answer with which Ukraine comes out of this war. Live free must be the message Ukraine and America send to the world while standing together in this time of enormous challenge.”

Who’s Buying ISIS’ Oil? Kerry Says They’re Looking Into It [The PJ Tatler]

Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged at Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Islamic State is “pumping oil and selling it to the tune of a million dollars a day to fund its brutal tactics.”

But he was evasive when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Kerry who was buying the oil. “Who are they selling it to? Which countries are transiting…”

“We have raised with a number of countries in the region the question of how they could possibly be getting oil out of the country. It’s being smuggled out. And what — that’s part of the approach here is to deal… ” Kerry replied before Durbin interjected, “Through which countries do you believe it’s being smuggled out?”

“Well, it’s being smuggled out from the border countries of Syria, obviously, which means either through Turkey or through Lebanon or south…”

“Now, are they joining us in the effort to stop this smuggling?” Durbin asked.

“They are, but, obviously, Turkey has difficulties right now, has 49 hostages that are being held, and they’ve talked about that publicly,” Kerry responded. “And Turkey is — you know, we’ve had some conversations with them, and those conversations will continue.”

In January, the Telegraph reported that Bashar Assad was buying ISIS’ oil and funding the terrorist group. Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra already admitted last year that Assad was buying their oil from Deir Ezzor province.

And an opposition lawmaker in Turkey said his government is buying ISIS’ oil

Ali Ediboglu, a Republican People’s Party member of parliament representing a border region, told Taraf, “$800 million worth of oil that ISIS obtained from regions it occupied this year [the Rumeilan oil fields in northern Syria — and most recently Mosul] is being sold in Turkey.

“They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at [the Turkish border regions of] Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep,” Ediboglu said. “They transfer the oil to Turkey and parlay it into cash. They take the oil from the refineries at zero cost. Using primitive means, they refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.”

President Obama has had a close working relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former priem minister who recently became president.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked Kerry at today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing if we could bomb the oil fields or refineries to help deprive ISIS of its $1 million-per-day revenue.

“Um, I haven’t heard any objections,” Kerry responded before Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said he’d run out of time and could submit a more detailed answer to the committee in writing.

Kerry did hint, though, at the Assad-ISIS alliance: “We have evidence that Assad has played footsie with them.”

Horrific ISIS Beheading Plot Disrupted in Australia [The PJ Tatler]

An Islamic State supporter in Australia had grisly plans.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the plan involved kidnapping randomly selected members of the public off the streets in Sydney and Brisbane, beheading them on camera, and releasing the recordings through Islamic State’s propaganda arm in the Middle East.

Later Thursday, Attorney General George Brandis confirmed that a person born in Afghanistan who had spent time in Australia and is now working with the Islamic State group in the Middle East ordered supporters in Australia to behead people and videotape the killings.

“If the … police had not acted today, there is a likelihood that this would have happened,” Brandis told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The plan was disrupted.

But, why Australia? They’re not leading the coalition of the unwilling to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

One possible reason that Australia was chosen — handguns are banned there. ISIS operatives there would know that they would be extremely unlikely to face an armed opponent, instead of a hapless victim.

The raid has smoked out another potential problem for Australia.

Uthman Badar, a spokesman for the Islamist group Hizt ut-Tahrir, warned of a growing unrest within Australia’s Muslim community.

“We are tired of being made scapegoats. The government is the terrorist,” he said in front of supporters wearing anti-government placards, according to News.com.au.

“We would be fools to think we can now wake up and feel safer,” he added. “We are not fools to be deceived. There is anger in the community. We have been victimized for years and years.”

Here’s Uthman Badar’s Twitter feed. He apparently engineered the “snap protest” that has run interference for ISIS.

Badar justifies “honor killings,” despite the chant above about keeping women safe.

His group is already banned in many countries for its radicalism. It’s time for Australia to follow suit.

So Far, President Obama’s ISIS Strategy Is Hauntingly Familiar [The PJ Tatler]

MarketWatch reports today that President Barack Obama will exert tight personal control over U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria.

The U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for strikes in Syrian territory, officials said.

The requirements for strikes in Syria against the extremist group Islamic State will be far more stringent than those targeting it in Iraq, at least at first. U.S. officials say it’s an attempt to limit the threat the U.S. could be dragged more deeply into the Syrian civil war.

So far, Obama has handled the ISIS threat as primarily a political, not a national security, matter. He only spoke to the American people to reveal his strategy to deal with the group once the beheadings of two Americans enraged the public. Obama himself merely offered a brief statement after the beheading of James Foley, and then went straight out to play golf.

Thus far, Obama is publicly limiting the U.S. military role against ISIS to air power and “advisers” on the ground. Those “advisers” will assist the Kurdish peshmerga, the Iraqi military, and even Syrian rebels. Those American “advisers” are said to have no combat role. But the number of those advisers has already grown, from a few dozen early on to nearly 3,000.

Yet the war against the Islamic State shows no sign of progress. Overnight, ISIS captured 16 villages in Syria.

Ever since the 1970s, every time U.S. forces have engaged in any overseas conflict on the ground, Democrats and the media have warned that America could be entering “another Vietnam.” When President George H. W. Bush ordered U.S. troops into Panama to capture dictator Manuel Noriega, some Democrats warned of “another Vietnam.” At the beginning of the 1990-91 Gulf War and at the outset of the 2003 Iraq war, many Democrats warned that America was blundering into “another Vietnam.”

But none of those wars ended up resembling Vietnam. Panama and the first Gulf War featured overwhelming U.S. force that won those wars quickly, with very few U.S. casualties. The 2003 Iraq war versus Saddam Hussein’s military was actually over quickly too, but Islamist insurgencies (some of which were backed by Iran) dragged out the military action and the country’s recovery. By 2009, Iraq was relatively stable and quiescent. More than 3,000 American troops died in the second Iraq war, but that number is dwarfed by the 59,000 killed in Vietnam.

Obama inherited that stable Iraq, and withdrew U.S. forces too quickly. The Islamic State has arisen out of the Syrian civil war and the vacuum of power that Obama left in Iraq.

Now Obama is slow rolling America’s entry into the war versus the Islamic State. His strategy of limiting U.S. forces’ role to “advisers” mirrors how U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Lyndon Baines Johnson slowly increased America’s military role in Vietnam, especially following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Within two years of that defeat, a small number of American military “advisers” were on the ground in Vietnam training the South Vietnam military. In 1962, there were 12,000 American troops in Vietnam, officially in non-combat roles. Two years later, there were 15,000 American troops in Vietnam.

In 1965 Johnson authorized Operation Rolling Thunder, a massive bombing campaign against the north. That same year, Johnson’s advisers determined that bombing alone would not be enough to win the war. Operation Rolling Thunder, though, was never intended to achieve victory. Its aim was to disrupt supply lines from the north into the south, by North Vietnam to the Vietcong guerillas. Operation Rolling Thunder slow rolled across two years, to including bombing more strategic targets in North Vietnam.

Operation Rolling Thunder was closely controlled by the White House and at times targets were personally selected by President Johnson. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.

President Johnson escalated the U.S. role in Vietnam once it became clear that the advisory role plus U.S. air power would never defeat Ho Chi Minh’s communist forces. By the end of 1965, Johnson had sent 184,000 troops into Vietnam, and the “advisory” role was changed to combat.

The slow-rolled war dragged on until U.S. withdrawal in 1973, and the final defeat of South Vietnam in 1975. The victorious communists hunted down, imprisoned, tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands in South Vietnam, sparking a refugee exodus in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

During the Vietnam air war, President Johnson even personally selected bombing targets. President Obama, according to the MarketWatch report, is set to repeat that in selecting targets in Syria.


There are many obvious differences between Vietnam and the fight against the Islamic State, with Islam being the most obvious. The differences in the terrain — jungles in Asia, desert in the Middle East — is another.

But the similarities even at this stage of the ISIS fight are haunting, as we’ll explore on the next page.

Clinton/Obama State Department Found a Way to Avoid Safety Standards in Benghazi [The PJ Tatler]

During Wednesday’s House Select Committee on Benghazi testimony, one witness dropped a major revelation.

The bombshell came during discussion of just what the facility in Benghazi, Libya actually was. Was it a consulate? Was it something else? Its actual status has never been clear.

Former Homeland Security official Todd Keil told the panel that the the State Department classified it as a “Special Mission Compound.”

Under questioning from Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Keil revealed something startling about “Special Mission Compounds.”

Namely, that according to the State Department and government security nomenclature, there is no such thing as a “Special Mission Compound.”

Rep. Roskam asked Keil, “What’s a Special Mission Compound?”

Keep in mind, Mr. Keil has a career spanning 27 years in global security, and 22 years serving in various positions in State Department diplomatic security.

Keil replied to Rep. Roskam, “I don’t know. To be honest, from our review, Under Secretary Kennedy, in authorizing that, made up that term in order to avoid the OSPB security standards.”

Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy is a career State Department official. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security answers to him. The OSPB is the Overseas Security Policy Board. It is charged with helping the State Department comply with a 1986 law.

Kennedy was among the high-level State Department officials who signed off on creating the facility in Benghazi, and who repeatedly denied requests for more security there. In 2013, Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom testified before the House that the Benghazi facility never met the department’s security standards. Keil’s revelation explains that: Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy made up a new term to avoid having to meet security standards. The question is, why?

Kennedy answered directly to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also supervised the selection of the staff for the Accountability Review Board, which Clinton convened in the aftermath of the September 11, 2012 attack. The ARB never interviewed Clinton, and kept its focus below Kennedy’s level.

Another State Department official, former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, has alleged that prior to the ARB’s investigation, Hillary Clinton loyalist Cheryl Mills led a basement team in scrubbing documents to remove anything that could implicate or embarrass Clinton and other high-level officials.

Four Americans, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, died in the terrorist attack on the facility in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

Disturbing: ISIS Releases First in Video ‘Series’ with Captured British Journalist [The PJ Tatler]

Click here to view the embedded video.

ISIS released this morning what it said would be the first in a video “series” featuring another British hostage — not being executed, but delivering a case against the “Western media” portrayal of the Islamic State and the U.S.-British refusal to pay ransom.

Titled Lend Me Your Ears, the first video reveals veteran photojournalist John Cantlie, who has worked for the The Sunday Times, The Sun the Telegraph and more. He was first captured in Syria in July 2012, was shot trying to escape (“every Englishman’s duty,” he later wrote), and was rescued within a week by the Free Syrian Army.

Cantlie extensively talked about his experience after that, detailing between 10 to 15 British captors among the al-Qaeda-linked cell and threats that he would be beheaded, including “mock executions” where captors would torture prisoners and sharpen their knives.

In today’s video, Cantlie sits at a desk in an orange jumpsuit, and says he was abducted in November 2012.

Previous videos of ISIS have include hostages delivering statements criticizing their countries before they were beheaded, but have given indications that the statements were coerced. For example, Miami journalist Steve Sotloff spoke of “what little I know about foreign policy” in his video — but he wrote for Foreign Policy magazine, among others, and deeply covered the Arab Spring countries.

ISIS appears to have heard the skepticism and makes Cantlie address it directly.

Cantlie notes in the video that “many things have changed” since his kidnapping, including the “expansion of the Islamic State… a land mass bigger than Britain and many other nations.”

“Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, he’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner. He’s got a gun at his head, and he’s being forced to do this, right?” Cantlie says, making a gun-firing gesture toward his head with his fingers.

“Well, it’s true. I am a prisoner. That I cannot deny. But seeing as how I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State I have nothing to lose. Maybe I will live, and maybe I will die.”

He says that “over the next few programs” he will lay out facts that can “save lives.”

He then makes a pitch against “another conflict” in Iraq and says he’ll show how the news organizations he used to work for “twist and manipulate the truth.”

Cantlie also said he’d detail what really happened when “many European prisoners” were released by ISIS “and how they British and American governments thought they could do it differently than every other European country” — a clear reference to the hefty ransoms paid by other nations. “They negotiated with the Islamic State and got their people home, while the British and the Americans were left behind.”

“It’s very alarming to see where this is all headed,” Cantlie adds, “and it looks like history repeating itself yet again.”

“There is time to change this seemingly inevitable sequence of events, but only if you, the public, act now.”

‘Local Choice’ — Let’s Roll Back Some Crony Socialism, Shall We? [The PJ Tatler]

Cronyism.  Or Crony Capitalism.  It’s actually Crony Socialism – because it actually has nothing to do with capitalism.

Crony Socialism is not an unfettered free market where the best ideas and companies win.  It’s the government warping and distorting the market: favoring with absurdly tilted policies some ideas and companies – and thus inherently dis-favoring everyone else in said sector.

How much you pay to watch TV has been a Crony Socialist nightmare mess since basically the creation of cable TV.  Thanks to government meddlesomely messing with the market.

The Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 (also known as the 1992 Cable Act) is a United States federal law which required cable systems to carry most local broadcast channels and prohibited cable operators from charging local broadcasters to carry their signal.

Get that?  Cable companies are required by law to deliver all local broadcast stations in every channel package.  Cable companies must then sit down with broadcasters and pretend to negotiate a “free market” deal for how much they pay for those stations.

If you and I sat down to negotiate a price for my widgets – after the government has mandated that you purchase my widgets – don’t you think I’m going to inflate the price of my widgets?

And broadcasters are thanks to government a monopoly – in the sense that they alone carry the product cable companies are mandated by government to purchase. And thus their prices are perpetually on the rise.

Of course the more cable companies pay for these local stations – the more we pay for them.

And cable companies—and thus you—are required by government to pay rigged prices for a product that you used to get for free with a rooftop antenna or a pair of rabbit ears.

Government mandates rarely go well.  Government is now mandating that everyone buy health insurance – how’s that going?

ObamaCare will increase average individual-market insurance premiums by 99% for men, 62% for women; ObamaCare will raise premiums for 65% of small firms; ObamaCare taxes add billion to rising premiums.

And broadcasters know: when your cable bill goes up, you don’t get mad at the broadcasters for overcharging for their channels – you get mad at your cable company for having to pass those costs on to you.

As sweet as this broadcasters’ deal is – it ain’t anywhere near all.

The Broadcasters are actually the beneficiaries of decades of government good grace well beyond the uber-tilted Cable Act.

They received free from government charge their spectrum – the airwaves they use to broadcast.  Surely something the cellular phone companies have eyed as theyve paid the government tens of billions of dollars for their spectrum.

And now we have the looming spectrum incentive auction.  Where Broadcasters get to sell their spectrum that they, again, received for free to the cell phone companies (via the government middle man).

Im sure a company like Verizon -  a cell phone company who with Fios is also a television Provider is thrilled to pay Broadcasters for spectrum the latter received for free, while also having the government tilt the Retransmission rules against them, in the Broadcasters favor.

The Broadcasters have a pretty sweet omni-directional Crony Socialist deal going.  Little wonder they are fighting so hard against any changes to it.

If we can get an injection of Free Market (Food and Drug Administration [FDA] approval-pending) anywhere into this Crony Socialist organism – we should absolutely take it.  The “Local Choice” bill now before the Senate would do just that.

Taking a novel approach to broadcast retransmission consent, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) joined forces with ranking committee member John Thune (R-SD) in unveiling a proposal that would allow subscribers to multichannel video program distribution (MVPD) services to select the local broadcast channels they want while permitting MVPDs to bill subscribers directly for licensing fees connected with the broadcast channels of their choice.

Any roll back of any Crony Socialism is a turn in the right direction.

Remember When Slate Cared About Jewish Stereotypes? [The PJ Tatler]

Once upon a time, Slate got very upset by any hint of a Jewish stereotype.  But that was before Vice President Joe “Archie Bunker” Biden’s latest doozy complaining “unscrupulous bankers” were a bunch of “Shylocks.”

There is not a mention (so far) of Biden’s latest gaffe to be found at Slate today.

That wasn’t the case when George Lucas introduced us to the slave trader Watto in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.


In a piece headlined “The Merchant of Menace,” Slate was quick to attack Watto:

There, they attempt to repair their broken spaceship but are stymied by the hook-nosed owner of the local parts shop–Watto–who also happens to have a thick Yiddish accent! (To hear an example, click “Great.”) Psychological manipulations that work on almost everyone fail with Watto–”Mind ticks don’ta work on me … only money! No,” he cries–and the heroes get what they want only through the bravery of a gifted slave boy (Anakin Skywalker). At the end of the desert planet sequence, Anakin is emancipated but separated from his mother, who still belongs to Watto. Even in a galaxy far away, the Jews are apparently behind the slave trade.

By now the hypocrisy of the legacy and left-wing (but I repeat myself) media is no surprise.  When a Democrat vice president brazenly uses “Shylocks” as a slur to condemn bankers, and thereby conjures the most sinister anti-Semitic narrative of the last 500 years, Biden gets a pass.  Perhaps if he had added that the “Shylocks” also ”control the media” or have horns, there might have been some attention paid at the once vigilant Slate. Perhaps not.

The same sort of hypocrisy is on display at Talking Points Memo.  TPM features an attack on a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate for website plagiarism.  Just a month ago, TPM was busy defending Fareed Zakaria.  Thanks, guys, you make posts like this one so easy to write.



More Outrage at Kent State About a Sweatshirt Than a Terrorist Sympathizing Professor [The PJ Tatler]

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A few weeks ago I wrote about Julio Pino, a tenured Kent State professor who openly supports Hamas on his Facebook page and calls for the destruction of Israel.  The convert to Islam also wrote, “MESSAGE MY WAY FROM ZION: While we were educating the world your parents and their ancestors were giving BLOW JOBS to apes!! THAT’S A FACT jack!!” and vowed that he would not work with his fellow professors who support Israel saying, “Collaborate with no one who collaborates with Israel, and let her or him know why. I have started with the head of our ‘Religious Studies’ program, who sends student-dupes to Israel every year.”

Kent State did not respond to my request for a comment about the Facebook posts and Adam Hirsh, Assistant Director of Hillel at Kent State declined to comment on the posts, instead referring me to a statement the group made earlier in the month about Dr. Pino’s “repeated hate rhetoric.”

Basically, the incendiary Facebook posts were met with a yawn. Just more bigoted rantings from Kent State’s resident anti-Semitic scholar.

But, oh, the outrage at Kent State this week when Urban Outfitters tried to sell a vintage Kent State sweatshirt that appeared to be blood-spattered! Many students were upset, saying it reminded them of the May 4, 1970 shootings of four students by members of the National Guard. In fact, the Plain Dealer reported that Kent State students were “collectively disgusted” by the shirt.

“I was just appalled,” said Marvin Logan, president of Undergraduate Student Government. “As a member who represents the entire student population, I felt for our community. May 4 is a sensitive topic. It’s a part of our legacy and should not be taken lightly.”

“How could somebody be so insensitive?” asked Jerry Lewis, a professor emeritus of sociology at Kent State who witnessed the Kent State shootings. “Even if you don’t know the parents like I do or you don’t know the wounded students, 13 people were shot protesting, legally protesting. (That) should be enough to make you outraged by the sweatshirt.”

Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat who represents Kent, even felt the need to weigh in on the controversial sweatshirts. ”It is deplorable for Urban Outfitters to exploit the pain and suffering of this national tragedy for their gain,” Ryan said in a press release. “May 4th was a seminal and transformational moment in American history and we should never lose sight of its immense impact. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,” said Ryan (or was it Santayana?)

Likewise, the university was outraged at the insensitivity of Urban Outfitters. ”We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” the university said in a statement Monday. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”

Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield said he has been contacted by media from around the world about the shirts. Urban Outfitters also called to let him know the company was posting an apology on Twitter. “Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused,” the company posted on Twitter. “It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such.”

Mindy Farmer, who was leading freshman students through the May 4 Visitor Center as part of their First Year Experience class this week said, ”There was nothing but outrage,” about the sweatshirts. “May 4 was a sad event and we are seeing nothing but support (for the university). They have a sense of history and for that we are grateful.”

Farmer told the Plain Dealer that the Urban Outfitter sweatshirt incident is a teachable moment for students.

“We are the right place to combat ignorance,” she said.

Allegedly ‘Organic’ Occupy Uprising Had Founders, And They’re Suing Each Other [The PJ Tatler]

Happy Anniversary!

Activists who organized the dormant Occupy Wall Street movement are suing another activist for control of the main Twitter account, and one of the plaintiffs says there was no other option but to turn to litigation to solve the dispute.

The conflict centers around @OccupyWallStNYC, one of the main Twitter feeds that distributed information during the movement’s heyday in 2011. The OWS Media Group filed a lawsuit against organizer Justin Wedes on Wednesday, which is also the third anniversary of the beginning of Occupy Wall Street. The group, led by activist Marisa Holmes, is seeking control of the Twitter account as well as $500,000 in damages.

Back in the days when Occupy Wall St. was stinking up public spaces from coast to coast, we were treated to narrative onslaught about the organic nature of the movement. It was supposed to have sprung from nothing more than the frustration of some college youth, all of whom seem to have been homeless rather than in school. It was often contrasted with the Tea Party movement, which the MSM and Occupy people were forever saying was astroturfed by, you guessed it, THE KOCH BROTHERS.

As with most things having to do with progressives, reality was the opposite of what they were saying. I had the chance (lucky me!) to travel around the country and encounter more than one Occupy group. Some had a heavy union presence in charge, others were run by professional organizers/agitators. I met one in Madison, WI (I’d infiltrated the camp with the Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft. We didn’t lie but we weren’t terribly open about who we were.) who rolled her eyes and laughed when I asked if she ever spent the night at the camp.

It faded out as quickly as it came into being, because it was fake. But think back and remember that almost everyone in the media, as well as the highest ranking Democrat in the House, and the President lied to us about the group.

Crazy Joe The Wonder Veep Apologizes For Anti-Semitic Remark [The PJ Tatler]

One heartbeat away.

Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday his use of the term “Shylocks,” which some consider anti-Semitic, was “a poor choice of words.”

His statement came a day after the national director of the Anti-Defamation League issued a mild rebuke of the vice president’s use of the word, saying Biden “should have been more careful.”

At a Tuesday conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, Biden recalled anecdotes from his son’s experience serving in Iraq and meeting members of the military who were in need of legal help because of problems back at home.

“That’s one of the things that he finds was most in need when he was over there in Iraq for a year,” Biden said. “That people would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being … I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of, um, these women and men while overseas.”

I’m just playing by their rules here. If a Republican had said the exact same thing MSNBC would have it on a 24/7 loop and the Hitler comparisons would be on. Biden’s history, especially since becoming Vice President, is one huge body of evidence that he doesn’t think before, during or after speaking. Sure, he’ll get around to an, “Oops, shucks…” insincere apology like this when his handlers have point out his latest gaffe, but he is held to absolutely no standard whatsoever by the media or the Democrats. Conservatives and Republicans barely hold him to one. Most I talk to dismiss him or say they find him “amusing”.

Nothing funny about a guy who never thinks being that close to the nukes if you ask me.

House Passes Amendment to Train, Equip Syrian Rebels [The PJ Tatler]

The House today passed an amendment to train and equip Syrian rebels, with more Democrats than Republicans opposing President Obama’s request.

The House vote was 273-156 after more than six hours of debate that revealed no party-line divides. Eighty-five Democrats were opposed along with 71 Republicans. (See the yeas and nays here.)

“The amendment to the continuing resolution, according to a summary by the office of sponsor and House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), allows the Defense Department ‘to train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups or individuals.’ Additionally, this amendment would strengthen Congressional oversight by requiring detailed reports, including progress reports on the plan, vetting  process, and procedures for monitoring unauthorized end-use of provided training and equipment. It would also require the President to report on how this authority fits within a larger regional strategy.”

McKeon lauded the bipartisan vote after the amendment’s passage.

“This authority would allow those forces to fight ISIL terrorists. The president requested this authority and — after we shaped it to include robust oversight mechanisms — the House gave it to him. I hope the Senate quickly follows suit,” McKeon said.

“While we voted to approve the authority in large numbers, none of us believe that this program alone can achieve the president’s objective to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISI,” he added. “A more robust strategy will be required from the president to do that. I hope that, with the support of Congress and the American people, he adopts one.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), past chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voted for the amendment while stressing it still doesn’t present a comprehensive strategy against ISIS.

“I am afraid that this misguided approach will preempt many to acquiesce and take a deal that would undermine our national security and leaves Iran with enrichment capabilities,” Ros-Lehtinen said. 

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who’s locked in a tight race to unset Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), voted for the amendment as “ISIL is an imminent threat to the safety of our nation and our interests.”

“They have kidnapped and murdered Americans, threatened attacks on American soil, and are actively pursuing recruits in the United States,” Gardner said. “We must not sit back and watch while this terrorist organization continues to threaten our citizens, our government, and our way of life. Today’s action by the House of Representatives sends a clear message that we will not stand idly by while terrorists attempt to intimidate us.”

Some of the GOP “no” votes came from Tea Party conservatives such as Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).

“The only choice I was given was to approve (or disapprove) a plan that would arm groups we know very little about,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “…The Administration has been completely incapable of defining what ‘victory’ looks like. I think ‘when will we know it will be over?’ is a reasonable question to ask. The answers have been frighteningly ambiguous to, worse, completely unreasonable.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), another “no” vote, said Obama’s “failure to convince the American people, coupled with turning a blind eye to this ongoing conflict, has once again left the United States without any good options.”

“President Obama has the right conclusion – defeating the Islamic State – but a flawed strategy filled with half-measures to reach it,” she continued. “The Islamic State declared war against the United States, and President Obama has asked the U.S. Congress to follow him in a Vietnam-style slow walked response. I will not.”

“Either the United States chooses to decisively defeat this brutal evil with all available resources, or we will have to answer the next generation’s questions regarding why we failed to defeat the totalitarian evil of our day.”

Kerry to Code Pink: ‘No Negotiation with ISIL… They’re Not Offering Anyone Healthcare’ [The PJ Tatler]

Upon returning from Vietnam, Secretary of State John Kerry testified before Congress about the war and chucked his medal at the U.S. Capitol the next day.

Today, Kerry told antiwar protesters they should be against ISIS in part because of the lack of social services they offer to women.

Kerry began his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backdropped by Code Pink protesters seated in the gallery rows. They held signs including “There is no military solution” and “No beheading. No bombing.”

“You know, as I came in here, obviously, we had some folks who spoke out and I would start by saying that I understand dissent. I’ve lived it. That’s how I first testified in front of this country in 1971. And I spent two years protesting a policy,” Kerry said. “So I respect the right of Code Pink to protest and to use that right. But you know what, I also know something about Code Pink.”

“Code Pink was started by a woman and women who were opposed to war, but who also thought that the government’s job was to take care of people and to give them health care and education and good jobs,” he continued.

“And if that’s what you believe in — and I believe it is — then you ought to care about fighting ISIL because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women. And they believe women shouldn’t have an education.”

Kerry noted that the Islamic State sells off girls “to be sex slaves to jihadists.”

“There’s no negotiation with ISIL, there’s nothing to negotiate. And they’re not offering anyone healthcare of any kind. You know, they’re not offering education of any kind,” he said. “For a whole philosophy or idea or a cult, whatever you want to call it, that frankly comes out of the Stone Age, they’re cold-blooded killers, marauding across the Middle East, making a mockery of a peaceful religion.”

“And that’s precisely why we are building a coalition to stop them from denying the women and the girls and the people of Iraq the very future that they yearned for. And frankly, Code Pink and a lot of other people need to stop and think about how you stop them and deal with that.”

At this point a protester began chanting, “The war invasion will not protect the homeland!” She was led from the room by security.

“There’s no invasion. The invasion was ISIL into Iraq,” Kerry retorted. “The invasion is foreign fighters into Syria. That’s the invasion. And it is destructive to every possibility of building a state in that region. So even in a region that is virtually defined by division and every member of this committee understands the degree to which these divisions are deep in that region.”

John Barleycorn is Fretting Over Scottish Independence [The PJ Tatler]

It’s known colloquially as “Who Hit John,” “The ‘Crature’,” and “John Barleycorn.” It’s name is derived from the Gaelic for “Water of Life” — for which those of us who imbibe the elixir from time to time (or more often) heartily agree.

Whatever you want to call it, Scotch Whiskey is Scotland’s proudest achievement. In a nation of 5 million people, $6.5 billion in Scotch is exported annually. That accounts for fully 20% of all exports in the country. It’s the third biggest industry in Scotland behind financial services and oil.

But the industry operates in a global marketplace where more mundane concerns than achingly smooth taste and a complex bouquet are of paramount importance. Cheap credit, trade barriers, and a reliance on the UK to help promote their product have most distilleries in Scotland worried about the vote on independence.

NBC News:

Members of Scotland’s best-known industry are watching the vote for independence with serious trepidation.

Lack of certainty about Scotland’s currency, interest rate levels and membership in the European Union—which eliminates trade barriers in its largest market—all compete for the top of the list of worries.

Mike Younger, one of the few Scotch executives who will speak to the media, is finance director for Macleod Distillers, makers of Glengoyne Single Malt. He is solidly in the “no” camp. “I’m nervous,” he said, “because the results could be quite difficult for business.”

Scotch whisky is the third-largest contributor to Scotland’s GDP after the oil industry and financial services. And it acts as perhaps the No. 1 ambassador for Scottish culture. Nine out of 10 bottles are sent overseas.

Scotch can only be made in Scotland, just as Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France. In Scotland, it’s officially called Scotch Whisky (no “e” at the end!).


And precisely because it is an export, Scotch is particularly vulnerable to the unknowns that will come about if the Scots vote yes for independence.

David Williamson is the spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association. Officially, the group is not taking a side, but Williamson said that “At the moment, the consensus within the Scotch industry is that the potential risks outweigh the advantages.”

Back on the factory floor of Macleod, Younger said he’s worried because he thinks credit will become less available, and more expensive, in what will be a much smaller country, “simply because the full scale of the Scottish banking system at that point will be much smaller and less well defined and less capable than the much richer system that we have across the UK in its entirety.”

The potential rise of trade barriers is another concern. Currently, Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, is part of the European Union, and faces no trade barriers in member states. The leaders of the “Yes” campaign have promised that Scotland would remain in the European Union, but just today, Spain said it would block Scotland’s membership.

The US imbibes more than twice as much Scotch as any other nation — $1.32 billion to France’s $600 million. If the distilleries are worried, so should be Scotch drinkers. There’s not much danger of an interruption in supply, as much as there may be significant price increases and availability issues for some of the more popular brands.

The Drinks Business:

In its latest report, “Going Scot-free”, the bank notes that while many have argued independence has the “potential” to boost sales of Scotch, it believes the “overall short-term impact on the industry will be negative.”

The bank highlighted five key areas which will be impacted, one of which would be the industry’s ability to access EU export markets, which currently account for 37% of Scotch sales, as a result of its temporary loss of EU membership and free trade agreement with member states.

While Scotland would be expected to re-apply for EU membership, the country would likely to shut out until at least 2018, leaving the Scotch sector at risk of seeing higher import tariffs in its core markets for at least two years, competition from other spirits categories and its competitiveness in key EU markets.

“The Scottish government would also have a mountainous task in procuring new trade agreements with non EU export markets following independence,” warned the bank.

It has been suggested that Scotland could instead join the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), giving it full access to the EU market without required membership to the EU, however foregoing any influence on it which could prove uncomfortable for a newly independent country.

The loss of the British pound would also raise uncertainly with a change in currency likely to lead to an “increase in foreign exchange risk for Scotch exports”, according to the bank.

Should independence be established, the Rabobank warned it was likely interest rates would rise which could create a “serious challenge” within an industry built on inventories stored up for decades with smaller companies likely to be hit hardest.

The pro-independence leaders have dismissed the concerns of the distilleries, saying that Scotch has been around for at least 800 years and it’s not going anywhere. That may be true. But it looks like Scotch makers are in for a rough ride if the “yes” vote wins tomorrow.


Pelosi Refuses to Say that We’re at War with ISIS, Has No Trouble Declaring that There Is a ‘War on Women’ [The PJ Tatler]

Great stuff from the folks at CNS News. House Democrat leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi turned up on MSNBC today. Ronan Farrow asked her a simple question: Are we at war with ISIS?

The Obama adminstration has had trouble answering that one, but they have finally come around to admitting that yes, we are at war with ISIS.

Pelosi twists herself around words to stay away from calling it a “war.”

But other “wars” that the Democrats just made up…Pelosi has no trouble declaring that they’re real.

Shareholders approve Safaricom acquisition of YuMobile [PCWorld]

Safaricom, East Africa’s largest telecom operator, has been cleared by shareholders to acquire Indian-owned YuMobile, paving way for the company to consolidate its dominance of the Kenyan telecom market.

Safaricom is now expected to seek regulatory approval from the Communications Authority of Kenya, the country’s telecom sector regulator, as well as the Competition Commission of Kenya.

YuMobile is being sold to Safaricom and Airtel Kenya for $120 million, after stiff competition stymied the company’s efforts to turn a profit. Safaricom will take over YuMobile’s infrastructure, including transmission towers and frequency spectrum, and retain 150 YuMobile staff. Airtel will acquire 25 workers as well as YuMobile’s 2.5 million subscribers. The Indian company held 10 percent market share of the Kenyan mobile market.

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

Shadowrun's Dragonfall expansion tweaked, released as stand-alone Director's Cut [PCWorld]

Remember earlier this year when I said, "Dragonfall is the campaign [Shadowrun Returns] should've shipped with from the start." Okay, maybe you don't remember, but I swear I said it.

Well, a lot of people must've felt the same way because Thursday, Harebrained Schemes released Shadowrun: Dragonfall as a standalone product, so those who just want to play the expansion can do so.

Dragonfall threw away the original Shadowrun Returns campaign and started you off fresh in Berlin anyway, so you're not missing anything. You've got a new crew of "runners," which are Shadowrun's mercenaries for hire, and you're ready to delve into some corporate espionage... before you're tasked with, of course, saving the entire world.

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Drag queens force Facebook to reevaluate real names [PCWorld]

Facebook has always been based on identity. Unlike other social networks, which let you pick pseudonyms and have varying degrees of anonymity, Facebook holds you accountable to reality. You are your name. It’s how people find you. But now the network’s commitment to real names is being tested—and not just by popular anonymous apps.

Facebook recently began cracking down on well-known San Francisco drag queens who use their performer names on the network instead of their birth names, going so far as to delete profiles, which has caused widespread outrage in the city’s LBGTQ community. Facebook reps met with some of the affected drag queens and city Supervisor David Campos Wednesday night, but it doesn’t look like the network will be changing its policy any time soon.

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Android developers must now list physical address in Play Store [PCWorld]

Android developers are being told to list a street address in Google Play if they plan on selling apps or in-app purchases.

The new rule can be found in one's Google Play Developer Console (pictured). Developers are instructed to add a physical address to their contact information, which will be posted on the app's detail page on Google Play. It only applies to app developers who require payment or offer in-app upgrades, those who produce entirely free apps are exempt.

The announcement included a dire warning that those who do not add an address by September 30 may have their apps removed from the Play Store.

play developer console Google Play

Android developers got the message about adding a physical address to their profile in the Google Play Developer Console.

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China says US hacking accusations are 'totally groundless' [PCWorld]

The Chinese government says accusations that it was involved in cyberattacks against U.S. transportation contractors are “totally groundless and untenable.”

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said Wednesday that the Chinese military stole emails, documents and log-in credentials from contractors for the U.S. Transportation Command, a network that ties civilian airline and shipping contractors together for use in times of disaster.

Contractors faced more than 50 intrusions in the year from June 2012, almost half of which were successful in planting malware in computer systems, the committee said in a declassified report.

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Microsoft plots Dynamics CRM update with an eye on marketing, global expansion [PCWorld]

Microsoft is poised to release a major update to its Dynamics CRM and marketing applications in a bid to gain market share against rivals such as Salesforce.com.

Dynamics CRM 2015, an update to Dynamics CRM Online and a new version of Dynamics Marketing will all be generally available in the fourth quarter, Microsoft said this week.

The fact that a CRM update is coming isn’t hugely unexpected news in itself. Microsoft releases new versions a number of times each year for the products, which share the same code base. What’s more significant are moves Microsoft is making to tie its marketing application more closely to CRM, in terms of both functionality and release cycles.

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Amazon Fire OS 4 adds ASAP loading, user profiles, family media sharing, and more [PCWorld]

Amazon is tacking several more features onto its Fire OS software, both for its new Kindle Fire tablets and previous-generation Kindle Fire HDX tablets.

Not much is changing on the surface level, which has the same carousel of recent content on top and arrangeable grid of apps on the bottom. Fire OS 4 “Sangria” is more of a basic feature update aimed at making the devices a little more functional.

With the update, users can have separate profiles on the same device, beyond just the child-specific accounts that Amazon has previously offered. By switching profiles, users can have their own e-mail, social media and gaming accounts, along with their own media libraries.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 launch set for October 17, preorders open this Friday [PCWorld]

If you're not buying that other large-screened phone, then the Galaxy Note 4 should be at the top of your phablet-loving list. Samsung just announced that preorders for the Note 4 begin Friday, with the phone scheduled to ship in the middle of October.

Shipping dates and in-store availability differ by carrier. AT&T says the phone will ship Oct. 14, with the full unsubsidized price of the Note 4 ringing in at a whopping $825.99. Verizon does not offer a shipping date but touts its compatibility with Big Red's XLTE network, which the company says brings faster data speeds. 

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Right-to-be-forgotten 'dashboard' to help EU's data protection authorities [PCWorld]

An electronic case-handling dashboard and a network of specialists will be created to help EU data protection authorities deal with complaints filed by people whose requests to delete search results based on a recent “right-to-be-forgotten” ruling is denied.

The authorities decided to create such a dashboard during a plenary meeting of the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), which is composed of representatives from EU’s national data protection authorities. At the meeting, the authorities discussed the impact of a May ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that gave people the right to compel search engines to remove search results in Europe for queries that include their names if the results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.”

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Red Hat acquires FeedHenry to get mobile app chops [PCWorld]

Red Hat wants a piece of the enterprise mobile app market, so it has acquired Irish company FeedHenry for approximately €63.5 million (US$82 million).

The growing popularity of mobile devices has put pressure on enterprise IT departments to make existing apps available from smartphones and tablets—a trend that Red Hat is getting in on with the FeedHenry acquisition.

The mobile app segment is one of the fastest growing in the enterprise software market, and organizations are looking for better tools to build mobile applications that extend and enhance traditional enterprise applications, according to Red Hat.

“Mobile computing for the enterprise is different than Angry Birds. Enterprise mobile applications need a backend platform that enables the mobile user to access data, build backend logic, and access corporate APIs, all in a scalable, secure manner,” Craig Muzilla, senior vice president for Red Hat’s Application Platform Business, said in a blog post.

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Report: Microsoft testing Office update with feature-finding 'Tell Me' tool, black theme, and more [PCWorld]

When Microsoft launched Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium subscriptions in January 2013, the new model was widely expected to mean faster feature rollouts and improvements to the Office suite. But other than personal subscriptions, Microsoft has yet to deliver any significant updates since then. Office Metro apps aren't even out yet, nearly two years later.

The dearth of updates may soon end, however, as The Verge says a new update to Office—dubbed 'Office 16'—is in the works. The new Office update is currently being tested internally and also being shared with some Microsoft partners.

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Apple updates privacy policy: 'We sell great products,' not your data, says Tim Cook [PCWorld]

Need another reason to upgrade to iOS 8? Apple can’t see any of your personal information if you have a passcode enabled on devices running the new OS. And if Apple can’t see it, the government can’t, either.

Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the company’s new privacy measures in a Wednesday night letter that not-so-subtly slammed other tech companies like Facebook and Google.

“Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products,” Cook said. “We don’t build a profile based on your e-mail content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t ‘monetize’ the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your e-mail or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.”

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BitTorrent Bleep's serverless, peer-to-peer messaging enters public alpha [PCWorld]

Amazon, Apple updates let families share apps and media across devices [PCWorld]

As long as everyone can agree on an operating system, Apple and Amazon are making it possible for families to share their apps and media across devices, making it just as easy to share a digital book as it is to share a physical one.

Apple announced this feature, called “Family Sharing,” in June, and it's available now as part of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. It allows families with multiple Macs and iOS devices to access the same apps, movies, TV shows, music, and books, even if they're using separate accounts. It also lets children ask permission to buy an app remotely, letting parents approve or decline the purchase from their own devices.

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How to clean your Windows Temp folder [PCWorld]

Krishna Bam asked about cleaning out his temp folder.

As the name implies, the temp folder contains files that are only needed temporally. Unfortunately, these files don't always get deleted after their job is done, resulting in wasted drive space.

To open the temp folder, click Start or go to the Windows 8 Search charm, type %temp%, and select the folder that appears.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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Orange offers 'smart app' dev tool and global M2M location service [PCWorld]

Network operator Orange wants to help businesses deliver relevant information to their customers, and keep track of things and people, with three new services that take advantage of its mobile networks.

Orange presented the three services—Universal Location, Socio-Demo Flux Vision, and Smart Apps Center—at a news conference to announce the merging of seven existing business-to-business systems integration units into a single team, Orange Applications for Business. The new entity has 2,400 staff, and plans to recruit around 200 more each year, primarily developers, ergonomists and big-data specialists, said Béatrice Felder, the unit’s director.

Part of the larger Orange Business Services group, the new entity will focus on three markets: connected objects; big data analytics; and enhancing customer experience either online, over the phone or in person using network technology, Felder said, presenting a new service in each of the three markets.

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Amazon refreshes Fire tablets, introduces Fire HD Kids Edition and Kindle Voyage e-reader [PCWorld]

Amazon.com is providing more bang-for-the-buck with four new Fire tablets, with prices starting as low as $99 for a Fire HD with a 6-inch screen.

The company also announced a 7-inch Fire tablet for $139, and a refreshed 8.9-inch Fire HDX 8.9, which is priced at $379 for a Wi-Fi version and $479 for an LTE version. A thinner, lighter Kindle Paperwhite successor—the Kindle Voyage—was also announced.

Amazon has extended its tablet offerings as it tries to offer a range of devices through which customers can buy more products and services from its online store. Amazon already sells the Fire Phone and the Fire TV streaming media player.

fire hd 7 colors

The 7-inch Fire HD tablets.

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Toshiba slashes struggling PC division to focus on business [PCWorld]

In another sign of the decline of the PC, Toshiba is cutting its PC workforce by about 900 people and sales bases by more than half.

The manufacturer said Thursday it will step up restructuring of its struggling consumer PC operations to focus on sales to business clients.

Toshiba will withdraw from certain consumer markets but it would not specify which ones. It said it will cut its sales bases around the world from 32 to 13 during its 2014 fiscal year, which ends March 31.

It would not say which consumer models will survive the downsizing. Toshiba makes laptops such as the Portege, Kira and Satellite brands, including the first laptop with a 4K display, the P50T-BST2N01.

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Bug infects Apple's iOS 8 HealthKit, delaying third-party app launches [PCWorld]

A bug in Apple’s HealthKit—a back-end feature in iOS 8—is delaying the launch of outside developers’ fitness and health apps, the company said Wednesday.

HealthKit is a new tool for developers in iOS 8 designed to let their apps talk to Apple’s native health apps. HealthKit is meant to pull in information from other apps and devices, like calories burned or heart rate, and make it more useful. For instance, it could allow a nutrition app, with the user’s permission, to tell other fitness apps how many calories the person consumes in a day, Apple says.

It can also let data like blood pressure be shared automatically with a doctor.

“It just might be the beginning of a health revolution,” as Apple calls it.

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French crime database breaches privacy rights, EU court rules [PCWorld]

Storing someone’s private information in a crime database for 20 years when charges against that person have been dropped violates privacy rights, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday.

The court ruled in a case brought by a French citizen, Francois Xavier Brunet, against the French government.

Brunet was listed in France’s recorded crimes database, known as the STIC system, after his partner had filed a complaint against him with the public prosecutor following a violent argument, the court said. His partner later dropped her complaint, and Brunet filed a request with the prosecutor to delete his information from the database.

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Get started making Android apps with these online courses [PCWorld]

Have you thought of building your own Android app? It’s not as insurmountable a challenge as you may think.

There are many online free resources to get you started with the world of code. Others will cost money, but the fees are generally less than what you would pay to enroll in a university course or program.

Better yet, most of these platforms offer an Android app to continue your work when away from the desktop.

While resources like Codecademy are built for teaching you programming languages, our selection focuses on Android-specific courses and workshops. So check out what we have compiled to start your journey to building your own apps.

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Ericsson dumps LTE modem business [PCWorld]

Full-featured, integrated chips and tough competition have forced telecom vendor Ericsson to halt all future development of its LTE modems.

The move comes just over a year after Ericsson took over the LTE modem operations of its joint venture with STMicroelectronics as that relationship broke up. Since then, modems have moved from being a separate component to becoming integrated with the main processor on smartphones and tablets, a development that signals the end of making a living by selling separate chipsets.

In addition, strong competition and an accelerating pace of development has made the modem business unsustainable, according to Ericsson. The company will still deliver the M7450 to customers. The multi-mode modem supports speeds at up to 150Mbps and more than 20 radio bands.

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5 more killer features Windows 9 should steal from Linux [PCWorld]

If the latest Windows 9 leaks are any indication, some of the operating system's coolest new features will look a lot like what Linux users already enjoy: Like the virtual desktops Linux users have had since the 90’s, and a centralized notification center like the one available in GNOME Shell.

Windows 9 also looks like it'll co-opt Ubuntu’s vision of a single operating system interface that can run on all form factors, complete with apps that run in windowed mode when it makes more sense to do so. Who would have imagined? Windowed applications are a big new feature in Windows.

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Geeks' favorite DeNA interactive streaming platform looks beyond Japan [PCWorld]

Mobile gaming giant DeNA is hoping a streaming platform that serves up plenty of female idol singers beloved by “otaku,” or obsessive geeks, can be a hit with users outside Japan.

Showroom is a live-streaming service that allows artists to perform for and chat with fans, who are represented in the form of customizable, cartoon avatars in front of a virtual stage.

Unlike streaming sites like Ustream and Livestream, the emphasis on Showroom is on interaction. After a performance, fans can watch as artists respond to on-screen messages and receive paid virtual gifts from their virtual audience. There are even VIP seats by the virtual stage.

Until recently, the service has only been available in Japanese. It now has English support for performers on computers, and the option to live-stream from smartphones will be added, according to DeNA.

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Encryption goof fixed in TorrentLocker file-locking malware [PCWorld]

The developers of a type of malicious software that encrypts a computer’s files and demands a ransom have fixed an error security experts said allowed files to be recovered without paying.

The malware, called TorrentLocker, popped up last month, targeting users in Australia, according to iSight Partners, a security consultancy. It now appears to be also geo-targeting victims in the U.K.

TorrentLocker’s developers ironically made a similar mistake as the creators of another ransomware program, CryptoDefense. Researchers found earlier this year that CryptoDefense left a decryption key on a person’s computer, although the error was soon fixed.

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US military unaware of Chinese attacks against transport contractors [PCWorld]

The U.S. Defense Department plans to tighten reporting of cyber incidents against transportation contractors after the military found it was mostly left in the dark about successful attacks from China, according to a Senate report.

The Senate Armed Service Committee released on Wednesday an unclassified version of a report commissioned last year to investigate cyberattacks against contractors for the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM).

TRANSCOM relies on an extensive network of civilian airline and shipping contractors to move supplies and people during a crisis.

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The kill switch is here: iOS 8 enables it by default [PCWorld]

With the release of its new mobile operating system on Wednesday, Apple has become the first smartphone maker to enable by default a kill switch that can lock and secure a stolen phone.

Smartphones, both Apple and Android-based, are attractive targets for thieves, and law enforcement officials hope the kill switch will change that.

The software is capable of remotely locking and disabling a phone if it’s stolen, only allowing the handset to be unlocked with a correct password. That action essentially makes a phone useless, reducing the resale price to close to zero.

California lawmakers recently passed legislation that makes a kill switch mandatory on all new phones sold in the state starting in July 2015.

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Google lets Apps users bypass admins and install third-party Marketplace tools [PCWorld]

In a move that could prove unpopular with IT administrators, Google has granted rights to end users of its Apps workplace email and collaboration suite to install third-party software from the company’s Google Apps Marketplace.

Until now, only administrators were authorized to add tools from the Marketplace to their Apps domains. Not anymore.

“If you work at an organization that uses Google Apps for Work, Google Apps for Education or Google Apps for Government, you now have greater access to apps that help you work faster, more efficiently and collaboratively,” wrote Chris Han, Google Apps Marketplace product manager, in a blog post Wednesday.

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Reports of another wave of layoffs rekindle bad press for Microsoft [PCWorld]

Microsoft’s massive staff reduction, which shocked many when it was announced in July, is back in the spotlight with a pair of reports that the ax will come down on another group of employees Thursday.

It would be the second wave of job cuts in the plan to ultimately eliminate 18,000 positions, or 14 percent of the company’s staff, by the end of its fiscal year on June 30, 2015, according to reports this week from ZDnet and GigaOM, both based on anonymous sources.

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AT&T to put service setup in enterprise customers' hands [PCWorld]

AT&T says enterprises are about to reap the benefits of the software-defined transformation of its network with faster service setup through an online portal.

On Wednesday, the carrier announced it will commercially roll out the first capabilities of its AT&T Network on Demand platform by the end of the year in Austin, Texas, where the University of Texas has been operating a pilot since June. From there, it will extend the system to more markets and features starting in 2015.

Network on Demand will give companies a portal where they can order and modify services on their own, interacting directly with AT&T’s infrastructure.

“We’re putting the keys in the customers’ hands,” said Josh Goodell, AT&T’s vice president of Network on Demand, Mobile & Business Solutions.

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Obama’s Real ISIL Strategy [Power Line]

(John Hinderaker)

I think President Obama sold himself short when he said, repeatedly, that he didn’t have a strategy to deal with ISIL. I think he has an objective, in support of which he has a clear strategy. His objective is to get past the midterm elections without paying a price for the chaos in the Middle East that his fecklessness has produced. His strategy is to “do something” in the form of a modest bombing campaign, combined with arming selected Syrian moderates (if there are any left).

Obama doesn’t expect this strategy to succeed, if by “succeed” you mean stopping the threat from ISIL. But he does think that its failure won’t be undeniable between now and November. Thus, his strategy will help stem the only threat he cares much about, the one posed by Republicans.

Michael Ramirez makes the point visually; click to enlarge:


Why the NFL should lighten up [Power Line]

(Paul Mirengoff)

In writing about the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice matter, my position has been that the commissioner should not be meting out discipline to players for personal misconduct. Non-football related misbehavior should be an issue for the player’s employer (his team) and, in appropriate cases, law enforcement.

It also seems to me that if the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hadn’t taken to issuing discipline for personal conduct, he would have avoided much of the criticism he now faces for initially not coming down hard enough on Rice. Goodell’s assumption of the power to judge carried with it the responsibility to judge wisely.

Judging wisely isn’t as easy as it sounds, and judging in a way that will seem wise across the range of modern interest groups is impossible.

I’m pleased that Sally Jenkins, an outstanding writer and an independent thinker in the knee-jerk-liberal world of sports-writing, views these matters the same way. She writes:

The scandals now engulfing the league can be traced to a single source: the superciliousness of a commissioner who thought the deepest societal ills — domestic abuse, sexual violence, drug use — could be handled with a morals clause.

I wish I had put it that way.

Jenkins continues:

It’s possible to be frustrated by Goodell’s handling of the slug-fisted Ray Rice, and the whip-handed Adrian Peterson, yet have an uneasy sense that the last thing the NFL needs is a more discipline-minded commissioner.

I would have said that the more frustrated we are by Goodell’s decisions, the less we should want a more discipline-minded commissioner.

Goodell has assumed the rule of uber-disciplinary on the theory that the NFL needs to protect its “brand” from miscreant players and opportunistic teams that employ them. I maintain that this argument misunderstands the NFL’s appeal. Jenkins seems to agree:

Andrew Brandt, who spent a decade in the front office of the Green Bay Packers, remembers an occasion when the team considered signing a player with a rap sheet as long as a street block. Brandt said, “I just don’t feel good about bringing this guy in.” To which another team official replied: “What do you think we’re asking these guys to do? We want this guy to get into 75 street fights every game, and win ’em. We’re not asking him to lead a boys choir.”

The conversation, Brandt says, “always struck me.” The underlying assumption was that a certain amount of uncurbed, foaming brutality was not just tolerable, but desirable and worth the exchange. You can’t expect a T-Rex to have table manners.

The NFL network uses “T-Rex’s” like Warren Sapp and Michael Irvin as on-air personalities.

There’s plenty more wisdom on Jenkins’ column, but I’ll wrap it up with this:

[The Rice incident and others like it] have utterly exposed Goodell’s paternal “higher standard” talk, his “protect the shield and the integrity of the game” nonsense as the archaic fantasy-peddling it is. America quit asking actors, musicians and politicians to live up to morals clauses a long time ago, for the simple reason that reality overtook naive hero-worshipping. The audience came to a more human, if disappointed, understanding. . . .

Goodell’s policy is a failure because it stigmatizes players while failing to address the fundamental, profound reality that there are some ills that get the best of people.

Blaming Blabbermouth [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

The lead story at Politico is Edward-Isaac Dovere’s “Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz.” Better known among listeners to Rush Limbaugh as Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz, the lady is Obama’s handpicked chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Ann Althouse asks: “[W]hat is going on here?”

Good question. Ann has her own thoughts, always worth taking into account. The story reads like a catfight on the left. If only for that, I would find it a source of unalloyed pleasure at a worrisome time. But I think it signifies something important, something beyond the Democrats’ continuing war on low-information women voters.

According to Dovere, “[t]he White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders” — that’s a broad group of Democratic potentates — “have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.” You can talk about polls and patterns and tea leaves all you want. This story gives us an insight into the concerns of Democrats with access to far better information than is available to the public. I read this story as an attempt by well-informed Democratic party powers to allocate blame for what they must perceive to be a looming electoral disaster. To me, this story represents the most persuasive good news I have read in this election season.

The Idiot’s Guide to Smart People: Malcom Gladwell Edition [Power Line]

(Steven Hayward)

If I have made any contribution to following Orwell’s advice to banish all clichés from our writing (because clichés usually represent sloppy thinking) it is my occasional use of “a perfect storm of tipping points!”  (Usually in reference to climate hysterics, since they are awash in “tipping points” and “perfect storms.”)  This two-minute video cutting Malcolm Gladwell, whose genius lies in inventing one-word clichés, down to size is so awesome I nearly had to replace my computer keyboard because I was drinking my morning coffee at the time:

(Hat tip to Charles Murray for flagging this for us.)

Ball’s bombshell: Tom Cotton digs Publius! [Power Line]

(Scott Johnson)

When Atlantic political reporter Molly Ball called me a couple of weeks ago to ask me about Rep. Tom Cotton, now opposing Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Pryor in the election for the Arkansas seat that is on the ballot this November, my guard was up. I think Tom is a man of great courage and conviction. I support his election. I wanted not to say anything that could be used against Tom, which is what I was quite sure Ball wanted. I may be slow, but I’m not stupid. I asked Ball to let me sleep on her question overnight and email her my response, which I posted in “A personal note on Tom Cotton.”

Ball’s article on Tom is now up at the Atlantic under the heading “The making of a conservative superstar.” It seems to me a work of almost self-parodic liberal hostility seeking to transform an admirable man into a fearful monster.

Ball leads off with her big bombshell: a look at Tom’s 92-page senior thesis on the Federalist Papers. Ball labors mightily to make something of “[t]he thesis, whose contents are revealed here for the first time[.]” She reports:

A cogent and tightly argued document, it reveals the depth and intellectual roots of his reverence for American traditions. It also reveals a contrarian devotion to some ideals that seem out of date today. Cotton insists that the Founders were wise not to put too much faith in democracy, because people are inherently selfish, narrow-minded, and impulsive. He defends the idea that the country must be led by a class of intellectually superior officeholders whose ambition sets them above other men. Though Cotton acknowledges that this might seem elitist, he derides the Federalists’ modern critics as mushy-headed and naive.

“Ambition characterizes and distinguishes national officeholders from other kinds of human beings,” Cotton wrote. “Inflammatory passion and selfish interest characterizes most men, whereas ambition characterizes men who pursue and hold national office. Such men rise from the people through a process of self-selection since politics is a dirty business that discourages all but the most ambitious.”

Cotton was only summarizing the views of Publius, the collective pseudonym used by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in the Papers. His reading is neither outré nor revisionist. Yet it seems significant that, out of all the ideas outlined in the Papers, these were the concepts Cotton chose to focus on and to defend forcefully against what he saw as more modish, inclusive ideas.

Ball’s bombshell: Tom concurs with Publius’s defense of the Constitution as set forth in the Federalist Papers. What next? He also loves his mother? Ball and her article roll downhill from here.

Tom has so far withstood a barrage of lies thrown at him by Harry Reid et al. in advertisements whose falsity would shame average Americans, so I trust he will withstand Ball’s unremitting hostility. As for the barrage of lies directed at Tom, they are of no interest to Ball. There are limits to the depth of her curiosity. Fred Barnes took a look at them in the Weekly Standard article “Democrats take the low road.”

You can support Tom and annoy Ball by contributing to Tom’s campaign here.

Food Stamp Sign-ups in Obama’s Illinois Larger Than State’s Job Growth [Wizbang]

Obama’s home state of Illinois is struggling to break the Great Recession. A perfect example of this is seen in a recent report that shows that applications for food stamps in the Land of Lincoln is greater than its creation of jobs. But, worse, the state’s democrat gov is up for re-election and he’ll likely win despite how bad he and his party have been for the state. Illinois has had the worst recovery from the recession of any state in the country, the Illinois Policy Institute reported this month. “There are nearly 300,000 fewer Illinoisans working today than in

It’s Real, And It’s Spectacular [Ed Driscoll]

Upside: Maureen Dowd has written her first column since the Lewinsky era that anyone remembers. Downside: She made the after-effects of eating a candy bar laced with grass sound like something out of a William Burroughs novel. A reminder that “Consume Responsibly” is also excellent advice for those remaining New York Times readers as well.

Barack Obama Transformed into Lyndon Johnson So Slowly, I Hardly Even Noticed [Ed Driscoll]

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

I have been in the White House on a number of occasions when military operations are launched and once the decisions are made and the orders have been issued the people in the White House from the President on down are really out of the action, at least is they are smart. And President Bush was especially good as was President Reagan of giving the military their mission, their orders and staying the hell out of the way. And not trying to micro-manage the conflicts, so you don’t have a Lyndon Johnson going down the situation room picking targets as he did in Vietnam. Bush and Reagan stayed out of the way, so when the land war started we were basically in the receive mode, just waiting for information to be past in the Presidents case from either Powell or Cheney and in our case the same way, about how things were going and the only information we really had after the beginning of the ground war was simply that it was going well and that the units had broken through the lines very fast.

– Robert Gates, then-Deputy National Security Advisor, quoted by PBS’s Frontline as part of their “Oral History of the [1990-1991] Gulf War. Flash-forward to the present day:

“The U.S. military campaign against Islamic militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Obama to exert a high degree of personal control over the campaign, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for any strike in Syrian territory,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The requirement for the Syrian strikes will be far more stringent than those in Iraq, at least at first, to assure the Syrian air campaign remains strictly limited, in an attempt to mitigate the threat that the U.S. could be dragged more deeply into the conflict, according to the U.S. officials.”

“Obama to Personally Control Strikes in Syria,” Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire, yesterday.

As Moe Lane writes in the headline of his blog post linking to the above story, “Attention, whoever in the White House monitors this site. Google ‘Lyndon Johnson micromanagement Vietnam’ — Google that RIGHT NOW:”

Speaking dispassionately, you can understand – sort of – why LBJ and Richard Nixon both were very bad about trying to run the Vietnam War by themselves: it was probably the first real war we had where a President could, in something approximating real time.  And it obviously was a major temptation, given the way that both men and their staffs succumbed to it.  But also note that Presidents since have largely learned from that particular set of catastrophic mistakes and tried to keep their oversight restricted to strategic goals, not tactical ones.  Largely.  Most of the time.  Good faith efforts were made.

Alas, nobody explained any of this to Barack Obama.  Or, more likely? Somebody did, but he didn’t bother to listen, because whoever was doing the explaining wasn’t Barack Obama.

After the New York Times reported the other day that the recently retired president was offering freelance consulting advice over the transom to ISIS, Iowahawk tweeted:

And now he thinks he’s a better strategist than his generals. And speaking of whom: “Remember When Democrats Were Saying ‘Listen to the Generals?’”

Related: At Ricochet, Jon Gabriel posits, somewhat conspiratorially, “Obama Can’t Afford to Win in Iraq:”

The only reason that Obama acted at all is politics. Polls showed that midterm voters demanded a military response to ISIS’ beheading of American journalists and repeated threats to our homeland. Drones, air strikes and military advisors are merely a PR campaign to assuage moderates that their Democratic president is “doing something.”

Obama does not want to win his new Iraq war. He can’t afford to. If the projection of American military power successfully solved the problem of Islamic terrorism, it would shatter Obama’s entire worldview.

Well, so far, the recently retired president is doing everything he can to live up to that impression.

‘It’s the Libertarian Left Behind’ [Ed Driscoll]


I read many skeptical reviews of the first Atlas Shrugged movie in 2011, went in to the theater with absolutely zero expectations, and as I wrote here on the blog, I was mildly surprised at how watchable it was. Anthony Sacramone of the Intercollegiate Review says much the same about his response to the first two Atlas movies, before running absolutely roughshod over the latest edition, asking along the way, “This Is John Galt?”

There’s a reason why Atlas Shrugged is rife with railways and natural resources and raw materials. It’s a bombastic prose poem to the original Industrial Age, when great men built a nation out of what they could pull from the earth and refine and refashion. It’s primal. It’s passionate. It’s as real as the car you drive or the building you live in.

And even though I am no Randian today, having long ago come to terms with the many contingencies and interdependencies of life, I nevertheless understand the appeal, the excitement, engendered by the author’s ideas and lust for life. And the 1949 film adaptation of The Fountainhead was pretty good, with a screenplay by Rand herself, direction by King Vidor, and performances by Patricia Neal and the one and only Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, the visionary and uncompromising architect.

Which is why I think, dare I say it, that the original Atlas, for all its flaws, deserved better than this film. My libertarian friends deserved better. My eyeballs deserved better. That Native American who appeared in those anti-littering commercials back in the 1970s with a tear rolling down his cheek deserved better and I don’t even know why. He wasn’t even Native American—he was Italian.

It takes a while for Sacramone to get going, but his review is well worth your time; definitely read the whole thing. Or as Mark Hemingway tweets:

‘Democrats Turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ [Ed Driscoll]

With a headline like that in Democrat house organ The Politico, you know DWS is in hot water with BHO and the rest of the DNC:

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.

Long-simmering doubts about her have reached a peak after two recent public flubs: criticizing the White House’s handling of the border crisis and comparing the tea party to wife beaters.

The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.

She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.

As anyone whose seen her TV performances can attest — even in scripted, DNC-friendly environments such as MSNBC — Debbie Downer has always been her own worst liability, as these juicy details spotlight:

In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser — and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop. (Jarrett said she does not recall that conversation.) One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Debbie denies the charges of course; no word yet if she told Politico that they’ve been “Myzled” regarding her. But in any case, to sum up the new article:

As Dan Riehl adds, “At this point it seems fair to speculate that she’s either going to be gone soon, or this is only going to get worse for her, as well as more ugly.”

With the midterms less than two months out, the timing of this new hit piece is fascinating. There’s plenty of talk recently about the Republicans blowing their chances to recapture the Senate in November. But the Politico hitting DWS from the left indicates a lot of disarray in the Democrats’ camp this fall.

Update: Pile on!

In the Clearing Stands Two Boxers In One [Ed Driscoll]

“Corker’s Kerry Critique Leaves Boxer ‘Shaking and Trembling,’” Breitbart TV notes, complete with (autoplay, alas) video of the far left San Francisco Democrat* in action:

Wednesday at the Senate Foreign Relation Committee hearing on U.S. strategy for combating ISIS, after Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) criticized Secretary of State John Kerry, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was left “shaking and trembling” in shock.

Boxer said, “I think it is shocking and a sad state of affairs that we heard just now, such angry comments aimed at you, Mr. Secretary, and through you, at our president instead of at ISIS, a savage group who decapitated two Americans and have warned, and I quote, that their thirst for more American blood is right out there.”

“I think it’s shocking,” she continued. “I’m actually shaking and trembling. This is not the time to show anger at the people who are working night and day, whether you agree with them or not, to protect our people.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want to show anger at someone working day or night, whether you agree with them or not, to protect Americans from Islamic terrorism:

At the time, Boxer defended her tirade by using the phrase “speaking truth to power,” a phrase whose origins date back to a mid-’50s pamphlet written by the American Quakers as a form of moral equivalence at the height of the Cold War. As we noted at the time:

Attempting to defend her much-publicized attack on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice due to Rice’s lack of children Thursday, Barbara Boxer invoked one of the hoariest clichés in the political lexicon:

Asked if her exchange with Rice was, as some suggest, a personal attack, Boxer insisted it was not.“I spoke the truth to power,’’ she said. “Condi Rice is in the room when George Bush decides to send 20,000 more of our beautiful men and women into the middle of a civil war.

“And I’m not going to apologize for making an extremely clear point,’’ she said.

As Allahpundit writes in response:

What bugs me is the self-congratulation. If one of the most powerful pols from the most powerful state in the most powerful country on earth can assume the mantle of “speaking truth to power,” then what’s left of “power”? Is that just a synonym for “Bush” now?

Isn’t it always?

Last week, the Washington Examiner speculated that the 73-year old Boxer may be retiring in 2016. Given her increasingly frail nerves, her shaking and trembling, and Claude Rains-esque level of shock, perhaps it’s time.

Related: “Gee, if only that Obama fellow showed the concern for constitutional niceties on warmaking that George W. Bush did.”

* As Jean Kirkpatrick would say.

3 Incidents of Democrat Bigotry In 3 Weeks, Media Mum [Ed Driscoll]

“Shylock & Wongs*: 3 Incidents of Democrat Bigotry In 3 Weeks — Media Mum,” as spotted by John Nolte at Big Journalism:

Wednesday, no less than Vice President Joe Biden used the widely-known Jewish slur “shylock.”

Just last week, a white male Democrat gubernatorial running against incumbent Republican Susana Martinez claimed the Hispanic Governor “does not have a Latino [sic] heart.

Only a few weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made two racist Asian “jokes” in front of a predominantly Asian crowd.

This isn’t the first time Reid and Biden have been caught expressing their bigoted, backwards views.

In 2010, Harry Reid said “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK.” In 2008, Reid said that Obama, was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”

In 2006, while campaigning for the presidency, Biden said, “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

High-ranking Democrats who have a history of bigotry just keep hurling it without paying any sort of political price in the unbiased, objective, not-at-all liberal media.

Democrats sure got it good.

Why, it’s almost as if those covering them — and covering for them — in the MSM are actually Democrat operatives with bylines themselves.

* Shylock & Wongs should not be confused with Ginsberg & Wong’s, which fused Chinese and deli food and were located in the lobbies of Hyatt House hotels, and used to have the best, greasiest, giant-sized cheddar cheese hamburgers and corned beef & pastrami sandwiches in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Report: ISIS Using Rockets with Chlorine Gas Warheads [Ed Driscoll]

Perhaps ISIS needs OSHA, as a workplace accident resulted in 14 deaths and seven injuries, according to this report by India’s Business Standard yesterday:

Baghdad, Sep 16 (IANS/EFE) At least 14 members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group were killed Tuesday near Baghdad when a rocket whose warhead they were filling with chlorine gas exploded.

Iraqi security officials said seven more IS militants were injured in the incident, which occurred near the town of al-Dhuluiya, about 90 km north of Baghdad.

Al-Dhuluiya was also where four members of the Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen suffered symptoms of asphyxiation after inhaling chlorine gas released by two improvised explosive devices.

It was the first time that chlorine has been used as a weapon in Iraq, although it is not uncommon in neighbouring Syria, where the regime’s use of it has been denounced by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

At Breitbart.com’s Big Peace Website today, Frances Martel adds:

The use of chemical weapons has not been confirmed by other sources, as Dhuluyia, 90 miles north of Baghdad, is remote for many media sources. However, if confirmed, it would be the first official use of chemical weapons by the Islamic State in Iraq. The Islamic State has been suspected of possessing chemical weapons for months. On July 9, reports began to surface that the Islamic State had captured a chemical weapons plant northwest of Baghdad, which still contained some degraded, but nonetheless, active chemical rockets. By July 15, Kurdish Peshmerga forces began to warn that they had seen evidence of the use of chemical weapons, including “thermal missiles of USA,” by the Islamic State terrorists.

Exit quote:

Gray Lady Down: NYT Reporter Doesn’t Know What a Shylock Is [Ed Driscoll]


I’m not sure which is worse, if New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro is lying that he doesn’t know what a Shylock is to protect Joe Biden — or if he really didn’t know what the term meant when he wrote above tweet. In any case, as this unsigned article at the Washington Free Beacon notes:

New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his confusion over a recent controversy in which Vice President Joe Biden employed the anti-Semitic term “shylock” in a speech.

“Raise your hand if you were not familiar with the word ‘Shylock’ before it became a controversy in past 24 hours?” Barbaro tweeted to his followers, prompting much ridicule.

Biden employed the historically offensive and anti-Semitic word in a speech Tuesday. He was forced to apologize early Wednesday after he came under criticism from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others.

Barbaro, purportedly a trained journalist and political expert, had apparently never heard the word before or come across it in literature. Twitter users immediately ridiculed the reporter for his ignorance. “And you admit that?” tweeted author Ben Cohen.

The Beacon claims their paper mailed Barbaro a hard copy edition of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice “for his further edification.”

Assuming that Barbaro was telling the truth (which is less and less the default position with the MSM, as they are self-admitting with increasing frequency), his admission dovetails remarkably well with another recent article at his place of employment. When I wrote my post on Monday on the Times’ culpability in regards to what Barbaro’s fellow Timesman Roger Cohen dubbed America and the world’s “Great Unraveling,” I wondered if Cohen’s reference to Kipling at the end of his article would go past many New York Times readers, given how PC modern education has become. Did Barbaro, age 34 or 35, who graduated from Connecticut’s Hamden Hall Country Day School in 1998 and Yale in 2002, miss the classes on Shakespeare, or was he no longer taught in high school by the mid-1990s?

We know the Bard is being taught less and less in the 21st century, as Andrew Klavan noted at the start of the year:

City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald is one of the best reporters in the country, one of our most courageous writers and a consistently moral voice. Last year, she gave the Manhattan Institute’s prestigious Wriston Lecture and last Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published an adaptation of that lecture under the headline “The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity.” A fuller version of this brilliant piece will be in CJ’s Winter number. Get your hands on it. Read it.

Heather Mac begins by noting that the leftist academic buffoons at UCLA no longer require that the university’s English majors read Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton. They do, however, require these students take courses in leftist theories on gender, race, ethnicity and other meaningless subjects whose names I slept through.

In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”

In still other words, the people tasked with teaching our young about the past have drowned out the voices of the past with their own voices. Their own whiny, unwise, small-minded and bitter voices.

Read on for how today’s low state of American elite culture was anticipated by England’s similar cultural collapse under socialist rule after World War II. In his 1999 book The Abolition of Britain Peter Hitchens wrote, “Just as Evelyn Waugh had once suggested that the Labour government of 1945 was similar to living under foreign occupation, [novelist Kingsley Amis] suggested that the trashing of our culture and literacy were so severe that only a ruthless foreign invader could possibly make them worse:”

A real occupation would almost certainly have produced a resistance, the circulation of banned texts and the holding of secret religious services. But a country which ploughs under its own culture, without violence or open suppression, has no such resistance. The objects of the attack are unaware that they are under attack, and there are no martyrs, no persecution to bring resistance into being.

Incidentally, I like the black sunglasses that Barbaro wears in his Twitter profile — they project the requisite “I’m in the media, screw you” vibe, and simultaneously illustrate how much information is blocked before it reaches yet another exquisitely-cocooned Timesman.

Update: Scott Johnson of Power Line asks, “Hath not a Timesman cultural literacy?” Heh.™

Lammy Accidentally Plugs London Mayor Rival’s Campaign [Guy Fawkes' blog]

Poor old David Lammy. Tottenham’s political mastermind is busy drumming up support for his London mayoral run, having been the first Labour candidate to formally declare. Lammy tried to tweet a link to his snazzy new website on how he would tackle housing problems in London: LondonHousingReport.com. Instead, he tweeted a link to the similarly-named LondonHousingCrisis.com, a campaign website which features prominently his rival for the mayoralty, Sadiq Khan. Doh!

Tagged: Labour, Mayor of London

Top Tories Vow to Fight Cash for Scots [Guy Fawkes' blog]

Rail minister Claire Perry has become the highest profile Tory to threaten to scrap the £1,500-a-head subsidy English taxpayers pay to Scots in the event of a No vote. Perry says:

“Cool, calm analysis, not promises of financial party bags to appease Mr Salmond, are what is needed from tomorrow and onwards. [A No vote must not result in] a whole raft of goodies on offer for Scotland that will be paid for by us south of the border to try to appease the Yes voters.”

John Whittingdale agrees:

“I for one would be very concerned at the idea that my electorate would continue to subsidise the Scots even after they have been given all these powers to raise even more money.”

As does backbencher James Gray, who writes in his local paper:

“I do not agree with the ‘Devo Max’ proposals which the three party leaders seem to be offering. Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want.. The Barnett Formula, under which every Scottish citizen gets £1,500 per year more spent on him/her than their English counterpart must be swept away with no delay. We want greater powers for the long-suffering people of England.”

The PM will be eternally grateful to them for airing their views on polling day…

Tagged: Freedom for Scotland, Tories

Not Like MPs to Turn Down a Freebie [Guy Fawkes' blog]

Such is the generosity of News UK, successor to News International, that they have kindly delivered life-saving mobile phone battery packs to MPs free of charge. All you have to do to recharge while on the go is plug the pack into your phone:

How cynical of some MPs too paranoid to plug the device into their own mobiles, that they let aides try them out first…

Tagged: Media Guido

FINAL POLL: Ipsos Mori Says No 53%, Yes 47% [Guy Fawkes' blog]

Full details in the Standard.

Within the margin of error…

Tagged: Freedom for Scotland, Polls

Another LibDem Contribution to Statistical Excellence [Guy Fawkes' blog]

Guido can only doff his cap to the LibDems for this piece of statistical brilliance. The unrivalled data wizards over at Great George Street, for whom any budding student of stats should take inspiration, have produced the following masterpiece on their membership numbers:

With no axes or numbers whatsoever, it really is a quite beautiful example of how to make a 5% increase in members over five quarters look like a 300% rise. Guido would never want to help a rival, but he would not begrudge the LibDems entering this effort at next year’s Royal Statistical Society awardsThe Guy Newsroom salutes you…

Tagged: LibDems, Spin, Statistics

Meanwhile, in Clacton… [Guy Fawkes' blog]

UKIP’s by-election headquarters have come up with a novel way to motivate their men and women on the ground. Awarded to “the most heroic volunteers” at the end of each day is:

The arch-voice of the Tory left providing Carswell’s troops with their ammo and their inspiration…

Tagged: Media Guido, Tories, UKIP

Björk Backs Yes [Guy Fawkes' blog]


The lyrics call for a new flag, new currency and protection of indigenous languages and to ignore the patronising.

Funking for freedom…

Tagged: Freedom for Scotland, GuyNews.TV

Andy Murray Endorses Yes During Media Blackout [Guy Fawkes' blog]


Andy Murray has declared he’s for Yes just hours before the polls open. Crucially though by tweeting his support in the middle of the night, his comments cannot be reported by the broadcasters due to the midnight imposed restrictions of the Representation of the People Act. They also came too late for the dead tree press. 24 hours earlier and this would have been a massive coup for Salmond, though Guido suspects for commercial reasons this was a deliberate move on Murray’s part. 

Meanwhile, the leader of the ‘free’ world is against freedom for Scotland. Guido hasn’t seen independence doing America much harm. Perhaps George III should have deployed the ‘what currency are you going to use’ line instead of sending in the Redcoats. 

Tagged: Freedom for Scotland

YouGov/Sun: No 52%, Yes 48% Survation/Record: No 53%, Yes 47% [Guy Fawkes' blog]


Tagged: Freedom for Scotland, Polls, YouGov/S

News You Can Use [VodkaPundit]


Gentlemen, it’s party time, Italian style:

An official Vatican car with diplomatic licence plates has been found riddled with several kilos of cocaine and cannabis in the French Alps, according to local reports.

The car belongs to an Argentine cardinal, 91-year-old Jorge Maria Mejia, who is also emeritus librarian at the Holy See. Mejia retired in 2003 and is confined to bed following an heart attack. Pope Francis visited Mejia just two days after being elected.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, the cardinal’s personal secretary entrusted two Italian men, aged 31 and 41, with taking the car for its annual checkup.

“Officer, we didn’t know that stuff was back there — we borrowed this car from a 91-year-old cardinal,” has got to be the worst excuse ever.

Open the iPod Bay Door, HAL [VodkaPundit]


I’m sorry, Dave, Apple can’t do that:

Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.

The move, announced with the publication of a new privacy policy tied to the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, amounts to an engineering solution to a legal quandary: Rather than comply with binding court orders, Apple has reworked its latest encryption in a way that prevents the company — or anyone but the device’s owner — from gaining access to the vast troves of user data typically stored on smartphones or tablet computers.

It will be difficult for Google and Microsoft not to follow suit, which is good news for consumers everywhere.

NATO without Scotland? [VodkaPundit]

Sub Base Holy Loch, Scotland 12

Dan Mahaffee looks at the security complications of an independent Scotland:

The political leaders of the Scottish independence movement, the Scottish National Party (SNP), have a checkered history in terms of NATO participation. It wasn’t until 2012 that the SNP finally voted to ditch the anti-NATO element of its platform, and there is still significant opposition to NATO among the SNP grassroots. Should an independent Scotland seek NATO membership, it would have to reconcile its demands for nuclear disarmament with NATO agreements to deploy nuclear weapons.

One must ask whether an independent Scotland would be a security contributor or a free rider within the alliance structure. In facing a resurgent Russia, Scotland is geographically vital for intercepting Russian aircraft, ships, and submarines entering the North Atlantic. Even with conservative estimates of Scottish defense spending, it is likely that their defense capacity would be similar to smaller Nordic countries. Already, we have seen how Russian aircraft repeatedly challenge the airspace of the countries of the Baltics and Scandinavia countries — and the United Kingdom itself — would Scotland require an extension of already stretched NATO resources for its air policing as well?

I suspect Scotland wouldn’t have the money to contribute much to NATO, even if it did become an active member of the alliance.

Ask Not for Whom Politico Tolls… [VodkaPundit]

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

So this is the picture Politico chose to run above a very unflattering story about Debbie Wassermann-Schultz is losing support of Democrats.

And judging by the picture Politico chose to run, she most certainly has.

Purple Mountains Majesty [VodkaPundit]


Colorado never really was a red state, as I’ve argued here many times before, so it was never really the GOP’s to lose. We’ve always been a purple state. But the last few years Colorado really has looked like a blue state, with the Republicans in disarray (to put it mildly) and the Democrats in Denver doing everything they can to cement themselves in place.

But a rightward breeze may be blowing:

The latest Quinnipiac University Poll finds Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper trailing his opponent, former GOP congressman Bob Beauprez, by 10 points.

“Pundits were predicting that Gov. Hickenlooper faced a close race for re-election,” said Tim Malloy, an assistant poll director. “Instead, he’s got a mad dash to make up a double-digit deficit.” To be fair, other polls have shown the race closer, including an NBC News/Marist poll that found Beauprez with a four-point lead.

Hickenlooper’s troubles include his signing a controversial package of gun-control measures that led to the recall of two Democratic state senators and a general sense that, as a former mayor of Denver, he has ignored or downplayed the concerns of more rural voters.

Worse, Hickenlooper betrayed the suburban voters who are the ones who really put him into power. Denver and Boulder were always his, and the rural areas never would be. But he convinced enough suburban voters that he’d govern the state the way he governed Denver — as a business-friendly, reasonably centrist Democrat in the Bill Clinton mold.

That is not how he’s acted as governor, and I hope my fellow Coloradans kick him out on his lying ass.

Rocky Mountain Jihad [VodkaPundit]


You read that right. Michelle Malkin has the story:

Last week, 19-year-old Shannon Conley of Arvada (a Denver suburb once known as the “Celery Capital of the World”) pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Conley, a militant Muslim convert, plotted to aid al-Qaida and its affiliates. According to the federal criminal complaint filed in April, she planned to use her military training with the U.S. Army Explorers “to go overseas to wage jihad” and “to train Islamic jihadi fighters in U.S. military tactics.” A certified nurse’s aide, she also told investigators she would use her medical training to aid jihadi fighters.

Over the Internet, Conley met an ISIS-affiliated Tunisian Muslim based in Syria. She was headed there on April 8 when the feds arrested her at Denver International Airport. Her luggage contained jihad propaganda, materials on administering first aid on the battlefield, and CDs and DVDs bearing the name of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Colorado-educated jihadi counselor to the 9/11 hijackers and Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan.

Conley’s not the first Colorado woman to go jihad.

Read the whole thing.

To Upgrade or not to Upgrade? [VodkaPundit]


That is the question for iPhone 4S owners, and opinions differ on whether it can properly handle the load of iOS 8:

So yes, it’s entirely possible for you to download the brand new iOS on your brand-old iPhone. And by doing so you’ll get a lot of goodies like more keyboard options (finally) and fun widgets. Ars ultimately concludes that it’s a trade-off you should go ahead and make.

But to us, cramming that shiny new software into the 4S’s cozy yet slightly musty house is a tight fit that will leave phone and user alike groaning. New features like widgets and alternate keyboards are nice, but not at the cost of so much screen space and speed.

Another report shows however that the increased load times aren’t exactly intolerable, with the worst offender (Safari) jumping from 1.25 seconds to 2.16 seconds. The other apps tested measured increases of just small fractions of a second — and the inevitable 8.01 or 8.1 update might tweak those times down a bit.

My boys, ages 4 and 8, are plenty happy running iOS 7 on Melissa and my old 4S phones, but I’m curious to see how well the new iOS really does work. It’s a risk though, since you can’t roll back to the previous version.

So I’m going to be a naughty dad and install iOS 8 on the younger boy’s phone and hope he doesn’t notice if it sucks. He doesn’t use it much, anyway, preferring the big screen on my ancient iPad 1. I’ll report the results back to you in the next few days.

Eastern Ukraine to Get Local Autonomy [VodkaPundit]

A big political concession from Kyiv in the ongoing Ukrainian Mess:

Ukraine sought to draw a line under its confrontation with Moscow by ratifying a landmark trade-and-political deal with the European Union and approving limited autonomy for territories now controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

But with full implementation of the EU deal postponed under Russian pressure, and the rebels insisting on independence, the developments illustrated Kiev’s weakened position—almost a year after Moscow began flexing its muscle to keep the ex-Soviet republic in its orbit.

Rivals of Mr. Poroshenko’s party assailed the autonomy law as caving to Moscow by effectively ceding control to the rebels. Separatist leaders said they would stick to their demands for full independence but stopped short of denouncing the law outright, meaning the conflict could fester for years.

The Kremlin didn’t comment on the Ukrainian parliament’s actions Tuesday.

The Kremlin doesn’t have to say squat after a win like that one.

I should add that it wasn’t that many weeks ago that the Russian rebels looked practically beaten, but Putin had tested the waters sufficiently to know that the NATO barracuda had no bite.

Given Putin’s appetites and Kyiv’s mismanagement, the disintegration of Ukraine was probably inevitable. That it is leading to NATO’s discredit is our own doing.

Which leads us to our next war item:

The Russian government has announced it will “protect” Russian speakers abroad, specifically mentioning the Russian-speaking population of the Baltics. This is not the first time Russia has hinted that it would involve itself in the affairs of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March.

Konstantin Dolgov, Russia’s foreign ministry chief monitor of human rights overseas, warned of Russia’s potential involvement while in Latvia’s capital of Riga for the Regional Conference of Russian Compatriots, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

Lithuania is about 6% Russian speaking, while Latvia and Estonia are about 25% each. All three are NATO members contiguous to Russian territory.

“Because sometimes you have to bitchslap the New York Times” [VodkaPundit]

The headline above was the header to an email I received today from my dear friend, occasional drinking buddy, and award-winning science fiction author Sarah Hoyt. So of course I clicked her link and of course I read her stuff and of course it was awesome.

I won’t try to find a perfect excerpt to tease you with, because what Sarah has written is a perfect and indivisible whole. But I can tell you two things before you click over.

Sarah Hoyt is angry. You’ll like her when she’s angry.

P.S. Her comments section is already hopping. You might want to hop in yourself.

Everything You Need to Know About Meizu MX4, the Upcoming Ubuntu Phone – Gallery [Full Circle Magazine]

The new Ubuntu Touch operating system from Canonical will power the new Meizu MX4 phone and it will be out in December, according to the latest information posted by the Chinese company. We now take a closer look at this new phone to see how it will hold up with an Ubuntu experience.

Canonical hasn’t provided any kind of information about a timetable for the launch of the new Ubuntu phone from Meizu, and even the information that we have right now has been posted initially on an Italian blog of the Chinese company. Basically, no one is saying anything officially, but that’s not really the point.

The new Meizu MX4 was announced just a couple of weeks ago and many Ubuntu users have asked themselves if this is the phone that will eventually feature the upcoming Ubuntu Touch. It looks like that is the case, so we now take a closer look at this powerful handset.



Submitted by: Silviu Stahie

It’s Scottish Independence Referendum Day! [Moe Lane]

Caleb Howe has some exclusive footage.

…Other than that, I got nothing. Although I do wonder whether the Scots are really ready to give up the pound.

‘The Ramblin’ Rover.’ [Moe Lane]


The Ramblin’ RoverSilly Wizard

Everybody* covers this.


Moe Lane

*Yes, I’m defining ‘everybody’ pretty loosely.

Attention, whoever in the White House monitors this site. Google ‘Lyndon Johnson micromanagement Vietnam.’ [Moe Lane]

Google that RIGHT NOW.

From Political Wire:

“The U.S. military campaign against Islamic militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Obama to exert a high degree of personal control over the campaign, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for any strike in Syrian territory,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

To expand on something I said on Twitter earlier today: considering just how much the Left loves to describe every military action in terms of Vietnam, you would think that more of them would actually have a basic familiarity with the war, its origins, and how we fought it.


Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Speaking dispassionately, you can understand – sort of – why LBJ and Richard Nixon both were very bad about trying to run the Vietnam War by themselves: it was probably the first real war we had where a President could, in something approximating real time.  And it obviously was a major temptation, given the way that both men and their staffs succumbed to it.  But also note that Presidents since have largely learned from that particular set of catastrophic mistakes and tried to keep their oversight restricted to strategic goals, not tactical ones.  Largely.  Most of the time.  Good faith efforts were made.

Alas, nobody explained any of this to Barack Obama.  Or, more likely? Somebody did, but he didn’t bother to listen, because whoever was doing the explaining wasn’t Barack Obama.

The aforementioned Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter. [Moe Lane]

Which has already burned through all of its stretch goals, much to the bemusement of Robin Laws.

Well, you know what they say: shut up and let us give you our money.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz being set up as a scapegoat. [Moe Lane]

I am crying inside.


Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.


One prominent D.C.-based Democratic strategist suggested Wasserman Schultz had not endeared herself to Washington during her time as DNC chair and suggested she go back home once her time as party chair is over. “Statewide office in Florida,” the operative said when asked what Wasserman Schultz should do next.

You really have to be familiar with This Town to understand just how vicious that comment is. It’s like a courtier in the Byzantine Empire suggesting that another courtier would be much better suited to be the administrative head of, say, Antioch or Ravenna. Anywhere that wasn’t within eyeshot of The City…


Polling Blog Readers [Shortwave Central]

Shortwave Central's sister blog, Milcom Monitoring, is asking their readers; 

"what new military monitoring radio hobby reference books would you be interested in purchasing ?" 

Please go to: http://mt-milcom.blogspot.com/ and cast your vote. Your views are important to Teak Publishing.

WRMI set for Thursday broadcast of Radio France International relay [Shortwave Central]

9955, Radio France International, via Okeechobee, 0404-0427, Sept 06, News in English. I can’t remember the last time I heard English news from RFI. French news from 0413 followed by Sports News and Technology News with several IDs and TC (“It’s 6 – 16 here in Paris”). Fair to good signal with occasional deep fades. (Rich D’Angelo/PA)

As of September 03, WRMI is broadcasting a new French-language European newscast at 2300-2315 UTC on Wednesday and Thursday each week on 11580 kHz beamed to North America. 

We would appreciate reception reports on this new program, which can be sent to info@wrmi.net  (postal address: WRMI Radio Miami International, 10400 NW 240th Street, Okeechobee, Florida 34972, USA) or direct to the producers in France at contact@echoofeurope.eu 

(postal address: 
Radio Echo of Europe
09 rue de Sébastopol BP 21531
F-31015 Toulouse Cedex 6, France)
(DSWI-DX Window 514 via Jeff White-WRMI)

Update on Bhutan Broadcasting Service [Shortwave Central]


(log edited for clarity)
6034.96, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, Sangaygang, is operating again on 6035 with 50 kW between 0000v-1303* UTC, Sep 02. heard via Hong Kong receiver. They welcome possible reception reports via their web form on http://www.bbs.bt/news/ . (Ritola). 

Its morning transmission beginning time is not regular as sometimes I noted back on air as early as 0100 and sometimes half an hour or an hour later. And on Sep 09, I heard good signal local Bhutanese language from 0047 onwards.
On Sep 06, I heard loud and clear signal of BBS English Service with news in English, public service announcements. English songs from 1103 onwards. On Sep 07, also I monitored BBS English with excellent reception overall 1040-1112 UTC. There was English songs (sometimes back to back), Health promos, news in English, public service announcement. Here is the link of a few moments audio recorded around 1100: https://app.box.com/s/ixlrjbfrq2rwynn2xnc5. And another link to the  audio of BBS recorded around 1110: https://app.box.com/s/w16lrfrj0fs5jfh41qye. The audio files were recorded while I was listening BBS on my Philips DL334  portable Analog Receiver without any external antenna. However in the evening and night, I have yet to hear the signal of BBS on 6035. As per informed by Alokesh Gupta, BBS is using only one transmitter at a time and that's why there is no parallel frequency. (Sharma).

Also heard at 1145-1310, Sep 02, 04 and 07, their unique repetitive indigenous music, 1230-1256 a cute BBS program I have often heard in past years with female chatting on the phone with young children and the kids also singing (no music - just singing) clearly running past their normal sign off , (clearly not PBS Yunnan's Chinese or Vietnamese!). BBS many times stronger than Yunnan PBS, which at times was heard very faintly underneath BBS; intermittent heavy adjacent interference. https://app.box.com/s/ss1cd24jvusgxmh6eqnf contains audio. I received yesterday this e-mail from the BBS:

Dear Mr. Ron Howard
As always, thank you very much. Our shortwave transmitter was down for a long time. It broke down and we could not get it back up and running till recently. We managed to do so only with the help of a shortwave transmitter expert from the All India Radio.

Thank you once again. Regards, Kaka Tshering, General Manager, Radio Service, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, Chubachu,
Post Box 101, Thimphu. (Howard). Cf. DX-Window # 513. 
(DSWCI-DX Window # 514 via Adrian Petersen)

EMR set for weekend broadcast [Shortwave Central]

European Music Radio Relay on 21st September 2014

All times UTC
0700 to 0800 (Gohren) on 7265 KHz  Tom & Mike Taylor

0800 to 0900 (Gohren) on 9485 KHz  Tom & Mike Taylor

Please send all E.M.R. reports to:  studio@emr.org.uk  Thank you!

EMR Internet repeats on Sunday and Monday  

Program repeats are at the following times: 0700, 1200, 1600, 1900

Please visit www.emr.org.uk and click on the “EMR internet radio” button which you will find throughout the website (see the menu on the left).

or www.tunein.com and sign in  

If you live outside the listening area please try the Twente/Netherlands Web Receiver at http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/

EMR (every 3rd Sunday) between September 2014 & April 2015

Sep/Oct 2014
7265 0700 to 0800
9485 0800 to 0900

Nov 2014 to March 2015
7265 0800 to 0900
9485 0900 to 1000

April 2015
7265 0700 to 0800
9485 0900 to 1000

Good Listening


Tom Taylor

Throwback-Thursday: Burkina Faso [Shortwave Central]

Radio Burkina QSL (via GVH collection)

Did you log and verify Radio Burkina when it was active on shortwave ? Radio Burkina, was the state-run broadcasting service of Burkina Faso. Formerly known as Upper Volta, the land-locked country is located in western Africa.

Last heard in January 2010, the station broadcast on shortwave from Ouagadougou on 5030 kHz and 7230 kHz, and you may recall their sign-on interval signal from an African balafon instrument.

Radio Burkina has not been heard since January 2010.

Radiodiffusion Television Du Burkina, streaming audio is available at: http://www.rtb.bf/

Scotland Decides Today [Shortwave Central]

People in Scotland are voting on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation.
Voters will answer "Yes" or "No" to the referendum question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
With 4,285,323 people - 97% of the electorate - registered to vote, it is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history.
Votes will be cast at 5,579 polling stations until 22:00 on Thursday. The result is expected on Friday morning.
Strict rules mean the BBC - in common with other broadcasters - is not allowed to report details of campaigning until after the polls close.

Live streaming audio BBC Scotland at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_scotland
Live streaming audio BBC World Service at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldserviceradio

RTÉ to broadcast football finals on Sunday [Shortwave Central]

South Africa/ United Kingdom

RTÉ football great final game, data taken from HFCC file, a lot of slewed antenna arrays in use.

via Babcock - Woofferton site in England (separated from Scotland ...)

17495 1300-1700 52S,53SW,57N WOF 300kW 158degr -12 618 1=Sun
070914 210914 Eng  G   RTE BAB

and via South Africa's SENTEC Meyerton site by Babcock brokered

 7300 1300-1700 52S,53SW,57N MEY 100kW   5degr   0 803 1=Sun
070914 210914 Eng  AFS RTE BAB
11750 1600-1700 52S,53SW,57N MEY 100     5       0 216 1=Sun
070914 210914 Eng  AFS RTE BAB
17820 1300-1600 52S,53SW,57N MEY 250     5      25 418 1=Sun
070914 210914 Eng  AFS RTE BAB
(Wolfgang Bueschel Germany/Ivo Ivanoc, Bulgaria)

Jim McGuiness: Kingdom are 'dream' All-Ireland final opponents
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness says his side facing Kerry for the Sam Maguire is his “dream final”.
“For me it’s a dream final and it’s a dream final because I grew up watching Kerry and Dublin, and Kerry and everyone else playing in All-Ireland finals,” he told RTÉ Sport ahead of Sunday’s decider at Croke Park.
“It’s the whole history of it, and for us to play them in the final is a great moment for our players.”
McGuinness laughed off the notion that success is effortless for the 36-time champions, pointing out that he has witnessed the county’s dedication to Gaelic football at first hand while a student and Sigerson Cup player at Tralee IT.

Racism Narrative Collapses Further: Pictures Emerge of Django Unchained Actress’s Enthusiastic Public Making-Out Session [Patterico's Pontifications]

TMZ sez: Django Actress — We Got the Pictures AND IT LOOKS LIKE SEX. It’s an attention-grabbing headline, which is what they’re good at, but I don’t know that the pictures “look like sex.” They look like two clothed people all over each other, however, in a car with an open door — and I can easily imagine onlookers thinking there is prostitution going on here.

So, let’s recap.

Last week the story from Reason was: black actress mostly minding her own business — perhaps enjoying a smooch or two in a car with her husband, as you do — meets overbearing cop who assumes she is a prostitute because she is black. She heroically refuses to surrender her ID, and is handcuffed because, well, she is black and being uppity.

Today we know: the woman and her husband are pawing each other, straddling each other, and holding onto the sun roof for support as they maul each other in a car with an open door. A bored cop shows up in response to a “lewd acts in public” call from a citizen, and contacts the couple meeting the description. He legally asks for ID as part of his routine investigation into a possible crime reported by members of the public. The actress mouths off, refuses to comply with the law, talks about how she has a publicist, and generally acts entitled. The bored cop says: “I’m Mildly Interested That You Have a Publicist, But I’m Going to Get Your ID”. Finally, the husband gives up the ID, and the cop goes away.


It’s hard not to think of Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown, where a narrative of Total Racial Oppression collapses as facts emerge. As Big Media continues to do this, a Boy Who Cried Wolf phenomenon may set in, wherein actual stories of racism are viewed with deep suspicion by the intelligent and unbiased observer, because past narratives have always tended to hide the relevant facts until the narrative is set.

As long as you remember that Big Media is not truly about facts, but rather about entertainment and sensationalism, you’re less likely to get fooled — whether being fooled means getting taken in by race hustlers, or becoming deadened to actual injustice.

Just take everything Big Media says with a grain — hell, with giant fistfuls — of salt, and you’ll be fine.

House Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels [Patterico's Pontifications]

Generally, arming people is a good idea because it’s rare that they end up fighting you with your own weapons later.

Almost never happens. Right?

Hey, remember Justin Amash? He’s the Tea-Partying Congressman who explains all his votes on Facebook. Here is an excerpt from his explanation of his vote today against arming the rebels:

If the Syrian groups that are “appropriately vetted” (the amendment’s language) succeed and oust Assad, what would result? Would the groups assemble a coalition government of anti-Assad fighters, and would that coalition include ISIS? What would happen to the Alawites and Christians who stood with Assad? To what extent would the U.S. government be obligated to occupy Syria to rebuild the government? If each of the groups went its own way, would Syria’s territory be broken apart, and if so, would ISIS control one of the resulting countries?

If the Syrian groups that we support begin to lose, would we let them be defeated? If not, is there any limit to American involvement in the war?

Perhaps some in the administration or Congress have answers to these questions. But the amendment we’ll vote on today contains none of them.

Above all, when Congress considers serious actions—especially war—we must be humble about what we think we know. We don’t know very much about the groups we propose to support or even how we intend to vet those groups. Reports in the last week suggest that some of the “appropriately vetted” groups have struck deals with ISIS, although the groups dispute the claim.

Yes, we must be humble about what we think we know — and also about our ability to foresee unintended consequences from military missions we have not thought through. Government action almost always results in some kind of unintended consequences. When that action is military action, and the people in charge have not thought about the answers to the tough questions, those unintended consequences can be harsh indeed.

I stand with Ted Cruz and Justin Amash in opposing this action. But not, apparently, with most Republicans.

Vote on Scottish Independence Tomorrow [Patterico's Pontifications]


Voters will answer “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

With 4,285,323 people – 97% of the electorate – registered to vote, a historically high turnout is expected.

Polls are consistently showing the “no” vote (a vote against independence) up by 52 to 48 percent — but undecideds could change it all.


Loyal Jay Carney [Patterico's Pontifications]

[guest post by Dana]

So Jay Carney is now working as a commentator at CNN. In an interview this week, he made no effort to hide his loyalties.

Q: So you’re not positioning yourself as nonpartisan?

A: I am who I am. I deeply believed in what I did and what he has done as president. And I don’t walk away from that at all. There is no nirvana, but CNN’s mission is news-focused. They are not actively pursuing a niche in one political camp or the other. I believe in the president, believe in the rightness of his policies. I’m also my own person, and I’m going to express my views. But it would be disingenuous to suddenly pretend that I wasn’t loyal to [the president].

On the heels of that, came this:

Q: Why did you choose CNN?

A: They’re down the middle. They’re not partisan. And I think that’s good. You don’t have that dynamic where people are choosing what they want to hear based on their own personal politics.


Added: Apparently there was an exchange between Carney and Bill Kristol on CNN in which Carney admitted there would indeed be boots on the ground in Iraq fighting Isis:

“You can’t imagine the fight against ISIS going in such a way that we would say, you know what, this thing is on the cusp and we need to send in 3,000 or 5,000 U.S. combat ground troops to win this thing?” Kristol asked Carney.

Carney replied, “Well, again, that would be saying specifically only 5,000, not 5,005–”

“No it wouldn’t,” said Kristol. “It would be leaving the option open, which is what a serious commander in chief does.”

“I think the shorthand that a lot of people use about no boots on the ground is semantically problematic because obviously there will be American military personnel with their boots on the ground,” Carney claimed.

Best part had to be when host Jake Tapper reminded Carney:“Jay, you don’t work for the White House anymore. You can be frank.”

Sometimes Agile Can Hurt Your Company [Perlsphere]

I've been rather quiet lately because I'm busy, busy, busy. Part of this is contract work for a company (amongst other things, I've been doing building sqitch setup for them), and part of this is new research into Agile. Today I wrote a quick blog post explaining one of my pet peeves about Agile: people say it's not a silver bullet, but they don't say why. I briefly explain when you should and should not use Agile.

Zoe's Einschulung [Perlsphere]

Nach mehr als 6 Monaten Wartezeit, in der Zoe jeden einzelnen Tag runtergezählt hat, war es letzten Samstag soweit: Sie wurde eingeschult! Wie es der Zufall so wollte genau an ihrem 6. Geburtstag. Eingeladen waren neben Paten und Verwandschaft auch drei Freundinnen - damit sie ihren Geburtstag nicht nur mit Erwachsenen verbringen musste. Die eigentliche Geburtstagsparty steht am kommenden Wochenende an.

Jonathan McDowell: Automatic inline signing for mutt with RT [Planet Debian]

I spend a surprising amount of my time as part of keyring-maint telling people their requests are badly formed and asking them to fix them up so I can actually process them. The one that's hardest to fault anyone on is that we require requests to be inline PGP signed (i.e. the same sort of output as you get with "gpg --clearsign"). That's because RT does various pieces of unpacking[0] of MIME messages that mean that a PGP/MIME signatures that have passed through it are no longer verifiable. Daniel has pointed out that inline PGP is a bad idea and got as far as filing a request that RT handle PGP/MIME correctly (you need a login for that but there's a generic read-only one that's easy to figure out), but until that happens the requirement stands when dealing with Debian's RT instance. So today I finally added the following lines to my .muttrc rather than having to remember to switch Mutt to inline signing for this one special case:

send-hook . "unset pgp_autoinline; unset pgp_autosign"
send-hook rt.debian.org "set pgp_autosign; set pgp_autoinline"

i.e. by default turn off auto inlined PGP signatures, but when emailing anything at rt.debian.org turn them on.

(Most of the other things I tell people to fix are covered by the replacing keys page; I advise anyone requesting a key replacement to read that page. There's even a helpful example request template at the bottom.)

[0] RT sticks a header on the plain text portion of the mail, rather than adding a new plain text part for the header if there are multiple parts (this is something Mailman handles better). It will also re-encode received mail into UTF-8 which I can understand, but Mutt will by default try to find an 8 bit encoding that can handle the mail, because that's more efficient, which tends to mean it picks latin1.

Jaldhar Vyas: Scotland: Vote NO [Planet Debian]

        _  __<;
      </_/ _/__   
     /> >  7   )  
     ~;</7    /   
     /> /   _*<---- Perth    
     ~ </7  7~\_  
        </7     \ 
         /_ _ _ | 

If you don't, the UK will have to rename itself the K. And that's just silly.

Also vote yes on whether Alex Trebek should keep his mustache.

Raphaël Hertzog: The problem of distributing applications [Planet Debian]

A few days ago I watched a Q/A session with Linus Torvalds at Debconf 14. One of the main complaint of Linus towards Linux distribution was the way that distribution ends up using different versions of libraries than what has been used during application development. And the fact that it’s next to impossible to support properly all Linux distributions at the same time due to this kind of differences.

Warning, some internals ahead
And now I just discovered a new proposal of the systemd team that basically tries to address this: Revisiting how we put together Linux Systems.

They suggest to make extensive use of btrfs subvolumes to host multiple variants of the /usr tree (that is supposed to contain all the invariant system code/data) that you could combine with multiple runtime/framework subvolumes thanks to filesytem namespaces and make available to individual applications.

This way of grouping libraries in “runtime subvolumes” reminds me a bit of the concepts of baserock (they are using git instead of btrfs) and while I was a bit dubious of all this (because it goes against quite a few of the principles of distribution integration) I’m beginning to believe that there’s room for both models to work together.

It would be nice if Debian could become the reference distribution that upstream developers are using to develop against Linux. This would in turn mean that when upstream distribution their application under this new form, they will provide (or reference) Debian-based subvolumes ready for use by users (even those who are not using Debian as their main OS). And those subvolumes would be managed by the Debian project (probably automatically built from our collection of .deb).

We’re still quite far from this goal but it will interesting to see this idea mature and become reality. There are plenty of challenges facing us.

18 comments | Liked this article? Click here. | My blog is Flattr-enabled.

Robbie Williamson: Priorities & Perseverance [Planet Ubuntu]

Screenshot from 2014-09-17 22:48:22

This is a not a stock ticker, rather a health ticker…and unlike with a stock price, a downward trend is good.  Over the last 3 years or so, I’ve been on a personal mission of improving my health.  As you can see it wasn’t perfect, but I managed to lose a good amount of weight.

So why did I do it…what was the motivation…it’s easy, I decided in 2011 that I needed to put me first.   This was me from 2009

Screenshot from 2014-09-10 09:54:50IMG_84318618356313

At my biggest, I was pushing 270lbs.  I was so busy trying to do for others, be it work, family, or friends, I was constantly putting my needs last, i.e. exercise and healthy eating.  You see, I actually like to exercise and healthy eating isn’t a hard thing for me, but when you start putting those things last on your priorities, it becomes easy to justify skipping the exercise or grabbing junk food because your short on time or exhausted from being the “hero”.

Now I have battled weight issues most of my life.  Given how I looked as a baby, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. LOL


But I did thin out as a child.


To only get bigger again


And even bigger again


But then I got lucky.  My metabolism kicked into high gear around 20, and I grew about 5 inches and since I was playing a ton of basketball daily, I ate anything I wanted and still stayed skinny


I remained so up until I had my first child, then the pounds began to come on.  Many parents will tell you that the first time is always more than you expected, so it’s not surprising with sleep deprivation and stress, you gain weight.  To make it even more fun, I had decide to start a new job and buy a new house a few years later, when my second child came…even more “fun”.

2014-08-24 22.07.43

To be clear, I’m not blaming any of my weight gain on these events, however they became easy crutches to justify putting myself last.  And here’s the crazy part, by doing all this, I actually ended up doing less for those I cared about in the long run, because I was physically exhausted, mentally fatigued, and emotionally spent a lot of the time.

So, around October of 2012 I made a decision.  In order for me to be the man I wanted to be for my family, friends, and even colleagues, I had to put myself first.  While it sounds selfish, it’s the complete opposite.  In order to be the best I could be for others, I realized I had to get myself together first.  For those of you who followed me on Facebook then, you already know what it took…a combination of MyFitnessPal calorie tracking and a little known workout program called Insanity:


Me and my boy, Shaun T, worked out religiously…everyday…sometimes mornings…sometimes afternoons…sometimes evenings.  I carried him with me all for work travel on my laptop and phone…doing Insanity videos in hotels rooms around the world.  I did the 60day program about 4 times through (with breaks in between cycles)…adding in some weight workouts towards the end.  The results were great, as you can see in the first graphic starting around October 2012.  By staying focused and consistent, I dropped from about 255lbs to 226lbs at my lowest in July 2013.  I got rid of a lot of XXL shirts and 42in waist pants/shorts, and got to a point where I didn’t always feel the need to swim with a shirt on….if ya know what I mean ;-).  So August rolled around, and while I was feeling good about myself…didn’t feel great, because I knew that while I was lighter, and healthier, I wasn’t necessarily that much stronger.  I knew that if I wanted to really be healthy and keep this weight off, I’d need more muscle mass…plus I’d look better too :-P.

So the Crossfit journey began.

Now I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my first thought.  I had read all the horror stories about injuries and seen some of the cult-like stuff about it.  However, a good friend of mine from college was a coach, and pretty much called me out on it…she was right…I was judging something based on others opinions and not my own (which is WAY outta character for me).  So…I went to my first Crossfit event…the Women’s Throwdown in Austin, TX (where I live) held by Woodward Crossfit in July of 2013.  It was pretty awesome….it wasn’t full of muscle heads yelling at each other or insane paleo eating nut jobs trying to out shine another…it was just hardworking athletes pushing themselves as hard as they could…for a great cause (it’s a charity event)…and having a lot of fun.  I planned to only stay for a little bit, but ended up staying the whole damn day! Long story, short…I joined Woodward Crossfit a few weeks after (the delay was because I was determined to complete my last Insanity round, plus I had to go on a business trip), which was around the week of my birthday (Aug 22).



Fast forward a little over a year, with a recently added 21-day Fitness Challenge by David King (who also goes to the same gym), and as of today I’m down about 43lbs (212), with a huge reduction in body fat percentage.  I don’t have the starting or current percentage, but let’s just say all 43lbs lost was fat, and I’ve gained a good amount of muscle in the last year as well…which is why the line flattened a bit before I kicked it up another notch with the 21-Day last month.

Now I’m not posting any more pictures, because that’s not the point of this post (but trust me…I look goooood :P).  My purpose is exactly what the subject says, priorities & perseverance.  What are you prioritizing in your life?  Are you putting too many people’s needs ahead of your own?  Are you happy as a result?  If you were like me, I already know the answer…but you don’t have to stay this way.  You only get one chance at this life, so make the most out of it.  Make the choice to put your happiness first, and I don’t mean selfishly…that’s called pleasure.  You’re happier when your loved ones are doing well and happy…you’re happier when you have friends who like you and that you can depend on….you’re happier when you kick ass at work…you’re happier when you kill it on the basketball court (or whatever activity you like).  Make the decision to be happy, set your goals, then perservere until you attain them…you will stumble along the way…and there will be those around you who either purposely or unknowingly discourage you, but stay focused…it’s not their life…it’s yours.  And when it gets really hard…just remember the wise words of Stuart Smalley:

Ayrton Araujo: Ubuntu shell overpowered [Planet Ubuntu]

In order to have more productivity under my environment, as a command line centric guy, I started three years ago to use zsh as my defaul shell. And for who never tried it, I would like to share my personal thoughts.

What are the main advantages?

  • Extended globbing: For example, (.) matches only regular files, not directories, whereas az(/) matches directories whose names start with a and end with z. There are a bunch of other things;
  • Inline glob expansion: For example, type rm *.pdf and then hit tab. The glob *.pdf will expand inline into the list of .pdf files, which means you can change the result of the expansion, perhaps by removing from the command the name of one particular file you don’t want to rm;
  • Interactive path expansion: Type cd /u/l/b and hit tab. If there is only one existing path each of whose components starts with the specified letters (that is, if only one path matches /u/l/b*), then it expands in place. If there are two, say /usr/local/bin and /usr/libexec/bootlog.d, then it expands to /usr/l/b and places the cursor after the l. Type o, hit tab again, and you get /usr/local/bin;
  • Nice prompt configuration options: For example, my prompt is currently displayed as tov@zyzzx:/..cts/research/alms/talk. I prefer to see a suffix of my current working directory rather than have a really long prompt, so I have zsh abbreviate that portion of my prompt at a maximum length.

Font: http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-using-zsh-instead-of-bash-or-other-shells

The Z shell is mainly praised for its interactive use, the prompts are more versatilly, the completion is more customizable and often faster than bash-completion. And, easy to make plugins. One of my favorite integrations is with git to have better visibility of current repository status.

As it focus on interactive use, is a good idea to keep maintaining your shell scripts starting with #!/bin/bash for interoperability reasons. Bash is still most mature and stable for shell scripting in my point of view.

So, how to install and set up?

sudo apt-get install zsh zsh-lovers -y

zsh-lovers will provide to you a bunch of examples to help you understand better ways to use your shell.

To set zsh as the default shell for your user:

chsh -s /bin/zsh

Don't try to set zsh as default shell to your full system or some things should stop to work.

Two friends of mine, Yuri Albuquerque and Demetrius Albuquerque (brothers of a former hacker family =x) also recommended to use https://github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh. Thanks for the tip.

How to install oh-my-zsh as a normal user?

curl -L http://install.ohmyz.sh | sh

My $ZSH_THEME is seted to "bureau" under my $HOME/.zshrc. You can try "random" or other themes located inside $HOME/.oh-my-zsh/themes.

For command-not-found integration:

echo "source /etc/zsh_command_not_found" >> ~/.zshrc

If you doesn't have command-not-found package:

sudo apt-get install command-not-found -y

And, if you use Ruby under RVM, I also recommend to read this:

Happy hacking :-)

First World Vagina Warrior problems [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]


Dude! “Severed head falls out of neighbor’s trash bag” [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

Don’t you just hate it when this happens?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) —A Memphis man who went to police after he saw a severed head in a man’s backyard says it’s an image he can’t forget. [...]

Michael Wilson, Jr., is now facing charges of second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse.

Lacedric Ruffin said he went to Wilson’s home on Dunn to pick up some scrap metal Wilson said he could have.

While he was loading items on to his truck, he noticed Wilson pull a large black bag out of a garbage can and try to place it in a metal bucket.

Ruffin said the bag started ripping, and a head fell out of it.

“I’m like, man, what the hell you got going on, bro? He said something like he didn’t mean to kill him. I said, kill who brother? I don’t want to know who that is, I don’t want to know. You don’t got to tell me,” Ruffin said.

He said Wilson told him there were also two hands inside the garbage bag.

He thinks Wilson was planning on putting the severed head on the back of his truck along with everything else.

Un-Islamic-non-State-Jr-Varsity ISIS in Jerusalem [Darleen Click] [protein wisdom]

The “Palestinian” branch.

Israel’s Channel 10 on Wednesday night broadcast what it said was footage from a recent “Islamic State gathering” on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The report, which is to be broadcast in full next week, said the gathering underlined that Islamic State intends to focus on Israel in the future

Formally, the gathering, attended by thousands, was organized by the Tahrir party, which the report described as being the “Palestine branch” of Islamic State.

Speakers were filmed anticipating the liberation of Jerusalem and decrying Jewish pollution of the city. Several black IS flags were seen in the footage.


Geoffb shares an article on the New Colonizers:

Every immigrant group in this country has variously adapted to the heritage culture, integrating more or less seamlessly by the second generation. However, second-generation Muslims are increasingly being radicalized, some going off to fight with jihadist militias in the Middle East and Africa, others plotting terror attacks on the very country that has offered them freedom, health care, education and the opportunity to prosper.

The common denominator along this spectrum of cultural invasiveness is the sentiment of vested ascendancy and pre-eminence minus the obligation of having to earn them. It bespeaks the spirit of natural entitlement that goes hand in hand with Islam, and which is instinct throughout the Muslim holy book, in which the true believer is exalted as superior to all other people (see, e.g., Koran 3:110) and enjoined to conquer, enslave, tax and slay the kafir, or infidel, who rejects the dominion of the Prophet (see, e.g., Koran 4:89, 9:29, 33:50, 47:4, among numberless other ayat). The violence we have seen both everywhere in the Muslim world and everywhere immigrant Muslims reach a certain critical census in their host societies is the inevitable consequence of the inherent conviction of higher status and mandated predominance — even in comparatively innocuous situations like a ring of Muslims commandeering a public venue or three obtrusive men breaching without the slightest compunction or embarrassment a local standard of behavioral propriety.

“They feel entitled,” writes Daniel Greenfield, “that everything be done according to their cultural expectations.” Greenfield is referring to a group of Muslim asylum-seekers in the Italian hamlet of La Secca who have staged a demonstration, replete with flying furniture and slashed tires, to protest the cultural trauma of having to eat “monotonous” Italian food, a culinary insult of pasta with tomato sauce, bread and eggs, instead of being served the food of their own countries. A police official was not impressed. “There are thousands of Italians living in poverty and who aren’t even eating one meal a day, let alone two or three,” he said. The Muslim migrants were not impressed either; they demanded their due, a right pertaining to their faith and very being. Greenfield’s conclusion is apt: “They aren’t immigrating. They’re colonizing.” This is not only Italy’s problem. Think Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.

These Islamonazis are a problem for all Western civilization. We cannot go Vichy.

Global heat record set in August 2014 [CBC | Technology News]

Heat Warning

This August broke records for the hottest August since global temperature records began in 1880, despite cool summer temperatures in parts of Canada.

Ig Nobel prizes honour laughable scientific research tonight [CBC | Technology News]

Last year, Ig Nobel prizes were awarded for studies on how drunkenness affects perceptions of attractiveness and how listening to opera affects mice recovering from heart transplants. Watch live starting 5:40 p.m. ET to find out this year's 10 winners.

New coal plant regulations have 'negligible effect,' report says [CBC | Technology News]

Canada could lag behind the U.S. when it comes to cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants, despite claims by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that Canada is way ahead of its closest neighbour when it comes to cleaning up coal.

Boeing's 'space taxi' includes seat for a tourist [CBC | Technology News]

Boeing Co's proposed space taxi for NASA astronauts includes a seat for paying tourists to fly to the International Space Station - a first for a U.S. space program.

Telus fielded 103,500 info requests from government, police [CBC | Technology News]

Telus Corp. received about 103,500 official requests for information about its customers last year, the Vancouver-based telecom revealed in its first "transparency" report.

Global investors push for carbon pricing ahead of UN climate summit [CBC | Technology News]

Coal Woes

More than 340 institutional investors representing $24 trillion in assets on Thursday called on government leaders attending next week's United Nations climate summit to set carbon pricing policies that encourage the private sector to invest in cleaner technologies.

'Lonely male' muskox? Rare sighting of Arctic mammal in Manitoba [CBC | Technology News]

Conservationists are thrilled to hear hunters in northern Manitoba have spotted a muskox.

Morden's mosasaur Bruce makes Guinness World Record [CBC | Technology News]

bruce the mosasaur

Morden's got the most massive mosasaur in the world.

Gamers put own face on star players in NBA 2K15 [CBC | Technology News]


NBA 2K15 has created the option for gamers to digitally graft lifelike renditions of their own faces onto virtual star players in the latest version due in stores for Oct. 7.

New iOS 8 apps launched for CBC News, Radio [CBC | Technology News]


CBC apps were completely redesigned with several new features, including localization that surfaces more local news, customization, and “handoff.”

Honey bee poisonings in Manitoba under police investigation [CBC | Technology News]

Vermont Farm Show

RCMP in southwestern Manitoba are trying to find out who poisoned thousands of honey bees near Brandon, Man., in recent weeks.

GTA-ISIS: Militants hooking youngsters with ‘Jihad video game’ trailer [RT - Daily news]

Screenshot from YouTube by صحيفة حصر الإلكترونية

The recruitment propaganda video trailer aimed to “raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the Islamic State,” according to the media wing of the IS (formerly known as ISIS), cited in Arabic media.

“The content includes all of the organization’s military tactics against its opponents,” the Islamic state said.

The video is loaded with explosions, combat scenarios and sniping, with jihadist calls being made throughout. Characters produce cries of “Allahu Akbar!” and – as is the case with real life – the characters slaughter and behead their victims, and blow up vehicles.

Throughout, the IS logo is displayed at the top of the screen, alongside the apparent ‘GTA’ styling. Pervasive themes include jihad and “the willingness to sacrifice.”

However, the video appears to be just that – merely a trailer, and an actual playable version of the possible game has not been seen. It was released shortly after new propaganda footage entitled ‘Flames of War’, which unfolds in a similar but movie-style vein.

Filled with blasts, it was considered a response to President Obama’s declaration that he would “degrade and ultimately destroy” it. It appears to suggest that IS would annihilate any US ground forces that attempted to subdue it.

It was released shortly after General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Senate hearing that American ground troops may be required in the struggle against IS.

“Flames of War” appears at the end of the trailer, with the tagline: “Fighting has just begun”.

​'Autonomy of E. Ukraine - anathema for Right Sector radicals’ [RT - Daily news]

Supporters of the Ukrainian far-right nationalist group Right Sector sing the national anthem during a rally against the laws to provide separatist-held regions with a special status near the parliament in Kiev, September 17, 2014.(Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

RT:Kiev has seen two consecutive days of violence - led by the ultra-nationalists. What do they want?

Alexander Mercouris: I think what they want is a more centralized Ukraine where everybody basically speaks Ukrainian and where political parties that they disapprove of and political leaders that they disapprove of are not in power. And they basically are because that is the only way ultimately that they can secure their particular vision of Ukraine which is in every other respect is not a united country.

RT: The Right Sector radicals were the driving force of the uprising that eventually brought the current government to power. Are they now unhappy with those they practically put on top?

AM: They clearly are unhappy, as we see it, because they are protesting against it, and they are protesting against it very violently. They are not the only people who are unhappy, of course. There are other political factions within Ukraine. Mr. Yatsenyuk, the prime minister, Mrs. Timoshenko, the former prime minister, Mr. Tyagnibok of the “Svoboda” party who are also unhappy with the various changes that have been announced. And what we are seeing is an escalation within Ukraine of the political crisis, which it is important to say, has never really gone away. For these people any kind of autonomy to the eastern region is anathema because it utterly cuts against their ideology which is of the centralized ethnically united Ukraine speaking Ukrainian.

RT: Should we expect to see more street turmoil in Ukraine's capital in the future?

AM: Yes, I think we should. We are talking about Right Sector but of course there are other forces as well. The economy of Ukraine is in deep crisis. There are problems with heating. Russian gas is not being supplied now because it is not being paid for. They have lost access to coal from Donbass. So for all these reasons the situation in Ukraine is deteriorating. And given the promises that were made to people which induced many people to support the change of regime back in February, the fact that the situation is deteriorating rather than improving is going to make many people very angry.

RT: Who, in your view, is behind the radicals' actions? Or are they completely out of control and fighting simply for the sake of fighting?

AM: There has been a lot of speculation about who exactly is behind the Right Sector and where they get their money from and whether there are any puppet masters pulling their strings, so to speak. I think to some extent there are, there has been a well-established link between various Maidan radical groups and oligarchy groups within Ukraine. The name of Mr. Kolomoisky who is the governor of Dnepropetrovsk and is a very-very powerful man in Ukraine often gets mentioned. It is likely that there are these power struggles going on within Ukraine as well. And it is known that some of these people are also unhappy with the orientation of the present government because it causes the kind of stabilization that might happen in Ukraine, that these changes might, if they would be carried through, would bring about is actually one that these are powerful forces would lose from.

Can of mealworms: Belgium starts selling products made with insects [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Michael Kooren

For now, customers of the Belgian food retailer, Delhaize, are being offered two varieties of spread based on mealworms: with tomatoes or carrots.

Called “Green Bugs”, the brand-new food looks nothing like traditional insects, which for example Thai people traditionally sell and eat as a snack.

It may be a can of worms, but there are no visible parts of mealworms and nothing is moving. In fact, each product has between 4 and 6 percent insect content. The carrot spread is 4 percent worms, while the tomato version has 6 percent.

"Mealworms are chopped very well; it is not possible to see them with the naked eye," said Delhaize.

Cans of “Green Bugs” spread look more like baby food or mashed vegetables.

“Products made from insects are trending at the moment, and Delhaize wants to reaffirm its role as a pioneer in the field of food retailing,” said spokesperson Roel Dekelver, as cited by Flanders Today.

The spreads cost €3.45 ($4.45) for 125 grams (4.40 oz).

Belgian food producer Damhert has also created an alternative to meat-based food. Its product called Insecta offers schnitzel burgers and nuggets based on buffalo worms. It will be available in stores starting October 1, with the exception of three supermarkets: Colruyt, Aldi and Lidl.

The buffalo worm was one of 10 insect species Belgium’s federal food safety agency authorized for human consumption back in 2013, when it became the first EU country to embrace insect produce.

Both buffalo worms and mealworms are beetle larvae.

“There’s nothing you can see to suggest there are insects in the product,” assured Lisa Lamorgese of Damhert. “The worms are first freeze-dried and then ground up. The rest of the process is identical to the use of other meat substitutes.”

Radical or rational? Danish website reporting on E. Europeans' ‘misdeeds’ causes uproar [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Marko Djurica

The website called “Meld en Østeuropæer”, (Report Eastern Europeans) urges the Danish population to share their stories: if they were robbed or attacked by eastern Europeans; lost their job to “an underpaid eastern European” or simply had been "bothered in other ways" by eastern European immigrants.

The website caused criticism in Denmark and abroad, but its creator, Peter Kofod Poulsen, told RT that he doesn’t consider his idea “radical at all.”

“I have absolutely no problem with people coming to Denmark, to work and pay taxes. I don’t see a lot of eastern Europeans as problems - they are welcome,” Poulsen said.

According to the 23-year-old politician, the “huge problem” is the increasing number of criminal gangs from Eastern Europe, which operate in Denmark.

On his website, Poulsen cites police data, saying that more than a fourth of all burglaries in Denmark are committed by people from Eastern Europe.

The member of the right-wing Danish People's Party (DPP) believes that the best way to tackle the situation is to scrap open borders in order to prevent illegal immigrants from getting into the country.

“Actually, it is because of the distance between regular Danes and our parliamentarians in Copenhagen. [There is] a huge problem that we haven’t really got a real border control in this country that [leads to] a lot of consequences,” he explained.

The politician gave an assurance that all the data shared on the website would “be made anonymous” as there’s no way to guarantee if the stories that the people send are real.

With anti-immigrant moods on the rise in the European Union, the page seems to be getting quite a response from Danish citizens.

“This morning I had about 2,000 emails, but I haven’t finished going through all the email so I don’t really have a number,” Poulsen said.

Former European Parliament member and political analyst, Glyn Ford, told RT that he considers the idea of the Danish website outrageous.

“There’s no need for such a website. There may be a problem with immigration, but it’s not one that’s going to be solved by collecting – if you want –hate stories about your local eastern Europeans that have actually come into your country,”
Ford said.

“In the past, Adolf Hitler and Mussolini felt that they had a case for what they were doing. I see no reason, just because this man (Poulsen) said that he’s got a case, to accept that it’s a genuine and a valid one,”
he added.

More than one in four Danes voted for Poulsen’s DPP party in this year’s EU election, making it the largest Danish party in the European Parliament, with Ford confirming that there are currently “far too many,” who vote for “racists and fascists” in the EU.

The mainstream politicians in Europe must address the immigration issue, and solve it “in the way that demonstrates tolerance,” Ford said.

“Firstly, what we’ve got to do is help people deal with some of the problems as to why people are migrating,”
he explained.

The international community must address the situation in such sources of immigration as Syria, Iraq or Eritrea, so people there “don’t feel that they have to leave home to have any hope for the future. Most people would prefer to stay where they know, as long as they feel that they’ve got some hope,” Ford said.

Pentagon increasing surveillance to prevent another Snowden-style leak [RT - Daily news]

AFP Photo

Although the intelligence leaks attributed to United States Army Private Chelsea Manning and former contractor Edward Snowden have already spawned significant changes in the way sensitive information is seen and shared by workers with access to classified data, Politico’s Joseph Marks reported this week that the Pentagon plans to put into place further mechanisms intended to diminish the odds of another major breach anytime soon.

According to Marks, the Pentagon will within the next few months require that contractors with access to highly classified information be under persistent surveillance when they sign-on to government networks.

While the Manning and Snowden breaches have already each caused the Department of Defense and the intelligence community at large to alter the way they manage the country’s secrets, Marks reported that new rules will force those types of workers to be monitored like never before.

“Information about employees’ browsing on those networks will be combined with data analysis tools to spot suspicious behavior such as a Middle East analyst rooting around in intelligence documents related to China or Russia or an employee accessing documents at unusual hours,” Marks wrote on Wednesday this week. “The new monitoring regime is designed to give contractors early warnings that one of their employees may be stealing classified information either to leak it to the public as Snowden and Pvt. Chelsea Manning did or to pass it to a foreign government.”

Snowden, 31, worked for intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton before leaving the US in mid-2013, but not before supplying journalists with a trove of classified documents concerning the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and similar operations conducted by allied nations — for which the US government has charged him with espionage, among other offenses. Within weeks of the first Snowden leak that June, Prvt. Manning, now 26, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for providing the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks with a collection of classified files, including field reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, details on Guantanamo Bay detainees and hundreds of thousands of State Department diplomatic cables, pilfered while working as an intelligence analyst for the Army.

In each instance, Snowden and Manning’s roles required them to work closely with sensitive material.

"It's kind of brilliant, if you're him," National Public Radio quoted an unnamed government official as saying of Snowden last year. "His job was to do what he did. He wasn't a ghost. He wasn't that clever. He did his job. He was observed [moving documents], but it was his job."

On Manning’s part, one former superior testified during a pre-trial hearing in 2011 that the soldier “had a better understanding than any of the other analysts.”

In order to prevent other skilled intelligence experts from using their access to embarrass the US further, Marks reported that workers will soon be warned that their computer habits will be monitored and made available to investigators in the event that they begin to be suspected of criminal activity.

“The affected contractors will be required to sign forms acknowledging their browsing on classified networks is subject to monitoring and that records of that browsing could be used against them in a criminal trial or administrative action,” Marks reported, citing Pentagon spokesperson Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost. Additionally, Marks reported, Derrick-Frost said that employees signed on to sensitive networks will be greeted with custom banners reminding them that all browsing will be subjected to monitoring.

According to Mike Gelles, a director at Deloitte Consulting and a former chief psychologist for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, some contractors have already implemented similar changes.

“I do believe strongly that many of them are doing this because they want to position themselves to be in compliance with any requirements that may come down,” he told Politico. “At the same time, they want to be in a position to protect their assets and their reputation.”

On Thursday this week, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told an audience in Washington, DC that “the theft and leak of NSA documents and the associated loss of collection capabilities” is one of four major factors responsible for what he called a “perfect storm” that’s eroding the intelligence community’s ability to collect information for national security purposes.

Battle of the Titans: Murdoch’s News Corp launches attack on Google [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Francois Lenoir

In a letter to outgoing European Commission antitrust head Joaquín Almunia, News Corp said it was against a proposed antitrust settlement between European authorities and Google. News Corp said Google has become “a platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks, all while driving more traffic and online advertising dollars to Google.”

“The company has evolved from a wonderfully feisty, creative Silicon Valley start-up to a vast, powerful, often unaccountable bureaucracy,” wrote Robert Thomson, News Corporation’s chief executive, according to The New York Times. “This development reflects the exponential evolution from a company that is open to one that is selectively closed and willing to exploit its dominant market position to stifle competition.”

The settlement aims to give Google competitors more prominence in search engine results. The European Commission said this month that the settlement was not sufficient to resolve antitrust issues.

Google responded to News Corp - which owns many media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Fox Entertainment Group - with a little humor, poking fun at Murdoch’s empire.

“Phew, what a scorcher,” Google said. “Murdoch accuses Google of eating his hamster!”

This is a reference to an infamous 1986 headline - 'Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster' - in the tabloid The Sun. The article said Starr had eaten a hamster, though the British entertainer has vehemently denied these allegations.

Google answered to the claims in a more serious way two weeks ago, when the European Commission reopened the antitrust investigation. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said that, contrary to publishers’ claims, “Google is not ‘the gateway to the internet.’”

“Nor is it true that we promote our own products at the expense of competitors… if you want to buy something, whether it is shoes or insurance, we try to show offers and websites where you can actually buy things,” he wrote.

“That’s more relevant than a link to a specialized search engine, where you have to repeat your query. And if you need directions to a pharmacy, you get a Google Map with the closest stores. We think that is a great result for users.”

Others have defended Google, saying the search engine should not be forced to prioritize listings of its competitors in, say, airline-flight prices. Competing companies must build a reliable search engine if they want customers to go directly to their sites, the argument goes.

"Google didn't become a great search engine when it started out by complaining it wasn't being listed in Yahoo and AltaVista," wrote Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land. "It's like you're a newspaper in New York and you're complaining that other newspapers aren't running your articles. It sounds crazy."

The antitrust suit was spawned by several European publishers and others, who claim Google has too much sway over access to information online. These Google competitors have called on European antitrust authorities to reconsider the current proposed settlement with Google, which has developed over the last five years.

“We are afraid of Google,” Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of German publisher Axel Springer, wrote earlier this year in a letter to Google’s Schmidt. “I must state this very clearly and frankly, because few of my colleagues dare do so publicly.”

News Corp had been quiet about the antitrust case until now. Thomson alleged in the letter that Google frequently rigs its search engine results and has turned a blind eye to copyright abuse that violated publishers’ rights online.

​Turkey between rock and a hard place in US fight against ISIS [RT - Daily news]

An armed jihadist stands next to the wreckage of a Syrian government forces aircraft which was shot down by militants of the Islamic State (IS) group over the Syrian town of Raqa (AFP Photo / RMC / Str)

Syria has been mired in violence and mayhem ever since apparently initially peaceful protests against the Assad regime in Damascus morphed into outright military confrontation, due in no small part to outside meddling. Using the US Air Force base in Incirlik, Turkey, as its operational hub, "the US and Turkey have been giving logistic aid and military training to the Syrian armed opposition since 'April-May 2011'," according to notorious whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

More than three years have passed and the current conflict has managed to spread into Iraq as well. The terror group formerly known as ISIS (or ISIL), but currently preferring to call itself the Islamic State (IS), has now carved out its own territory comprising parts of Syria and Iraq. Over the past years, the fight against Assad has led to the growth of numerous Jihadi and other extremist outfits in Syria, and quite naturally, the press in the West quickly started using the name Al-Qaeda in this connection (the bogeyman getting everyone's attention). As such, even certain Turkish opposition voices easily used the name to insinuate that the government led by then-PM-but-now-popularly-elected President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was harboring extremist tendencies by supporting Jihad across the border.

One such prominent voice belongs to Abdullatif Sener, originally a co-founder of the AKP (or Justice and Development Party), who has since left to become a vocal critic of Erdogan. At the beginning of this year, Sener declared that “there is a [direct] link between Turkey and [Al-] Qaeda elements,” explaining that Turkey has even provided “weapons for Al-Qaeda, [delivering them to] a region [in Syria] controlled by Al-Qaeda.” At that time, the Turkish politician was arguably referring to the Syrian opposition fighters, united under the banner of the Al-Nusra Front (ANF or Jabhat al-Nusra), and referred to in the media as an “Al-Qaeda offshoot”. Recently, the Turkish politician has been joined by Francis Ricciardone, who served until late June as the US ambassador to Ankara, in denouncing Turkey's government led by the self-proclaimed Muslim-democrat AKP. Earlier this month, Ricciardone told the press that the "Turks frankly worked with groups for a period; including Al-Nusra, whom we finally designated as [being groups] we're not willing to work with.”

The emergence of the Islamic State

I have earlier argued that Syria's not-so civil war was originally meant to provide a battleground for a "proxy-war pitting the West, as represented by the US and its NATO and other allies, against the new unholy trinity of Russia-China-Iran.” While, simultaneously, the Islamic world is now also going through its own "increasingly more and more overt conflict between the Sunni faction and the Shiite minority,” a conflict that has been brought out in the open in Syria where numerous Sunni extremist groups are battling the Alawite Assad regime, backed by Iran - the one-and-only nation led by a Shiite religious establishment. Among the many Sunni groups fighting in Syria, the IS has managed to emerge as the strongest and most ferocious faction.

And now that they have moved their fight into Iraq as well, the IS leader, the Caliph Ibrahim (aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) has decided to openly taunt the US, and now the UK as well, by means of internet publicized beheadings of American and British captives. In this way, the West or the US and its allies, if you will, has been pulled directly into the Intra-Islamic Cold War, thereby forcing President Obama to re-engage in the Iraqi battlefield, a theatre of war he had previously vowed to vacate so robustly and which turned out to be a pledge that he actually fulfilled by means of withdrawing active US combat troops in a period of 2 years, 5 months, 2 weeks and 4 days, ending on 18 December 2011. Faced by video footage depicting the brutal beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, Obama acted quickly by assembling his own "coalition of the willing", like his predecessor George W. Bush. And now the internet-spread video of the beheading of British aid worker David Haines seems to have equally forced the hand of the referendum-beleaguered PM James Cameron to become the new Tony Blair. In fact, both leaders have not exactly been shy stepping into the boots formerly occupied by their forerunners.

Obama's Iraq War

Previously, US planes carried out air strikes in support of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces battling IS fighters in the north of Iraq, close to Mount Sinjar, to protect fleeing Yazidis. But on Monday, 15 September 2014, Obama's troops struck targets south-west of Baghdad in support of the Iraqi security forces, as the "beginning of intensified action" against IS militants in Iraq, as worded by a US defense official speaking to the American broadcaster NBC. These strikes came in the wake of Barack Obama's speech the previous week, when he vowed to "degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS. As for Obama's coalition of the willing, the Guardian reported that "more than 40 countries have signed up to a US-led plan, but not all are willing to offer Iraq direct military support. Arab participation in military action would give a wider sense of legitimacy to the campaign. No Arab state has [so far] publicly promised to participate in military action but it is believed several have in private, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.” But, at a 20-nation summit in Paris on 14 September, Cameron indicated that the UK was "ready to take whatever steps are necessary" to fight the threat posed by the Islamic State. And this time around even the French proved less awkward to their American allies, pledging to execute reconnaissance flights over Iraq in support of the Iraqi army. Nevertheless, the UK as well as the US has categorically ruled out deploying ground troops in either Iraq or Syria.

The Intra-Islamic Cold War and anti-Americanism

The Bush invasion of Iraq in 2003 provides a reason for the Islamic State's willingness to lure Western soldiers into the fray. The US invasion removed Saddam Hussein from power, but also ensured that the Shia powerhouse of Iran was to receive a friendly co-religionist as its neighbor. The Sunni Hussein had all but disenfranchised Iraq's Shiite majority, and following the US withdrawal, the sectarian policies carried out by the Maliki government drew Iraq closer to Iran, as well as managed to deprive the Sunni minority of its erstwhile privileged status and many of its rights. In his 2006 book The Shia Revival, Vali Nasr, currently Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, argues that "this [shift in Iraq's political landscape] has led to a Shia revival in the region . . . [meaning] that this half of the population in the Middle East has now developed an expectation of better things to come." The Maliki government was highly reliant upon Tehran, and arguably, this clear sectarian alignment in some ways contributed to the development of the current volatile situation, a situation that has become a veritable Intra-Islamic Cold War. And Caliph Ibrahim is goading Obama (and now Cameron too), because "militant Salafis [such as the IS fighters] see anti-Shiism as the other face of anti-Americanism,” as opined by Nasr. Thus, in a somewhat twisted way, it seems that Bush, Jr.'s preoccupation with Saddam and with various ways of getting rid of this Sunni tyrant has now ushered in a new reality, a new reality that has transformed the Intra-Islamic Cold War into another avenue for opposing the West and the American Way.

Turkey to join the U.S. against the Islamic State?

As a result, it seems that Obama had better build up and strengthen his “coalition of the willing” if he is really determined to "degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS, as the latter seems determined to oppose America to the very end. And to this end last week, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel followed by US Secretary of State John Kerry both visited Turkey. Alas, President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu appeared unwilling to commit Turkish troops to the good fight, sufficing instead to pledge logistical support and humanitarian aid. This in spite of the fact that the Secretary of State stressed that the operation would be more of a counterterrorism effort than a war, possibly trying to appeal to Turkey's sensitivities, given its decades-old counterterrorist actions against the terrorist PKK.

In addition, Kerry also seems to have drawn attention to Turkey's porous borders, allowing for the easy transfer of those willing to fight for Caliph Ibrahim. In fact, Turkey also has its own citizens crossing the border to join the caliphal forces of the IS. Turkish news media reports and US government officials indicate that as many as 1,000 Turks coming from the cities of Adıyaman, Bingol, Mardin, Diyarbakır, Kırşehir, Konya, Ankara and even Istanbul have joined the Intra-Islamic Cold War, waged by the terror group. And in a way that only seems to heighten tensions between Ankara and Washington, on 13 September 2014, David Sanger and Julie Hirschfield Davis argued in The New York Times that Turkey is heavily involved in oil smuggling activities which constitute a serious source of income for the Islamic State. President Erdogan remarked upon this piece talking to the press returning from his trip to Doha. Tayyip Erdogan called the allegations downright lies, while affirming Turkish willingness to cooperate in the establishment of a buffer-zone in the border region and stating that air strikes will not prove sufficient to defeat the Islamic State; thereby echoing words uttered by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C: "to destroy ISIL [or ISIS or the Islamic State], you have to kill or capture their leaders, take the territory they hold back, cut off their financing, and destroy their capability to regenerate"; and these actions would necessitate American boots on the ground, he implied.

But earlier this month Jana Hybaskova, a former Czech Member of European Parliament and currently European Ambassador to Iraq, has also come out accusing Turkey in conjunction with Iran and the KRG of some sort of complicity with the terror group. Hybaskova claimed that the two countries and the one aspiring nation involved are guilty of facilitating the export of oil produced by the Islamic State from fields seized earlier this year. When the IS captured Mosul earlier this summer, then-FM-now-PM the wily Ahmet Davutoglu talked to Turkey's consular staff in the city via the telephone reassuring them that "ISIS is not hostile to Turkey, they will not harm you. Do not leave the Consulate,” and as a result, at present 49 Turkish citizens are being held hostage by the terror group.

His earlier dealings with members of the Islamic State seem to have led Davutoglu to misjudge the situation in Mosul. Earlier, the Turkish government had successfully interacted with the group in order to free the captured Turkish photo-journalist Bunyamin Aygun at the beginning of this year. Aygun was held for 40 days, escaping decapitation as a result of his status as a nominal Muslim but turning more devout under pressure. Fortunately, Turkey's National Intelligence Organization’s (MIT) was active behind the scenes trying to liberate the captured Turk. Members of MIT got in touch with Ahrar al-Sham fighters who were able to free Aygun and then handed him over to the Turkish authorities. Bunyamin Aygun told the journalist Amberin Zaman recently, "when I heard Davutoglu’s voice on the telephone [speaking to] me, that is when I knew I was finally free.”

Turkey, Ahrar al-Sham and the IS

As the organization MIT is "directly attached to the figure of the prime minister by means of laws #644 (1965) and #2,937 (1984)"; its dealings with the Jihadi fighters of Ahrar al-Sham thus have to be seen as a matter of national policy, as an interaction that must have received official approval. Led by Hassan Aboud (aka Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi), the group is a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units fighting to unseat Bashar al-Assad. Over time, Hassan Aboud's outfit even became the "principal constituent force" of the Syrian Islamic Front (or SIF), set up in December 2012 as a "Salafi umbrella formation, which is arguably the best fighting force within the opposition" to the Assad regime in Damascus, in the words of the Richard Borow Fellow at the Washington Institute and founder of the website Jihadology, Aaron Zelin and Charles Lister, the Visiting Fellow, Brookings Doha Center.

And now, it has apparently been established that Turkey's AKP-led government is in direct contact with these “Sunni extremists”, and that Ankara even utilizes their services via the nation's National Intelligence Organization (MIT), but these apparently cordial relations do clearly not extend to the Islamic State. In spite of allegations that Turkey somehow supports Al-Qaeda, the MIT-link to a salafist group that was never declared a terrorist organization by the United States and that adheres to a national boundary (i.e. Syria, as illustrated in its name meaning “The Free Men of Syria” and its role in the SIF), as opposed to the universalist Islamic State, indicates that AKP-led Turkey is clearly not reluctant to pursue its Sunni line abroad yet still remains very much tied to the mere concept of the nation or rather sovereign state. The question now emerging is whether the 49 Turkish citizens held hostage really do constitute the main reason behind Turkey's reluctance to actively join Obama's “coalition of the willing” or if more nefarious negotiations subject to certain conditions are being held behind closed doors and removed from prying eyes . . .

Biden apologizes for 'Shylock' gaffe, immediately drops another two [RT - Daily news]

Vice President Joe Biden (Mark Makela / Getty Images / AFP)

On Tuesday, Biden, in a speech before the Legal Services Corporation, called ‘Shylocks’ those who had offered bad home loans to US service members deployed overseas.

The Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman criticized Biden for the “medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day.”

Biden apologized in a statement, saying, "He’s correct, it was a poor choice of words, particularly as he said coming from ‘someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden.’ He’s right.”

The Vice President was in Iowa on Wednesday as part of an official visit to the state, the first to select party nominees during presidential campaigns. Biden is reportedly considering a run in 2016 to replace President Barack Obama.

At a rally for the group Nuns on the Bus, which is set to begin its ‘We the People, We the Voters’ bus tour, Biden spoke in populist tones, according to The Washington Post, excoriating economic inequality and praising the bravery of immigrants who choose to come to the United States.

But these sentiments were overshadowed by a complimentative story he told of former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

"On the way back from Mumbai to go meet with President Xi in China, I stopped in Singapore to meet with a guy named Lee Kuan Yew, who most foreign policy experts around the world say is the wisest man in the Orient," Biden said.

His use of the word “Orient” drew immediate criticism on social media. Some called for him to apologize.

"Vice President Joe Biden’s insensitive remarks are offensive to both Asian-Americans and our Asian allies abroad," said Ninio Fetalvo, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee Asian American and Pacific Islander caucus, in a statement. "His comment is not only disrespectful but also uses unacceptable imperialist undertones."

Biden later visited a diner where he told reporters that it is possible for ground troops to be deployed to combat militant group Islamic State, an option his boss, Obama, again tried to stress was not going to happen during a statement made earlier Wednesday. "The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission,” Obama said from MacDill Air Force Base.

A reporter asked Biden whether Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey was correct when he indicated before a congressional panel on Tuesday that US ground forces could be used in addition to planned airstrikes against Islamic State strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

"He [Dempsey] said that if in fact he concluded that was needed he would request it from the president. His conclusion is that it is not needed now," Biden said.

"We’ll determine that based on how the effort goes," he added, contradicting Obama.

​Doubting Thomas: UK Archbishop unsure of God’s existence [RT - Daily news]

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby admitted in front of a small public audience in Bristol that he ‘frequently asked’ whether God truly existed, and if “he should be doing something” about difficult situations.

Asked whether he ever doubted his belief by a BBC reporter, the Archbishop said that he did question Christianity at times.

"Yes. I do. In lots of different ways really. It's a very good question. That means I've got to think about what I'm going to say. Yes I do," he said.

He cited that his soul searching came during his runs around Lambeth Palace, where the Archbishop and his staff are based.

Welby, who represents more than 80 million Anglican Christians, told the audience that he sometimes asked God “...isn’t it about time you did something, if you’re there?”

The archbishop, however, brushed off any ideas that he may be giving up his faith in the future.

While he said that Christians would be unable to explain the problem of suffering, he affirmed the idea that God was present in both good and bad times.

It is not about feelings, it is about the fact that God is faithful and the extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful when we are not,” he told the audience.

When asked what he does when life gets challenging, he told the audience: "I keep going and call to Jesus to help me, and he picks me up."

Welby is the first archbishop to openly admit his questioning of the divine, in stark contrast with other religious figureheads in the Christian community.

The comments also come at a time when Christianity is declining at a rapid rate. According to the UK’s last census poll in 2011, the number of people identifying themselves as Christian fell by 4.1 million people – a decline of over 10 percent.

In contrast, the UK is experiencing a huge drive in the number of people identifying themselves as Muslim, particularly amongst young people. According to the census, around one in ten people identified themselves with the Islamic faith.

Intelligence Director Clapper insists he didn’t lie to Congress — but ‘misspoke’ about NSA spying [RT - Daily news]

Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper (Reuters / Gary Cameron)

Eighteen months after he told lawmakers that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect and store data pertaining to US citizens, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during an event Thursday morning in Washington, DC that he still takes heat for his infamous answer.

The gaffe in question occurred when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) asked DNI Clapper during an intelligence hearing in March 2013 if American citizens are immune to surveillance programs undertaken by the NSA. Although Clapper responded “not wittingly,” classified documents leaked to the media by former contractor Edward Snowden later that year proved that Americans’ communications are indeed collected by the NSA.

"It has been very disappointing to have my integrity questioned because of a mistake," Clapper said during an event on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Dan Froomkin, a reporter for The Intercept, tweeted that Clapper complained “bitterly” of being “accused of lying.”

While we’ve made mistakes, to be clear, the [intelligence community] never willfully violated the law," Froomkin quoted the director as saying.

The DNI’s latest remarks were made during a summit at a DC ballroom that occurred in concert with his office’s release of a new strategic plan intended to outline the intelligence community’s mission for the next four years. At that event, Clapper claimed that “the theft and leak of NSA documents and the associated loss of collection capabilities” is one of four significant factors contributing to what he called a “perfect storm” that’s eroding the intelligence community’s ability to collect details, according to Politico.

After Snowden’s leaks revealed to the world that NSA routinely collects information on the phone calls placed to and from millions of Americans on a daily basis, among other operations, Clapper wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), the chair of that chamber’s intelligence committee, to apologize for what he admitted to be a “clearly erroneous” response made under oath to Sen. Clapper. His answer, Clapper insisted, was the “least untruthful” response he could provide lawmakers in an unclassified hearing.

Soon after Clapper said he was sorry, though, Sen. Wyden issued a statement saying he provided the DNI’s office with a copy of his questions a day in advance “so that he would be prepared to answer.”

“[M]isleading statements by intelligence officials have prevented our constituents from evaluating the decisions that their government was making, and will unfortunately undermine trust in government more broadly,” a bipartisan group of 26 senators wrote to Clapper in July 2013, weeks after the first Snowden leaks surfaced.

According to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, Clapper said during Thursday’s event that the “perfect storm” affecting the intelligence community is forcing the US to take “more risk” as a nation.

"In many cases, we’ve chosen where we’re taking risk, cutting specific programs, stopping specific collections and declassifying specific documents. All of those are good choices, as long as we recognize that we — as a nation — have to manage the attendant risks," Clapper said.

On his part, Snowden said previously that the “breaking point” with regards to deciding to leak classified documents came when Clapper lied under oath last March.

“[T]here is no saving an intelligence community that believes that it can lie to the public and to legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions,” the former NSA contractor told a German television network in February this year. “Seeing that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name.”

"I think I was reading it in the paper the next day, talking to coworkers, saying, can you believe this...?" Snowden later told Wired.

Despite claims to the contrary coming from the intelligence community at large, private security firm Flashpoint Global Partners said in an analysis released earlier this month that the terror groups whose communications are commonly sought by the NSA have not altered the way they share messages.

“Nothing has changed about the encryption methodologies that they use,” Evan Kohlmann, a Flashpoint partner, told NBC last week. “It’s difficult to reconcile with the claim that they have dramatically improved their encryption technology since Snowden.”

Sanctions against Russia 'violate' core principles of WTO – Putin [RT - Daily news]

President Vladimir Putin at the Russian State Council meeting in the Kremlin. (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

The sanctions violate the main principles of equal access for all WTO members to economic activity and access to goods and services in the market, Putin said at a meeting with advisers in the Kremlin on Thursday.

“The limitations introduced against our country are nothing but a violation by some of our partners of the basic principles of the WTO,” the President said, adding that sanctions “undermine free enterprise competition.”

On September 12, the US and EU expanded sanctions against Russia aimed at hurting Russia’s main industry - oil. The US and EU have led sanctions against Russia, along with Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and others over Moscow’s alleged meddling in the Ukraine conflict.

READ MORE: Russia to appeal against US, EU sanctions to WTO

The best way for Russia to counter these unfair advantages is to develop its domestic market, the President said.

“In response, we took protective measures, and I would like to stress that they are protective; they are not the result of our desire to punish any of our partners or influence their decision in any way.”

Russia introduced protective measures over food supplies on August 7 in response to Western sanctions. The Kremlin and White House sanctions tit-for-tat has been escalating since March, when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.

The food ban is due to only last a year, but at today’s meeting the President said that Russia needs to focus on increasing its market competitiveness over the next eighteen months to two years.

One of Russia’s main competitive advantages is its huge domestic market, and it should be filled with more Russian-made products, Putin said.

The President said that Russia’s decision to join the WTO in 2012 was a difficult transition for the country, but that it raised economic standards.

At the meeting President Putin laid out a list of economic priorities for the Russian state. At the top are developing the infrastructure, boosting lending, continuing to develop the agricultural and technology sectors, and increasing overall competition.

Russia joined the WTO in 2012 after nearly two decades of back and forth negotiations on the conditions for entry.

Dragon-cat and bee-dog: Russian groomers turn ordinary animals into futuristic creatures [RT - Daily news]

Screenshot from Ruptly video

The groomers from the southern Russian city of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, decided to stage a beauty contest among their clients.

“We decided to make a bright summer, pretty dog. That’s why we decided to color it as a bee. It’s a bright image,” says Ekaterina Aidimirova, a groomer and the owner of Pchyolka, a bee-dog. Ekaterina thinks that the dog with its smooth fur really looks like a bee.

Vasya, a Siberian cat with grey fur was transformed into a savage dragon at the hands of creative groomers. His skin became emerald-green and his tale was shaved and colored like a dragon’s tail.

Aidimirova adds that at first people may be shocked when they see dogs and cats transformed this way.

“But then they are delighted, enthusiastic [about it]. Children like them [colored cats and dogs] very much,” she adds.
Daria Gots, the director of the animal salon, says the colors are totally harmless.

“We used harmless colors. The manufactures claim they have health effect from the extracts of special plants,” she told Ruptly.

The fantasy of the groomers from Yekaterinburg is endless. Among their “creations” are dogs colored as zebras and superman.

In the meantime, Russia is not the only country where you can see dragon-cats and bee-dogs. Such a practice is widely spread in other countries, such as the USA and China.

In China a new trend has emerged - to turn your pet into an exotic animal, a tiger or a panda.

"Our panda design is one of the most popular," Sun Ruowen, owner of the Ruowen Pet Spa in Beijing, said. "Since this year is the Chinese 'Year of the Tiger,' our tiger design has also grown in popularity."

Statistics from the Beijing Association of Small Animal Protection shows that Beijing spends 500mn yuan ( $81mn) a year on pets.

Crazy pets or crazy owners? Take a look at this collection and decide for yourself!

Finnish govt okays Russia-backed nuclear power plant, Greens quit [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

The permit for a 1,200 megawatt plant is yet to pass a parliamentary vote. However, it is likely to be successful given that the country’s four main parties will probably back the project.

Finland's Minister of the Environment Ville Niinisto said on Monday that he would remove the Greens of Finland from the government if the preliminary permit was granted.

“The Greens cannot accept it,” Niinisto told a news conference on Thursday.

“It is clear that the situation becomes more challenging in terms of decision-making ... This is a rare situation in Finnish politics, but I wouldn't over-dramatize it. We just have to be careful and work as a team,” center-right Prime Minister Alexander Stubb told a press conference on Thursday.

The Greens are a junior party with 10 MPs. Their departure means that the ruling coalition would only have a slight majority – 102 MPs to 98 in the opposition bloc.

Fennovoima was granted permission to build the plant in 2010. However, subsequent planned changes to the size of the reactor and its supplier demanded fresh approval. The Fennovoima plant itself is owned by Russia’s national nuclear corporation, Rosatom (34 percent of shares), and a consortium of some 40 further Finnish companies under the name Voimaosakeyhtio (66 percent of shares).

Finland’s government has stated that Finnish ownership must be as high as 60 percent – up from the current 52 percent of Voimaosakeyhtio’s share. The project’s costs are currently between 4 billion and 6 billion euros, with several investors having pulled out.

The tense international atmosphere over Ukraine has made securing additional investment difficult.

Rosatom is to supply the reactor. Niinisto expressed opposition to Rosatom’s involvement, citing Rosatom’s close ties with the Russian government as one of the reasons for wanting to halt cooperation.

Stubb said on Monday: “I hope that Rosatom's participation won't threaten the existence of this project which is a very long-term endeavor. We hope that the Ukraine crisis will be resolved in the nearer term,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

Ferguson cop who shot Michael Brown testifies before grand jury [RT - Daily news]

Police block demonstrators from gaining access to Interstate Highway 70 on September 10, 2014 near Ferguson, Missouri. (Scott Olson / Getty Images / AFP)

An unnamed source familiar with the investigation told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a “cooperative” Wilson testified for four hours. No more details were offered.

A spokesperson for the prosecution would not comment on witnesses who have testified before the grand jury.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch ordered that an audio recording of the proceedings, as well as transcripts, be made available to the public as long as there is no indictment in the case, McCulloch told the Post-Dispatch.

On Tuesday, St. Louis County Judge Carolyn Whittington granted an extension to the grand jury. The jury now has until January 7 to decide on an indictment.

The grand jury is to decide if the incident meets the standard for probable cause, based on testimony and evidence. The jury will continue to meet in secret as it decides whether to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the death of Brown, a black teenager.

Wilson shot Brown at least six times from the front, according to the medical examiner. His body was reportedly left in the street for four and a half hours.

There are conflicting eyewitness reports from residents and police, but several witnesses have described Brown as holding up his arms in surrender during the confrontation. That detail developed into the chant “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” during several weeks of ongoing protests that followed the incident.

In the state of Missouri, the decision does not have to be unanimous to press an indictment, as long as nine out of the 12 jurors agree on the charge.

St. Louis County Director Paul Fox has said there are three African-Americans on the 12-member Missouri jury (one male and two females), along with nine whites (six males and three females).

Brown’s killing set off weeks of civil unrest in the suburb of St. Louis, which has a majority-black population while its police department and city leadership is predominantly white. Law enforcement’s militarized response to protests and demonstrations near the site of the shooting exacerbated tensions and galvanized a local population calling attention to racial grievances.

Area residents have not let their public anger extinguish. The latest St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday was interrupted several times by attendees chanting, “Arrest Darren Wilson!”

“How many people have to say his hands were up in the air?” shouted one speaker at the meeting, according to KPLR.

Attendees also again called for McCulloch, the county prosecutor, to step down from the case. He is seen as having a close relationship with the Ferguson Police Department. McCulloch’s father was a police officer killed in the line of duty when McCulloch was a child, and he has relatives currently working in law enforcement.

McCulloch could have filed charges against Wilson himself, but chose to send the case through a grand jury.

The US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is also conducting an investigation into whether Brown’s civil rights were violated. US Attorney General Eric Holder has visited Ferguson, and FBI agents have interviewed more than 200 people.

​ISIS publishes video of captive British journalist John Cantlie [RT - Daily news]

Screenshot from youtube video

A former reporter for The Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph, Cantlie sits at a table wearing an orange shirt and describes how he will dispel “manipulated truths” told by the Western media.

The video appears to be part of a targeted IS propaganda campaign using gruesome videos of Western hostages to convey the militant group’s message.

In what appears to be a rehearsed, scripted speech, Cantlie says: “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘he’s only doing this because he’s a prisoner – he’s got a gun at his head and he’s being forced to do this.”

He said that he cannot deny that he is a prisoner, but since being “abandoned” by his government his fate now lies in the hands of Islamic State and he has “nothing to lose.”

Cantlie says he wants to take the opportunity to “convey some facts,” so that other lives can be saved.

A war with the Islamic State would be “yet another unwinnable conflict” - a reference to the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.

“I’m going to show you the truth behind the systems and motivation of the Islamic State.”

Cantlie criticizes the US and UK governments for refusing to pay ransoms for their citizens. He says that while other European nations (including Spain and France) were willing to negotiate with IS to secure the release of their citizens, “the British and Americans were left behind.”

Washington and London, he adds, “thought they could do it differently to every other European country.”

At the end of the video Cantlie asks viewers to join him again for the next program – indicating that this video may be just the first of a series of propaganda clips featuring him.

The Islamic State’s media wing 'Al-Furqan' is thought to have released the video.

YouTube has since removed the video, because it is "a violation of YouTube's policy on violence."

To-date IS has released three gruesome videos showing the beheadings of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines. The Islamic State has threatened to execute a fourth hostage, British aid worker Alan Hennings.

Poroshenko urges US to provide Ukraine with 'lethal military equipment' [RT - Daily news]

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko (C) gestures while addressing a joint meeting of Congress in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 18, 2014. (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

While President Barack Obama previously pledged only non-lethal assistance to Kiev, such as bullet-proof vests and helmets, Poroshenko said this would not be enough.

"Blankets and night-vision goggles are important, but one cannot win the war with blankets. You cannot keep the peace with a blanket," he said, adding that Ukraine urgently needs "more military equipment, both lethal and non-lethal."

As his statement drew applause from the audience, the Ukrainian leader went on to call on NATO for closer ties.

"I strongly encourage the United States to give Ukraine a special security and defense status which reflect the highest level of interaction with a non-NATO ally," he said.

Russia has warned that NATO’s progress towards the east and Ukraine, which the military bloc sees as a potential member, will trigger a strong reaction.

'We will react to NATO build-up!' Key Putin quotes from defense policy address

Poroshenko accused Russia of having an "imperial mindset" and "nostalgia for the Soviet Union," referring to Crimea’s breakaway and Russia’s alleged support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.

"I urge you not to let Ukraine stand alone in the face of this aggression," he said, also recalling events in Georgia's break-away regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 as well as the 1992 military conflict in Moldova, which resulted in Transnistria unilaterally proclaiming independence.

He then drew a sudden parallel with Israel:

"Just like Israel, Ukraine has the right to defend her territory, and will do so with all the courage in her heart and dedication in her soul."

Ukraine has been engulfed in violent internal conflict since April, when Kiev’s military began its crackdown on the southeastern regions of the country.

According to United Nations’ estimates, over 2,249 people have been killed so far and more than 6,033 wounded in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The number of internally displaced Ukrainians has reached 260,000, with another 814,000 finding refuge in Russia.

READ MORE: Kiev, E. Ukraine militia agree on ceasefire

Aside from asking for military assistance, Poroshenko called on the US to continue its economic pressure on Russia.

"And I also ask that the US be forceful and stand by its principle with respect to further sanctions against the aggressor. Economic sanctions are important for many reasons. They help to distinguish between good and evil. They help us to defend and stand the moral high ground and not to sink into indifference, disgust and pragmatism," the Ukrainian president said.

Meanwhile, the United States has pledged $53 million in fresh aid to Ukraine. The new assistance would include $46 million to bolster Ukraine's security in its conflict in eastern Ukraine and $7 million in humanitarian aid.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko addressed the US Congress when he arrived in Washington DC on Thursday morning. He is also expected to meet President Barack Obama later. His visit to the US was preceded by a similar trip to Canada.

​British Muslim leaders unite in plea for British hostage held by ISIS [RT - Daily news]

An Islamic State militant carries a piece of wreckage from a Syrian war plane after it crashed in Raqqa, in northeast Syria (Reuters / Stringer)

More than 100 Muslim imams and activists expressed “horror and revulsion” at the killing of British hostage David Haines, adding that killing Henning would be “the worst condemnable sin” against Islam.

“Acts of humanitarianism are an essential element of religious practice for all Muslims, and of course they are just as significant to other people too” they say in an open letter.

“The senseless kidnapping, murder and now the despicable threats to Mr. Henning at the hands of so-called ‘Muslims’ cannot be justified anywhere in the [Koran] and the Sunnah [teachings of the Prophet Mohammed]” they add.

The letter was signed by the imams of the UK’s biggest mosques, along with British Muslim politicians including Khalid Mahmood, Shabana Mahmood and Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan.

Britain’s biggest Muslim representative organization, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was also a signatory to the letter.

In the letter, Koranic references were used to explain why the actions of IS are not in line with Islamic teachings, and urge those fighting with the extremists to learn “the errors of their ways.”


“The Holy [Koran] says that: ‘Whosoever kills a human being... it is as if killing the entire human race; and whosoever saves a life, saves the entire human race" the letter goes on to say.

“In the name of the Almighty All Merciful God, we beseech Mr Henning's kidnappers with the words of our Prophet [Mohammed] – ‘Show mercy to those on earth, the One in the Heavens will have mercy on you.’”

The letter comes as the UK considers military solutions to deal with IS, which has taken over vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring it a self-proclaimed caliphate.

As a result, Prime Minister David Cameron is considering authorizing airstrikes on IS-held territory in line with a US-led military operation. The army may also help train ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels.

British Muslims have also spoken out against IS, taking to social media to renounce the Islamist group.

The London based ‘Active Change Foundation’ started a campaign, titled ‘#notinmyname’, in which a number of young British Muslims condemn the violence conducted by IS fighters.

“ISIS is hiding behind a false Islam,” they say, insisting that their actions have “nothing to do with what we stand for."

The group also says that the IS is “totally un-Islamic” and “has no respect for women.”

Henning, a father of two from Manchester, traveled to Syria last year along with a group of aid workers.

According to official security service reports, he was kidnapped half an hour after entering the country, although it is not known at what point he ended up in IS hands.

Ukraine turmoil to hit emerging economies as Russia braces for setback - EBRD [RT - Daily news]

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's (EBRD) Chief Economist Erik Berglof (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) gave a gloomy prognosis for the whole region, which it says will slow to 1.3 percent in 2014, compared with 2.3 percent last year. Next year it anticipates 1.7 percent growth, marking the fourth consecutive year of regional growth below 3 percent.

Uncertainty is the dark cloud that dominates the EBRD report.

"The volatile security situation in Ukraine makes the forecasts exceptionally uncertain," it said.

At the same time, the violent conflict between Western and Eastern Ukraine, with each side accusing the other of receiving military assistance from external powers, points to an increase in military spending at a time when the country cannot afford such expenditures.

“Just when national governments remain financially strapped in the wake of the global financial crisis, any new build up in military spending will be an additional fiscal burden that will stand in the way of the recovery and economic reforms for the future,” the EBRD’s Chief Economist Erik Berglof said.

Much of Ukraine’s economic problems stem from the breakdown of trading with Russia, which was prepared to assist Kiev with its monetary problems before political strife broke out in Ukraine between West and East.

“There are significant downside risks to the outlook stemming from protracted and intensified fighting and from further breakdown of trade linkages with Russia,” the report said. “On the upside, eventual stabilization in the East may pave the way for infrastructure rehabilitation and for confidence recovery, although the timeline is highly uncertain.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s ban on food imports from central and south eastern European countries and the Baltics will act as a drag on growth in the region, partly offset by some positive influences from the eurozone.

In an echo to the monetary emergency policy that the US Federal Reserve employed to pull the US economy out of dangerous waters, the EBRD report discussed the possibility of using quantitative easing (QE) in the Eurozone for emerging European countries.

“The case for quantitative easing has become compelling to support the still fragile recovery in the Eurozone, to which much of the (Central Europe and Baltic and south eastern European) regions are strongly linked. An effective Eurozone QE may help lessen the risk of setbacks in the recovery of those regions,” the report said.

Russia under a sanction cloud

Although Russia and the West have exchanged tit-for-tat sanctions against each other over Ukraine, EU sanctions announced in September may be particularly painful, as they focused on Russia’s oil industry, the supporting column of its economy, EBRD said in a separate report.

A full quarter of budgetary revenues and half of Russia's exports are related to the oil industry.

The report said that the Russian economy would stagnate in 2014, after a slightly better than anticipated first half of the year. However, growth in 2015 has been predicted to contract by 0.2 per cent. In May, the bank forecast that the Russian economy would grow by 0.6 per cent in 2015.

In addition to affecting business confidence in Russia, the sanctions limit the access of companies and banks to international capital markets.

Meanwhile, Russian companies must make repayments of around $190 billion on foreign debt by the end of 2015. Unable to borrow outside of the country, interest rates may further increase, which could drag down consumer spending.

At the same time, Russia's own sanctions on food imports from European countries could push up inflation in Russia by one to two percentage points.

10 million views: Elusive biker throws trash back into litterbugs’ cars (VIRAL VIDEO) [RT - Daily news]

Screenshot from youtube by My video

Wearing a GoPro camera on her helmet, she rides her motorcycle on the streets of Moscow, keeping an eye on litterbugs. She chases them down and catches them red-handed. Those who throw junk, get it back - right through their open car windows. She scarpers before the drivers can react.

The elusive litter avenger’s video begins with the words: "I want to live in a clean city.”

Lasting for two minutes, it shows several drivers who have been taught a litter lesson.
One woman throws out an empty carton of cigarettes. In a few seconds, an ashtray full of cigarette butts gets dumped in her car. Another man gets his fast foot bag thrown right back into his posh G-class Mercedes.

“You haven’t finished it,” says a voice, as the motorcyclist zooms off.

A man, who threw a plastic bottle while driving, got it taped back to his side mirror at the nearest stop light.

The video was uploaded on Monday and has been viewed nearly 10 million times. However, some of the viewers, while appreciating the single-handed campaign, have suspected that the video was staged and may be promoting one of

Russia’s latest sitcoms - the leading actor there drives a similar make of car.

“Everyone who doesn't care will be punished,” the litter vigilante threatens in the end.

​Apple reveals new operating system it claims is police-proof [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Mike Blake

In an effort to protect the private communications of iPhone and iPad users, Apple said on Wednesday its latest mobile operating system, the iOS8, has built-in encryption features that does not allow anybody – even police with search warrants – from accessing data stored on handheld devices.

READ MORE: Hackers used police spy tool to steal nude celebrity pictures

News of the updated features was unveiled together with a statement to customers, some of whom expressed concern after it was revealed that Apple in the past complied with legally-binding police requests to unlock customer devices.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your pass code and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its website. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

The statement then attempted to shine some light on national security requests made by the government.

“A tiny percentage of our millions of accounts is affected by national security-related requests. In the first six months of 2014, we received 250 or fewer of these requests. Though we would like to be more specific, by law this is the most precise information we are currently allowed to disclose.”

However, despite the new security features that come with iPhones and iPads, Apple is still legally obliged to turn over customer data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which gives users the ability to share photos, calendars and even their locations with friends.

In order to protect this type of information, Apple users would have to adjust their settings accordingly.

Apple’s new privacy policy is an effort to circumvent a recent Supreme Court ruling, coming after revelations about government snooping by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, which said police need to obtain a search warrant to collect electronic communications.

Ronald T. Hosko, the former head of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, told the Washington Post the new technological features may thwart law enforcement officers’ ability to solve and prevent crimes in the future.

“Our ability to act on data that does exist… is critical to our success,” Hosko said.

However, although Apple users will be happy to know their information is better protected than ever, forgetting a password could prove to be an even greater nightmare than any government intrusion of privacy.

According to Apple officials, users who forget their pass codes with the new iOS 8 operating system will not be able to recover them by contacting the company.

In order to access their phones, customers would first be required to remove all data collected on their iPhones and iPads.

Apple is attempting to turn around a series of negative reports, including Apple’s iCloud service being compromised earlier this month by a hacker, leading to a number of nude photos of Hollywood celebrities - including Jennifer Lawrence - posted to the internet.

Gas hungry China trims back shale goal [RT - Daily news]

A natural gas appraisal well of Sinopec is seen behind a treatment pond of drilling waste in Langzhong county, Sichuan province  (Reuters / Stringer)

The country is only starting mass production of shale gas, which drastically changed the energy landscape in the US in recent years, with the extraction of 200 million cubic meters annually.

In 2012, when Chinese shale gas production was virtually non-existent, Beijing eyed an ambitious goal of 60-80 billion cubic meters (bcm) by 2020, but the latest plans from the Ministry of Land and Resources on Wednesday lowered it to more conservative 30 bcm. A higher figure is possible, but conditional.

"China aims to pump at least 30 billion cubic meters of shale gas by 2020. With proper drilling technology, output can increase to 40 to 60 billion cubic meters," Che Changbo, deputy director of the ministry's geological exploration department, said at a news conference in Beijing.

Short-term prospects for shale gas production are more optimistic, according to the ministry. It will surpass the old government 2015 target of 6.5 bcm next year and hit 15 bcm in 2017.

China has carved out 54 shale gas blocks spanning 170,000 sq km. Producers have drilled 400 wells, including 130 horizontal.

The ministry said the economies of scale and localization of drilling technology are making shale gas more commercially attractive in China. The cost of one well has fallen from 100 million yuan to 50 to 70 million yuan, while the drill time dropped from 150 days to between 46 and 70 days.

But the industry is still hurdled by several problems, including complex geology, shortage of advanced technology and skilled personnel and regulation barriers. There is also the dominating position of two state-owned giants, PetroChina and Sinopec, which enjoy a privileged access to fields discouraging private investment.

China has been relying for decades on coal for the majority of its energy production, is undergoing a switch towards cleaner gas. The country is expected to consume some 311 bcm of the fuel by 2020, with conventional domestic production supplying only 200 bcm. Shale gas was hoped to reduce the dependence on gas imports.

‘BABA’ black sheep? What to expect from Alibaba IPO [RT - Daily news]

Alibaba founder Jack Ma (Reuters / Edgar Su)

The final Alibaba price share, expected in the range of $60-$68 per unit, will be announced at 4:00p.m. Thursday. On Friday morning the stock will start trading on the NYSE. If the price hits the top range, Alibaba may attain a market value of more than $200 billion and as much as $25 billion in stock offerings.

That would put it among the world’s three most valuable tech firms, behind Google and Facebook.

In the year's most buzzed about IPO, Alibaba will offer a total of 368 million shares to eager investors looking for a buy-in to China’s rapidly growing internet sector.

Co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma will sell 12.75 million shares in the IPO, which could earn him over $800 million in a matter of seconds if prices go above $66 per share.

High demand from investors forced the company to add new shares to the deal, which could drive up the IPO price to between $22-25 billion, meaning it may even top the $22.1 billion raised by Agricultural Bank of China Ltd in 2010.

Leading up to the IPO, shares of other US e-commerce companies tumbled- Amazon’s share price dropped 5 percent and eBay fell too.

Either way, experts forecast it will be the biggest offering of any technology company, beating out giants like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo. Last year’s hot tech IPO was Twitter, which raised $1.82 billion.

All were listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which with the help of the Alibaba IPO, may have its most successful year since 2000. Already, $46 billion in capital has been raised in over 200 deals.

“To me I think Ali Baba missed this great opportunity to be listed in Hong Kong,” Jack Ma said during the Alibaba road show in Hong Kong.

The company- which has more payment transactions than both Amazon and eBay combined- will attract many foreign investors with its New York debut, however, they can’t technically own shares in Chinese internet companies, so it will all be conducted via a third party, a shell company.

China’s internet giant filed for the IPO on May 6, 2014, and the release of its Form F1 revealed the enormity of the deal, which from the financial data was set for an IPO of at least $20 billion. The document showed that Alibaba is a strong company with a strong balance sheet; net income in 2013 was $2.9 billion. In the 18 month period leading up to its public filing, Alibaba increased its active buyers to 231 million, an almost 100 million increase. Net income in the first nine months between December 2012-2013 increased 304.8 percent.

But investors may worry over stunted growth and the fact it is yuan-based; a currency that is under the control of the Chinese government whom not everyone trusts. But the company is strong, and its $6.5 billion revenue in 2013 had hedge funds hooked.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group, and Deutsche Bank are brokers for Alibaba.

Alibaba was founded in 1999.

Reading, Writing and…M16s: US education getting schooled over militarization [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Steve Dipaola

Just one month after the shooting death of African-American teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, which brought military-grade vehicles and weapons onto the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in response to an outbreak of protests and riots, Americans are wakening to the realization that their school districts are also being militarized.

READ MORE: Mike Brown jury gets extension, charges for Ferguson officer may be delayed until January

At least 26 school districts have participated in the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which since the 1990s has provided free military surplus goods, including mine-resistant armored vehicles, grenade launchers and M16 rifles.

Last week, for example, the San Diego Unified School District Police Department (SDUSD) announced that it had received from the federal government a $733,000-dollar Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) similar to those used in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In June, the Los Angeles Unified School District also received a MRAP.

Although the 18-ton vehicle does not come with any weapons, citizens and watchdog groups are wondering exactly what type of emergency would require the use of an armored vehicle.

Although America’s localized arms race has been explained as a way for helping police fight against terrorists and drug cartels, the militarization of school police departments has been explained by incidences of violence on school grounds, most notably the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, which left 15 dead, including the two perpetrators of the shooting spree, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

This week, almost two dozen educational and civil rights groups sent a letter to Pentagon officials, urging them to halt the controversial practice of militarizing US school police departments, which have been reported in California, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Michigan.

“Adding the presence of military-grade weapons to school climates that have become increasingly hostile due to their over-reliance on police to handle routine student discipline can only exacerbate existing tensions,” said the protest letter, signed by a number of groups, including the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Children’s Law Center and Public Counsel.

Democratic congressman Adam Schiff said while there was a role for surplus military equipment going to local police forces, “it’s difficult to see what scenario would require a grenade launcher or a mine-resistant vehicle for a school police department.”

The call for school police departments to return the military equipment they received from the Pentagon has been met with a mixed response.

Rick Stelljes, the chief of Florida’s Pinellas county schools police, said he had acquired 28 semi-automatic M16 rifles through the program. Although the firearms designed specifically for battlefield conditions have never been used, they are “something we need given the current situation we face in our nation. This is about preparing for the worst-case scenario,” Stelljes told AP.

Jill Poe, police chief in southern California’s Baldwin Park school district, said she would be handing over three M16 rifles acquired under her predecessor.

“Honestly I could not tell you why we acquired those,” Poe said. “They have never been used in the field and they will never been used in the field.”

President Barack Obama in August ordered a review of federal programs that allow state and local law enforcement to acquire military-grade weapons and equipment.

Sneak peak at Russia’s ‘under renovation’ Arctic base [RT - Daily news]

Murad Gazdiev witnessed the deployment of new hardware at Kotelny Island. Screenshot from RT video

The island is the largest in the Novosibirsk Archipelago, located in the Laptev Sea off the eastern Siberian coast. Back in the soviet days the military deployed an observation post and a radar station on the Kotelny Island, but with the fall of the country all the troops were withdrawn, leaving behind only a civilian meteorological station.

But now, after decades of desolation, the former military base is being rebuilt. Last year sailors and engineers of the Russian Northern Fleet began construction works, cleaning up rusty barrels and broken vehicles abandoned on the island and constructing a landing strip so that supplies could be airlifted rather than air-dropped.

Now the Temp base, which is still mostly a couple of buildings and rows of temporary winter tents, has become the new home for the 99th Arctic tactical group, the Navy’s permanent unit serving at the hostile land. There is virtually not a tree on the island, much of which is a flat rocky bed of pebbles covering a layer of permafrost.

READ: Russian Navy sends flotilla to Arctic to start permanent service at military base

An RT crew is traveling with a fleet of warships and support ships that delivered the troops and their military hardware, including brand new armored vehicles, to Kotelny. The military men say they are determined to deal with the hardships Arctic will deal them.

“The conditions are certainly harsh, but we are coping. We have housing and equipment, so we’ll survive just fine,” Yuri Popov, an engineer with the 99th told RT’s Murad Gazdiev.

READ: Murad Gazdiev's Arctic blog

The Russian Defense Ministry had big plans for Kotelny. A new pier will be soon built to dock medium-sized vessels, which would make supply runs that much cheaper during the summer navigation. The runway would be extended and strengthened to serve heavier aircraft, including heavy transport planes and strategic bombers. Manning all the new installations would require additional personnel, and a new city for the troops and their families is now being built several kilometers from the Temp.

With the Arctic becoming warmer and its natural riches more accessible, leading nations are eager to get their share of the pie. Thanks to its geographical position Russia will get the biggest slice. And it’s not sparing any expense to add a military backing to its economic claim, especially since it has an edge due to experience and the world’s best fleet of icebreakers.

‘Britons to join ISIS for psychological, not economic reasons’ [RT - Daily news]

An image grab taken from an AFPTV video on September 16, 2014 shows a jihadist from the Islamic State (IS) group standing on the rubble of houses after a Syrian warplane was reportedly shot down by IS militants over the Syrian town of Raqa (AFP Photo / Str)

According to the UK government, more than 500 British citizens have joined the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). RT managed to talk to one of the IS recruits who used to be a London banker before becoming a terrorist. This is how he explained his decision to join the jihadi group: “I hate democracy and the self-indulgence of the rich…I hate inequality…I hate the corporations who destroy this world because of tyranny.”

RT discussed the case of this recruit with Deputy Director of RUSI Qatar, Michael Stephens.

RT: Why would a London banker join the ranks of ISIS? How common is this?

Michael Stephens: That’s a good question. Why would a London banker who is very well-off, seems to have a lot to lose, join an organization as extreme as ISIS and in the process throw away his British citizenship and commit a crime for which he will not be found innocent. What we know about these extremists from Britain that have joined ISIS is that there is no a single type of jihadist: there are people from poor backgrounds, there are people from rich backgrounds. It doesn’t seem to be an economic factor, it seems to be very much a psychological factor – an issue to do with the individual’s mindset rather than their sort of personal circumstances.

RT: What are foreign fighters used for? Why does ISIS need them?

MS: There are a couple of things. The first one, of course, is the most obvious - it is what we saw with Jihadi John, which is used for propaganda messaging to the West. But they also use them to fight, and we found that there have been a number of British jihadists fighting with ISIS who have been killed on the frontline. What we do know is that about 60 percent of those Britons who have joined ISIS have ended up being killed in fighting. They are clearly involved in combat operations but they don’t seem to be in the higher ranks of the organization, partly because some of them don’t speak very good Arabic and for that particular reason they are not able to contribute to the institutional life of ISIS.

RT: What can the EU and the US governments, the world do to fight recruiting trends that are obviously developing at a fast rate?

MS: What I would say is that the vast majority of those people from Britain who are going to join ISIS have already done so. Partly now because the legislation has been changed, it is obviously a lot more difficult now to simply take a tourist trip to Turkey than it was before. The monitoring procedures of these individuals and some of the areas where they have been recruited, for example from radical mosques, have been stepped up. So the British government in particular has been very strict about this particular process now that they realize the size of the problem. The problem as well was with the Turks because the Turks have obviously operated quite a selective border policy, when people have been able to cross quite freely in recent times, and unfortunately, the Turks have not signed up to this new coalition to defeat ISIS. So we are not sure if they are really serious about tackling this problem or not.

BBC crew attacked by unidentified people in southern Russia [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Andrew Winning

When the group left the café, where they had stopped for lunch and approached their vehicle, they “were confronted and attacked by at least three aggressive individuals,” wrote Steven Rosenberg, the BBC’s Moscow correspondent.

“Our cameraman was knocked to the ground and beaten,” he added.

According to Rosenberg, the attackers “grabbed the BBC camera, smashed it on the road and took it away in their getaway car.”

Then the group spent more than “four hours at the police station being questioned by investigators,” he added.

After returning from police authorities, the group found that the recorded material left in the car had been deleted.

“The hard drive of our main computer and several memory cards had been wiped clean,” wrote Rosenberg.

The group was investigating reports of alleged Russian servicemen being killed near the Russian-Ukrainian border.

The southern Russian city of Astrakhan is located nearly 1,000 km from the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, where hostilities have been taking place.

The BBC crew is now safe in Moscow.

According to the press office of Astrakhan region’s interior ministry, the authorities have opened "a criminal case" after police received a report of an attack on a cameraman who had been "beaten and robbed by unidentified persons."

In the meantime, the BBC has lodged a formal protest with the Russian government concerning the incident.

ISIS-related arrests in US, Europe, Australia as intel warns of ‘gruesome’ attacks [RT - Daily news]

The illuminated Eiffel Tower in Paris  (Reuters / Gonzalo Fuentes)

The effort to clamp down on any affiliation to the terrorist group has reached as far as France, the US, Spain and other countries – even the partially-recognized Kosovo.

Six potential recruits have been arrested in France, a judicial source said on Wednesday, with the number of French nationals traveling to sections of Syria and Iraq partly-controlled by the IS (formerly ISIS or ISIL) continuing to rise.

Two of the detained on Tuesday are minors, while another pair is a brother and sister; one other suspect is believed to be linked to Forsane Alizza (Knight of Pride), an organization calling for France to become an Islamic caliphate. It was banned in 2012.

As in the case with Britain and the United States, France worries its nationals will soon be returning with the training and determination to carry out terrorist attacks on home soil. The number of French having already gone off to fight and come back has risen to 930, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

That is a 74 percent increase in just eight months, authorities say. Currently, 175 are being monitored back home. But truly worrying is the French proportion of the total number of Europeans, which is approximately 2,000.

Young girls are being increasingly targeted. A few weeks back a series of detentions of young women around France, including a 16-year-old, took place. In one shocking example, a 15-year-old girl left the country believing herself to be on a humanitarian aid mission. She has not returned.

The National Assembly has just made it a criminal offense “[to plan] to travel abroad to take part in terrorist activities, war crime or crimes against humanity or in a theater of operations of terrorist groups.”

This follows on from Spain, which altered its penal code to prevent Spaniards from traveling to conflict zones to join up with radical groups, punishing those who do with terrorism charges.

José Manuel García Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister, has called on increased cooperation with international efforts on Tuesday, following accusations that the country isn’t doing enough to fight the IS.

"Spain has never been one to watch the bullfight from behind the barriers," he was quoted by the EFE news agency as saying. "We have been and we will be wherever our presence is needed and can be put to good use," he also told parliament, adding that the country has already taken part in a number of missions abroad as part of what he calls “one of the most complex threats of our time.”

The criminal code enactment is yet to come into effect, but the FM did highlight that another, more comprehensive, series will follow in its footsteps.

Over in Germany, it is said up to nine citizens carried out suicide bombings for the IS this year alone. As with the rest of Europe, the government fears the trend for conversion to its ideology is growing fast.

The attacks were mostly carried out in Iraq.

A national research team reported alarm amongst the general public as well.

"We don't want death being sent from Germany to Iraq. Exporting terror is unconscionable and must be stopped," said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in response to the allegations that attacks were being carried out by Germans.

The German government has already banned the provision of any support to the terrorist group, a move that came on the heels of reports that an estimated 400 Germans have joined IS terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The authorities have set for themselves the task of preventing further exports of nationals to the Middle East to join up.

"We're looking at the security situation in Germany, but we also have a responsibility toward the people who live in Syria and Iraq," the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen, said, as reported by Deutsche Welle.

His fears are essentially those shared by all other European nations: that extremists will come back with training and plans to inflict terror.

Kosovo is another place where a sudden spike in Islamic State sympathy has resulted in numerous arrests. Authorities on Wednesday arrested a leading Muslim cleric, together with 14 other people, on allegations of operating a recruitment ring for righters heading to Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State’s strongholds.

The arrests spanned 16 locations, including Pristina. This is the second operation since August, when 40 people were arrested on similar charges.

Australia is on high alert for the first time in 11 years. Having upped the security level following serious allegations by the government that an attack is in fact being planned, the government then detained 15 people in suspicion of planning a gruesome, random attack in Australia.

This is the country’s largest counterterrorism operation to date.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott informed the public that a public beheading was supposedly being planned by the group.

"That's the intelligence we received… the exhortations — quite direct exhortations — were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country," he told reporters.

"This is not just suspicion, this is intent, and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have," he continued.

The authorities also issued an arrest warrant for a Sydney nightclub bouncer, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, 33, on suspicion that he’s the country’s most senior member of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Another suspect arrested, a 27-year-old, was reportedly planning to “gruesomely” execute a random person, authorities say, which is part and parcel of the IS’s purported shock tactics.

The Sydney arrests were part of an operation consisting of 800 federal and state police officers, according to Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin.

"Police believe that this group that we have executed this operation on today had the intention and had started to carry out planning to commit violent acts here in Australia," Colvin said. "Those violent acts particularly related to random acts against members of the public. So what we saw today and the operation that continues was very much about police disrupting the potential for violence against the Australian community at the earliest possible opportunity."

The police declined to give further details, but said the attacks being planned were “very high level.”

As the global crackdown takes place, the US is in the midst of rounding up Middle Eastern countries, partners and rivals alike, to take part in an anti-IS coalition. The initiative has drawn mixed reviews back home.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been talking to a number of regional leaders, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, while openly denouncing any possibility of an Iranian role in the operation. And yet, no clearly defined roles exist for the coalition members – only a vague idea of who is on board.

Kerry’s trips are also taking place amid American confusion over which language to apply to its anti-terror initiative against the Islamic State. The lingo swayed from “we are at war” to “this is a long, drawn-out counterterrorism effort” from one day to the next.

This reflects poorly on both the opinion of the government at home and the coordination of roles in the Middle Eastern coalition.

“This can’t be America’s fight alone,” US President Barack Obama stressed in his recent ISIS speech.

Indeed, the country has carried out over 150 airstrikes on militant positions so far. However, not everyone appears willing to join the fight.

Turkey and Jordan, key US allies in the region, are thought to be reluctant to intervene directly in the anti-IS fight.

READ MORE: Fight with ISIS spreads across globe: How are roles distributed in that battle?

Turkey was also absent during the signing of a joint communiqué on the situation in Iraq on Thursday.

As Kerry was making his rounds, a 30-year-old New York State man has been charged with allegedly aiding the IS. He is accused of helping three individuals travel to Syria to fight with IS and also plotted to murder US troops returning home from the Middle East.

This comes after very direct video threats by the terrorists to harm Americans, in response to Obama’s promise to “downgrade and destroy” the group.

Happiest country in the world? Global index may surprise you [RT - Daily news]

A Panamanian boy kicks a football near the water in the Panama Bay with the Panama City skyline (AFP Photo / Yuri Cortez)

The Gallup-Healthways index, released for the year 2013, puts the Latin American country at number one, with war-torn Syria and Afghanistan coming in last in a survey of 135 countries.

The international survey, entitled The State of Global Well-being, conducted more than 133,000 interviews across the world, coming up with its ‘inaugural report’. It contained country and regional rankings, well-being profiles of countries, industry perspectives on well-being improvement and recommendations for said improvement.

The index, which encompasses the above survey, features a total of six years’ work and over 2 million interviews conducted.

As Gallup-Healthways explains, “Globally, higher well-being correlates with outcomes indicative of stability and resilience — for example, healthcare utilization, intent to migrate, trust in elections and local institutions, daily stress, food/shelter security, volunteerism and willingness to help strangers.”

The survey essentially gauged own perceptions of well-being and four other factors that contribute to it: social well-being, community well-being (measuring whether an individual likes where they live), the presence of purpose and physical health.

It turns out that, sadly, only one in six adults scored high marks in three of the above categories, with the pervasive mood being one of ‘struggling’ and ‘suffering’ across the board, according to the researchers.

In another surprising twist, the US and Russia end up close together: Russia comes in at 16, with America taking number 14. The rankings can be found here.

“Each element of well-being is important on its own, but the elements are also interdependent and well-being is more than the sum of the elements. That only 17 percent of residents in the 135 countries and areas surveyed are thriving in three or more elements underscores how most of the world is struggling to achieve high well-being,” the researchers say in a statement on their website.

“More adults globally are thriving in community well-being (26 percent) than in any other element,” they said, seeing American adults as most likely to thrive in that respect, while sub-Saharan Africans are deemed least likely.

The fewest number of adults worldwide were found to be happy with their purpose in life, Gallup-Healthways discovered.

GDP per capita of countries ranked top and bottom in the index:

Panama - $11,036.81 USD

Costa Rica - $10,184.61 USD

Denmark - $58,929.62 USD

USA - $53,142.89 USD

Russia - $14,611.70 USD

Afghanistan - $678.35 USD

Syria - $2,065.54 USD

“Adults in Asia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa, are least likely to be thriving in this element (13 percent in each region), while those in the Americas again top the list of regions, at 37 percent, thriving in purpose well-being.”

The luckiest countries where individuals were likely to be ‘thriving’ in more than three categories start with Panama with 61 percent, followed by Costa Rica with 44, then Denmark, Austria, Brazil, Uruguay, El Salvador, Sweden, Guatemala and Canada, from 39 to 34 percent.

Financial well-being is the only category in which Panama is outdone – by Sweden, with a whopping 72 percent of financially-happy citizens.

Sub-Saharan Africa ranked lowest across the board in all categories, with three or more elements of well-being scoring only nine percent. However, in taking countries separately, it was Afghanistan and Syria who ranked by far the most miserable, with only one percent of Syrian and Afghan adults reporting satisfaction in more than three of the categories.

‘Someone will react’: ISIS fuels British far-right extremism [RT - Daily news]

A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa (Reuters / Stringer)

The official, a senior adviser on right-wing extremism, told BBC Radio 4's Today program that the government is putting an emphasis on the "global jihadist agenda" while possibly ignoring the growth of the far-right at home.

"I have been working with people from the far-right for about 27 years now, I can see increases in some of these groups and membership in some of these groups based on things that are happening nationally here and internationally,” he said.

"A lot of the emphasis is put on the global jihadist agenda, which is fine, and it needs to be, but I really feel that this agenda, the repercussions of some of that in terms of the far-right can't be ignored."

He argues Islamic extremism in the Middle East, including the beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and the British aid worker David Haines by the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), have led to increased resentment and abuse against Muslims in the UK.

The adviser said he has noticed an increase in membership to far-right groups. He claims that since last year, at least five new groups have formed.

"I wouldn't want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually we should have addressed that as well," he added.

In one case, he said he had met with a Briton who said he wanted to establish Nazi-style concentration camps.

"I had one person who said he would like to implement death camps here in the UK and when I asked who he would like to put in the death camps, he just listed everyone that he didn't see as white British,” he said. “So that was every Asian person, every black person.”

According to data released by Tell Mama UK, a group which monitors anti-Islamic hatred, recent events in Iraq and Syria have been met with a corresponding spike in anti-Muslim incidents.

In August, it received 219 reports of abusive incidents targeted at Muslims in England – the same month as the IS beheading of US journalist James Foley. This was almost double the 112 incidents recorded in January. The organization said these numbers don’t represent the full picture because many victims of racial hate crime are too afraid to report it.

On Monday, Harun Khan, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said a backlash was experienced every time violence is carried out by extremists who claimed to act in the name of Islam – and now after the beheading of David Haines by the Islamic State.

Khan said: "Somebody somewhere is going to react, it's been proven, it's happened many times: after 9/11, after 7 July [2005 attacks on London] and after [the murder of] Lee Rigby."

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) claims the government must engage more with the far right. ISD, which specializes in research on right-wing extremism, has called on the UK government to change its approach to tackling far-right movements.

"When individuals are entrenched in these movements there is very little support or option for them to leave," Vidhya Ramalingam, the research and policy manager on far-right extremism and intolerance at ISD, claims.

"We've seen there's evidence from programs that exist in Sweden, Germany and Scandinavia, that actually if you offer a space for individuals to turn to when they are doubting their ideology, we can prevent violence from happening in the first place."

ISD reports that since 2000 the Exit program in Germany has helped over 500 individuals leave the extreme right, with a 97 percent success rate. The Exit-Fryshuset program in Sweden has a 94 percent success rate with 133 people.

However, the Home Office insists that its Prevent strategy "tackles all forms of extremism, including from the far right." Prevent is one part of the government's counter terrorism strategy to deal with the threat posed by domestic extremism.

Russians support return of death penalty to fight extremism and crime [RT - Daily news]

RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok

According to the poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, 73 percent of those who hold the return of death penalty “acceptable in principle” want to execute people convicted of pedophilia, 63 percent want to execute murderers, 53 percent support capital punishment applied to terrorists and 46 percent – to rapists. 28 percent replied that capital punishment could be used to counter drug trafficking, and another 13 percent wanted to use it as punishment for high treason.

Researchers note that the number of those who approve of the death penalty has decreased over the past decade, but still remains fairly high. One year ago, 68 percent of Russians thought that death sentences were acceptable in principle, while 24 percent answered that the measure was totally inadmissible.

The head of the Political Research Institute, Grigory Dobromelov, has told the popular business daily Kommersant that the most likely reason behind this phenomenon was the “generation factor” – the stereotype about the punitive function of the state was embedded in people’s minds during the Soviet period and now the number of such people is falling.

The death penalty is presently allowed by the Russian Constitution for especially grave crimes and after a guilty verdict by a jury court. However, when Russia sought membership in the Council of Europe in 1999, it imposed a moratorium on capital punishment and this is still in force.

The issue has been raised regularly by Russian politicians and state officials.In May last year, the head of the country’s top federal law enforcement body – theInvestigative Committee - asked parliament to consider the return of capital punishment in Russian law, but noted he wasn’t seeking actual executions, only the psychological effect that such a threat could have on potential criminals.

One year earlier, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said the death penalty would be “society’s normal reaction.” He said this while commenting on the brutal murders of two small girls. The top Russian policeman stressed that this was his personal opinion.

According to Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president is more in favor of a total abolition of the death penalty. The press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office has noted that Russia has obligations to the Council of Europe, and therefore the moratorium would remain in place.

US’s “Coalition of the Guilty” part of Iraq, Syria problem [RT - Daily news]

ScanEagle surveillance drone flying into a retrieval wire at Camp Taji, Iraq (AFP Photo / Handout / US Army / Spc. Darriel Swatts)

On September 15, 2014, a conference took place in France about the violence in Iraq. The forthright aim of the Paris conference was to convene a broad coalition to tackle the crisis in Iraq. Just as important, because of the cross-border nature of the crisis, the fighting in Syria was also part of the discussions in Paris.

This whole coalition-building process is a disingenuous deception. Two of the major regional players, which are at the forefront of fighting the cross-border insurgencies in Syria and Iraq, did not even attend the gathering. Syria was not present at the conference, because it was not invited. The Iranians were not present in Paris either.

The best thing that the world can do is to prevent the governments in Washington, Paris, and London from get involved any further in the debacle.

Were the above governments not the very same authorities that helped form, train, arm, and finance the same groups inside Syria that they now say they want to fight there and in Iraq?

Were the head choppers, cannibals, rapists, and criminals that are trying to fragment Iraq and Syria—whatever you want to call them: Al-Qaeda/Al-Nusra/ISIL/ISIS/DAISH/IS/DI—not trained by the US and its allies in places like Jordan and Turkey?

Made by Uncle Sam and Company

For the most part, the whole world knows that the occupiers of Mosul and the ridiculous pseudo-caliphate that they have carved out with blood and bullets in northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria are the same anti-government forces that are fighting inside both Syria and Iraq. These fighters are the same foreign-supported forces that the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel have been propping up against the Syrians since 2011 as part of their bid for regime change in Damascus.

But they say that the US and its cohorts are now at war with these same fighters in Iraq. Yet, they still support them in Syria!

How can you claim to fight them in Iraq, but support them in Syria? Which is it? Do you support them or oppose them?

They point out that Washington and a “coalition of the willing” are mobilizing and preparing to bomb these fighters inside Syria. Is that so?

It is odd, but when these ISIL fighters announced the creation of their pseudo-caliphate in Mosul, the US took the opportunity to publicly announce that it was going to deliver half a billion US dollars worth of aid to the insurgency inside Syria. Who do you think the money was for?

The aid was for ISIL! Intended or not, whatever US “aid” is sent to Syria it will end up in their hands.

It is no mere coincidence that the ISIL fighters have US and Israeli arms either.

Is the “Coalition of the Guilty” goal regime change?

The US and its “coalition of the willing” is a sick joke. It is comprised of lying and morally bankrupt politicians like French President François Hollande—a socialist who hates the poor in France, according to his former partner Valerie Trierweiler in her 2014 kiss-and-tell book—and the backwards, oppressive Arab petro-dictatorships of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Emirate of Qatar, and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

It is one big sick joke. While they torture, oppress, and kill their own people, the above petro-dictatorships also claim to espouse democratic values for the Syrian people.

Tehran has flatly refused to cooperate with the Pentagon and its anti-ISIL coalition, because the Iranian government knows full well that Washington has orchestrated the rise of the insurgencies inflicting Iraq and Syria.

Walid Al-Muallem, the deputy prime minister and longtime foreign minister of Syria, has even remarked that the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and their partners are not fighting terrorism, but using terrorism. According to Foreign Minister Al-Muallem, the countries that are really at the forefront of fighting terrorism are Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the Russian Federation.

Washington knew that Lebanon and Iraq would explode, if a US-led coalition attacked the Syrians. Instead America conducted its own controlled demolition in Iraq by unleashing ISIL across the border, using the crisis to exhaust the local Iraqi forces and to coerce regime change in Baghdad against Nouri Al-Malaki’s government, as an answer to Washington’s clear defeat in Syria after the historic Syrian presidential elections held on June 3, 2014.

What the US has assembled is a “coalition of the guilty” or what we can call the “coalition of guilt.” These are the same governments, tyrants, and countries that authored the fiascos in Iraq and Syria.

Anyway you look at it; it comes down to this key reality: the so-called Islamic State (IS) is the handiwork of Washington; it has been a tool for US interference and intervention in Syria and Iraq.

The “coalition of the guilt” will not be bombing the IS inside Syria, at least exclusively. The Pentagon will be going after the Syrian government and the national military of the Syrian Arab Republic. Make no mistake about it; US-led airstrikes inside Syria will be against international law and an attack on Syria. The US may bomb the IS fighters in Syria too, but the IS will not be the only target. Washington and its “coalition of the guilty” seek regime change in Damascus and will use the opportunity to change the balance of power inside Syria.

In the wings, Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are all waiting and salivating for the Pentagon to lead an attack.

Washington and company are part of the problem, not the solution

The US needs to be called out for fostering the IS or, more appropriately, the “un-Islamic State (uIS).” The vast majority of Muslims view Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-declared Caliph “lavish-wristwatch” Ibrahim, and his enterprise as an abomination formed by heretics and mercenaries that many argue cannot possibly be Muslims. Neither is there anything state-like about the “uIS.”

US-led airstrikes—which will absolutely need boots on the ground to select and monitor targets—are not needed. Have not the US and its allies done enough damage in Iraq and its region? Has not enough blood been spilt?

There is a much easier way to stop the “uIS” than what Washington is proposing.

If Washington, London, Paris, and all the usual suspects want to put a stop to the violence, the last thing they need to do is get involved any further in either Iraq or Syria. Their “coalition of the guilty” is a part of the problem and not a part of the solution; they want no actual solutions, aside from establishing a series of vassal states in Syria and Iraq.

Make no mistake about it, the US and this “coalition of the guilty” have blood on their hands and have been participating as belligerents in all the fighting from its inception.

For approximately a decade, Iraqi officials have been blaming the Saudi regime—the sword-wielding, head chopping oil barons of Najd that pretend to be pious Muslims by day and cocaine snorting, prostitute loving, alcoholics by night—for exporting terrorists into Iraq. In March, just a few months ago, the Iraqi government told the semi-official France 24 network that the Saudi and Qatari regimes were at war with Iraq and using the insurgents in Syria to attack Iraq and using their media networks to support and justify the insurgencies. Nor is it a secret that Turkish security forces openly coordinate with these insurrectionary fighters and their commanders.

It has to be repeated again that there is a much easier way to put an end to this gory farce.

Instead of digging themselves deeper in Iraq and Syria, the US and company literally need to disengage as “belligerents.”

The self-proclaimed IS will fall apart once the US and its allies stop supplying the insurgents with weaponry and end their hostilities towards Damascus.

Moreover, the US and its comical “coalition of the guilty” must end the financing of terrorism by halting their not-so-covert robbery operations, which have involved the theft of oil and other materials by these fighters from Iraq and Syria via Turkey. Despite the claims by the New York Times in a September 13, 2004 article by David E. Sanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis that Turkey is wheeling and dealing in the black market with the insurgents on its own, and that the US government has desperately tried to get Ankara to stop doing business with the insurgents, it is unlikely that the Turkish government could go on doing business with the insurgents without acquiescence from the US and the EU.

The uIS’s pseudo-caliphate has become a multi-billion dollar business enterprise, because Washington has allowed it to become one and facilitated its business transactions via Turkey. Who can believe that the US government and its EU partners that are so sanctions gung-ho and have exerted themselves in all types of ways to block the trade and financial transactions of their enemies and rivals, cannot do the same thing for the millions and billions of US dollars and euro worth of oil that have been stolen from both Syria and Iraq?

At the minimum, the US government is looking the other way. It is not too hard to find who is buying such large amounts of oil. Jana Hybaskova, the European Union’s own representative to Iraq, has openly accused EU members of buying oil from the very same killers and rapists that Brussels has declared as perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

Hey, wait a minute the European Union exponents say. Do not blame the European Union for its shady dealings. That self-perceived apex of human civilization, the EU, needs new energy input or supplies—even if stolen and illegal—since it is sanctioning Iran and Russia, the hydrocarbon energy superpower next door, for what the European Commission, US government, and NATO incongruously declare was an invasion of East Ukraine that never even happened!

Arsonists don’t put out their own fires: Thanks, but no thanks!

America and its coalition should halt and desist. The same collective or corrupt governments that have unleashed the horrors in Iraq and Syria are now standing in the limelight and saying that they will come to the rescue. They can only make things worse, and they are in the process of making things worse by planting the seeds that will germinate into future regional crises.

Taking every opportunity to make the violence and crisis worse, the US and its “coalition of the guilty” are arming the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) instead of just sending arms to the Iraqi government in Baghdad for distribution inside Iraq. The motives behind this move are insidious. The US and its “coalition of the guilty” are sending weapons to the KRG with the insight that the same weapons that they are delivering to the Iraqi Kurds will eventually be pointed against the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad when the Kurdistan Regional Government makes its bid for independence, which will effectively partition Iraq.

No wonder Ankara has revived its vision for an Israeli-style security buffer zone inside northern Syria, and even (re)expanded it to include northern Iraq. The talk about Turkey controlling Syrian Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan through a de facto or de jure confederation may not just be President Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman pipedreams.

When it comes down to it, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and his killers are just the foot soldiers. The real pyromaniacs who sit in their offices and palaces in Washington, London, Paris, Doha, Ankara, and Riyadh are the ones that need to be stopped. Arsonists cannot become firefighters sent to put out the fires that they themselves have started, because they usually have an interest in seeing their fires consume the places they have set ablaze. In this case the US and its allies are the arsonists that have an interest in seeing Iraq and Syria fragmented by the fire that the “coalition of the guilty” set alight to create a “New Middle East.”

America and its “coalition of the guilty” are pretending to fight terrorism in an elaborately staged performance for the public. When in reality, all along they have been the forces driving the butchery and terror inside Syria and Iraq. It has been Washington and its “coalition of the guilty” that have been waging a war against the Syrian and Iraqi people through the plethora of insurgent franchises that have carved niches for themselves in Syria and Iraq.

The Iraqi and Syrian militaries and peoples have been making headway against the foreign-backed insurgencies and their reign of terror. They can finish the job themselves without US-led airstrikes. What they really need is for the US and its guilty allies to show some honesty by genuinely ending their support for the insurgencies in Syria and Iraq and to stop fueling sectarian hatred between Arabs and Kurds, Muslims and Christians, and Shiites and Sunnis. Once America’s coalition of the guilty ends its own role as the real and main belligerents in the region the cross-border crisis in Iraq and Syria will be locally quarantined and defused with time.

‘Flemish independence: better to become good friends than stay together in a bad marriage’ [RT - Daily news]

Members of the Flemish nationalist group Voorpost (Outpost) demonstrate calling for independence for the Flemish part of Belgium in Rhode-Saint-Genest, near Brussels
(AFP Photo / Dominique Faget)

Following in the footsteps of Scotland, Veneto in Italy and Catalonia in Spain, and Belgium’s Flemish region may become the next to hold a referendum on independence. The Flanders area of northern Belgium has been claiming its own sovereignty for years, and if it succeeds, Belgium may be no more, along with its being the symbol of a united Europe.

The 2008 financial crisis has boosted separatism movements in Europe, with rich and developed regions in a number of countries starting to voice their discontent with policies from the capital, and the necessity to feed economically weak regions. However, for such Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders it is also a question rooted in the history of the formation of the countries they belong to.

READ ALSO: 'Independent Veneto can help EU’

Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia have always been rich and well-developed regions, connected to each other despite language and cultural differences. The artificial creation of the Belgian state put these nations into a difficult situation, forcing them to coexist with people they don’t feel any connections with. Meanwhile, Scotland’s independence vote has inspired the Flemish people with hope to finally create their own state.

RT: Why does your party Vlaams Belang (“Flemish Interest”) support independence of Flanders?

Tom van Grieken: We are the only party in Belgium who are for Flemish independence. We think Belgium is dead, it is from the beginning in 1830 an artificial state, where two different people are forced to live together. Although we are only 60 percent of the population of Belgium, we produce 80 percent of our economy. Independent Flanders with Brussels as its capital will be the best for the Flemish people.

RT: The world’s attention is now chained to the Scottish referendum. After this vote we expect Catalonia to follow the same path. If Flanders was to hold a referendum, what results do you foresee?

TG: The importance of holding a referendum – it’s not the result which is important. The public debate concerning becoming independent is also important. In my country there is almost no debate on public television about independence, although the population really wants it. For example, in Scotland whether it is “yes” or “no” vote when the referendum results are made public, they already have their victory simply by having a public debate about independence of the people.

RT: Is it mostly for political reasons that the Flemish people seek independence? Does Flanders want to take decisions on its own?

TG: Of course it’s not our main purpose. The economic part is also very important. Like I have already said, 60 percent of the population of Belgium is Dutch-speaking, Flemish-speaking and they produce 80 percent. Also there are differences between cultures – the Flemish culture is completely different [from] the French culture in the south. We also have different political views: [in] the south [people] are all socialists, social-democrats and the North Flemish part votes for the right and center-right. It would be the best democratic solution to split up Belgium.

RT: Do you think in case of “yes” vote Flanders, Catalonia and Veneto will be able to survive?

TG: Of course. Small nation-states can produce easier answers to the difficult questions we all face in Europe. Flanders will not be smaller than independent Ireland or Denmark, or Estonia, or Lithuania. We would be a full-grown nation-state in the heart of Europe.

RT: How do you see the development of the situation?

TG: I think it will be like in a marriage. At the moment we are always fighting in every discussion but we should divorce, split up and become good friends, good neighbors. I think it will be our first economic partner to work together with but it’s better to become good friends than stay together in a bad marriage.

RT: What are the reasons for a marriage to become bad? And what makes bad neighbors?

TG: What makes bad neighbors? Of course it’s not something among individuals. As you know, my country, Belgium, where I’m forced to live in, holds the world’s record for days without government because we don’t agree on anything. Every political discussion has an aspect which Flemish and Wallonia people disagree on. So it would be better not only for Flanders but also for my French friends in the south.

RT: Do you think a referendum is needed?

TG: Yes, of course. We are the only independence party in Belgium. I think referendum is a good thing because if you are afraid of the opinion of your people, then you are not ready to be a leader of your people. So I think we need also in Belgium a referendum concerning the Flemish independence.

‘My son the only Italian’: Mother says her boy solo at school among 65 foreigners [RT - Daily news]

image from www.icspallanzanimestre5.it

"To me, having a school with 65 foreign children and only one Italian seems like an educational and teaching mistake,” Eleonora Baccaro said in a letter, addressed to Massimo Bitonci, the mayor of Padua, northern Italy.

The letter was published in Il Mattino di Padova, a local newspaper.

Baccaro added that she is very concerned about what's happening at Quadrifoglio pre-school in the city's Arcella area, which takes children aged three to six.

“The ratio is so disproportionate; we can't even talk about integration. Unless it's integration in reverse, with Italian children being among a large group of foreigners,” she wrote, as cited by the Local.

Baccaro added that she is not a racist and her concerns are not based on “intolerance towards those who come from afar." She explained that the question she poses is only from a cultural and pedagogical standpoint.

"With so many children from a different cultural background, and having a different religion to ours, how can you arrange, for example, any kind of Christmas play inspired by our Catholic faith? This is not good."

Gabriella Balbo, a teacher at Quadrifoglio School, said that the majority of the children were born in Italy.

"We have always been multiethnic," she told the Local, "We do our best to welcome all children and have had to come up with strategies to maintain a good level of education and ensure all children are taken care of.”

However, she added that the school needs cultural and linguistic mediators, adding that the teachers’ goodwill and organizational efficiency are not enough.

Other teachers at school complain of linguistic problems they face while dealing with metalinguistic parents.

"On the first day of school [September 15] a Chinese mother wanted, at all costs, to speak to us teachers about her son, who was in his first year," one teacher told Il Mattino di Padova.

According to the teacher, the woman had only been in Padua “for a short time and didn't speak a word of Italian.”

“So we had to find another Chinese mother to translate," she added.

By January 1, 2014, the number of foreign residents in Italy had reached 4,987,721. The majority of migrants came from Romania, Morocco, Albania and China.

Italy leaves hundreds of refugees stranded without food – UN

The numbers, however, exclude illegal immigrants, whose numbers are difficult to determine. The country has been hit by an influx of illegal immigrants since the beginning of this year, with over 50,000 seeking refuge in the Mediterranean country since January. The government has been hard-pressed to deal with the situation and has called on the EU to intervene.

Florida city drops pants law after NAACP lawsuit [RT - Daily news]

Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP

The NACCP had criticized the law, which came into effect in July 2014, and said it would take action against the city for unfairly profiling African-American men, according to WKMG radio.

Shortly after the NAACP criticism about the law, Ocala’s mayor declined support for the law and urged the council to reconsider.

In a majority vote on Tuesday, September 16, Ocala City Council members repealed the law, which banned anyone on city property from wearing their pants two inches below the natural waist in a way that exposed their underwear or buttocks. Offenders were to be fined up to $500 and spend time in jail.

READ MORE: Florida town: Get your pants off the ground or face 6 months in jail

The saggy pants ban was introduced by Councilwoman Deborah Rich.

“It’s not true that I did this to profile black men. As you can see, I’ve been black a long time,” said Rich. “I have a black son, I have two black grandsons and two black great-grandsons. So why would I want an ordinance that would hurt them or any other young black person?” reported WUFT.FM

WUFT said Rich went on to tell the Council Chamber the types of people who wear saggy pants also don’t have jobs.

“And when you don’t have money to feed your family, what do you do? Steal,” Rich said. “I don’t think we’re violating their First Amendment rights.”

The majority of city council members agreed to repeal the law as it wasn’t terribly important to the city.

Everyone’s weighed in on saggy pants legislation, from President Obama to the curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, when the fashion style began appearing on city streets six years ago, and states and cities started considering bans.

READ MORE: Sagging Pants: Trend or Trouble?

“I think passing a law about people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time,” then-presidential candidate Barack Obama told MTV News in 2008. “We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, getting healthcare, dealing with the war in Iraq. Any public official who is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there,”he said.

Andrew Bolton, the curator at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, told the New York Times “fashions tend to be decried when they challenge the conservative morality of a society.”

‘Tell him to catch a bus’: Angry passengers throw ex-Pakistani minister out of plane after 2-hour wait (VIDEO) [RT - Daily news]

Rehman Malik, former Interior Minister of Pakistan (Reuters / Faisal Mahmood)

Flight PK-370 was scheduled to take off from Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport for Islamabad at 19:00 local time (14:00 GMT) on Monday.

However, about 220 passengers were kept waiting for two hours. They vented their rage at Rehman Malik, former interior minister of Pakistan and Ramesh Kumar, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) MNA, who were late for the flight.

The video on YouTube shows that the two leaders were booed and barred from boarding the flight. The passengers accused them of holding the plane up; they were later joined by the crew members.

"Malik sahab, you are not a minister any more. And even if you are, we don't care...,” shouted the passengers.

When the ex-interior minister approached along the jet bridge, people were heard saying, "Malik sahab, sorry. You should go back. You should apologize to these passengers.”

“Tell him to catch a bus," shouted one more passenger. "Is he god?" said another.

“You should be ashamed of yourself... 250 passengers have suffered because of you. It is your fault, sir," added other passengers.

People were heard grumbling "So-called VIPs" and "My foot VIPs."

"Close the gates and fly this plane to Islamabad. This should be recorded, Rehman Malik has been offloaded. We threw him out!" commented one more passenger.

After the two politicians were barred from the plane, the passengers started applauding.

"Sir, before you go back, you should apologize to these passengers!" one flight member said to Malik.

In the meantime, internet users praised the actions of the passengers.

“Proud to see people of Pakistan truly standing up against VIP status quo,” wrote user Awab Alvi.

“Congratulations [to] Karachites [for] bringing first ever true revolution in Pakistan in PIA flight yesterday at Karachi airport,” wrote another.

Malik served as the country’s interior minister from 2008 up to 2013.

After the video went viral on the internet, Malik took to Twitter to clarify the situation.

“I have a right to defend myself against the allegation. PK370 /1900hr was delayed [because of] tech reasons [and] was expected to leave at 2030. So no delay for me,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mashood Tajwar, spokesman for PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) told the Dawn, Pakistan's English-language newspaper, that the flight delay was due to a technical glitch and was not Malik’s fault.

“PIA does not promote VIP culture… but this flight was delayed an hour and 30 minutes due to a technical reason,” Tajwar said. “The delay had been conveyed to passengers via SMS. Some passengers who had given the contact details of their travel agent may not have been conveyed the message by their agents.”

Soon after the incident, PIA suspended the shift manager, Nadeem Abro, and terminal manager, Shehzad Ali, of flight PK- 370 for irresponsibility and delaying the arrival of Malik and Kumar, a private news channel reported.

The suspension was ordered by Shujaat Azeem, the prime minister’s adviser, who said that VIP culture should not be tolerated in governmental bodies.

Support of Russia’s national interests key to poll victories - Putin [RT - Daily news]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with newly elected heads of Russia's regions at the Moscow Kremlin, September 17, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

The community has demonstrated its consolidation before various threats and I would like to emphasize that the people’s support went to the political forces that can stand for our national interests, that promote the development and strengthening of our state,” he said at a meeting with freshly-elected governors who won the recent regional polls.

I would like to draw your special attention to the fact that it is not the victory itself that is important, nor the percentage of votes you received. The most important thing is the citizens’ trust in the elections system and the voting results. We aspire for the open, competitive elections that are held fully in line with the letter and the spirit of the law,” Putin added.

The president also advised the regional leaders to avoid confrontation with the defeated candidates but form broad coalitions for joint work.

According to the Central Elections Commission, the centrist conservative United Russia party won 28 of the 30 gubernatorial seats in the September 14 polls. A Communist candidate won the race in the Oryol Region and an independent with a liberal pro-business agenda was re-elected as governor of the Kirov Region. United Russia also got the majority of seats in 14 reelected regional legislatures, including the Moscow City Duma.

The governors noted in press comments after the meeting that their victories were largely due to the present political situation, with growing pressure from abroad as well as the extremely high political rating of President Putin.

It is difficult to describe the emotions that we see when we meet with voters, the level of their support for you. It was your trust that became the main decision making factor during the polls. Now we must live up to it and this means hard work,” Volgograd Region Governor Andrey Bocharov told Putin during the meeting.

People in the Oryol Region are smiling when they hear about sanctions – we have a record harvest this year,” said Governor Vadim Potomsky.

At the end of the meeting Putin wished all elected regional leaders good luck with their work.

Ebola epidemic spawns black market in survivors’ blood [RT - Daily news]

Health workers take blood samples for Ebola virus testing at a screening tent in the local government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone (Reuters / Tommy Trenchard)

Having already killed 2,400 people and infected nearly 5,000 others, and with no cure in sight, the Ebola virus has triggered the growth of a black market in what is known as convalescent serum, the protein base of blood that has been collected from survivors of the epidemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

The serum is considered to be especially rich in antibodies that fight against the disease, and has already been administered to some patients, including Rick Sacra, an American health worker who has received transfusions from a survivor of the deadly virus.

“We are supporting use of whole blood and convalescent serum to manage Ebola virus disease in the West African Ebola outbreak,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told Politico. “Whole blood has already been used in a number of centers.”

The main emphasis of the serum treatment is to “buy time” for those infected, allowing the body to build up strength to recover.

“To survive, you have to build up enough antibodies to neutralize the virus,” Phil Smith, medical director of the bio-containment unit at the hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, where Sacra is being treated, told reporters last week. “We’re hoping to buy him some time, in other words, to give him antibodies to help his immune system battle the Ebola virus and let him get ahead of the curve.”

There is no proven medication to treat the Ebola virus, although an experimental treatment called ZMapp is still in the development stages. This has forced those infected with Ebola, feeling they have nothing to lose, to search for alternative forms of treatment.

As word spreads about the possible benefits of the convalescent serum, the demand for ‘survivors’ blood’ has increased, together with all of the inherent risks of being infected with other equally deadly diseases, including HIV, as well as possible anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction to the serum.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters that the UN watchdog is committed to helping countries eliminate the illegal trade in convalescent serum, while at the same time conducting trial experiments with serum-based treatments. The emphasis, however, was placed on protecting people from contaminated blood transfusions that are believed to exist in the black market supply chain.

“It is in the interest of individuals not to just get convalescent serum without properly done going through the proper standard and the proper testing because it is important that there may be other infectious vectors that we need to look at,” Chan told a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva.

The consequences of people going to extremes to find a cure was demonstrated by a single healer in an isolated border village in Sierra Leone. The woman claimed to be in possession of special powers to cure the deadly disease.

“She was claiming to have powers to heal Ebola. Cases from Guinea were crossing into Sierra Leone for treatment,” top medical official, Mohamed Vandi, who was based in the crisis-struck Kenema district, told AFP.

“She got infected and died. During her funeral, women around the other towns got infected,” he told the agency. This set off a chain reaction of infections, helping to further transmit the disease.

Meanwhile, the rise of a blood black market has triggered concern over the security of medical supplies shipped to West Africa from foreign countries. On Tuesday, President Obama announced a 3,000-troop commitment to Africa in which the Department of Defense would provide military medical doctors to train up to 500 healthcare workers a week to handle the crisis, the New York Times reported.

Hospitals in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the epicenter of epidemic - are being pushed to the physical limits by what the WHO is calling the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

Baltimore cop sued for millions after police brutality video surfaces [RT - Daily news]

AFP Photo / Tim Sloan

The video, which was released on Monday from the man’s lawyers, shows Police Officer Vincent Cosom repeatedly beating Kollin Truss, while another officer holds Truss’s arm as the blows are delivered to his head and torso. Officer Cosom punched Truss six times.

“Much like the public, I’m shocked, I’m outraged, I’m disgusted by what I saw by an employee of the Baltimore City Police Department,” Commissioner Anthony Batts said during a press conference addressing the video.

The attack happened three months ago on June 15 when Officer Cosom had a verbal exchange with Truss outside a liquor store. The officer’s report said Truss was intoxicated at the time and that he told the man to move when he was loitering in front of the shop.

Truss visited the store to make a purchase and came out sometime later, when he encountered Cosom again. The video showed Truss’ female friend pushing him away from her as more words were exchanged. Eventually Truss was backed into a nearby bus stop, where the alleged act of police brutality happened, according to the attorneys.

“The thing that bothers us is that the officer writes in his statement of facts that our client assaulted his girlfriend, but in fact that never happened,” Truss’ attorney Ivan Bates told Fox.

Truss was charged with assaulting an officer, but prosecutors dropped the charges after seeing the video.

Truss’ other attorney, Tony Garcia, told Fox, “The question that arises is why didn’t they pursue charges against the officer? It’s known the officer gave the report under penalty of perjury, and those other officers sat and watched, did nothing and perhaps wrote similar reports.”

Officer Truss has been suspended with pay. The internal affairs division is reportedly investigating the three-month old case.

Baltimore police officers will now start wearing body cameras.

Accusations of police brutality and videos backing up those claims have been in the news lately.

In New York in July, Eric Garner died after a police officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner told the officer he couldn’t breathe, but his cries were ignored.

READ MORE: New York man claims police brutally beat him in incident caught on video

The chokehold is a prohibited method in the patrolmen’s guide, but not against the law in the state. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and now the case is before a special grand jury to decide whether to indict two officers.

The incident led New York police Commissioner Bill Bratton to conduct a review of training, but rights activists say it is allegations of police brutality that need review.

READ MORE: Thousands protest police violence in New York, call for justice in chokehold death (PHOTOS)

The following month on August 9, a police officer shot and killed teenager Michael Brown, which led to weeks of protests about excessive harassment by the majority-white police force in a majority-black community.

The grand jury is investigating now whether to indict the officer involved in the shooting, and the Justice Department is conducting its own investigation into whether Michael Brown’s civil rights were violated.

READ MORE: 'Police riot’: Ferguson citizens want $40mn for police brutality and humiliation

Ukraine Right Sector threatens Poroshenko with Yanukovich’s fate [RT - Daily news]

Screenshot from RT video

Around 300 angry protesters wore masks and shouted nationalistic slogans as they tried to break through a police barrier. They carried red and black flags belonging to the radical Right Sector group.

The aggressive crowd was demanding that President Petro Poroshenko veto a bill that was passed by parliament earlier this Tuesday.

The new law gives special status to eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, as well as amnesty to those who were fighting against government forces.

That particular status will also see early local election carried out this December and allow the use of the Russian language as an official one.

READ MORE: Special status to E. Ukraine regions, amnesty to combatants - parliament

In the meantime, the leader of the radical Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh described the law as "anti-national" on his Facebook page.

“Unless Poroshenko comes to senses, we’ll have a new president and commander-in-chief in Ukraine,” Yarosh warned. “If anyone doubts that it’s possible, he can write to Yanukovich. He can verify that impossible things can be made happen.”

Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich lost power in February as a result of mass protests in which the radical nationalist group played a key role.

It’s not the first time that Yarosh and his supporters have threatened the Ukrainian leader over his policies. In August, Right Sector demanded that the president sack some senior officers in the Interior Ministry, whom the radicals accused of persecuting their members.

The ultimatum was retracted a day later as the Right Sector said police had released its people previously arrested for alleged smuggling of arms from the combat zones in the east of the country.

Wednesday’s violent protest was not the first acts of violence in Kiev in the last couple of days. On Tuesday another radical rally devolved into violence when ultra-nationalists protested against several laws approved by the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

They burnt tires and even clashed with the National Guard right in front of the parliament building.

International law expert Alexander Mercouris believes that the radical element in Ukraine will continue the unrest over the president’s attempts to reach peace in the east.

“What we are seeing is an escalation within the Ukraine of the political crisis. For these people any kind of autonomy to the eastern regions utterly cuts against their ideology, which is of a centralized, ethnically united Ukrainian speaking Ukraine,” Mercouris told RT.

Texas executes second woman this year [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Jenevieve Robbins / Texas Dept of Criminal Justice / Handout via Reuters

Lisa Coleman, 38, was executed via lethal injection and became only the 15th woman to be put to death in the United States since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment. She is the 30th inmate to be killed this year.

Coleman was originally sentenced to die after she was convicted of starving and torturing the nine-year-old son of her partner, Marcella Williams. The boy, Davontae Williams, was reportedly emaciated when his body was found by police in July 2004. Coleman and Marcella Williams both shared an apartment, where the boy suffered from starvation and 250 different injuries – cigarette burns, scars, and more.

Davontae was only 36lbs (16kg) when his body was found, shockingly light for a child of nine.

“There was not an inch on his body that not been bruised or scarred or injured,”
Dixie Bersano, one of Coleman’s trial prosecutors, said to the Associated Press.

Coleman was declared dead at 06:24 CDT, the AP reported. Once the lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered, it took approximately 12 minutes for Coleman to pass. She took “a couple of short breaths” and told her friends and aunt in the audience, “Love you all” before she died.

Before Texas commenced with its procedure, Coleman’s defense team had petitioned the Supreme Court asking for a stay of execution on the grounds that the crime was not a capital murder case. Murder committed during a kidnapping is considered to be a capital murder, but Coleman’s lawyer argued that despite the fact that Davontae’s hands were tied at different times, he had not been kidnapped. Therefore, Coleman should not be put to death.

“There is clear and convincing evidence that both Lisa Coleman and Marcella Williams abused Davontae Williams,”
the petition states, according to the Washington Post. “Lisa Coleman does not deny that she did things to Davontae Williams that she should not have done.”

Coleman’s attorney went on to say that she was being executed simply to “make sure someone pays” for Davontae’s death.

The High Court was unmoved by the argument and declined to grant the stay. Texas’ Assistant Attorney General Jefferson Clendenin also objected to the petition’s contents.

“She raises no new claims,” he told the AP. “In short, Coleman’s arguments do not have any merit, and there are no grounds for this court to revisit its adjudication of Coleman’s claims.”

Although executions of female prisoners are extremely rare in the US, Coleman’s case was the second this year in Texas, which is the most active death penalty state in the country. In February, it executed 59-year-old Suzanne Basso, who was originally convicted of torturing and killing a mentally disabled man named Louis Musso. She did so after promising to marry him in New Jersey and leading him to Texas in 1998.

Currently, Texas has another seven women on death row.

Agafia’s story: Old hermit lives alone deep in Siberian forest, seeks help [RT - Daily news]

Photo by RT

In the mid-17th century, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox church, Patriarch Nikon, introduced radical reforms in Russia. Many couldn’t accept the changes and became known as 'Old Believers.'

To avoid religious persecution first from the Orthodox Church and then from the Soviets, many families fled to some of the most remote corners of the country.

In 1978, one such family was discovered by a group of geologists in the remote Russian Republic of Khakassia, Siberia. The Lykovs, a family with four children, hadn’t seen other human beings for decades.

Agafia – who is now almost 70 years old – was born in the wilderness, and the geologists were the first outsiders she had ever met. This came as no surprise to the geologists, as the family in the forest looked as though they belonged to the previous century, dressed in homespun clothes and using primitive instruments in their everyday lives.

They were completely self-sufficient and still highly religious. Only three years after they were discovered, three of the children fell ill and died. Agafia, whose father also passed away, is now the only remaining surviver of the now famous family of hermits.

Working hard and praying all day, Agafia now lives on her own in the taiga, with bears trying to reach her humble abode regularly. The only person living nearby is a former drilling geologist, Yerofey Sedov, who was among those who discovered the Lykovs and told the world about them. Now relations between the only neighbors within some 200 miles are somewhat complicated.

Local authorities have tried to help Agafia, but reaching her remote home is quite a challenge. She is in desperate need of a helper, but no one seems willing to be cut off from the rest of the world.

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us. Amen. This is the letter of Agafia Lykova to brothers and sisters. I wish that God grants you all good health but, first and foremost, salvation of your souls and all kinds of well-being. Another thing I must tell you, my fathers and brothers and sisters in God, is that I live alone, I’m an orphan, my health is waning. My age is advanced. I need a person to help me. Please, don’t leave me, for Christ’s sake, I’m a humble orphan in need. There are still kind Christian people and old believers out there. June 21st, 7522 since Adam," Agafia's letter reads.

An RTD film crew – including director Pavel Baydikov, a winner of the New York Festivals World's Best TV and Films – traveled deep into the taiga, through floods, fallen trees, and a treacherous river, to meet the famous Old Believer.

Watch the documentary 'Agafia' on RT and RTD, premiering September 22

Americans think Chicago is most dangerous US city, even as crime drops [RT - Daily news]

AFP Photo / Scott Olson

In a new survey, YouGov asked Americans how safe or unsafe they felt in each of the ten largest US cities.

When asked about Chicago, 53 percent felt it was either fairly or very unsafe, ranking it the “most dangerous” city in the US. Only 33 percent of those surveyed said the city was fairly or very safe.

Males and females felt similarly about Chicago’s safety.

New York City (49 percent unsafe, 40 percent safe) and Los Angeles (48 percent unsafe, 37 percent safe) rounded out the top three dangerous cities. Washington DC, nicknamed the “murder capital of America” during the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s, was viewed as just a wink safer (48 percent unsafe to 40 percent safe).

Meanwhile, the two major cities in Texas ‒ Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston ‒ were voted the safest. Perceptions of safety may be tied to gun ownership. In Texas, “concealed carry permits are easy to get, gun ownership is high, and there are no restrictions at all on long-barreled firearms,” John Giokaris of the Illinois Mirror noted.

Illinois, New York, California, and the District of Columbia have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. In July 2013, Illinois became the last state in the country to legalize carrying concealed weapons, as long as residents with a Firearm Owner’s Identification card passed a background check and completed 16 hours of gun safety training ‒ the longest of any state ‒ and purchased a concealed-carry permit for $150, AP reported.

Crime across the country has dropped significantly over the last two decades, yet Americans believe shooting murders have increased. The gun homicide rate has dropped 49 percent since 1993, with non-fatal gun crimes dropping 75 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. In a 2013 survey, Pew found that over half of all Americans ‒ 56 percent ‒ believe gun crime increased over the last 20 years. The YouGov survey mirrored those results, finding that half the country say that violent crime has increased since 1994.

Despite Chicago having taken over the dubious “murder capital” title, crime has actually dropped in the Windy City. The Chicago Tribune tracked crime in the city from 2001 to present, and found that lawlessness has steadily decreased over the last 13 years. Violent crimes peaked at 4,471 in July 2001, property crimes at 14,540 in October of that year, and quality-of-life crimes at 11,326 in October 2003.

By July 2014, violent crimes were halved, with 2,251 occurring that month. Property crimes dropped nearly 40 percent to 8,446, while quality-of-life crimes dropped over 50 percent to 5,221. In February, all three types of crimes hit 13-year lows. There have been 280 homicides in Chicago so far this year, putting the city on pace for about 420 for all of 2014, which would be a slight drop from 440 in 2013. According to the blog 'Hey Jackass!,' which tracks crime and murder in Chicago, nearly 85 percent of murders were shooting deaths.

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told the Washington Times. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic – they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course – and yet you have these incredible numbers.”

It is not just Americans in general who view Chicago as dangerous. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff for fellow Chicagoan President Barack Obama, is dogged by the perception of violence as he runs for reelection.

“Part ugly reality, part perception, the rate of violence in impoverished, mostly black areas of the city has helped shape negative impressions of the first-term mayor as ineffective when it comes to problems afflicting the urban poor,” the Tribune wrote in August, citing a poll of voters.

Chicago residents will take to the polls in February for the mayoral election.

Blame neoliberalism, not Salmond, if the UK breaks up [RT - Daily news]

Pro-Union 'No' supporters pose for a picture during a rally in Edinburgh, Scotland, on September 16, 2014.(AFP Photo / Ben Stansall )

But in truth, the reason why so many believe Scotland’s best place is out of the UK is to do with a major political and economic shift which took place in Britain 35 years ago, and which has nothing to do with the SNP or its leader.

From 1945-79, British governments – whether they were Conservative or Labour - followed economic and social policies which put the needs of the majority of people in the UK first.

The so-called post-war consensus meant that maintaining full employment was the government‘s number one economic priority. Governments supported manufacturing industry, extended public ownership, redistributed wealth on a scale never before seen in British history, and provided citizens with a comprehensive welfare state from the cradle to the grave.

But this all changed in the late 1970s.

Margaret Thatcher, who had been elected leader of the opposition Conservative Party in 1975, was a neoliberal who wanted to destroy this social democratic/democratic socialist post-war consensus. She supported privatization, tax cuts for the rich, and did not believe that maintaining full employment should be the number one government priority.

Her election as prime minister in May 1979 - which only came about after a falling out between the Labour government and the trade unions - signaled the end of one economic model and its substitution for another.

There was a big swing towards Thatcher’s Conservatives in London and the South East of England in the 1979 general election, but in Scotland, Labour actually increased their number of seats and their share of the Scottish vote.

While voters in other parts of Britain were tempted by aspects of Thatcher’s program, the Scots never were. That shouldn’t surprise us.

Socialism has a long and proud history in Scotland. James Keir Hardie, the first Independent Labour member of Parliament in the 1890s, was a Scot. Many of Britain’s leading and most high-profile socialists have been Scots, think not only of Keir Hardie, but trade union leaders Mick McGahey and Jimmy Knapp, and politicians/activists James Maxton, John Maclean, Tommy Sheridan, and George Galloway. Think too of the legendary and truly inspirational football manager Bill Shankly, the man who made Liverpool Football Club into such a major force. “The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, it’s the way I see life,” Shankly declared.

Scottish socialism was forged in Scotland's industrial towns, cities, and mining communities - a collectivist ideology that put people before profits and whose adherents preached solidarity and working-class resistance.

Throughout the period of Conservative hegemony from 1979-97, the Scots made it clear what they thought of the Tories and their neoliberal economic policies which had led to the destruction of Scotland’s industrial base and mass unemployment. The Conservatives' unpopularity plummeted even further when they introduced their hated Poll Tax in Scotland, before other parts of the country.

In the 1987 general election, the number of Conservative seats in Scotland fell from 21 to 10. By 1997, this had been reduced to 0.

Scottish left-wing voters hoped and expected that when Labour eventually returned to power in Westminster, they would make a clean break with neoliberalism and go back to the more collectivist policies of the 1945-79 period. They expected that Labour would support industry and put manufacturing before the interests of the bankers and speculators in the City of London.

They were to be cruelly disappointed. The New Labour government of Tony Blair, which was elected in 1997, merely offered more of the same neoliberal policies. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Blairites' foreign policy was more aggressive and hawkish than even the Conservatives. The Labour betrayal of everything it had ever stood for was complete when Tony Blair took Britain into a neocon war in 2003 against Iraq alongside a hard-right Republican US President - a war sold to the public with fraudulent claims about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. This came after Blair had already taken Britain into two other wars - the 1999 ’humanitarian’ bombing of Yugoslavia, and the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

As Scotland‘s disenchantment with the pro-war, neoliberal Westminster elite grew, so did support for independence. In March 1979, two months before the advent of Thatcherism, the Scots voted in a referendum on devolution. Only 32.9 percent of the electorate voted 'Yes.'

In 1997, however, the Scots voted overwhelmingly for devolution, with 63.5 percent voting for the new Scottish Parliament to have tax-raising powers.

A decade later, polls showed that the majority of Scots weren’t just happy with devolution, but wanted independence.

It was quite a significant shift in a relatively short timespan and the economic policies that successive Westminster governments followed from 1979 onwards can account for this sea-change in public opinion.

Things might have been very different if John Smith - not Tony Blair - been at the helm when Labour returned to power in 1997. Smith was a Scottish Labourite who still preached the politics of solidarity. He had been elected Labour leader after the party’s election defeat in 1992. “He was spotted as a tax-raising corporatist socialist of the old school,” says Andrew Marr in his book ‘A History of Modern Britain.' Smith‘s biographer, Andy McSmith, tells of how the Labour leader received a letter which informed him: “You’ll not get my BT shares, you bald, owl-looking Scottish bastard. Go back to Scotland.” But while Smith wouldn’t appeal much to hardcore Thatcherites in the South East of England, he did appeal to voters in Labour’s Scottish heartlands. At the Trades Union Congress in September 1993, Smith pledged his party’s support for full employment - a key element of the progressive post-war settlement. “The goal of full employment remains at the heart of Labour’s vision for Britain. Labour’s economic strategy will ensure that all instruments of macro-economic management, whether it concerns interest rates, the exchange rate or the levels of borrowing, will be geared to sustained growth and rising employment,” Smith said.

Tragically, Smith never made it to 10 Downing Street. At the age of just 55, he died from a heart attack in May 1994. Instead of Prime Minister John Smith, we got Prime Minister Tony Blair.

A Labour government under Smith wouldn‘t have been socialist, but it would probably have followed more social democratic policies than Blair’s New Labour governments did, and it is unlikely that its foreign policies would have been so hawkish. As it happened, Blair’s combination of neoliberal domestic policies and neoconservative foreign policies only further alienated Scottish voters.

Neoliberalism doesn’t bring people together, but divides them, by destroying the bonds of solidarity. People did feel solidarity with others throughout the United Kingdom in the past - but these bonds have been loosened as our economic system has changed and we‘ve been encouraged to become more individualistic.

A wise old ‘One Nation' Tory, Sir Ian Gilmour, a consistent critic of Thatcherism, put it beautifully in his book 'Inside Right': “If people are not to be seduced by other attractions they must at least feel loyalty to the State. This loyalty will not be deep unless they gain from the State protection and other benefits…Economic liberalism because of its starkness and its failure to create a sense of community is likely to repel people from the rest of liberalism.”

Today, it’s clear that many Scots believe that a return to the politics of solidarity will best be achieved by voting ‘Yes’ and leaving the United Kingdom. Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they’re wrong. But it's important to understand why so many people in Scotland feel this way. It’s a huge mistake to believe that everyone who is planning to vote ‘Yes’ on Thursday is an SNP supporter, or sees themselves as a Scottish nationalist.

What is significant is the large number of Labourites in Scotland who are in favor of a ‘Yes’ vote. Over 100 Labour supporters – including former Labour Minister Les Huckfield and a former chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, Bob Thompson – have signed an open letter in support of independence.

It is doubtful if the ‘Yes’ campaign would have gotten this far, or had such widespread appeal, had Labour made a clean break with neoliberalism in 1997 and returned to the social democratic/democratic socialist policies followed by previous Labour governments.

So if Scotland does Vote ‘Yes’ on Thursday, and the union is destroyed, don’t blame Alex Salmond or “Scottish nationalism.” Blame the politicians in Westminster who have followed economic policies which have destroyed solidarity and pulled the people of the United Kingdom apart.

US Air Force to allow atheists to omit ‘God’ from reenlistment oath [RT - Daily news]

U.S. President Barack Obama salutes as he arrives for the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado May 23, 2012.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

On Wednesday, the Air Force instructed force support offices across the service to allow enlisted members and officers to omit the words “so help me God” from enlistment and officer appointment oaths if the airmen so chooses, the branch said in a statement. The US Air Force requested an opinion from the Department of Defense General Counsel, addressing the legal parameters of the oath. The Counsel concluded that removing the words was permissible.

“We take any instance in which airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously,” Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, said in the statement. “We are making the appropriate adjustments to ensure our Airmen's rights are protected.”

The Air Force originally said it could not change its Air Force Instruction (AFI) to make “so help me God” optional, unless Congress changed the statute mandating it.

READ MORE: US Air Force to Atheist: Say ‘God’ in oath or don’t re-enlist

The issue began when an unnamed member of the Air Force refused to take the oath containing the words “so help me God,” wanting a secular affirmation instead. He crossed out the phrase on his contract. The airman was told by his superiors that he must swear to God or leave the Air Force, the American Humanist Association (AHA) said in a press release.

The AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center recently sent a letter to United States Air Force officials on behalf of the service member at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, demanding that the airman be permitted to re-enlist with a contract using secular language.

“The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being,” Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in the AHA statement. “Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or reenlistment contracts.”

The old version of AFI 36-2606 included an exception which stated: “Note: Airmen may omit the words ‘so help me God,’ if desired for personal reasons,” the Air Force Times reported. However, that sentence was quietly removed in October 2013.

The AHA letter cited the airman’s First Amendment rights to the separation of church and state. “It is well settled that the government cannot compel a person to take an oath that invokes a supreme being. The Establishment Clause specifically prohibits the government from requiring a non-believer to take an oath that affirms the existence of God,” it said.

The unnamed airman alleged he was being persecuted for his non-religion, with Miller calling the religious words in the oath a “religious test.”

“Forcing [the airman] to swear to a supreme being as a condition of his reenlistment is tantamount to a ‘religious test’ and is therefore violative of this constitutional provision as well,” Miller wrote in a letter to the man's commanding officers.

The Air Force initially said the airman was not completely denied the ability to re-enlist. In a statement sent to Al Jazeera earlier in September, Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said the airman’s “term of service expires in November 2014” and that “he has until this time to complete” Department of Defense Form 4, which contains the oath with the words “so help me God.”

The AHA, however, then threatened to sue the service member’s commanding officer in federal court “for injunctive and declaratory relief,” the organization’s letter said. “In addition, because the law in this area is well established, those commanders may be sued in their individual capacities and be personally liable for damages along with attorneys’ fees.”

Now the airman’s enlistment paperwork will be processed to completion without the offending words of “So help me God.”

“We are pleased that the US Department of Defense has confirmed our client has a First Amendment right to omit the reference to a supreme being in his reenlistment oath,” Miller wrote in a statement emailed to the Washington Post’s Checkpoint blog.

CodePink hijacks Kerry’s ‘defeat ISIS’ speech with anti-war slogans [RT - Daily news]

Screenshot from RT video

Activists of the pro-peace, anti-militarist movement surrounded Kerry with shocking pink signs as he gave testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, making a case for the Obama administration’s Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) strategy.

READ MORE: Obama insists ground troops will not join ISIS fight, US military less sure

The testimony was being broadcast into the homes of millions of Americans by national TV channels.

“ISIL (IS) must be defeated. Period. End of story,” Kerry said, stressing that despite a long history of debates on overseas military campaigns, he thinks that “all” will be able to agree with this statement.

Kerry then addressed the protestors coming from the omnipresent anti-war group, which was started in 2002 to protest President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

“I respect the right of CodePink to protest and to use that right,” Kerry said, adding that he was once himself opposed to the Vietnam War in 1971, and pointing out that the movement confronting him was started “by women who were opposed to war but who also thought the government’s job was to take care of people and to give them healthcare and education and good jobs.”

“And if that’s what you believe in, and I believe it is, then you ought to care about fighting ISIL because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women and they believe women shouldn’t have an education,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, footage showed pink signs reading “No Military Solution” and “No Beheading No Bombing,” as well as “Congress Stop Obama’s War” and “More War = More Extremists” hovering above Kerry’s head and changing hands of the activists.

A lone female protester shouting “More invasion will not protect the homeland!” could also be heard in the background at one point during Kerry’s speech, though she was quickly removed from the room by security.

READ MORE: State Dept. attempt to fight ISIS online with gruesome videos brings backlash

The activist group has consistently opposed the expansion of US military involvement in Iraq’s struggle with Islamic State militants, who now occupy vast territories in the north of the country following a rapid summer offensive. Government officials have repeatedly appealed to atrocities committed by the group – including mass executions and the recent videotaped beheadings of three journalists (two American and one British) – to justify the need for further military action against IS.

At the start of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday and before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s testimony, CodePink protesters were also heard shouting “No more war! The American public does not want war! We do not want war! No military solution to this!” before being taken away.

READ MORE: Anti-NATO protesters begin 192-mile march on summit

Led by Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, CodePink has held peace protests ever since joining one million people near the United Nations in February 2003 to protest George W. Bush’s plan to invade Iraq. Since then, the group has made repeated appearances at hearings on Capitol Hill and at protest rallies across the nation, according to its website.

​Yellowstone National Park to kill up to 900 bison this winter [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / Ron Fry

The park’s famous bison population currently stands at roughly 4,900, meaning it could be reduced by about one-fifth.

According to Reuters, the cull announced Tuesday by Yellowstone's science and research branch would be the largest in seven years.

However, it would still leave the herd’s numbers significantly higher than what both state and federal wildlife officials have established as the target goal – a population of somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500.

READ MORE: Feds want to repopulate US with genetically pure bison

“It will not get us close to the goal of 3,000, but it will stabilize the population and bring it down somewhat,” David Hallac, chief of the park’s science and research branch, told Reuters.

Although Yellowstone’s bison compose the only remaining herd of free-ranging buffalo in the United States, officials want to keep the population from growing too large, out of fear that drifting animals will spread a bacterial disease known as brucellosis to cattle that also graze in Montana’s fields.

The animals were once all over the western parts of the country before hunting drove them to near extinction.

The park’s plan was revealed just one day after animal rights activists filed an emergency legal petition demanding the Obama administration stop the practice of killing bison. Filed by the Buffalo Field Campaign and Friends of Animals, the petition urges the National Park Service and the US Forest Service to conduct a population study that would “correct” the deficiencies in the current bison management plan.

The group also claimed that bison are being killed simply for “crossing an arbitrary line,” and said that “there has never been a single case of wild bison transmitting brucellosis to livestock.”

“Slaughtering wild bison is the livestock industry’s way of eliminating competition and maintaining control of grazing lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park and across the west,” Daniel Brister of the Buffalo Field Campaign said in a statement. “Montana’s livestock industry continues to use brucellosis to frighten and mislead the public into supporting its discrimination against bison.”

About half of Yellowstone’s buffalo could have been exposed to brucellosis, Reuters reported.

The US Interior Department is considering a new plan that would potentially allow new, disease-free bison herds to repopulate much of the land they used to roam through. The plan is based on the idea that the government can move various herds to external sites, where they would be quarantined for years in an attempt to keep the disease from spreading.

If the disease can be successfully stomped out, the healthy buffalo would be taken to other parts of the west, where they could re-establish themselves.

15 Syrian children dead following UN measles vaccination campaign [RT - Daily news]

AFP Photo / SANA

“UNICEF and WHO have been shocked and saddened to learn of the deaths of at least 15 young children in Idlib, Syria,” the statement said. “The deaths of the children occurred in areas where a measles immunization campaign had been under way.”

The children were all under the age of two, Reuters reported, citing aid workers.

Around one hour after being given a second round of the measles vaccine in Idlib on Tuesday, the children demonstrated signs of “severe allergic shock,” said Abdullah Ajaj, a physician administering the vaccinations at a medical center in Jarjanaz, according to AP. The second round of vaccinations began in Idlib and Deir Ezzour on Monday.

Following the vaccine, some of the children’s bodies swelled and they suffocated to death.

“There was shouting and screaming, it was hard for the parents. You get your child vaccinated and then you find your child dying, it’s very hard,” Ajaj said.

Conflicting statements from the Syrian opposition and reports from rights groups have put the number of vaccine-related deaths between 34 and 50.

The WHO said it is sending a team of experts to investigate the incidents, adding that “establishing the precise cause of the children’s deaths is vital.”

The immunization campaign has been suspended in both Idlib and Deir Ezzour provinces. However, UNICEF and the WHO are hopeful that the campaign could resume “as soon as possible.”

While it is believed that measles outbreaks can effectively be contained by vaccinations, they can be very dangerous in undeveloped areas. The disease is transmitted through bodily fluids, coughing, and tears from the eyes.

UN agencies and other non-government organizations have been providing medical services in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.

The Syrian conflict has since turned into a full-scale civil war, with more than 190,000 people killed, according to UN.

On Tuesday, Assad said the fight against terrorism must begin by placing more pressure on countries which are supporting and financing insurgents in Syria and Iraq.

READ MORE: Assad calls to stop funding armed groups in Syria, Iraq

Meanwhile, the US announced that it has plans to take “targeted actions against ISIS (Islamic State/ISIL) safe havens in Syria,” including striking infrastructure. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled a plan to boost Iraqi forces with 1,600 US “military advisers.”

The US will also train and equip 5,000 members of the Syrian opposition to fight militants from the Islamic State group.

Obama insists ground troops will not join ISIS fight, US military less sure [RT - Daily news]

US President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

The debate over the use of ground troops comes as the House of Representatives voted to authorize the arming and training of Syrian rebels. The move is said to be aimed at fighting Islamic State extremists in the country.

Speaking to American service members on Wednesday, President Obama once again stated he will not authorize the use of ground forces in Iraq, and that even those already in the country will not have combat responsibilities.

“I want to be clear: The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and won’t have a combat mission,” he said, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “As your commander in chief, I won’t commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”

READ MORE: Pentagon: US ground troops may fight Islamic State despite ‘no military solution’

The sentiments were echoed by Kerry during a Wednesday hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“US ground troops will not be sent into combat in this conflict,” he said while testifying. “Instead, they will support Iraq forces on the ground as they fight for their country.”

However, those apparently clear assertions are notably different from comments made by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who testified before the Senate on Tuesday.

Dempsey said that should Obama’s current strategy not yield the desired results, he would recommend deploying American troops on the ground.

He also noted that the president has said to “come back to him on a case-by-case basis.”

Dempsey agreed with Obama's judgment that ground troops are unnecessary. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the US, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gen. Ray Odierno – who was one of the lead architects of the so-called troop “surge” in Iraq circa 2007 – said on Wednesday that to defeat the Islamic State, ground troops will be necessary. He did not, however, specify whether US troops will be needed, The New York Times reported.

“You’ve got to have ground forces that are capable of going in and rooting them out,” he said, referring to the hardline militants. The airstrikes, though they have halted the group’s advances, “will not be the end all and be all solution in Iraq,” he added.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates – who served during the terms of former President George W. Bush as well as Obama – went even further, saying that without US combat troops in action, the American coalition against the extremist group will not be successful.

“The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own,” Gates told CBS This Morning. “So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [the U.S. won’t put boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself.”

READ MORE: US will have ‘many more’ 9/11s if it fails to act against Islamic State – House Rep

The comments – from Odierno and Gates, as well as Obama and Kerry – were all made in the hours before the House voted on an amendment to arm Syrian rebels. The proposal passed easily by a vote of 273-156, though more Democrats (85) voted against the measure than Republicans (71).

Its passage comes as the idea has gained some notable critics in the Senate, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va). During Wednesday’s hearing, McCain raised concern over the idea that Syrian rebels who consider the government of Bashar Assad their primary enemy will turn around and agree to fight Islamic State militants first – especially if they are pounded by Assad from the air. McCain suggested “neutralizing” Assad’s air capabilities and asked Kerry if he sees the opposition as “viable.”

The Syrian opposition is “viable enough” to survive in “difficult circumstances,” Kerry said, before noting that “they still have some distance to go.”

NATO stages Black Sea naval drills [RT - Daily news]

HMCS Toronto.(Reuters / Andy Clark )

READ MORE: ‘Promoting peace and stability’: NATO warships enter Black Sea

Starting Friday, naval exercises will take place in the southeast of Constanta, off the territorial waters of Romania. Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 – which includes the US, the UK, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey, as well as the naval forces of Bulgaria, Romania, and Canada - is taking part in the drills.

The drills include PASSEX type exercises. These will feature communication drills, joint tactical maneuvers, and data exchange on viewing surface and underwater situations. The naval forces will also be tasked with defeating attacks of simulated air and surface enemies.

Two ships of the Romanian Naval Forces, a Spanish frigate (ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon, military classification F-102), a Canadian frigate (HMCS Toronto), and a Drazki frigate of the Bulgarian Naval Forces will be involved in the drills.

The warships of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will pay an unofficial “visit,” or port call, to Varna, Bulgaria, where they will be staying between September 19-22, Itar-Tass reports.

Romania earlier called on the United States and NATO to boost their presence in the Balkan country.

As a former communist state, Romania has been among the staunchest advocates of Western sanctions against Russia after the accession of Crimea.

Since the standoff between Russia and the West began over Ukraine, Romania - together with Bulgaria - has taken part in navy drills in the Black Sea and hosted military exercises with US troops.

Meanwhile, Russia’s first Varshavyanka-class submarine has entered service with the Black Sea Fleet. The vessel will head to the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk after completing final trials with the Northern Fleet.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has ordered a total of six submarines to be completed by 2016. These are primarily intended for anti-ship and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters. They will be run by 52 crew, have an underwater speed of 20 knots, and a cruising range of 400 miles with the ability to patrol for 45 days.

Biggest attack on RT.com: Website hit by 10 Gbps DDoS [RT - Daily news]

Reuters / David McNew

The Wednesday attack was successfully deflected, but resulted in a temporary slowdown of the site.

“Thanks to the website’s reliable technical protection, RT.com was unavailable just for a few minutes, even though the DDoS attack has continued,” RT’s press service said in a statement.

The attack was identified as a UDP-flood type, and reached 10 gigabits per second.

Hackers have previously targeted RT with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, to prevent it from reporting on various controversial issues, such as the Chelsea Manning trial and WikiLeaks.

DDoS attacks bring websites down by fabricating internet traffic and overwhelming a site’s hosting service.

One of the most powerful attacks on RT was recorded on February 18, 2013, when the website was unavailable for about 6 hours.

RT was also temporarily disabled for just under five hours in June 2013. Hacker group AntiLeaks, which opposes Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks project, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The cyber assault coincided with RT’s reporting on the trial of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and massive anti-government protests in Turkey. Uninterrupted coverage continued on RT's Twitter page.

In August 2012, the same group claimed responsibility for a massive DDoS attack which knocked out RT’s English and Spanish websites for hours worldwide.

Police release footage of sovereign citizen’s assault on Georgia courthouse (VIDEOS) [RT - Daily news]

Police vehicles block the road leading to the Forsyth County Courthouse after a shooting incident in Cumming, Georgia June 6, 2014.(Reuters / Tami Chappell)

On September 11, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office released footage from the June 6, 2013 ordeal in which Dennis Ronald Marx died after opening fire on an officer who first attended the crime scene.

At around the 17-minute point, the surveillance clip shows Marx driving his sports utility vehicle onto the sidewalk outside of the Forsyth County Courthouse. An officer, identified as Deputy Daniel Rush, is then seen running towards a tree line from where he then engaged in a gun fight with Marx while the suspect tosses tear gas canisters and other smoke-emitting devices from his SUV.

Additionally, the Associated Press reported previously that Marx’s SUV contained two handguns and equipment that could have been used to take hostages, like zip-ties.

"He came in there with the purpose of occupying the courthouse," Sheriff Duane Piper told the Forsyth Herald prior to the release of the surveillance video. "It was a full-frontal assault."

According to the paper, Marx was wearing a gas mask and equipped with an AR-15 when he arrived at the courthouse. Barely four minutes after he parked his SUV, however, the just-released video reveals that roughly a dozen officers approached the vehicle and removed what appears to be Marx’s lifeless body. He was later officially pronounced dead, and Deputy Rush suffered a broken fibula and tibia.

Crystal Ledford, a reporter for Forsyth News, wrote last week that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorney’s office are still investigating the incident.

Navy removes destroyer's top three commanding officers mid-deployment [RT - Daily news]

The guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95).(AFP Photo / STR)

Cmdr. Curtis B. Calloway was relieved as commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer, along with Executive Officer (XO) Cmdr. Ed Handley and Command Master Chief Travis Biswell. The three posts make up the leadership aboard the Williams, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that has been underway since May 30.

Calloway was removed on Tuesday by Capt. Anthony L. Simmons, the deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2, who “will remain in command pending the completion of a DESRON 2 command-directed investigation into the command climate aboard James E. Williams,” the Navy said in a statement.

The military did not provide any details or explanation into the problems with the “command climate” that the three men created on board.

“Removing the three positions — commander, XO and CMC — almost all at once is exceedingly rare,” the US Naval Institute (USNI) reported.

The ship is halfway through a planned eight-month deployment to the US 6th Fleet at the Horn of Africa. The purpose of the deployment to US Africa Command is to conduct training and exercises with partner nations. This is not the first time since the Williams left its home base of Norfolk less than four months ago that it has made headlines.

On June 19, Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Yeshabel Villot-Carrasco, 23, of Parma, Ohio died aboard the guided missile destroyer while it was underway in the Red Sea. Her death, of non-combat injuries, is being investigated as a suspected suicide.

A Navy official who spoke on background to the Navy Times said there is a separate investigation being conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service into a liberty incident that occurred in the Sixth Fleet area of operations, but declined to divulge further details.

It is also not the first time that the top three commanders of the Williams were relieved of command at the same time. In 2009, skipper Cmdr. Paul Marquis and Command Master Chief Timothy Youell reassigned to administrative duties at Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (CNSFA). The executive officer, Cmdr. Daniel D. Sunvold, was reassigned as the XO onboard USS Bainbridge (DDG 96).

That leadership overhaul came after nine James E. Williams Sailors received nonjudicial punishment in November 2009, following investigations that substantiated charges of fraternization between senior and junior enlisted personnel aboard the ship, the Navy said in a statement at the time. The ship was in Norfolk when the relief occurred.

Calloway, Handley and Biswell ‒ who had served as the highest non-commissioned officer on the ship ‒ “have been assigned to the staff at Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic pending the outcome of the investigation,” the Navy said.

Chemical producer lobbies for increase in allowed levels of pesticide linked to 'Beemageddon' [RT - Daily news]

AFP Photo / Federico Gambarini

According to a Sept. 5 document published on the Federal Register, the agri-business corporation wants the US Environmental Protection Agency to increase the amount of thiamethoxam that can legally be used on certain crops, raising concerns among pesticide opponents who say a surge in chemical use could cause widespread problems. Syngenta developed the chemical, and the compound was first approved for use in the US in 1999.

Among the requests made by Syngenta earlier this month are that EPA increase the amount of thiamethoxam that can be used on sweet corn crops from 0.1 parts per million (ppm) to 5.0ppm — a 50-fold increase — and raising the allowable amount on hay from wheat by 400 times over. The company is also asking that the EPA make changes to the thiamethoxam tolerance levels concerning alfalfa and barley.

Ann Bryan, a spokeswoman for the company, told E&E News that Syngenta is seeking the changes because it would allow the chemical to be used as a leaf spray and not just a seed treatment, in turn letting farmers douse crops with thiamethoxam in an effort to treat late- to midseason insects.

But as Tiffany Stecker reported for E&E, the chemical in question is part of a family of insecticides that has previously come under attack for being linked to adverse effects on ecosystems of all sorts.

“Neonicotinoid pesticides are one of many factors that scientists say have caused a dramatic decline in pollinators, insects and animals that help crop production by carrying pollen from one plant to another,” Stecker wrote, adding that more than half of the managed honeybee colonies in the US have vanished during the last decade, according to the Pollinator Partnership nonprofit group.

“Scientists say neonicotinoids can suppress bees' immune systems, making them more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to phase out neonicotinoids on wildlife refuges nationwide starting in January 2016,” she added.

As RT reported previously, the European Union has banned neonicotinoids for two years after studies there suggest similarly. A 2012 report found that “sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is likely the main culprit for the occurrence of CCD,” or Colony Collapse Disorder — a phenomenon in which workers bees suddenly disappear — and the Ontario Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs came to similar conclusions last year.

“The information evaluated suggests that planting of corn seeds treated with the nitro-guanidine insecticides clothianidin and/or thiamethoxam contributed to the majority of the bee mortalities that occurred in corn growing regions of Ontario and Quebec in spring 2012,” the Canadian agencies found.

Now as Syngenta petitions for an increase in tolerance levels, advocates say the company should reconsider.

Syngenta claims that foliar applications will be more likely to stick to the leaves of crops, and thus are less risky to pollinators,” the Beyond Pesticides group wrote in a recent press release. “[B]ut the fact remains that these chemicals are systemic and persistent, and any amount applied will contaminate soil, and has potential the be expressed in the crop’s pollen, nectar and guttation (dew) droplets on which pollinators forage and drink.”

Adding to that statement during a recent interview with E&E’s Stecker, Aimee Simpson, the police director and staff attorney for Beyond Pesticides, suggested that Syngenta is taking the opposite approach amidst growing concerns surrounding CCD and other issues linked to neonicotinoids like thiamethoxam.

"Instead of figuring ways to stop or reduce the use, it's significantly increasing the amount on forage materials and other crops," Simpson said.

"Growers depend on neonicotinoids and other crop protection products to increase crop productivity," Syngenta’s Bryan countered Simpson’s remark. “And the scientific evidence clearly shows that bees and other pollinators can coexist safely with modern agricultural technologies like neonicotinoids when product labels are followed.”

Syngenta is committed to biodiversity, including thriving pollinators,” Bryan said.

The EPA is accepting comments concerning changes to thiamethoxam tolerance through October 6, 2014.

Russian Navy tests its power in Arctic drills – RT’s on board [RT - Daily news]

Heavy nuclear missile cruiser

As battle ships dropped their anchors in the bay off the coast of Kotelny Island in the White Sea, marines carried out a drill on the land that is set to become their permanent home.

It wasn’t just troops who were put to the test during the drill; the two landing ships provided fire support to the marines as they pushed forward against mock enemy positions.

The purpose of the exercise was to familiarize the marines with the rigors of the Arctic – a region for which the international contest is heating up.

Our presence here is intended to safeguard Russia’s interests in the Arctic and to reaffirm that the Arctic route is historically treasured by Russia,” deputy head of the Northern Fleet, Rear Admiral Viktor Sokolov, told RT.

The outpost on Kotelny Island, located in one of the most inhospitable climates on earth and abandoned for decades, is expected to be transformed into a new Arctic stronghold of the Russian Federation.

Moscow is aiming to beef up its military presence in the region by the end of this year. Meanwhile, the air defense reconstruction in the Arctic islands should be completed by October.

Russia intends to strengthen its position in the Arctic in the military, political, financial, and economic sectors. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a new public authority to implement Moscow’s policy in the region.

Russia’s growing presence in the area is viewed with caution by other polar nations. Moscow and Washington have frozen US-Russian cooperation in the Arctic due to strained relations over the Ukrainian crisis. Though Russia has the largest military footprint in the Arctic, none of the five polar nations – including the US, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark – have laid full claim on the region, which is rich in resources.

READ MORE: Ice voyage challenge: RT joins Russian Navy fleet in Arctic base build-up mission

REE: Interview with Javier Sanchez, Head of Spectrum Strategy [The SWLing Post]

REElogo2Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Ed, who has kindly downloaded and processed this Radio Exterior de España interview with Javier Sanchez, the Head of European Spectrum Strategy and Research and Development for REE.

The interview covers REE’s spectrum strategy and also the closure of shortwave radio services on October 1, 2014. While Mr. Sanchez is focused on delivering content via new channels (DAB and IP radio, for example), he believes it is a mistake to close all shortwave radio broadcasting as it still has both financial and content delivery advantages over newer methods.

Listen to the full interview via the embedded player below:

The part of the interview focusing on REE’s shortwave radio service begins at 13:30.

Again, many thanks for sharing this, Ed!

Scotland, Again . . . For Scotland Vote No, For England Vote Yes. [The DiploMad 2.0]

I have been drubbed by English friends for my wishing to see the UK remain as is, and opposing a "Yes" in the referendum re Scotland's independence scheduled for tomorrow.  I am, as result, coming to think that a vote on English independence from the UK would be a closely fought thing.

I can see the point that many English folks make about Scottish independence being a disaster for Scotland and possibly a boon, both politically and economically, for England. The most noted point is that the hideous Labour party depends on the Scottish vote. It seems not unreasonable to argue that were Scotland to go "independent" (we'll get back to the reason for the quotation marks) we would not see another Labour government in the remainder of the UK for years to come, if ever (Could, for example, the hideous Democrats in the US survive without California and New York?)

A Scotland-free UK might have a golden opportunity to reverse the lunatic economic and social agenda--including immigration policy--of the Labourites. England, arguably the most consequential country that ever has existed, would be free, potentially, to be England once more.

An independent Scotland would have to take on a goodly portion of the UK national debt or face getting no or only brutally expensive credit on the international market. London also could dump a lot of social entitlement liabilities by seeing Scotland go "indie."

On the issue of "independence," it strikes me that the Scots would substitute a London-based government over which they have considerable influence, for a Brussels-based bureaucratic nightmare over which Scotland would have minimal if any influence. Not a good deal for Scotland. The migration southward would be major.

Ok, Ok. Got it. I should have stayed out of this one and should not have expressed my somewhat emotion-based support for "No," especially since I am troubled by all the bribing going on to keep Scotland in the UK. If the government deliver on all the lavish promises made to the Scots to stay in the UK, I think that will encourage an English referendum on independence.

So, I guess I can sum up my garbled mess of opinion with the following slogan: "For Scotland's sake vote NO! For England's sake vote YES!"

Well, this is what I get for venturing into areas where I don't belong . . . sorry. Back to watching ACORN TV and the latest adventures of Hercule Poirot.

Obama To Micromanage War Against ISIS, Military Can’t Attack Until He Signs Off On Every Strike… [Weasel Zippers]

Because it worked so well in Vietnam? Via WSJ: The president hasn’t yet given the green light for an attack on Islamic State militants in Syria, but the U.S. military campaign against the group there is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control–going so far as to […]

Obama Is Attending 1 Fundraiser Every 5 Days This Year… [Weasel Zippers]

And the days in-between are spent golfing. Good thing there’s nothing important going on anywhere in the world right now… Via Capitol City Project: Despite many Democratic politicians distancing themselves from President Obama’s low approval ratings and declining his assistance– even in their own backyard– he’s still doing a good amount to help raise money […]

Air Force Will No Longer Require Airmen Say “Under God” When Taking The Oath… [Weasel Zippers]

No surprise, the Air Force Academy already dropped “under God” from the honor oath cadets take. Via CBN News: The U.S. Air Force will no longer require airmen to say the words “So help me God” when taking the enlistment oath. Air Force officials say the change comes after an airman struck out the words […]

Another Nauseating Kerry Quote On ISIS: America Is At “War Against This Enemy Islam”… [Weasel Zippers]

Let me fix that for you: We are at “war against this enemy Islam”… KERRY: If you’re more comfortable calling it a war against this enemy of Islam then please do so. We are happy with calling it that. I think it’s much more important to focus on how we’re going to do it.

Barbra Streisand: Obama Is “Like A Greek Tragedy… They Always Try To Bring Down The Gods”… [Weasel Zippers]

Apparently Obama is a god now, who knew? Alternate headline: Barbra Streisand’s Obama-worship takes a turn for the worse. Via ABC News: AP: Speaking of politics, have you spoken to Hillary Clinton whether she’ll run for president? Streisand: I would love her to run. I think we have advanced with Obama, and I think people […]

ISIS Launches Major Offensive Against Kurds In Syria, Seize 16 Villages In One Day… [Weasel Zippers]

Seems like those pinprick airstrikes from Obama isn’t slowing ISIS down… shocker. AFP — A monitoring group said Islamic State fighters had seized a string of villages as they closed in on Syria’s third-largest Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab. “In the past 24 hours, IS fighters have launched a huge offensive and seized at least […]

Hillary Clinton At Feminist Conference Says She’s “Embarrassed” By America For Not Signing Radical UN Treaty… [Weasel Zippers]

The feeling is mutual, Pant Suits. Via Breitbart: Last Friday, to a packed hall at the modernist Ford Foundation building not far from the UN, former Sec. of State and presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she was embarrassed that the United States has never ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms […]

UK: Facing A Wave Of Hundreds Of ISIS Fighters Coming Home, Top Government Adviser Warns About Violence From “Right-Wing Extremists” [Weasel Zippers]

Does it get any more clueless than this? Via Daily Mail: Ministers must not ignore the growing threat of violence from far-right extremists in Britain in the wake of ISIS terrorism and crimes involving UK Muslims, a senior Home Office adviser said today. The anonymous expert on right-wing extremism warned that the Government is putting […]

Obama As Delusional As Ever: “America Is Now Positioned Better Than We Could Have Ever Imagined”… [Weasel Zippers]

Positioned for what? – An implosion? Via Grabien: On Wednesday while speaking at the 2014 Congressional Picnic at the White House, President Obama said that “America is now positioned better than we could have ever imagined.” Heralding the bipartisanship House measure granting him authorization to act against ISIS, President Obama said, “If we continue to […]

Report: ISIS Leadership Ordered Terror Attack On Australia… [Weasel Zippers]

Update to this story Australia accounts for the largest per capita number of foreign fighters in ISIS. (AFP) – A series of anti-terror raids across Sydney and Brisbane were sparked by a senior Islamic State militant ordering “demonstration killings” in Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said today. “The exhortations, quite direct exhortations, were coming from […]

John Kerry: “We Do Have A Strategy To Defeat ISIS” But We Can’t Tell You What It Is… [Weasel Zippers]

I get the feeling John isn’t being very honest with us. Via Washington Examiner: Secretary of State John Kerry testified in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Wednesday afternoon on the United States’ strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “ISIL must be defeated. Period. End of Story,” Kerry testified […]

BREAKING: ISIS Releases Propaganda Video Featuring Another British Hostage… [Weasel Zippers]

Via Daily Mail: A British hostage captured in Syria two years ago has appeared in an Islamic State propaganda video appealing for the public to stop Western forces going to war with the terror group. The man, who MailOnline have chosen not to identify, speaks calmly as he sits behind a desk in a dark […]

Baltimore Sheriff Candidate: “White People Should Shut The F*ck Up, You’re The Most Violent People On The Planet”… [Weasel Zippers]

He seems like a delightful fellow. Via Defund.com: A man running for Baltimore County sheriff on an “anti-police brutality platform” raised some eyebrows with his recent comments, saying, “white people should just shut the f*ck up” because they’re “the most violent people on the planet.” The comments were made while he ranted about the Ray […]

Mooch Complains: Being Married To The President “Can Be Hard”… [Weasel Zippers]

I feel your pain, Michelle. It’s not easy going on endless taxpayer-funded vacations and having an army of servants. Via TWS: First Lady Michelle Obama visited sick children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she complained about living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and being married to the president of the United […]

Australian Feminist Writer: “Heterosexual Marriage Bigger Oppressor of Women Than The Burqa”… [Weasel Zippers]

Catherine Deveny’s (who writes for the Guardian) bio is pure moonbat gold: “…she is the mother to three little boys aged 11, 12 and 15. She lives in an atheist kibbutz with her partner, gay husband, various housemates and sons.” HT: Chicks On The Right via GayPatriot

Former Navy SEAL: More Than 90 Percent Of Troops Do Not Support Obama… [Weasel Zippers]

Hmm, I wonder why. Via Daily Caller: According to former U.S. Navy SEAL Carl Higbie, over 90 percent of troops disapprove of President Barack Obama. Higbie made the comments to “On The Record” host Greta Van Susteren Wednesday. “Effective today, the president? A photo-op? or something in between?” Susteren asked. “Photo-op. Complete photo-op. This indicative […]

Iran Sentences Blogger To Death For “Insulting The Prophet” On Facebook… [Weasel Zippers]

Sharia in action. TEHRAN – A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death. An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the blogger, Soheil Arabi, will be able to appeal the decision until September 20, 2014. Agents from the […]

Dem Rep. Jackie Speier Demands NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Resign… [Weasel Zippers]

MYOB, Jackie. Via The Hill: Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) on Wednesday night called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign, adding to growing discontent with the league in Congress. “I think that Roger Goodell should resign, I absolutely thing so,” she said on MSNBC. “Whether he does or not is probably, I think, unlikely. It`s […]

Obama Whines: It’s Not Easy For Michelle To See Me Not Being “Appreciated”… [Weasel Zippers]

If only the commoners were smart enough to appreciate the sheer awesomeness that is Barack Obama. Via Grabien: “The only other thing I want to say is, thank you to the families. You know it is, uh — Michelle was traveling to St. Judes today to be with the amazing kids there, and the doctors […]

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has rare, agressive form of cancer [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The tumor in Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's abdomen is a rare and aggressive form of cancer, his doctors said on Wednesday. The polarizing figure has withdrawn his re-election bid in order to undergo chemotherapy.

US Congress votes to arm Syrian rebels battling IS group [Americas – France 24 - International News 24/7]

The US House of Representatives approved President Barack Obama's plan on Wednesday to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State (IS) group rebels, but questions remain on the strategy's effectiveness.

Australian police arrest 15 in massive anti-terror raids [Asia/Pacific – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Huge counterterrorism raids in Sydney on Thursday were sparked by security intelligence that the Islamic State movement was planning a random, violent attack in Australia as a demonstration of its reach, the prime minister said.

France's Hollande unveils plans for airstrikes in Iraq, battling Ebola [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

At his biannual press conference on Thursday, French President François Hollande discussed his response to Islamist militants in Iraq, controversial plans to deliver a French warship to Russia and the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

In photos: Passion and pragmatism as Scotland votes [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

After months of speeches, heated debates, and passionate pleas from politicians, celebrities and sports stars, the waiting is finally over.

Australian police arrest 15 in massive anti-terror raids [Top stories – France 24 - International News 24/7]

Huge counterterrorism raids in Sydney on Thursday were sparked by security intelligence that the Islamic State movement was planning a random, violent attack in Australia as a demonstration of its reach, the prime minister said.

Can It Get Any Dumber? Scott Walker Accused of Violating OSHA Rules When He Climbs Out of Pit in Ad [Jammie Wearing Fools]

These union morons wonder why they’re so loathed. This could well be the dumbest thing we’ve ever seen.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s opponents are accusing him of violating the Occupational Health and Safety Administrations regulations in a campaign re-election ad in which he is the only person who appears. That is, he is being accused of physically endangering himself.

In the 30-second ad, titled “Comeback,” Walker appears arguing that the state has rebounded economically under his watch. The governor does this while climbing out a dirt pit about 10 feet deep, an effort to symbolize him getting the state out of the financial hole it had dug itself into.

Jeff Kaminiski, president of United Steelworkers Local 2006, which is based in Oak Creek, Wis., said the ad really symbolizes Walker’s disregard for Wisconsin workers because he does not observe proper OSHA regulations while he gets out of the pit.

“Gov. Walker’s violations send the wrong message to anyone trying follow the rules and come home safe at the end of the day. Safety is the backbone of the union movement. We want all workers to come home safe at end of the day, we can’t have an example like this playing statewide,” Kaminski said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Only a desperate Democrat hack would come up with something so incredibly stupid. Here’s the ad. Maybe these moronic union thugs can find a hole to crawl into.

Watch this video on YouTube.


Faced With ISIS Threat, UK Adviser Warns About ‘Right-Wing Extremism’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Well, they’re on the same page as their American counterparts in the race to see how far up their ass they can stick their heads.

Ministers must not ignore the growing threat of violence from far-right extremists in Britain in the wake of ISIS terrorism and crimes involving UK Muslims, a senior Home Office adviser said today.

The anonymous expert on right-wing extremism warned that the Government is putting an emphasis on the ‘global jihadist agenda’ while possibly ignoring the growth of the far-right at home.

This coward stays anonymous because obviously these right-wing extremists might start blowing things up, right?

The adviser warned of the importance of preventing a violent attack being carried out by the far-right in Britain in the future.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I have been working with people from the far-right for about 27 years now.

‘I can see increases in some of these groups and membership in some of these groups based on things that are happening nationally here and internationally.

‘A lot of the emphasis is put on the global jihadist agenda, which is fine, and it needs to be, but I really feel that this agenda, the repercussions of some of that in terms of the far-right can’t be ignored.

‘I wouldn’t want to get to the point where something happens and we look back and think actually we should have addressed that as well.’

Odd, but we can’t quite seem to recall any so-called ‘far right’ types chopping off heads.

ISIS Calls for ‘Lone Wolves’ To Find Service Members’ Addresses and Then ‘Show Up and Slaughter Them’ [Jammie Wearing Fools]

Considering the event that went down in Australia today, we hope the authorities are on the ball and realize this is a worldwide scourge that has to be destroyed.

A law enforcement bulletin obtained by FoxNews.com warned that Islamic State fighters have increased calls for “lone wolves” to attack U.S. soldiers in America in recent months, citing one tweet that called for jihadists to find service members’ addresses online and then “show up and slaughter them.”

There will be “a continued call – by Western fighters in Syria and terrorist organizations – for lone offender attacks against U.S. military facilities and personnel,” warned a July law enforcement intelligence bulletin from the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange, a state-run agency that gathers, assesses and shares threat information and works with the Department of Homeland Security. “These threats will most likely increase should the U.S. or its allies attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) in Syria or Iraq.”

In one example cited in the bulletin, a British jihadist encouraged radicals still living in the West to use Facebook and LinkedIn to find and target soldiers.

“You could literally search for soldiers, find their town, photos of them, look for address in Yellowbook or something,” the tweet read. “Then show up and slaughter them.”

Of course much of the left in this country would prefer you to be unarmed.

The bulletin also cited an uptick in chatter on Internet forums calling for attacks on Western military targets, with many referring to Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 service members at the Texas Army base in 2009 in a case the Obama administration still labels as an example of “workplace violence,” and not terrorism. Hasan recently announced from prison, where he is awaiting execution, he wanted to join Islamic State.

A commenter on the Ansar Al-Mujahideen English Forum reposted a 2009 statement from radicalized American Adam Gadahn, now a senior Al Qaeda leader, praising  Hasan.

“The Mujahid brother Nidal Hasan, lightly armed but with a big heart, a strong will and a confident step, again brought into focus the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of America…and most significantly, the Mujahid brother Nidal Hasan is a pioneer, a trailblazer and a role model who has opened the door, lit a path and shown the way forward for every Muslim among the unbelievers and yearns to discharge his duty to Allah and play a part in the defense of Islam and Muslims against the savage, heartless and bloody Zionist Crusader assault on our religion, sacred places and homelands,” read the statement.

We’ve already has a jihadi murder recently in New Jersey, but there’s pretty much a news blackout on that.


‘Secret’ Email List of Lefty Crackpots Trashes Hillary Clinton [Jammie Wearing Fools]

You would think after the Journolist fiasco of a few years back these idiots would refrain from partaking in these allegedly “secret” email chains, especially so-called journalists themselves. It appears the far-left Hillary Clinton isn’t quite radical enough for these people, who clearly prefer the shrieking harpy Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016.

Emails sent by liberal activists and obtained by The Hill reveal significant dissatisfaction with Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

The critical messages about the former first lady show that she has a long way to go to assuage skepticism from influential voices on the left.

The Hill reviewed hundreds of emails from a progressive members only Google group called the “Gamechanger Salon,” a forum where nearly 1,500 activists, strategists and journalists debate issues and craft messaging campaigns.

The group includes prominent Democrats, Sierra Club officials, journalists who work for The Huffington Post and The Nation magazine, senior union representatives, leaders at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the president of NARAL.

Actually, that’s pretty much the mainstream of what’s now the Democratic Party. One thing’s for sure: Literacy isn’t their strong suit:

“[A] Clinton presidency undos [sic] all our progress and returns the financial interests to even more prominence than they currently have,” Melissa Byrne, an activist with the Occupy Wall Street movement, said in a November 2013 email.

A common theme among these “progressive” types is punishing people for not being as insane as they are.

The establishment Dems need to be punished, and the best way for that to happen is for Warren to beat Hillary in the primary on a populist message,” Carl Gibson, a progressive activist and writer for Occupy.com, wrote in one email.

Remember, though, the left is a peace-loving group and would never hint at violence or anything.

Charles Lenchner, a progressive operative and executive director of Organizing 2.0, said Clinton — and anyone else who voted for the Iraq War — is “tainted.”

“And personally, I would like to see a Democratic Party where folks who enabled George Bush to drag the country into a permanent war are punished at the ballot box,” he said in an interview.

These people have the most radical leftist in our history sitting in the White House yet they remain in a perpetual state of anger and rage.

By the way, this was first reported back in August and some of the alleged “journalists” are identified.

Sally Kohn, formerly a Fox News contributor, now works for CNN reliably echoing pro-Obama Administration talking points and championing leftwing ideas as a network commentator. Kohn is also a member of Gamechanger Salon, and e-mails show that she occasionally approached the group’s membership and asked them to promote her television appearances.

“I’m guest co-hosting CNN’s Crossfire tonight at 6:30pm EST, with fellow co-host Newt Gingrich. I would be grateful for folks (a) helping spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, etc to encourage people to tune in; and (b) tuning in and live tweeting during the show,” Kohn wrote to the group on January 14 of this year.

In another e-mail, Kohn pitched her TED talk about working as a liberal at Fox News. “I would be grateful for any shares and reactions. Here is a straightforward, sample tweet[:] Watch @sallykohn’s amazing TED talk on emotional correctness: on.ted.com/Kohn she wrote. “Thanks for everything all of you do every day to make the world a better place!” she signed off.

Another far-left crackpot is also a member:

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor and publisher of The Nation magazine, a prominent and well-known periodical of leftwing political and social thought. She is also a member of Gamechanger Salon and a regular opinion writer for the online edition of The Washington Post.

ASIO and hundreds of police raid Sydney and Brisbane homes in biggest counter-terrorism raid in Australia’s history [Jammie Wearing Fools]

POLICE say co-ordinated raids on homes across Brisbane’s south and in Sydney this morning were in response to threats of random attacks on members of the public, including the possible beheading of a random member of the public on a city street and mass shootings.

Fifteen people have been detained and one person charged with terrorism offences, following pre-dawn raids across Sydney and Brisbane, as part of a pre-emptive strike amid fears a suspected terror cell was close to launching an attack.

Unconfirmed reports have emerged that the groups may have been planning beheadings or mass shootings on home soil.

The ABC reports court documents expected to reveal the terror plan involved draping random Sydney person in Islamic State flag and beheading them on camera.

A similar attack was carried out on British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, in London, May 2013. when he was run down and butchered on a busy street by two men.

Full story.

AJC urges Bolivian president to stem rising tide of anti-Semitism [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — The American Jewish Committee called on Bolivian President Eva Morales to halt the rise of violent anti-Semitism in his country.

In the most recent anti-Semitic act, on Sept. 13, a dynamite attack damaged the main Jewish cemetery in the capital city of La Paz.

“President Morales’ hostility towards Israel has encouraged regular attacks against the country’s Jewish population in the media and violent attacks on Jewish institutions,” Dina Siegel Vann, AJC’s director of Latino and Latin American Affairs, said in a statement Thursday. “This is a very dangerous trend that only the government can and should vigorously turn back and end.”

During Israel’s Gaza operation this summer, Morales called Israel a “terrorist state” and renounced Bolivia’s visa exemption agreement with Israel that had been in place since 1972.

Morales severed diplomatic ties with Israel in January 2009, calling its treatment of Palestinians “a genocide.”

1,200-year-old Jewish prayer book on display in Jerusalem [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

A book believed to be the world's oldest Jewish prayer book will be displayed for a month in Jerusalem. (Ardon Bar Hama, Osaf Green)

A book believed to be the world’s oldest Jewish prayer book will be displayed for a month in Jerusalem. (Ardon Bar Hama, Osaf Green)

(JTA) — A Jewish prayer book believed to be the world’s oldest will be exhibited in Jerusalem for one month.

The 1,200-year-old siddur was unveiled Thursday at a ceremony at the Bible Lands Museum. In a news release, the museum described it as the oldest Jewish prayer book.

Steve Green, the museum’s chairman, purchased the book for his personal collection a year ago.

The prayer book will be displayed in the museum’s Book of Books exhibit, a collection of important biblical tests. On display are original fragments from the Septuagint, the earliest New Testament Scriptures, illuminated manuscripts, rare fragments from the Cairo Geniza and original pages from the Gutenberg Bible.

Written in Hebrew and still in its original binding, the book originates from the Middle East. It contains the morning service, liturgical poems and the Passover Haggadah.

At Canada’s new human rights museum, should the Holocaust get special treatment? [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]


Exterior, top, and interior shots of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg opening this weekend. (Flickr)

TORONTO (JTA) — On the fourth floor of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights, visitors will find a gallery called “Examining the Holocaust,” which is devoted entirely to the story and lessons of the Shoah. On the same floor, in a smaller, adjacent space, a gallery called “Breaking the Silence” examines a cluster of five genocides officially recognized by the Canadian government: the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia; the Armenian and Rwandan genocides; the Holodomor, or the starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s; and, once again, the Holocaust.

“Examining the Holocaust” is just one of 11 galleries at the $351 million human rights museum that opens in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Saturday. It is also the museum’s thorniest.

The permanent gallery has long been a source of controversy for the institution, which has fought accusations from a handful of Canada’s ethnic communities, ranging from Ukrainians to Armenians, that allowing the Holocaust its own space downplays the significance of the other human rights atrocities confined to a single room.

In interviews with JTA, museum officials defended their decision by asserting that the Holocaust is in fact exceptional, both as an act of 20th-century genocide and a pedagogic tool. As the trigger for international human rights legislation in the aftermath of World War II, the Holocaust is deserving of its own gallery, the  officials said.

“It’s one of the most studied, most well-documented atrocities,” said June Creelman, the museum’s director of learning and programming. “One of the ways to educate is to start with something familiar and move to something unknown.”

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights grew out of several unsuccessful attempts by Jewish community leaders as far back as the late 1990s to attract government support for a national Holocaust museum, or a Holocaust gallery at the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa. The efforts failed when the federal government, after staging parliamentary hearings, shied away from committing money to a project that memorialized only a single group’s history. (In August, Canada will unveil its first national Holocaust monument, an $8.5 million project steps from the Parliament in downtown Ottawa. The monument, designed by a team that includes renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, features six concrete triangles that together create points of a Star of David.)

It wasn’t until 2003 that the late Izzy Asper, a Manitoba-born media mogul and Jewish philanthropist, convinced Prime Minister Jean Chretien to sign on to a public-private partnership establishing a national human rights museum similar in scope to the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Asper, whose family foundation chipped in $22 million, always had his eye on a stand-alone Holocaust gallery — indeed, early museum blueprints indicated a Holocaust section would occupy more than 20 percent of the available gallery space. In the final design, it takes up less than 10 percent of the  space.

Other galleries examine contemporary cases of human rights abuse, the history of civil rights in Canada — including the “head tax” that Chinese immigrants were charged in the late 19th century — and the work of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer whose work on defining the term “genocide” led to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948.

From the outset, museum fundraisers and programmers were adamant that the Holocaust serve as the intellectual and emotional starting point for the museum’s approach to human rights education. In 2008, a government advisory review wrote that the Holocaust “provides our paradigm for understanding the causes and processes of all mass, state-sponsored violence, as well as provides the inspiration for human rights protection on a world-wide scale.”

That sort of language, at a museum striving to tell multiple histories, has led to what Dirk Moses, a historian at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, has called a “traumatic memory competition between those who postulated the Holocaust’s uniqueness and those who rejected it.” Moses has written extensively on the new Canada museum.

For his part, Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a Canadian advocacy group, praised the museum for recognizing “that the pedagogic power of the Holocaust experience is of a fundamentally different scope and nature.”

But critics argue that the amount of attention focused on the Holocaust at the museum is woefully disproportionate, and they take strong exception to what is perceived as unfair precedence granted the Holocaust over other genocides.

The museum’s Holocaust exhibit occupies 4,500 square feet of space — 1,400 square feet more than the “Breaking the Silence” gallery. Maureen Fitzhenry, a museum spokeswoman, described the Holocaust gallery as having five sections, including the story of the Nazis’ rise to power and how the genocide was implemented, an exploration of how everyday people were complicit in the genocide and a 10-minute documentary about Canada’s unwillingness to absorb Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during World War II.

Content for the exhibits — all designed by Ralph Applebaum Associates, the firm behind the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s permanent exhibit — were developed with the input of independent scholars and public consultations involving thousands of Canadians.

The executive director of the Zoryan Institute, a Toronto-based think tank that researches Armenian diaspora issues, told the National Post last year he worried the Holocaust gallery would be so overwhelming that visitors would not “really absorb anything from the other galleries.”

Ukrainian-Canadian institutions have been especially rancorous, claiming the Holodomor, the Soviet-inflicted famine in 1932-33, is given insufficient consideration at the museum. In one provocative 2011 anti-museum campaign, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, or UCCLA, mailed postcards to Canadians featuring an illustration of a pig whispering to a sheep, “All galleries are equal but some galleries are more equal than others.”

There are an estimated 1.2 million Ukrainian-Canadians, and many have close ties to the Prairie provinces, including Manitoba, which absorbed waves of Ukrainian immigrants starting in the 1890s. Lubomyr Luciuk, a professor of political geography at the Royal Military College and a member of the UCCLA, called the museum “divisive,” but expressed confidence that its contents would be revised in the future.

“UCCLA’s position is that no genocide, however tragic, should be given pride of place in a publicly funded national Canadian museum, meaning no nation’s tragedy, however well-documented or evocative, should receive preferential treatment with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights,” Luciuk, a longtime critic of the museum, told JTA.

Some scholars have cast doubt on the museum’s claim, as a justification for the stand-alone gallery, that the Holocaust had a larger impact on human rights legislation than did other acts of genocide.

Adam Muller, a University of Manitoba genocide scholar, pointed to a trend in contemporary scholarship — notably the work of Columbia University historian Samuel Moyn — disputing the impact that Holocaust consciousness had on the international human rights treaties signed after World War II, especially the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and early understandings of the term “genocide.”

Muller, co-editor of a forthcoming book about human rights museums titled “The Idea of a Human Rights Museum,” is supportive of a special Holocaust gallery because of the wealth of scholarship available on the subject. But, he added, if it isn’t clear that the Holocaust precipitated the post-World War II human rights movement, “looking at the connection in the museum has kind of dubious value.”

Elsewhere: NSA’s overreach, Egypt’s Jewish remnant, war on endless loop [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

Too much intel: The NSA abused its power in communications with the Israeli military’s Unit 8200, James Bamford writes, and that should concern Americans and Israelis. (N.Y. Times)

Egypt’s Jewish remnant: The elected leader of Egypt’s much diminished Jewish community speaks on her role as guardian of the country’s vanishing Jewish legacy. (BBC)

War on endless loop: The only certain result of the recent war in Gaza is another war in Gaza, writes Yossi Alpher. (Forward)

Arrow 2 missed target during Israel-U.S. test [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Arrow 2 interceptor missile missed its target during a joint U.S.-Israel test.

Israeli analysis of the Sept. 9 test concluded that the intercept system acquired and tracked its target but did not destroy it, Defense News reported Wednesday.

Israeli experts blamed the miss on software issues that are easily corrected, according to Defense News.

The test by Israel’s Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency was held at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea. A statement issued by Israel’s Defense Ministry the day of the test said that the Arrow 2 missile “was launched and performed its flight sequence as planned.”

The Arrow 2 provides the Arrow Weapon System, a long-range ballistic missile defense system, with an interceptor engagement capability.

Israel Aerospace Industries is the primary contractor for the integration and development of the system in conjunction with Boeing, Elta and Elbit/Elisra.

In February, Israel conducted a successful live test of the Arrow 3 interceptor missile defense system.

5774: War in Gaza, upheaval in Ukraine and American Jewish assimilation made for an anxious year [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]


Demonstrators rally outside the Israeli consulate in Manhattan to express solidarity with three Israeli teens who were abducted in the West Bank, June 16, 2014. (Miriam Moster/JTA)

Demonstrators rally outside the Israeli consulate in Manhattan to express solidarity with three Israeli teens who were abducted in the West Bank, June 16, 2014. (Miriam Moster/JTA)

September 2013

The United States and Russia reach a deal to rid Syria of its arsenal of chemical weapons, promoting Jewish groups to suspend their efforts lobbying for U.S. strikes against Damascus.

Rabbi Philip Berg, founder of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles and teacher of Jewish mysticism for A-list celebrities, dies at age 86.

William Rapfogel, then the head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, at the social service agency's annual legislative breakfast, June 2008. (Metropolitan Council)

William Rapfogel, then the head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, at the social service agency’s annual legislative breakfast, June 2008. (Metropolitan Council)

William Rapfogel, the ousted leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in New York, is arrested on charges of grand larceny and money laundering. Investigators later say the scheme involving Rapfogel netted $9 million in illicit funds, including $3 million for Rapfogel himself. Rapfogel pleads guilty the following April and is sent to prison in July for three-and-a-half to 10 years.

In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama says the U.S. focus in the Middle East will be keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace. Meanwhile, in a meeting with U.S. Jewish leaders, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he is more hopeful now for peace than he was in the mid-2000s.

The Foundation for Jewish Culture, a 53-year-old organization dedicated to promoting Jewish culture and the arts, announces it is closing.

Larry Ellison, CEO of the technology company Oracle, is ranked as the richest Jew in the United States, according to the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, which puts Ellison at No. 3. Other Jews making the top 20 are Michael Bloomberg (10, $31 billion); Sheldon Adelson (11, $28.5 billion); Sergey Brin (14, $24.4 billion); George Soros (19, $20 billion); and Marc Zuckerberg (20, $19 billion).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the first U.S. Supreme Court justice to preside over a same-sex marriage, the wedding ceremony of Michael Kaiser and John Roberts.

October 2013

A landmark study of U.S. Jews by the Pew Research Center finds the Jewish intermarriage rate has risen to 58 percent and that among the 22 percent of American Jews who describe themselves as having no religion, two-thirds are not raising their children as Jews. The survey also estimates the U.S. Jewish population at 6.8 million, roughly the same estimate arrived at by Brandeis University researchers analyzing 350 separate population studies.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a pan-European intergovernmental organization, overwhelmingly passes a resolution calling male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children” and putting it in the same class as female genital mutilation. Israeli President Shimon Peres joins the chorus of voices protesting the decision. In November, the group’s leader assures Jews that the council does not seek to ban Jewish ritual circumcision.

A day after meeting with President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the U.N. General Assembly that Israel is ready to go it alone against Iran should it come close to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the Israeli sage who founded the Sephardic Orthodox Shas political party and exercised major influence on Jewish law, dies at age 93.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, shown here at the National Tennis Center on Aug. 26, 2013, was named the first winner of the Genesis Prize. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, shown here at the National Tennis Center on Aug. 26, 2013, was named the first winner of the Genesis Prize. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is named the first recipient of the Genesis Prize, a $1 million award for a renowned professional capable of inspiring young Jews. The prize is funded by a consortium of Jewish philanthropists from the former Soviet Union.

Warshel, a U.S. professor born and educated in Israel, and ex-Weizmann Institute professor Michael Levitt are among the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

Two Orthodox rabbis from the New York area and two accomplices are arrested for allegedly kidnapping and beating men to force them to grant their wives religious Jewish divorces, or gets.

Israeli forces discover a “terror tunnel” running from Gaza to an Israeli kibbutz. The tunnel is full of explosives and ends near an Israeli kindergarten.

Janet Yellen is named head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, becoming the third American Jewish central banker in a row and the first woman to hold the post.

Movement leaders at the centennial conference of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in Baltimore agree that significant rejuvenation is needed if Conservative Judaism is to reverse its negative trajectory.

November 2013

Semen Domnitser, the former Claims Conference employee who was found guilty of leading a $57 million fraud scheme at the Holocaust restitution organization, is sentenced to eight years in prison. The scheme entails falsifying applications to two funds established by the German government to make restitution payments to Holocaust survivors.

In a survey of 5,847 European Jews, nearly one-third of respondents say they “seriously considered emigrating” from Europe because of anti-Semitism.

German authorities begin taking steps to identify the provenance of more than 1,400 words of Holocaust-era art found in the Munich home of Cornelius Gurlitt.

Joseph Paul Franklin is executed for killing a man at a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977. Franklin, 63, shot Gerald Gordon outside the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue as Gordon left a bar mitzvah. Franklin also is convicted of seven other murders throughout the United States and claims credit for 20 deaths between 1977 and 1980.

Forty families belonging to the haredi Orthodox extremist group Lev Tahor consider fleeing their Quebec homes out of fears that Canadian welfare authorities are poised to seize their children.

The United States and a coalition of world powers reach a six-month agreement with Iran to curb the country’s nuclear program in exchange for some sanctions relief while negotiations for a final settlement on Iran’s nuclear program are conducted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pans the deal as a “historic mistake.” The deal goes into effect on Jan. 20.

December 2013

Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress who is a former Miss Israel, is cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming film “Batman vs. Superman.”

Gal Gadot attends the "Fast & Furious 6" Los Angeles premiere on May 21, 2013. (Andrew Evans/PR Photos)

Gal Gadot attends the “Fast & Furious 6″ Los Angeles premiere on May 21, 2013. (Andrew Evans/PR Photos)

Swarthmore’s Hillel chapter becomes the first to join the so-called Open Hillel movement, which challenges Hillel International’s guidelines prohibiting partnerships with groups it deems hostile toward Israel. Hillel boards at Vassar and Wesleyan soon follow suit.

The Union for Reform Judaism announces at its biennial conference in San Diego that it has sold off half its headquarters in New York and is investing $1 million from the proceeds to overhaul the movement’s youth programming.

The membership of the American Studies Association endorses a boycott of Israeli universities. The controversial decision comes after months of debate and prompts several American schools to withdraw from the association in protest and dozens more to condemn the move.

Jacob Ostreicher, a New York businessman held in Bolivia since 2011, returns to the United States, in part thanks to efforts by actor Sean Penn. Ostreicher was managing a rice-growing venture in Bolivia when he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and accused of doing business with drug dealers.

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association becomes the third U.S. academic body in less than a year to recommend that its members boycott Israeli universities.

After being pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is released from prison and leaves Russia, where he spent 10 years behind bars.

Philanthropist Edgar Bronfman dies in New York at 84. An heir to the Seagram’s beverage fortune, Bronfman was a longtime advocate on behalf of Jewish causes, serving as the head of the World Jewish Congress and financing many efforts to strengthen Jewish identity.

French soccer star Nicolas Anelka performing the quenelle, an anti-Semitic gesture, after scoring a goal at a match in London, Dec. 28, 2013. (Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

French soccer star Nicolas Anelka performing the quenelle, an anti-Semitic gesture, after scoring a goal at a match in London, Dec. 28, 2013. (Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Amid a public debate in France over an allegedly anti-Semitic gesture called the quenelle, the French media publish a photo of a man performing it outside the Toulouse school where four Jews were murdered. Several French cities later announce they have banned performances by the comedian who popularized the salute, Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.

January 2014

Brooklyn Hasidic real estate developer Menachem Stark is kidnapped, his lifeless body later found in a dumpster. The New York Post provokes outrage among many Jews with a cover calling him a slumlord and a headline asking, “Who didn’t want him dead?” Months later, a construction worker is arrested for the killing.

Ariel Sharon, the controversial warrior-turned-statesman who served as Israel’s prime minister from 2001 until 2006, when he was rendered comatose by a stroke, dies at age 85.

JTA and MyJewishLearning, which includes the popular parenting website Kveller.com, announce their intention to merge.

The Israeli government announces that it plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next 20 years to strengthen the Jewish identity of Diaspora Jews, particularly young Jews, but the details remain fuzzy.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel reaches an agreement with the Rabbinical Council of America to automatically accept letters from RCA members vouching for the Jewish status of Israeli immigrants. The agreement follows a temporary suspension by the Chief Rabbinate in accepting such letters from at least one well-known RCA member, Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, N.Y.

Two modern Orthodox high schools in New York stir controversy with decisions to allow girls who wish to lay tefillin.

UJA-Federation of New York, the largest Jewish federation in North America, names attorney Eric Goldstein as its new CEO and successor to longtime CEO John Ruskay.

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum announces Scarlett Johansson as the company's first-ever global brand ambassador on Jan. 10, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SodaStream)

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum announces Scarlett Johansson as the company’s first-ever global brand ambassador on Jan. 10, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SodaStream)

Actress Scarlett Johansson comes under criticism for serving as a spokeswoman for the Israeli company SodaStream, which has facilities in the West Bank. Johansson, who is Jewish, stands by SodaStream and resigns as a global ambassador for the British-based charity Oxfam, saying she and Oxfam have “a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

The Israel Air Force is accused of attacking a warehouse of advanced Russian-made S-300 missiles in the Syrian port city of Latakia. Israel declines to comment on the attack.

A federal judge tosses out a $380 million sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Yeshiva University by 34 former students of its high school for boys. The suit alleged that the university ignored warnings of assault by two faculty members between 1969 and 1989. In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge John Koeltl rules that the statute of limitations has expired.

Longtime California congressman Henry Waxman announces his retirement. Waxman had represented California’s 33rd District since 1975 and was considered the dean of Jewish lawmakers.

Jewish philanthropist and humanitarian Anne Heyman, founder of the Agahozo-ShalomYouthVillage in Rwanda, dies during a horse-riding competition in Palm Beach, Fla.

February 2014

The government of Spain approves a bill to facilitate the naturalization of Sephardic Jews of Spanish descent.

Staff at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem go on strike as the hospital, facing a huge deficit, teeters on the edge of bankruptcy and fails to pay its workers.

Abraham Foxman announces he is stepping down as national director of the Anti-Defamation League after 27 years in the post. Foxman, a child survivor of the Holocaust one of the highest profile American Jewish leaders, says he will step down in July 2015.

Jewish communal attitudes toward interfaith marriages, like the wedding between Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan in 2012, have shifted considerably since 1990. (Allyson Magda/Facebook)

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan topped the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of the top 50 U.S. donors to charitable causes in 2013. (Allyson Magda/Facebook)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, top the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of the top 50 U.S. donors to charitable causes in 2013. In December, the couple gave 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more than $970 million, to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Alice Herz-Sommer, the 110-year-old Holocaust survivor and concert pianist whose life is the subject of a documentary that a week later would win an Oscar, dies.

The Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, in eastern Ukraine, is firebombed, sustaining minor damage. The attack comes amid growing turmoil in Ukraine following the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych.

March 2014

AIPAC leaders emphasize bipartisanship and mutual respect at the group’s annual policy conference in Washington. The conference follows a bruising period in which the pro-Israel lobby had championed a new Iran sanctions bill, only to back down when it becomes clear the bill lacked the necessary support from the White House and congressional Democrats to pass.

In one of many low-level skirmishes over the course of months, Israeli aircraft strike several targets in the Gaza Strip after Palestinians fire rockets into Israel, sending Israelis into bomb shelters.

David Hellman, a New York personal trainer, pleads guilty to using violent means to force recalcitrant husbands to give their wives a Jewish writ of divorce, or get. Hellman, who faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, was one of 10 men arrested in October 2013 in an FBI sting operation.

Yeshiva University is at risk of running out of unrestricted cash in the near-term future, warns Moody’s Investors Service , which says deep and growing operating deficits are likely to continue at the university due to “poor financial oversight and high expenses.” In May, Y.U. will announce that the Montefiore Health System is assuming operational control of Y.U.’s Albert Einstein School of Medicine.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is found guilty of accepting bribes in the corruption case involving the Holyland real estate development in Jerusalem. Olmert, who is convicted of receiving about $150,000 in bribes through his brother, Yossi, becomes the first former Israeli prime minister to be convicted of taking a bribe. The crime carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison.

April 2014

Casino magnate and conservative backer Sheldon Adelson buys another Israeli newspaper, Makor Rishon, making him the owner of several of Israel’s major right-wing media outlets and two of the country’s four major newspapers.

An assembly line of rabbis get their heads shaved at the CCAR convention in Chicago. (Julie Pelc Adler)

An assembly line of rabbis get their heads shaved at the CCAR convention in Chicago. (Julie Pelc Adler)

Mobilized by the death of Samuel Sommers — the 8-year-old son of Rabbi Phyllis and Michael Sommers whose struggle with leukemia was documented on a popular blog called Superman Sam — 73 rabbis shave their heads to raise $600,000 for pediatric cancer research.

American-Jewish contractor Alan Gross goes on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment in a Cuban jail and the lack of American assistance. Later in the year, in ailing health and with no prospect of release, Gross bids goodbye to his family during a prison visit.

White supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, kills a man and his grandson outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and then shoots to death a woman at a Jewish assisted-living facility a few blocks away. None of the victims are Jewish, highlighting the diverse constituency served by America’s Jewish institutions.

After weeks of near breakdowns in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israel suspends all negotiations after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party signs a unity accord with Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. President Obama responds by saying it may be time for a pause in Middle East peacemaking. Kerry later expresses regret for saying that Israel risks becoming an “apartheid” state or a non-Jewish one if the two-state solution is not implemented. U.S. negotiators blame Israel for the talks’ collapse.

Gennady Kernes, the Jewish mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is shot in a suspected assassination attempt, leaving him in critical condition. The shooting comes amid growing violence between Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists in eastern Ukraine and forces loyal to the new Ukrainian government in Kiev. Kernes is airlifted to Israel for treatment.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations rejects J Street’s bid for membership. J Street, the liberal Washington group that lobbies for increased American pressure to bring about a Mideast peace deal, lost its bid for membership in the main communal group on foreign policy issues by a vote of 22-17, with three abstentions. J Street needed the support of two-thirds of the conference’s 51 members to gain admission.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million after being caught on tape making racist comments to his girlfriend. He is heard saying that his views reflect the way the world works, and as evidence he says that black Jews in Israel “are just treated like dogs.” His girlfriend is heard countering that as a Jew, Sterling should know better than to advocate discrimination, citing the Holocaust as an example of where racism can lead.

An arm of the private equity firm Bain Capital purchases the Manischewitz Company, the iconic producer of kosher packaged goods, for an undisclosed sum. According to The New York Times, the new owners are expected to promote kosher as an indication of quality food rather than just a religious designation.

Genealogical research reveals that the late archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, technically was Jewish. O’Connor’s mother, Dorothy Gumple O’Connor, was born Jewish but converted to Catholicism before she met and married O’Connor’s father.

May 2014

New York’s 92nd Street Y, a Jewish center for arts and culture, names its first non-Jewish executive director, Henry Timms. Shortly afterward, Sol Adler, the previous longtime executive director, who was fired after revelations that he had a long-term affair with his assistant, hangs himself in his Brooklyn home.

An Anti-Defamation League anti-Semitisim survey finds “deeply anti-Semitic views” are held by 26 percent of 53,000 people polled in 102 countries and territories covering approximately 86 percent of the world’s population. Critics say the survey’s 11 questions are not accurate gauges of anti-Semitism.

Maccabi Tel Aviv wins the Euroleague basketball championship by beating favored Real Madrid, 98-86, in overtime.

Novelist Philip Roth receives an honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Now considered one of the greatest living American writers, Roth had caused outrage early in his career with his sometimes stinging portrayals of Jewish life. In 2012, Roth announced he was retiring.

The Jewish community of Sharon, Mass., is shocked as the rabbi of Temple Israel, Barry Starr, resigns amid allegations that he used synagogue discretionary funds to pay about $480,000 in hush money to an extortionist to hide a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male. Starr apologizes to the congregation in an email.

Supporters of the Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn attend a rally on May 23, 2014 in Athens before European Parliament elections.  (Milos Bicanski /Getty Images)

Supporters of the Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn attend a rally on May 23, 2014 in Athens before European Parliament elections. (Milos Bicanski /Getty Images)

Far right parties make gains in European Parliament elections, including Greece’s Golden Dawn.

The European Union says it has banned the import of poultry and eggs produced in West Bank settlements.

A gunman kills four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. Several days later, Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French national of Algerian origin, is arrested in connection with the attack.

Pope Francis travels to Israel and the West Bank, visiting the Western Wall, Yad Vashem and the West Bank security fence, among other sites.

June 2014

Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin of the Likud party is elected president of Israel, defeating Meir Sheetrit of Hatnua in a 63-53 runoff vote. Rivlin formally succeeds Shimon Peres and becomes Israel’s 10th president in late July.

Rep. Eric Cantor, the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in American history, is upset in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by a Tea Party challenger. Dave Brat, an economics professor, wins handily after attacking Cantor for drifting from conservative principles. Days later, Cantor resigns his post as majority leader.

Weeks after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague title, David Blatt becomes the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Blatt had played for an Israeli kibbutz team in 1979 after his sophomore year at Princeton and then competed for the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1981 Maccabiah Games. He returned to play nearly a decade professionally in Israel.

Three Israeli teenagers, later identified as Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, are kidnapped in the West Bank from a hitchhiking post. Israel responds with three weeks of intensive searches, including mass arrests in the West Bank of Hamas members and the rearrest of dozens of Palestinians released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal. Three weeks on, Israeli authorities find the teens’ bodies and announce that the boys were believed to have been killed the night they were kidnapped. The incident sparks the revenge killing by Jews of an Arab teen, riots and a surge of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces responds by launching Operation Protective Edge – Israel’s deadliest foray into Gaza since its 2005 withdrawal – on July 8.

Israel announces that the suspect in the April 14 killing of Israeli Police Superintendent Baruch Mizrachi is Ziad Awad, a West Bank Palestinian released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) votes 310-303 to divest from three American companies that do business with Israeli security services in the West Bank. Heath Rada, the moderator of the assembly, says it’s not a “reflection for our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers,” but Jewish leaders say it will have a “devastating impact” on their relations with the church.

New York Jewish teenager Josh Orlian’s raunchy stand-up routine on “America’s Got Talent” cracks up the judges, but his Orthodox day school isn’t tickled.

July 2014

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the father of the Jewish Renewal movement, which sought to introduce more music, dance and meditation into prayer and Jewish life, dies in Boulder, Colo., at age 89.

Israeli soldiers attending a ceremony at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem honoring Lee Matt, who died in July while fighting in Gaza, Aug. 21, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israeli soldiers attending a ceremony at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem honoring Lee Matt, who died in July while fighting in Gaza, Aug. 21, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel launches its third major Gaza operation in six years. Dubbed Operation Defensive Edge, the campaign begins with 10 days of intensive airstrikes in Gaza. After several failed cease-fire attempts, a ground invasion of Gaza follows. Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, striking as far away as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and a Haifa suburb. In four weeks of fighting before a 72-hour cease-fire in early August, some 1,800 Palestinians are reported killed. Israel comes under heavy criticism for attacks that kill children, strike U.N. facilities and damage civil infrastructure. Israel blames Hamas for using civilians as human shields and schools, hospitals and U.N. facilities as weapons depots. The death toll in Israel includes 64 soldiers and three civilians. Several of Israel’s casualties are due to Palestinian infiltrations of Israel through tunnels burrowed under the Israel-Gaza border. Israel’s prime minister says destroying the tunnels is one of the war’s main objectives.

A riot outside a French synagogue is one of several incidents related to the Gaza war that threaten Jews in Europe. The riot by Palestinian sympathizers outside the Synagogue de la Roquette in central Paris traps some 200 people inside the building. A street brawl ensues between the rioters and dozens of Jewish men who arrived to defend the synagogue.

Most foreign airlines suspend flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv after a Hamas-fired missile strikes nearby. The suspensions, prompted by a flight ban issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, last two to three days.

Iran and the major powers, led by the United States, agree to extend negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program for another four months, citing progress in a number of areas. But the potential deal breaker remains: Iran does not want to reduce its number of its centrifuges, and the world powers say they won’t accept Iran maintaining its existing capacity for uranium enrichment.

August 2014

As the fighting in Gaza wanes and Israeli troops begin to pull back, Israel experiences several terrorist attacks inside the country perpetrated by West Bank Palestinians, including a tractor attack in Jerusalem.

A Palestinian child amid the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 18, 2014. (Emad Nasser/Flash90)

A Palestinian child amid the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 18, 2014. (Emad Nasser/Flash90)

The 72-hour cease-fire that brought Operation Protective Edge to a halt expires, and Gazans resume intensive rocket fire against Israel. The Israeli military responds with airstrikes inside Gaza. The sides then agree to another 72-hour cease-fire.

The University of Illinois rescinds a job offer to Steven Salaita, a professor of American Indian studies, following a series of anti-Israel tweets by Salaita, including missives comparing Israel to the Ku Klux Klan. Following a public outcry, university chancellor Phyllis Wise relents and submits Salaita’s candidacy to the university board while making it clear that she does not support his hire. In September, the board votes 8-1 to reject Salaita’s hire. Salaita threatens to sue.

Joseph Raksin, an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, is shot and killed on his way to Sabbath services in North Miami Beach. Some activists say the murder was a hate crime, but more than a month on police still have no arrests and say the motive for the killing remains unclear.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House took the extraordinary step  in July of halting the Pentagon’s delivery of U.S.-made Hellfire missiles to Israel in the midst of its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. The denial came as the Obama administration urged Israeli restraint in its Gaza operation and days before Israel rebuffed a cease-fire proposal from Secretary of State John Kerry. A State Department spokeswoman denies any change in policy, saying, “Given the crisis in Gaza, it is natural that agencies take additional care with deliveries as part of an interagency process.”

Writer and liberal activist Leonard Fein dies at age 80. Fein had founded Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger and the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy, and co-founded Americans for Peace Now and Moment Magazine. A few weeks later, Fein’s older brother, Rashi Fein, a Harvard professor known for his contributions to medicine and social policy, dies at age 88.

In a rare instance of violence from the Gaza conflict reverberating in New York, a Jewish couple is accosted by pro-Palestinian assailants on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The incident prompts Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the head of a prominent modern Orthodox day school in the neighborhood, Ramaz, to consider instructing students not to wear the kippahs in public. He later changes his mind.

Celebrants rededicate Nariman House, the reconstructed Chabad house in Mumbai that was closed after Pakistani terrorists killed six people there, including Chabad emissaries Gabriel and Rivky Holtzberg, as part of a massive attack in November 2008 that left 166 people dead.

Hamas and Israel agree to a cease-fire that ends their 50-day war. In all, the war leaves an estimated 2,200 Palestinians dead. Sixty-seven soldiers and six civilians are killed on the Israeli side, including two soldiers who die of their wounds after the cease-fire is completed and a 4-year-old boy killed shortly before the truce. Brokered by Egypt, the cease-fire stipulates that Israel and Egypt open all border crossings to allow international humanitarian aid and construction materials to enter Gaza. In Israel, the verdict is mixed over whether the Israeli operation achieved its aims.

Israel sets off international condemnation with its announcement that it is appropriating nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land near the Gush Etzion bloc. Peace Now says it is Israel’s largest West Bank land grab since the 1980s.

September 2014

Jewish journalist Steven Sotloff, an American-Israeli who had been taken captive while covering the Syrian civil war, is beheaded by ISIS, the outlaw group that has declared an Islamic state in parts of Iraq and Syria. ISIS published video of Sotloff’s beheading and that of another American and a Briton, fueling the U.S. decision to expand its airstrikes against ISIS and enlist other countries in the cause.

Joan Rivers talks with people on the street while promoting her new book 'Diary of a Mad Diva' on June 30, 2014 in New York City. (Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Joan Rivers talks with people on the street while promoting her new book ‘Diary of a Mad Diva’ on June 30, 2014 in New York City. (Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Joan Rivers, a Jewish comic who broke barriers for women in comedy and on television, dies at age 81.

Rabbi Brant Rosen decides to quit his 17-year pulpit job at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill., after his outspoken criticism of Israel becomes too divisive for his congregation. Rosen is one of the leaders of the rabbinical council of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group listed by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the top 10 anti-Israel organizations in the United States.

A group of 43 reservists from the Israel Defense Forces’ famed 8200 intelligence unit causes a stir by publicly vowing to stop collecting information on Palestinians. “The intelligence gathered harms innocents and is used for political persecution and for invading most areas of Palestinians’ lives,” the reservists write in their public letter to Israel’s prime minister and IDF top brass. “Our conscience no longer permits us to serve this system.” The IDF says it will take disciplinary action against the reservists.

More than two weeks after over 40 United Nations peacekeepers from Fiji are kidnapped from the Golan Heights by the Al Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-affiliated rebel group in Syria, the peacekeepers are released and cross the Golan border into Israel.

Four Ohio University students are arrested when a fracas erupts during their protest over the Student Senate president’s “blood bucket challenge” of Israel in which Megan Marzec filmed herself dousing herself with a bucket of fake blood to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Her video echoes the ALS “ice bucket challenge” campaign designed to raise money for and awareness of ALS.

Jonny Cohen designs sustainable school buses [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

The Teen Heroes column is sponsored by the Helen Diller Family Foundation. To learn more about the foundation’s $36,000 DillerTeen Tikkun Olam Awards, visit http://dillerteenawards.org.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — As a seventh-grader walking home in Highland Park, Ill., Jonny Cohen would watch school buses pass by and wonder if there might be a way to make them more energy efficient.

Jonny Cohen

School buses are an “overlooked form of transportation,” says Jonny Cohen. (Courtesy Jonny Cohen)

“They’re an overlooked form of transportation,” said Cohen, now 19. “I like efficiency and for things to be efficient, and I have a passion for the environment.”

With the help of some friends and advisers at Northwestern University, he started the GreenShields Project to design an aerodynamic Plexiglass air shield for the front of the buses. The shield cuts the fuel use by buses up to 25 percent by reducing their drag.

“Taking something that already exists and modifying it just a little can make a big difference,” Cohen said. “We only have one earth and we can’t be wasteful.”

Now a sophomore at Columbia University studying mechanical engineering, Cohen still spends several hours a week working on GreenShields to improve its technology and design. The shields are in place on just a handful of buses, but he hopes they will be found “in all school districts, on all school buses to be more [energy] efficient.”

For his efforts with GreenShields, Cohen was named the DillerTeen Tikkun Olam Award winner this year. He plans to apply the award to his education, as well as toward structural and physics research related to the project.

“Repairing the world is a very broad concept,” Cohen said. “GreenShields is a simple solution, but changing the way people see how we use energy, that can have a big impact on the environment.”

JTA spoke to Cohen recently about the qualities he looks for in a hero, the spot where he had a meaningful Jewish experience and the latest book he read for pleasure.

JTA: What do you think are the qualities of a hero?

Cohen: People who have a vision but go out and do it. Their actions are closely related to their thoughts. They are that change.

Can you share with us a meaningful Jewish experience that you’ve had?

I had my bar mitzvah on Masada. The significance of the story of the bravery of Masada overwhelmed me. Masada represents the bravery and honor of our people. It inspires me and makes me proud to be Jewish.

What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

My vote goes for Hanukkah because I think the candles are beautiful and have always loved lighting them with my family.

What do you think you want to be when you grow up?

A mechanical engineer. I hope to build my own company or create some place where I can think of ideas and work in product design making things more efficient for society and decreasing our carbon footprint with innovation.

Have you been able to do any fun things in New York yet?

It’s kind of difficult, but I’ve gotten to go to [the Museum of Modern Art] with my grandma, and we really enjoyed the design section. I’ve also gone to Bryant Park, where you can sit for hours and hours.

What’s the last book you read for pleasure?

“Creative Confidence” by Tom and David Kelley. It’s very cool. I really admire the Kelley brothers. Anyone can change anything.

Please tell us about teens who deserve attention by sending an email to teens@jta.org.


Hate crimes against Jews, Muslims rose sharply in NYC during Gaza fighting [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Suspected hate crimes against Jews and Muslims soared in New York City amid the Gaza conflict.

The increase in the hate crimes began in early July, when news reports of the conflict between Israel and Hamas became front-page news in the United States, according to Michael Osgood, deputy chief of the New York Police Department, The Associated Press reported.

Prior to the conflict, reports of hate crimes against Jews and Muslims had been down in 2014, The Associated Press reported.

The NYPD reported that hate crimes against Jews jumped to 18 per month from eight. Also, 14 of the 17 reported attacks against Muslims this year came after the start of Gaza war.

Osgood said the attacks were random and impulsive, and not committed by organized gangs.

In 2014, there have been 89 hate crime attacks against Jews, up from 64 the previous year.  Seven attacks were reported against Muslims all of last year.

According to the NYPD, hate crimes in general are up 17 percent in 2014 over last year.

Sam Goldman, solar power leader, awarded Bronfman Prize [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

(JTA) — Sam Goldman, the founder of a company that provides solar lighting and power systems to the developing world, was awarded the 10th annual Charles Bronfman Prize.

Bronfman presented the prize to Goldman, the founder of d.light design, on Tuesday at a ceremony at the New York Historical Society.

The Bronfman Prize, which includes a $100,000 award, honors Jews under age 50 for global humanitarian work.

Goldman, 34, is the youngest and first Canadian recipient of the Bronfman Prize. He is also the first recipient recognized for humanitarian work pursued through a for-profit social enterprise, according to a statement from the prize committee.

“We set out with a goal to reach 100 million people by the year 2020, and in each year we’ve been in business, we’ve reached more people than in all previous years combined,” Goldman said in his acceptance speech. “In all likelihood, 50,000 people will be moved from kerosene to clean, sustainable solar energy today. They are creating a new generation — a renewable energy generation.”

At the ceremony, Goldman announced Power for All, a new initiative separate from d.light dedicated to delivering universal power access before 2030. The new initiative will bring together public and private institutions.

“Like the fellowship he is joining, Sam is truly a remarkable young humanitarian capable of inspiring next generations, and it’s an honor to welcome him into the Prize family,” Bronfman said.

Previous recipients include Jay Feinberg, the founder and executive director of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, and Eric Rosenthal, the founder and executive director of Disability Rights International.

Code Red rocket alerts sound in southern Israel [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least five Code Red rocket alerts that sounded in southern Israeli communities were deemed false alarms by the Israeli military.

Israel Radio reported, however, that two rockets landed Thursday in the Hof Ashkelon region, and area residents reported hearing explosions.

The alerts came two days after a mortar shell fired from Gaza struck southern Israel, the first such rocket attack since a cease-fire was declared three weeks ago in Israel’s 50-day Gaza operation.

Prior to the sirens, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at a meeting in the Eshkol Regional Council, on the border with Gaza, said Israel would not accept even a drizzle of rocket fire from the strip.

Also Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said fighting between Israel and Hamas will begin again if the closure on Gaza is not lifted and reconstruction does not begin.

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas are expected to begin next week before Rosh Hashanah, which starts on Wednesday night, according to reports.

NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN - English News at 21:01 (JST), September 18 [English News - NHK WORLD RADIO JAPAN]

2 Past Presidents express fears over CILIP leadership proposals [Public Libraries News]

Tom Featherstone and Bob Usherwood, both Past Presidents of The Library Association, sent this piece to me expressing concern about the proposals for changing the way CILIP is governed Being these proposals will be voted on this Saturday, I am giving them their own post below.  In addition to being Past Presidents, Tom Featherstone is Chair of CILIP’s Retired Members Guild and Bob Usherwood edits its journal Post-Lib.

Democratic governance for professional organisations

“For the second year running CILIP’s AGM promises to be an unpredictable affair. This time it is its governance that will come under scrutiny and once again there is the suggestion that our professional membership organisation may be out of touch with its members. The differences between CILIP’s report on members’ views on its Governance proposals and those expressed on many discussion fora, especially perhaps LIS-PUB-LIBS have been stark and revealing. The centre of the argument has been around the concept of democracy.  This topic making headlines in the professional press and beyond when Tom Roper resigned from CILIP Council because he believed that the Governance Review contains two “profoundly undemocratic” proposals.  He identified these as “the proposal that a third of Council seats should be appointed, rather than elected from the membership, and the proposal that Council, rather than the members, should elect the President.” Much more detail can be found on his blog.

“The centre of the argument has been around the concept of democracy”

Similar concerns had been raised earlier in the year by CILIP’s Retired Members Guild when, in June, it hosted a consultation session with the Chair of Council and CILIP’s CEO. Members, many of whom had many years service on the Council, felt very strongly that that our Governing body should consist entirely of CILIP members nominated and elected by the membership at large. Concern was also expressed at the proposal that the President should be elected by the Council and that in addition to Presidential duties, should also serve as the Chair of Council.  Apart from being undemocratic it was felt this confused two distinct roles leading to a loss of identity of our professional association in the outside world.

In his presentation, the Chair of Council said that CILIP had looked at the governance of charities, commercial organisation and professional bodies and revealed that the chosen model was more often to be found in the commercial world although he was unable to give precise figures. On the available evidence, the CILIP format appears to have much in common with a model of governance described as a ‘corporate hegemony model’. For example CILIP’s “claim that professional bodies often have non-members on their Councils has been questioned.  Charles Oppenheim observing that it “is not true in my experience of membership of dozens of professional bodies, but even if it were true, three out of twelve is too high a %…”

“On the available evidence, the CILIP format appears to have much in common with a model of governance described as a ‘corporate hegemony model’.”

The British Dental Association recently reviewed its governance and its website states “the governing body of the BDA must be directly elected by its wider membership” BDA members therefore “directly elect the 15 strong Principal Executive Committee (PEC), which has overall responsibility for the control and direction of the policy and affairs of the Association.” Its members also elect committees that focus on the interests of constituent parts of the profession, such as the General Dental Practice Committee and the councils established for each country of the United Kingdom.

A recent report on University Governance stated, [“The] traditional mode of governance (and that used in many institutions internationally) is a hybrid of the stewardship, stakeholder and democratic model.” It further argued that, “universities must not have governance arrangements that preclude real democratic consideration of their future direction or of the impact on the wide body of people who make up the university community.” (Murray et al).

“The use of governance models from the private sector shifts power from the membership to management leading to “crude ‘financialisation’ of the institution and there is little sense of how that ‘executive’ is held to account”

The same must surely be true of professional bodies such as CILIP which like universities need to ensure that the wider community (i.e. the membership) has meaningful involvement in decision making. There are also issues of short term and long term accountability. The use of governance models from the private sector shifts power from the membership to management leading to “crude ‘financialisation’ of the institution and there is little sense of how that ‘executive’ is held to account …” Long term accountability asks, “Who owns the professional association?  It needs to be remembered that many CILIP members will have a much longer association with the organisation than the CEO or the management team.  Again the report on University Governance is relevant to CILIP when it notes that such members “see institutions they have dedicated their working lives to go through cyclical periods where a new principal arrives … and seeks to change strategy, emphasis and direction. …This raises questions about who actually ‘owns’ the university and how they are held accountable.” It concludes, “The overall impact of this is a lack of confidence that the ‘core values’ of these institutions are in safe hands or that their fundamental role in society is being put first by those running the institution.”

This raises important questions about purpose, vision and values.  We  acknowledge that that most of those contributing to the Governance debate want our professional body to prosper but recent professional disputes, or what the President has called “in-fighting and bickering”, ( Band 2014) are evidence of serious  professional disagreements and  maybe divergent values. Dissatisfaction with CILIP has grown following the proposed name change, the Governance Review and what many, especially in the public sector perceive as its ineffective defence of the value and values of public libraries. There have been accusations of arrogance, secrecy and unwillingness to listen to the views of the. membership. In a recent interview with The Bookseller. (Farrington 2014) the President indicates that she wants “to bridge the gap between the council and the members, and show we all come from the same place, and have the same goals.” It is to be hoped that lessons have been learnt from the rebranding fiasco but worrying that another event at last year’s AGM, the overwhelming vote of no confidence in Ed Vaizey, was not supported by Council and criticised by the President in the Bookseller article.

“There have been accusations of arrogance, secrecy and unwillingness to listen to the views of the membership”

Those able to attend the AGM on Saturday will be able to vote on the governance proposals in person but there is still time to use a proxy by downloading the form from the CILIP website address  but Proxy vote forms must be received at CILIP by 1.15 pm on Thursday 18 September 2014. At the RMG meeting in June, we heard that CILIP had consulted widely and looked at other organisations in an attempt to get things right, but then much the same was said about the rebranding exercise. CILIP members are rightly proud of the part they play in maintaining democracy and want their professional body to reflect democratic principles. For many members, the governance proposals under discussion do not do that. Council may have tried to do things the right way but as Herman and Renz (2004) observe, “finding the right fit among [effective] practices is more important than doing things the ‘right way’”. The proposals discussed above, in the view of the RMG Committee and members attending the consultation meeting, Tom Roper and numerous others, are simply not the right fit.

“we heard that CILIP had consulted widely and looked at other organisations in an attempt to get things right, but then much the same was said about the rebranding exercise”


Our thanks to staff at Nottingham Central Library for helping us locate source material.

NZ election campaign winds down [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Fiji's not the only Pacific nation voting this week - New Zealand also goes to the polls on Saturday.

Independent candidates unsuccessful in Fiji election [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The independent candidate who has so far won the most votes, Roshika Deo, appears to have failed in her bid to be elected.

One Fiji party disappointed with results but determined [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The leader of One Fiji, a smaller party which looks extremely unlikely to get into Parliament, says they intend to continue on and try again at the next election.

Fiji election: Frank Bainimarama on the brink of victory, Observer group says nation's first poll 'credible' [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Fiji's self-appointed leader Frank Bainimarama is set for a dominant election win, as counting in the long-awaited poll continues.

New Zealand election: Can prime minister John Key win third term despite bruising campaign? [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

New Zealanders are likely to give prime minister John Key a crack at his third term in office when they head to the polls on Saturday, despite an election campaign beset by allegations of political scandal.

Fiji Opposition parties question whether election was free and fair [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Counting of votes has re-started in Fiji after officials in the tally room worked through the night.

Fiji First cruising to dominant win with more than 70 percent of votes [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Counting in Fiji's first election in eight years is well underway with the country's former military leader Frank Bainimarama and his Fiji First Party picking up two-thirds of the total.

Fiji First's president says there are many lessons from the poll [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The Fiji First party is dominating the early count with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Fiji news director says vote counting has been surprisingly speedy [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation News director Rita Narayan worked through the night, watching a frantic night of counting.

Fiji election 'first step in long and difficult road to democracy' [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Frank Bainimarama looks set to retain leadership of Fiji, but not with the total majority he had intended.

Australian Foreign Minister says Fiji election seems to have gone exceedingly well [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop says voting in Fiji's first post-coup election, yesterday, seems to have gone exceedingly well.

Kiribati President's Arctic expedition to observe climate change [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

Kiribati's president Anote Tong is visitng the Arctic to see first-hand how climate change is affecting polar regions.

Small island states' response to climate change now on world stage [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

This month's Small Island Developing States conference was a landmark event, not just for Samoa and small island states, but for inter-governmental organisations, who stand for the conference's theme of partnerships.

NZ leaders put key messages to electorate in final debate [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

With the fourth and final leaders debate last night, New Zealand Correspondent Dominique Schwartz brings us up-to-date with the latest on the NZ election.

Calls for third attempt at Vanuatu president vote [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

After two votes yesterday, none of the 13 candidates nominated for President of Vanuatu managed to drum up the minimum number of electoral college votes required to secure the post.

Fiji soccer advisor says national under-20 side has a challenge ahead [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The former coach of the Socceroos, Frank Farina, is just over a week into his new role as technical advisor to Fiji's national under-20 squad.

PNG's rugby league stars of the future offered the chance to shine [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The squads have been chosen for the rugby league all-stars match in Kokopo next month, a game that will be the curtain raiser for the annual encounter between Papua New Guinea and the Australian Prime Minister's XIII.

Putting goal-keeping on the front foot across the Pacific [ABC Radio Australia Pacific (English International)]

The former New Zealand All-Whites goalkeeper James Bannatyne is on a mission to raise goalkeeping standards across the Pacific.

How to get a SoundCloud classical channel that doesn’t suck [Radio Survivor]

SoundCloud has a variety of “Explore” channels. These are basically very long playlists of whatever has been recently posted. They include Folk, Rock, Deep House, Trip Hop, and a bunch of other genres about which I know nothing. The service also has a “classical” channel. The problem is that most of the content on the […]

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State Department used Fake Name to Ignore Security Standards in Benghazi [RedState]

(Via Caleb Howe at TruthRevolt)

The quest for the truth on Benghazi made a little progress yesterday, but that hasn’t stopped the developments from being any more outrageous. As the Benghazi Select Committee discovered yesterday, Hillary Clinton’s State Department fabricated the name “special mission compound” for a portion of the embassy’s facilities at Benghazi in order to dodge security standards for it. Representative Pete Roskam (R-IL) found this out while grilling Todd Keil a member of the Independent Panel on Best Practices that was conducted in the aftermath of the attack. Digitas Daily has the video:

So what we’ve found out here is that the State Department was intentionally lax in its security for the a portion of the embassy because it wanted to dodge. As Howe notes in his post the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) is:

The Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) is an interagency body created to assist the Secretary in carrying out the statutory security responsibilities prescribed by the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986. The OSPB provides a mechanism for collective consultation with other Federal agencies, and has been assigned responsibility to develop security polices and standards. OSPB security standards are threat-indexed countermeasures (i.e., actions, devices, procedures, or techniques that reduce vulnerability). Missions must conform to OSPB approved security standards found in the Foreign Affairs Handbook (FAH) 12 FAH-6 in order to maintain appropriate security of the mission.

This is willful negligence, and I’m guess this isn’t the only example of it involving Benghazi. We have to wonder what other unsavory details will come out during the Select Committee’s investigation.

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Scots Head to the Polls to Vote on Independence [RedState]

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On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Emma Elliot Freire to discuss today’s big independence vote in Scotland, how 16 and 17 year old kids came became eligible to vote and what a breakup of a 300 year long union would look like.

Related Links:

Will Scotland Go It Alone? A Primer On The Independence Referendum
Scotland Heads to the Polls for Independence Vote
Scottish independence: Voting under way in referendum
Final polls show narrow lead for Scottish No vote
Emma Elliott Freire at The Freeman
Emma Elliott Freire at The Federalist

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The hosts and guests of Coffee and Markets speak only for ourselves, not any clients or employers.

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Let’s Not Arm Anyone in Syria [RedState]


Sending guns instead of armies to support a cause has a lengthy and storied history in America, especially when American politicians have perceived that public support might not exist for actual American lives being spent on a cause that Americans nonetheless marginally support. Other Western nations have also used this to great effect over the years as well. Why bear the political cost of getting your own troops killed when there are already people with skin in the game who will be happy to take your guns and bullets and do your killing for you? And so it is no surprise to find the current crop of American politicians both Republican and Democrat falling all over themselves to arm some allegedly moderate rebels in Syria as a means of containing the threat of ISIS. In this particular area of the world, this move might be penny wise (I’m not even sure about that), but it is no doubt pound foolish.

For part of four decades now, America has been dropping weaponry in varying amounts and degrees into this region of the world, either in the service of countering Soviet expansion or furthering some other alleged American interest or – more recently under President Obama – furthering alleged humanitarian ends by giving people more efficient ways to kill each other.

In other words, we have quite a bit of experience from which any reasonable person would draw the conclusion that every time we drop weapons in to this part of the world, they eventually get turned on us. There is absolutely no group there that can be trusted to not eventually turn on American interests over time. Place kicker Charlie Brown wonders when America is going to wise up to this point and stop providing her current or future enemies with stuff they could never acquire on their own. I see no one anywhere in Syria or anywhere else that I would trust indefinitely to stay loyal to American interests. And even if there were such an entity, we would have to face the possibility (or probability) that eventually they would be overthrown or conquered by extremists and then our weapons would end up in anti-American hands anyway.

And that’s especially relevant because these people beat us, culturally, in devotion to their cause and in the willingness of their young men and women to take up arms and fight. The only advantage we have over them is that we have superior equipment and training. Providing anyone in this region with those two things turns them from a regional nuisance to a legitimate threat to America.

Maybe I am too jaded and viewing this with too much simplicity but I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to the Middle East, if we can’t bring ourselves to put our troops on the ground to use the weaponry in question, we should not be sending it over there at all. It is long past time in my view to recognize that the nature of the threat we face is likely to require generational containment until these countries catch up to the point where they can develop and generate these weapons themselves, by which time presumably the Enlightenment will have finally taken hold and hopefully they will understand the futility of their struggle.

Until then, let’s not continue to give them the bullets they’ll use to shoot us.

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Science, Ethics and Neil deGrasse Tyson [RedState]



Image Credit: Fajar Sullivan Corporation

It’s a really good thing Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts Cosmos rather than performing cost estimates. You can say “Billions and billions and billions!” to awe the easily-impressed rubes watching Cosmos and write it off as a ROM. In Cost Estimation, this is referred to as an onagerous estimate.* It seems he should stick to schlocky, public, propaganda-laden !SCIENCE! rather than anything that requires a close affiliation with precision or accuracy. Here he tells us just how expensive it gets if you’re not loveably brilliant like Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“During the heat of the space race in the 1960s, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration decided it needed a ballpoint pen to write in the zero gravity confines of its space capsules. After considerable research and development, the Astronaut Pen was developed at a cost of approximately $1 million US. The pen worked and also enjoyed some modest success as a novelty item back here on earth. The Soviet Union, faced with the same problem, used a pencil.”

Ed Driscoll

Reality beckons and Tyson is off by three pretty rough orders of magnitude here. “In December 1967 he sold 400 Fisher Space Pens to NASA for $2.95 each,” equaling $1180 of taxpayer money, not a million.” And you can’t have good, obligatory made-for-Lefty-TV !SCIENCE! without some thoroughgoing dishonest slandering of President George W. Bush. Tyson is off by another few orders of magnitude below.

TYSON: Here’s what happens. George Bush, within a week of [the 9/11 terrorist attacks] gave us a speech attempting to distinguish we from they. And who are they? These were sort of the Muslim fundamentalists. And he wants to distinguish we from they. And how does he do it? He says, “Our God” — of course it’s actually the same God, but that’s a detail, let’s hold that minor fact aside for the moment. Allah of the Muslims is the same God as the God of the Old Testament. So, but let’s hold that aside. He says, “Our God is the God” — he’s loosely quoting Genesis, biblical Genesis — “Our God is the God who named the stars.”

Sorry Aetheistkult! Your favorite !SCIENCE! guy is about as accurate as an old Roman Priest casting haruspices. Now a week or two after 9/11 (give or take a 17 month margin of error among chummy geniuses) President George W. Bush did commemorate the crash of The Space Shuttle Columbia with a speech in which he made the following remarks.

The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.

Of course Neil deGrasse Tyson’s !SCIENCE! has about as much to do with truth as the last Gnarles Barkley CD. Maybe I’d trust a quote from Danger Mouse before I’d accept a proclamation of truth from Neil deGrasse Tyson. The man as put showmanship ahead of accuracy to the extent that if he worked in pharmaceuticals, he’d be peddling Carter’s Little Liver Pills. Let’s hope we don’t need truth or knowledge from our scientific establishment any time soon. They seem more intent on giving us exactly what we pay them for instead.

*-Here’s what an onager is. It’s not good for an estimate to be compared to an Asiatic Wild Ass.

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Attention, whoever in the White House monitors this site. Google ‘Lyndon Johnson micromanagement Vietnam.’ [RedState]

Google that RIGHT NOW.

From Political Wire:

“The U.S. military campaign against Islamic militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Obama to exert a high degree of personal control over the campaign, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for any strike in Syrian territory,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

To expand on something I said on Twitter earlier today: considering just how much the Left loves to describe every military action in terms of Vietnam, you would think that more of them would actually have a basic familiarity with the war, its origins, and how we fought it.


Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Speaking dispassionately, you can understand – sort of – why LBJ and Richard Nixon both were very bad about trying to run the Vietnam War by themselves: it was probably the first real war we had where a President could, in something approximating real time.  And it obviously was a major temptation, given the way that both men and their staffs succumbed to it.  But also note that Presidents since have largely learned from that particular set of catastrophic mistakes and tried to keep their oversight restricted to strategic goals, not tactical ones.  Largely.  Most of the time.  Good faith efforts were made.

Alas, nobody explained any of this to Barack Obama.  Or, more likely? Somebody did, but he didn’t bother to listen, because whoever was doing the explaining wasn’t Barack Obama.

The post Attention, whoever in the White House monitors this site. Google ‘Lyndon Johnson micromanagement Vietnam.’ appeared first on RedState.

World War Is The Danger of Pacifism. [RedState]

Putin's Flying Bad Will Embassador

Putin’s Flying Bad Will Embassador

“Last guys rarely finish nice.”-Saul Alinsky.

I can comprehend the temptation that tugs at both President Obama and Senator Rand Paul when they contemplate the difficult issues associated with foreign policy in the Post-modern world. The simple, old maxim goes “Don’t be a d—!” In many of the things we do in our daily life this is pretty solid advice to live and work by. People hate deliberate, nasty aggression. They take notes and store names in their memories. The aggressor today is the one that gets punked tomorrow. That works up to a point. That point is reached when an aggressor decides that you are unable or unwilling to vigorously defend your own self-interest. They then decide that crossing your boundaries and looting your stuff is akin to taking candy from a baby. As a result of President Barack Obama’s weak posture, Russian President Vladimir Putin may have reached that point of delusion with respect to the martial will of The United States of America. This is a very, very dangerous place for the world. World Wars happen when aggressors underestimate other nations they view as potential prey.

The Russians have now essentially decided they can fly nuclear strike bombers in NORAD airspace any time they feel like it. They recently felt like it on 9 June 2014. They flew 2 Tu-95 “Bear”-H Bombers over the Aleutians and 2 others within 50 miles of Northern California. US fighter jets intercepted the incoming planes and returned them to sender. Then the battle began over how to interpret the incident. NORAD Capt. Jeff Davis spoke for the Inner Party and assured us all was normal.

“They typically do long range aviation training in the summer and it is not unusual for them to be more active during this time,” he said. “We assess this was part of training. And they did not enter territorial airspace.”

Others such as Congressman Mike Conway (R-Texas) were not buying the Officially Official Version™.

“Putin is doing this specifically to try to taunt the U.S. and exercise, at least in the reported world, some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing kind of nonsense,” Conaway said in an interview. “Truth of the matter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals. It’s a provocation and it’s unnecessary. But it fits in with [Putin’s] macho kind of saber-rattling,” he said, adding that he expects Russia will carry out more of these kinds of incidents in the future.

Russia reiterated the threat on 4 September 2014. NATO gathered in Wales to discuss Russian activities in the Ukraine. Russia apparently didn’t appreciate not being invited to share.

The aircraft, Tu-95 strategic bombers code-named Bear by NATO, flew northwest, skirting Iceland, Greenland, and Canada. Once beyond Canada, the two lumbering, propeller-driven bombers settled on a heading straight toward the United States. Their goal was a “launch box” off the coast of the U.S. from which, during wartime, they would fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles towards American cities and military bases. The provocative flights were timed to a NATO summit, attended by President Obama, then taking place in Wales. On the agenda in Wales: what to do about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

All of this is reminiscent to a certain extent of the pre-WWI saber-rattling that went ignored until the Germans actually crossed into Belgium in August of 2014. As History.com put it. “To many people, the Great War—as it was known at the time—seemed to come out of the blue, as the European continent was enjoying a long stretch of unparalleled peace and prosperity.” Much of what made European nations so willing to jump into a major conflict in 1914 was the chronic misperception of their preferred enemy as weak. Von Schlieffan expected to lay siege to Paris within 40 days.

Logic rebels against the two Russian Ambassadors in the YouTube atop the post actually believing they would conquer Miami. It was geopolitical locker-room banter. It’s akin to the old joke that German Generals probably used to share.

Q: Why did the French plant such nice trees along the Champs Elysees?
A: So that German armies could march in the shade.

Now Moltke probably didn’t take that too seriously in his conscious mind, however he did need to harbor a certain delusional contempt for his enemy to believe he would really invade Belgium in August of 1914 and besiege Paris before the chill winds of October. Has Barack Obama become such a figure of ridicule on the international stage that the world no longer respects the United States at all? If so, could this errant misperception trigger a grave error in judgment that leads to a major conflagration of war? I believe our weakness has already earned us a grim and hideous future war against ISIS. If Russia or China were to decide we were ripe for the plucking; just how bad of a place could our world become?

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President Obama’s 9/10 Strategy in a 9/11 World [RedState]


The sad irony of President Obama’s September 10th address to the nation on ISIS is that he laid out a 9/10 strategy in a 9/11 world.

Thirteen years ago, we awoke on 9/11 and the world had changed.  We awoke to the reality of radical Islamic jihad and its commitment to destroy America.  Now we face an even greater jihadist threat.  Have we forgotten so quickly as a nation?

President Obama unabashedly asserted that ISIS isn’t Islamic.  Yet it’s Islamic to its core, establishing a caliphate – an Islamic State – across large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

He claimed that we can defeat the world’s most powerful jihadist army without our most powerful resources, our soldiers.  He held to his time tested, and utterly failed, narrative of the Middle East, radical Islam, and jihadist terrorists.

President Obama doesn’t get it.

ISIS has more radical, more committed fighters than al Qaeda ever did.  ISIS has hundreds of millions more dollars (maybe billions more) than any other terrorist group in history.  ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is far more heinous in his tactics than even Osama bin Laden.  In fact, al Qaeda actually kicked ISIS out when ISIS was an al Qaeda affiliate because of its brutality.

Al-Baghdadi, once in U.S. custody before President Obama pulled our forces from Iraq, chillingly told U.S. soldiers “see you in New York.”

Regardless of whether President Obama wants to admit it or not, ISIS is at war with America.  It has already barbarically and publicly beheaded two innocent American civilians.

ISIS has already begun inflicting genocide on Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.

We can’t possibly defeat this ISIS threat when our leaders fail to understand who ISIS is – when our President refuses to acknowledge their goals.

Unfortunately, not only the President, but many Americans don’t fully understand the threat posed by ISIS.

For the past several months our team at the ACLJ has been raising the alarm about the severe danger posed by ISIS, not just to Christians and others in the Middle East but to every American.

ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow has just released a new book, Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore, explaining in detail the history of ISIS, it’s goals, and most importantly how it can be defeated.

As Jay Sekulow says in the book, if we ignore ISIS, we do so at our own peril.

It’s going to take more than a few missiles and training of Iraqi soldiers to defeat ISIS.  ISIS is firmly entrenched.  It is wining hearts and minds in the Muslim world with its radical jihadist agenda.  It is well funded and well armed.  We must be resolute in our mission to defeat this enemy.

But where can that resolve come from if we don’t understand the clear and present danger that ISIS poses.

If you want to understand ISIS, read this book.  If you want to convince your liberal friends and neighbors of the utter foolishness of President Obama’s 9/10 strategy, get them to read this book.

You can get Rise of ISIS as an ebook right now for your Kindle app, Nook, or iPad, and pre-order the paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

It’s already racing up the best sellers lists because the American people want to know they truth.  They want to know the reality of the enemy we face.

ISIS is on the march, beheading children, slaughtering Christians, selling women as sex slaves, and it has its sights set on America.

The reality is we will come face to face with ISIS.  The question is will it be on our terms or theirs?

Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.

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Easy guide to Obama and the War Powers Resolution [RedState]

obama smug2When Obama gave his speech on September 10, promising to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, it was interesting for what it said and didn’t say. Obama laid out a four part strategy for defeating ISIS. The most notable thing it didn’t say was that Obama intended to ask Congress for authority to wage a war against ISIS that would, at a minimum, encompass two countries, one of which, Syria, doesn’t want us operating on their territory.

My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home.  I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL, but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.  So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.

Later in the speech he does recognize the need for limited congressional action:

Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition.  Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.

Before the speech, Obama told congressional leaders much the same thing:

Ahead of the speech, Obama met for nearly two hours with the top four congressional leaders on the threat posed by the group also known as ISIS and ISIL. The lawmakers left the meeting without speaking to the media.

However, a White House statement released after the session made it clear the president would not be asking for a congressional vote to authorize military force. “The president told the leaders that he has the authority he needs to take action against ISIL in accordance with the mission he will lay out in his address tomorrow night,” the statement said in part. It added that he would “welcome” congressional support.

This has set off a low-level debate on where Obama stands on the use of force and the applicability of the War Powers Resolution. Via Reason:

In last year’s run-up to what once seemed like inevitable war against Syria, the president made what can be interpreted as an incoherent claim: that he had enough legal cover to start bombing Syria, but that he would nonetheless seek congressional approval. When that approval was not forthcoming, the president decided on a diplomatic solution instead. But note how he treated the congressional-authorization question one year ago today:

[E]ven though I possess the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress. I believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress. And I believe that America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together.

So either the president no longer believes these things, or he finds such beliefs to be an untenable hindrance in the waging of his latest war. At any rate, as in his more blatant nose-thumbing of Congress over U.S.-led regime change in Libya, Obama’s position on the constitutionality of war is essentially the opposite of what it was when he first sought the presidency. And it is important here to stress that Sen. Obama’s more humble conceptions of executive-branch latitude was an essential selling proposition of his candidacy in the first place.

Whether the War Powers Resolution is constitutional or not (I don’t think it is), every administration since Jerry Ford’s has given lip service to following it. What makes Obama’s response different? The mistake here is assuming that some sort of coherent process is involved and not amateurish political ass-covering. Let’s look at the military actions either carried out or contemplated by the administration.

Libyan intervention–

Obama did not ask Congress for approval for drone and conventional airstrikes carried out in Libya to assist in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

Syrian intervention–

Obama asked Congress to approve airstrikes against Syria and, separately, to approve arming various anti-Assad groups.

ISIS campaign–

Obama did not ask for approval for airstrikes but did ask Congress to act to fund Syrian rebels.

Common Thread

The common thread running through these is when there is low risk of something going wrong and credit to be gained from being seen to act unilaterally, Obama acts. In the cases of Libya and ISIS, public opinion favored airstrikes so Obama determined he had the authority to carry them out. Ordering airstrikes was easy and popular. In the case of ordering airstrikes in Syria, there is even a bigger payoff. America isn’t all that fond of either Assad or his Hezbollah allies. It is a huge public relations win.

On the other hand, airstrikes against Syria were problematic. Not only was public opinion against the idea but our NATO allies weren’t big on the idea either. Russia, who Obama had deputed to represent US interests in the nuclear negotiations with Assad’s ally, Iran, was opposed. And, unlike Libya, there wasn’t a visible or viable replacement for Assad while the opposition was largely al-Qaeda. In this case, Obama suddenly discovered that Congress needed to approve the action so that if things went south, he would not be alone.

This is what we see playing out in the ISIS campaign. Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria are popular. so Obama relies upon the AUMF for actions in Iraq, even though it clearly doesn’t apply and he wants it repealed, and for his own authority for strikes in Syria. Training Syrian rebels, though, carries a lot of risks (see my post on the subject for a laundry list of them). Logically, there is no reason for the United States to be involved in the training or equipping of Syrian rebels. Saudi Arabia has donated training bases. They could just as easily provide trainers. So could the Turks.  But, as they are coalition members, Obama would be criticized if these troops turned out to be what one would expect Saudi Arabia to produce and defect en masse to al-Qaeda.

The Game

By asking Congress to authorize the US to train and equip the Syrian moderate secular rebels that Obama envisions as a ground force he makes Congress an partner in the process. If these guys go rogue, then all of official Washington has a vested interest in studiously ignoring that outcome.

On the other hand, Obama and his administration are talking up the fact that to be successful the campaign must have a ground component. And they are right. Airstrikes may be as telegenic as all get out but they are limited in their ability to take, hold, and deny use of real estate. Also, civilians don’t feel safer when there are a lot of airstrikes going on and tend to move creating a refugee crisis. So now Congress has to either sign onto training the next generation of al-Qaeda or they have to give Obama an escape hatch for when his strategy fails.



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Educational Success for Connecticut Family [RedState]

“I realized Julia has has very little instruction in science, history, geography and writing when compared to my boys education in our school system.”

After their four sons graduated from public school in small-town Connecticut, Ray and Kathleen were happy with the education they had received. Ranging in age from 21-29, all had done well and gone out into the workforce. However, last year, Kathleen noticed that her other child, 10 year-old daughter Julia, was in a curriculum that was sorely lacking.

“Our schools were almost like private schools when my oldest boys attended,” said Kathleen, “Over time things have changed. I was really disappointed by my daughter’s curriculum last year. I researched curriculum this summer and realized how much she is NOT learning. Thus, the homeschool decision.” When she compared her sons’ curriculum to Julia’s, the difference was staggering. “I realized Julia has has very little instruction in science, history, geography and writing when compared to my boys education in our school system,” she said, “As an example, my boys learned all about the 50 states, capitals, etc.. In 3rd grade. At the end of her 4th grade class, they only learned the counties of our state.”

After considering homeschool for a year, Kathleen was reluctant, worried about the social aspect. Attending arts school 14 hours a week, however, Julia spends a lot of time with kids who have similar interests, many of whom are homeschooled. They decided to give it a try with a practice homeschool week in July, and Julia made the decision to be homeschooled. Kathleen had been volunteering in classrooms for 24 years, including teaching a volunteer art appreciation class, so she felt ready to make the leap as well.

There is so much curriculum available to homeschoolers that it is hard to choose.  “I may want to do too much,” Kathleen said, “We will figure it out as we go.” The family also knows that they have options, and are willing to try others if homeschooling isn’t the right fit for them. “We have pledged to homeschool for this year,” she said, “We will see where we go after that. The Catholic diocese in Connecticut took money and signed on to Common Core. I would consider Waldorf in the future.”

For now, though, the family is excited about this new adventure. Her sons had questions about it, but are on board, and might even help teach some of the units. As for Kathleen, she’s already seen a change in Julia. “Through the past few months of discussing homeschooling with my 10 year old daughter and then actually deciding to do it,” she said, “I have seen an amazing transformation in her mindset. She is now engaged in her own learning and is coming up with amazing ideas about what and how she wants to learn.”

That just goes to show that, when kids are in the right environment for them, learning doesn’t have to be a chore. Which is why school choice and robust homeschool opportunities are so important- every child is different, and there should be educational opportunities to reflect those differences. For all of them.

The post Educational Success for Connecticut Family appeared first on RedState.

Media Bias (Again) Shines Through in Coverage of Joe Biden’s Anti-Semitic Slur [RedState]


In case you missed it (and you probably did, unless you are a very close follower of the news), Joe Biden was forced to apologize today for using the anti-Semitic slur “Shylock” to describe what he considered to be shady bankers. Look, Joe Biden is stupid and says stupid things and many of those stupid things are racially insensitive. Jewish people have just joined a lengthy list with black people and Indian people in terms of ethnic groups Biden has offended with his serially defective mouth. It’s almost not even interesting at this point when Biden says something borderline racist.

What IS interesting, however, is the media’s reaction to it, as compared to the media’s reaction to roughly similar events on the part of Republicans. The Washington Free Beacon has noted that many media personalities seem to be excusing their non-coverage of Biden’s latest slip by essentially saying, “Wow, who knew Shylock was offensive to people? How could you possibly blame Joe Biden for making this totally understandable mistake?”

Look, whether you’re familiar with a slur that reaches all the way back to The Merchant of Venice or not, the media’s credulity with respect to the “honest mistake” claim is completely at odds with how they treated George Allen’s utterance of “macaca” which was at the time he uttered it a word that was roughly 1,000 times more obscure than “Shylock.” Allen’s stated defense, that he heard the word somewhere and assumed it meant something like “fool,” washed not at all with the media, who all suddenly within a matter of hours found themselves to be Macaca Experts, including all the connotations thereof, and blasted Allen as an obvious racist.

As stupid and silly as Joe Biden is, he is the Vice President of the United States. Presumably, he will make a futile but high profile run at the Presidency in 2016. There is no universe in which his utterances deserve less scrutiny and public attention than Virginia Senate candidate George Allen’s. The media’s laziness and unwillingness to even bring themselves to understand the connotations of the word “Shylock,” especially in the context in which Joe Biden used it, almost defies belief, even though we’ve been watching them pull this equivalent for years.

The post Media Bias (Again) Shines Through in Coverage of Joe Biden’s Anti-Semitic Slur appeared first on RedState.

Is There Nothing That Obama Can't Do? [Small Dead Animals]

Behind the WSJ paywall: Through tight control over airstrikes in Syria and limits on U.S. action in Iraq, Mr. Obama is closely managing the new war in the Middle East in a way he hasn't done with previous conflicts...

You can find the rest here.

More Pavilions At Folkfest [Small Dead Animals]

The New Colonizers;

As Melanie Phillips in a recent talk pointed out, recycling a friend's analogy, there is a tunneling factor at work on the model of Hamas. The tunnels stretch under the soil of another country and, suddenly, the terrorists "pop up," seemingly out of nowhere. Phillips is scrupulous to clarify that she is not alluding to Muslim immigration as an overt military scheme carried out by bloodthirsty extremists, but the metaphor of Islam tunneling its way surreptitiously into and under the cultural terrain of Western civilization holds. In the words of Swiss parliamentarian Oskar Freysinger, Islam is "a dogma that is gnawing away at the pillars of our system of laws" -- laws, we might add, both written and unspoken.

h/t Paul

Love and Anger [Small Dead Animals]

First the love:

Does the university need to know if I had oral or normal sex in the last three months after I've been drinking alcohol or using drugs recreationally, or if I used a condom during? They don't need to know that for a gender equality questionnaire.

Then the anger:

Occupy Wall Street activists sue each other over who owns the movement's Twitter account.

You Say ISIS, I Say ISIL [Small Dead Animals]

Let's cut the whole head off.

Australian police detained 15 people and raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney in the country's largest counterterrorism operation, saying intelligence indicated an attack was being planned on Australian soil.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had been briefed on Wednesday night about the operation that was prompted by information that an Islamic State movement leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill.

Abbott was asked about reports that the people detained were planning to publicly behead a random person in Sydney.

"That's the intelligence we received," he told reporters. "The exhortations -- quite direct exhortations -- were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country."

Reader Tips [Small Dead Animals]

Tonight, as we wait for tomorrow's 'aye' or 'nae' Scotland independence vote that could break up the United Kingdom, we listen to a modern version o' Robbie Burns' Scots Wha Hae. (Lyrics here.)

Hopefully it won't affect the vote, because tribal tensions are already running high in the comments:

"...your Fascist Faggotry is only exceeded by your wacky bampot wankery.."

The comments are open, as always, for your Reader Tips.

Global Test [Small Dead Animals]

Related: This week, Washington Post editors noted that "Though derided by some as a 'unilateral' U.S. action, the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was supported by troops from 39 countries, nine of which deployed more than 1,000 soldiers." The Post described Obama's efforts, so far, as "meager" in comparison.

Via Drudge.

My thoughts on the new Amazon Kindle lineup [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

In today’s Morning Links, there was a full report on the new Amazon Kindle lineup. Some of it interested me and some of it didn’t. Here were some key points I took out of Amazon’s news, and some commentary on why it either hit the mark for me or fell flat. 1) Updated iOS apps. […]

The post My thoughts on the new Amazon Kindle lineup appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Apple Watch shows Cupertino has lost the plot [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

For anyone following the checkered history of digital wearables and smartwatches, the advent of the Apple Watch drips with bathos. It’s like watching a flabby, ageing Mr. Incredible-style former superhero lumber up for the big confrontation, only to discover it’s all over. Apple’s days of identifying and defining entire new consumer product categories are long […]

The post Apple Watch shows Cupertino has lost the plot appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Five things my mother had which I don’t [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

I’m back to school now, and as usual I spent some of my summer vacation time ‘spring cleaning.’ I always feel like since I am not working and the Beloved is, I need to have something to show for my day, so I clean like a fiend. And I have been busily working some family […]

The post Five things my mother had which I don’t appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Morning Roundup: Amazon releases new Kindles. Ultimate reading spreadsheet [TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics]

First impressions of the new Kindle lineup (The Kindle Chronicles) As my flight from New York approaches Denver International and the media embargo ends, I want to share impressions from today’s Amazon’s media demonstration of the new Kindles. *** Why Amazon has no profits, and why it works (Andreessen Horowitz) Amazon has a tendency to polarize […]

The post Morning Roundup: Amazon releases new Kindles. Ultimate reading spreadsheet appeared first on TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics.

Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time [The Register]

The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever

HPC blog  This article and the ones following it are the most comprehensive and in-depth analysis of a cluster competition that the world has ever seen. If you can find better coverage, then I'll eat a handful of spider webs.

Ten years on, TEN PER CENT of retailers aren't obeying CAN-SPAM [The Register]

Unscrupulous marketers are, guess what, still being gits

One in 10 of the world’s largest online retailers are sill violating the CAN-SPAM Act, a full 10 years after the US anti-spam legislation went into effect.…

Snowden's NSA leaks have galvanised the storage world [The Register]

Vendors raise their game after gov securo-busting revealed

Anyone following the fortunes of the world’s biggest technology companies will have noticed a trend: every one of them has gone potty for privacy.…

Copyright thieves' cyberlockers slurp MILLIONS from honest creators, study finds [The Register]

Offshore chop shops make merry from movies and pr0n

An economic study of direct download locker sites has found most are used for copyright infringement – and calculates that they're highly profitable. The study looked at download sites like Mega, Rapidgator and Depositfiles, and streaming lockers like Movshare.net, Flashx.tv and Streamcloud.eu.…

Damien Hirst, eat your heart out - these guys chop up TAXIS [The Register]

Half a car stuck to your wall is this season's must-have accessory, darling

100% Design  Yes, it’s that time of year again when the design world presents its latest creations. The ideas shown off here will no doubt make it into very well-heeled home in the coming weeks – and gives the rest of us a glimpse of what’s coming in a year or two.…

Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE [The Register]

Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel

We're struggling to find a single reason why anyone would want to wear an Apple Watch, but here's one reason why you shouldn't.…

Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM [The Register]

Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies

Web users have been warned to be wary of fake results messages about the Scottish Independence referendum.…

PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE spied in small galaxy far, far away [The Register]

Supermassive black hole takes up much of ultracompact star formation

Astronomers have spotted a supermassive black hole - of the type theorised by some physicists to be portals out of our universe to elsewhere - in an itsy-bitsy ultracompact dwarf galaxy, the smallest ever known to contain such a gigantic light-sucking feature.…

Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months [The Register]

Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub

Mozilla has quietly shuttered its Labs, folding people and projects into the main organisation.…

Forget bonking, have ONE OFF THE WRIST with Barclaycard's bPay [The Register]

It's positively encouraged on the London Underground

Barclaycard is trying to push consumers towards a cashless society with its contactless payment wristband, bPay.…

Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought [The Register]

Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp

Sony shares dropped more than eight per cent today after the firm warned that it expects losses for this year to be four times as bad as it previously predicted.…

China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR [The Register]

FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM

Sophisticated Beijing-backed hackers raided civilian organisations responsible for the movements of US troops and equipment 20 times in one year of which only two were detected by the responsible agency, an audit report has found.…

Scotland wins WORLD RECORD as voters head to referendum polls [The Register]

Uni of Edinburgh team lands teraflop-tastic LINPACK laurels

HPC blog  The LINPACK portion of the ISC’14 Student Cluster Competition (LINK) was supposed to be routine, according to the cluster competition wise guys. Sure, some student team might set a new record, but no one was expecting the new mark to break through the 10 TFLOP/s barrier.…

Aggressive HGST hurls flashy humdingers at online archiving [The Register]

Sooner or later a big player's going to catch one in the eye

Comment  Holy Moly, HGST is getting ambitious. It's building an active archive platform product in competition with some of its OEMs and its aiming to rewrite server clustering with a flash fabric - oh and develop helium-filled disk drives - and shingled drives with its own slant - and thinking of Phase Change Memory chips with DIMM connectors.…

Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks [The Register]

Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown

The Snowden leaks have not changed the way jihadi terorrists communicate, according to a new study.…

iPhone 6: Most exquisite MOBILE? NO, it's the Most Exquisite THING. EVER [The Register]

More beautiful than a unicorn or a baby's smile

Stephen Pie  We had certain unavoidable production issues with this piece from our occasional "tech" guru Stephen Pie. Rather as in the case of Stephen Fry - any other similarity between the two is purely coincidental - Mr Pie's thoughts on the iPhone 6 have had to be published almost completely without benefit of sub-editing or other polishing. Our apologies. - Ed.

A3Cube turns RAM up to 11 with FORTISSIMO kit [The Register]

In-memory fabric comes to to HPC I/O project

A3Cube has fleshed out another part of its plans for high performance interconnect, adding an I/O access system to the RONNIE data plane technology it launched in February 2014.…

Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please [The Register]

'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS

Rupert Murdoch's minions have written to the European Commissioner for Competition Joaquín Almunia, urging him to mete out stern punishment to Google in the ongoing search market dominance probe.…

Turnbull: NBN won't turn your town into Silicon Valley [The Register]

'People have been brainwashed to believe that their world will be changed forever if they get FTTP'

Australia's Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has again unloaded on his predecessors in government, saying the swift planing process for the National Broadband Network made it “the riskiest and most complex project the Australian Government has ever attempted to carry out.…

Comprehensive guide to obliterating web apps published [The Register]

Open Web App Security Project releases new app dev opus

The global security community has completed an 18-month effort to produce a guide it is hoped will boost the standard of web application testing and address new and dangerous technologies.…

Top Gear Tigers and Bingo Boilers: Farewell then, Phones4U [The Register]

Phones for the drinking classes

"Their marketing seemed to be aimed at the more erm ... chav infested end of the market", wrote one Reg reader on the demise of Phones4U, which went into administration on Sunday.…

Student pleads guilty to Frances Abbott 'secret' scholarship leak [The Register]

Whistleblower used staff login to reveal PM's daughter's unusual special treatment

Sydney student Freya Newman has pled guilty to illegally us