German lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in landmark vote   
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's parliament backed the legalization of same-sex marriage on Friday in a historic vote hailed by gay activists and leftist parties but criticized by some in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling conservative bloc and by the Catholic Church.

          This List Of Attacks Against Conservatives Is Mind Blowing…   
Well let’s get it on then…. Amid this backdrop, The Huffington Post publishes an article calling for the execution of Trump and “everyone assisting his agenda.” Source: This List Of Attacks Against Conservatives Is | The Daily Caller
          Senior Tory jilts C4 News after anchor Jon Snow allegedly shouts ‘f*** the Tories’ at Glastonbury   
Preview Former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has hinted he declined an invitation to come on Channel 4 News because the show’s veteran host, Jon Snow, is not “impartial.”
Read Full Article at
          CNN’s Van Jones calls Russia ‘nothing burger’ video ‘edited, right-wing propaganda’   
Preview After being secretly filmed by conservative organization Project Veritas, CNN political commentator Van Jones said his words on Russia were taken out of context and called the video a “hoax.”
Read Full Article at
          George Osborne's son campaigned for Vince Cable in General Election   
Sir Vince regained his Twickenham seat from the Conservatives, after "a text from someone called George" saying his son would like to help
          The comfort zone of local investors   

Let’s face it, Maltese investors are in line with the Italians when it comes to selecting a particular asset class. In fact, the local investor is more focused on asset classes, which mainly generate an income return and thus tend to shy away from capital growth investments such as equities. Interestingly enough, over 75 per cent of Italians are more focused towards generating income from their investments. Should local investors remain solely focused on the fixed-income asset class at the current low yielding environment? In my view, as I have opined in previous writings, the current low yielding environment is posing risks to those investors who opted in taking more risk in order to beef-up their income return. In fact, nowadays even very conservative investors have opted for such move. In my view, as I have opined in previous writings, the current low yielding environment is posing risks to those investors who opted in taking more risk in order to beef-up their income return. In fact, nowadays even very conservative investors have opted for such move. In In Europe the wave of quantitative easing (QE) by the European Central Bank (ECB), has pushed yields towards record lows,...
          FINALLY! Trump & Congress Moving Toward First Full Repeal And Replace Later   
Repeal and Replace

President Trump’s most recent comments on the GOP attempts to fix our nation’s failing healthcare system is music to conservative ears. First repeal and replace later.  If healthcare is done that way, “repeal” would mean get rid of every last sentence, every punctuation, of that freedom-killing Obamacare bill and toss it in the nearest fireplace. Conservative […]

The post FINALLY! Trump & Congress Moving Toward First Full Repeal And Replace Later appeared first on The Lid.

          Victorian Liberals claim right faction stacking branches with Mormons and Catholics   

Liberals in Victoria claim the party's religious right is "actively recruiting" with Mormons and Catholics, which some fear could eventually lead to more conservative candidates winning pre-selection.

          German lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in landmark vote   
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's parliament backed the legalization of same-sex marriage on Friday in a historic vote hailed by gay activists and leftist parties but criticized by some in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling conservative bloc and by the Catholic Church.

The Tory quagmire Sir: While the media has been preoccupied in divining what went wrong with the Conservatives’ appalling election…
          TS291: LGBT Pride Month, Theresa May, Tony Awards, Guest Dave Holmes   
This week Bryan shares the importance of rehearsed speeches while Erin shares about the Arizona jaywalking epidemic. Also, Theresa May may have lost her Conservative party hold but she’s still sticking around to try and bulldoze through more social safety nets, and the Trump administration still has yet to acknowledge LGBT Pride Month but manages to talk about literally anything else.  Plus guest Dave Holmes is here to discuss Cher’s reggae medley, cheese-themed rating scales, and his book Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs. Follow Dave on Twitter @daveholmes
          TS288: The Keepers, Last Man Standing, Celine Dion, Evolution of Lesbianism   
Ding Dong the Witch is dead, goodbye Roger Ailes! This week Bryan found a new love in Disneyland fail videos,  while Erin lost her entire Sunday to “the Keepers” on Netflix. Also, Last Man Standing has been canceled by ABC and conservatives have gone crazy blaming “liberal Hollywood” for it. Plus, curious researchers in Cyprus believe after much research Lesbianism to be an evolutional phenomenon that has occurred only to create arousal in men. 
          TS274: Ross Cameron, Unchained At Last, Guest Audrey Gibson   
This week Bryan shares his love of gifs and clips from awards shows, while Erin discusses her emotional highs and lows from finally viewing La La Land. Also, former Australian MP Ross Cameron made many explicit homophobic comments during a speech at a conservative fundraiser but now claims it was taken out of context, and a non-profit called Unchained At Last started by Fraidy Reiss has been helping countless women get out of forced or arranged relationships. Plus Erin’s sister, guest Audrey Gibson, is here to discuss Tinder profiles, political yard signage, and the horrors of teaching children. Find Audrey on Instagram @audible80
          A local rhetoric expert helps us examine the new, 'really disturbing' NRA ad   

If you haven't seen it yet, the National Rifle Association recruitment video that came out this week is chilling. It uses dark imagery and rhetoric to paint liberals as the violent enemy of prospective members, one that can only be dealt with through a "clenched fist of truth".

“They use their media to assassinate real news,” seethes conservative commentator Dana Loesch in the 60-second spot.…
          TS235:Dog Furniture,Bathroom History,Chris Matthews,Trans Rights   
This week Erin gets her period and ravages the donuts in the studio, while Bryan gets outed at the dog store and celebrates being a first time dog dad. Plus Erin takes us on a bathroom adventure through the ages, and Bryan enlightens us with the definition of transgender, a basic concept, among many, that conservatives can't quite grasp. Crack a book Dan Patrick.
          Boycott Channel 4 News, over Jon Snow's Labour 'bias', former Tory minister tells Conservative MPs   
          [RICHARD] My Evening With the Progressives   
Thursday night this conservative commentator spent a few hours in Downtown New Bedford with a group of about 75 progressive activists who had invited me to address their rally. The rally was to "celebrate peace, tolerance and diversity...
          On Ad Hominem and Relative Morality   
A few hours back, @riffraaf whom I follow on twitter and have great regard for, and I had a disagreement over the aftermath of the Rosen-Romney episode. We exchanged a couple of emails. She wrote this post.

This is my response

Very well put. I agree mostly.

Here's where I am coming from: Rosen made a stupid comment. Faux outrage about how Ann Romney is such a victim ensued. (never mind our FLOTUS is bashed in ugly ways every day but that's probably the partisan in me talking, you might say).

Oh, Michelle is definitely bashed in the ugliest ways. It is bizarre to me that someone can make combating obesity into some evil plot!

Some of the people I follow on the right started labeling it as #waronmoms. This was a completely cynical response to left's #waronwomen. Now they wanted to beat the left at their own game. I get it.

Yup, they're just being cynical. But being helped by the left propagating articles like the rude pundit's.

But there was more to #waronwomen (though I personally loathe to use this slogan): Most women I know who are not into partisanship in general (because they're too busy raising kids and handling jobs unlike me :) ) got really riled up with a series of events that hurt women's rights: starting from planned parenthood defunding by Komen to birth control access issues to Sandra fluke (and Rush Limbaugh harassing Fluke for 3 entire days calling her a slut, prostitute, how she should put her porn videos online so he can watch it and so on) to ultra sound bills to new arizona laws infringing rights further.

Agree. That's how my wife (Indian-born American-raised) wife is. She is not as much into politics. She does follow it more than others. She is, like me, a fiscal conservative. But for her, this #waronwomen trumps anything else. Anything related to planned parenthood (which she loves) and birth control gets her riled up. So even if Obama raises taxes by gazillion percent (she hates tax raises even on rich folks), the social aspect of it against women's rights will always make her vote democrat.

So it irritates me to no end that suddenly Risen is somehow equivalent of Limbaugh and all the incivilities shown against women in the last year are equivalent to one insensitive remark made by a Rosen who was a nobody until now (even w/ her hillary support in 2008 and apparently having contributed to Obama campaign in 2008).

I don't think Rosen is equivalent of the much much viler and nastier and just plain-worse-human-being Limbaugh. I am not drawing the equivalence, so I am not going to defend the equivalence.

However, on its own, what Rosen said is definitely insensitive and stupid. And undoubtedly ad hominem. That's all that matters to me, as someone who doesn't count himself on the left or the right when it comes to identifying with movements. By saying what she did, Rosen attacked who Ann Romney, not what Ann or Mitt Romney were saying, making it a classic ad hominem attack.

It's politically damaging I agree. But it's a huge fake outrage and no where near what's really happening to women all over the country (whether w/ healthcare, minimum wages, equal pay, infringing on woman's body, unemployment and so on that affect women in REAL ways).

So I know Obama was doing what any Dem politician would do, but I'm still turned off by this whole latest, what I call Faux outrage.

Granted that some of those outraging are just fake-outraging. Just taking the chance to score points against their political opponents. Granted that many of those outraging on the right have possibly said much worse and more misogynist stuff against women.

But what Rosen said was still stupid and insensitive. And IMO, the Obama campaign by denouncing what Rosen said, is doing not just the politically expedient thing, but the right thing. And elements of the left by digging in and writing posts/articles undermining the worth of Ann Romney's life, are doing the WRONG thing, be it politically or morally.
          TS172:50 Shades,Grammys,Matt Moore, Frozen Men   
Are you seeing 50 Shades? Did you see what Kanye did to Beck at the Grammys? Bryan and Erin did, and they have some soft opinions on both of them. Plus, an ex-gay blogger named Matt Moore defended the conservative church's views on gays by saying "we're not as bad as ISIS." And hedge fund founder Jonathan Hoenig went on Fox News to say that government intrusion with vaccines would lead to forced abortion. Fun? Fun.    Subscribe and Rate Us! iTunes Tweet Us!  @gibblertron & @bryansafi Use the Hashtag #tspod Email Us! Like Us! Throwing Shade Facebook Page Old School Listen! RSS Feed
          TS124: True Detective, Gay Bicycles, Kansas' Anti-Gay Law, Susan Patton   
We have "True Detective" DVR'd but we haven't had time to watch it! Please, everyone stop yelling at us! We're busy talking about Kansas's anti-discrimination laws passed to protect conservatives who discriminate against gay people and allies. And of course, Susan Patton - Bump-it lover and Princeton grad - who is using fear tactics to get young women to drop their goals and get married already!!!    Moon Pie Cherry Face!  Watch Us!  Every Wednesday on Funny or Die See Us! TSPOD Live shows Subscribe and Rate Us! iTunes Tweet Us!  @gibblertron & @bryansafi Use the Hashtag #tspod Email Us! Like Us! Throwing Shade Facebook Page Old School Listen! RSS FeedProud member of Max Fun Podcasting Network 
          32 million people would lose coverage if Obamacare was repealed   

Republican senators are skittish enough that their health care bill would leave 22 million people more without health insurance by 2026, compared to Obamacare.

They likely won't be too keen on President Trump's suggestion to just repeal Obamacare immediately and replace it later if they can't get enough support to pass their bill.

That move would probably leave 18 million more people without coverage in the first year after its enactment and 32 million more by 2026, according to a Congressional Budget Office report that looked at an earlier GOP bill to repeal Obamacare.

It would also cause premiums on individual market policies to increase by up to 25% the first year and to nearly double by 2026.

All this would happen mainly because the individual mandate -- which requires nearly all Americans to get coverage or pay a penalty -- would be repealed. But some insurers would also likely pull out of the market, the CBO said. The remaining carriers would likely raise rates dramatically because the remaining enrollees would tend to be older and sicker.

This is one reason why Republican lawmakers in both the House and the Senate moved away from a straight repeal of Obamacare without a replacement bill. That left insurers, consumers and other Republican members in a tizzy. Only 19% of Americans supported repealing Obamacare first and replacing later, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in March.

That hasn't stopped some conservative GOP members from pushing for a full repeal. Both Senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rand Paul of Kentucky have recently broached the topic with Trump, likely leading to his tweet Friday morning.

While senators are expected to ignore Trump's suggestion, it does inject more uncertainty into the future of Obamacare and the individual market. And that's the last thing insurers need.

Already, many are raising rates or even dropping out of the individual market completely for 2018. Some 36 counties in Nevada, Ohio and Indiana are at risk of having no carrier on their exchanges next year, according to Kaiser.

Their main concerns: the mandate that everyone have insurance and the cost-sharing subsidies for lower-income Americans.

Insurers are brushing off the president's comments, saying they are moving forward with the efforts in Congress.

"We're focused on making recommendations to improve the [Senate bill], and on ensuring a stable 2018," said Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.

Follow this story

          Voting Fights in the States   
AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, at podium, celebrates Oregon's first year of an automatic voter registration program with a news conference, where she said that in the November election, over 97,000 ballots were cast by new voters registered by the so-called motor voter program. Hazelnuts contained in the bags in the foreground represent the 270,000 Oregonians who were registered to vote by the program. 

The national battle over voting rights and “voter fraud” will play out in Washington over the next months in relation to the Kobach-Pence commission and the resistance to it. But in the meantime, issues have been joined this spring in state legislative sessions around the country. And the resulting scorecard may surprise you.

Back in November, when the dust settled after the election, the numbers on partisan control of legislatures seemed stark and frightening for advocates of voting rights and election reform. Republicans controlled both chambers in 31 states, and had the full “trifecta,” including the governor, in 24. In sharp contrast, Democrats controlled both houses in only 13 states, and had trifectas in a mere six. Looking at these numbers, at the post-Shelby decision absence of Voting Rights Act preclearance protections, and at the radically changed posture of the Justice Department, many feared an onslaught of voter-suppression legislation that would create an even more diminished electorate for the elections of 2018.

Well, it’s now the end of June, and while some legislatures are still in session, the great majority have finished their business for the year. Several states have indeed passed bad bills. But, overall, the results are significantly better, both in staving off voter-suppression efforts and in expanding voting rights and voting access, than one might have expected as the sessions began.

First, A Few Real Successes

Perhaps the most remarkable outcome this year is in Illinois, which has a Democratic legislature and a conservative Republican governor, Bruce Rauner. Last year, the legislature passed an automatic voter registration (AVR) bill with bipartisan support, but Rauner vetoed it. 

Under automatic voter registration, people who go to the DMV, and potentially other agencies as well, are automatically put on the voter roll, unless they opt out. In Oregon, which was the first adopter, AVR has added several hundred thousand voters to the rolls.

In Illinois, an AVR bill was reintroduced this year and, remarkably, passed both chambers with unanimous votes. While Rauner has 60 days to sign the bill, all indications are that he will, joining Illinois with eight other states and the District of Columbia where AVR is being implemented, and showing that maybe, at least in Illinois, encouraging people to register and vote doesn’t seem like a partisan trick.

The victory was also the work of a broad and determined coalition of voting-rights and election-reform advocacy groups, under the rubric of Just Democracy. Brian Gladstein, Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois and one of the leaders of the coalition said:

This bill will bring over one million eligible voters into the electoral process in Illinois. During a time of heightened partisanship in Springfield and across the nation, we have demonstrated that breaking down barriers to the ballot box can be achieved and supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

AVR still has a good chance to pass in other states. In Rhode Island, an AVR bill passed the House unanimously and a positive vote in the Senate is expected shortly. Governor Gina Raimondo has said she will sign it if it comes to her desk. In Massachusetts, where the legislative session goes on all year, an AVR bill with 102 legislative sponsors has been heard in committee (23 speakers in favor and none against), and could be before the full legislature in the fall.

In some other states, AVR made headway but was eventually blocked. These include Maine, New Mexico, and Nevada. In Nevada’s case, the bill passed both houses, but was vetoed by Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. A ballot initiative on AVR now goes to the voters, who will have the chance to approve it in the November 2018 general election.

In addition to automatic voter registration, other real gains were made. Utah expanded opportunities for early voting and absentee voting. New Jersey improved its processes for military voters and Indiana improved its registration process at the motor vehicle department.

Another issue where progress was made, though halting and slow, is restoration of the right to vote for citizens with felony convictions. Forty-nine bills were introduced in 16 states to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people who have served their sentences. A real victory occurred in Wyoming, which enacted a bill providing that people who completed their sentence after January 1, 2010, do not need to submit an application for restoration of voting rights and will automatically be issued a certificate of restoration.

In Florida, where 1.7 million citizens can’t vote due to the state’s lifetime ban on voting by people with felony convictions (1.5 million have fully completed their sentences), the broad and bipartisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has made major strides. The Florida Supreme Court has approved language for a proposed ballot initiative to restore voting rights to ex-felons; now the job is collecting 700,000 signatures on the petition in order to be on the ballot in November 2018.

In Minnesota, the Restore the Vote Coalition got a bill to more effectively restore voting rights through one house of the legislature. And in Nebraska, the state’s conservative unicameral legislature passed a bill to restore voting rights to citizens upon release from incarceration by a 27-13 margin, but the bill was vetoed by Governor Pete Ricketts. (Nebraska voting-rights advocates also derailed a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voter ID.)

Now for the Bad News

To be clear, and clear-eyed, the move to make voting more difficult and restricted continues, and several states enacted laws designed to limit the vote in one way or another. The forces bent on restricting the vote have won significant victories over the last several years, though many of the laws have been successfully challenged in court. In fact, of the worst voter-restriction bills that passed this year, a majority were actually efforts to re-pass laws struck down in court, altered in order to make them more judicially acceptable.

·      Iowa enacted a law, championed by Secretary of State Paul Pate, which includes restrictions on voter-registration drives; hindrances to Election Day, early, and absentee voting; strict voter-ID requirements; and—most troublesome—the right to purge voter rolls of “non-citizen” names without any clarity on who and how such decisions to purge are made. This could lead to significant numbers of eligible voters being disenfranchised.

·      New Hampshire passed a bill restricting registration for students and low-income voters by requiring proof of residency for those who register 30 days before the election, with investigation and criminal penalties for failure to comply. (A component to eliminate same-day registration was dropped from the bill.)

·      In Arkansas, a voter-ID law, modified after courts struck down an earlier, similar law, was passed and signed. The law reinstates the requirement that a voter must provide one of a narrow choice of IDs at the polls. In addition, the legislature put a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID on the 2018 ballot.

·      In North Dakota, the only state that doesn’t require voter registration at all, the governor signed strict voter-ID requirements into law. The bill was softened somewhat, particularly in regard to the Native American community, to avoid the fate of the 2016 version of the law, which was struck down in court.

Why Less Carnage?

No one wants to be naïvely optimistic, or to underestimate how much damage has already been done in states by determined efforts at voter suppression. Racially charged and politically motivated efforts continue at every level to find ways to discourage people from registering and voting. In the wake of Shelby, these efforts have multiplied and will continue to do so.

But, overall, the results in the 2017 legislative sessions were not nearly as bad as seemed likely last November. There was not a deluge of major voter-suppression legislation. Some bad bills were passed, a number were weakened as they made their way through the legislative process, and a significant number were sidetracked along the way. Two main reasons for this seem clear.

First, the courts, both state and federal, have played a significant role in preventing extreme assaults on voting. Prodded by strong litigation efforts from voting-rights organizations, in state after state, courts have found voter-suppression efforts unconstitutional, blocking their implementation. In addition to the direct effects of the cases, their cumulative impact has been to caution and restrain advocates of restrictive legislation from overreaching.

Second, it is deeply encouraging to see the growing power, sophistication, and rapid response capabilities of the movement for an inclusive democracy. In state after state, coalitions were activated, or created, to fight back against the efforts to stifle, shrink, and bleach the vote. 

And the advocates didn’t just play defense. Despite the potentially unfavorable partisan makeup in so many states, the affirmative action for expanding the right and ability to vote continues to make headway—winning in some states, gathering momentum for future victories in others. 

And there is one other cause for optimism worth noting. I recently attended a conference of 200 legislators and election officials from around the country, co-convened by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Democracy Fund. The focus of the event was election technology and administration. There was strong and bipartisan support for improving election machinery, combating the challenges of cybersecurity, and fighting for adequate funding to run elections in the best way possible. This is one of the reasons that online registration and automatic voter registration are making real progress; they are technical improvements as well as access expansions. The election officials take their responsibilities seriously, and if legislators, state and national, would take their cues, bipartisan progress just might become more possible.

Thanks to Cecily Hines for research and perspective for this column.

          Trump's Appointment to Gender Equality Office Has Hateful Anti-Trans Record    
PoliticsTransgenderFeminismWomenDonald Trump Tracy E. Gilchrist

Adding to his record of appointing people to posts they are fundamentally unqualified to hold, Donald Trump has named an anti-trans activist as a senior adviser to the office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Bethany Kozma, who held positions in the White House and Homeland Security under George W. Bush, vehemently opposed guidelines issued by President Obama's administration that advised schools to let trans students use their preferred names and pronouns and use the restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, Buzzfeed reports. And to Google the woman who will advise on gender equality in the office that is part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is to uncover a treasure trove of hateful, woefully misguided anti-trans propaganda. 

“A boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter under the president’s transgender policies,” Kozma wrote in a 2016 piece about the Obama administration guidelines. “When I learned that predators could abuse these new policies to hurt children in school lockers, shelters, pool showers, or other vulnerable public places like remote bathrooms in national parks, I realized I had to do something.” 

In a disgusting attempt to equate trans women with sexual predators, Kozma’s story included a video of women sharing their stories of how they were sexually assaulted by cisgender men in spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms. 

While naming Kozma, who clearly doesn’t believe that trans women are equal to cisgender women, as an adviser at the office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment is a slap in the face to all women, her position in the office is further complicated by the fact that USAID has a long history of supporting programs that advance LGBT equality around the world, including a program that leverages financial contributions to support “LGBTI human rights and development in 14 countries around the world,” HIV and AIDS prevention efforts, and an initiative to empower Asia’s LGBT people, according to its website.

A spokesperson for USAID said Kozma’s appointment does not mean there has been a change in policy in terms of its commitment to LGBT rights, according to Buzzfeed. 

"USAID is committed to promoting a work environment that is free from sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination, in accordance with existing federal law," the spokesperson said. 

But Kozma's anti-trans crusade did not end with her campaign to oppose Obama’s protections for trans students in 2016. Earlier this year she wrote a piece for The Daily Signal (part of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation) in which she patted herself on the back for being a part of the movement that she believes helped influence the Trump administration to rescind those protections.  

“Trump’s decisiveness on this issue shows that he cares more about people than political correctness — that all our children deserve a safe and respectful learning environment, not just a very small minority, and that privacy and free speech are rights that American parents hold dear,” Kozma wrote this February. 

          Russian relationships: collusion or treason?   
I know bunches of sincere, thoughtful conservatives who are THAT close to defecting. They admit their party has gone insane, but cannot bring themselves yet to use the “T-Word.” They keep being distracted by squirrels. Like “There’s been no proof … Continue reading
          Germany Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, Angela Merkel Says Marriage Is Between A Man And A Woman   

Germany Parliament has said "Ja" to same-sex marriage in a snap vote. The bill passed 393 to 226, with the German vice-chancellor, Angela Merkel voting against the bill, however, more than 70 conservative bloc members of Merkel vote in favour of the bill.


   Volker Beck of the Green party, who is also an open gay person celebrated the new bill on his lasy day in parliament.

Explaining while she voted No on the bill, Angela Merkel said that she understood marriage to be an institution between a man and a woman, however, she said she believes the new bill will help promote "more social peace."

Merkel also said that she has come to the conclusion that same-sex couple should be able to adopt children, which is something the new bill legalizes.

Volker Beck of the Green party, who also had been a strong voice in approving same-sex marriage called the vote "a success for democracy."

80% of Germans are in support of allowing homosexuals couples to marry and adopt children.


          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage after Merkel U-turn - Salt Lake Tribune   
Berlin • German lawmakers voted Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, a move widely supported across the country that brings Germany in line with many of its Western peers. Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure, but paved the way for its passage by allowing members of her conservative party to vote according to their conscience. Lawmakers voted 393-226 to legalize “marriage for everybody,” with four abstentions. Underlining the delicate political tightrope that Merkel walked, the “n...
          Why Do People Want to Kill Each Other Over Politics?   
A philosophically-trained writer at the Federalist says it's because we view the government's power as far more necessary to life and its goods than it really is.
If government power is the people’s best and only hope, then to deny the use of that power, or even to exercise it in the wrong way, is just like killing people. So you are naturally going to long to see the political malefactors behind such a policy struck down, for the same reasons we love the scene in the action movie when the bad guy finally falls off the skyscraper and gets what’s coming to him.

This attitude is not strictly limited to the provinces of the Left where we currently see it so flamboyantly displayed. As we have recently discovered, some on the Right also look to government for salvation, hoping that the right kind of limits on trade and immigration, the right deals made by the right dealmaker, will solve all of our problems—and anyone who doesn’t support that leader is a traitor.

But the basic idea of government as salvation is associated more with the Left, because expanding the power of government is their primary political cause.
Is he right about that? Vox argues that it's impossible to tell conservatives apart from their caricature of conservatives -- and for them, I don't doubt that this is true. Republicans want to kill the poor in order to provide tax cuts for the rich, and that's the only way to understand the policy they're proposing.

I don't care a bit about tax cuts for the rich, but I'd like to see the government get completely out of health care. My reasoning has two parts: most importantly, because government-run health care poses severe challenges to human liberty; less importantly, because the government's effectively-unlimited money distorts markets and produces runaway price inflation. If the government must be involved at all, it should be on the back end, quietly repaying expenses for qualifying veterans (and potentially certain very poor individuals) so that no one realizes that there's an unlimited pool of money they could chase. Then people's capacity to come up with the money up front would serve as a market brake on the inflation, and yet veterans would be able to pursue the health care they want from the doctors they choose -- not ones imposed on them by an uncaring, massive bureaucracy.

But I suppose that's tantamount to saying that I want people to die.

          Death of a political giant   

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher waving to well-wishers as Helmut Kohl (left) looks on. Photo: Reuters

Political life is a paradox. Politicians seek to achieve results in the short run because electoral success depends on this. However, they are often concerned about how ‘history’ will ‘judge’ them. The nature of their work binds them to act in the present, yet, they often see themselves in a historical time continuum. The late former chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl, understood the significance of ‘history’ in the life of a politician. He was born in 1930 to a conservative Roman Catholic family in the town of Ludwigshafen on the bank of the River Rhine in the Palatinate. The Palatinate was once at the centre of the Holy Roman Empire while the Rhine is the river which both unites and divides, serving as both a transportation link and a natural border between nations and states. Living in such historical crossroads undoubtedly shaped Kohl’s worldview. His life was bound to both the history and the modern development of the Palatinate. His doctoral dissertation in history focused on political developments in the Palatinate after 1945. His first significant political role was that of regional minister-president between 1969 and 1976. Life for the Kohl family was challenging. His...
          Bret Stephens and MSNBC’s hiring spree: The network keeps moving right   

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Update: MSNBC and Greta Van Susteren have agreed to part ways.

MSNBC is now a pasture for pseudo-intellectual conservatives. Climate denier and Iraq War booster Bret Stephens is just the latest right-wing hire at the network.

In recent months NBC News Chairman Andy Lack has overseen a hiring spree of right-wing pundits and former Fox News personalities. The stable includes Hugh Hewitt, Megyn Kelly, Charlie Sykes, Greta Van Susteren, and George Will. They join other conservatives at the network: Elise Jordan, Steve Schmidt, Michael Steele, Rick Tyler, Nicolle Wallace, and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. This is to say nothing of NBC News contributor and Trump apologist Mark Halperin; and given their frequent appearances, it may be just a matter of time until David Frum, a speechwriter for then-President George W. Bush, former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card, and neocon Bill Kristol join the network as well.

Compared to CNN’s boorish Trumpists or the state media apparatchiks at Fox News, the common thread among MSNBC conservatives is a certain pretentious shine. They’re frequently just arguing that President Donald Trump is the wrong type of conservative, when in fact Trump is the apotheosis of everything conservatism has been careening toward for some time. (The exception is Hugh Hewitt, who is now just a huge Trump booster after vacillating during the campaign.) 

Many of these hires have direct, intimate connections to Bush, the most disastrous president in decades. Card, Frum, Jordan, and Wallace worked in the Bush administration, and Stephens, Kristol, Will, Scarborough, and Hewitt were all huge cheerleaders for the Iraq War. And that history matters. Two major media institutions, including a newspaper of record, are now paying Stephens essentially just to troll liberals with climate denial and to push America towards a war with Iran.

You can separate Lack’s hiring spree into two buckets: pundits and brands. Neither offer much value in the long run. In this media environment, opinions are cheap (including mine!). Everyone has one and most of them stink. There’s no long-term return on opinions (and no lack of people wanting to get on TV to share theirs).

Adding brands like Megyn Kelly or Greta Van Susteren is equally pointless. It’s no wonder that both of these shows have failed. There’s simply no audience for them outside the Fox News bubble. Particularly with Kelly, NBC News executives seem completely unaware that her entire show at Fox News was built around racial dog-whistling (with occasional moments of bucking the party line).

Also, as Ryan Grim noted, it is the progressive shows that Lack hasn’t touched that are succeeding the most.

Rather than spending all this money on right-wing pundits and big names, the true value-add for news networks now is reliable and aggressive journalism. That’s hard to do. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. But it’s ultimately what will define NBC News and MSNBC.

          UK lawmakers pass May government's 2-year agenda   
UK lawmakers pass May government's 2-year agenda
- Abortion is far more tightly restricted in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the U.K., ... the Conservative government's plans for a Brexit-dominated parliamentary ... But the government is likely to get its way thanks to Northern Ireland's ...

          Trump Urges GOP To Repeal Obama Law Now, Replace Later   

President Donald Trump urged divided congressional Republicans on Friday to break their logjam over dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law by “immediately” repealing it and replacing it later, a formula that GOP leaders dismissed months ago as politically unwise. Trump’s early-morning tweet embraced a sequential approach favored by only a handful of conservatives eager to take quick action on one of the party’s foremost priorities — repealing Obamacare, something Republicans have long promised to do. But his suggestion threatened to sharpen divisions between conservatives and moderates, who are leery of stripping coverage from millions of constituents without something to substitute for it. “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Trump tweeted. Supporters of that idea include Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rand Paul, R-Ky. House and Senate leaders long ago abandoned initial thoughts of first erasing Obama’s law, and then replacing it. Such a step-by-step approach would leave Republicans vulnerable to Democratic accusations that they were simply tossing people off coverage without helping them obtain medical care. It could also roil insurance markets by prompting insurers to flee or boost premiums because of worries over whether, when and how Congress would replace the statute. And the idea would leave unresolved the quandary stumping lawmakers today — how to replace Obama’s system of online insurance markets, tax subsidies and an expanded Medicaid with something that will get enough Republican votes to pass Congress. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Trump’s tweet. Underscoring the fissures within the GOP, conservative group leaders welcomed Trump’s suggestion but said it didn’t go far enough because it could open the door to a subsequent bipartisan compromise to replace Obama’s law. They accused McConnell of not wanting to go far enough and protecting GOP moderates who want to keep parts of the statute, such as insurance coverage requirements. “It’s distressing to see so many Republicans who’ve lied about their commitment to repeal. Mitch McConnell wants to amend Obamacare,” Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a conference call. Mimicking a southern accent, the New Jersey-born Cuccinelli said, “Root and branch, root and branch,” repeating an expression McConnell once used about how thoroughly he wanted to repeal the Obama law. On Thursday, Senate Republicans were considering breaking a stalemate over what their replacement bill should do by preserving a tax boost Obama’s law imposed on high earners. Keeping that tax increase in place was a bid to woo party moderates and rescue their sputtering push to repeal his health care overhaul. The break from dogma by a party that has long reviled tax boosts — and most things achieved by Obama — underscores McConnell’s feverish effort to rescue the Senate legislation from the brink of possible defeat. The money from the tax boost would instead be used to bolster proposed health care subsidies for lower-income people. The change, proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would give a more populist flavor to the bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that as the legislation now is written, it would boost out-of-pocket costs for many poor consumers and produce 22 million uninsured people while cutting around $700 billion in taxes over a […]

The post Trump Urges GOP To Repeal Obama Law Now, Replace Later appeared first on Yeshiva World News.

          Kensington and Chelsea council leader quits in wake of Grenfell disaster   

Nicholas Paget-Brown and his deputy step down after criticism of response to fire and chaotic scenes at council meeting

The Tory leader of Kensington and Chelsea council is to step down along with his deputy after weeks of criticism over the response to the Grenfell Tower fire, culminating in a bungled attempt to hold a meeting about the blaze in private.

Nicholas Paget-Brown, who became the focus of protests over the Conservative-run authority’s actions before and after the deadly inferno, said he was departing to accept some responsibility for “perceived failings” by the council.

Related: Grenfell fire: Guardian puts council on notice over secret meetings

Related: Tower block cladding could be safe despite failed tests, experts say

Continue reading...
          Grenfell bungling and the democratic deficit | Letters   
David Nowell argues for local electoral reform in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, while Leigh Daynes highlights the plight of ex-residents too frightened to get medical help

The extraordinarily inept way in which Kensington and Chelsea council has handled the Grenfell Tower disaster (Public barred as leader of council gives his apology for failings, 30 June) has been exacerbated by first-past-the-post elections and Blairite local government reforms. Before the introduction of streamlined cabinet decision-making, the old committee-based system at least ensured that any opposition councillors’ constructive comments and objections had to be minuted before key decisions were made, and not after the event.

Even if within the Royal Borough more than half still wish to vote Tory next May, at least the introduction of the single transferable vote would ensure much more diversity. Instead of four-and-a-half Labour wards confined to Kensington, including Grenfell Tower, there would be less geographic polarisation without any safe seats. STV has transformed Scottish local elections so that it is even possible for a Conservative to squeak into the last elected place to represent one of Glasgow’s poorest wards. So why can’t the wealthiest wards in Chelsea use it to replace their worst Tory councillors with some real representatives?
David Nowell
New Barnet, Hertfordshire

Continue reading...
          Social liberalism and traditional values | Letters   
Joe McCarthy advises the Guardian to stick to its liberal guns, while Josephine Brady says society must not confuse ‘traditional’ views with intolerant ones

In response to Paul Tench’s plea for more room for the conservative perspective in the Guardian (Where is the space for traditional values?, Letters, 29 June), I’d like to ask you to stick to your liberal guns. Being a pro-choice, leftwing, feminist living in a traditionally socially conservative society can be quite oppressive. Reading the Guardian is a welcome antidote and I know I am not alone in Ireland in thinking so. Please keep up the good work.
Joe McCarthy

• The letter from Paul Tench was interesting, but I was surprised that his list of traditional values was equated largely with Protestant and Catholic. There are many people who consider themselves “socially liberal” who value marriage, commitment and fidelity and who hold nuanced views on matters such as abortion, euthanasia and a bit of peace and quiet on a Sunday. They may have a religious belief but most will not. I don’t think it’s ever helpful to assume that holding the above views makes one a conservative. And I do think that you should try harder to find writers who express a range of opinion.
Jane Lawson

Continue reading...
          Kumkum Bhagya episode 530 (Friday 30th June)   
The Episode starts with Aaliya telling Purab, Dadi and Pragya that she came to know about Purab’s plan through her spy, and did what she is best at. She tells that she has called travel agent. Fb is shown. She asks him to booked tickets for sure and not to give her excuses. She asks him to cancel his passengers and get 4 tickets. She threatens him to trap him in case and asks to get booking. Fb ends. She asks Purab and Pragya to do engagement as Abhi is conservative about such things. She says you will be Abhi’s
          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage, despite Chancellor Merkel voting no   

Germany on Friday recognized the right of same-sex couples to wed, a major step for gay women and men living in a country split between conservative, Christian customs and modernizing forces.

The German Parliament voted 393-226 to modify the country's civil code, reshaping the institution of marriage...

          The cost of Black America   
If you are a white American, over the course of your lifetime the federal government will, on average and on your behalf, transfer $384,109 of your wealth and income to a single black individual.

According to the data derived from the 2014 federal budget, the average annual net tax/benefit broke down as follows:
  • White: -$2,795
  • Black: +$10,016
Over the course of an average 79-year lifespan, a white individual contributes a net $220,805 to the system, whereas over the course of an average 75-year lifespan, a black individual receives a net $751,200. However, since there are 4.6 times more whites than blacks in the USA, the black share has to be divided among the various contributors to sort out a one-to-one comparison.

So, the net cost to the average White American of the average Black American is $384,109. Married? That's $768,218. Got 2 kids? That's $1,536,436. 4 kids? Now we're talking $2,304,654 lifetime.

Diversity is expensive. Now you understand why you won't have much of an inheritance to leave to your children. Do you really think it's worth it? And then, those natural conservatives to the south, the Hispanics, will surely improve the situation, right? After all, immigration helps the economy! Well, not so much.
  • Hispanic: +7,298
In fact, because there are more Hispanics in the USA than Blacks, Hispanics are already a bigger cumulative net drain on the economy, $411,950,000,000 to $389,710,000,000. Needless to say, the ongoing demographic change from a predominantly white society to a less productive, less white one can be expected to have even more serious negative effects on the long-term economic prospects of the United States that it already has.

To quote the original author: "The negative fiscal impact of blacks and hispanics is significant. All of this discussion of a “national debt” and “deficit” is primarily of function of blacks and hispanics. Without them, we would be running budget surpluses today, even when keeping the military the same size."
          Libertarianism is dead   
The Cato Institute embraces equalitarianism:
It is not enough to be passively “not racist.” We must be actively anti-racism.

Libertarians tend to think of freedom as either a means to an end of maximum utility—e.g., free markets produce the most wealth—or, in a more philosophical sense, in opposition to arbitrary authority—e.g., “Who are you to tell me what to do?” Both views fuel good arguments for less government and more personal autonomy. Yet neither separately, nor both taken together, address the impediments to freedom that have plagued the United States since its founding. Many of the oppressions America has foisted upon its citizens, particularly its black citizens, indeed came from government actors and agents. But a large number of offenses, from petty indignities to incidents of unspeakable violence, have been perpetrated by private individuals, or by government with full approval of its white citizens. I would venture that many, if not most libertarians—like the general American public—haven’t come to terms with the widespread, systemic subversion of markets and democracy American racism wreaked on its most marginalized citizens. Consequently, libertarians have concentrated rather myopically on government reform as the sole function of libertarian social critique without taking full reckoning of what markets have failed to correct throughout American history.

Take, for example, the common libertarian/conservative trope: “We believe in equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.” Most people, outside of the few and most ardent socialists, should believe that is a fair statement. But to say such a thing as a general defense of the status quo assumes that the current American system offers roughly equal opportunity just because Jim Crow is dead. Yet, that cannot possibly be true.
I left libertarianism because I concluded that it is a hopelessly utopian ideal that is practically impossible in a fallen world of real human beings, libertarianism did not leave me. But this is not libertarianism, this is the convergence of libertarianism and its cooption by equalitarians.

At this point, it's safe to say that libertarianism is as intellectually dead as communism. That doesn't mean it won't retain any number of dogmatic adherents, but at this point, it can no longer be considered conceptually viable. And this new Cato-endorsed variant is little more than a farcical parody.
          Spare him the fainting couches   
Kurt Schlichter is done with the bow-tied crowd and their principled conservatism:
I think it was mildly amusing that some loud right-wingers spent a minute disrupting a bunch of New York liberals’ conservative murder porn party.

There, I said it. And now, according to some people on the conservative side, I’m not a conservative anymore.

Oh. Well, if conservatism has morphed into a human centipede of onanistic purity-signaling, then you fussy guardians of the word can have it.

Now, there is a coherent and reasonable argument that hitting back liberals with a taste of their own medicine – that is, inflicting upon them a microscopic fraction of what they have spent decades inflicting upon us – is a bad idea. People I respect and who are friends adhere to this view. I’ve listened to their opinions – because they have earned my attention – and they are wrong....

First, the “If it’s wrong for them to do it to us, then it’s wrong if we do it to them” formulation is less a principle than a tired cliché. This minor disruption was a tactic; shouting was a tool. It is moral for the good guys – and we are the good guys – to use tactics and tools against an enemy that are immoral when they do it. It was immoral for the Nazis to bomb London; it was moral for us to bomb Nazis. Of course every tactic and tool is not acceptable, but the guys who stormed Omaha Beach did not “become what they were fighting” because they used the same tools and tactics as the enemy.

Second, this sort of performance art is so harmless that the cost/benefit calculus weighs in favor of tolerating such occasional inconveniences. That’s not to say we should not impose higher costs on them – we disapprove of the firing of people for what they say, but Kathy Griffin’s defenestration was a sacrifice worth making to demonstrate the costs of liberal misbehavior. This is crucial. They must pay a cost for establishing their new rules.

Call it retribution or punishment or just payback, but causing pain to wrongdoers is a conservative principle we seem to have forgotten. The left needs to feel the pain that comes from their choices. If they want a world where people suffer for speaking, well, I prefer they didn’t, but I damn well know that if that’s the new rule, their side is going to get it shoved down their throat.
Welcome to the Alt-Lite. It's a step in the right direction. What Alt Lite culture warriors like Jack Posobiec, Mike Cernovich, and James O'Keefe are doing matters. And shaking off the self-imposed shackles of "conservative principles" is the first step towards actually engaging the enemy.
          Gotta Hand it to Ann Coulter, Skewering CastrObama   
I disagreed vehemently with Ms. Coulter’s participation in the propaganda campaign against independent-thinking conservative, turned wayward transnationalist, turned distinctively pro-sovereignty, Newt Gingrich and her support instead of the central bankster cartel’s man for the GOP’s presidential nomination, Mitt Romney. We see how nicely that turned out. But, we can all make mistakes. Her excellent efforts […]
          Like His Father, Donald Trump Jr. Uses Twitter to Target the Media   
The younger Mr. Trump has inherited his father’s passion for Twitter as a weapon against political foes, and conservatives see him as a high-profile torchbearer for their grievances.
          Redhead Cassia Riley strips out of her conservative business...   
Redhead Cassia Riley strips out of her conservative business...
          New NRA ad is bigoted, divisive, and almost calls for violence   
On the National Rifle Association’s (NRA’s) Facebook page. you can see their latest video, which has just gone up on YouTube. I’ve put it below (if it disappears, see it here). Listen to the rancor of NRA spokeswoman and conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch: Here’s the transcript as it appears on Business Insider: “They use […]
          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
Conservative groups unleash on Senate Republicans over repeal billPolitico
What exactly does Trump want from this health care bill?CNN
GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch networkLos Angeles Times
ABC News -Breitbart News -The Atlantic -BuzzFeed News
all 148 news articles »

          Reeling from Horrifying GOP Health Care Bills? Just wait till you lose your Voting Rights, just around the corner.    
While everyone is still wondering how Republicans could ever seriously fix their health care bills that drop 22 to 23 million Americans with a few more insane amendments, voting rights is about to take a huge hit:
The Republican presidential tactic of crippling agencies you don't like by putting either the incompetent or the actively hostile in charge of them (continues) ... Kris Kobach, the godfather of the national movement to suppress the votes of people the GOP would prefer not to exercise the franchise (was) named as vice-chairman of his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a snipe hunt the only apparent purpose of which is maintaining the fiction that masses of people, many of them brown, are gaming our elections. 
Here's the most damning news that might just alert us to specific Republican governors who take the bait:
Kobach wrote a letter to his fellow secretaries of state that left many jaws on the floor. From The Kansas City Star: In a Wednesday letter, Kobach asked the Connecticut secretary of state's office to provide the commission with all publicly available voter roll data, including the full names of all registered voters along with their addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information ... he sent similar letters to election officials in every state. 

Quite simply, any secretary of state who complies with this request is either too stupid to hold the job, or is in sympathy with Kobach's goal of whitewashing the electorate.  Alex Padilla, the Secretary of State for California, said, "California's participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach. The President's Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections."

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill was a bit more discreet: "The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters. Given Secretary Kobach's history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this commission."
BREAKING: Scott Walker gives up voter information to Trump's big government demands. Hey, we just had a recount too. All is well?

Wisconsin elections officials said Friday that they'll sell some voter information to a presidential commission investigating election fraud. Administrator Mike Haas issued a statement Friday saying data is available for purchase and the commission must release it to buyers, adding that the commission routinely sells the information to political parties, candidates and researchers. The commission would charge the presidential panel $12,500 for the data.
Having done a lot of research on "the right to vote," I found that despite the guarantee in the 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments...with help from the Voting Rights Act (now destroyed by activist conservative Justices), voting seems to be the least defended squishy right ever. In fact, I could make the argument that women and African Americans were definitely given the right to vote, but anyone else including white guys...nope.

What if Obama did this? Always the best test against hypocritical Republican policy:
As Vanita Gupta points out in that same K.C. Star report, if someone in the Obama administration had made this request, at the very least, there would be a full week of howler monkeys screaming about federalism from every perch in every conservative think-tank in the jungle. At the most, there would be hearing after hearing about the Obama administration's plan to seed thousands of the president's fellow Kenyans in every crucial precinct in Ohio and Florida. What's more important, though, is that the national campaign to roll back voting rights now has reached the highest levels of government, with the blessing of the president* and the president*-in-waiting. This is the final step backwards across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

          NRA Declares War on Liberals.    
I've been writing about the Republican authoritarian movement for some time now along with their sheepishly devoted voters. They've been vilifying liberals, progressives and Democrats for years. Not coincidentally, I've also noticed my conservative friend in Milwaukee has made the attacks more personal, with an arrogance rooted from one party rule. After all, they "won" and will never lose power again. And according to my friend, with the appointment of conservative judges, liberals will lose in the courts as well.  

NRA Ad Warning: What I've seen from tweets and blog commentary is perfectly summed up in the recent NRA ad. It is literally all there, with the added call to arms of course. Trump's blatant attack on the First Amendments very clear protections of the press, the rise of right wing media, and the many years of vilifying  "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," the NRA ad may be the marker right wing authoritarians have been waiting for. Especially after the way this ad hit the fan:

"They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. And then they use their ex-president to endorse “the resistance.”

All to make them march. Make them protest. Make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia. To smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding — until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.

And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.

I’m the National Rifle Association of America. And I’m freedom’s safest place."
As Vox's Zack Beauchamp put it:
This chilling NRA ad calls on its members to save America by fighting liberals: A liberal insurgency is destroying American society. The “only way” to protect yourself from this surge in left-wing violence (a made-up threat, to be clear) is to donate to the NRA.

In a 2013 op-ed, for example, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre argued that a lawless America was inevitable if the liberals succeeded in their nefarious plan to take your guns … it functions as a kind of anti-politics — casting the NRA’s political opponents as devious enemies who can’t be opposed through normal politics. Republicans control all three branches of government and a large majority of statehouses nationwide. There is literally zero chance that any kind of major gun control passes in America in the foreseeable future.

The threat, instead, is from a kind of liberal-cultural fifth column: People who are acting outside of legitimate political channels to upend American freedoms, through protest and violence. It’s a paranoid vision of American life that encourages the NRA’s fans to see liberals not as political opponents, but as monsters.
The ad features right-wing pundit Dana Loesch, who seems determined to turn everything in our country beet red:

The NRA made the mistake of using "blue" as their background, making it ripe for parody, like this...

          Paul Ryan floats 22 Million "people will choose not to buy something they don't want," like health insurance?    
Paul Ryan's ingeniously comical spin on the GOP's serious problem of causing 22 or 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance coverage has exposed him as a phony overrated policy wonk. From PolitiFact: 

Spin Me Round Round: Of course it's not true, because Americans will "choose" to drop their insurance coverage because they can't afford the premiums and/or deductibles. And because they're... longer eligible for Medicaid. The CBO said two-thirds of the 22 million without insurance would lose out through cuts in the Medicaid program.
Twitter corrections followed as well, embarrassingly so for a guy known for his "fiscally conservative" tax cut pledge:

Pretty simple stuff. Remember, they're in charge now.

A Reduced Medicaid Plan Reduces Insured? Ah, yea, that's the Problem? Ryan really said this too, as if it was a benefit. Not getting the same kind of attention but just as pathetic, he took the leap...

Paul Ryan classic: "What they're basically saying at the Congressional Budget Office is that, if you're not going to force people to buy Obamacare, if you're not going to force people to buy something they don't want, then they won't buy it. It's not that people are getting pushed off a plan. It's that people will choose not to buy something that they don't like or want."

          Financial self-sufficiency has contributed the    
The American loved ones has come in a bimestrial way and has denatured a lot work time. Liberals and conservatives have their own views on the American house present. It is unbelievably resilient to wage hike a house in our day. However, nearby are any easier way to bring to the fore a family connections today as okay. Some of the property that will be the subject of symposium are separation and its effects, welfare, abusiveness on children and wives, and few separate assets associated gossip.One sturdy thing in the order of today's American ancestral is separation. If we proceeds a look of history, in 1816, one marriage ceremony out of one c done in divorce. Then relating the eld 1869-1888, divorce hyperbolic up to one c and cardinal per centum. And the worse, involving the years 1960-1980, the divorce charge per unit multiplied up to two hundred and cardinal percentage. Divorce tax peaked in 1981 and then started to decrease a tiny during the mid 1980's. However, divorce rates now are as glorious as they have of all time been. Now, cardinal proportion of all marriages end in divorce.Researches have revealed 5 unfinished reasons for the amplification in divorcement. The prototypal grounds is in ultramodern societies; not public jubilation is regarded to be essential so when race are melancholy beside their marriage, they break-up and break up. The 2d motivation is it is easier to get removed financially. The 3rd point is that women's financial self-sufficiency has contributed. The fourth principle is the reproductive structure of separation has diminished so populace are not agitated socially. The concluding defence is the convert of laws. The "no fault" laws have contributed to increases in divorcement revenue enhancement.Post ads:monitoring your computer / keyloggers windows mobile / fhwa mobility monitoring / cheating on pogo / telephone recording systems uk / how can you find listening device at home / skype video call recorder free / record a video call on skype mac / telephone recording work / is he still having an affair / does spy phones work / how to use best callrecorder / why is my husband having an affair / call recorder software htc touch / dreams im cheating on my boyfriend / surveillance cell phone headset / do u know guy cheating youDivorce does not feeling purely the spouse and mate but leaves a catchy result on brood and more than one a million children experience their parental divorcement all yr. One of these private property is the parental loss. The offspring put in the wrong place the loss of skills and reserves of one of the parents. Another consequence is in attendance is cosmic financial loss. Another event is the children's lives are more than nerve-racking. Children have to be more communal and put together an hysterical fitting. Another result is children feel much problems in conservatory and next to friends. And one of the second effects is divorced offspring in the long-dated run form little relationships, and if they do conjoin past the probability of getting a separation is considerably highly developed.
          A True Clown Doesn’t Need a Rubber Nose   
The other day, perennial political tool Rush Limbaugh was on CNBC defending his now infamous “I want Obama to fail” comment. His argument went something like this (paraphrasing): Yes, I want him to fail. His policies are liberal policies and I want liberal policies to fail. I want conservative policies to succeed. I find this…
          Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right   
In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and […]
          An Oceanside minister supported Trump. Now, he's getting deported   

Jorge Ramirez, an Oceanside minister and immigrant who is in the country illegally, didn’t think he would end up in line for deportation when he encouraged his U.S. citizen daughter to vote for now-President Trump.

In an interview at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, Ramirez — who said he holds conservative...

          Johnson Amendment under fire from House Republicans   
President Trump has promised religious conservatives he will “get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment,” a part of the tax code that bars churches from campaigning for or donating to specific political candidates. In a largely overlooked move, House Republicans have taken the most concre...
          President Trump Agrees with Conservatives – Repeal Obamacare Now, Figure Out Replacement Later   

President Trump's most recent comments on the GOP attempts to fix our nation's failing healthcare system are music to conservative ears.

The post President Trump Agrees with Conservatives – Repeal Obamacare Now, Figure Out Replacement Later appeared first on The Constitution.

          Sanctuary Cities to Rebrand as “Welcoming Cities” – Still Supporting Criminal Activity   

Conservatives have several issues to be concerned with these days. One that just keeps resurfacing is illegal immigration.

The post Sanctuary Cities to Rebrand as “Welcoming Cities” – Still Supporting Criminal Activity appeared first on The Constitution.

          [wanabidii] News Digest: Live updates: India braces for GST rollout   
Friday, June 30, 2017
Today's Headlines

Live updates: India braces for GST rollout

Will buy AI only if profitable for us: IndiGo president
"Let me be very clear that if it is not profitable and does not add value to our employees, customers and shareholders, we will not embark on this journey," IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh wrote in a mail to staff on Air India acquisition bid.

Debt-hit RCom seeks to give up Rs 340 cr worth spectrum

More Business News»

'Half-a-degree of warming boosted extreme weather'
Comparing two 20-year periods -- 1960-79 and 1991-2010 -- between which average global temperatures jumped 0.5 C (0.9 F), scientists found that the hottest summer temperatures increased by more than 1 degree C across a quarter of Earth's land areas, while the coldest winter temperatures warmed by more then 2.5 degree C.

Ice-free areas of Antarctica to increase by 2100: Study
Ice-free areas may increase in Antarctica by 25 per cent due to climate change, leading to drastic changes in the continent's biodiversity, a study warns. They found the melting ice could create up to 17,000 square kilometre of new ice-free area across Antarctica.

Rare Siamese crocodile eggs found in Cambodia
Conservationists have found a nest with 19 eggs from one of the world's most endangered crocodiles. It is boosting hopes for species threatened by poachers and habitat loss. Researchers believe only 400 adults still exist in the wild, the baby crocodiles will be raised at a conservation centre

More Environment News»

Europe to meet US plea for more troops to Afghanistan
European allies pledged more troops to support Afghanistan's hard-pressed military on Thursday but left details on numbers vague until the United States clarifies its new strategy to break a stalemate with the Taliban.

Washington plans $1.42 bn arms sale to Taiwan
The State Department said the package included technical support for early warning radar, high speed anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and missile components. The US is the sole arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under its control.

German parliament legalises same-sex marriage
Germany's parliament voted by a wide margin to legalise same-sex marriage. The parliament voted by 393 votes in favour of same-sex marriage to 226 against. Chancellor Angela Merkel freed members of her ruling conservative bloc to follow their personal conscience rather than the party line.

More World News»

Nasa rocket releases artificial colourful clouds
Nasa has finally launched a sounding rocket that created artificial colourful clouds that were visible from New York to North Carolina. The artificial clouds were launched to track particle motions in space. The rocket was delayed many times over the last 30 days.

In rural Kentucky, solar eclipse preparation keeps town busy

NASA's quieter supersonic jet closer to reality
The US space agency completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of its Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) aircraft design. QueSST is the initial design stage of NASA's planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration (LBFD) experimental airplane, otherwise known as an X-plane.

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GST sale: 12 hot deals on smartphones, TVs and more

Comparison: Honor 9 vs Honor 8
Comparison: Honor 9 vs Honor 8

Apple iPhone turns ten: 7 little-known facts about the smartphone
Apple fans, one of your most-loved devices has turned 10. It was 10 years ago that the original iPhone hit stores on June 29, 2007 in the US. Here are some not-so-known facts about one of the world's 'favourite' smartphone.

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Plus III admissions 2017: DHE Odisha declares first selection list
The Department of Higher Education (DHE) has declared the first selection list for +3 admissions on their official website today.

TS EAMCET seat allotment 2017 result declared

TN govt's new policy of reserving 85% quota for state board students challenged in High Court

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Grains and spices market of APMC remains shut in protest against GST

Train coach wheel derails near Kalyan, Central railway service affected

Mumbai: Aunt arrested for two-year-old's murder
Two days after the body of a two-year-old boy was found in a gunny bag at Malad, the police arrested his aunt on Friday.

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Live blog: Heavy rains lash Delhi-NCR

Delhi, Haryana to work together to prevent flooding in Gurugram
Officials from Delhi and Haryana will undertake a joint inspection for assessing silting in the Najafgarh drain over the next two days. This will be done in order to carry out desilting, if required, as part of measures to be taken up to prevent flooding in Gurgaon, that created a havoc last year.

Video: Delhi wakes up to fresh morning showers
Fresh spells of rain lashed the national capital on Friday morning.

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Video: Protest-hit Bengaluru Metro covers Hindi signboards

Video: Elderly man held for molesting minor

Sadarame's Kalla is Kannada theatre's superstar
B Jayashree brings alive her grandfather, Gubbi Veeranna’s, timeless character

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Video: Akbaruddin Owaisi attack case: Pahelwan acquitted, 4 others convicted
Six years after the murderous attack on MIM legislator, Akbaruddin Owaisi, a local court in Hyderabad convicted four men and sentenced them to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.Prime accused .

'No mob lynching in my name,' decries Hyderabad

Stink rises in Osmania General Hospital, patients helpless
One of the oldest hospitals in India, the Osmania General Hospital (OGH) presents a dirty picture, replete with filthy wards and stinking toilets.

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Presidential elections: Ram Nath Kovind, Meira Kumar to campaign in Chennai on Saturday
NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind and opposition parties’ candidate Meira Kumar will be campaigning in Chennai on Saturday.

Medical seat scam: ED attaches four properties of Madhan
The Enforcement Directorate on Friday provisionally attached four immovable properties of B Madhan of Vendhar Movies, who is an accused in the medical seat scam.

Stalin says TN govt won't take any action, whether it is gutka scam or bribe to voters
The AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu is facing several accusations but it is not ready to take action against the erring officials and others, said DMK working president M K Stalin on Friday.

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PM Modi inaugurates two water projects for Gujarat farmers

Video: PM releases postal stamp, coin to mark Shrimad Rajchandra's birth anniversary

Cop's son killed in accidental discharge from service gun
According to the police report filed by Darji, when Bhavya was looking for his school notebooks in a drawer in the living room, he came across the service revolver which was loaded.

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Rains lashes Sangam city throwing normal life out of gear

Allahabad University makes online fee deposit mandatory

Roli, Tika to welcome students as primary schools reopen on July 1
In a novel gesture, teachers of Primary and Junior High schools of district would be welcoming both boys and girl students up to class VIIIth by applying `Roli’ or “Tika” on their foreheads as schools are all set to reopen after summer vacations on July 1.

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Asian Athletics Championships: Odisha hires two Mercedes Benz buses from Telangana
The state tourism department has hired two sophisticated Mercedes Benz buses from Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation for movement of delegates during the Asian Athletics Championships.

Shopaholics go on a shopping frenzy over pre-GST discounts

Asian Athletics Championships: Odisha's traditional handloom for flag bearers
Flag bearers at the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships will wear traditional handloom saris of Odisha during the opening ceremony of the function. All major varieties of traditional handloom saris will be provided them by Boyanika, official sources said.

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          President Trump urges GOP to repeal Affordable Care Act law now, replace later   
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump urged divided congressional Republicans on Friday to break their logjam over dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law by "immediately" repealing it and replacing it later, a formula that GOP leaders dismissed months ago as politically unwise.

Trump's early-morning tweet embraced a sequential approach favored by only a handful of conservatives eager to take quick action on one of the party's foremost priorities — repealing Obamacare, something Republicans have long promised to do. But his suggestion threatened to sharpen divisions between conservatives and moderates, who are leery of stripping coverage from millions of constituents without something to substitute for it.

"If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!" Trump tweeted.

Supporters of that idea include Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

House and Senate leaders long ago abandoned initial thoughts of first erasing Obama's law, and then replacing it.

Such a step-by-step approach would leave Republicans vulnerable to Democratic accusations that they were simply tossing people off coverage without helping them obtain medical care. And the idea would leave unresolved the quandary stumping lawmakers today — how to replace Obama's system of online insurance markets, tax subsidies and an expanded Medicaid with something that will get enough Republican votes to pass Congress.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Trump's tweet.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans were considering breaking a stalemate over what their replacement bill should do by preserving a tax boost Obama's law imposed on high earners. Keeping that tax increase in place was a bid to woo party moderates and rescue their sputtering push to repeal his health care overhaul.

The break from dogma by a party that has long reviled tax boosts — and most things achieved by Obama — underscores McConnell's feverish effort to rescue the Senate legislation from the brink of possible defeat.

The money from the tax boost would instead be used to bolster proposed health care subsidies for lower-income people.

The change, proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would give a more populist flavor to the bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that as the legislation now is written, it would boost out-of-pocket costs for many poor consumers and produce 22 million uninsured people while cutting around $700 billion in taxes over a decade — largely for richer people and the health care industry.

"You're increasing the burden on lower-income citizens and obviously alleviating the burden on the wealthy. That is not an equation that works," Corker said. He said he was "very confident" that leaders would address the issue in the updated bill.

Top Republicans also considered an amendment pushed by conservatives to let insurers offer plans with low premiums and scant benefits. To do so, a company would also have to sell a policy that abides by the consumer-friendly coverage requirements in Obama's 2010 statute, which the GOP is struggling to repeal.

Both proposals were encountering internal Republican opposition, and it was uncertain either would survive.

McConnell postponed a vote on an initial version Tuesday because of opposition from conservatives and moderates alike. By this week's end, he wants to nail down changes that would assure the bill's passage after Congress' weeklong July 4 recess. No more than two of the 52 GOP senators can oppose the measure for him to prevail, and there were no indications he'd achieved that margin as senators left town Thursday.

"We're kind of at a stalemate right now, I'd say," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who with Ohio GOP Sen. Robert Portman and others wants to forestall reductions the measure would make in Medicaid.

The Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people has grown dramatically in their states and others, but the Republican bill would cut it, with reductions growing over time.

Under Corker's proposal, the bill would retain Obama's 3.8 percent tax increase on investment income for married couples making more than $250,000 a year and individuals making more than $125,000. Keeping that increase would save $172 billion over 10 years, and moderates want to use that money to make coverage more affordable for poorer consumers.

Conservatives said they opposed the idea, along with the chairmen of Congress' two tax-writing committees: Senate Finance chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

Also in play was a proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to let insurers offer skimpier policies, which conservatives say would lower premiums.

Moderates oppose that, especially if it lets insurers raise premiums on people with pre-existing medical problems.

Republicans also said party leaders agreed to add $45 billion for battling opioids abuse to their bill. They were also considering a proposal by conservatives to let people use tax-advantaged health savings accounts to pay health care premiums.

          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage after Merkel u-turn   
BERLIN — German lawmakers voted Friday to legalize same-sex marriage after a short but emotional debate, bringing the country in line with many of its Western peers. Though Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure, she paved the way for its passage by freeing other members of her party to vote their "conscience."

Lawmakers voted 393 for legalizing "marriage for everybody" and 226 against, with four abstentions.

Merkel said Monday that lawmakers could take up the issue as a "question of conscience," allowing members of her conservative coalition, which has been against same-sex marriage, to individually vote for it.

That prompted her center-left rivals to quickly call for a snap vote on the issue, adding it to the agenda Friday on parliament's last regular session before Sept. 24 elections.

While some in Merkel's conservative bloc spoke against the measure, Berlin Christian Democrat Jan-Marco Luczak urged his fellow party members to vote for same-sex marriage.

"It would be absurd to try and protect marriage by preventing people to marry," he told lawmakers.

Many applauded Merkel's comments that opened the way for the vote, but Social Democrat lawmaker Johannes Kahrs noted in the debate that the chancellor had been a longtime opponent of gay marriage.

"Many thanks for nothing," he said bluntly.

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but has not granted them full marital rights, which include the possibility to jointly adopt children.

The new law won't take effect for several months because it still needs to pass the upper house of Parliament and be approved by the president, though those are formalities. It is also expected to face legal challenges.

Merkel told reporters after the vote that her vote against the measure was based upon her reading of the country's law concerning marriage and that she did think gay couples should be able to adopt.

Germany's basic law is vague, saying only that "marriage and the family shall enjoy the protection of the state," but Merkel said that for her "marriage as defined by the law is the marriage of a man and a woman."

She added, however, that she stood by her contention that the interpretation was a "question of conscience" and urged all views to be respected.

"It was a long, intensive, and for many also emotional discussion, that goes for me personally too, and I'm hopeful not only that there will be respect for either side's opinions, but that it will also bring about more peace and cohesion in society," she said.

All of Merkel's potential coalition partners after the September election, including the center-left Social Democrats of her challenger, Martin Schulz, have been calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized.

It is not clear whether Merkel thought her Monday comments would prompt such a quick vote, but many analysts have suggested that by opening the door to gay marriage the chancellor removed yet another issue that might have helped her opponents in their campaigns against her.

In nearly 12 years as chancellor, Merkel has moved her party to the center and away from conservative orthodoxy, speeding up Germany's exit from nuclear power and ending military conscription among other moves.

          White House contacts fringe alt-right LGBTQ group banned from Charlotte Pride parade   
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina-based newspaper The News & Observer has reported that the White House Office of Political Affairs proactively contacted conservative LGBTQ organization Deplorable Pride, which was previously banned from participating in Charlotte’s LGBTQ Pride parade. The group is led by Brian Talbert, who has used or promoted inflammatory language against Muslims, women, […]
          Global funds cut U.S. stocks, boost euro zone holdings to near 2-year high - Reuters poll   

By Claire Milhench

LONDON (Reuters) - Global investors cut exposure to U.S. stocks in June, citing caution on stretched valuations, and raised their euro zone equity holdings to their highest since September 2015, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

The Reuters monthly asset allocation survey of 47 fund managers and chief investment officers in Europe, the United States, Britain and Japan was carried out between June 15 and 28, a month in which U.S. tech stocks sold off heavily.

The rout saw the combined market cap of the five biggest U.S. tech firms drop by $120 billion in less than a week and sparked of a global equity market reversal.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is set to end June down 0.9 percent, bringing a seven-month winning streak to a close. It is still up 14 percent so far this year.

Around three-quarters of poll respondents who answered a special question on tech stocks said they were not overvalued, but investors have reduced their U.S. equity holdings and rotated into euro zone stocks this month.

U.S. stocks were trimmed to 39.7 percent of global equity portfolios, the lowest since November when Donald Trump was elected U.S. president. Since then the S&P 500 has rallied hard and is up 8 percent so far this year on expectations of tax cuts and increased spending.

But investors have grown increasingly sceptical that Trump can deliver on his promises.

"An unprecedented level of economic and fiscal policy uncertainty still surrounds the new U.S. administration," said Mouhammed Choukeir, chief investment officer at Kleinwort Hambros. "This could spill into financial market volatility."

He prefers Europe, where valuations are cheap and political noise has quietened since the French election in which centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won an emphatic victory.

Investors raised their euro zone equity holdings to 19.3 percent, a near two-year high, in June.

They also showed a preference for euro zone debt over U.S. bonds, raising the former almost 1 percentage point to 27.2 percent of their global bond portfolios. In contrast, they cut their U.S. debt holdings by 2.2 percentage points to 37.9 percent, the lowest since March.


The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the second time this year in June and set out plans to start cutting its $4.5 billion portfolio.

The move showed the Fed's willingness to look past a run of soft inflation data and signalled a determination to move ahead with policy tightening. That has driven the U.S. bond yield curve to its flattest in a decade.

Although three-quarters of poll participants who answered a special question on the U.S. economy thought it was strong enough to withstand another Fed rate rise this year, a number expressed reservations.

Jan Bopp, an asset allocation strategist at Bank J Safra Sarasin, was amongst those who thought the Fed could be making a mistake in hiking rates.

"My concern is that the U.S. economy is losing momentum," he said, citing car sales, lending surveys and manufacturing. "Despite all that the Fed seems to be very dedicated. If only to get rates high enough to have ammo for the next downturn."

The caution was also evident in broader positioning, with investors trimming their overall equity allocations to 46.5 percent, the lowest since March, and raising their bond holdings to 40.7 percent, the highest since December.

"The upswing in global growth that started in 2015 is cooling off and inflation pressures are easing. This is good for bonds but stocks may be disappointed and we are only modestly overweight," said Trevor Greetham, head of multi-asset at Royal London Asset Management (RLAM).


Investors raised their exposure to UK assets after the June general election, lifting UK equities to 9.9 percent, while UK bond holdings jumped 1.5 percentage points to 10.4 percent, the highest since January.

The election resulted in a hung parliament, weakening Prime Minister Theresa May's hand in Brexit negotiations.

As a result, three-quarters of poll respondents who answered a question on the election outcome, said it made a softer Brexit more likely, rather than the hard Brexit that May had previously promised her supporters.

"The prime minister failed to win backing for a tightly controlled Brexit process focused on cutting immigration and leaving the single market," said RLAM's Greetham, adding that opponents of a hard Brexit within both the Conservative and Labour parties would argue the public mood is one of compromise.

However, Raphael Gallardo, a strategist at Natixis Asset Management, thought it was hard to see how the supporters of a soft Brexit could unite to exert power, saying new elections would be needed for a soft Brexit majority to gain control.

(Additional reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia Regondi and Hari Kishan Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

          White House denounces media obsession over Russia, defends Trump's tweets   
The White House has once again gone on the offensive, condemning the media for constant coverage of the Russia probe, while defending President Donald Trump's recent tweets against MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. At Thursday's White House press briefing, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited a study conducted by the conservative Media Research Center (MRC), which found that the media has spent more than half of their total coverage on Trump dealing with the Russian probe. For their study, MRC looked at all 364 evening news stories in the five weeks since former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed to oversee the Russia probe. MRC found that out of the 640 minutes that the media covered Trump, 353 minutes was devoted to the Russia investigation and sacked FBI director James Comey. "That's the numbers guys, the numbers don't lie. The media's focus on priorities, they don't line up with the rest of America," Huckabee Sanders said.
          Comment on Moderates by forwhatimustwrite   
I'd say in order for moderates to effectively compete in the political arena, they'd have to do a handful of things. 1) set up a moderate political union. 2) host a moderate political convention, and 3) work to set up a moderate political party and host a convention every election year like the Republican and Democratic Party does. You see the conservatives have both a political union and political convention but the liberals do not and that's one of the many reasons the conservatives have been so successful at defeating the conservatives. The liberals really are weak and they've done nothing to stand up against the conservatives. If use moderates could stand up to both the liberals and conservatives then we could all really succeed in the political arena.
          Comment on An Open Letter to Moderates by Ron P   
Dave, "If Trump can manage to pull growth off the 2% peg its has been on for 2 decades – republicans will do well in 2018. If he can not then republicans should not do well." First, I think this administration is showing that the President does not have much influence in Washington when the party is not aligned with the presidents agenda. And I suspect that future GOP presidents will have the same problem as Trump given the fact the Democrats are of two mind sets, liberal and socialist, while the GOP is a multi headed monster where they are unable to come to "compromises" within the party to get anything done. Where the Democrats are all aligned like ducks crossing the street, the GOP is like a group of chickens scattering every which way possible when anything comes up. (Worse than herding cats!) As for your comments about economic growth, one thing that is mentioned occasionally, but not by the conservative mouth pieces, since they want growth as their talking points, is the changing demographics in the country. 1. The baby boomers that fired up this economy for decades are aging, they are no longer buying big ticket items, they are downsizing and their money is now going to leisure and healthcare. 2. The housing boom of the 90's will most likely never be seen again like it had been. Why? The cost of new housing. And much of that is due to land cost. Where land could be purchased for a few thousand per acre when housing boomed and houses could be put on postage sized lots, land now cost up to, and sometimes over 6 figures per acre. Then add to it the growing regulations where communities require lots to be of a certain size, and the land alone has added thousands to a cost of housing construction. 3. The millennials, the next largest demographic group are now starting families and they are now finding they have to pay for things themselves. They no longer are living with mommy and find that what she paid for the past few years is really expensive. They also are finding they have to pay off high student debt that resulted in a somewhat do nothing degree so, due to these reasons and some others, they do not have the money for big ticket items. 4. The millennials also do not want to start out small like their parents did in housing. They grew up in large homes with spacious yards and that is what they want. So the small starter homes are not being built, this generation is living in rental property and that also reduces large ticket purchases, like appliances. 5. The growth in the Hispanic population. One of the fastest growing demographics is the Hispanic population. It will take some time for this group to achieve the standard of living that middle class America enjoys for a number of reasons.. They do not have the money to spend on large items, but their money goes to basic needs. 6. And my last comment, the changing job markets. Over the long run, it is estimated that 40% of all jobs by 2050 (just 30 years from now) will be gone and taken over by robots. Cabbies, Uber drivers, truck drivers, railroad employees, restaurant workers, most warehouse workers and most all manufacturing left in America will be done by robots. This leaves healthcare and service workers, like plumbers, electricians, etc as the major employers in America. (They say technology will drive jobs, but I believe all of those will be overseas and not in America). So as we move toward this 40% reduction which is happening now, people will experience a down turn in income also impacting economic growth. I think 1-2% is the new normal.
          [Jonathan H. Adler] Do liberal judges have a problem applying Chevron? (Or are conservative agencies bad at following statutory directions?)   
The Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch helped propel a largely academic debate over judicial deference to agency interpretations of law to the fore. Under the Chevron doctrine, agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory language are to be upheld, provided that the agency interpretations are themselves reasonable. Although Chevron deference is not always available, when it can be invoked […]
          It's Coming...   
Today we are hosting a graduation party for Firstborn. It's going to be simple and country, just like her. We stopped along a construction site to snag a pallet, and now she's fixing it up for a picture display. Sweet Cheeks is out collecting wildflowers, but not the ones that make Papa sneeze. We are all working together to make this party fun, but to keep in mind the purpose. The purpose is not to look like Pinterest. It's to honor her and thank those who have invested in her life. I am overwhelmed at gratitude towards the Lord. At a time when we are sorely missing aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents, our friends here are stepping in to fill the roles. They are bringing food to help me with this Sunday picnic theme.  There's no Hobby Lobby or catering service here. What they are doing for me is tremendously helpful. They are texting, "Wouldn't miss it..." It's helped to ease the blow of an overseas graduation so much.

This has been such a strange mix of bittersweet joy. There's overwhelming joy (This is why we educated her! Well done! Good grades, college decided, future is bright!) and sadness, as she will be not only graduating, but moving her to her passport country for the first time in her life, far away from us.

One of my tasks this week was to gather pictures for the event. I will readily admit it was the hardest part so far. So many memories. Singapore. Turkey. USA summers. They told me it would fly, but how can you really understand until it happens to you?

And so we face the next 10 days. Sunday we party. Wednesday she leaves on her senior trip (to Rhodes, Greece!). On the 13th she graduates.

Here is a little sampling of my memories right now.

1st year picture, and the only professional picture I ever had made of her. She became fascinated with her tongue that week. All the pictures reflect it. And I love that. 

4 days old. We had just checked out of Gleneagles Hospital and walked across the street to the US Embassy in Singapore (most expensive one ever built) to get her "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" (We became the experts of these after 5 of them. And yes, she can be the President. She'd make a good one. But she might not get elected. She's too conservative for our crazy nation.) 

Summers. USA. Cousins. 

And the sports pictures. I used to arrive early to every game. I knew it wouldn't last forever; I wanted every second I could take. Now I understand why my dad would sometimes even come to my practices. I didn't understand that back in the 1980's. 

She's been posting about what's coming. She gets it. Whenever I run to the grocery store down the street, she hops in the car. We are taking everything we can get. 

I slipped out to the bathroom before the piano concert this week. There were the graduation gowns, pressed and ready to go. 

Here's my beautiful soon-to-be graduate. She used to be what some might call "strong willed," but by God's grace, He has turned that into strong conviction. As much as I will miss her, I can say with full confidence that I'm not worried about her. She is in His hands and has given her heart to the Lord. I love you, ME! 

And just to make you's me blogging this. Ha ha! We will survive! 

          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
Conservative groups unleash on Senate Republicans over repeal billPolitico
What exactly does Trump want from this health care bill?CNN
GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch networkLos Angeles Times
ABC News -Breitbart News -HuffPost -ThinkProgress
all 158 news articles »

          Jacob Rees-Mogg sent from 1923 to save Conservative Party   
JACOB Rees-Mogg was sent from the year 1923 to stop the Conservatives from being destroyed, it has emerged.
          Inside Mae Beavers: A Parody Arises   
Your PeskyFly was considering a soft-core parody of Tennessee's puritanical, porn-busting gubernatorial candidate Sen. Mae Beavers. The premise: Me and May would destroy millions of innocent young lives with passionate acts of slippery abandon. Awesome so far, right? Catch was, I couldn't come up with the right title. Should it be Around the World with Mae Beavers? 69 Things I Know About Mae Beavers? Strangers in a Strange Beaver? Butt Slammers Vol. 4? So many choices, none of them quite right.

Like they say, when you snooze you lose. While I was dithering, some industrious person was busy crafting a Mae Beavers parody that's so much better than anything I might have come up with because, presumably, this call's coming from inside "the House."

The entire text, typos and all, as originally shared by the Nashville Scene.

How to be The Ultraconservative Candidate
Nothing is more important when running for office in Tennessee than getting the conservative vote – and it is the ultraconservative who will probably win the election. So how can you appear to be the ultraconservative candidate?

Preeminence: Make yourself the preeminent conservative in the state. Remember, it is a competition, and by passive aggressively one-upping all other politicians, you can appear to be really nice but in reality, you are crushing the reputations and political futures of potential opponents. Which is good to do because self-centered, attention-grabbing is a useful skill to ensure your future political success.

Secure your superiority through negative contrasting; unnecessarily make comparisons that negatively contrast other elected officials with you. This will present you in the most positive light. Should an official try to claim that they are conservative, what they are really doing is claiming to be more conservative than you. Put an end to this by calling them a RINO, and inferring that they secretly support an income tax.

The key to being the preeminent conservative is control. Control is the glue that holds conservatives who lack critical thinking skills together. It is also a passive aggressive technique you can use against other Republicans; it is really the best way to ensure that you receive the constant attention and admiration from the public that you deserve.

Remember, being in office for 25 years doesn’t mean you are an establishment politician as long as you always call other conservatives who have been in office for a shorter amount of time than you establishment politicians. This helps you assert your dominance in the lives of everyone around you, and dominance helps to improve your life. If anyone doubts you, simply recite your impossible dogmatic standards or your rabid deep-seated feelings of victimization.

Public Speeches: Supplying detail in your public speeches is bad, and may cause you to have to answer actual questions; so speak in vague generalities and platitudes at all times. People will read between the lines and respond with total adoration and obedience. If political insecurities necessitate wild claims about ISIS infiltration or constituents – sweep the room for mics first.

Be sure to call all other Republicans RINOs, that way these officials will learn that they have done something wrong, and because you should be speaking in vague generalities, people will just assume you are the only real conservative without any way to actually measure. They will also believe that all other legislators are simply RINOs at the core of their being.

Further, each time you make negative accusations about the legislature, it is encouragement for them to be more conservative.

Statesmanship: Emphasizing your own statesmanship through snarky comments has the added benefit of shaming other legislators – communicating your own statesmanship through misdirected shame is a direct way to communicate that you are preeminent, and don’t forget – they deserve it.

Legislation: Be legislatively savvy. File bills that appear so conservative that they are actually unconstitutional. Then issue a press release that takes advantage of the blind support of people who don’t know the difference. Insist on running these bills in committee; when the Attorney General opines that the bill is constitutionally suspect this is your big chance to issue a second press release that labels the AG and your Republican colleagues as RINOs – which makes you appear to be the only real conservative in the legislature.

Paint your record as something completely different than what it is. Your oath to uphold the Constitution should never get in the way of your own narcissistic desire for preeminence. Only a true freedom fighter would file an unconstitutional bill, and your refusal to fix your bill by making it constitutional can easily be justified by a plain folks’ appeal that encompasses name calling and proper over simplification of the actual legal issues.

Never let anyone else’s conservative efforts be good enough for you. Remember, if another legislator asks for your support for their ultraconservative idea, they’re not trying to be friendly, they are trying to overthrow your tyrannical reign of control and dominance. You can’t let that happen. You’ll want to play the trump card of filing a nearly identical bill, except, make it a little more outrageous. Then issue a press release containing a directly indirect passive aggressive message that the first legislator has stolen your work. This clearly puts you back in the driver’s seat.

This technique works for dead ultraconservative bills too. If another legislator’s ultraconservative measure died because it came smack dab up against legal realities, you can steal that bill next year and announce to the world that because that legislator was such a RINO and pathetically decided not to get the job done, you will justly assume your natural position of conservative preeminence. When you come up against the same issues as the prior legislator, you can thoroughly enjoy the renewed sense of purpose that floods into your life while you sit on top of your moral high ground calling the committee members who can’t vote for your unconstitutional bill RINO's.

Budget: Take advantage of the fact that the state budget is so large that no one can possibly know off hand all that it contains. This fact alone creates a lot of suspicion and skepticism among ultraconservatives. In this way, year after year, you can receive statewide attention for being the lone conservative vote against the budget. When media ask why you voted no, supply a simplistic platitude, “There is too much pork in that budget”, an explanation so simple that even a democrat can understand. Pork works because people identify pork with fat, and fat makes people think of indulgence and waste.

Supreme Court: Ignoring Supreme Court cases that have already been decided is another good way to lock down your support from a statewide ultraconservative base while at the same time unmistakably signal your disrespect for the judiciary.

Security: You are entitled to your feelings of needing special treatment, and requiring security makes you appear important enough to protect. But what if no one has actually threatened your life? No problem – your paranoia can assist you in just making something up. Also, by pleading, a wealthy conservative businessman is likely to pay for you to have the constant presence of security whenever you are out in public – this has the added benefit of making you look really important and worthy of protection.

Look the Part: Drive a conservative vehicle. It may be tempting to develop a Lexus nexus with other candidates but that’s really sketchy and y’all in Tennessee … a pickup truck is your best bet.

The Constitution: If you’ve gotten this far, understanding constitutional facts isn’t necessary for you so don’t spend any time on this subject. You’ll want to spend most of your time creating new unconstitutional bills that appear ultraconservative but in reality, will rigidly control people’s lives or help them to realize that they are going to spend eternity in hell.
Since being an ultraconservative is a political philosophy that doesn’t have an actual platform or rule book, you don’t need to know what constitutes an ultraconservative and neither does anybody else. This also means that you have zero knowledge of what may or may not be constitutional in your ultraconservative sense. But don’t worry about that, to fill this small little loop-hole, you only need to publicly preach with conviction that any views you hold are truly ultraconservative, and if anyone else who may actually know something about the constitution raises the specter that you are incorrect, it will be crystal clear that they are actually a RINO and you can call them out on that fact.

These suggestions are a really good start towards your goal of ultraconservative preeminence. Good luck with your political future. 


          Conservative Lawmakers Ask Congressional Leadership to Cancel August Recess   

One conservative lawmaker is leading the charge in the House of Representatives to ask congressional leadership to cancel lawmakers’ August recess in order to give... Read More

The post Conservative Lawmakers Ask Congressional Leadership to Cancel August Recess appeared first on The Daily Signal.

          Grading Neil Gorsuch After 2 Months on the Court   

Justice Neil Gorsuch closed out his first two months on the Supreme Court this week, leaving conservatives cautiously optimistic about the future direction of the... Read More

The post Grading Neil Gorsuch After 2 Months on the Court appeared first on The Daily Signal.

          Trump Signals Support for Repealing Obamacare Now, Then Replacing It Later   

President Donald Trump and conservative senators are embracing a new tactic in their quest to undo the damage of Obamacare: repeal it now, then replace... Read More

The post Trump Signals Support for Repealing Obamacare Now, Then Replacing It Later appeared first on The Daily Signal.

          Defender of Religious Freedom Sues Nonprofit Tracker GuideStar Over ‘Hate Group’ Labels   

A conservative organization dedicated to upholding religious liberty has sued the leading tracker of U.S. nonprofits for publicly listing it as a “hate group.” “It... Read More

The post Defender of Religious Freedom Sues Nonprofit Tracker GuideStar Over ‘Hate Group’ Labels appeared first on The Daily Signal.

          CN AB: Pot Clock Is Ticking As Legalization Looms   
Edmonton Sun, 26 Jun 2017 - Alberta opposition wrestles with intricacies of legal marijuana Alberta's conservative opposition parties are concerned about the tight time-frame for cannabis legalization. NDP Finance Minister Joe Ceci said last week that despite major decisions needing to be made, Alberta will be ready with a regulatory regime and won't ask Ottawa for an extension to its planned July 1, 2018, date for legal cannabis to be implemented.
          Sagittarius Woman Bereft After BreakUp   
Sagittarius Woman Bereft After BreakUp

Dear Elsa, I broke up with my boyfriend a month ago. He is 37 and I’m 26; I come from a conservative family in India, and he is Canadian. We went out for 5 months and it broke my heart … Read More...

Continue reading Sagittarius Woman Bereft After BreakUp at ElsaElsa.

          Powerful synthetic opioid poses risk to first responders   
A powerful synthetic opiate created to sedate elephants has been increasingly found across the country and can be dangerous not only to those taking the drugs, but to anyone who comes in contact with it, including police officers and...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          On Independence Day, Celebrate Property Rights—the Foundation of the Pursuit of Happiness   
Jonathan Wood, Editors note: This piece was coauthored by Anastasia Boden. This Fourth of July, many of us will gather with friends and family around the barbecue to celebrate our country and the freedoms it was founded upon. It is a day...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          Masterpiece Cakeshop Is Fighting for the First Amendment, Not Against Gay Marriage   
David Harsanyi, This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, the man who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012. Yet the stories that...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          Beautiful For a Patriot’s Dream   
Suzanne Fields, As we approach the first Fourth of July in the time of President Trump, a holiday Americans also call Independence Day, it’s hard to find much independent thinking. Polarized rages and rants follow red and blue...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          Here’s a List of Everyone & Everything Hillary Has Blamed for Her Loss   
Hillary Clinton has put forth a formidable list of culprits for why she lost the 2016 presidential election. The Fox News Research team totaled up the excuses and found a whopping 24 items! At an appearance yesterday, Clinton continued to...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          Socialist Power Couple Under Investigation   
Matthew Vadum, When leftists lawyer up. Feeling the prospective sting of accountability that socialist grifters rarely experience in their natural lives, Sen. Bernie Sanders is lashing out at those accusing his wife of an alleged financial...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          The Myth of “a System of White Supremacy”   
Jack Kerwick, Disproving the Big Lie. Last week, Johnny Eric Williams, a professor of sociology at Trinity College, gained national notoriety.     Williams, who is black, posted some racially incendiary remarks on his...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          A Socialized Medicine Death Sentence: The tragic ordeal of Charlie Gard   
Lloyd Billingsley, The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Chris Gard and Connie Yates of the United Kingdom, whose 10-month-old child Charlie Gard will be “allowed to die,” a decision supposedly “in his own...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          The Cost of Waiting to Drain the Swamp Is High   
Ed Feulner, “Drain the swamp!” It was the battle cry of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Many Republican members of Congress echoed that call as well, riding it to victory — and control of both legislative...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          Beware The Motives Of ‘Progressive’ Companies Acting Altruistically   
Jonah Goldberg, Let me just say this at the outset: Mildred Dresselhaus, who died in February at the age of 86, was an amazing woman. An accomplished physicist who won just about every scientific award short of the Nobel Prize, Dresselhaus...

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          CNN Tries To Move Forward After Its Latest Humiliation   
Kurt Schlichter, “Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary beings who refuse to be forced into one or more specific genders,” began CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, employing the network’s prescribed group salutation....

Summary Only: Visit for Full Story!

          An America First Korea Policy   
Pat Buchanan, “The North Korean regime is causing tremendous problems and is something that has to be dealt with, and probably dealt with rapidly.” So President Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden this week. But how this is...

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          Women Fighting the Good Fight... the Bolshevik-Tards, Here They Come   
Late night big ole yowls,dearest and summer-dancing KitKats ... so, most of the news-info below is from a week or so past ... time flies way too fast, and this Big Cat just can't keep up at all.






June 27, 2017

Stunning 1967 Dissertation Warns Infiltration of Rothschild Luciferians in US Government 2

Between 1967 and 1968 Myron Fagan recorded three LP records: The Illuminati and the Council on Foreign Relations.  The dissertations document the activities of the house of Rothschild were  produced byAnthony J. Hilder – an American activist, author, film maker, talk show host, broadcaster and former actor.
This stunning recording from 1967 speaks to the very problems we face today, including Fake News, government corruption, the Corrupt United Nations and infiltration of a Luciferian Rothschild cult who may have gained irreversible control of the US government.





"Stop liberal violence!" Journalist screams

A conservative journalist interrupted the Trump assassination play in Central Park, N.Y., on Friday, only two days after the politically-motivated shooting of Republican lawmakers.
Laura Loomer of Rebel Media was arrested after rushing the stage, yelling that the production promoted violence against President Trump and his supporters.
The play, which is sponsored by Time Warner and the New York Times, features a Trump-lookalike who is violently assassinated in the same manner as Julius Caesar.



Breaking: Whistleblower Says Deep State in Control of State Department : Ongoing Child-Trafficking Cover-Up at St. Dept.

Did you know that at the State Department they have an exorbitantly paid employee, of Middle East background, who is in charge of the sex-trafficking brochures for the State Department? Did you know that same person refuses to cover this issue as domestic issue? This plays right into the hands of the Deep State cover-up of their child-sex-trafficking practices at the highest levels of government? This is tantamount to overtly supporting and covering up child-sex-trafficking and the State Department is the willing accomplice. Did you also know that the State Department has 3 men, led by Deep State minion and close Obama ally, Larry Palmer, who controls all information coming in and out of the State Department and they control the FOIA’s for the State Department as well.
State Department employee, Monika Wesolowski, has been unduly harassed and has had her life threatened for trying to expose traitors and overt practices of treason and sedition by State Department employees who are aligned with the Deep State motives and objectives. The following is an interview I conducted with Monika followed by objective, hard proof of the claims made by this whistleblower.
Unlike a lot of sources,this interview names the names of the guilty.

Monika “Begs” for Protection and Nobody From the State Department Will Help

Monika has begged for protection from the death threats, violent attacks and constant harassment. As recently as last Tuesday, June 13, 2017, Monika took the issue to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s aides. As of the date of this publication, she has not heard back on this critical issue. I want to put the State Department on notice, you do not wait 5 days to investigate these kinds of allegations when someone’s life is in danger. This is an example of intentional/unintentional depraved indifference to the safety of of State Department employee, Monika Wesolowski (see the email communications at the bottom of the page).
Previously, on The Common Sense Show,  I documented, with pictures, government vehicles that have stalked and harassed Monika. The Fairfax, VA. police have told Monika that it is not safer to go home and they cannot protect her.
More recently, Monika has had animals poisoned to death. She, herself, has had to be treated for poisoning, some of which was uranium related. When I recently tried to interview Monika by Skype, ourcommunications were blocked for hours. Simultaneously, our cell phone communications were blocked as well. Here home has been invaded when she is not home. She was boxed in by two Muslim men, at the carwash, and stayed near until she called the police. This woman is the Deep State posterchild for political and personal harassment. In the following emails, please note the reference to CHILD-SEX-TRAFFICKING. I further want it to be known that Liz Crokin discovered a connection between the Virginia Shooter baseball practice shooter and child-sex-trafficking and that the primary shooting victim, Rep. Scalise had just sponsored a child-sex-trafficking bill eight days prior to being shot. This is no coincidence, the Deep State strikes again.
Monika has backed out of previous interviews because she is in fear of her life. I have convinced her that if you are going to be on the list, you better be on top of the list. Because I know the fate of Breitbart and Hastings, I have shared this information with other journalistic outlets who are going to cover this case and we are going to turn up the heat significantly.
I want to remind everyone, that in several earlier publications, I have tapped into two unnamed sources, one from the FBI and one from the State Department and was told that there is a Deep State purge underway. Monika confirms the assertion as her office is “like a morgue, people have either left or people have cleared out their desks and are awaiting their departure”.

Crickets Chirping

After numerous instances of being harassed and attacked, she reached out to Secretary Tillerson’s office, but to no avail. Here are the unanswered communications:
From: Wesolowski, Monika
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 1:39 PM
To: Peterlin, Margaret JA
Cc: Kenna, Lisa D
Subject: RE: Personal and Confidential
Ms. Peterlin and Ms. Kenna,
The issue goes back deeper into 2013 and child trafficking. I have not seen my eight year old son in a year . I worry for his safety and mine. It is imperative I speak to you in person, I will not speak to anyone outside of Mr. Tillerson’s close administration for fear for my life and that of my son’s. Thank you for speaking to me on the phone. I have been wanting to send this email for several months but afraid to.
Monika A. Wesolowski
Visual Information Specialist
United States Department of State
Global Publishing Solutions (A/GIS/GPS)
Phone: 202-xxx-xxxx voicemail
Phone: 202-xxx-xxxx direct

From: Wesolowski, Monika
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 12:50 PM
To: Peterlin, Margaret JA
Cc: Kenna, Lisa D
Subject: Personal and Confidential
Importance: High
Dear Ms. Peterlin,
I proudly attended Secretary of State Tillerson’s swearing in ceremony and have faith that he will be successful at the State Department. I would like to arrange a meeting with your office with the Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson. It is imperative I speak to Mr. Tillerson. I do not feel safe at my office or at home, I have been under constant attack. I have had things happen to my family, myself, and in the office that I cannot talk about in email. I feel my life and health, as well as that of my family and those close to me, is in danger because of where I work and the people I work with, and their connections. I do not know who to trust and cannot trust Diplomatic Security here at DOS, my coworkers or upper management, especially not Ambassador Palmer, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Information Services. I was informed by my HR that Ambassador Palmer pushed for the Hatch Act for my having a photograph and items of President Trump in my cubicle after the election. The situation at work has been hostile and I have been harassed. Please let me know if you could speak with me or arrange a meeting with the Secretary. Please expect a call regarding this email just to verify.
Thank you kindly,
Monika A. Wesolowski
Visual Information Specialist
United States Department of State
Global Publishing Solutions (A/GIS/GPS)
Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx voicemail
Phone: 202-xxx-xxxx direct


 I believe Monika’s best protection is the light of day. On that note, I would ask that all forward this article to your contact list. Secondly, if Tillerson’s office will not respond to this grave situation, then I would ask that everyone send this article to President Trump AND Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Finally, we need to keep the heat on this issue.




Neil deGrasse Tyson now pushing Monsanto propaganda alongside wife abuser and convicted felon
Mike Adams
Why am I not surprised? Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has become a mouthpiece for the GMO and chemical agricultural industries that poison the global food supply, is narrating a new documentary called "Food Evolution."
The film pushes the same pro-GMO propaganda as a violent wife abuser who used to write for Forbes. Another fake science front group -- the ACSH -- appears in the film and is run by a convincted medical fraud FELON who spent years in prison (and now runs biotech propaganda campaigns for a living).
Neil deGrasse Tyson has become a shameful betrayor of humanity and nature and an insult to real science.





          Washington Speaks with Imam Musa Muslim Abuwi , Tafsir   
7-8 pm The African American Community needs to have this conversation now. Imam Musa’s new book will be a very good starting point, as we prepare to confront the conservative tide in the political arena. Although Booker T. Washington was a conservative in many ways, at the heart of his agenda was human compassion. As a child he hauled buckets of water to his fellow slaves to save them from falling out beneath the scorching sun from heat exhaustion. He had to anticipate their need for water and deliver it to them quickly, as he later anticipated the need of our people for a God-conscious educational program that would lift us up as a people and give us economic equality and global respect. Imam Musa is Booker T Washington Senior Great-grandson 8-9 pm Tafsir of imam muhammmad
          Hard Starboard Radio: Alex Jones Conquers The Martians   
NASA child labor and marrow camps are from Mars...or ARE they?; San Francisco awarding $190,000 to illegal immigrant after reporting him to authorities; Dear Mr. President: Get over yourself and get to work; Trump should stop lying on his phone and keep lying to my face; Erik Erickson plays Trump's shoulder angel; Trumpgelicals owe America an apology; The lowering of the ‘Presidential’ bar and how moral relativism became ‘conservative’; but weep not for Joe and Mika, for they, along with the rest of the media, brought Trump's tweet-arrhea on themselves.
          Republican Congressman Says He Shouldn’t Pay For Maternity Leave Because He Has An X Chromosome   

Republican representative Pete Olsen recently told a conservative radio show that he shouldn’t be required to foot the bill for prenatal care and maternity leave for American women (as the Affordable Care Act does) because he and other men have X Chromosomes. And you thought Donald Trump was the worst sexist in D.C. Ring of

The post Republican Congressman Says He Shouldn’t Pay For Maternity Leave Because He Has An X Chromosome appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.

          You Will Be Free…To Watch Dad Die… – Mike Malloy Show   

Conservatives were demanding that states be aloud to dump the ACA prohibition on insurance companies charging sick people more for coverage. Radio talk show host Mike Malloy gives his take. Read the full story here: Obamacare replacement lacks support from GOP

The post You Will Be Free…To Watch Dad Die… – Mike Malloy Show appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.

          Giant rubber duck makes a splash in Toronto   

The duck has landed.

But not everybody is happy about the six-storey tall rubber duck, weighing over 13 tonnes, that arrived in the harbour Friday morning to kick off a weekend of Canada Day celebrations and the Redpath Waterfront Festival.

The duck, which is said to be the world’s largest and which cost the province $120,000 to rent from July until August, has been the subject of controversy since its participation in the festivities was announced this spring.

Many have taken issue with the expensive price tag, and the fact that it’s not related to anything Canadian.

“As the PC Critic for Tourism, Culture, and Sport, I am not against people enjoying Canada Day festivals and festivities, but what I object to is the government funding a giant rubber duck that has no connection to Ontario or Canada 150,” wrote Conservative MPP Rick Nicholls in a statement Friday.

Christine Van Geyn, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, agreed, and said that spending so much money on a tourist attraction was useless because people would come to the harbourfront anyway.

“They don’t expect the government to spend so much money to draw people to a festival they would have come to anyway,” said Van Geyn.

Steph Braun, a passerby who came to see the duck, said she really enjoyed it.

“I like it, I think its fun and it makes people happy. I guess some people don’t like how much the government spent on it but I think they’re uptight,” Braun said.

Victoria Syme, a co-producer of the Redpath Waterfront Festival, said the organization had actually considered a giant inflatable loon, but dropped the idea after realizing that it would have cost far more money to build and then store.

“We thought we needed something on the water to make a big spectacle. It (the duck) brings tourism, it’s known globally, it’s great with kids and adults,” she said.

The Redpath Waterfront Festival rented the duck for the summer from its co-owners, Craig Samborksi and Ryan Whaley.

“The duck has given us a lot of attention for people who might not have known about the festival,” Syme said. “People can enjoy the duck, not only the duck but the other programming that we have, and maybe it will bring them back in years to come.”

Whaley said the duck was a hit in other places around the world and that the goal was to bring people together and help them enjoy Toronto’s harbour.

“It’s really about bringing smiles and about bringing people together, bringing attention to the waterfront, which is a beautiful backdrop,” said Whaley.

Regarding the design dispute with Studio Florentijn Hofman, which alleged that the giant duck is a counterfeit of the Dutch artist’s work, Whaley said the design for the duck is open and available online.

“You can buy it on the internet,” Whaley said. “But this is the world’s largest.”

Stephanie Saagi, jogged by and took a look.

“It’s such a huge waste of taxpayer money,” Saagi said. “Why is it a duck, why not a beaver?”

The duck, which was inflated over the course of about two and a half hours in the Port Lands Friday morning, will stay in Toronto until Monday afternoon before being deflated and quacking on to Owen Sound, Sault Ste. Marie, Midland, Amherstburg, finishing in Brockville on Aug. 13.

          The first Cassini to explore Saturn was a person    

Space probe preparing to crash into ringed planet was named for an astronomical pioneer


TWO CASSINIS  The Cassini spacecraft has become famous for its stunning views of Saturn, including this image of the unlit side of the rings taken in 2012. But what do we know about the man Cassini was named for?

As the Cassini spacecraft plunges toward its death on Saturn, the world’s knowledge of the famous ringed planet continues to accumulate. Thanks to years of observations by the versatile probe, astronomers now know Saturn as intimately as macaroni knows cheese. But still hardly anyone outside the world of astronomy knows anything about Cassini — and I don’t mean the spacecraft, but the guy it was named for.

Gian Domenico Cassini was an Italian astronomer, born in Perinaldo in 1625, around the time that Galileo was battling the church over Copernicus’ revelation that the Earth orbits the sun. Cassini was attracted to poetry but was also good at math. He got his start in science via astrology, which back then was not considered quite as completely idiotic as it is today. In fact, astronomy itself was often supported by wealthy people in order to get better astrological forecasts. One such wealthy Italian, an amateur astronomer, was impressed with a pamphlet on astrology that Cassini had written; it earned him an invitation to work at the amateur’s observatory, near Bologna.

From the leading scientists at Bologna, Cassini learned the importance of using high-quality instruments to make the most precise measurements possible. His talents were soon recognized; by 1650 Cassini’s accomplishments and reputation earned him the chair in astronomy at the university in Bologna. He continued his research during the 1650s, taking a particular interest in comets.

Cassini was an old-school conservative kind of scientist, not even inclined to take Galileo’s side on the Earth-orbiting-the-sun issue. Cassini preferred Tycho Brahe’s position that the other planets orbited the sun, but the sun then orbited the Earth. (Later Cassini accepted the Copernican sun-centered solar system, but only half-heartedly.) Cassini also was no fan of Newton’s law of gravity.

Cassini’s work as an eminent Italian scientist was not limited to astronomy. Called on to referee a political dispute over the course of a river, he mastered hydraulics. Later he spent some time studying insects and experimenting on blood transfusions. None of that was as fun as astronomy, though, so he returned to the stars often. In addition to comets, he specialized in the sun and especially solar eclipses. Some of his best work resulted from the use of a meridian — a large sundial-like device for recording solar movements — that he designed and had installed on the top of a church steeple.

Cassini was also clever enough to know the value of cultivating useful friendships. In particular, he was on good terms with some skillful Roman lens makers who provided him with especially powerful telescopes. With such instruments Cassini was able to calculate the rotation rates of Jupiter and Mars accurately. (He gave Venus a shot, but it was harder.)

Even more impressively, Cassini accomplished a goal that had eluded Galileo by accurately describing the motions of the moons of Jupiter. It was Cassini’s work on Jupiter’s moons that allowed the Danish astronomer Olaus Rømer to measure the speed of light, establishing that light did not transit space instantaneously, as many (including Cassini) had believed.

Even before Rømer’s results, Cassini’s accomplishments made him famous enough to get offered a job in Paris. That job was actually a prime position with the new French Academy of Sciences, whose founders recruited savants from all over Europe to enhance the new academy’s prestige. So in 1669 Cassini moved to Paris. He didn’t fit in all that well; his French was sketchy and his authoritarian approach to things in general ticked some people off. But he eventually managed to develop a world-class astronomical observation program. He became a French citizen in 1673 and married the daughter of a French official wealthy enough to offer as part of the dowry a nice castle for a summer home. Cassini then forgot about his original plan to return to Italy and spent the rest of his life in France.

Story continues after image

Had his astronomical achievements ended with his departure from Italy, Cassini would have been an odd choice for the name of a spacecraft sent to study Saturn. But besides his administrative role at the French academy’s observatory, Cassini continued his own studies. And, having mastered Jupiter, he naturally moved on to Saturn. In 1671 he discovered Saturn’s moon Iapetus and found another, Rhea, the next year. Much later he detected the moons Tethys and Dione. He also thoroughly examined the disk around Saturn and discerned that it was not just one ring. He identified two prominent rings separated by a small gap — the thin black band between the two is now known as Cassini’s division. Cassini even guessed, more or less correctly, that the rings are made of small particles all orbiting Saturn in concert.

And so Cassini knew Saturn as intimately as anyone from his era, establishing sufficient Saturnian credentials to earn the honor of having a space probe named for him. Cassini the probe has now seen Saturn much more clearly than Cassini the man. But soon Cassini the probe will die and go blind; Cassini the man first went blind, two years before he died, in 1712.

Follow me on Twitter: @tom_siegfried

          Appalachian Trail Trailaversary!   
Ten years ago today, I finished my through-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Since then, more than 7000 people have also finished their through-hikes of the AT. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy maintains that the completion rate has been consistently between 20% and 30%, so we can conservatively estimate that at least 35,000 people have attempted the […]
          One Teacher's Take on the Candidate's Forum....   
Random thoughts on last night's [Oct 23, 2008] forum for the candidates for San Joaquin Delta Board of Trustees...first, PIPELINE, its members, and the faculty (Jeanne-Marie Velickovic and Peggy Scully) who organized the club are to be congratulated on their stellar efforts. It is important to personalize the Nov. 4 election, and the many students in the audience last night received a lesson that could not have been taught in the classroom.

I was impressed that 10 of the 13 candidates were present and acquitted themselves in a professional manner. I would have been doubly impressed if all of our current Board of Trustees were present. The forum was well-moderated by Record editor Kevin Parrish, and the questions developed by the panel covered the bond, student services, fiduciary responsibility and administrative oversight. There were also questions taken from audience members, who were given index cards with their program and even a second or third card if needed. (There were no questions about improving "education" or "teaching." On numerous occasions the faculty was cited as exemplary.)

I felt like I'd won the lottery when my question was the first from the audience put to the candidates. I wrote (and I am paraphrasing): For years, there has been fearful discussion on campus that the administration was "after" the money raised at the flea market by the Associated Student Body Government. What would you do, if elected, to prevent that from happening?

Now, for anyone who feels this fear is unjustified, look no further than the conservative George Will, who on today's Record opinion page begins his column with: "Washington is having a Willie Sutton moment. Such moments occur when government, finding its revenue insufficient for its agenda, glimpses some money it does not control and would like to."

Trustee McCreary answered the question by referring to the current, contested expenditure approval process. Delta clubs and the administration have started down the slippery slope of who gets to determine how clubs spend their monies. "Approval" implies control simply because it can be withheld. And more questions have arisen than have been answered.

For the most part, candidates addressed the questions put to them. There were, however, several instances, where candidates only addressed a portion of the question or deflected the question with an answer of their own. In addition, I wish all the candidates had taken a cue from the presidential debates and written the questions down as they were being put. This would have saved time repeating the questions, and we could have asked more questions and leaned more about the candidates.

While some may equate outspokenness to viability, there is room for error in this approach. Jennet Stebbins was frequently flustered by the buzzer that indicated the 60 second time limit, and audience members may have discounted some of her answers due to performance rather than content. This morning, in English 1D: Critical Thinking, PIPELINE treasurer Antoni Tomas, who was also on the panel last night, recapped the event for his classmates, citing this question (and I paraphrase): Should there be a health care center on campus?

Trustee Bugarin wandered into health care insurance. Businessman James Grunsky said do the numbers, check the feasibility. Stebbens said partner with local health care agencies. Tomas liked her response. He said (and I quote): "She nailed it."

Two candidates stood out in their area of expertise. It was obvious from Mary Ann Cox's response on Middle College High School that her insider knowledge and institutional "memory" would be an asset on the board. From their facial expressions, most of the other candidates did not know about the program. In addition, Steve Castellanos made it apparent that his expertise in architecture from blueprints to ribbon cutting would really help the college through its growing pains.

This crude review of the evening is in no way an endorsement of any candidate, nor is it complete by any measure. I did not take notes and agreed to write up these remarks with the understanding that others could also contribute thoughts on the evening's content in order to be fair to all the candidates. I am making no attempt here to be "fair."

That said, Motecuzoma Sanchez's brazen alacrity is refreshing. In his final statement, he turned to his rivals for the Area 2 seat and pegged David Rishwain as the developer's choice and inferred that Mary Ann Cox represented the status quo. The man has guts. I personally like someone who will say what people are thinking, refusing to be silent out of phony politeness or, even worse, fear of reprisal.

All good things,
Paula Sheil
          Andrew Cuomo Refuses Federal Data Request Related To Trump's "Voter Fraud Myth"   

Shortly after moving into the White House, President Trump promised a "major investigation into VOTER FRAUD" and vowed that any evidence of wrongdoing would be used to strengthen voting procedures.  The following tweets undoubtedly 'triggered' millions of liberals across the country as visions of 'racist' voter ID laws danced in their heads.


Then, just last month, that "major investigation" came in the form of an Executive Order entitled: "Presidential Executive Order on the Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity."  The Commission was to be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and it's mission was defined as follows:

The Commission shall, consistent with applicable law, study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections.  The Commission shall be solely advisory and shall submit a report to the President that identifies the following:


(a)  those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance the American people's confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections;


(b)  those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that undermine the American people's confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections; and


(c)  those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.


And, since no one would possibly argue in favor of more voter fraud rather than less, you might assume this particular Executive Order enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support across the country...of course, you could think that, but you would be incredibly wrong.

Enter New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Apparently Mr. Cuomo is so certain that voter fraud is nothing more than a right-wing "myth" that's he unwilling to even comply with a data request to make sure.  We're sure he's just trying to save Vice President Pence from wasting his time.


Of course, Cuomo's position is somewhat curious in light of the fact that New York City's own Commissioner of the Board of Elections, Alan Schulkin (Democrat), was caught on a secret video by Project Veritas openly admitting that "there is a lot of voter fraud."  At one point, Schulkin even admits that campaign officials bus minorities from "poll site to poll site" so they can vote multiple times.

“He gave out ID cards, de Blasio. That’s in lieu of a driver’s license, but you can use it for anything.  But they didn’t vet people to see who they really are. Anybody can go in there and say, ‘I am Joe Smith, I want an ID card."


"It’s absurd. There is a lot of fraud. Not just voter fraud, all kinds of fraud . . . This is why I get more conservative as I get older.”


“Voters? Yeah, they should ask for your ID. I think there is a lot of voter fraud.  You know, I don’t think it’s too much to ask somebody to show some kind of an ID . . . You go into a building, you have to show them your ID."


“They bus people around to vote . . . They put them in a bus and go poll site to poll site.”  Asked which neighborhoods, Schulkin said, “I don’t want to say.”  When the undercover mentions black and Hispanic neighborhoods, Schulkin responded, “Yeah . . . and Chinese, too.”


Alas, we assume that video is also just a 'myth'...

Of course, New York wasn't the only snowflake state to opt out of Trump's voter fraud data request. Apparently California is also quite confident that all of their illegal immigrants are voting legally...or something like that.


As The Hill notes, a total of 5 states have refused to turn over any voter data whatsoever while another 9 have said they'll only hand over publicly available data.

As of Friday afternoon, officials in New York, California, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Virginia had said they would not turn over any of their voter data to the voter fraud commission.


Other officials in Connecticut, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont, Utah, North Carolina, Indiana and Iowa said they would only turn over public information on voter rolls, but wouldn't share private information.


Wisconsin announced it would turn over public information but would charge the commission $12,500 to buy the voter roll data.

Of course, at the end of the day, you only really need to examine a couple of critical swing states to get a sense for how rampant voter fraud might be.  And, since we don't see Florida or Ohio on the lists above, we very much look forward to the data from those two states.


Britain’s Deepening Confusión

Robert Skidelsky
. theresa may

LONDON – “Enough is enough,” proclaimed British Prime Minister Theresa May after the terrorist attack on London Bridge. Now, it is clear, almost half of those who voted in the United Kingdom’s general election on June 8 have had enough of May, whose Conservative majority was wiped out at the polls, producing a hung parliament (with no majority for any party).

Whether it is “enough immigrants” or “enough austerity,” Britain’s voters certainly have had enough of a lot.
But the election has left Britain confusingly split. Last year’s Brexit referendum on European Union membership suggested a Leave-Remain divide, with the Brexiteers narrowly ahead. This year’s general election superimposed on this a more traditional left-right split, with a resurgent Labour Party capitalizing on voter discontent with Conservative budget cuts.
To see the resulting political terrain, imagine a two-by-two table, with the four quadrants occupied by Remainers and Budget Cutters; Remainers and Economic Expansionists; Brexiteers and Budget Cutters; and Brexiteers and Economic Expansionists. The four quadrants don’t add up to coherent halves, so it’s not possible to make out what voters thought they were voting for.
But it is possible to make out what voters were rejecting. There are two certain casualties. The first is austerity, which even the Conservatives have signaled they will abandon. Cutting public spending to balance the budget was based on the wrong theory and has failed in practice. The most telling indicator was the inability of George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2010 to 2016, to achieve any of his budget targets. The deficit was to have vanished by 2015, then by 2017, then by 2020-2021. Now, no government will commit to any date at all.
The targets were based on the idea that a “credible” deficit-reduction program would create sufficient business confidence to overcome the depressing effects on activity of the cuts themselves. Some say the targets were never credible enough. The truth is that they never could be: the deficit cannot come down unless the economy grows, and budget cuts, real and anticipated, hinder growth. The consensus now is that austerity delayed recovery for almost three years, depressing real earnings and leaving key public services like local government, health care, and education palpably damaged.
So expect the ridiculous obsession with balancing the budget to be scrapped. From now on, the deficit will be left to adjust to the state of the economy.
The second casualty is unrestricted immigration from the EU. The Brexiteers’ demand to “control our borders” was directed against the uncontrolled influx of economic migrants from Eastern Europe. This demand will have to be met in some way.
Migration within Europe was negligible when the EU was mainly West European. This changed when the EU began incorporating the low-wage ex-communist countries. The ensuing migration eased labor shortages in host countries like the UK and Germany, and increased the earnings of the migrants themselves. But such benefits do not apply to unrestricted migration.
Studies by Harvard University’s George J. Borjas and others suggest that net immigration lowers the wages of competing domestic labor. Borjas’s most famous study shows the depressive impact of “Marielitos” – Cubans who immigrated en masse to Miami in 1980 – on domestic working-class wages.
These fears have long underpinned sovereign states’ insistence on the right to control immigration. The case for control is strengthened when host countries have a labor surplus, as has been true of much of Western Europe since the crisis of 2008. Support for Brexit is essentially a demand for the restoration of sovereignty over the UK’s borders.
The crux of the issue is political legitimacy. Until modern times, markets were largely local, and heavily protected against outsiders, even from neighboring towns. National markets were achieved only with the advent of modern states. But the completely unrestricted movement of goods, capital, and labor within sovereign states became possible only when two conditions were met: the growth of national identity and the emergence of national authorities able to provide security in the face of adversity.
The European Union fulfills neither condition. Its peoples are citizens of their nation-states first. And the contract between citizens and states on which national economies depend cannot be reproduced at the European level, because there is no European state with which to conclude the deal. The EU’s insistence on free movement of labor as a condition of membership of a non-state is premature, at best. It will need to be qualified, not just as part of the UK’s Brexit deal, but for the whole of the EU.
So how will the shambolic results of the British general election play out? May will not last long as Prime Minister. Osborne has called her a “dead woman walking” (of course without acknowledging that his austerity policies helped to seal her demise).
The most sensible outcome is currently a political non-starter: a Conservative-Labour coalition government, with (say) Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn as his deputy.

The government would adopt a two-year program consisting of only two items: the conclusion of a “soft” Brexit deal with the EU and a big public investment program in housing, infrastructure, and green energy.
The rationale for the investment program is that a rising tide will lift all boats. And an added benefit of a thriving economy will be lower hostility to immigration, making it easier for Britain to negotiate sensible regulation of migrant flows.
And who knows: if the negotiations force the EU to re-cast its own commitment to free labor movement, Brexit may turn out to be a matter less of British exit than of an overhaul of the terms of European membership.

          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage after Merkel U-turn   
BERLIN (AP) -- German lawmakers voted Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, a move widely supported across the country that brings Germany in line with many of its Western peers. Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure, but paved the way for its passage by allowing members of her conservative party to vote according to their conscience....
          Facebook Hits Back At Conservative Christians Who Want To Add A Cross Button   
It won't be happening anytime soon.
          For The Cardinal-Prefect, "My Day in Court"   
For all the spectacles the Vatican tends to witness, this one was simply surreal.

At the same dais where the Pope's major documents are unveiled and the global press briefed on Catholicism's showcase events – on what's usually one of the most joyous feasts of the year – today the Curia's third-ranking cardinal addressed his new fate as the church's most senior figure by far to face criminal charges of sexual abuse:

To understand the full import of Cardinal George Pell's return to Australia to appear in court and "clear my name," there's more to it than his current profile as the founding Secretary for the Economy, initially entrusted by Pope Francis with sweeping powers over finances and personnel across the Holy See's sprawling apparatus.

Indeed, what makes the 76 year-old prelate's quick move to go home for an 18 July initial hearing so significant is that Pell has not returned to his homeland since departing in early 2014 to take up his Vatican post – neither for the late 2014 installation of his hand-picked successor in Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, nor for what became a four day summons to testify before the national inquiry on religious institutions' handling of child abuse, obtained by video link from Rome.

With the scenario of a first-ever court process against a cardinal on sex crimes alleged by "multiple claimants" – the precise nature of which have not been clarified by law enforcement in his native state of Victoria – the Italian media's traditional summer "soap opera" involving the church is now set, albeit some 4,000 miles afield.

Still, despite the inevitable circus that will surround the scrutiny on one of the top rank's most enduring figures – a presence on the global scene over some two decades – for the apex of the Catholic world, it just doesn't get more serious than this.

For starters, even as Pell announced his own "leave" from his Vatican duties – and the Holy See's lead spokesman, Greg Burke, indicated that the cardinal would not "participate in public liturgies" for the duration of the judicial process – the moves amount to a de facto suspension from ministry.

Regardless of whose volition spurred the act, a recusal of the kind is without precedent for a top Curial official. What's more, however, while two decades of revelations of abuse and cover-up have been treated as a political football among the church's ideological camps, Pell is one of the few major prelates whose trajectory and alliances cut across partisan lines.

Long a favorite of the Catholic right for his unapologetic approach to moral teachings, the Oxford-trained onetime fullback – who's long relished his reputation for being a "bull in a china shop" – was initially tapped by then-Pope Benedict XVI to take the helm of the Congregation for Bishops in 2009, a move which would've made the Aussie the first prelate from the English-speaking world to oversee the all-powerful body that recommends candidates for appointments to the pontiff.

In response, what was widely perceived in Rome as a "smear campaign" went into overdrive, raising the specter of a 2002 allegation of abuse against the cardinal which dated to the 1960s. Though Pell had been cleared years earlier by an internal probe chartered by the archdiocese of Sydney, conducted by a retired judge – during which he stood aside as archbishop for several months – the ferocity of opposition to Benedict's plan led the now-retired Pope to scuttle the move before it was formally made. (Along the way, however, Pell's hard-charging style saw him successfully tackle another high-wire Vatican mission: as chair of the Vox Clara committee of senior prelates tasked with managing English liturgical translations, he led the push that brought the group's major project – the long-stymied overhaul of the Roman Missal – to completion and a historic implementation across the Anglophone world in 2011.)

Of course, that wouldn't be the end of the story. Perceived by many as angling for a Roman office from his days as an auxiliary in Melbourne – when, as one Curialist recalled, Pell "was always showing up" at the Vatican – the 2012 outbreak of the Vatileaks fiasco provided the cardinal with an opportunity for payback, and Benedict took him up on it, bringing Pell into an ad hoc group of cardinal-advisers Papa Ratzinger had convened on tackling the crisis.

Months later, the election of Pope Francis would surprisingly bring the Australian's rebound to its zenith – with his profile as a blunt, sharp-elbowed manager (and one seen as wronged by the Vatican's old guard), Pell's temporal acumen landed him a seat on the new pontiff's "Gang of 8" for the reform of the Curia (below), arguably the most surprising choice for the group given his conservative leanings.

Less than a year afterward, Francis would deliver the ultimate call – with the new Pope and his "crown council" determined to clean up the famously murky orbit of the Holy See's finances, Pell was unveiled as the choice to consolidate all control of budgets and investments under one umbrella, a first-ever CFO to replace the small village of separate entities which oversaw various pieces of the books, with varying degrees of success.

To say that the Aussie was ready would be an understatement – Pell's full-time arrival in Rome came shortly after the opening of the Domus Australia, a onetime convent converted into a hostel and event center for pilgrims from Down Under, with an ample living space already created for himself.

To be sure, though, if there was one area that the natives guarded more jealously than appointments, it was the money – and Francis' putting Pell in charge of it was greeted as something of an apocalyptic event. Unlike Benedict, however, Papa Bergoglio's Italian stubbornness wouldn't be as easily conquered.

At least, that's how it seemed at the start. While Francis has stood by his man – re-confirming the cardinal's position after he reached the retirement age of 75 last year – the Curia's penchant for bureaucratic turf-war has challenged Pell's mandate at practically every turn and made significant inroads against the new bureau's initial remit, most prominently in last year's move to suspend a first-ever external audit of all Vatican entities, which had been ordered by the Secretariat.

At the same time, the financial reform hit another major speed-bump last week as Libero Milone – the freshly empowered auditor-general hired by Pell's team – suddenly resigned from the post as reports on the move spoke of an unspecified "ugly situation" that could "get worse."

Amid the fallout from Milone's surprise departure, the Council for the Economy – the mixed group of  15 top prelates and lay experts to which Pell's Secretariat reports – had already summoned its members to an extraordinary meeting set for early July in Rome to discuss the way forward. With the new development of the charges against the cardinal-prefect – and no clarity yet on the leadership of the Economy office in the wake of Pell's leave for the court case – any long-term resolutions just became considerably more difficult.

Back in Australia, meanwhile, the indictment has come as a fresh firestorm for a church already struggling under a cloud of abuse developments. With the cardinal's polarizing shadow ever looming large despite years of absence from the scene, the nation's hierarchy has spent 2017 bracing for what's widely expected to be a damning report from the national inquiry on sex-abuse in religious institutions, which is due by the end of its mandate in mid-December.

Beyond the wide attention – and equal heaping of scorn – that Pell's 2016 testimony to the Royal Commission drew, the Australian archbishops were likewise deposed at length by the panel last February. And in another moment of major impact, a rising star of the Aussie bench – Vietnamese-born Franciscan Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta – revealed to the probe that he had been a victim of abuse by a cleric.

All the while, another major shoe from Rome is likely soon to drop: the Pope's appointment of the next archbishop of Melbourne – already a critical move given the city's place as the continent's largest local church, yet now even more of a "hot seat" as the venue for Pell's state trial on the charges.

In a letter released after the charges were filed, Sydney's Fisher – himself a civil lawyer – warned his clergy and people that his predecessor's return to face justice "will be unsettling for many of us."

While defending Pell as "a man of integrity in his dealings with others... a thoroughly decent man," the archbishop emphasized that "we must now allow the impartial pursuit of justice," adding that the church "is not responsible" for the cardinal's legal costs and won't be footing them.

Keeping with Australian conventions for the accused, a recent biography which levied a new allegation of abuse by Pell has been pulled from sale in Victoria pending the trial. On another context note, the southern coastal state does not allow cameras in its courts, so the impending hearings will not be filmed nor televised.

          Safe Is The Word For Trump's FCC, Thankfully   

The newly constituted FCC is conservative and deregulatory, but in a way you would expect had any of the establishment Republicans won the White House last November. When Trump won, I worried that he would stack the FCC with nut-job loyalists so that he could follow through with his threats against the media. Luckily, that didn't happen.

Jenabu is from a conservative village in Guinea Bissau, but she doesn't let old-fashioned ideas stop her from pursuing an education. Girls like her all around the world that they have potential beyond traditional household work and we're here for them all the way! Photo by @amivitale | @rippleeffectimages #photography #GuineaBissau #Guinea #travel #education #womenandgirls #eyes #humans
          Germany legalises same-sex marriage in snap vote after Angela Merkel opens door   

Germany's parliament has voted to legalise same-sex marriage after Chancellor Angela Merkel did an about-face that freed members of her conservative party to vote their "conscience" rather than follow party lines.
          How bad are Trump's judges? A Little Rock native illustrates   
We've written before about Little Rock native John Bush, the Louisville lawyer nominated by Donald Trump for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He comes Federalist Society-certified, which is bad enough, but his record as an opinion further illustrates his lack of fitness for the bench, particularly when it comes to a demonstrated animus toward gay people and women's abortion rights. He also professed a lack of knowledge or awareness of any divisiveness spawned by Brown v. Board of Education. Yes, a Little Rock native knew of no fallout from the seminal desegregation ruling that ultimately brought federal troops to the city of his birth.

An article in his hometown Louisville Courier-Journal, where his wife, also a lawyer, contributes a similar right-winged opinion column, illustrates just how bad Bush is. And he's little different from many others Trump has nominated. Even some Republican senators have been taken aback by Bush, but apparently have been brought into line by Republican leadership to approve. They believe him today when he says he really didn't mean all the ugly things he's written. Lying then or lying now? It's a bad bet for an enforcer of the Constitution.

Bush's strategy now is to duck questions about his blogging.

Trying to save his nomination to a federal appeals court, Louisville attorney John K. Bush has evaded questions about blog posts in which he equated abortion with slavery as America’s greatest tragedies, denounced gay marriage and embraced other conservative views.

Responding to written questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about his more than 400 posts on hot-button issues, Bush repeatedly said “my personal views are irrelevant to the position for which I have been nominated.”

He refused to answer questions about commentaries in which he criticized public financing or raised doubts about global warming, saying the questions call "upon me to weigh in on a political debate, which I cannot ethically do as a nominee for judicial office.”

Asked why he joined the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group whose Louisville chapter he co-founded, he said, “I believed that membership ... would help me learn about interesting legal topics that I might not otherwise encounter in my practice.”
He is not alone. Trump has turned his appointments over to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. With Supreme Court appointee Neal Gorsuch already forming a block with Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, the future is not bright.

          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch networkLos Angeles Times
Repealing Obamacare with no replacement could be a 'recipe for disaster'ABC News
Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace laterReuters
Politico -Breitbart News -BuzzFeed News
all 182 news articles »

In my last blog post I demonstrated using Gazelle to write a quick Tampermonkey script. That example necessitated an aside about the nature of operators in Gazelle. I'd like to say a bit more about that in this post and introduce a small Gazelle featurette.

Second Class Citizens

Freedom for Operators!

Most languages do something which I consider quite odd: they take a set of operations and, rather than providing them to the user as functions, with all the associated first class benefits thereof, they furnish them as mere operators. In Javascript, these benighted second-class citizens count among themselves:
+ - / * ^ % < > <= >=
And others. These operators support infix syntax, the benefits of which I believe, in accord with Lispers everywhere, are overrated, but this post is not about infix expressions. It is about the peculiar and unnecessary distinction between operators and functions. That is, in Javascript, we are unable to say something as reasonable as:
reduce(+, [1,2,3,4])
Even though nothing about the nature of + dictates that this ought to be verboden. On the contrary, given an array and a + function, this is about the most reasonable thing you could want to do with them. Why this state of affairs persists in modern programming languages I will not presently speculate.

Operators in Gazelle

The unusual status of these functions in Javascript poses a problem for Gazelle, which tries to graft a Lisp-like language onto it. In all Lisps I know of, the operations listed above are exposed to the user as plain functions, so that one can write:
(reduce + (list 1 2 3 4))
For instance. Ultimately, I feel that in day to day programming its indispensable to have basic operations be functions. Parenscript, which is otherwise a great piece of software, lets you write:
(+ 1 2 3 4)
which lulls you into a false sense of security pertaining to the nature of +, but produce code which results in an error if you write:
(apply #'+ (list 1 2 3 4))
Because + is not a function. Gazelle takes a somewhat more conservative approach. Without loading any other code, there is no + operation and you cannot write even (+ 1 2).
What you can do is refer to the underlying Javascript operator using the notation Gazelle uses for Javascript primitives, eg: _+. One can write:
(_+ 1 2)
But cannot write (_+ 1 2 3 4). Why not? Because the idea of the primitive operations is to expose, as closely as possible, the behavior of the underlying Javascript. The Javascript + operator is a binary operator, and so the Gazelle _+ operator is also one.

Getting Operator Functions in Gazelle

Because of the way that Gazelle works, you can write operator functions pretty easily, but it is a bit confusing as to what is going on, so lets go through it. Suppose we want a function denoted by + in Gazelle, which is like a Lisp + function. Here is how we might write it:
(define (+)
     (_if (_=== 0 (.. arguments length))
          ((_throw "Plus requires at least one argument.")))
     (var total [arguments 0])
     (for ((var i 1) (_< i (.. arguments length)) (set! i (_+ i 1)))
          (set! total (_+ total [arguments i])))
Where this is almost pure Javascript. This renders into the following:

    var plus = function ()  {
      if ((0===(arguments.length)))    {
        throw ("Plus requires at least one argument.");
      var total = arguments[0];
      for (var i = 1;(i<(arguments.length));i = (i+1))    {
        total = (total+(arguments[i]));
      return (total);

Note that at the level of Javascript, the function we just defined is called plus, not +. And note that all the references to _+ in the body have been transcoded to + in Javascript. If we refer to + in Gazelle, we refer to plus in Javascript, and if we refer to _+ in Gazelle, we refer to + in Javascript. Hence, we can go about our business using + in Gazelle and everything works.

A Systematic Solution

In 'idiomatic' Gazelle, which, since I am the world's only Gazelle programmer, means however I program, one is supposed to use modules, and one of the most important modules is the operator-functions module, which defines all the common operators as functions and/or macros. One writes:
(require (("hooves/operator-functions" :all))
  (+ 1 2 3))
To use all of the definitions in the module.
Sometimes, as in the Tampermonkey code, we cannot easily use the module system, because we want to write standalone scripts. In that case you can either get by with simply using the primitive operations or you can now say:
at the top of the file, which is a "built-in" macro (defined in proper.el) that expands to definitions of all the common operators. This is a reasonable solution if you need to write a standalone script or otherwise don't like the module system. Feel free to implement your own solutions. That is what Lisp is all about.
          Shadchen-el introduction and defpattern tutorial   

Lately I've been working on an Emacs Lisp library I'm pretty proud of, Shadchen. It implements extensible pattern matching, somewhat like Racket's Match facility for Emacs Lisp. In this tutorial/introduction I'll explain how to use Shadchen's various facilities and, most importantly, how to extend Shadchen itself with new patterns, which is an interesting subject in and of itself, combining compile time and run-time execution in interesting ways. If you already know about pattern matching, feel free to jump to the end, where I talk about writing non-trivial patterns using Shadchen's defpattern.

The Problem Shadchen Solves

Shadchen solves several problems you may not know you may have. In one sentence, Shadchen lets you concisely express both destructuring and type checking for complex data structures. It can be thought of as combining the features of cond, case and assert into one nice package. My experience is that this collection of features helps me write better code, since it encourages me to dilineate exactly the kind of data a function or form expects before doing anything with it.

Shadchen is also conservative - unless you provide a pattern that matches the input data, it will fail with a match error, so you know something is wrong before something strange happens.

For instance, suppose we were writing an interpreter for Lisp. It might look like:

(defun eval (form env)
 (cond form 
  ((symbolp form) (eval-symbol form env))
  ((listp form)
   (case (car form)
    (if (handle-if (cadr form)
                   (caddr form)
                   (caddr form) env)) 
    (let (handle-let 
          (cadr form)
          (cdddr form)))

Note that we have both a cond and a case here, and that after we test our data, we destructure it. Here is a similar piece of code using Shadchen:

(defun eval (form env)
 (match form 
  ((p #'symbolp s) (eval-symbol s env))
  ((list) nil)
  ((list 'if pred true-branch false-branch)
   (handle-if pred true-branch false-branch env))
  ((list-rest 'let (list-rest pairs) body)
   (handle-let pairs body env))

(Notes: the pattern p passes when the predicate as its second argument is true on the match value, and then matches against the third argument. So (p #'symbolp s) matches only when form is a symbol and then binds s to that symbol. list matches when the input is a list and each pattern in the the list pattern matches each corresponding element in the list. list-rest is similar but any leftover parts of the list are matched against the final pattern.)

This code is more concise, and yet it is also much more explicit, both in that it provides better naming for values and it provides more explicit error checking. For instance, this version will only match if with three expressions, where as the previous evaluator would have been fine with the expression (if a b c d e f). This version also asserts explicitly that the binding part of the let needs to be a list. With a custom pattern we could also ensure it was a list of symbol/expression pairs in almost the same space.

It takes all kinds, but I found that once I got used to programming with pattern matching, it was hard to go back.

Other Rad Features of Shadchen


Shadchen wants to let you program in a functional style. To that end, in addition to the regular pattern matching form match, it also provides some other, nice features. Many algorithms involve examining some intermediate data, checking its structure somehow, and then recursively processing the next step. Shadchen allows this kind of thing with the Scheme-flavored match-let form.

The form match-let can be used exactly like let:

  ((x 10)
   (y 11))
 (+ x y))

But in each "binding" pair, the symbol may be replaced with any Shadchen pattern. Eg:

 ((x 10)
  (y 11)
  ((list q r s) (list 1 2 3)))
 (+ x y q r s))

Will give you 27. If any pattern fails, the form produces a match fail error, which means you can use match-let as a let form with tidy type checking.

Finally, a match-let form allows tail recursion. Invoking recur in a tail position inside the form causes the match-let to be re-entered without growing the stack. For instance:

 (((list x y) (list 0 0)))
  (if (< (+ x y) 10000)
      (recur (list (+ x 1) (+ x y)))
      (list x y)))

Results in (141 9870) and can't blow the stack. It is an error to invoke recur in a non-tail position, but because of limitations in Emacs Lisp, it is difficult to enforce this statically.


The form defun-match lets you write functions which pattern match on their arguments and split their calculations across multiple bodies, in a bit like the style of Shen or Haskell.

For instance, suppose we have an animal simulator, where each animal is represented by a list, the first element of which is a symbol representing the animal name. We can say:

(defun-match- vocalize ((list-rest 'cat properties))
  "Cat vocalization."
  (message "Meow"))

(defun-match vocalize ((list-rest 'dog properties))
  "Dog vocalization."
  (message "Woof"))


(vocalize '(cat :name tess))
(vocalize '(dog :name bowzer))

Functions defined with defun-match can also use recur to re-enter themselves without growing the stack. Consider a function which causes a list of animals to vocalize:

(defun-match- vocalize-list (nil) nil)
(defun-match vocalize-list ((cons animal animals))
  (vocalize animal)
  (recur animals))

recur can dispatch to any of the bodies defined for the function and it doesn't grow the stack. It must be invoked from tail position, though non-tail calls can be affected by simply calling the function.

(N.B. defun-match- with that dangling minus sign causes previous bodies to be expunged before defining the indicated body.)

Extending Shadchen with defpattern

Shadchen is an extensible pattern matching facility. We can define new patterns much in the way we define new functions, although patterns are more like macros than functions. Let's look at a simple example, and then I'll guide you through a more complex example I just added to the library using the defpattern.

A quirk of Common and Emacs Lisp is that (car nil) is nil even though nil is not a cons cell, and so does not have a car or a cdr. I hate this behavior, because its quite evident that (cons nil some-list) is different from nil, but car can't tell that - the user has to do more inspection to find this out. Bugs waiting to happen, let me tell you.

However, I'm nothing if not accommodating, and so the cons pattern in Shadchen will, in fact, match against nil. So:

(match nil 
 ((cons a b) (list a b)))

Will be '(nil nil). Let's define a pattern which is like cons, but only matches against actual cons cells, into which category nil fails to fall.

(defpattern strict-cons (car cdr)
 `(p #'consp (cons ,car ,cdr)))

A defpattern body must evaluate to a legal shadchen pattern. Each argument to the defpattern is also a shadchen pattern. So this pattern reads "define a new pattern strict-cons, which first checks that the match value is a cons cell using the p pattern, and then matches the car and cdr of that cons cell against the patterns car and cdr.".

During the expansion of a shadchen pattern matching form, user defined patterns are looked up and their expansions are inserted into the macro expansion. In short, defpattern allows you to define new patterns in terms of old patterns.

This might seem very restrictive, but Shadchen provides primitive patterns that allow you to write arbitrarily complex pattern matchers that can perform rich computations on their way to rejecting or accepting a match.

Implementing concat, a non-trivial pattern

I just used defpattern to implement a pretty complex pattern, concat and it was something of a learning experience. Writing complex patterns definitely takes some thought and practice, but hopefully this tutorial will bootstrap users to a point where their own patterns can be implemented without too much pain.

What is so complicated about a concat pattern? Well, we want concat to match the concatenation of patterns which match strings. Eg:

(concat "dog" "cat")

Should match "dogcat". Writing a pattern that has this behavior is easy:

(defpattern concat (&rest strings)
 (reduce #'concat strings))

This pattern can't match subpatterns that are anything other than strings, however. We'd really like to be able to match, for instance:

(concat (and (or "dog" "cat") which) "dog")

against either "dogdog" or "catdog", binding which to whatever the initial string contents actually are. How can we do this?

Nailing down concat's semantics.

We want concat to function this way:

If the initial pattern is not a string, then try matching that pattern against larger and larger substrings until either you run out of string to match against, or you match. If you match, then match, again using concat with the unused patterns, against whatever is left of the string after you've removed the part that matched. Repeat until all patterns are exhausted and then make sure the string has been completely consumed too.

If the initial pattern is a string, then just cleave off the same length of characters from the input, and if they match, recursively match the rest. Here is the entry point:

(defpattern concat (&rest patterns)
   ((length=0 patterns)
   ((length=1 patterns)
    `(? #'stringp ,(car patterns)))
     ((stringp (car patterns))
      `(simple-concat ,@patterns))
      `(full-concat 0 ,@patterns))))))

The :otherwise has all the meat, but we defer it to to other helper-patterns; simple-concat and full-concat. Simple concat looks like this:

(defpattern simple-concat (&rest patterns)
   ((length=0 patterns)
   ((length=1 patterns)
    `(? #'stringp ,(car patterns)))
    (let* ((the-string (car patterns))
           (static-len (length the-string)))
        (p #'stringp)
        (p (lambda (s)
             (>= (length s) ,static-len)))
         (lambda (s)
           (string= (substring s 0 ,static-len) ,the-string)))
        (funcall (lambda (s)
                   (substring s ,static-len))
                 (concat ,@(cdr patterns))))))))

Look at the backquoted expression. It is an and pattern, which only succeeds if all the patterns beneath it also succeed. These patterns are (p #'stringp), which asserts that the input is a string, (p (lambda (s) (string= (substring s 0 ,static-len) ,the-string))) which asserts that the input is at least long enough to contain the string we want to match against. The next form asserts that the substring of the input equal to the pattern string in length is equal to the pattern. If this is true, then the pattern matches, and we use the funcall pattern to match against the rest of the string with the leftover patterns.

The funcall pattern takes the input to the match, applies a function to it, and then matches the output of that function application to the pattern provided as its third slot.

full-concat is more complex. Note that when we invoke full-concat we provide it an numerical first argument. This number tells the pattern how far into the string to match we've looked, so it starts at zero. After all the first pattern could match the empty string. full-concat looks like this2:

(defpattern full-concat (pivot &rest patterns)
  (assert (numberp pivot)
          "Pivot should be a number.")
   ((length=0 patterns)
   ((length=1 patterns)
    `(? #'stringp ,(car patterns)))
      (p (lambda (s)
           (>= (length s) ,pivot)))
       (and (funcall
             (lambda (s)
               (substring s 0 ,pivot))
             ,(car patterns))
             (lambda (s)
               (substring s ,pivot))
             (concat ,@(cdr patterns))))
       (full-concat ,(+ pivot 1) ,@patterns))))))

Here we use and again. We first check that the input string is long enough to grab the substring indicated by pivot. If this isn't true, the match fails. We then use the or pattern to indicate a branch. Either of the or patterns might succeed, but the first to do so is the only one that will happen. The first pattern to or uses funcall to peel off the substring of the input from 0 to pivot. If the initial pattern matches, then we use funcall again to get the rest of the string, and invoke concat again.

If this match fails, then we invoke full-concat again, but increment the pivot by one, indicating that we want to check against a larger substring.

If this is confusing, and it is understandible if it is, remember the following: when writing defpatterns, or is used for flow control, and is used to assert multiple things about the input, p is used to assert individual arbitrary conditions on the input, and funcall is used to transform the input for further matching. Recursive pattern expansion is used for iteration 1.

And feel free to contact me with questions, if they come up.

1 It is a lot like writing prolog, actually. Pattern matching is a significant distance from lisp to prolog.

2 After writing this I realized we can do better. If we get a match for the initial pattern, and then check the rest of the patterns, its possible they will fail because the initial match didn't consume enough of the string. It is simple to say, "if the subsequent match fails, keep increasing the pivot and trying again." I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out how to represent this trivial backtrackingish thing - but you can always check the source for the solution.

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But it wasn't as bad as it could've been at the Capitol.

Arkansas's legislators were locked and loaded when they arrived for the 91st General Assembly this year, determined to get more guns into public places and take away voting and abortion rights, their evergreen attacks.

Thanks to the legislature, concealed weapons soon may be carried just about everywhere except Razorback games and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Unemployment benefits were cut, whistleblowers were silenced and charter schools were given advantages over regular public schools. Other legislation was symbolic but ugly, such as an act authored by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) that aims to stop Sharia, or Islamic ecclesiastical law, from taking over Arkansas's court system.

Some of the silliest bills went nowhere, such as efforts by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) to wipe Bill and Hillary Clinton's names off the Little Rock airport, to indefinitely delay implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program and to call a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Anti-immigrant legislation that would have penalized colleges and cities with so-called "sanctuary" policies withered in committee. Rep. Smith, the sponsor of the bill targeting universities, warned that rogue professors might hide undocumented immigrants in their offices and then dump their human waste on campus in the dark of night; surprisingly, this argument did not persuade his colleagues. Rep. Kim Hendren (R-Gravette) proposed banning cell phones from public schools; later, he filed a bill prohibiting teachers from using books authored by leftist historian Howard Zinn. Neither gained traction.

What was good? A little. Conservatives tried to circumscribe the medical marijuana amendment with bans on smoking and edible products, among other roadblocks, but the worst of the anti-pot legislation stalled. Evidently reassured by Governor Hutchinson's promises to make the private option more conservative (read: stingier) down the line, the annual appropriation for Medicaid passed without a major fight — a relief for the 300,000-plus Arkansans receiving health insurance through Obamacare. Pushed by Hutchinson, the ledge directed some of Arkansas's tobacco settlement proceeds to expand a waiver program for the developmentally disabled, opening the door to services for some 500 to 900 desperate families stranded for years on a waitlist. At long last, the state will stop its reprehensible practice of celebrating Robert E. Lee's birthday simultaneously with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a symbolic but important step forward that was championed by the governor.

Here's our survey of the damage:

In Glock we trust

The biggest gun-related news this session was the passage and signing of House Bill 1249, now Act 562, which creates a new "enhanced carry" permit that will allow gun owners who have undergone eight hours of additional training — including active shooter training, with a curriculum still to be worked out by the Arkansas State Police — to carry a concealed handgun in many places previously forbidden under the state's concealed carry law, including the state Capitol, public colleges and universities, bars, churches and courthouses. Concealed carry in prisons, courtrooms and K-12 schools is still forbidden, and private property owners, including bars, churches and private colleges, can still prohibit firearms if they choose.

Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville), the bill was a far piece from where it started by the time it was signed. Originally, Collins' bill would have solely mandated that public universities and colleges allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns. It was an attempt to push back against the state's public colleges and universities, which have steadfastly rejected Collins' and his colleagues' attempts to institute "campus carry" in the past. Amendments to HB 1249 soon pushed it several clicks further toward the broad "guns everywhere" approach favored by the National Rifle Association, and far beyond a potential shooting iron in a well-trained professor's briefcase. Now, anyone with the enhanced permit will be able to carry on a college campus, including into sometimes-contentious student and faculty disciplinary hearings and raucous college dorms.

The passage of the bill spawned some last minute scrambling when the Southeastern Conference expressed concerns about fans coming to college football games carrying heat, resulting in Act 859, a cleanup effort that prohibits concealed carry in college athletic venues. Also exempted by Act 859 were daycares, UAMS and the Arkansas State Hospital, an inpatient facility for the mentally ill. The bill also allows private businesses and organizations to ban concealed carry without posting a sign to that effect. If a private business decides to ban concealed carry without posting a sign, anyone caught carrying a concealed weapon on the premises can be ejected or told to remove their gun if they want to come back. If the concealed carrier repeats the infraction, they can be charged with a crime. Even after the purported cleanup, that still leaves a lot of places open to concealed carry unless those places set a policy forbidding the practice, including most hospitals, mental health facilities and off-campus high school and middle school sporting events. At the signing ceremony for HB 1249, Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said, "We believe that if you have a legal right to be somewhere, and you're a law-abiding person, you ought to have a legal right to defend yourself." For the NRA, that means the right to be armed everywhere, any time, as long as you don't have a criminal record. Notice Cox didn't say anything about pesky permits or training.

Speaking of law-abiding persons, also of concern when it comes to concealed carry is Act 486. Under the law, the Arkansas State Police is now prohibited from establishing or amending any administrative rule that would revoke or suspend a concealed carry permit unless the holder of the permit was found to be in violation of a criminal offense. While not penalizing a person if they haven't committed a crime sounds like a good idea, the problem is that people can and do go off the rails for a multitude of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with a violation of the criminal code. Before the passage of Act 486, the State Police had broad latitude to revoke or suspend concealed carry permits for a number of reasons, including serious alcohol and drug abuse, dangerous mental illness, or a mental health professional's determination that a permit holder might be a threat to himself, his family or the public. With the passage of Act 486, though, a concealed carry holder who suffers a complete mental breakdown to the point of visual hallucinations can keep on packing right until the moment he or she is admitted at the State Hospital (thanks Act 859!), even if the person's family or a doctor asks the State Police to pull their permit. Ditto with people suffering from substance abuse issues, elderly dementia patients and those who hint they might be capable of suicide or homicide. Under the law, a permit can still be revoked or suspended if the person is caught carrying into a prohibited place like a courtroom or jail, but as seen above, the list of places where handguns are prohibited is dwindling by the year. Otherwise, thanks to Act 486, we just have to wait until that person commits a crime. By then, it's too late.

In the What Could Have Been column, we have HB 1630, by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), which would have created the misdemeanor offense of "negligently allowing access to a firearm by a child" if an owner failed to secure a loaded gun or left it in a place a child could easily access. Though the bill had exemptions for hunting, sport shooting and use of firearms on a farm and had a sliding scale of penalties, with incidents involving the death or serious injury of a child at the top of the list, it went nowhere.


Traditional schools took licks, but the worst was kept at bay.

The single worst education bill passed in 2017 was probably Act 542, sponsored by Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), which requires school districts to sell or lease "unused or underutilized" facilities to competitor charter schools. Charters already had right of first refusal in the event a district decides to sell a building — but after Act 542 goes into effect this summer, a charter can force a district to sell or lease a building, even if the district doesn't want to do so. If a different entity — a nonprofit, say, or a clinic or a business — wants to buy an unoccupied school building instead, that's too bad. Act 542 requires a district to hold on to unused buildings for two years, just in case a charter comes along and wants the facility for itself.

Clark pointed to a situation a few years ago in which the Helena-West Helena School District refused to sell a vacant elementary to KIPP Delta, a charter. But there are good reasons why a district wouldn't want to hand over an asset to a direct competitor: Charter networks tend to weaken districts by bleeding away higher-performing students and public money, and they often enjoy advantages their traditional public school counterparts do not. As some opponents of the bill pointed out, the new law is tantamount to forcing Walmart to sell a store to Target. That's why school superintendents across the state fought the bill and convinced no small number of Republicans to join Democrats in opposing it. In the end, though, it passed the House on a 53-32 vote. Republican legislators also rejected proposals by Democrats Sen. Joyce Elliott and Rep. Clarke Tucker — both from Little Rock, which is seeing unchecked charter growth at the expense of traditional public schools — to impose fairer rules on charters.

Thankfully, the legislature turned down an even worse proposal. HB 1222 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville) proposed a convoluted scheme to divert millions of dollars away from the public coffers (by means of a tax credit to wealthy donors) and toward private schools in the guise of "education savings accounts" to be used for student tuition. A school voucher plan in all but name, the bill would have been devastating to public education. Dotson eventually scaled back the legislation to a pilot program with a four-year sunset, allowing a Senate version of the bill to win passage in that chamber — but many Republicans remain fond of their local school districts, and it narrowly failed in the House.

Meanwhile, legislators expanded an existing voucher program, the Succeed Scholarship. Created in the 2015 session, it uses public tax dollars to pay private school tuition for a limited number of K-12 students with special needs. Parents are required to waive their child's civil rights protections under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In the past, the scholarship was open only to kids with an Individualized Education Program, or IEP; now, foster children living in group homes will also be eligible, thanks to Act 894 by Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton). Act 327 by Rep. Carlton Wing (R-North Little Rock) will allow a nonaccredited private school to participate, as long as the school has applied for accreditation. And, the appropriation for the Succeed Scholarship rose from $800,000 to $1.3 million — an increase of 63 percent — potentially allowing as many as 200 students statewide to participate.

That bump is especially notable alongside the meager 1 percent increase in the state's overall K-12 education budget for the next two years — far less than the 2.5 percent boost recommended by legislative staff tasked with determining what constitutes "adequate" school funding. A bit more money will be directed to teacher pay and special education, and pre-kindergarten will see an overdue $3 million increase, so the money situation could be worse. Still, with state revenue squeezed hard by tax cuts, and private and charter schools knocking at the door, traditional public schools are clearly not the General Assembly's top priority.

On other fronts, school legislation was a mixed bag. Elliott's Act 1059, will limit the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for students in grades K-5 — a much-needed reform — but her bid to end corporal punishment failed in committee. (Rural Arkansas still loves the paddle.) One of the better education bills to pass this session was Elliott's Act 1039 which gives teeth to a 2013 law (also by Elliott) requiring dyslexia screening and intervention. Its reporting requirements and enforcement mechanism hopefully will force districts to deliver better reading interventions to dyslexic students. A major accountability bill developed by the state Education Department, Act 930, will overhaul how schools are monitored by the state, though it's too soon to say how the changes will play out. Act 478 by Rep. Bruce Cozart (R-Hot Springs), will require high school students to pass a civics test before graduating; an attempt by Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) to impose the same requirement on legislators and state agency heads received a cold reception. A bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle), now Act 910, will end September school elections and require them to be held concurrent with the November general or spring primary election date. That could spell trouble for future millage votes.

Finally, there's higher education: "Campus carry" dominated the news, but a major change in funding may be just as consequential. Act 148, which originated with the governor's office, creates a funding formula for colleges and universities that ties state money to metrics like graduation rate. HB 1518, now Act 563, a worthy bill by Rep. James Sturch (R-Batesville) requires the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create an action plan for addressing sexual assault on college campuses.

Benjamin Hardy


Some help for the working poor and lots of punting.

Give modest credit to Governor Hutchinson. In the 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions, Republican legislators pushed a massive cut on taxes on capital gains and reduced the income tax burden on all but the working poor. This session, Hutchinson provided some relief at the lower end of the tax bracket. Hutchinson pushed through a $50 million tax cut, directed at households with a taxable income of less than $21,000. The cut is misleading, though, as it targets taxable income, which is often far less than salary or adjusted gross income. In fact, Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families pointed out that 48 percent of the overall $50 million cut will go to taxpayers in the top 40 percent of earners, while only 5 percent will go to those making less than $18,000 per year.

Establishing a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit, tied to the federal EITC, would have been considerably more beneficial to the lower 40 percent of Arkansas earners, who often have no income tax liability, but pay a large share of their income in sales tax. An EITC would have provided a more substantial boost to the working poor at less cost than Hutchinson's cut. Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) and Sen. Jake Files (R-Fort Smith) were behind the EITC proposal, which historically has bipartisan appeal, but they couldn't get support from Hutchinson or enough other legislators.

Hutchinson also supported legislation that exempted all military retirement pay and survivor benefits from state income taxes. The first $6,000 of military retirement pay had been exempt previously. Since most veterans aren't career soldiers and eligible for a pension, the exemption will leave out many veterans (again, an EITC would have been a better avenue). But few politicians on either side of the aisle were going to stand in the way of helping veterans — even though Hutchinson unconscionably larded the measure with unrelated tax hikes. The legislation offset the eventual $13.4 million cost of the exemption by raising the sales tax on candy and soda. Completely unrelated to veterans' retirement income, the bill provided a $6 million tax cut on soft drink syrup, which it paid for by taxing unemployment benefits and digital downloads. So, veterans with pensions got a bump and corporate interests got significant help, while folks downloading books and movies, as well as people in between jobs, got screwed.

In the "could have been worse" column, more credit for Hutchinson: He held at bay lawmakers from his party such as Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) who wanted to cut $100 million or more in taxes — threatening essential state services in the process — by creating a commission to consider the future of tax policies in the state.

The commission will have to consider two issues the General Assembly punted on. A bill that would have required out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases made by Arkansans stalled in the House, with several Republicans decrying the proposal as a tax increase even though Arkansans already are required to pay the tax by law (few do because it requires self-reporting.) Still, Amazon said it would voluntarily begin collecting sales tax on Arkansas customers beginning in March. Another bill that merely would have referred to voters a proposal to increase the tax on gas to pay for bonds for highway construction failed on similar anti-tax grounds.

Lindsey Millar


Atual reform

Act 423, "The Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety Act," might be the most consequential piece of good legislation the General Assembly passed. It's a sprawling, omnibus law, with three primary components.

Most consequentially, it introduces swift and certain sanctioning, which means parolees and probationers who commit minor violations of the terms of their supervision will be sent for 45 to 90 days to Arkansas Community Correction facilities, where they will receive rehabilitative programming, instead of being sent to prison for significantly longer stints. Arkansas in recent years has had the fastest growing prison population in the country, fueled largely by parole violators returning to prison. Swift and certain sanctioning is expected to free up as many as 1,600 prison beds and save the state as much as $30-$40 million.

The law also seeks to divert people who commit nuisance offenses because they are high on drugs or having a mental health crisis in public from jail or prison. It establishes Crisis Stabilization Units, regional facilities where people in crisis could go to receive treatment for several days. The law mandates the creation of three such units, but $5 million earmarked in the state budget for the operation of the facilities, paired with significant additional federal money the state expects to draw from Medicaid, could allow for several more CSUs to open. The locations of the CSUs have not yet been selected, but Craighead, Pulaski and Sebastian counties are thought to be leading candidates. Finally, Act 423 also requires law enforcement officers to receive crisis intervention training to help them de-escalate interactions with people amid behavioral health episodes.

The law is the product of 18 months of study and presentations by the nonprofit Council of State Governments, which reported to a Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force that bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock) co-chaired. Hutchinson, co-sponsor Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) and CSG say the new law will save the state money, which can be reinvested in effective criminal justice policies. CSG's justice reinvestment program has successfully been implemented in states across the country.

Of course, whether it's successful here will depend on policymakers seeing the reforms through. One potential stumbling block: CSG recommended that the state hire 100 new parole and probation officers to better supervise the nearly 56,000 people on parole and probation. Current supervision officers handle on average 125 cases. Governor Hutchinson's budget didn't provide for funding to hire 100 new officers, though it did make temporary funding to Arkansas Community Correction permanent, which will at least allow the department to retain the 60 officers it had hired since 2015. That's not enough, Sen. Hutchinson (who is the governor's nephew) said. He hopes a future General Assembly will approve additional funding for more officers using some of the savings generated by Act 423.

A perennial stumbling block for any criminal justice reform is the inevitable violator who commits a serious crime. A significant portion of Arkansas's recent prison growth spike came because of punitive parole policies enacted in the wake of the 2013 murder of a teenager in Little Rock by a serial parole violator. It's natural to think that locking up people who commit crimes for long stretches reduces crime, but research shows it's just the opposite, Sen. Hutchinson said.

"I've had the luxury of studying this for years now. It's hard to wrap your brain around sometimes," Hutchinson said. "Longer sentences do not, in fact, result in lower crime rates. The longer [people are] incarcerated, the greater chance of recidivism they have."

Hutchinson chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and many of its members, chief among them Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest), were hostile to the idea of moving away from incarceration in certain situations. King introduced the tough-on-crime Senate Bill 177, which would have required anyone with three stints in prison to serve at least 80 percent of any subsequent sentence. Arkansas already has a two-strikes law: After someone commits a second serious violent or sexual crime, he's required to serve 100 percent of his sentence. So King's measure would have mostly targeted low-level property and drug crimes and at huge cost. According to an impact statement, it would have added 5,499 inmates at a cost of $121 million in 2026. The total 10-year cost to the state would have been $692 million, and that's not including the significant cost of building new prison housing. King let the bill die in the House Judiciary Committee after Governor Hutchinson forcefully spoke out against it.

Three other positive new laws: Act 566, sponsored by the odd couple Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) and Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), has Arkansas opt out of a section in President Clinton's sweeping 1996 welfare reform law that prevents anyone who has been convicted of a felony drug offense from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. Act 1012, from legislation sponsored by Tucker and Hutchinson, allows someone on probation or parole for an offense that did not involve the operation of a motor vehicle who has a suspended drivers license because of unpaid fines or fees to continue to drive to work or school. Act 539, sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain Home) and Rep. Rebecca Petty (R-Springdale), prevents minors from being sentenced to life without parole. Before they become eligible for parole, the new law requires minors sentenced to life terms to serve 20 years for nonhomicide offenses, 25 years for first-degree murder and 30 years for capital murder. Of course, the Parole Board could repeatedly deny parole requests and force someone sentenced to a life term as a minor to spend his life in prison.

The heartbreaker of the session in criminal justice was the failure of Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliott's proposal to require racial impact statements for new criminal justice legislation. The impact statements would have provided research on whether proposed legislation would have a disparate impact on minority groups. Similar bills failed in 2013 and 2015, and this one was substantially amended to merely provide the impact statements as an option, but it died on the House floor. It was another reminder that for many white people, there is no greater insult than suggesting that they or something they do might be racist, even if the bias was unintended. One opponent, Rep. Ballinger, said he did not believe in systemic racism.

Lindsey Millar


Risking women's health

Women and their bodies were subjected to serious new insults this year by Arkansas legislators practicing medicine without a license.

Among the most egregious laws was the so-called "dismemberment abortion" bill, now Act 45, whose chief sponsors were Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley) and Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock). The bill prohibits doctors from performing what doctors believe is the safest method of second trimester abortion: dilation and evacuation. The alternatives would be something akin to a Caesarean section, in which the belly is cut open to remove the fetus, or an induced abortion, which requires the woman to go into labor to expel a fetus killed by an injection of salt water, urea or potassium chloride into the amniotic sac. Those procedures are what doctors call "high morbidity" — meaning they have a high risk of making patients sick.

Dilation and evacuation is recommended by the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Medical Association. The difference between those organizations and the Arkansas legislature is that one group does not believe women should receive the best health care possible.

But Mayberry and Sanders and their co-sponsors think D&E, which uses a vacuum, is tantamount to butchery. But hysterectomy and induction abortions accomplish the same end as a D&E and are far less safe.

There is no exception for incest or rape in the law. And, like previous laws passed by legislators who think their particular religious beliefs give them the right to control women, the law particularly harms women who can't afford to travel to a more broad-minded jurisdiction to exercise a legal right.

Another evil of the law is that it allows a spouse, parent or guardian to bring a civil suit against the abortion provider if the woman has "received or attempted to receive" dilation and evacuation. That means, according to abortion rights activists and Mayberry himself, a husband can stop an abortion. He may have committed rape. A parent may have committed incest. Doesn't matter.

Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) brought us the bill that became Act 733, the so-called "sex-selection abortion ban." Despite the fact that there is zero evidence that Arkansas women are dashing into abortion clinics because they've determined the sex of their fetus and don't like it, the bill has the potential to create an huge burden on the doctor provider.

Say a woman has had prenatal tests to see if her fetus has a genetic disorder. She learns there is a disorder and, by the way, the sex of the fetus. Her doctor must ask if she knows the gender of the fetus. If she answers that she does, the abortion must be delayed, because this new state law requires the doctor to "request the medical records of the pregnant woman relating directly to the entire pregnancy history of the woman." No abortion may be performed until every chart for every pregnancy generated by the woman's ob-gyn (or ob-gyns) and staffs and hospitals, every record generated during every trip to the ER she may have had to make, is supplied and reviewed by the abortion provider. Not only could that take a lot of time and generate a mountain of paperwork — what if the woman already had five children? — but it would also notify, perhaps against the woman's will, her doctors and their staffs that she is seeking to obtain an abortion.

The bill does not state what information in those records would suggest that the woman was hell-bent on not having another boy or girl.

"Why are physicians and the clinic made to be an investigative party into a woman's motives to have an abortion?" asked a spokesman for Little Rock Family Planning, the state's only clinic that offers abortion up to 21 weeks.

Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) and Sen. Scott Flippo (R-Bull Shoals), like Mayberry and Sanders, introduced what's called a model TRAP law (targeted regulation of abortion providers) meant to end abortion by imposing stricter inspection regulations on clinics. The bill allows the state Department of Health to make yearly trips to inspect clinic records and "a representative sample of procedures"; to regulate all aspects of the clinic "without limitation," and to collect an annual fee of $500.

While purporting to be a bill to protect women's health, the new law, Act 383, is designed to let the state shut down a clinic for facilities violations not spelled out in the legislation. It's not clear what violation would close the clinic. Towel on the floor? Out of paper towels? Scoop left in the break room freezer's icemaker?

As it happens, Little Rock Family Planning is inspected frequently, more than the once every year that the law already called for. The health department inspected the clinic four times in 2016, citing such things as discolored ceiling tiles and a chair with rips. The clinic's spokesman said some inspections are instigated by complaints from the anti-abortion protesters that picket outside.

The vague language of Act 383 "has potential for abuse. We don't know if we would be singled out and treated differently, if our license could be suspended for even minor paperwork violations," the spokesman said.

— Leslie Newell Peacock


The public's right to know took one step forward, two steps back.

Arkansas's robust Freedom of Information Act came under assault in 2017 as never before, with legislators proposing at least a dozen new exemptions to the open records law. Thanks to SB 131, now Act 474, by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch), security plans of the State Capitol Police are no longer disclosable to the public; Stubblefield's reasoning was that someone seeking to do violence at the Capitol might request such plans, but the law is written so broadly that virtually any record of the Capitol police could fall under the new exemption. Stubblefield's SB 12 (Act 541) created a similar exemption for schools, including colleges and universities. HB 1236, now Act 531, by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould), prevents the disclosure of a body-cam or dash-cam recording of the death of a law enforcement officer.

Thankfully, though, many anti-FOIA bills failed. The most significant was SB 373, by Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), which proposed exempting attorney-client communications and work product from the FOIA if the client is a public entity. The force behind the bill was the University of Arkansas. The problem with this idea — aside from the fact that attorney-client communications can already be shielded on a case-by-case basis, by order of a judge — is that a public entity could declare almost any record exempt simply by emailing that record to its attorney. Had it passed, this loophole could have swallowed the entire FOIA.

On the bright side, Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) managed to pass HB 1427, now Act 318, to require candidates to file their monthly finance reports electronically, rather than on paper. HB 1010, now Act 616, by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) extends the same requirement to political action committees and other groups. This matters because a searchable electronic database will make it much easier for the public to track contributions made to candidates and PACs, as well as their expenditures.

However, the legislature quashed an effort to shine a light on the darkest regions of campaign finance when it rejected HB 1005, by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock). The bill would have required disclosure of "electioneering" spending, meaning advertisements by independent organizations, nominally unaffiliated with any candidate, that dodge ethics laws by scrupulously avoiding the use of phrasings like "vote for" or "vote against." A growing number of states recognize that such ads — which have proliferated tremendously in recent years and comprise hundreds of millions of dollars in spending nationwide — are de facto campaign commercials and require them to be reported as such. Not Arkansas.

Benjamin Hardy


Threats stalled.

The legislature still shows animus toward people who don't fit its definition of normal, but Arkansans lucked out when three anti-LGBT bills failed. Two so-called "bathroom bills" that targeted transgender children and adults and another that would have let doctors refuse to perform a procedure if it offended their "deeply held beliefs" did not make it into law.

But the legislature also blocked a bill that would have corrected an injustice. SB 580, by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock), would have provided for the automatic listing of both parents' names on the birth certificates of children of married same-sex couples, an important factor in establishing inheritance and other matters. In a marriage between a man and a woman, the names of both parents are listed on a child's birth certificate, even in cases of surrogacy or artificial insemination. Arkansas is the only state that treats children of same-sex parents differently in this regard, seemingly in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling that struck down bans on gay marriage nationwide. Elliott's bill would have fixed the problem, but when SB 580 came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, vice-chair Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) said same-sex parents could make a will if they wanted to ensure their kids get an inheritance.

Besides the children of same-sex couples, Collins-Smith doesn't much like transgender people, either. She introduced SB 774 to require that people had to use public bathroom or changing facilities that corresponded with the sex as listed on their birth certificates, and that the governing body of the public entity had to make sure the law was enforced. Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau director Gretchen Hall and Verizon Arena General Manager Michael Marion told Collins-Smith in a hearing on the bill said they could not see how it would be possible to know what was on the birth certificate on the thousands of people who might answer the call of nature at an event. "It's your job to find a way," Collins-Smith snarled. Collins-Smith pulled down the bill when she realized it was not going to pass.

The House passed a bill introduced by Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), who also had his mind on bathroom use, to expand the state's indecent exposure law. State law already says it is a crime to expose one's genitalia with intent to gratify sexual desire; Ballinger's bill would have made it a crime simply to expose genitalia in front of a person of the opposite sex. (Maybe it's common practice to inspect genitalia in bathrooms up in Berryville.) Though the House vote for the bill was 65 to 3, the bill went down the Senate Judiciary Committee drain, as Collins-Smith's did.

Governor Hutchinson, who did not want Arkansas to suffer economically as North Carolina did when it passed its "bathroom bill" (since partially repealed), was relieved.

Another ugly bill was introduced by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro): the Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act, which would have allowed doctors to refuse to administer health care services that offended their "deeply held beliefs." Smith had in mind both reproductive rights and transgender reassignment surgery. There was no support for the bill from medical professionals, and state Surgeon General Dr. Gregory Bledsoe spoke against it, saying, "If you're a member of any sort of minority group ... these sorts of bills send a message that threatens you."

Leslie Newell Peacock


Workers, consumers and other enemies of the state got a raw deal.

Governor Hutchinson deserves some recognition for passing a modest income tax cut for working people this session, even if it wasn't quite the boost for the poor that he claimed (see Taxes, page 15). But in almost every other way, the average Arkansan got screwed by the 2017 session.

Start with Act 986, by Rep. Laurie Rushing (R-Hot Springs), which will outlaw private class-action lawsuits under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act — a cornerstone of consumer protection law. Such suits are a powerful deterrent against businesses that intentionally scam customers in various small ways, such as false advertising or misleading promotional offers. Preventing consumers from bringing claims as a class gives the unscrupulous a freer hand to prey on the unsuspecting.

Act 606, by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio), provides a boon to corporations by allowing an employer to sue a worker who records a video or takes photos in the workplace "and uses the recording in a manner that damages the employer." In other words, it will stop whistleblowers from documenting unethical or illegal practices, such as animal abuse at factory farms. Animal rights organizations refer to it as an "ag-gag" bill.

Maybe the biggest prize for big business, though, was the "tort reform" measure that was referred to the 2018 ballot, Senate Joint Resolution 8. Sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain Home), it proposes a new amendment to the state constitution that would place ceilings on the noneconomic and punitive damages that may be awarded to a claimant in a civil suit. Attorney contingency fees would also be capped, at one-third of the net recovery. In short, this would sharply limit the ability of someone who was grievously harmed by an act of medical malpractice to seek compensation in court. SJR 8 sparked a bruising fight in the legislature, with a few Republicans breaking ranks to speak forcefully against abridging the right to a trial by jury. But business interests — especially nursing homes — have been pushing tort reform for years, and the measure proved unstoppable. Unless Arkansas voters reject it in 2018, that is.

Speaking of abridged rights, the legislature also referred a proposed amendment that would enshrine a voter ID requirement in the Arkansas Constitution. The hard truth is that House Joint Resolution 1016, by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs), will likely pass in 2018 given the state's electoral trends. Never mind that proponents of voter ID can't cite any documented instances of voter impersonation in Arkansas, and never mind the evidence that such measures elsewhere have resulted in voters being disenfranchised — voter ID has become gospel to Republicans, aided by President Trump's falsehoods about rampant fraud in the 2016 election. Redundantly enough, the legislature also passed a voter ID bill in addition to the referred amendment, Act 633 by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle).

Arkansas's status as the worst state in the nation for renters went unchallenged. A bill by Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning), now Act 159, softened but preserved the state's unconscionable, one-of-a-kind criminal eviction statute, which courts in several counties have deemed unconstitutional. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Arkansas Realtors Association, Arkansas also remains the only state in which there is no minimum habitability standard for rental property. HB 1166, by Hot Springs Republican Rushing, purported to address that deficiency, but the bill's proposed standards were pitifully weak — limited to electricity, water, sewer and a roof — and it may have limited renters' meager rights in other ways, so it's best it failed.

Legislators' sympathy for landlords didn't translate to protecting small property owners railroaded by the oil industry. House Bill 2086, an effort by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) to more carefully examine the use of eminent domain by pipeline companies, was drafted in response to the construction of the Diamond Pipeline, which will carry crude oil across the length of Arkansas from Oklahoma to Memphis. It failed to get out of committee.

Currently, unemployment benefits in Arkansas cover workers for a maximum of 20 weeks, which is a shorter span than any surrounding state except Missouri (also 20 weeks). Act 734 from Rep. Lundstrum will soon reduce that coverage time to 16 weeks ... and reduce weekly benefits checks paid to laid-off workers. This is despite the state's unemployment trust fund having amply recovered from the recession (it now contains around $500 million) and unemployment levels at record lows. So why trim benefits now? Simple: Employers want more money for themselves.

There was at least one good piece of consumer legislation, though, sponsored by none other than Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway). Act 944 aims to close a loophole exploited by payday lenders, which were driven out of Arkansas some years ago by a ban on high-interest loans but recently have been creeping back into the state by charging astronomical "fees" in place of interest.

And some bad measures failed, the most obnoxious probably being HB 1035 by Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville). The bill would have prohibited SNAP recipients from using food stamps to purchase items the state Health Department deems unhealthy, such as soda; it stalled in the face of opposition from grocery stores and others. House Bill 1825 by Rep. John Payton (R-Wilburn), which went nowhere, would have seized lottery winnings from citizens who have received public assistance from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. And, efforts to chip away at workers compensation failed this time around. Got to leave something for 2019.

Benjamin Hardy

          Senate GOP weighs healthcare bill revisions that would tweak tax breaks, health plan regulations   
Senate GOP leaders, toiling in the final hours before their July 4 recess to find ways to improve their healthcare bill, are weighing several ideas. One such idea is championed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is pushing for an amendment that would get the bill closer to the full ACA repeal that conservatives crave.
          The Moderating Influence of International Courts on Social Movements: Evidence from the IVF Case Against Costa Rica   

Julieta Lemaitre and Rachel Sieder


Feminists and religious conservatives across the globe have increasingly turned to courts in their battles over abortion. Yet while a significant literature analyzes legal mobilization on abortion issues, it tends to focus predominantly on domestic scenarios. In this article, we consider the effects of this contentious [...]

          The Evil Dead   

USA, 1981
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor

The release of The Evil Dead on Blu-ray seems like a good excuse to revisit this iconic horror film. Ordinarily I'd hesitate to review such a well-known movie - for the simple reason that most horror fans will have already seen it.

But the film is now 30 years old, and I'm sure there's a whole new generation of horror fans yet to discover it, and others who may be wondering how the bluray holds up. If either of these sounds like you, read on ... for there's no doubt that it belongs on this site.

When the film was made, it was highly controversial - either being banned or given an X certificate in many countries. Unfairly referred to as a 'video nasty', it's far better than that description might suggest, and deserves a more educated assessment. This is a highly accomplished genre film that pushed the creative envelope in many directions, despite its low-budget origins.

The story has a ring of familiarity that horror fans will instantly recognise - a bunch of friends head to a secluded cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway, and thereafter die gruesome deaths one by one. I'm not giving anything away by saying this ... from the first few minutes there's no doubting what territory you're in. But don't let this synopsis put you off, because this is no Hollywood-sanitized, by-the-numbers horror film. For one it is genuinely scary, secondly it has a sly humour about it, and thirdly there is no pandering to conservative ideals of good taste. All of which sets it apart from the vast majority of U.S. horror films made in the 30 years since.

On arriving at the cabin, an old book is discovered along with a tape recording made by the previous occupants. The book is none other than The Book of the Dead, containing the necessary incantations to bring demonic entities back from the underworld. Unfortunately for the group, this is exactly what happens and mayhem ensues. And when I say mayhem, I mean utter ... fucking ... pandemonium. It's gory, twisted and taken to the extreme. Which is my way of saying its an incredibly good time.


Where the film saved on budget was obviously with the cast, who were all unknowns at the time, and for the most-part still are. The obvious exception is chisel-jawed Bruce Campbell who went on to carve himself into cult history with this role and the subsequent sequels.

Technically, the film's accomplishments are astonishing given that it was independently produced on a very limited budget. The camera-work is inventive (especially love the POV shots), and the effects are varied and effective. But what really stands out for me is the sound design - this is a movie that aurally envelopes you in the experience, the sounds being at least as disturbing as the visuals and ensuring that psychological tension is applied and maintained at all the right times. This is where the bluray really shines - I doubt the original mono sound mix could ever have sounded as good as this new DTS HD Master Audio surround-sound presentation. Play it loud!


As for the bluray transfer - I wasn't holding my hopes too high, given that the film was only shot on 16mm to begin with. And while the picture quality can't compete with new release studio films, it was still better than expected. The picture is clean and probably the best it could be ... and besides, the grainy low-budget look to the film adds an extra level of creepiness that suits the film.

For any horror fan this is a must-watch. It has an over-the-top level of creative gore, and is a genuine horror experience. Much more horror than comedy, it straddles the divide between traditional horror and the horror-comedy of its sequel, The Evil Dead II.The Blu-ray has many extra features and is worth picking up for the awesome sound quality alone.

Rating: 8.5/10. Highly recommended.

          The Einstein Sisters Bag the Flying Monkeys   
In October 2000, Florida's Shepherd's Vale School represents a bizarre parallel universe. In the real world, public schools don't stone students for violating the Ten Commandments. High school business majors don't build Armageddon theme parks. The school's loveable mascot isn't sacrificed on an altar after a winning football season. The principal doesn't send his Jewish students to Israel to worship Satan in order to speed up the end of the world. The nerds aren't angry prophets who warn of eternal war, economic collapse, the destruction of the Constitution, and the shredding of the Bill of Rights -- if George W. Bush steals the approaching election. At Shepherd's Vale, they do. Albert Einstein's fictional great-great granddaughters, Tina, Norma, and Maxine -- three Jewish girls -- find themselves at Christian Zionist Shepherd's Vale after their parents mysteriously abandon them to serve a sinister neo-conservative think tank in Washington that is planning a "new Pearl Harbor" to launch a disastrous war in the Middle East. Because the girls love The Wizard of Oz, they call the neo-conservatives "Flying Monkeys" after the Wicked Witch's infamous death squad. With Angela Jordan, their loyal and feisty African-American Baptist bus driver, they find themselves trapped inside ex-wrestler Reverend Moriah Godley's authoritarian Ten Commandments charter school with hundreds of too-perfect students in a mythical hardscrabble town not featured on Florida's tourist maps.
          Conservatives aren't going to be thrilled about Gianforte’s $50,000 donation to press freedom group   
Greg Gianforte isn't doing his re-election bid any favors.

The congressman-elect acknowledged his “unlawful” conduct in a letter Wednesday to the reporter he is accused of body-slamming last month, part of a settlement with The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs that shields Gianforte from a civil lawsuit and, paradoxically, sets the stage for him to resolve the pending criminal charge without pleading guilty.

In accepting the deal, Jacobs can’t object if Gianforte pleads “no contest” to his misdemeanor assault charge in Gallatin County Justice Court, a type of plea whereby the defendant neither disputes the facts of the case nor admits guilt.…
          Judeo-Christian Values   
The underlying theme of this article is the new American "Judeo-Christian" religion. "Judeo-Christian" used to be a respectable scholarly term for a tradition that includes both the Old and New Testament. However, in the United States during the last three decades, Judeo-Christian has also become a powerful code word. Among Zionist neo-conservatives and Christian Zionists — especially politicians — it refers to a political and religious alliance among strange bedfellows.
          Germany legalises same sex marriage    

German politicians have voted to legalise same-sex marriage. A total of 393 politicians voted to legalising "marriage for everybody", while 226 voted against and four abstained from voting.

The snap vote took place today, only days after Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel changed her mind to allow a free vote.

Ms Merkel, has always been against same-sex marriage, but she allowed for the vote after saying on Monday that politicians could take up the issue as a "question of conscience". As expected, she voted against the bill citing concerns over the welfare of children.

Members of Ms Merkel's conservative coalition were given the freedom to individually vote for their choice rather than follow party lines. The Chancellor said though she voted against legalising gay marriage, she hoped Parliament's approval of the measure would lead to more social cohesion.

She said: "For me, marriage in the basic law is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favour of this bill today."

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages had remained illegal. All of Ms Merkel's potential coalition partners after the September 4 election have been calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage. However, her traditional Catholic conservative bloc was not happy when she announced that she would allow politicians to vote on same-sex marriage according to their individual conscience drew the ire of some in her traditionally Catholic conservative bloc.

The "marriage for all" bill will grant gay and lesbian couples full marital rights and allows them to adopt children. It will likely be signed into law by the President some time after July 7.
          Conservative media outlets gain seats in White House briefing room   
Several conservative media outlets now have spots in the briefing room.
          I was publicly trolled for being non-binary. Here's what happened.   

TW: transphobia, bullying, suicide

My name is C Mandler. I am non-binary and transgender. My pronouns are they/them/theirs and as I’ve said before and will proudly say again: my pronouns are non negotiable. Some people have a problem with that... and are sending my transgender friends and me messages of hatred and threats of physical violence because of it. I ask that you read my story...

Recently, I was approached by Seventeen to participate in a video series showcasing the diverse range of identities of LGBTQ youth. I was honored to have an opportunity to speak up for the community that means the world to me. I was proud that a mainstream media outlet like Seventeen was profiling LGBTQ youth like me and my fellow GLAAD Campus Ambassadors.

Seventeen tells the stories of young people like Gavin Grimm, the trans student and national hero who sued his school district for the right to use a bathroom concurrent with his gender identity; like Jazz Jennings, star of I Am Jazz, which gives a candid and beautiful look into the life of a trans girl and her family in Florida; and Kenneth Weishuhn and Jadin Bell, who committed suicide within a year of one another after each grappling with serious bullying rooted in their openly gay sexual identities.

Seventeen’s commitment to inclusive storytelling is part of a larger movement of major media outlets showcasing the experiences of queer youth. The videos Seventeen released cover a variety of topics, including coming out, advice to teens, what pride month means to us, and most recently, a video discussing the lived experiences of four non-binary identified GLAAD Campus Ambassadors. When the video was released, the Campus Ambassadors and I were so excited to have an opportunity to better inform viewers about the gender spectrum, common misconceptions about non-binary and transgender identities, and the ability to explore gender identity through finding identifiable pronouns. Check out the video below:

I think it is easy to forget how much animosity towards LGBTQ people there is when people like me attend progressive schools, and have amazing networks of friends and family, chosen and given, to support us in our journey to not only figure out who we are, but also make sure others feel safe and comfortable in their respective quests to do the same.

At my small liberal arts college in upstate New York, professors have sent kind and validating emails of apology after misgendering me in class; friends who understand that though C isn’t my legal name yet, it is my name. I am lucky to have such an unfathomable amount of love in my life, but even this love doesn’t protect from the sometimes harmful nature of the Internet.

When I woke up on Tuesday, there were 200 comments on the Seventeen video, entitled “Trans Students Explain Why Pronouns Are Important.” Below is a sampling of the top comments featured on the post:

Since then, Seventeen and their amazing digital team have been monitoring the comments to rid the video of the hateful vitriol that clearly violates their community standards. However, I woke up this morning to over 3,000 comments on the video. While some were supportive, most looked like this:

The video was also shared over 3,300 times, with some adding their own  commentary that even included threats of physical violence:

Many of these comments are ignorant and straight up false, but the problem is that this harmful rhetoric isn’t merely Internet nonsense. In a world where LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of mental health issues, sexual assault, violence, and suicide, these sorts of comments translate into real life violence.

2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people and these rates are only continuing to climb. Fourteen transgender women of color have been killed in the U.S. this year, with the most recent victim, 17-year old Ava Le’Ray Barrin, having been killed earlier this week. Knowing that remaining closeted as transgender is too often a mechanism for survival, these statistics are conservative and only include women who are publicly out as transgender.

I am willing and able to be visible and take Internet hate if it means that a young non-binary trans kid growing up closeted knows that someone is fighting for them, but not everyone can stomach the kinds of awful bigotry being spewed in the world - and they shouldn’t have to.

According to the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24. Additionally, the rate of suicide attempts is four times higher for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth than straight youth. 40% of trans adults have also reported attempting suicide, with 92% of these individuals having attempted before the age of 25.

The type of cyberbullying seen in the comments of the Seventeen video is happening is too prevalent and visible on the Internet to properly contain and can be deadly for some LGBTQ youth.

I know a lot of people who watched that video and even some people reading this post will say ‘it’s not that serious,’ or ‘they’re just stupid video comments.’ But it is critical for all people to know that sometimes, inaccurate, rude comments aren’t just comments. They are expressions of hatred that further the agendas of those who assault and murder trans youth. They are ignorant statements that make millions of LGBTQ kids feel so unloved in a society they don’t think will ever accept them.

GLAAD is asking the next time you see this kind of hate online, stand up for those directly affected by it. You can go to our video posted on Seventeen's page and add your message of kindness. The few comments on the video that were supportive and encouraging were such small acts of support that made me and my fellow GLAAD Campus Ambassadors feel better in the face of so much hate.

Offer yourself as an ear to LGBTQ youth who are struggling to assert their gender and sexuality in such a contentious political era. Love the queer and trans people in your life because everything else aside, it keeps us alive.

To all those who are struggling: we see you and we love you. You are strong and powerful and beautiful. We are here for you - we are here with you and we will never stop fighting for you.

June 29, 2017

          Blood on the Catwalk – What threatens Online Fashion Commerce   

Updated : 29th June I was amazed to read this headline in the Economic Times a couple of days ago! Earlier, a headline in an article in the Mint caught my attention: Now, I really don’t care about everything Biyani says (to me, his most random statement was, “Indians like to buy in chaos – that’s why there is so much chaos and confusion in my stores”); but there was something about this statement that made me sit up. Biyani being a pukka baniya businessman pointed out The 10X negative multiple stunned me and I decided to investigate this matter deeper. What I came across was mind numbing. Start by checking out the financials of the leading fashion portal in India on this amazing site called  The Myntra numbers is a shocker to a conservative accountant like me! To generate 773 Crores in revenues, the Company SPENT 1513 Crores, thereby losing 740 crores? That is a NEGATIVE margin of 48.9%? When I looked into the expenses of Myntra, over 22 % was being spent on marketing! – Just as Biyani had claimed! After that, I looked up While the numbers didn’t seem shocking, there was significant pain. Even though revenue had doubled from 527 crores to 1083 crores across 2 years, the losses had increased in a higher multiple! (typically losses reduce when scales starts kicking in) Added to this was the report in the ET on the 15th of April 2016 that Jabong was in the market at a FIRE SALE price and had reduced its ask from US$ 1 Billion million to 100 million! Obviously something was not right here.  I travelled to check the other players and came across The results were : Losses for the current year ended were double of revenues! When I looked up their expense ratios: They were spending over 117 % of their revenues in Advertising and Sales promotion – way beyond Biyani’s mention of 20%. I guess this was because they were establishing themselves as brand? Looking for more, I visited (an online market place). Topline growth again seemed to be scaling only via cash burns: While there was a lot of Red, what intrigued me was their split of sources of revenues. A huge Rs 23 crores was earned from Advertising and Marketing? But when I looked deeper, the revenue growth had come from massive advertising & marketing costs! Sure enough, their ratios were way above 31%! Also, it kind of reminded me of a very old blog post I had written in which the central message was “You can’t earn via advertising by spending on advertising”. By this time, I was sweating, switched track and asked myself, “Alok, which are the two most Iconic Fashion brands you know of, and how do they perform?” I live with 3 women – My wife and my 2 daughters, and they in turn LIVE at Zara! So, I looked up the Zara annual report financials and was pleasantly surprised by the messaging and communication of Zara: Zara recorded a net profit of 2.8 BILLION EUROS or Rs. 21,000 CRORES! (13.6% on topline) for 2015. I went deeper into the Zara (Holding Company Inditex) annual report to figure what they were doing and talking about to describe their mind blowing performance. All I read were statements like these: Zara was only shouting about the number of stores that it had opened across the world to generate new business and accomplish complete domination of the fashion trade! Even for its sub brands, Zara kept harping about stores and stores and stores: Given that this discussion is about ‘cost of acquiring users’, I dived straight into the P&L of Zara: When I dug deep, I found: Even if we were to assume that half of the “Other Operating Costs” of 1.9 Billion Euros were ‘Advertising & Marketing’, that would translate to 4.7 % of topline revenues of Zara, skewing towards what Biyani had inferred that Retail Brands really don’t spend much on acquiring users. Honestly, I would imagine that Zara had spent even lesser. I rarely see Zara “ads” anywhere. They market themselves via their consumers who just love to go back to the stores for more and keep buying! Finally, I went to look up the financials of a brand that I personally live in – Tommy Hilfiger: Like Zara, there was a lot of mention of the “retail space owned’ and operated by them. While the P&L did not specify ‘Advertising and Marketing’, it revealed: We can safely assume that the broad category of SG & A (Selling, General and Administrative expenses) that constituted 42.6% overall costs to topline, could not have been dominated by advertising and marketing only since the broad description of SG & A costs are very broad including Salaries, rent etc (see Wikipedia reference below) Conclusion: – Looks like Biyani is right! Retail Fashion stores really sweat their stores and brands for marketing, ‘inbound traffic’ and rely on their consumers to keep visiting and spreading the word to generate sales. – If a company like Myntra that currently operates on a negative 48.9% margin has to become ‘reasonably’ profitable – say 15%, it needs to improve its revenues/reduce cost by 74%!! (-49% + 74%) =15% How can that be possible if large chunky costs % are locked into getting consumers to the online stores in the first place?! – The smaller and newer brands (Shopclues, Limeroad) are spending disproportionate sums of advertising and marketing vs. revenues to build their brand, salience and consumer reach, but will numbers such as 100%+ of advertising/sales to revenue EVER reduce to a “Biyani normal” of 2-3%? – Lastly, is the concept of ‘only online’ feasible? Check out this snippet I found in the Wall Street Journal about Zara’s Offline-Online store synergy that explains my point! **** Added post publishing : – A couple of comments have pointed out that Zara and big offline Fashion Stores are not strictly comparable to newer online stores and that rental costs should be compared to online marketing costs. But that is my entire point! Zara and Tommy Hilfiger represent SCALE! You can’t get bigger than them. Then why, even in 2015, do they keep investing in retail + stores + people and everything offline? Both these mega brands have all the money and resources to blow up their business online! Why don’t they?  If online is infinitely scalable, targetable, operable 24 hours and so personal, what holds these big brands back? Why do they continue to pay ridiculous rents? What does their hesitancy signal? My intrigue is based on this contrarian behavior of these mega brands… – A person stated that “Zara is a Brand; Myntra is a retailer – so a comparison is not correct”. That’s incorrect – check the number of brands Inditex (holding company of Zara) sells as per the charts above. I have used the Inditex numbers for this study. – I asked someone “Has anyone scaled online and been successful?” Check out this brilliant retort AND the % of ads spend to sales 🙂   ****   A BIG thanks to, WSJ, The Mint and the ET for the rich data they provide.   ******

The post Blood on the Catwalk – What threatens Online Fashion Commerce appeared first on TheRodinhoods.

          Comment on UCLA fires popular free speech professor by pzatchok   
But if they can't express it who would ever know? This is what happens when those free thinking progressive students grow up and become teachers but forget what their conservative teachers taught them. Eventually they don't teach the constitution or its amendments but misinterpretations of them. I.E. free speech becomes free speech, as long as it doesn't offend someone. Separation of church and state is not in the constitution. The second amendment does not mean only the military, or only in your home, or only specific weapons. And so on.
          NRA Ad: Fight This Violence Of Lies With The Clenched Fist Of Truth   
[guest post by Dana] Hoo boy. A bit of hysteria today over the posting of an National Rifle Association (NRA) ad on the organization’s new Facebook page. The ad features conservative commentator Dana Loesch: They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. […]
          Rep. Franks: If Defunding Planned Parenthood is Taken Out of Health Care Bill, It’ll “Blow to Smithereens”   
One surefire way to ensure that the GOP’s health care bill never sees the light of day is if the leadership removes its pro-life provisions, according to conservative lawmakers. They sent a fair warning to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, imploring him to retain the language that strips Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding for a […]
          Israel pursuing a strategy that is placing its long-term future at risk   
I came across the following article, written by the Israeli Ambassador to Singapore, in today's edition of TODAY.

Following the Israeli Ambassador's article is an essay by John J. Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. I've read the book which he co-authored with Stephen M. Walt, professor of international affairs at JFK School of Government at Harvard University. The controversial book, published in 2007, started out as a controversial essay in 2006 published in the London Review of Books. (At the end of this post is a video of a 2007 documentary on the Israel Lobby in America)

Read also Stephen M. Walt's essay The myth of Israel's strategic genius and Avi Shlaim's essay How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.
Lasting peace in the Middle East...

Accepting the existenceof a Jewish state there, and abandoning the dream of destroying it, is the answer

Thursday • January 22, 2009

Ilan Ben-Dov
Israeli Ambassador to Singapore

THREE weeks of fighting in Gaza have once again put the Middle East at the focal point of the international media.

Now, after another round of violence has ended, we have to ask ourselves again, what is the real root of the problem? What is the key which will lead us to peace in the Middle East?

The basic Arab argument is that the root of the problem is occupation. The Arab world accuses Israel of controlling occupied Arab territories and claims that this is the main issue which prevents peace in the Middle East.

This argument is utterly baseless. The Israelis believe that the root of the problem is the very fact that a large fraction of the Arab-Islamic world still rejects Israel’s right to exist, and rejects the basic right of Jews to live in their independent state of Israel.

Israel has shown in the past that in order to achieve peace, it is ready for territorial concessions, exactly as it did when it signed a peace treaty with its neighbour in the south, Egypt, and its neighbour in the east, Jordan. In both these cases, the dispute over territory was not an obstacle to peace.

Moreover, Israel endorses the establishment of a Palestinian independent state that will live in peace next to it.

In the last two military confrontations in the Middle East — the one with the Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the one with Hamas in Gaza — Israel had to defend itself from radical Muslim terrorist organisations which are motivated by extreme religious, Jihadistic ideology that calls for the destruction of Israel.

It is time to reveal these facts loud and clear: Both Hamas and Hezbollah are heavily and directly influenced by Iran. It is the same Iran whose President is calling for the annihilation of Israel, the same Iran which does everything possible to sabotage and to harm any attempt of a dialogue and reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israel.

Iran does not only supply the ideological basis for Hezbollah and Hamas, it supplies them with huge amounts of weapons, ammunition and money.

It is also important to answer the question of what exactly do Hamas and Hezbollah mean by speaking about “occupied territories”? For them, the whole of Israel is considered a so-called “occupied territory”. They do not distinguish between Gaza and Tel-Aviv, between the West Bank and the city of Haifa. For the Iranian President who supports them, Israel must be “wiped out of the map”.

Should this lead us to despair? Of course not.

The Middle East is nowadays divided into two parts. The first is the radical, fundamentalistic-jihadistic part that dreams of the disappearance of Israel from the region. Whoever dreams these dreams is doomed to lead the Palestinians to a deadlock and to many more years of wars, suffering, poverty and hopelessness.

On the other hand, we find the moderate and pragmatic Arab world which aspires to find a peaceful solution based on mutual recognition, justice for both sides and a territorial compromise. Such a solution will pave the way for all people in this region — and especially for the Palestinian people, who have suffered so much in recent years — to a better future.

The key to a lasting solution of the Middle Eastern conflict is therefore not a question of occupied territories. For this question, we can find a compromise.

The real key to a solution is the willingness of the Arab and the Muslim countries to recognise the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East and to abandon the dream of destroying it.
Another War, Another Defeat
by John J. Mearsheimer
Published in the Jan 26, 2009 edition of The American Conservative

The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.

Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.

The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”

What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.

Let’s begin with Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. The conventional wisdom is that Israel was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and that its leaders hoped the exit from Gaza would be a major step toward creating a viable Palestinian state. According to the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, Israel was giving the Palestinians an opportunity to “build a decent mini-state there—a Dubai on the Mediterranean,” and if they did so, it would “fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.”

This is pure fiction. Even before Hamas came to power, the Israelis intended to create an open-air prison for the Palestinians in Gaza and inflict great pain on them until they complied with Israel’s wishes. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s closest adviser at the time, candidly stated that the disengagement from Gaza was aimed at halting the peace process, not encouraging it. He described the disengagement as “formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” Moreover, he emphasized that the withdrawal “places the Palestinians under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner where they hate to be.”

Arnon Soffer, a prominent Israeli demographer who also advised Sharon, elaborated on what that pressure would look like. “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”

In January 2006, five months after the Israelis pulled their settlers out of Gaza, Hamas won a decisive victory over Fatah in the Palestinian legislative elections. This meant trouble for Israel’s strategy because Hamas was democratically elected, well organized, not corrupt like Fatah, and unwilling to accept Israel’s existence. Israel responded by ratcheting up economic pressure on the Palestinians, but it did not work. In fact, the situation took another turn for the worse in March 2007, when Fatah and Hamas came together to form a national unity government. Hamas’s stature and political power were growing, and Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy was unraveling.

To make matters worse, the national unity government began pushing for a long-term ceasefire. The Palestinians would end all missile attacks on Israel if the Israelis would stop arresting and assassinating Palestinians and end their economic stranglehold, opening the border crossings into Gaza.

Israel rejected that offer and with American backing set out to foment a civil war between Fatah and Hamas that would wreck the national unity government and put Fatah in charge. The plan backfired when Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza, leaving Hamas in charge there and the more pliant Fatah in control of the West Bank. Israel then tightened the screws on the blockade around Gaza, causing even greater hardship and suffering among the Palestinians living there.

Hamas responded by continuing to fire rockets and mortars into Israel, while emphasizing that they still sought a long-term ceasefire, perhaps lasting ten years or more. This was not a noble gesture on Hamas’s part: they sought a ceasefire because the balance of power heavily favored Israel. The Israelis had no interest in a ceasefire and merely intensified the economic pressure on Gaza. But in the late spring of 2008, pressure from Israelis living under the rocket attacks led the government to agree to a six-month ceasefire starting on June 19. That agreement, which formally ended on Dec. 19, immediately preceded the present war, which began on Dec. 27.

The official Israeli position blames Hamas for undermining the ceasefire. This view is widely accepted in the United States, but it is not true. Israeli leaders disliked the ceasefire from the start, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to begin preparing for the present war while the ceasefire was being negotiated in June 2008. Furthermore, Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, reports that Jerusalem began to prepare the propaganda campaign to sell the present war months before the conflict began. For its part, Hamas drastically reduced the number of missile attacks during the first five months of the ceasefire. A total of two rockets were fired into Israel during September and October, none by Hamas.

How did Israel behave during this same period? It continued arresting and assassinating Palestinians on the West Bank, and it continued the deadly blockade that was slowly strangling Gaza. Then on Nov. 4, as Americans voted for a new president, Israel attacked a tunnel inside Gaza and killed six Palestinians. It was the first major violation of the ceasefire, and the Palestinians—who had been “careful to maintain the ceasefire,” according to Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center—responded by resuming rocket attacks. The calm that had prevailed since June vanished as Israel ratcheted up the blockade and its attacks into Gaza and the Palestinians hurled more rockets at Israel. It is worth noting that not a single Israeli was killed by Palestinian missiles between Nov. 4 and the launching of the war on Dec. 27.

As the violence increased, Hamas made clear that it had no interest in extending the ceasefire beyond Dec. 19, which is hardly surprising, since it had not worked as intended. In mid-December, however, Hamas informed Israel that it was still willing to negotiate a long-term ceasefire if it included an end to the arrests and assassinations as well as the lifting of the blockade. But the Israelis, having used the ceasefire to prepare for war against Hamas, rejected this overture. The bombing of Gaza commenced eight days after the failed ceasefire formally ended.

If Israel wanted to stop missile attacks from Gaza, it could have done so by arranging a long-term ceasefire with Hamas. And if Israel were genuinely interested in creating a viable Palestinian state, it could have worked with the national unity government to implement a meaningful ceasefire and change Hamas’s thinking about a two-state solution. But Israel has a different agenda: it is determined to employ the Iron Wall strategy to get the Palestinians in Gaza to accept their fate as hapless subjects of a Greater Israel.

This brutal policy is clearly reflected in Israel’s conduct of the Gaza War. Israel and its supporters claim that the IDF is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, in some cases taking risks that put Israeli soldiers in jeopardy. Hardly. One reason to doubt these claims is that Israel refuses to allow reporters into the war zone: it does not want the world to see what its soldiers and bombs are doing inside Gaza. At the same time, Israel has launched a massive propaganda campaign to put a positive spin on the horror stories that do emerge.

The best evidence, however, that Israel is deliberately seeking to punish the broader population in Gaza is the death and destruction the IDF has wrought on that small piece of real estate. Israel has killed over 1,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 4,000. Over half of the casualties are civilians, and many are children. The IDF’s opening salvo on Dec. 27 took place as children were leaving school, and one of its primary targets that day was a large group of graduating police cadets, who hardly qualified as terrorists. In what Ehud Barak called “an all-out war against Hamas,” Israel has targeted a university, schools, mosques, homes, apartment buildings, government offices, and even ambulances. A senior Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, explained the logic behind Israel’s expansive target set: “There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel.” In other words, everyone is a terrorist and everything is a legitimate target.

Israelis tend to be blunt, and they occasionally say what they are really doing. After the IDF killed 40 Palestinian civilians in a UN school on Jan. 6, Ha’aretz reported that “senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous firepower.” One officer explained, “For us, being cautious means being aggressive. From the minute we entered, we’ve acted like we’re at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground … I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock.”

One might accept that Israel is waging “a cruel, all-out war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians,” as Ha’aretz put it in an editorial, but argue that it will eventually achieve its war aims and the rest of the world will quickly forget the horrors inflicted on the people of Gaza.

This is wishful thinking. For starters, Israel is unlikely to stop the rocket fire for any appreciable period of time unless it agrees to open Gaza’s borders and stop arresting and killing Palestinians. Israelis talk about cutting off the supply of rockets and mortars into Gaza, but weapons will continue to come in via secret tunnels and ships that sneak through Israel’s naval blockade. It will also be impossible to police all of the goods sent into Gaza through legitimate channels.

Israel could try to conquer all of Gaza and lock the place down. That would probably stop the rocket attacks if Israel deployed a large enough force. But then the IDF would be bogged down in a costly occupation against a deeply hostile population. They would eventually have to leave, and the rocket fire would resume. And if Israel fails to stop the rocket fire and keep it stopped, as seems likely, its deterrent will be diminished, not strengthened.

More importantly, there is little reason to think that the Israelis can beat Hamas into submission and get the Palestinians to live quietly in a handful of Bantustans inside Greater Israel. Israel has been humiliating, torturing, and killing Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967 and has not come close to cowing them. Indeed, Hamas’s reaction to Israel’s brutality seems to lend credence to Nietzsche’s remark that what does not kill you makes you stronger.

But even if the unexpected happens and the Palestinians cave, Israel would still lose because it will become an apartheid state. As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently said, Israel will “face a South African-style struggle” if the Palestinians do not get a viable state of their own. “As soon as that happens,” he argued, “the state of Israel is finished.” Yet Olmert has done nothing to stop settlement expansion and create a viable Palestinian state, relying instead on the Iron Wall strategy to deal with the Palestinians.

There is also little chance that people around the world who follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will soon forget the appalling punishment that Israel is meting out in Gaza. The destruction is just too obvious to miss, and too many people—especially in the Arab and Islamic world—care about the Palestinians’ fate. Moreover, discourse about this longstanding conflict has undergone a sea change in the West in recent years, and many of us who were once wholly sympathetic to Israel now see that the Israelis are the victimizers and the Palestinians are the victims. What is happening in Gaza will accelerate that changing picture of the conflict and long be seen as a dark stain on Israel’s reputation.

The bottom line is that no matter what happens on the battlefield, Israel cannot win its war in Gaza. In fact, it is pursuing a strategy—with lots of help from its so-called friends in the Diaspora—that is placing its long-term future at risk.

          Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath: How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe   
How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
Avi Shlaim, The Guardian, 7 Jan 2009

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza's prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

Israel's settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel's cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting".

To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak - terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.

No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.

Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein's Life in War and Peace.
          China's Charter 08   
China's Charter 08
New York Review of Books
Volume 56, Number 1 · January 15, 2009

Translated from the Chinese by Perry Link

The document below, signed by more than two thousand Chinese citizens, was conceived and written in conscious admiration of the founding of Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, where, in January 1977, more than two hundred Czech and Slovak intellectuals formed a
loose, informal, and open association of people...united by the will to strive individually and collectively for respect for human and civil rights in our country and throughout the world.
The Chinese document calls not for ameliorative reform of the current political system but for an end to some of its essential features, including one-party rule, and their replacement with a system based on human rights and democracy.

The prominent citizens who have signed the document are from both outside and inside the government, and include not only well-known dissidents and intellectuals, but also middle-level officials and rural leaders. They chose December 10, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as the day on which to express their political ideas and to outline their vision of a constitutional, democratic China. They want Charter 08 to serve as a blueprint for fundamental political change in China in the years to come. The signers of the document will form an informal group, open-ended in size but united by a determination to promote democratization and protection of human rights in China and beyond.

Following the text is a postscript describing some of the regime's recent reactions to it.

—Perry Link

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China's first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of the Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China's signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

By departing from these values, the Chinese government's approach to "modernization" has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the twenty-first century? Will it continue with "modernization" under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.

The shock of the Western impact upon China in the nineteenth century laid bare a decadent authoritarian system and marked the beginning of what is often called "the greatest changes in thousands of years" for China. A "self-strengthening movement" followed, but this aimed simply at appropriating the technology to build gunboats and other Western material objects. China's humiliating naval defeat at the hands of Japan in 1895 only confirmed the obsolescence of China's system of government. The first attempts at modern political change came with the ill-fated summer of reforms in 1898, but these were cruelly crushed by ultraconservatives at China's imperial court. With the revolution of 1911, which inaugurated Asia's first republic, the authoritarian imperial system that had lasted for centuries was finally supposed to have been laid to rest. But social conflict inside our country and external pressures were to prevent it; China fell into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms and the new republic became a fleeting dream.

The failure of both "self- strengthening" and political renovation caused many of our forebears to reflect deeply on whether a "cultural illness" was afflicting our country. This mood gave rise, during the May Fourth Movement of the late 1910s, to the championing of "science and democracy." Yet that effort, too, foundered as warlord chaos persisted and the Japanese invasion [beginning in Manchuria in 1931] brought national crisis.

Victory over Japan in 1945 offered one more chance for China to move toward modern government, but the Communist defeat of the Nationalists in the civil war thrust the nation into the abyss of totalitarianism. The "new China" that emerged in 1949 proclaimed that "the people are sovereign" but in fact set up a system in which "the Party is all-powerful." The Communist Party of China seized control of all organs of the state and all political, economic, and social resources, and, using these, has produced a long trail of human rights disasters, including, among many others, the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), the June Fourth [Tiananmen Square] Massacre (1989), and the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the suppression of the weiquan rights movement [a movement that aims to defend citizens' rights promulgated in the Chinese Constitution and to fight for human rights recognized by international conventions that the Chinese government has signed]. During all this, the Chinese people have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled.

During the last two decades of the twentieth century the government policy of "Reform and Opening" gave the Chinese people relief from the pervasive poverty and totalitarianism of the Mao Zedong era, and brought substantial increases in the wealth and living standards of many Chinese as well as a partial restoration of economic freedom and economic rights. Civil society began to grow, and popular calls for more rights and more political freedom have grown apace. As the ruling elite itself moved toward private ownership and the market economy, it began to shift from an outright rejection of "rights" to a partial acknowledgment of them.

In 1998 the Chinese government signed two important international human rights conventions; in 2004 it amended its constitution to include the phrase "respect and protect human rights"; and this year, 2008, it has promised to promote a "national human rights action plan." Unfortunately most of this political progress has extended no further than the paper on which it is written. The political reality, which is plain for anyone to see, is that China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government. The ruling elite continues to cling to its authoritarian power and fights off any move toward political change.

The stultifying results are endemic official corruption, an undermining of the rule of law, weak human rights, decay in public ethics, crony capitalism, growing inequality between the wealthy and the poor, pillage of the natural environment as well as of the human and historical environments, and the exacerbation of a long list of social conflicts, especially, in recent times, a sharpening animosity between officials and ordinary people.

As these conflicts and crises grow ever more intense, and as the ruling elite continues with impunity to crush and to strip away the rights of citizens to freedom, to property, and to the pursuit of happiness, we see the powerless in our society—the vulnerable groups, the people who have been suppressed and monitored, who have suffered cruelty and even torture, and who have had no adequate avenues for their protests, no courts to hear their pleas—becoming more militant and raising the possibility of a violent conflict of disastrous proportions. The decline of the current system has reached the point where change is no longer optional.


This is a historic moment for China, and our future hangs in the balance. In reviewing the political modernization process of the past hundred years or more, we reiterate and endorse basic universal values as follows:

Freedom. Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.

Human rights. Human rights are not bestowed by a state. Every person is born with inherent rights to dignity and freedom. The government exists for the protection of the human rights of its citizens. The exercise of state power must be authorized by the people. The succession of political disasters in China's recent history is a direct consequence of the ruling regime's disregard for human rights.

Equality. The integrity, dignity, and freedom of every person—regardless of social station, occupation, sex, economic condition, ethnicity, skin color, religion, or political belief—are the same as those of any other. Principles of equality before the law and equality of social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights must be upheld.

Republicanism. Republicanism, which holds that power should be balanced among different branches of government and competing interests should be served, resembles the traditional Chinese political ideal of "fairness in all under heaven." It allows different interest groups and social assemblies, and people with a variety of cultures and beliefs, to exercise democratic self-government and to deliberate in order to reach peaceful resolution of public questions on a basis of equal access to government and free and fair competition.

Democracy. The most fundamental principles of democracy are that the people are sovereign and the people select their government. Democracy has these characteristics: (1) Political power begins with the people and the legitimacy of a regime derives from the people. (2) Political power is exercised through choices that the people make. (3) The holders of major official posts in government at all levels are determined through periodic competitive elections. (4) While honoring the will of the majority, the fundamental dignity, freedom, and human rights of minorities are protected. In short, democracy is a modern means for achieving government truly "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Constitutional rule. Constitutional rule is rule through a legal system and legal regulations to implement principles that are spelled out in a constitution. It means protecting the freedom and the rights of citizens, limiting and defining the scope of legitimate government power, and providing the administrative apparatus necessary to serve these ends.


Authoritarianism is in general decline throughout the world; in China, too, the era of emperors and overlords is on the way out. The time is arriving everywhere for citizens to be masters of states. For China the path that leads out of our current predicament is to divest ourselves of the authoritarian notion of reliance on an "enlightened overlord" or an "honest official" and to turn instead toward a system of liberties, democracy, and the rule of law, and toward fostering the consciousness of modern citizens who see rights as fundamental and participation as a duty. Accordingly, and in a spirit of this duty as responsible and constructive citizens, we offer the following recommendations on national governance, citizens' rights, and social development:

1. A New Constitution. We should recast our present constitution, rescinding its provisions that contradict the principle that sovereignty resides with the people and turning it into a document that genuinely guarantees human rights, authorizes the exercise of public power, and serves as the legal underpinning of China's democratization. The constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation by any individual, group, or political party.

2. Separation of Powers. We should construct a modern government in which the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive power is guaranteed. We need an Administrative Law that defines the scope of government responsibility and prevents abuse of administrative power. Government should be responsible to taxpayers. Division of power between provincial governments and the central government should adhere to the principle that central powers are only those specifically granted by the constitution and all other powers belong to the local governments.

3. Legislative Democracy. Members of legislative bodies at all levels should be chosen by direct election, and legislative democracy should observe just and impartial principles.

4. An Independent Judiciary. The rule of law must be above the interests of any particular political party and judges must be independent. We need to establish a constitutional supreme court and institute procedures for constitutional review. As soon as possible, we should abolish all of the Committees on Political and Legal Affairs that now allow Communist Party officials at every level to decide politically sensitive cases in advance and out of court. We should strictly forbid the use of public offices for private purposes.

5. Public Control of Public Servants. The military should be made answerable to the national government, not to a political party, and should be made more professional. Military personnel should swear allegiance to the constitution and remain nonpartisan. Political party organizations must be prohibited in the military. All public officials including police should serve as nonpartisans, and the current practice of favoring one political party in the hiring of public servants must end.

6. Guarantee of Human Rights. There must be strict guarantees of human rights and respect for human dignity. There should be a Human Rights Committee, responsible to the highest legislative body, that will prevent the government from abusing public power in violation of human rights. A democratic and constitutional China especially must guarantee the personal freedom of citizens. No one should suffer illegal arrest, detention, arraignment, interrogation, or punishment. The system of "Reeducation through Labor" must be abolished.

7. Election of Public Officials. There should be a comprehensive system of democratic elections based on "one person, one vote." The direct election of administrative heads at the levels of county, city, province, and nation should be systematically implemented. The rights to hold periodic free elections and to participate in them as a citizen are inalienable.

8. Rural–Urban Equality. The two-tier household registry system must be abolished. This system favors urban residents and harms rural residents. We should establish instead a system that gives every citizen the same constitutional rights and the same freedom to choose where to live.

9. Freedom to Form Groups. The right of citizens to form groups must be guaranteed. The current system for registering nongovernment groups, which requires a group to be "approved," should be replaced by a system in which a group simply registers itself. The formation of political parties should be governed by the constitution and the laws, which means that we must abolish the special privilege of one party to monopolize power and must guarantee principles of free and fair competition among political parties.

10. Freedom to Assemble. The constitution provides that peaceful assembly, demonstration, protest, and freedom of expression are fundamental rights of a citizen. The ruling party and the government must not be permitted to subject these to illegal interference or unconstitutional obstruction.

11. Freedom of Expression. We should make freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and academic freedom universal, thereby guaranteeing that citizens can be informed and can exercise their right of political supervision. These freedoms should be upheld by a Press Law that abolishes political restrictions on the press. The provision in the current Criminal Law that refers to "the crime of incitement to subvert state power" must be abolished. We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes.

12. Freedom of Religion. We must guarantee freedom of religion and belief, and institute a separation of religion and state. There must be no governmental interference in peaceful religious activities. We should abolish any laws, regulations, or local rules that limit or suppress the religious freedom of citizens. We should abolish the current system that requires religious groups (and their places of worship) to get official approval in advance and substitute for it a system in which registry is optional and, for those who choose to register, automatic.

13. Civic Education. In our schools we should abolish political curriculums and examinations that are designed to indoctrinate students in state ideology and to instill support for the rule of one party. We should replace them with civic education that advances universal values and citizens' rights, fosters civic consciousness, and promotes civic virtues that serve society.

14. Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

15. Financial and Tax Reform. We should establish a democratically regulated and accountable system of public finance that ensures the protection of taxpayer rights and that operates through legal procedures. We need a system by which public revenues that belong to a certain level of government—central, provincial, county or local—are controlled at that level. We need major tax reform that will abolish any unfair taxes, simplify the tax system, and spread the tax burden fairly. Government officials should not be able to raise taxes, or institute new ones, without public deliberation and the approval of a democratic assembly. We should reform the ownership system in order to encourage competition among a wider variety of market participants.

16. Social Security. We should establish a fair and adequate social security system that covers all citizens and ensures basic access to education, health care, retirement security, and employment.

17. Protection of the Environment. We need to protect the natural environment and to promote development in a way that is sustainable and responsible to our descendants and to the rest of humanity. This means insisting that the state and its officials at all levels not only do what they must do to achieve these goals, but also accept the supervision and participation of nongovernmental organizations.

18. A Federated Republic. A democratic China should seek to act as a responsible major power contributing toward peace and development in the Asian Pacific region by approaching others in a spirit of equality and fairness. In Hong Kong and Macao, we should support the freedoms that already exist. With respect to Taiwan, we should declare our commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy and then, negotiating as equals and ready to compromise, seek a formula for peaceful unification. We should approach disputes in the national-minority areas of China with an open mind, seeking ways to find a workable framework within which all ethnic and religious groups can flourish. We should aim ultimately at a federation of democratic communities of China.

19. Truth in Reconciliation. We should restore the reputations of all people, including their family members, who suffered political stigma in the political campaigns of the past or who have been labeled as criminals because of their thought, speech, or faith. The state should pay reparations to these people. All political prisoners and prisoners of conscience must be released. There should be a Truth Investigation Commission charged with finding the facts about past injustices and atrocities, determining responsibility for them, upholding justice, and, on these bases, seeking social reconciliation.

China, as a major nation of the world, as one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and as a member of the UN Council on Human Rights, should be contributing to peace for humankind and progress toward human rights. Unfortunately, we stand today as the only country among the major nations that remains mired in authoritarian politics. Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises, thereby not only constricting China's own development but also limiting the progress of all of human civilization. This must change, truly it must. The democratization of Chinese politics can be put off no longer.

Accordingly, we dare to put civic spirit into practice by announcing Charter 08. We hope that our fellow citizens who feel a similar sense of crisis, responsibility, and mission, whether they are inside the government or not, and regardless of their social status, will set aside small differences to embrace the broad goals of this citizens' movement. Together we can work for major changes in Chinese society and for the rapid establishment of a free, democratic, and constitutional country. We can bring to reality the goals and ideals that our people have incessantly been seeking for more than a hundred years, and can bring a brilliant new chapter to Chinese civilization.

The planning and drafting of Charter 08 began in the late spring of 2008, but Chinese authorities were apparently unaware of it or unconcerned by it until several days before it was announced on December 10. On December 6, Wen Kejian, a writer who signed the charter, was detained in the city of Hangzhou in eastern China and questioned for about an hour. Police told Wen that Charter 08 was "different" from earlier dissident statements, and "a fairly grave matter." They said there would be a coordinated investigation in all cities and provinces to "root out the organizers," and they advised Wen to remove his name from the charter. Wen declined, telling the authorities that he saw the charter as a fundamental turning point in history.

Meanwhile, on December 8, in Shenzhen in the far south of China, police called on Zhao Dagong, a writer and signer of the charter, for a "chat." They told Zhao that the central authorities were concerned about the charter and asked if he was the organizer in the Shenzhen area.

Later on December 8, at 11 PM in Beijing, about twenty police entered the home of Zhang Zuhua, one of the charter's main drafters. A few of the police took Zhang with them to the local police station while the rest stayed and, as Zhang's wife watched, searched the home and confiscated books, notebooks, Zhang's passport, all four of the family's computers, and all of their cash and credit cards. (Later Zhang learned that his family's bank accounts, including those of both his and his wife's parents, had been emptied.) Meanwhile, at the police station, Zhang was detained for twelve hours, where he was questioned in detail about Charter 08 and the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders in which he is active.

It was also late on December 8 that another of the charter's signers, the literary critic and prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, was taken away by police. His telephone in Beijing went unanswered, as did e-mail and Skype messages sent to him. As of the present writing, he's believed to be in police custody, although the details of his detention are not known.

On the morning of December 9, Beijing lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was called in for a police "chat," and in the evening the physicist and philosopher Jiang Qisheng was called in as well. Both had signed the charter and were friends of the drafters. On December 10—the day the charter was formally announced—the Hangzhou police returned to the home of Wen Kejian, the writer they had questioned four days earlier. This time they were more threatening. They told Wen he would face severe punishment if he wrote about the charter or about Liu Xiaobo's detention. "Do you want three years in prison?" they asked. "Or four?"

On December 11 the journalist Gao Yu and the writer Liu Di, both well-known in Beijing, were interrogated about their signing of the Charter. The rights lawyer, Teng Biao, was approached by the police but declined, on principle, to meet with them. On December 12 and 13 there were reports of interrogations in many provinces—Shaanxi, Hunan, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, and others—of people who had seen the charter on the Internet, found that they agreed with it, and signed. With these people the police focused on two questions: "How did you get involved?" and "What do you know about the drafters and organizers?"

The Chinese authorities seem unaware of the irony of their actions. Their efforts to quash Charter 08 only serve to underscore China's failure to uphold the very principles that the charter advances. The charter calls for "free expression" but the regime says, by its actions, that it has once again denied such expression. The charter calls for freedom to form groups, but the nationwide police actions that have accompanied the charter's release have specifically aimed at blocking the formation of a group. The charter says "we should end the practice of viewing words as crimes," and the regime says (literally, to Wen Kejian) "we can send you to prison for these words." The charter calls for the rule of law and the regime sends police in the middle of the night to act outside the law; the charter says "police should serve as nonpartisans," and here the police are plainly partisan.

Charter 08 is signed only by citizens of the People's Republic of China who are living inside China. But Chinese living outside China are signing a letter of strong support for the charter. The eminent historian Yu Ying-shih, the astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, writers Ha Jin and Zheng Yi, and more than 160 others have so far signed.

On December 12, the Dalai Lama issued his own letter in support of the charter, writing that "a harmonious society can only come into being when there is trust among the people, freedom from fear, freedom of expression, rule of law, justice, and equality." He called on the Chinese government to release prisoners "who have been detained for exercising their freedom of expression."

—Perry Link, December 18, 2008
          Tomboys. Yoga. What's next? Ramly Burgers?   
I just shook my head when i first heard about the ban on yoga by Malaysia's National Fatwa Council.

I was wondering, with tongue in cheek, maybe the famous Ramly Burger will be banned next for some reason or other. (Watch a video on how a Ramly Burger is made at the end of the two reports. I just love the burger!!!)
Islamic ruling bans Malaysia's Muslims from practising yoga
Ian MacKinnon, south-east Asia correspondent
The Guardian, Monday November 24 2008

First it was the insidious habit of young women wearing trousers. Now Malaysia's Muslims have been warned off the perils of practising yoga.

The country's leading Islamic council has issued an edict prohibiting people indulging in the exercise, fearing its Hindu roots could corrupt them.

The national fatwa council's latest decision again reflects a tilt toward an increasingly conservative strain of Islam in predominantly Muslim Malaysia. It is causing consternation among the country's other ethnic groups that make up a third of the 27-million population.

The fatwa, or decision, prompted sneering remarks from liberal commentators who urged people not to be cowed by the "robed and the turbaned" who made such rulings.

But Abdul Shukor Husim, the council's chairman, said: "We are of the view that yoga, which originates in Hinduism, combines a physical exercise, religious elements, chanting and worshipping for the purpose of achieving inner peace and ultimately to be at one with god. For us, yoga destroys a Muslim's faith. There are other ways to get exercise. You can go cycling, swimming and eat less fatty food."

The ruling comes after the council said young Muslim women who wore trousers risked becoming sexually active or "turning" to lesbianism. Gay sex is outlawed in Malaysia.

The government recently had to back away from a proposal to restrict women travelling abroad alone, after derision from women's activists across the country.

But it has banned the use of the word Allah by other religions. An influential Christian group claimed Bibles were also being seized at border entry points.

Of Malaysia's non-Muslim population, 25% are ethnic Chinese and 8% are ethnic Indian, mainly Hindu. The council's ruling does not apply to them and is not legally binding. But most of the country's Muslims heed the edicts out of deference.

Marina Mahathir, a prominent columnist and daughter of the former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, wondered where it would all stop.

"What next? Gym? Most gyms have men and women together," she wrote on her blog. "Will that not be allowed any more? What endangers a society more ... corrupt citizens and leaders, or yoga practitioners and females who dress in a masculine fashion?" (Read Marina Mahathir's posts here and here)

Pas, PKR and ordinary Muslims criticise yoga ruling
By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 - Muslim opposition leaders want the National Fatwa Council to be more specific in its edict so that Muslims can decide what forms of yoga are permissible.

Pas research chief Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider that the council should not make a blanket ban but “lay down what is or is not permissible about yoga.”

“This allows a Muslim to be critical of their own faith and empower them to make judgments based on convictions.”

The Kuala Selangor MP added that if the intention of taking up yoga was for the well-being of the body, mind and spirit, then religion need not come into it.

“There is no need for this siege mentality where everything is viewed from the perspective of encroaching on Islam and attacking us,” he said, adding that if one wanted to stray from Islam, there were other ways besides yoga to do it.

PKR Youth’s chief strategist Yusmadi Yusoff also said that the council needed to be more specific with what forms of yoga it found objectionable as generalising the entire art under a ban was discriminatory and denied Muslims a choice of a healthy lifestyle.

“The form of yoga practised in Malaysia is simply a healthy exercise. If the fatwa is on the basis of religious rituals or inclinations, then it must be more specific and detail what parts exactly,” he said.

The Balik Pulau MP also noted that other martial arts, including those in Malay culture, had religious inclination but were not banned outright and doing so, as with yoga, would sacrifice a lot of benefits as a physical and mental form of exercise.

The National Fatwa Council, the country’s top Islamic body, today ruled against Muslims practising yoga, saying it has elements of other religions that could corrupt Muslims as it includes Hindu spiritual elements of chanting and worship.

Though the council’s decisions are not legally binding on Malaysia’s Muslim population, many abide by the edicts out of deference, and the council does have the authority to ostracise an offending Muslim from society.

This has come after it recently banned Muslim women from “tomboy” behavior, ruling that girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam. The majority of yoga practitioners in Malaysia are female.

Both Dzulkefly and Yusmadi, however, believe that the fatwas did not reflect gender discrimination against female Muslims as claimed by women’s group Sisters in Islam.

Dzulkefly said that it was wrong in principle for women to behave like men or men to behave like women and the earlier fatwa presented a set of guidelines rather than a ban on an entire artform.

Sisters in Islam programme manager Norhayati Kaprawi also came out strongly against the fatwa, calling it the latest in a regressive trend for the country’s multiculturalism.

“There has been no report or complaint of any practitioner converting to Hinduism or that yoga has caused a Muslim’s faith to weaken,” she added.

The spokesperson for the Muslim women’s group said that many Muslims have been practising yoga for decades but no one has seen it as a religious matter up to now.

She said that there was no need to be suspicious of other religions and that these presumptions were the cause of the edict.

“When you come up with a national ruling, there must first be evidence of a problem. This is all based on negative presumptions.

“Any activity done with bad intentions can lead to negative implications,” she said, in refuting council chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin’s statement that the physical aspect of yoga should be avoided by Muslims as “doing one thing could lead to another.”

Several Muslims have also expressed consternation with the edict.

The Associated Press reported that yoga teacher Suleiha Merican, who has been practising yoga for 40 years, called yoga “a great health science” and there is no religion involved.

“We don’t do chanting and meditation. There is no conflict because yoga is not religion based,” Suleiha, 56, had said.

Putri Rahim, a housewife, said she is no less a Muslim after practising yoga for 10 years.

“I am mad! Maybe they have it in mind that Islam is under threat. To come out with a fatwa is an insult to intelligent Muslims. It’s an insult to my belief,” Putri told AP.

In a recent blog posting, social activist Datin Marina Mahathir criticised the council for even considering a yoga ban, calling it “a classic case of reacting out of fear and ignorance.”

Sharizal Shaarani, an executive told The Malaysian Insider that he could not see how yoga could affect a Muslim’s relationship with God.

“It is a petty thing. There are more important fatwas like on corruption for the council to address,” he said, adding that as practising yoga did not adversely affect the lives of others, others should not impose a set of values on the practitioners.
Blogpost updated at 2020hrs on 26 Nov 08 with this Reuters report,
Malaysia backs down from yoga ban

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia's prime minister said on Wednesday Muslims should still take up yoga, reversing an outright ban that has drawn widespread protests amid concerns over growing Islamic fundamentalism in the multiracial nation.

Malaysia's National Fatwa Council, comprising Islamic scholars, told Muslims at the weekend to avoid yoga because it uses Hindu prayers that could erode Muslims' faith.

But the decision drew a sharp rebuke from many Muslims and even Malaysia's sultans, or hereditary rulers, who said that they should be consulted on any matters involving Islam.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi moved to contain the damage, telling the national news agency Bernama that Muslims could carry on doing yoga but minus the chanting.

"I wish to state that a physical regime with no elements of worship can continue, meaning, it is not banned. I believe that Muslims are not easily swayed into polytheism," he said.

Just before Abdullah spoke, the eldest son of the ruler of the central Negeri Sembilan state took the government to task over the yoga ruling.

"Islam is a progressive religion and the ulama (scholars) should be confident of the followers' faith rather than micro-managing their way of life," Tunku Naquiyuddin told a luncheon.

"If I go to a church or a Buddhist temple, is there any fear of me converting? ... Where do we draw the line?" the online version of the Star newspaper quoted him as saying.

The yoga fatwa ruling came hot on the heels of another edict against young Muslim women wearing trousers.

Fatwas or religious edicts are not legally binding, but they are highly influential in Malaysia, where Malay-Muslims form just over half of the country's 27 million people.

The fatwa council has said that by wearing trousers, girls risked becoming sexually active "tomboys." Gay sex is outlawed in Malaysia.

Malaysia's sizeable minorities include ethnic Chinese and Indians who practice either Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. (Reporting by Jalil Hamid)

          Bullets Shot At Women’s Rights Activist Home In Northern Pakistan   
A prominent women’s rights advocate in a conservative northern Pakistani region says unidentified attackers have fired two bullets at her house.
          Serbian Lawmakers, In Historic First, Elect Openly Gay, Female Prime Minister   
Serbian lawmakers elected Ana Brnabic as prime minister on June 29, making history by choosing both the conservative Balkan nation's first female prime minister and its first openly gay leader.
          Even MSNBC is Calling Out Hillary Clinton Now for What She’s Been Saying   


CNN has not grown tired of pushing the unproven Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theory, even though big names at the network are doubting it themselves, according to Project Veritas’ undercover videos.

But one major U.S. politician has not tired of blaming a Trump-Russia tie for her defeat — former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. It’s getting to the point, though, where even MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell — who seemed to adore Hillary during the campaign — is calling her out for repeating the same, tired lines during a recent speech.

Speaking in front of cameras, Mitchell seemed to have trouble relating the details of the twisted, rambling conspiracy theory that Hillary wove.

“She, first of all, really drilled down on the fake news, the role of InfoWars, and said that it was very clear to her that there were Americans directing and colluding — and conspiring, really — with the Russian hackers, with Guccifer, with the others who were involved in the hacking, and the dropping of WikiLeaks only an hour after the Access Hollywood tape was disclosed, and saying that they were doing so with such political sophistication. She was basically pointing to the Trump campaign, saying that the dots are now being connected in the investigation,” Mitchell explained.

“She mentioned...” Mitchell began, before stifling a laugh, “...Jared Kushner. She mentioned [Steve] Bannon and Kellyanne Conway in the context of the fact that the Mercers, the big fundraisers who contributed to the campaign and owned Cambridge [Analytica], as part of the deal, and that they connected with the databank in the RNC.”

Mitchell concluded, “So she is drawing a conspiracy theory. She doesn’t have the evidence….”

Watch as conservative media analyst Mark Dice presents what Mitchell said and shows how this is nothing new for Hillary:

What do you think about this? Comment, react to, or share this on Facebook.

          Kellyanne Conway Calls Mika Brzezinski Sexism Claim "Really Rich"    


In an interview with The Daily Caller, White House Counselor, Kellyanne Conway expressed little sympathy for the claim that President Trump’s tweets to Mika Brzezinski were sexist. Instead, she called that idea “‘really rich just for any woman who works here’ because of Brzezinski’s attacks on women in the Trump White House,” writes The Daily Caller.

Conway also wonders why there was never any outrage when the leftist media criticized women in Trump’s administration.

“I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for someone there to stand up and express their outrage at a high-ranking woman at the White House being talked about in such ways,” says Conway in reference to CNN’s Chris Cuomo saying that Conway “looks like she was hit with a shovel” and calling her an “awful woman" in a recently released Project Veritas video. 

Conway’s words echo those of Deputy Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who asked during a press briefing Thursday afternoon, “What about the constant attacks that he receives? Or the rest of us? I’m a woman, and I’ve been attacked by this show multiple times.”


Continuing to make her point that it’s ironic for Brzezinski to be so upset about the tweets, Conway pointed to several comments that Brzezinski had made about her in the past, including calling her “politics porn.”

“When Mika said what she has said about me, I have not responded,” adds Conway. “All those things she’s said about me — ‘politics porn,’ ‘liar,’ ‘nothing honest about Kellyanne Conway’ — I haven’t responded to that, I haven’t shown the texts, I’ve sort of just sucked it up, swallowed it, dealt with the crying kids about it.”


Conway’s comments point to hypocrisy in the mainstream media. They condemn him as sexist while either ignoring the women he has appointed to high positions in his administration or treating those women with contempt. It’s time that the women—the Conservative women—in the White House received the respect they deserve from the media. Until then, as Conway points out, they shouldn’t be so up in arms about a couple of tweets.

          Franklin Graham Publicly Disagrees with President Trump   


It's not often that Franklin Graham publicly disagrees with President Trump. He was, after all, credited with helping Trump win, by encouraging the evangelistic population to vote for him. Graham saw in Trump a president who would elect conservative judges to the Supreme Court, and he understood that to be one of the most defining moves for the next generation.

But that doesn't mean that Graham agrees with everything Trump says, as evidenced in his recent Facebook post. The bold evangelist doesn't like Trump's suggestion to privatize air control, as he explains here. 


"Rep. Bill Shuster’s goal is to modernize equipment and training for controllers faster than under FAA, while providing more stable funding for the system protected from congressional bickering. The measure is a top priority for airlines and has been promoted in Trump's budget and infrastructure plans," shares USA Today

“It ends decades of wasteful spending on failed programs and broken promises," Shuster said. “It gets Washington out of the way of innovation in aviation."

But obviously Graham disagrees. As a pilot who has experienced other nations' air control, Graham does not think this move will better America's system.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments! Thank you!

          CNN Hit With More Bad News After Newest Undercover Video   


Just days after he released bombshell undercover footage of CNN that confirmed everything President Trump and conservatives have been saying about the “very fake news” network, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas released more evidence that puts CNN in a very bad light.

O’Keefe’s first video, released Monday, showed a supervising producer unknowingly revealing to an undercover Veritas reporter that CNN has little regard for journalistic ethics, will do just about anything to get better ratings, has very little faith in the whole Trump-Russia collusion theory but pushes it anyway, caters to its liberal viewers, and scrutinizes Trump far more than they ever did President Obama.

Although the mainstream media tried to ignore the video on Tuesday, it quickly rose to the #1 trending spot on YouTube. Soon after, the Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders urged all Americans during her live press briefing to watch the video.

O’Keefe’s second video showed CNN contributor Van Jones confirming that there’s really nothing to the Russia story. We have not published the videos here because of the crude language used by people caught on camera at CNN, but you can watch them on Veritas’ YouTube channel.

Now in his third video, released Friday, O’Keefe’s undercover reporter spoke with Jimmy Carr, CNN’s associate producer for Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota’s morning show “New Day.” While downing a drink, Carr first admitted that CNN is only impartial “in theory.”

Next he revealed that he thinks 90% of his coworkers at CNN believes what he does: That Trump is completely insane and cares nothing about America. To top that off, when asked about the intellect of the average American voter, he said — to put it kindly — that they’re all complete idiots.


If that truly is the tone of 90% of people at CNN, then it’s easy to see why they have such a liberal, anti-Trump bias.

O’Keefe also obtained unused audio from an interview Camerota did with six Trump supporters 60 days after he took office. In the portion aired for TV, one of the Trump supporters is seemingly stumped when Camerota asks him for evidence of rampant voter fraud in America by Democrats. What was cut, though, is what Trump supporter William Baer said next.

“I mean, has anybody looked into, like what James O’Keefe has done? When he went undercover to those various polling places?” he asked.

He then went on to describe how O’Keefe was able to illegally register to vote in a state without anyone questioning him. It’s an experiment O’Keefe and his undercover reporters have filmed themselves successfully conducting numerous times.


But CNN left all that out.

What do you think about this? Comment, react to, or share this on Facebook.

          Conservative Group Sues After Internet Giant Labels Them a ‘Hate Group’   


When you’re wanting to donate to a charity or nonprofit group, it’s a good idea to do a little research to make sure they’re legitimate and don’t support causes that you oppose. That’s why GuideStar exists, and they’ve become the internet’s largest compendium of data on charities, giving potential donors information on 2,000 different charities, according to the Associated Press.

But then they did something really bizarre. Early in June, they allowed the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center to attach a “hate group” label to any nonprofit they didn’t like.

It was akin to giving a rambunctious child a brush full of paint and leaving them alone in a white-walled room for an hour.


The SPLC went to work, labeling 46 groups as “hate groups.” Some of them included conservative and Christian groups like the conservative Christian Family Research Council, the fundamentalist Christian American Family Association, the conservative Christian Alliance Defending Freedom, and the evangelical Christian Liberty Counsel.

The SPLC’s label sat prominently near the top of every flagged group’s page, warning potential donors to stay away. GuideStar defended their decision to let the SPLC run wild.

Not surprisingly, 41 of the “hate groups” wrote a letter to GuideStar to complain, according to Life Site News. That’s when GuideStar decided to remove the “hate group” label from those 41 groups’ pages, but they made it clear the SPLC’s information on each of those nonprofits would remain readily available upon request.

Now one of those conservative Christian Groups is suing GuideStar for defamation. Florida-based Liberty Counsel uses litigation to defend the rights of Christians in America, and now they’re using their legal muscle to defend what they do. The case is called “Liberty Counsel vs. GuideStar USA, Inc.”

Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver claims, "GuideStar’s CEO, Jacob Harold, is using GuideStar as a weapon to defame, harm, and promote his liberal agenda by using the SPLC to falsely label good nonprofit organizations as ‘hate groups.”

"GuideStar has not retracted its ‘hate group’ label and continues to provide false, defamatory and harmful information it pushes as fact to the public. The damage by GuideStar is far reaching because this false and defamatory labeling has been spread through scores of media sources and the internet. It also appears on the GuideStar Wikipedia page,” he continued.

As of Thursday, the Wikipedia pages for most of the targeted groups mentioned above now prominently feature the SPLC’s designation of them as hate groups, making the attack widespread indeed.

What do you think about this? Comment, react to, or share this on Facebook.

          Why Are?.. – Presented By Google [PICTURES]   

Google Recently, I decided to conduct a Google experiment and write down what the search engines suggests for the phrase "why are" followed by all kinds of nationalities, races, and localities (alright, "recently" seems to be last March, as evident from the Google theme, but I only decided to post this now).

I did this just for fun and found most of the results funny, some hilarious, and some offensive and controversial.

However, all of them have a reason for being there – statistics. It's what people search for. The cream of the crop. Stereotypes, hilarities, it's all here.

If you can, please don't take them too close to heart. In fact, if you're a righteous conservative thinking of lecturing me, ...

Read the rest of this article »

          Domestic Islamic Terrorist Plot to Behead Pamela Geller Revealed   
  by, Associated Press | The New York Post | h/t Blazing CatFur BOSTON — A Rhode Island man charged with conspiring to help the Islamic State group has decided to plead guilty to charges he plotted with others to kill conservative blogger Pamela Geller. Nicholas Rovinski is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a […]
          FreedomWorks Supports President Trump’s Call for Clean Repeal, Then Replace   

FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon fully supports President Donald Trump’s call for clean repeal of ObamaCare, with solutions to improve the healthcare system coming after repeal. He released this statement:

“We completely agree with President Trump. Virtually every Republican has campaigned on repealing ObamaCare for the better part of a decade. In fact, almost every House and Senate Republican voted to repeal most of ObamaCare in 2015. This is the one aspect of this on which conservative grassroots activists and Republicans agree. We can come back later and work on patient-centered, free market-based replacement provisions.

“We urge Republican leadership in both chambers to heed President Trump’s call and fulfill their promise to repeal ObamaCare when they come back from recess. Let’s get this done and begin the process of putting the American healthcare system on sustainable course.”

          Cronyism is Killing America   
Cronyism Kills

The growth of America’s government may soon be outpaced by growth of the average waistline new indicators reveal. Rates of obesity have been increasing over the past several decades, but are now reaching some incredible levels. Currently it's estimated that well over one-third of adults are classified as obese and nearly two-thirds are classified as overweight. Perhaps more distressing is the recent discovery that one in six children are suffering from obesity.

Voices in Congress are now calling for action to take on the growing epidemic, but as usual the government’s so called solution fails to address the root of the problem.

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act is the latest reincarnation of a bipartisan effort to alter how the federal government handles obesity. Advocates claim that by expanding funding for weight reduction focused medication that obesity can finally be defeated.

In actuality the bill is little more than a cash grab by pharmaceutical companies who have been lobbying Democratic leadership for years for another expansion of the deeply flawed Medicare Part D. Even if the bill is passed it will have only a marginal impact on national health and actually increase healthcare spending according to the government’s own estimates.

So if increasing corporate welfare to politically connected pharmaceutical companies won’t defeat obesity, what will? Reducing corporate welfare to politically connected agricultural companies.

Congress is in a committed love affairs with major agriculture corporations and has been for years. Every year, billions of dollars are funneled to major firms that produce select crops, notably corn and soy. Subsidies to corn, as it turns out, incentivize over production of the crop, which in turns leads the industry to attempt and find a use for the excess product.

More often than not, large quantities of corn, or its byproducts, are turned into junk food with little to no nutritional value. Agricultural subsidies, in their current form, are in effect creating and fueling the obesity epidemic in America.

The unsavory consequences of these policies have been widely studied and been made readily available to lawmakers. Leaders in other industrialized nations have taken note and are not facing the same magnitude of issues surrounding weight in their nations.

By interfering in the market process and providing artificial incentives to create unhealthy products lawmakers are directly culpable in the rising rates of obesity and related health problems. Creating an artificial demand for low nutritional food has flooded the market with low quality products that are a major contributor to the current public health crisis. In effect Congress is choosing to prioritize corporate profits over the nation’s health.

If Congressional leaders are serious about reducing the burgeoning rates of obesity facing the country they will abandon crony projects like the Treat And Reduce Obesity Act and go after the root of the problem. Corporate welfare and crony capitalism are literally killing Americans in mass by artificially inflating the market with unhealthy food, expanding the handouts to more industries will not solve the problem.

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          FreedomWorks Congratulates Tim Huelskamp on New Role   

FreedomWorks president Adam Brandon released the following statement on former congressman Tim Huelskamp’s new role as president of the Heartland Institute:

“It will be excellent to have Tim Huelskamp join us in the advocacy space. He is a true conservative who won’t be swayed by anything. I look forward to working closely with him to advance freedom and limited government in healthcare reform, tax reform, and fighting big government in a number of other ways.”

          Freeing Airports from Government Control   

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is up for reauthorization this year. Already, there have been several reform proposals, including taking air traffic control (ATC) from federal hands and turning it into a non-profit corporation.

Another issue that could be discussed is the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC). Though currently subject to caps, it might actually be a worthwhile idea to eliminate those caps and allow airports to charge them independently so that the air transportation industry does not need federal funding.

The PFC is a charge placed directly on passengers, usually through ticket sales, that are used to help build airline infrastructure. They were initially authorized in 1990 by the federal government to replace user based airport charges after they were banned in the 1970s. It was last raised in 2000 to $4.50 to keep up with inflation, but since it has not been raised it has taken in less revenue than it would need due to that inflation.

At the moment, they cannot go to profit based projects like parking garages and terminal areas used for concessions but instead must go to infrastructure related projects such as airside projects, terminal area projects, interest costs on airport bonds, access projects such as roadways, people movers or transit projects, noise mitigation projects, new runways and other airfield improvements, and additional gates for new and increased service.

The PFC does not actually function as a tax since it is not collected by the federal government. Were the cap removed, it would entirely be set by the airports, collected by the airports, and used by the airports. Total control would be handled by the airports, which would reduce federal involvement in air transportation.

Put simply, allowing airports to collect their own funds make the most economically efficient sense. Otherwise, the government is collecting funds that the airports already could have through airport taxes and handing them back. Considering they will likely be mismanaged, it would be easier to just let the airports collect the fees.

This also would be a great way to replace the various actual taxes on passengers. At the moment, passengers are subject to various taxes, including the Domestic Passenger Ticket Tax, the Domestic Flight Segment Tax, the International Arrival and Departure Tax, and an excise tax on Kerosene for Use in Commercial Aviation. Removing the caps on PFCs would allow them to replace all these taxes for an easier and fairer system.

Once the system is made simpler, costs will likely drop overall. No organization will know how much funds are needed to pay for better than the airports who need them so they will be better suited to adjust prices for their needs. This means that prices will not be selected arbitrarily as they would be made by congress and will be better suited to address consumer needs.

Congress should eliminate the caps when it reauthorizes the FAA and hand control of prices back to the airports.

          6/30/2017: News: Tory snubs C4 over Jon (F*** the Tories) Snow   

A TORY MP refused to appear on Channel 4 News last night, saying he ‘couldn’t be sure’ of its impartiality because of presenter Jon Snow’s alleged political leanings. Former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps’ comments came after Snow was...
          So It Is Written, So It Is Done   
I seldom write about my state, Mississippi……basically nothing of interest happens too often….but I do like their politics.  A Bible Belt conservative state that elects those people that do the most damage to the state……in essence a cultural wasteland. My state has about 21.6% poverty……is 49th on the health index…..49th on the best educated index…..I … Continue reading So It Is Written, So It Is Done
          Comment on The Trump Era by munubantu   
Man, you have a <i>real</i> President in the USA! A <i>tweeting</i> President! It's unbelievable! ( ( After 8 years where a Black President - Barack Obama - was harshly criticized both by racist conservatives (not believing yet that <i>their</i> Nation had a Black President => kind a bad dream turned reality!), and a certain Left which demanded or expected much, much more from him, well, after all these years, a <i>true White</i> becomes President (as it should be, after all; are Whites not the majority?) and do you know what: It seems that God is playing <i>the cynic</i> with His creatures and their beliefs! This new President is misbehaving... misbehaving... repeatedly! For dismay of many White citizens! He behaves even worse than the <i>despicable</i> Blacks usually (?) do. Eventually worse than the <i>African savages</i>, who knows?! The rest of the World is watching in amusement! Maybe Abagond could consider a dissertation about this...
          Pride 2017: Show love, show progress, #ShowUp   

Growing up in Chandigarh, India, a small, conservative city about five hours north of New Delhi, I knew early on that something about me was different. After undergrad, I moved to Champaign, IL to get a master’s degree in engineering, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of India for a small, quiet university town in the Midwest. My newfound independence abroad gave me the space to confront and accept my difference—and come out as gay.

During my first summer in the U.S., I visited Boystown in Chicago, one of the most famous gay neighborhoods in the country. It was a bright summer day and the streets were packed with smiling, laughing people from across the LGBTQ community. It was only a matter of seconds before my friends and I got caught up in the excitement and camaraderie of the place. For the first time, I felt I could be myself.

When I joined Google, I was excited to find a community of LGBTQ Googlers and allies who celebrate Pride across the world, and not just by marching in parades (although we do lots of that, too). As a company, we want to make sure our products help LGBTQ people feel they can be themselves, whether they’re in Chandigarh or Chicago.

From displaying Pride parade routes in Maps, to the fifth consecutive year of YouTube’s #ProudToBe campaign, 2017 was all about connecting people with local Pride events and sharing experiences across the globe.

In addition to #ProudToBe, which encourages people to share their stories and connect with others around the world, YouTube made a number of commitments to continue supporting the LGBTQ community and shared a video celebrating Pride and all the great LGBTQ YouTube Creators.

#ProudToBe: Celebrate Brave Voices this Pride

Google My Business made it easier for merchants worldwide to let people know their business is “LGBTQ-friendly” or a “Transgender Safe Space.” Once merchants opt into these attributes, they’re shown on business listings in Google Maps and Search to signal to potential visitors that their establishment respects and treats all people equally.

LGBT_highlight mobile_1850.png

In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer announced a $1 million grant to record critical moments in LGBTQ history, including the night of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Uprising is important to the ongoing road to civil rights for LGBTQ communities around the world—and its message is as resonant and necessary today as it was in 1969.

US Senator Chuck Schumer announcing a grant to the LGBT Community Center of New York City in support of the Stonewall National Monument

And we launched #ShowUp, a project designed to help people take action in support of the LGBTQ community at a local level. By entering their zip code on the #ShowUp homepage, people can find the nearest parades, marches and LGBTQ-supporting nonprofits in their communities. The campaign also aims to chart progress in LGBTQ rights across eight U.S. cities by recording individual stories about why showing up matters.

#ShowUp Stories: Lily | Birmingham, AL

Boystown made me feel safe to be myself. All people deserve to feel this way. At Google, we hope that, by  connecting people with local events and sharing experiences across the globe, Google can help even a few more LGBTQ people feel safe to be themselves.

          Conservative Businessman Hired Heavily Tattooed Punk Milf Whore To Fuck   
Watch Conservative Businessman Hired Heavily Tattooed Punk Milf Whore To Fuck at free fuck and porn video site
          Appearance on the Mediasphere: Blogging Network, Advertising Networks and the Economy   

I had an opportunity to appear on the Mediasphere show with Jim Turner. I shared my thoughts on the future of online advertising and advertising networks, a topic that came up again this past weekend with the announcement that Pajamas Media, a conservative political blog and advertising, was closing their ad network. Take a listen.

The post Appearance on the Mediasphere: Blogging Network, Advertising Networks and the Economy appeared first on

          Texas Supreme Court Questions Rights Of Benefits For Gay Spouses   

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The Texas Supreme Court has questioned whether gay spouses are legally entitled to government-subsidized workplace benefits in a unanimous decision quickly condemned by gay-rights groups. The court on Friday overturned a lower court’s decision that favored same-sex marriage benefits, ordering the issue back to trial. Social conservatives hope the case will […]

The post Texas Supreme Court Questions Rights Of Benefits For Gay Spouses appeared first on WTAW.

          Why Republicans are thinking of keeping an Obamacare tax on the rich   
To fund changes that could make its health-care bill more palatable to critics, Senate Republicans are considering leaving in place one of the Affordable Care Act's taxes on the wealthiest Americans — a tax that has long been unpopular with conservatives. The details of which taxes would be scaled back and by how much haven't been […]
          How bad are Trump's judges? A Little Rock native illustrates   
We've written before about Little Rock native John Bush, the Louisville lawyer nominated by Donald Trump for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He comes Federalist Society-certified, which is bad enough, but his record as an opinion further illustrates his lack of fitness for the bench, particularly when it comes to a demonstrated animus toward gay people and women's abortion rights. He also professed a lack of knowledge or awareness of any divisiveness spawned by Brown v. Board of Education. Yes, a Little Rock native knew of no fallout from the seminal desegregation ruling that ultimately brought federal troops to the city of his birth.

An article in his hometown Louisville Courier-Journal, where his wife, also a lawyer, contributes a similar right-winged opinion column, illustrates just how bad Bush is. And he's little different from many others Trump has nominated. Even some Republican senators have been taken aback by Bush, but apparently have been brought into line by Republican leadership to approve. They believe him today when he says he really didn't mean all the ugly things he's written. Lying then or lying now? It's a bad bet for an enforcer of the Constitution.

Bush's strategy now is to duck questions about his blogging.

Trying to save his nomination to a federal appeals court, Louisville attorney John K. Bush has evaded questions about blog posts in which he equated abortion with slavery as America’s greatest tragedies, denounced gay marriage and embraced other conservative views.

Responding to written questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about his more than 400 posts on hot-button issues, Bush repeatedly said “my personal views are irrelevant to the position for which I have been nominated.”

He refused to answer questions about commentaries in which he criticized public financing or raised doubts about global warming, saying the questions call "upon me to weigh in on a political debate, which I cannot ethically do as a nominee for judicial office.”

Asked why he joined the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group whose Louisville chapter he co-founded, he said, “I believed that membership ... would help me learn about interesting legal topics that I might not otherwise encounter in my practice.”
He is not alone. Trump has turned his appointments over to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. With Supreme Court appointee Neal Gorsuch already forming a block with Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, the future is not bright.

          Comment on LELO Explains Adult Spanking by SonjaMcDonell   
I'm Sonja McDonell, 23, Swiss Airlines Stewardess with current 13 oversea towns, very tender with lots of (sexual) fantasies, also in my wonderful job. I've just read the spanking stories, wonderful! My extraordinary fascinating long story in the Philippines: I spent 3 1/2 weeks in the Sea View resort in Negros ortiental. Poeple in the Philippines are very helpful, socially oriented & always smiling, even they're poor. Some beautiful waitresses smiled always at me & said 'Hello, how are you?'. I thought then, how it would be with such a beauty in my bungalow nbr 2. I decided at the 2nd morning at breakfast to give good tips for their excellent services. I asked the 22 yo Nelfie, how much Pesos she has every day. She told me, in the best case from 11am until 12 midnight inclusive tips from her guests ~ 600. I gave her then 100 & she was so happy with 'Thank you so much Sonja'. I asked her then, whether she'll come to me after her work. She smiled & after a while, she said yes. I was happy & curious, how the time with her will be. I bought then food & drinks in the little grocery over the street & then I went to the beach to swim. I was alone there. At the later afternoon, I went back in the bungalow & I took my small white bikini out of my luggage. This bikini coveres little bit my nipples & my ass. I laid it on the table in front of the bungalow & then I slept little bit. After midnight, she knocked at the window. I took a towel to cover me & I opened the door. I'll never forget her face & her big eyes. I told her to sit at the table & I'll bring sandwiches & Coca Cola. When I went back, I saw my bikini in her hands. She told me, this bikini is very cheeky, it coveres barely your breasts & your ass. Yes, it disturbs you? She said 'No, it's my first time I see such a biklini'. I asked her, whether she wants to see me in it. She smiled & said yes. I dropped the towel & I took the bikini intentionally slowly on my body, so she can see my little 'twins' & my ass. I saw her tongue rolling around her lips. This was the point of my decision to take her in my room. She smiled again & we went inside. I asked her, whether she wants to stay in my large bed. She said yes & dropped her clothes. Wow, so little breasts & a black hairy pussy. I realized, she was horny. We laid in the bed & we hugged & kissed us. I held her head & I moved it between my legs. Then I felt her tongue on & in my pussy, while she moaned silently & after some seconds, she told me 'It's my first time to see & to lick a pussy'. We changed then & I licked her. After ~ 1 minute, she told me to go in the toilette because of the many Coca. I told her, I'll drink her pee. She looked at my very questioningly & then she sat on my mouth. I had to swallow 3 times, so sweet as tea with much sugar. I asked her then, whether she'll also drink my pippi. She thought about it & then she said yes. Early in the morning, I woke her up & I told her, my bladder is full. She smiled & I sat on her mouth. We spent then every night together & over the weekend, she took also her inexperienced girlfriend with her. I think, this isn't usual in the conservative Philippines. But all people have their hidden desires. Which are your desires & possible experiences? SonjaMcDonell at yahoo dot com
          Neon Deion Sanders, Koch brothers, Snoop Dogg – odd bedfellows, indeed   

Deion Sanders, a star of both the Atlanta Braves and Falcons in the early 1990s, has partnered with the politically conservative Koch brothers to fight poverty in Dallas. An “unlikely partnership” is how a reporter with the Associated Press characterized the relation.

The post Neon Deion Sanders, Koch brothers, Snoop Dogg – odd bedfellows, indeed appeared first on SaportaReport.

          Tell Them That It's Human Nature   
Lately I've noticed that moments of contentment come unexpectedly. With three kids, a sometimes demanding job, a house, a marriage, and other relationships I don't spend nearly enough time tending to, I often spend more time thinking of what didn't get done than what did. What I hadn't gotten to at work and should have. What quality time I'd half-assed with my kids because my mind was in a million places.

Michael Jackson's Thriller came out when I was in tenth grade. It defined my high school experience. My best friend Susan and I shared a locker in our conservative private Christian school, and were reprimanded for decorating the door in a montage of Jackson shots. I put a plastic "Thriller" jacket on layaway at Sears; not being particularly courageous in the fashion department, I ultimately only had the courage to wear it once or twice.

By this time I no longer shared a room with my sister, but the remnants of our time together remained. Years earlier we were allowed to choose how we wanted the room decorated, and at that moment Becky had been feeling purple. The result was purple carpet, purple walls, a purple ceiling, purple crushed velvet bedspreads on our twin beds. The room remained regal into my high school years, although I made throw pillows to tone down some of its royalty. So I spent hours in my purple room, playing Thriller over and over on my Emerson turntable. I loved every song on the album, but "Human Nature" had a special, eerie feel for me. It felt grown-up in the way the other songs didn't, and I heard it and thought of all the possibilities laying out before me. The road was wide open.

A few years later I was in college, and Michael Jackson was a joke. The Thriller jacket was loaned to a friend for a comedy bit in a college show and never returned. The album was long packed away. The ensuing years, with their tabloid drama and true or untrue allegations, were not kind to Michael. I gave Thriller and Off the Wall to Goodwill when Phil and I were downsizing for a move to Brooklyn.

When Michael died, though, I bought a copy of The Essential Michael Jackson, and the kids and I have been listening to it nonstop. Whenever a slow song comes on, the boys yell that they hate love songs, and I have to skip over, say, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" so that we can get to "Leave Me Alone." They have no tolerance for "Human Nature," which is fine with me. The song has made me feel sad, seeing that the road is no longer wide open, and I prefer to listen to it alone, without their banter and squabbling. I've made life choices that have negated other life choices. My age now was inconceivably old to 16-year-old purpled-roomed Cindy. Had I let my mind wander to this age, I would have won an Oscar for best screenplay in between consulting with patients in my thriving New York psychology practice. I was not picturing the chaos that is my current life. The fact that the physical flaws I saw at 16 didn't disappear but only magnified as I grew older. I wouldn't have pictured myself schlepping to work in jeans and a hail-damaged Subaru.

Tonight Phil took the boys out to get their Halloween costumes, and Sylvia and I had a little girl time. She destroyed the living room while I loaded the iPod with some favorites I'm only able to listen to alone. When "Human Nature" came on, before I could get wistful, she came into the kitchen and started dancing and laughing. She appreciated the song. She didn't ask me to flip past the ballads. She has her whole life ahead of her, with all the promise and possibility that brings, and she was enjoying it.

Sylvia wasn't a planned-for or necessarily wanted baby. I was at the point that I was ready to move on from babies. When I learned I was pregnant, Phil and I spent a good deal of time hand-wringing before we settled into the inevitable. When I lost that baby, we were sad but also had some guilty relief. When I learned I was pregnant again a month after the miscarriage, I knew this baby wanted to be here. Watching her dance to "Human Nature," I listened to the song for the first time feeling the same excitement and potential I'd felt at 16. I hope she felt it, too.
          Friday 6 30 17 morning call   
First of all, thanks a lot to blod reader Alex for the much appreciated donation through the Paypal button on the right.

Lahaina side provided some really good waves again yesterday morning. The photo of the day is a frame grab from a video that Jason Hall posted on Instagram. I wish I could share the whole video, but they make it hard to embed. It is a set at Olowalu, which I referred in my early morning beach report as "light offshore, but flat when I drove by".

Also, the report started like: "west side looked knee to waist from the road. Lahaina has bigger sets as usual". Since there were occasional overhead sets in Lahaina, I feel compelled to specify that:
1) my west side reports are based on what I see from the road while I drive towards Lahaina. I do not stop at each spot and watch it for 10-15 minutes.
2) unless I specify an upper limit (like up to head high), bigger that waist high means bigger than waist high and that can be belly high or double overhead!
3) I tend to be conservative. I hate to create expectations of a particular size and then have you guys drive all the way and find it smaller. Also, when I say it's waist high, I mean that most of the waves are waist high. But that means that there's also bigger sets, of course and every single time, even if I don't specify that.

In other words, take those reports with a grain of salt. And, I write this against my interest of generating traffic for this blog, if your connection speed allows you, ALWAYS look at the webcams too.

4am significant buoy reading
South shore

2.6ft @ 13s from 131° (SE)                      
0.7ft @ 18s from 45° (NE)

2.1ft @ 12s from 160° (SSE)

2.2ft @ 13s from 177° (S)

Still energy from the south at the outer buoys in the 12-13s range. That is a period that many spots of the south shore prefer over longer ones.
Let's take the popular Thousand Peaks as an example. Over there 2f 18s would make for shoulder to over head high closeouts. 2f 12s would make knee to belly high peeling a-frames.

This also gives me the opportunity to repeat one more time that the size in feet indicated by the buoys has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE HAWAIIAN SCALE. The Hawaiian scale is something so inaccurate, ambiguous, unscientific (and overall dumb) that I don't even want to waste more of my time commenting on it.

The size in feet indicated by the buoys is what the open ocean swell is and the size of the breaking waves will depend on:
1) the break itself
2) the period
3) the direction
4) the tide

Guessing the size of the breaking waves at a particular break upon the readings of offshore buoys is something that requires a bit of local knowledge. Not that difficult to build, IMO. You just look at the buoys and at your spot every day for two weeks and you have a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about.

I reported also that .7f 18s reading at the W buoy, because I believe it's an indication of a new long period pulse FROM THE SOUTH, that both Surfline and Pat Caldwell predicted based on the WW3 output. I explained many times why the direction appears to be from a completely different direction, but I'll do it again for the benefit of the new readers (and because I have the time this morning, since I have a lesson that only starts at 7am).

The W buoy is also reading 6.7ft @ 8s from 73° (ENE). That's a hefty windswell that I don't report because it isn't "significant" for the south shore waves. It doesn't make waves for the south shore. If anything, it might interfere with the shape of south swells in some spots, introducing a wobble in the lip, but in this case the Haleakala offers plenty protection from it, since it comes from a direction of 73 degrees (you can definitely rely on that direction a lot more).

The presence of that heavy almost 7f oscillation every 8 seconds, makes it very hard for the buoy to detect the direction of a much weaker and inconsistent open ocean ground swell like 0.7f 18s in this case. The indicated direction is hence completely wrong. If there was such a swell from 45 degrees, it would most definitely appear at buoys like North or Mokapu (and it doesn't). Also, there was absolutely no fetch from the NE in the past few days that would make such a long period swell.

Sorry about the river of words, I got a bit caught up in the explanations. I hope some of the readers appreciate it.

North shore
4.8ft @ 8s from 66° (ENE)

Windswell only on the north shore. No 18s from the NE readings at Pauwela either...

Wind map at noon. Once again not particularly strong and that's because of the reason explained below.

I explained that to a Hi-Tech rental customer just yesterday. Based on the Windguru table below, he thought that Friday was going to be the windiest day of his stay. Instead I told him to hover with the mouse over the arrow that indicated the direction and get a number. In today's case, the direction shows 60 degrees and that doesn't get particularly amplified by the Haleakala. So those 16-20 knots might easily remain such. Take Sunday instead. The direction is around 90 degrees and that can potentially make those 9-12 knots become 20+ and very gusty. The more east in the offshore direction of the trades, the more they get amplified and become gusty on the north shore. When you pass 90 degrees, they only get amplified east of Hookipa and are not goot for sailing downwind of it.
Another important thing you want to look at on that map is the cloud cover (red circles). The clearer the sky, the stronger the thermal component will be.

North Pacific only shows the windswell fetch.

With a good timing now the South Pacific only offers a Tasman Sea fetch, while the SSE one has become totally negligible.

Some clouds, but nothing major.

PS. I put the following two labels on this post for easy future references:
- how to read the windguru table
- guidelines for interpreting the buoy readings
          Conservative Milf Teacher Gangbanged By Group Of Her Students Late At Night As Revenge For Being Bitchy   
Watch Conservative Milf Teacher Gangbanged By Group Of Her Students Late At Night As Revenge For Being Bitchy at free fuck and porn video site
          Comment on Friday News: “Donald Trump is not well”; “Understanding Republican Cruelty”; TMac Tells Trump Voter Suppression Group to Buzz Off by Southern Liberal   
Glad to hear that Greta's gone bye bye. Andrew Lack needs to depart for Fox if he is so hyped with plans for conservative programing. He can take along his recent conservative talkers with him.
          Comment on Open Forum: July 1, 2017 by OldOzzie   
<em>This conviction came to me in adulthood, as it does for many, after a misspent youth of ideological delusion. Writing in Quadrant this month my News Corp colleague <strong>Tim Blair explained his centre-right conversion in perceptively blunt terms. “The best part of adopting conservatism after years of leftism, by the way, is how much easier life becomes,” he concluded. “If you’re a conservative, facts are generally all you need to establish a case or mount an argument. If you’re a leftist, however, you always have to find a way around the facts, which is why combative lefties always sound like lawyers knowingly representing a guilty client.”</strong> Here lies the secret of the ­Coalition’s present disarray and future revival. <strong>They’ve forgotten first principles and need to examine facts, debate practical solutions and fight to deliver them.</strong> Compromise will always have its way <strong>but they might start with conviction instead of guardedness, and give us clarity before endless subclauses.</strong> Orwell argued that just as our language becomes “ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish” so too does the “slovenliness of our language” make it easier for us to entertain foolish thoughts. Damn straight.</em>
          Comment on Open Forum: July 1, 2017 by OldOzzie   
<a href="" rel="nofollow">Liberals under Turnbull have elevated politicking over policy</a> <em>How did it come to this for the Coalition? And what is the way forward? At heart, the answer is quite simple but the complexities of personalities and politicking have complicated the descent and will hinder any recovery. Elected in a landslide just four years ago, the Liberals have ­frittered their mandate, undermined public confidence, failed on the most important task of budget repair and gone some way to ­making a Shorten Labor government inevitable. Linking poor policy, clumsy politics and susceptibility to personality-driven leadership solutions is straight-talking — or rather the lack of it. As George ­Orwell explained better than anyone, the retreat from direct language in politics is a symptom and a cause of muddled thinking. We cannot think with clarity if we don’t speak plainly, and vice versa. The Liberals have fallen into the leftist whirlpool of spin. They have succumbed to what is poison for the centre-right — fashion. Tempted to endear themselves to the progressives of the media/political class, they have forgotten their core value, the primacy of good sense over superficial appeal. Like the inch-deep state Labor model that Kevin Rudd took to Canberra, they have elevated ­politicking over policy substance. This has manifested itself in meaningless rhetoric, aimless positioning and an obvious lack of policy coherence. Superficial language has encouraged superficial policy, and vice versa. The damage is anything but superficial. It is substantive and long term — for the party and the nation. On climate, energy, education and fiscal repair the Liberals have surrendered policy strength and differentiation. Nods to fashion have them almost indistinguishable in practical terms from what is now a deeply green-left ALP. As we contemplate the prospect of a Shorten-Di Natale government that would deliver higher taxes, deeper deficits, more debt and higher power prices, we need to comprehend that this is precisely the formula that has been delivered so far by the Coalition. The difference is only in degree. Perhaps the only clear policy contrast is the extent of accountability for unions. It should have been impossible for a Coalition government to drift down this path. The Liberals have not been prepared to speak simple truths; to argue unpalatable facts. (Let’s leave the Nationals out of this for now because they have been largely innocent spectators as their Coalition partners have fallen into dysfunction.) There are pivotal aspects of important national debates that are obvious to any well-informed voter or self-evident to the common sense of mainstream Australians but are never mentioned in direct terms by Liberal politicians. The only people who seem to be prepared to say what they think are political outliers such as Pauline Hanson; she is prone to wade in without nuance or factual ballast yet still wins a political dividend just for engaging on the tough issues. The debate, otherwise, is constrained like a polite dinner party within invisibly delineated, politically correct boundaries set by the media/political class Take climate policy. No Liberal politicians, much less those in cabinet, will even discuss modelling and observations on global warming, preferring to inoculate themselves from leftist attacks by repeating meaningless mantras about “believing” in climate change. You may as well say you believe in tides. The dinner table debate on ­climate assumes two enduring myths: that scientific research has settled on a climate trajectory; and that Australia’s emissions reductions will make a difference. So it is all about how we cut emissions. Significant developments such as the publication in Nature Geo­science this month of a paper by Benjamin Santer and others (including Michael E. Mann) on differences between modelling and measured warming are ignored. “Over most of the early 21st century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed,” these pre-eminent scientists found. “We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early 21st century is partly due to systemic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in mode simulations.” Hold the presses. They are ­admitting warming is not as bad as they predicted. And they don’t ­really know why — so much for the science being settled. Given that politicians are at the forefront of emissions reduction, renewable energy and taxation policies designed to reduce global warming, they should be engaged in discussing crucial facts about the problem they claim to be ­solving. Voters may just be interested. Even if, for argument’s sake, we accept the most alarmist forecasts we still hear no politicians addressing the manifest futility of our policy responses. We are told to accept the world’s most expensive electricity at diminished reliability to meet non-enforceable emissions reductions targets that are ignored or not even set by many nations and cannot make the slightest difference to the global environment because they are being dwarfed by much larger increases in emissions overseas. Few things could be more important to the economy and national debate of this energy-rich nation; yet this element of debate is studiously ignored by Liberals — presumably for fear of attracting the opprobrium of the media/political class. Tony Abbott speaks plainly about it now, only after ­losing the prime ministership. Likewise in education, Liberals do not point out that all the available evidence suggests increased expenditure will not improve our declining standards. Instead, they will borrow and spend an extra $23.5 billion and claim virtue ­because this is less reckless than Labor’s goal. On fiscal repair, the Liberals ­accept what the parliament may allow, effectively offering a budget veto to Labor, Greens and crossbench senators. Cold arithmetic dictates what can pass the Senate but where is the advocacy for more reform and less spending? The Liberals under Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull invented new taxes, directly contradicting their narrative and ideological wellspring. They broke promises. Plain speaking gave way to weasel words as they tried to compete with Labor’s disingenuous “fairness” argument. This week Abbott spoke clearly about the financial and strategic madness of buying inferior submarines at a higher cost with longer delays when better, more cost-effective and timely nuclear options are available. Again, this clarity clashed with his language and actions as prime minister, highlighting how the hidden inhibitions of power seem to undermine logical decision-making and unvarnished arguments. To revive their fortunes and defeat Labor, the Liberals must get back to their roots of rational and pragmatic policy based on frank and honest debate. This is their foundation. This conviction came to me in adulthood, as it does for many, after a misspent youth of ideological delusion. Writing in Quadrant this month my News Corp colleague Tim Blair explained his centre-right conversion in perceptively blunt terms. “The best part of adopting conservatism after years of leftism, by the way, is how much easier life becomes,” he concluded. “If you’re a conservative, facts are generally all you need to establish a case or mount an argument. If you’re a leftist, however, you always have to find a way around the facts, which is why combative lefties always sound like lawyers knowingly representing a guilty client.” Here lies the secret of the ­Coalition’s present disarray and future revival. They’ve forgotten first principles and need to examine facts, debate practical solutions and fight to deliver them. Compromise will always have its way but they might start with conviction instead of guardedness, and give us clarity before endless subclauses. Orwell argued that just as our language becomes “ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish” so too does the “slovenliness of our language” make it easier for us to entertain foolish thoughts. Damn straight.</em>
          Comment on "Terror Channel Report: Moral Equivalence Is A Crock" by John Derbyshire   
I thought it was worth amplifying your point. Hope you didn't mind. Yes. And the establishment that took Britain into the Common Market ("EU") was the headed by something calling itself the "Conservative Party". Btw: am I right in thinking that Donald Trump is the only US presidential candidate who ever supported the right of...
          German parliament legalises same-sex marriage   
Germany's parliament voted by a wide margin to legalise same-sex marriage. The parliament voted by 393 votes in favour of same-sex marriage to 226 against. Chancellor Angela Merkel freed members of her ruling conservative bloc to follow their personal conscience rather than the party line.
          These Last 10 Days!!!   
These last “10 days” have been amazing!! In the beginning it was very boring… well the welcome table sessions were!! However as time progressed, the sessions became a little more interesting. The workshops were very interesting!! [well some of them… most of them]. The “poetry workshop” was interesting and the workshop with Constance was also interesting. The other workshops were very beneficial as far as information!! And I can say that I will leave here with more knowledge than I had when I first arrived! The tours were sooo informative!! I feel that it’s safe to say that if it wouldn’t have been for this program, I would not have seen any of the places that I visited. It help to learn so much more about my hometown!! I feel so privileged to have had this opportunity!! The most amazing aspect of this program has been the sociability of the members!! In the beginning we didn’t know each other and were very conservative with actions and opinions! Its “wowing” how we now act as if we’ve known each other for forever! [LITERALLY!!!!! :D] Our “staff” has been WOOONDERFUUULLL!!! Out of all of the programs I’ve been to… I haven’t encountered a group of “staff” members that were sooooo caring and considerate and go out of the way just to make sure that we all feel accepted and comfortable and satisfied!!!!! I have to give a special “shoutout” to Ms Susan!!! She is… wooooow… words cant describe her!! She has been AWWWEEESSOOME!! She is one of a kind!! And I feel that this program will go very far!! I love her and everyone else!! And I will miss them all dearly!!!
          Reactie op SG-café vrijdag 30-06-2017 door Bismarck   
@11: Maar de Conservatives ZIJN nu keihard anti-EU en pro harde brexit en staan daarmee in hetzelfde rijtje als de nationaalpopulisten van UKIP, PVV en FN.
          BWW Review: Roy Horowitz in MY FIRST SONY and THE TIMEKEEPERS at Cleveland Israel Arts Connection In Collaboration With Dobama   

It is the purpose of the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, to share the beauty of Israel, deepen Jewish identity, and explore the human condition. This is done by presenting programs of dance, film, music, literature, the visual arts and theater.

Cleveland Israel Arts Connection's next offering, in collaboration with Dobama, will be two-one act plays starring Roy Horovitz, performed on the stage at Dobama Theatre from July 13 through 16.

Horovitz, and excellence in Israeli theatre, have been become synonymous based on his work with Habima, the National Theatre of Israel, and his many appearances in the United States. He was named "Best Actor" at the International Children and Youth Festival twice and "Best Director" at Cameri Theatre of Tel-Aviv.

The program will consist of "My First Sony," a comedy based on an Israeli book of the same name, which centers on eleven-year old Yotam (Horovitz) who is obsessed with documentation, and records his family and their many conflicts on his tape recorder. The boy finds himself trying to make sense of his world as it crumbled around him, which gives a glimpse of Israeli life not found in the headlines.

"The Timekeepers," the other one-act on the program, is a script by American writer, Dan Clancy, that caught on in Israel and has since toured the world in Hebrew and English versions.

The play gives a different view of the Holocaust. It tells the story of a conservative elderly Jewish watchmaker and Hans, an outrageous gay German man imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp during World War II. The duo is assigned to repair watches for their Nazi overlords. As they work together, suspicion, prejudice and indifference slowly give way to a touching friendship.

Israel, in spite of its orthodox underpinnings, is the most gay-friendly nation in the Middle East. Gays and lesbians are integrated in all levels of society from politics to business to the military. Tel Aviv Gay Pride, attended by 200,000 participants in 2016, is a week-long series of events and is considered by many to be a national holiday.

Horovitz, an out gay man, has benefited from that liberal attitude. He has performed "The Timekeepers" at Out-In-Israel, as well as at Gay Pride celebrations in the United States.

Horovitz thinks "the play conveys the full spectrum of human emotions, despite its grim setting." He's "pleased how the play shows that the pink triangle was worn side by side with the yellow star during the Holocaust."

Horovitz says," I simply love playing Hans." His favorite moment in the play is the ending scene, "when we come to learn that there is so much more to him than meets the eye. I hope it will be a reminder to keep our humanity and sense of humor, even in the darkest times and against all odds."

"I never knew a play that mentions the gay holocaust," Horovitz said. "I thought it was important to remind people there were other minorities in the Holocaust." (Side note: Martin Sherman's "Bent," which will be performed by Beck Center next June, is another play about homosexuality from that era. It follows a group of gay men finding ways to survive Nazi persecution of homosexuals.)

Both "My First Sony" and "The Timkeepers" will be performed in English.

Cleveland Israel Arts Connection is co-chaired by philanthropist Roe Green and Erica Hartman-Horvitz. Green stated, "We are thrilled to bring a world-class Israeli artist to town to perform."

The appearance of Roy Horovitz is the first collaboration between Dobama and the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, which will be followed up in the summer of 2018 with a production of "On The Grill" by Dror Keren. That script finds the author revisiting the landscape of his childhood, in the Jezreel Valley, evoking, like the last flickering embers of a fire, a way of life that has all but disappeared from Israeli culture: the kibbutz.

What: "An Evening with Roy Horovitz" @ Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights on July 13 (7:30 pm, 14 (8 pm), 15 (8 pm), 16 (2:30 pm). Tickets: $30 for general admission, $25 for Dobama members. To purchase tickets, visit or call 216-932-3396. For information on the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection, visit

          Sliding down already?   
Five years ago I wrote a post on the homosexual marriage issue in which I tried to explain that it is only within heterosexual relationships that limiting marriage to two people makes sense. That's because a man and a woman can be thought of as two distinct fitting or interlocking parts that combine to form a fruitful (a fertile) union. But once you think that you can have a marriage between two men or two women then there seems to be little reason to believe that you can't have a marriage between three men or three women.

The warning here is that if a society embraces homosexual marriage, then it is on a slippery slope to marriage between more than two people.

It's not easy to predict how long such effects might take. But already we have news from Colombia that a marriage between three men has been given legal recognition:

          Credit to Bolt   
Andrew Bolt is the most prominent right-wing journalist here in Australia. He has a large audience, writing for the Herald Sun newspaper and hosting a pay TV commentary show.

He is not a traditionalist but a kind of right-liberal. This is most obvious in his attitude to communal identity. He has written that he considers himself Australian but only reluctantly:
Yet even now I fret about how even nationality can divide us.

To be frank, I consider myself first of all an individual, and wish we could all deal with each other like that. No ethnicity. No nationality. No race. Certainly no divide that's a mere accident of birth.

Liberals want us to be self-determined, therefore something that is predetermined like our ethnicity becomes something negative for the individual to be liberated from. That's why Andrew Bolt once declared his support for:
The humanist idea that we are all individuals, free to make our own identities as equal members of the human race.

And he is intellectual enough to take this liberal principle to its logical conclusion, namely that we should only identify with our own self. He writes about how he once tried to identify with his Dutch ancestry but rejected this because:
I was borrowing a group identity rather than asserting my own. Andrew Bolt's.

You would think, given this dramatic adherence to liberal principles, that Andrew Bolt would not be of great interest for traditionalists in Australia. Yet because he has a courageous personality he raises issues that many others will not. Last week he wrote one of the best newspaper columns I have ever read in the Australian mainstream media. The first part dealt with a physical attack on him launched by two members of the Melbourne antifa. You can see footage of the attack in the video below:

Bolt defended himself remarkably well and he wasn't backing down when he wrote about the incident in his column:
TO ALL those who called me with sympathy for being attacked on Tuesday by masked protesters: stop it.

Sympathy is for losers. And we must be losers no more.

So I want your high-fives instead. I want you to laugh at the CCTV footage of the haymaker I gave one of the three men who jumped me and blinded me with a thick liquid outside a Carlton book launch I was to speak at.

Their sort has ruled the streets for too long, particularly in Melbourne.

The main part of his column was a strong argument to close the borders to avoid the terror threat. It's worth reading in full, but here are some highlights:
But did Khayre’s rampage finally shock our politicians into admitting the truth?

Did they finally concede they’d run a refugee program that put Australians in danger?

As if. Here is the response of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: “There are some very, very grave questions … How was this man on parole?”

Wrong. The gravest question of all is actually this: why was this jihadist in Australia in the first place?

Why did our politicians let in Khayre and hundreds, even thousands, of people much like him?

Stop blaming the judges and the police and everyone except the damn politicians who have opened our gates to exactly the mayhem they now pretend to tackle. Our politicians have been wilfully, dangerously, recklessly blind to the danger they’ve imported in their narcissistic urge to seem kind, no matter what the cost to the rest of us.

...So why are we running a refugee program that again and again puts Australians in danger? That brings in terror?

Wouldn’t it be both safer and cheaper to help refugees where they are right now — overseas — rather than pay millions to bring over a lucky few and cross our fingers they’ll fit in?

          Salon flips out over Identitarian campaign   
I saw this on my Twitter feed:

The leftist Salon website has noticed the European Identitarian campaign I wrote about last month. What is happening is that there are ships being operated by various NGOs which are picking up illegal immigrants from the coast of Africa and, in contravention of international law, ferrying them to Europe (they are supposed to be taken to the nearest African port).

The Identitarians have launched a campaign to operate a vessel of their own, a bit like the Rainbow Warrior, to block the NGO ships. The campaign has, to the consternation of Salon, quickly raised funds. (At our last meeting of the Melbourne Traditionalists we raised money to send off to this campaign.)

In their hit piece, Salon quotes one of the Identitarians as saying:
This massive immigration is changing the face of our continent. We are losing our safety, our way of life, and there is a danger we Europeans will become a minority in our own European homelands.

The Salon piece then continues:
The group writes that “humanitarian NGOs traffick hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in Europe and endanger the security and future of our continent. They are responsible for the mass drowning of thousands of Africans in the Mediterranean.”

As The Observer recently reported, the group has raised nearly $100,000 in less than three weeks through an anonymous crowd funding campaign. The group says it plans to pay for vessels, travel costs and film equipment. Italian Identitarians claim they have been offered ships and support from people with boat driving licenses.

The Identitarian statements sound reasonable enough to me. And, as I wrote in my original post on the campaign, it is a template changer - it marks a shift toward a more activist response to what is happening in Europe. And this, I expect, is what has caught the attention of the leftists at Salon.
          Unhinged liberal parenting   
Let's say that you're a liberal and you believe that the highest good is a freedom to be self-defining. What does that mean for how you parent?

In a previous post Mark Moncrieff (of Upon Hope) observed that,
I think the most important word here is the word "raise", children need to be raised. But "being free to be whoever they want to be" implies that children can raise themselves.

It's a good insight and led me to respond as follows:
That's a good way of putting it. And you can imagine why this is so. If you are a liberal and you think that there are no objectives purposes in life and that people should just "be themselves" however they see fit, then there is little purpose to parenting your child - there is nothing definite to raise them toward. Parenting just comes to mean accepting unconditionally. Not imposing anything. Giving the child confidence to "be anything you care to be". The parents are just there to ferry the child around as a kind of support crew, rather than transmitting culture, identity, purpose, wisdom, values.

As it happens a news item appeared last week to illustrate concretely how this works. A Canadian mother is raising her son to be gender fluid. Look at how she explains her decision:
I want my son to grow up knowing he has a voice. Grow up knowing he can do and be ANYTHING he wants to be in this world.

Because I am the parent he needs me to be, he knows ... That me and his father will love him without fail.

Some days he says he wants to be a girl with a vagina and we simply tell him, “When you’re an adult, you can certainly make the decision to change to that if you wish”. ...We support our child in whoever they are and look forward to seeing how their gender expression manifests as they age.

Here we have the logic of liberal parenting set out openly. First, the belief that the highest principle is one of being self-determined or self-defined, as when she says that she wants her son to "Grow up knowing he can do and be ANYTHING he wants to be in this world."

This leads her to the idea that her role is not to interfere with who the child becomes, but instead to take the "support crew" role ("We support our child in whoever they are").

The assumption is that the child will become "the best version of themselves" by himself alone; that he will, in Mark Moncrieff's words, raise himself while his parents look on with interest.

One final point. The father is partly at fault here. Mothers have an instinct to give unconditional love to their children, fathers have a stronger instinct to socialise their sons toward a successful manhood. The father in this case is not even trying.

Father and son

          Modern Family   
In my last post I criticised Sarah Vine for suggesting that the freedom of Western girls to "be whoever" is what defines the West.

It led to a brief discussion on parenting which clarified for me one of the problems we face. Mark Moncrieff (of Upon Hope) commented that:
I think the most important word here is the word "raise", children need to be raised. But "being free to be whoever they want to be" implies that children can raise themselves.

Which led to my own (disjointed) comment in reply:
That's a good way of putting it. And you can imagine why this is so. If you are a liberal and you think that there are no objectives purposes in life and that people should just "be themselves" however they see fit, then there is little purpose to parenting your child - there is nothing definite to raise them toward. Parenting just comes to mean accepting unconditionally. Not imposing anything. Giving the child confidence to "be anything you care to be". The parents are just there to ferry the child around as a kind of support crew, rather than transmitting culture, identity, purpose, wisdom, values.

This is not the only reason why the traditional role of the parent has been undermined. It's more difficult now for parents to set the tone within the family home, given the arrival of portable, wi-fi devices (at least 20 years ago you could simply change the TV channel). But 20 years ago, many middle-class parents were happy enough if their children were raised for the purposes of educational qualifications and career, and so the traditional role of parents in socialising their children was largely left to schools.

This is clearly one issue where it is not enough to be "conservative" (in the sense of conserving the good in society) - we have to be restorationist. We have to restore an older understanding of the parental role, which means giving parents confidence that transmitting ideals of character, of natural sex roles, of identity and loyalty, and of life wisdom are significant to the development and the future well-being of their children.
          What are we defending?   
The Western political class is still responding dismally to terror attacks, such as the one perpetrated on young people in Manchester.

I want to focus on one response in particular, by Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail. Sarah Vine is the wife of a leading Conservative Party politician, Michael Gove. They both support Brexit and might be thought of as "establishment conservative" types.

Sarah Vine reacted to the terror attack this way:

So what we are defending, against the terrorists, is Western girls' freedom to be whoever they want to be. That is how Sarah Vine sees things.

She writes:
...this was not just a cowardly attack on innocent civilians by a blackened heart, this was specifically an attack on our girls — all of them.

Our young, beautiful, free, crazy girls — and their right to live life as they choose.

...Young women enjoying themselves, expressing themselves, being free to be whoever they want to be. Indulgent mums accompanying them, willing to endure an evening of pop hell in the interests of family harmony.

All this is anathema to Islamist fanatics, for whom notions such as sexual equality and female emancipation are an offence.

Sarah Vine is giving us a choice here between Islamic terrorists or "liberated" Western women who are free to do whatever they want. To put this another way, she is defining the West in terms of the liberal value of individual autonomy - a freedom of the individual to self-define or self-determine or self-constitute.

The problems with this approach leap out at you. First, if the great thing is to be whoever you want to be, then the value of a stable, given identity, such as being English, falls in significance. Therefore, the path is made clear for an open-bordered, diverse society in which the population no longer has a shared, long-standing common identity and loyalty to each other. And so you end up living amongst people who hate you and your way of life and wish violence upon you. Being whoever you want to be as an atomised individual leaves you vulnerable to attack - in the long run the terrorists win.

The "be whoever" attitude also fails the girls themselves. Sarah Vine describes quite well the behaviour of young teenage girls:
Girls this age are a special kind of crazy — a wonderful, maddening, mystifying mix of emotions.

One minute they’re trying to persuade you that wearing fishnet tights under a pair of ripped jeans is a perfectly acceptable ensemble for a trip to church, the next they’re in floods of tears because they’ve lost their hamster.

They are a mass of contradictions: monosyllabic, moody and manipulative, but also gentle and loving, as capable of throwing their arms around you in a heart-stopping embrace as they are of telling you they hate you.

If you leave these 14-year-olds to be whoever they want to be you are going to end up with dysfunctional adult women. These girls need their parents to raise them within a strong moral framework which will help to form a good character and encourage wise life choices.

What you don't want is 20-something women who are still a mass of contradictions and a special kind of crazy. Women like this tear apart men and tear down a culture of family life. And they don't inspire young men to want to defend them or, for that matter, the larger society. So, again, in the long run the terrorists win.

Saying "be whoever you want to be" implies that there is nothing strong or wise or virtuous or true that people can aspire to be. It implies that there is no natural telos to being a man or a woman. It suggests that there is no higher character type that we can lift ourselves toward as Englishmen or Australians or Canadians.

A liberal "freedom as radical individual autonomy" just doesn't work as the basis for a civilisation. Sarah Vine believes that we are defending it against the terrorists, but the urgent need is to return to the higher values that existed before liberalism became so dominant in the West.
          Writer/Blogger - Calling all writers! - Toronto, ON   
OR maybe you’re interested in something more hard hitting like exploring what pleasure looks like if you come from a conservative culture where female pleasure...
From Indeed - Thu, 08 Jun 2017 17:51:36 GMT - View all Toronto, ON jobs
          Weeping with Dersh   
Lately I’ve been watching the blossoming lovefest between the conservative-Republican establishment and those on the Left who are raging over the Obama administration’s reaction to the UN resolution against Israel. Arguably, this resolution was an attempt to take away Israel’s bargaining chips in negotiating with the Palestinians. The UN Security Council, which passed the resolution,...
          Trump & Hillbilly Heroin   
Donald Trump’s presidency has had a rocky start, but at least, the narrative goes, he is delivering for his supporters. Matthew Continetti over at the Washington Free Beacon sure seems to think so. Mr. Continetti assures us that he’s making sure his supporters “win” either by canceling TPP, ramping up immigration crackdowns, or bringing back … Continue reading Trump & Hillbilly Heroin
          Conservatives Should Bemoan Trump’s Election   
The man who has commandeered the Republican Party and captured the election is as far from being a conservative as a man can get.
          Virtue Contra Virtù: Reflections on a Claremonster’s Idiocy   
by Anti-Hystericus For several decades, good, earthy conservative thinkers have noted with some disgust the Straussianus Claremonstrius, a peacocking species of intellectual native to the West Coast whose esoteric armchair philosophy, peculiar contortions of Plato and Leo Strauss, and atrocious SoCal fashion choices inspire his Eastern brethren to contest any claims to common ancestry. For … Continue reading Virtue Contra Virtù: Reflections on a Claremonster’s Idiocy
          Mother of God: Two Guys Almost Lost Their Pet Human Child   
We all need to feel sorry for two men who, as Buzzfeed reports, nearly lost custody of the male human child they had bought and paid for, through the unreasonable malice of a rogue judge. The male human child was the byproduct of an otherwise unrelated instance of artificial reproduction in the form of in … Continue reading Mother of God: Two Guys Almost Lost Their Pet Human Child
          Ex-Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter — Trump’s Sarin Claims Built on ‘Lie’ and more   

Scott Ritter debunks the Syrian sarin claims and exposes the propaganda structure behind it as well.

Interesting how debunking articles like this are finding a venue at US politically conservative venues rather than US politically liberal venues now that liberals are on the offensive, promoting propaganda, disinformation, and fake news.

The American Conservative
Ex-Weapons Inspector: Trump’s Sarin Claims Built on ‘Lie’
Scott Ritter
ht Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

See also
The policy of arming military groups committed to overthrowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad began in September 2011, when President Barack Obama was pressed by his Sunni allies—Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar—to supply heavy weapons to a military opposition to Assad they were determined to establish. Turkey and the Gulf regimes wanted the United States to provide anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels, according to a former Obama Administration official involved in Middle East issues.…
How America Armed Terrorists in Syria
Gareth Porter

          After ignoring Pride Month, Trump appoints anti-trans activist to Gender Equality position   

Just a few days after Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III claimed that his Justice Department will “protect the rights of all transgender persons,” the Trump administration has hired Bethany Kozma, an anti-LGBT activist who fought to restrict bathroom access for trans children, to the office of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in the US Agency for International Development.

With just hours left in Pride Month 2017, guess Donald Trump couldn’t help but offer one last F-U to LGBT Americans, after failing to even acknowledge the occasion with a presidential proclamation for the first time since the George W. Bush administration:

In July 2016, Kozma published a post at the Daily Signal, a publication of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, calling for a national campaign in opposition to the Obama administration's guidance saying transgender students have the right to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. She called the campaign "United We Stand," and made her case against the policy by repeating the unsubstantiated assertion that policies allowing transgender people to access the bathroom matching their gender identity leads to sexual assault.

"To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter under the president’s transgender policies," she wrote. "When I learned that predators could abuse these new policies to hurt children in school lockers, shelters, pool showers, or other vulnerable public places like remote bathrooms in national parks, I realized I had to do something."

Kozma celebrated Donald Trump ending former President Barack Obama’s guidance earlier this year, writing that "the silent majority must no longer be silent. With Trump, we now have a president who is focused on remedying the lawlessness of the prior administration." Happy Pride from Donald Trump!

          Midday open thread: Germany legalizes marriage equality; Calif. gun advocates gain temporary win   

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is The Institute for Empathetic Studies

Cartoon by Mark Fiore - The institute of empathetic studies

• What’s coming up on Sunday Kos …

  • Instead of wearing safety pins in solidarity, try Safety Pin Box—a subscription kit for white allies, by Kelly Macias
  • Will conservatives learn anything about deregulation from the London fire that killed dozens, by Ian Reifowitz
  • When you control all three branches of government, you’re responsible for government, by David Akadjian
  • Democrats: Use Trumpcare chaos to push single-payer Medicare for all, by Egberto Willies
  • How to improve Obamacare: If Republicans were smart, they'd listen, by Sher Watts Spooner
  • Oil shock and our energy future, by DarkSyde
  • Unprecedented spite: The American carnage of the GOP health care bill, by Jon Perr
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964: what was done back then—and where we are now, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • Free speech is only for conservatives, by Mark E Andersen


•  Germany finally gets into step with most of Europe on legalizing marriage equality:

“It’s a joyous turning-point,” said Volker Beck, who has campaigned for gay rights for decades, as a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany before he entered Parliament as a member of the Green Party. “Equality and civil rights have been achieved.”

For some, the surprise was only how long it took, in a country often seen as a progressive model for the region. Notable, also, was how quickly the matter moved forward once it was brought up this week.

Journalist-turned-artist teaches journalists how to draw to improve their journalism.



•  New report says global temperature since 1998 is rising 140% faster than previously calculated:

Researchers from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), based in California, have released a substantially revised version of their lower tropospheric temperature record.

After correcting for problems caused by the decaying orbit of satellites, as well as other factors, they have produced a new record showing 36 percent faster warming since 1979 and nearly 140 percent faster (e.g. 2.4 times faster) warming since 1998. 

States move on paid sick leave:

While inaction on paid sick days at the national level continues to erode families’ economic security, cities and states are stepping up for working people and serving as models for jurisdictions throughout the country. Rhode Island is the latest example—legislators there have been working to pass legislation to guarantee a minimum amount of paid time for eligible workers to care for themselves or their family when they are sick or need medical care. [...] If the governor signs a bill, it will be a big win for working people and their families in Rhode Island, as the state will join Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont in guaranteeing that working people have the ability to earn paid sick time.

Gun rights advocates win at least for now as judge blocks California ban on large-capacity magazines: U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez issued a temporary injunction Thursday against the section of California’s Proposition 63 that requires lawful owners of magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition to voluntarily surrender them or face criminal prosecution. “Plaintiffs’ entitlement to enjoy Second Amendment rights and just compensation are not eliminated simply because they possess ‘unpopular’ magazines holding more than 10 rounds,” Benitez wrote. Magazines holding more than 10 rounds have been illegal to sell in the state since 2000. But existing owners were grandfathered in under that law. The new law requires that they destroy these magazines or give them up to authorities or licensed dealers who could sell them in other states. Californians probably have millions of large-capacity magazines in their possession.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: We checked the Trumpmeter & he’s still nuts. Just in time for WSJ’s bombshell on Russian collusion, too. Kobach’s Krazy Kommission kicks-off. Still smouldering over NC-GOV loss, Rs seek to impeach Dem Sec. of State over the menace of… DACA notaries public.

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          Republican budget being held hostage by Republicans demanding to cut safety net to shreds   

Republicans have not been shy in recent years about wanting to cut the safety net to ribbons, slashing programs like food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid and Medicare and heating assistance and unemployment and basically everything else that keeps struggling families afloat. But now even that eagerness to hurt poor people may not be enough. The far-far-right House Freedom Caucus is taking its own party’s budget hostage to demand more and deeper cuts. They have a long list of ways to keep people from getting the help they need, like making work requirements harder to fulfill—currently an able-bodied adult without dependents has to work about 20 hours a week to be eligible for SNAP and the Freedom Caucus would increase that—among other ways of cutting the safety net out from under people. They have a trade-off in mind: less assistance for poor people in the form of food, more assistance for rich people in the form of giant tax breaks.

It’s hard to avoid this point, as the Freedom Caucus is literally proposing to tie welfare reform to tax reform. Jordan himself has hinted at it, calling it “reverse-engineering”: whatever you can “save” from cutting these programs can be reallocated to other party priorities. Ideally, he doesn’t want to stop at SNAP and TANF.

“There are tons of different means-tested welfare entitlement programs that we can work at achieving savings in. Obviously Medicaid work requirements — expanding what’s already in the health care bill. There’s real money there,” Jordan told Vox in mid-June, in a revealing moment about how conservatives are approaching poverty-related policy. And this is one of the only ways conservatives will sign on to the budget resolution.

In public, Jordan and his Freedom Caucus buddies like to pretend that they wouldn’t be hurting people.

          Morning Digest: Walt Maddox, a rare bright light for Alabama Democrats, prepares bid for governor   

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

Leading Off

AL-Gov: Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has been mulling seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Alabama, and on Thursday, he announced that he was forming an exploratory committee. Maddox says he's still deciding, though he put out a very candidate-like statement and video. Maddox did not say when he expects to make a final decision.

Maddox didn't hide his party affiliation, writing, "There's something else you need to know. I'm a Democrat. While many have urged me to change parties for the sake of political convenience, that would be dishonest. Dishonest with you and dishonest with myself." Still, Maddox argued that "the days of running for the Democratic Party or for the Republican Party need to end." Maddox told the Montgomery Advertiser that Alabama needs a break from its many recent scandals; most dramatically, GOP Gov. Robert Bentley resigned in May after trying to cover up an affair with a top staffer. The Yellowhammer State is incredibly conservative, but Democrats may have an opening if they can make the case that change is needed.

Democrats don't have a very large bench here, but Maddox has long been mentioned as a rising star. Maddox earned some attention for his work helping Tuscaloosa recover from the destructive 2011 tornados, and he recently won a fourth term with ease. However, if Maddox runs, he won't have a clear path to the Democratic nod. Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, one of the last Democrats to win statewide office, is in. However, Cobb made some enemies in the party when she resigned in 2011, which allowed Bentley to pick her successor; she also backed then-Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination to become attorney general.

A few other Democrats, most notably 2010 nominee Ron Sparks, have also expressed interest. Things are even more unsettled on the GOP side, where new Gov. Kay Ivey has yet to announce her 2018 plans, but several Republicans are running regardless of what she does.

          Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!   

Hey, we made it to Friday without seeing the Republican Medicaid destruction bill come to the floor.

On the other hand, Trump couldn’t make it to Friday without a major newspaper publishing yet more evidence of his team’s collusion with Russia

So, let’s set things up for the holiday weekend, and give ourselves a reason for some real fireworks!

Listen LIVE, right here at 9:00 AM ET!

Where else can you get live, unvarnished news, commentary and opinion from Daily Kos editors David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando?

Well, sure, you could get that at Daily Kos. And this is Daily Kos.

But that doesn’t count, because reasons. Besides, reading is overrated! Except for what you’re reading right now, that is.

Especially this part: Help make the media you want, with a monthly, sustaining donation to our Patreon account! Or choose your own schedule with our Square Cash account.

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Don’t quit now! David Waldman and Greg Dworkin remind us we are in the middle of a life or death health care battle, and no where near the end. Call up those senators! Raise a ruckus at next week’s parades! Without a win, conservative media wanders away, because it’s about wins, not anything else. Donald now has better things to pay attention to, although he wasn’t ever really paying attention. The worse part of Obamacare for Republicans was the “Obama” part, really. Now they know they hit a wall, their bill is kryptonite, support is fabulously low, even with the base, even on Fox. New Gop fixes include bribing moderates, bribing wingnuts, and relying on the continued ignorance of Medicare recipients… maybe the Democrats are ready to negotiate? Topher Spiro has a bipartisan health care fix. Meanwhile, Republicans just want government to end, at least governing. Chaos is the Trump standard, here and abroad. America first is becoming America alone. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is pretty happy with ruining international relationships, but is not going to move in down the hall from some Russian mobsters! Is the press appeasing Trump? What methods will ever work? In GunFAIL: When a book miraculously stops a bullet in the movies, it’s a miracle… and it’s a movie. So don’t try that. Hey, that’s not gravel on NH Route 101!

(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!)

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

          What Republicans don't want you to talk about: The 208,500 who will die because of Trumpcare   

There's a concerted pushback among conservative commentators and healthcare experts trying to fight the most immediate and gut-wrenching fact of Trumpcare. Like this guy, a well-respected conservative healthcare analyst:


You see, talking about actual outcomes as they result to actual human beings, who we all thought were at the core of healthcare policy, is not being “thoughtful.” Well, sorry, Mr. Roy, but we're going to talk about it because it's real. People are going to die prematurely (and leaving mountains of debt for their loved ones) if Trumpcare becomes law. Here are the numbers as run by Vox: 208,500 deaths in the next decade.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the Senate Republicans’ health care bill becomes law, 14 million Americans will lose their health insurance in 2018, and, by 2026, 22 million would lose coverage.

Drawing on that work, we estimate that if the Senate bill becomes law, 22,900 excess deaths will occur in 2020 — and the figure will grow over time. 26,500 extra deaths will take place in 2026. Over the next decade, we estimate that a total of 208,500 unnecessary deaths will occur if the law is passed (see Table 1).

We also calculate anticipated additional deaths, state by state, using state-level coverage losses for the year 2026 (see Table 2). The predicted excess deaths by state range from 30 in North Dakota to 2,992 in California in 2026 alone.

We delayed Trumpcare—for now. But the GOP leadership is hell-bent on denying health insurance, and is working hard to coerce Republican senators. We need three Republicans to stand firm. Call your senator at (202) 224-3121 and tell them “NO DEAL.” Then, tell us how it went.

          McConnell's Friday deadline for a Trumpcare revision looking shaky   

You squeeze the balloon on one side too tight, and the other threatens to blow up. That seems to be what's happening right now for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in negotiating Trumpcare. When we last checked in (early afternoon in Washington, D.C.) they were talking about jettisoning some of the big tax cuts for rich people in order to find some stuff to buy off the moderates.

Or not.


The other side of the balloon is stretching to the breaking point.

McConnell's team might be able to satisfy more centrist GOP senators with additional funding, conservatives remain a huge headache, according to senators and aides.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his allies are still pushing to gut Obamacare's regulatory structure, but Republican sources doubt that the Senate parliamentarian will allow it. That raises a key question: Can the party's right flank support what's going to amount to only a partial repeal of the law?

One Republican senator was "less optimistic" about meeting the Friday deadline, adding: "I'd be surprised if we get something done by Friday."

Even if leadership decided to keep the Affordable Care Act's taxes on the wealthy, Sen. John Thune, third-ranking Senate Republican says that some of the conference are objecting to that money being spent on not having millions of people lose their health insurance, but on deficit reduction. Because they really care about the deficit. However, some unnamed Republicans told Politico, "the party is leaning strongly toward reshaping the bill to be less of a tax cut for the wealthy and more to supplying health insurance options to the working poor."

All we need is three Republican senators to block Trumpcare. If you have a GOP senator, we need you to call their office at (202) 224-3121. Demand that they put their constituents above their party. After the call, tell us how the call went.

          Defender of Religious Freedom Sues Nonprofit Tracker GuideStar Over ‘Hate Group’ Labe   
On 06.29.17 11:51 AM posted by Rachel del Guidice A conservative organization dedicated to upholding religious liberty has sued the leading tracker of U.S. nonprofits for publicly listing it as a “hate group.” “It is dangerous to label organizations as hate groups when they’re not, [and] people have used that information to commit acts of violence.”—@MatStaver Liberty Counsel is taking GuideStar to court after the top source of information on charities and other nonprofits flagged it and other well-known, broadly supported conservative nonprofits as hate groups. “We want to stop the lies because this kind of reporting is defamatory, it’s reckless, and it’s dangerous,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Daily Signal in an interview.
          Right to Equitable Education for all   

History of the efforts for the universalization of modern education may be traced back to the nineteenth century, when, for example, Jotirao Phule voiced this demand while appearing before the Indian Education Commission chaired by WW Hunter in 1882-83. Subsequently, G.K. Gokhale and some other nationalist leaders also strived for compulsory free elementary education for all children in 1910-12 onwards. 
On the other hand, going beyond the question of expansion, following the trajectory of his views already powerfully expressed in Hind Swaraj, Gandhiji (along with Zakir Hussain) presented his scheme of basic education in late 1930s. It was qualitatively different from the then prevalent models of education. It powerfully symbolized the disillusionment with existing education system and the need for reclaiming knowledge and reconstructing education in order to build a more humane and egalitarian society. With some obvious differences, similar Alternative views on education were also put forward, experimented or practiced by other personalities like Gijubhai Badheka, Aurobindo Ghosh and Rabindranath Tagore in India. 
Education meant to these thinkers and practitioners not only textbook learning, but also values and skills. Further, they realized the pedagogic and epistemological significance of the real life experiences in the learning process of students. They thought that education should help individuals to plan for their career as well as play a useful part in building a better society. In other words, education should become a motor of progressive change in the lives of individual as well as that of the entire community.

They understood that education is crucial for building a democratic, egalitarian, secular, inclusive and humane society, both at the national and transnational levels. It should promote universal human values while, at the same time, inculcate respect for India and its peoples. Education should promote socio-economic justice, political liberty, freedom of thought, equality of status and opportunity, dignity of the individual, integrity and independence of the nation and universal piece. Hence, for them, education was a means for unleashing the full human potential, for serving the larger public interest, as well as the path to social development with equality and social justice. Education for them was not a commodity or service that can be sold and bought in the market, because, as a public good, or more correctly as an instrument of liberation, it had a larger goal to accomplish in society than the commercial motives of colonial state and its allies.

But none of these efforts could yield much fruits owing to colonial Government’s indifference to these alternative thoughts which appeared to it as quite different from the normative Western pattern they considered to be essentially progressive and useful. Added to this was colonial states unwillingness to spend a substantive part of its proceeds on education. More importantly, the above-outline vision could not be materialized due to the apathy of upper castes and classes of Indian society towards the education of children traditionally excluded from the sphere of formal education; and their fear of the ideas perceived to be dangerous for the continuance of their hegemonic position in Indian society.

Even the Framers of constitution were forced in such circumstances to provide merely (but crucial) a directive principle on elementary education with the expectation of its realization by Indian state within 10 years. But the post independance Indian state also did not adopt any fundamentally ground-breaking measures for the universalization and reconstruction of education, despite occasional but significant recommendations by the commissions and committees set up by the state itself. (For instance, Kothari Commission’s recommendation for the establishment of “common school system based on the concept of neighborhood schools–CSS-NS).

Nevertheless, education as a fundamental right of every child could be recognized in clear legal terms in 1992 through judicial interpretation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution by Supreme Court. It was further detailed (but at the same time in many ways curtailed) by 86th constitutional amendment in 2002 and the farcical Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE Act) in 2009.
In this process, the above-outlined philosophical vision of education emphasizing the need for reclaiming knowledge and reconstructing education was glossed over. 

Otherwise, at least before 1970s, a period when the neo-liberal tendencies had just begun to negatively influence the state’s commitment for education; and surely before 1990s, when the influence of neo-liberal ideology on the state became clearly evident, these alternative visions (though never seriously championed) were not discredited by the state and its attended class interests. Now, in the garb of economic liberalization, globalization, public private partnership, self-financed courses and foreign funding, education and knowledge are being brutally transformed as marketable commodities all over the world. It has been quite well documented that not merely the capitalist class interests, but also neo-conservative forces in collaboration with neo-liberal state comprise the vanguard of this historic transition. State is increasingly relinquishing its social commitment in the hands of these illusory private service providers and neo-conservative forces, which are left almost free to enjoy maximum fruits produced by oppressed classes and thereby accelerating even greater inequalities in the social order.

Therefore, in this context, the necessity of launching a news letter through an adapted version of a historic call to “educate! Agitate! Organize!” and continue struggle for ‘reclaiming knowledge, reconstructing education’ is nothing but obvious. Notwithstanding above-mentioned philosophical disillusionment with the prevailing model of education and various other scholarly treatises pointing out its orthodox and complicit nature, Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar obviously perceived liberating potentials of the modern/colonial/western education if it could be provided to oppressed people In an environment, where even the basic skills of literacy were monopolized by a traditionally dominant, but very small minority of people, who disallowed its expansion to others. He therefore advised the oppressed people to grab their share of education to use it as an instrument for building their agitation and organization to continue struggle against all forms of their exploitation. However, Ambedkar’s clarion call cannot be restricted to Dalits alone. It must be viewed as a call for liberation of the oppressed masses, irrespective of their caste, gender, linguistic, cultural, religious or ‘challenged’ body identity. At the same time, in the neo-liberal economic order, we need to transcend Ambedkar and struggle to ‘reclaim knowledge, reconstruct education’ which, in Ambedkar’s times, may have been validly (or as an interim strategy) perceived as a liberative force.  

(By Dr. Vikas Gupta, Delhi University, New Delhi) 

          Education in the Union Budget 2010   
Education in the Union budget

Jandhyala B.G. Tilak

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010
One looks forward to the Finance Minister's budget speech with a hope that it spells some new major initiatives and schemes for development, and that it might promise any major allocation of resources to any sector, besides fresh tax proposals. In the case of education sector, one might feel disappointed at the proposals made in the Union budget for 2010-11 on both counts. No new initiatives are proposed; no major reference to the importance of education is made, except referring to the enactment of the Right to Education. The proposals on allocation of resources also promise little new.

Modest increase

The total plan allocation for education sector has been raised by 15 per cent to Rs.42,000 crore, from Rs.36,400 crore proposed in the 2009-10 budget. (The revised estimate for 2009-10 is only Rs.30,600 crore.) At the current rate of inflation, the increase is very modest, if not insignificant.

The allocation for elementary education is increased from Rs. 21,700 crore in 2009-10 to Rs. 25,000 crore in current budget — a meagre 15 per cent increase in nominal terms. This includes an allocation of Rs.15,000 crore for Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), the major flagship programme for universalisation of elementary education and Rs. 9,300 crore for the national scheme of mid-day meals — together accounting for 97 per cent of the total allocation for SSA. Among others, strengthening of teachers training institutions and quality education in madrassas are the two notable budget items that account for the rest. The increases in allocation of resources to SSA, the mid-day meal scheme and the elementary education as a whole seem to be only token increases. The allocations pale further, given the context of enactment of the Right to Education legislation by Parliament only a few months ago, which promised substantial improvement in access, quality and other dimensions of elementary education and provision of quality education to every child as a fundamental right. The implementation of the Right to Education Act requires enormous resources. Conservative estimates put the requirement as Rs. 171,000 crore for a five-year period, but the government seems to have decided, as per the media reports, to provide only Rs. 32,000 crore for the remaining two years of the eleventh five year plan for SSA, which is considered the main or the only scheme for the implementation of the Act. It appears the Ministry had sought an allocation of Rs. 40,000 crore in the current budget, and the Planning Commission seemed to have indicated its willingness to allocate Rs.35,000 crore; and the Ministry of Finance has allocated finally only Rs.15,000 crore for SSA and Rs. 9,300 crore for midday meals.

In fact, two thirds of the total allocation to elementary education comes from the Prarambhik Siskha Kosh, which is essentially made of the revenues received from education cess for elementary education. Though the District Primary Education Project (DPEP) has been virtually closed, reliance on external assistance for elementary education continues. External aid for elementary education increased from Rs. 683 crore in 2004-05 to Rs. 1,584 crore in 2008-09. In the allocation made for SSA in the current budget foreign aid which is of the tune of Rs. 1,028 crore, constitutes about seven per cent; in addition, foreign aid forms 90 per cent of the Rs. 46 crore proposed for Mahila Samkhya.

On the whole, the overall allocations to elementary education may put serious question marks on the seriousness of the Union government on the implementation of the Right to Education Act, which is yet to be notified.

The allocation to secondary education was least raised — from Rs. 4,600 crore to Rs. 4,700 crore. For universalisation of secondary education, the Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA) was launched recently. While Rs. 1,354 crore was allocated to it in the last year's budget, only 40 per cent was spent as per the revised estimate. Navodaya Vidyalayas, RMSA and the scheme of setting up of 6,000 model schools at block level as a bench mark of excellence can be regarded as the three major budget items in secondary education in the current budget. Of the 6,000 model schools, 3,500 were to be set up under public-private partnerships modes which are yet to be finalised.

The National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship scheme was launched in 2008-09, according to which a scholarship of Rs. 6,000 per annum per head is awarded to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to enable them to continue their studies and complete at least senior secondary education. In 2009-10 Rs. 750 crore was allocated to the scheme. But as per the revised estimates only Rs. 253 crore was spent. One might expect such a scheme that aims at promoting equity and merit, to receive serious attention in the budget allocations. Surprisingly, the allocation to the scheme has been slashed in the current budget to Rs. 90 crore — to about one-third of the revised estimate and 12 per cent of the of the budget estimate of 2009-10.

Allocation to adult education has been more than doubled increasing it from Rs. 450 crore to Rs. 1,300 crore, the major beneficiary being the recently restructured and renamed Sakshar Bharat Programme.

For higher education

Allocations to higher education (general and technical) are also modest; they increased from the budget estimate of Rs. 9,600 crore in 2009-10 to Rs. 11,000 crore in the present budget. The total plan and non-plan allocation to technical education increased from Rs. 5,400 crore to Rs. 6,000 crore. For setting up of new IITs, again Rs. 400 crore has been allocated, like in the previous year. A significant increase in the allocation has been made for upgrading existing/setting up of new polytechnics. An allocation of Rs. 220 crore has been made for the same, compared to Rs. 45 crore in the previous budget. Non-plan allocations to the UGC, IITs and IIMs etc., have been reduced, though there is a small increase in plan allocations. This might mean that the higher educational institutions will need to either raise student fees or face a difficult situation when it comes to maintaining their infrastructure.

More importantly, the budget allocations do not indicate any major restructuring of the University Grants Commission (UGC) or the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), as the total plan and non-plan allocation to the UGC remains more or less the same around Rs. 7,300 crore and that to the AICTE nearly Rs. 200 crore. There is, of course, a separate provision of Rs. 40 crore for the establishment of tribunals, accreditation authority, the National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER) and National Finance Corporation. The draft bills to set up some of these bodies are believed to be at an advanced stage, getting clearance from the cabinet committee etc.

The proposed NCHER is to subsume the role of UGC, AICTE and other similar bodies. Further, in recent years organisations like the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) were subject to a thorough review and experts have recommended major revamping of the organisation and its institutes. The somewhat stable allocation of Rs.50 crore to ICSSR and equally stable allocations to other research institutes indicate no major thinking on the development of research in social sciences in these organisations.

The only scheme that attracted a huge allocation in higher education — Rs.500 crore is the scheme of interest subsidy to educational loans. This scheme, which seems not to have taken off during the last year, is meant to provide subsidy to the students of weaker sections to the extent of interest payments for the duration of the studies. While the scheme needs to be welcomed, it also indicates the government's intention to increasingly rely on student loans as an effective method of funding higher education, rather than providing general subsidies or scholarships.

On the whole, the proposals made in case of education in the 26th Feb 2010 Union budget, to say the least, do not indicate any special significance being attached to education — neither to the Right to Education Act, nor to the recent proposals on universalisation of secondary education, nor to the reforms being discussed in higher education.

( Jandhyala B.G. Tilak is professor at the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi. Email:

           German parliament legalizes same-sex marriage    
Germanys parliament has voted for the legalization of same-sex marriage after German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the conservative party to follow their conscience rather than party lines. Merkel herself voted against the amendment.
          UK’s U-Turn On Abortion for Northern Ireland’s Women    

Women gather in Parliament Square for a protest in support of legal abortion in Northern Ireland, Britain, June 24, 2017.

© 2017 Reuters

The UK government just took an important step in announcing – following a campaign and under pressure from parliament – that the National Health Service (NHS) will carry out abortions at no cost to pregnant women and girls from Northern Ireland who travel to England for the procedure. The decision follows a recent UK Supreme Court judgment that, under devolved health services, women living in Northern Ireland aren’t entitled to free abortions on the NHS in England.

But while the government announcement is positive, it is also a partial and unsatisfactory solution to a problem that should not exist. Women and girls should be able to access safe abortion in Northern Ireland, and the UK government has failed in its obligations to fulfil this right there for too long.

Abortion has been legal in most of the UK since 1967, but the law explicitly excluded Northern Ireland, where it remains criminalized except when the health or life of the woman is at grave risk – denying thousands of women their reproductive rights.

Cases deemed exceptions are rare indeed. Just 16 women were allowed abortions in Northern Ireland last year, while others are forced to carry to full term pregnancies they may never have intended, do not want, or cannot afford or resort to risky abortions or, alternatively, travel to elsewhere in the UK or Europe at great cost for private procedures. That the individual seeking an abortion is a child victim of rape is no protection either; the mother of a 15-year-old girl pregnant following an abusive relationship is currently fighting prosecution after being charged with procuring an abortion for her daughter.

Today's announcement will not entirely allay concerns about the potential impact on women’s rights arising from the deal between the Conservative minority government and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The DUP is staunchly anti-choice.

The UK government is obliged to protect the right of women and girls throughout all of the UK to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy. As a party to the UN treaty on women’s rights, the UK should remove punitive measures for women who undergo abortion. The UN has specifically criticized Northern Ireland’s restrictions on abortion, and it is high time that the UK government insists Northern Ireland decriminalize abortion.

          Inga 3 Dam risks plunging DRC deeper into debt   
New report finds that DRC likely to suffer financial losses, continuing energy poverty if hydropower project advances

Tuesday, June 27, 2017: Today, International Rivers is releasing the first in-depth economic study of the proposed Inga 3 hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Authored by noted British economist Tim Jones, “In Debt and In The Dark” exposes glaring flaws in the assumptions about the dam’s likely performance. The report finds that Inga 3 will likely plunge DRC deeper into debt, exporting needed power and delivering little, if any, to Congolese citizens while allowing international investors to reap the benefits.

“Claims about the benefits of Inga 3 are wildly overstated,” says Jones. “In fact, the dam would be a huge financial burden for the government and the Congolese people and provide little if any electricity.”

From the outset, Inga 3 has been plagued by dangerously optimistic assumptions about the dam’s performance, including power output well above the world’s most efficient plants, zero cost overruns, and unrealistically low transmission losses.

Using empirical evidence from the performance of similar hydropower projects in Africa and globally, Jones tested proponents’ claims regarding Inga 3’s socioeconomic benefits. He then forecasted the dam’s potential performance across a range of scenarios.

His findings highlight the serious financial risks associated with the Inga 3 hydropower project, and should be deeply concerning to the DRC government, potential investors, and the Congolese people.

“The DRC is one of the most resource-rich countries in the world, but suffers from massive energy poverty,” says Freddy Kasongo of Observatoire d’Etudes et d’Appui à la Responsabilité Sociale et Environnementale (OEARSE).

Emmanuel Musuyu of Coalition des Organisations de la Société Civile pour le Suivi des Réformes et de l’Action Publique (CORAP), adds, Unfortunately, this study shows that the Inga 3 Dam will further impoverish the DRC without delivering the energy that we need.”

The analysis shows that in the most likely scenarios, the DRC government will lose money on Inga 3. Even with fairly conservative estimates of cost overruns and generous assumptions of power generated, electricity prices, and low interest rates, DRC would stand to lose $618 million per year on the project, or nearly $22 billion over the project’s 35-year lifespan.

These financial losses could run as high as $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year under unfavorable conditions – up to $70 billion over the project’s lifespan – ballooning DRC’s debt levels and harming its long-term economic health.

“Not only will Inga 3 bring in no revenue, it will likely increase DRC’s debt burden,” says Rudo Sanyanga, International Rivers’ Africa Program Director. “And it won’t bring much-needed electricity access to the Congolese people. This would be a disastrous investment for the DRC.”

The project will sell most of its electricity to South Africa and to mines in eastern DRC. The report finds that losses along what would be the world’s longest transmission line to South Africa could leave very little power available to the mines, and the Congolese people would receive little benefit in increased electricity. Under the most likely scenario, 88% of the power would be sold to South Africa, leaving just 90 MW for Kinshasa, rather than the 1000 MW claimed. Under the worst-case scenario, no power at all would be available for sale to consumers in Kinshasha.

International Rivers’ study shows that the DRC could achieve greater energy access for its population if it used the funds intended for Inga 3 on micro-hydropower and solar energy. Such investment would support the DRC to generate enough electricity to increase access by an estimated 2.7 million people throughout the country.

Kate Horner, Executive Director of International Rivers, says, “If the DRC wants to become a true economic leader that sets a model for energy access in Africa, it should press the pause button on the Inga 3 Dam and instead explore energy solutions that can make a lasting difference for the Congolese people.”

International Rivers is a global NGO with offices on four continents. It protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them.


Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Program Director, International Rivers | | +27 76 842 3874

Josh Klemm, Policy Director, International Rivers | | +1 202 492 8904

Emmanuel Musuyu, Technical Secretary, CORAP | | +00 24 38 1169 7699

Issue Number: 
Article Image Caption | Source: 
Voice of Renewables

It’s been ages since I blogged so I don’t really know where to start. My marriage to elesh. My gujarathi household full of 14 members. My new hangout (my office, where one is witness to politics on a greater scale than in the newspapers) or my satsang group. I could actually segregate my life into three parts: Wife/Daughter-in-Law, Content Writer, and Mumukshu (One who yearns for Moksha, or whose only aim in life is to be rid of Moh [all attachments in life]). While juggling between these roles I struggle to steal time for rads, amma and achhan to whom I play Deepa or dapdishoo (the one role I really miss playing).

But like always, life moves on. Lots of predictable and lots of unpredictable, unthinkable things have happened in the last three years. The first and the most obvious—my smooth transformation from Deepika Janardhan to Deepika Elesh Davey. It didn’t take me too much time to adjust in 135, Dev Darshan Apartments. Everybody was happy with my progress. I learnt to cook authentic guju food very quickly, picked up the language in less than a year and speak it very fluently now (more fluently than marathi—which I’m really ashamed of). I have learnt to first serve the ‘Men’ in the family (and to correct you rads, it’s tradition in most conservative ‘Indian’ families to serve men before women, and not just malayalees) and many other things that I snubbed achhan for when I was much younger and naïve, and without as much as a second thought. (I can go on and on on this part but I find myself rambling… and there are too many incidents and events fighting for space on this page here, so I’ll probably structure them to form another journal entry on some other day/night.

The last and the least obvious or the almost undetectable thing to happen in the last three months—my not-so-smooth transformation from Deepika Elesh Davey to Deepika. And the most instrumental person (besides of course amma, achhan, rads and elesh) who’s paving the path for me is Pappaji. After exhorting me to start working again, to think of but also beyond the family, to think about my future not only in this lifetime but beyond, I am finally learning to be my real self. The one that even Deepika is ignorant of.
          London’s New Mayor 伦敦新市长   
London has a new mayor , after its citizens voted in the Conservative Party candidate Boris Johnson, ahead of Labour's Ken Livingstone. Well-known for his wild blonde hair, his self-deprecating humour and his reputation for gaffes and blunders , Mr
          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage after Merkel U-turn   
BERLIN (AP) -- German lawmakers voted Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, a move widely supported across the country that brings Germany in line with many of its Western peers. Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure, but paved the way for its passage by allowing members of her conservative party to vote according to their conscience....
          7/1/2017: WORLD: Weakened May forced into abortion U-turn   
LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May was forced into a new policy on abortion to halt a rebellion by Conservative backbenchers. In a move that was seized on as a sign of the government’s weak grip on power, Mrs May on Thursday caved in to...
          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage after Merkel U-turn   
Germany_Gay_Marriage_57215German lawmakers voted Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, a move widely supported across the country that brings Germany in line with many of its Western peers. Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure, but paved the way for its passage by allowing members of her conservative party to vote according to their conscience.
          Welcome to My World   
A couple of weeks back I went to the Anytime Fitness in Prairieville. There are 5 TVs in front of the treadmills there, one of them was on FOX news, the others were on generic shows like What Not to Wear and such. I had put the TV in front of me on Cutest Kittens, I was watching Eddie the Eagle on my phone but it's nice to look up and see some cute kittens or something pleasant, you know what I mean?

I was hunkered down for my 2 hours on the tread mill watching Cutest Kittens and Eddie the Eagle when suddenly I look up to see a man standing in front of my treadmill, remote in hand, turning the TV in front of me to FOX news! I then noticed it was the current pastor of my former church! I immediately looked down, I didn't want to make eye contact and have that awkwardness. He walked behind me and got on a machine that was literally 2 feet from the back of the treadmill I was on! I know he saw me. I know he frickin' saw me when he walked up and turned Cutest Kittens to FOX news, when there was already a TV he could see on FOX news!

On weekday mornings I arrive at my Anytime Fitness (the one on Highland, right by my work) around 5:15am 4 days a week. Every morning for over a year there has been at least one TV on FOX news, usually more than one and none are ever on CNN. That is until I come in. I take my "Nevertheless She Persisted" shirt wearing self up to the TVs, grab a remote, and turn the TV in front of me to CNN.

Today when I walked in there were 2 TVs turned to FOX news per usual. I got on the treadmill away from those TVs and I turned the one in front of me to CNN. Well wouldn't you know it, a man walked up to the TV and turned it to frickin' FOX news!! There were already 2 TVs on FOX! But no that wasn't enough for him I guess, he had to turn another one to FOX. And those 2 TVs that were already on FOX weren't too far away for him to see. Him and his friends were on bikes in the back of the room where all 5 TVs are clearly visible. I guess he didn't want a channel that offers another view of the news to even be playing in his presence.

I took this picture as I was walking to the bathroom to show you the 3 frickin' TVs on FOX!

One night Dean and I decided to go check out the new TJ Ribs in Priarieville. When we arrived I noticed that 6 of their 15 TVs were on FOX news. The others were on sports channels. I immediately got out my cell phone and sent a Facebook message to TJ Ribs. 

"Is there any way that at least 1 of the 15 TVs here at the new Prairieville Location could be put on CNN since 6 are on FOX news?" 

 They replied quickly, "Yes, just ask the manager to change one for you."

Within a few minutes I saw the 6 TVs that had been on FOX news, changed to a blank screen.

I replied, "Looks like they are changing all of them but it's not like I want to watch CNN, I just think having 6 TVs on FOX is a little much and having one on CNN would be 'fair and balanced'."

After that all of the TVs were changed to a sports channel, like TVs at TJ Ribs have shown since the beginning of time.

I understand that I live in a highly conservative state but there is ZERO balance going on here. If 2 TVs are on FOX news in an establishment you can bet I will make it know that at least one TV should be put on CNN.

No wonder this area is so Far Right programed, we can't even eat ribs without state ran TV telling us how every news organization is "fake news" but them. And don't give me the "well you only watch liberal media so you can't say anything about balance." No, I always have to watch frickin' FOX news! See above examples!

          Revenge of the Nerds   
The firings at the Times-Picayune , the slashing of higher education budgets and the assault on local teachers must be placed in a larger context of managements waylay on anti-intellectualism and the noble professions. Since the killing of Socrates, management and specifically corporate resolution have sought to eliminate the voices of cynicism and reason. But, hallelujah, I see the reemergence of the philosopher king on the horizon. The economy and modernity have been the cited as the reasons for annual cuts to higher education, terminations and treatment of local teachers, and the sacking of writers at the Times-Picayune . For some, the phrase Youre fired makes for interesting reality television, but it has become a trite, unimaginative hook that is seen as a necessary condition for organizational change. For decades, conservative governing boards have viewed colleges and universities as orgies of liberalism and inefficiency. In spite of the fact that colleges erected themselves
          California politicians' gun control moves hit by 2 setbacks   
(AP) — California politicians' attempts to strengthen some of the nation's strictest gun laws suffered two setbacks this week — the latest when a federal judge blocked a law set to take effect Saturday barring gun owners from possessing ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets. The new developments do little to change the political landscape or voters' strongly held opinions, and they may help all three Democrats campaigning in a state where gun restrictions are popular, Stanford Law School professor David Sklansky said. San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled Thursday that the high-capacity magazine ban takes away gun owners' Second Amendment rights and amounts to the government seizing people's private property without compensation. Politicians in both liberal and conservative states feel the need to act whenever there is another mass shooting, University of California, Berkeley, law professor Frank Zimring said. In Republican states, politicians have moved to allow concealed weapons in classrooms, bus stations or on college campuses.

And, of course, the American people, the European peoples, and the US and European governments are being conditioned by the “Russia did it” storyline to distrust Russia and to accept whatever dangerous and irresponsible policy toward Russia that Washington comes up with next.

Is the anti-Russian propaganda driven by ratings as Bonifield is reported to claim, or are ratings the neoconservatives and military/security complex’s cover for media disinformation that increases tensions between the superpowers and prepares the ground for nuclear war?

RT acknowledges that the entire story could be just another piece of false news, which is all that the Western media is known for.

Nevertheless, what we do know is that the fake news reporting pertains to Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election. Allegedly, Trump was elected by Putin’s interference in the election. This claim is absurd, but if you are Megyn Kelly you lack the IQ to see that. Instead, presstitutes turn a nonsense story into a real story despite the absence of any evidence.

Who actually interfered in the US presidential election, Putin or the presstitutes themselves? The answer is clear and obvious. It was the presstitutes, who were out to get Trump from day one of the presidential campaign. It is CIA director John Brennan, who did everything in his power to brand Trump some sort of Russian agent. It is FBI director Comey who did likewise by continuing to “investigate” what he knew was a non-event. We now have a former FBI director playing the role of special prosecutor investigating Trump for “obstruction of justice” when there is no evidence of a crime to be obstructed! What we are witnessing is the ongoing interference in the presidential election, an interference that not only makes a mockery of democracy but also of the rule of law.

The presstitutes not only interfered in the presidential election; they are now interfering with democracy itself. They are seeking to overturn the people’s choice by discrediting the President of the United States and those who elected him.

          Have Katie Hopkins and Farage joined Corbyn on the right side of history? | Marina Hyde   
These are weird times in Westminster, so double down on the popcorn and wait for the next bout: Andrea Leadsom v Jacob Rees-Mogg

There’s never been a better time to stop trying to understand British politics, and simply decide to experience it as a moodboard. Albeit the sort of moodboard with which crazed killers wallpaper their homes. I see Andrea Leadsom has been “overwhelmed” – not literally, unfortunately – by requests to run again for the Tory leadership. So too, apparently, has Jacob Rees-Mogg – a chap whose shtick was regarded as ludicrously over-the-top 30-odd years ago. By teenagers. At Eton. And I see Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins are full of praise for Jeremy Corbyn this week. Ewww. I mean, there’s that old political handwave “strange bedfellows”. And then there’s the human centipede (look it up, Nigel).

Related: Boris Johnson for PM? David ‘bra size’ Davis? Or the Fox? Place your bets | Marina Hyde

Continue reading...
          How pop music built liberal Britain | John Harris   
The tents may be down but the spirit of Glastonbury lives on – while the Tories are stuck in the 1950s

British Conservatism – with both a big and small “c” – is once again feeling the pangs of crisis. Tory optimists might be hanging on to the fact that their party has just scored its highest vote share since 1983; as Brexit grinds uncertainly on, Britain remains in the grip of an avowedly rightwing vision. But the last time a Tory government was elected with a convincing majority was 1987. The UK’s big cities seem more impervious to Conservative politics than ever. The fact that the Tories did so badly among people under the age of 45 – 55% of whom backed Labour, while only 29% voted Conservative – underlines the sense of slowly gathering twilight.

Related: Glastonbury is more evidence: Corbyn’s appeal crosses classes | Owen Jones

Continue reading...
          George Osborne came within weeks of scrapping the penny   

David Cameron vetoed plan to remove 1p and 2p coins from circulation amid fears that symbolism would be too risky for Tories

George Osborne came within weeks of announcing plans to take 1p and 2p pieces out of circulation but was stopped by David Cameron who feared the symbolism of the Conservative party scrapping the penny, the Guardian has been told.

Senior figures said the previous chancellor wanted to make the change in late 2015, after winning the general election, because copper coins cost more to produce than they were worth and people tended not to like them.

Continue reading...
          What conservative pundits say about Trumpcare (spoiler: they all dislike it)   

Conservative commentators have derided the Republican bill as weak, visionless, and a treasonous acceptance of the basic thrust of the Affordable Care Act

Senate Republicans pleased no one this week. Granted, they were never going to get much love from Democrats defending Obamacare, or their more progressive colleagues who are daring to talk aloud again about a single payer scheme. But their own ideological bedfellows also went after them as their plan, such as it was, was shelved until after the Fourth of July recess.

Related: Republican healthcare bill limps into recess with no vote in sight

Continue reading...
          Politics Live - readers' edition: Friday 30 June   

Discuss today’s politics and share links to breaking news, and to the most interesting stories and blogs on the web

I’m not writing my usual blog today but here, as an alternative, is the Politics Live readers’ edition. It is a place for you to discuss today’s politics, and to share links to breaking news and to the most interesting stories and blogs on the web.

Feel free to express your views robustly, but please treat others with respect and don’t resort to abuse. Guardian comment pages are supposed to be a haven from the Twitter/social media rant-orama, not an extension of it.

Related: Jeremy Corbyn sacks three frontbenchers after single market vote

Related: Northern Irish women win access to free abortions as May averts rebellion

Related: Scottish government abandons 1% pay cap on public sector workers

Related: Judge orders council to allow media into Grenfell Tower meeting

Related: Change we need: David Cameron vetoed plan to scrap 1p piece

Four council by-elections today: two Labour defences, one Conservative and one Lib Dem. @AndrewTeale's previews:

Labour HOLD William Morris (Waltham Forest).

William Morris (Waltham Forest) result:

LAB 68.4% (+11.5)
GRN 18.6% (+1.8)
CON 13.0% (+6.2)
LDEM NA (-7.4)
TUSC NA (-4.3)
UKIP NA (-7.8)

Hedge End Grange Park (Eastleigh):

LDEM 56.5% (+15.5)
CON 26.7% (-10.9)
LAB 12.2% (+0.9)
GRN 3.5% (+3.5)
UKIP 1.2% (-9.0)

+/- corrected

Council by-elections update:

Labour HOLD Dawdon (Durham).

Our West Lancashire GAIN Derby ward (West Lancashire) from Conservative

Continue reading...
          Jay-Z: 4:44 review – a bracingly honest but conservative confessional   

The rapper’s first album since the infidelity accusations on Beyoncé’s Lemonade sees him rowing back on recent hubris and doing battle with his ego

Back in the 80s and 90s, rap albums just got released. No matter how big the artist, it was simply another album, and rarely a cultural event that had people up in the night, waiting to analyse every lyric. How Jay-Z must wish it were 1996 now, the year he released Reasonable Doubt without the weight of the world on his shoulders. No major rapper can release an album in such a vacuum in 2017, and in the case of Jay-Z’s 4:44, he can expect a special kind of attention.

Related: Jay-Z addresses Beyoncé infidelity rumours on new album 4:44

Continue reading...
          Comment on Elizabeth Packard by Bruised Reed   
Wow... the only insanity in this story is the horrendous amount of "legal" abuse her schmuck of a husband was allowed get away with! The sad thing is, there are still many women in conservative religious settings who endure the same things, even today. The laws might have changed, but patriarchy and religious justifications for abuse against women and children are still alive and well.
          Cuomo/Camerota Producer: Kellyanne Conway Is So Ugly She “Looks Like She Got Hit With A Shovel;” Americans Are “Stupid As Shit”   
Excerpted From The Hill: Conservative provocateur and Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe released a fourth secretly recorded video early Friday morning that shows a CNN associate producer calling American voters “stupid as s—” and saying Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway looks like “she got hit with a shovel.” In a video released overnight by O’KeefeContinue reading
          Conservatives Have Neglected Their Responsibility to the Union   
From the Brexit referendum to the deal with DUP, Conservatives have put party over country.
           Simone Veil, iconic European feminist politician, dies at 89    
PARIS (AP) — Simone Veil, a survivor of Nazi death camps and a European Parliament president who spearheaded abortion rights as one of France's most prominent female politicians, died Friday at 89, her family said. "France has lost a figure that history rarely produces," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said, as tributes to the centrist Veil poured in from across the political spectrum. Veil said it was her experiences in the Nazi concentration camps that made her a firm believer in the unification of Europe. Later, she became one of the most visible faces of France's dwindling community of Holocaust survivors and spoke passionately about the need to keep the memory alive. Simone Veil became a judge and worked for seven years in France's department of corrections, where she fought to improve prison conditions. In 1974, center-right President Valery Giscard d'Estaing plucked her out of relative obscurity, appointing her health minister — to her surprise. The most visible proponent of the controversial legislation, Veil quickly became the target of vicious, personal attacks as the battle over the bill raged in the legislature. Veil's political popularity took a bruising when she came out in support of conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election. Critics lashed out at Veil for endorsing a candidate known for his tough stance on illegal immigration and who created a Ministry of Immigration and National Identity.
          Comment on News: M200 Smoky Quartz Special Edition Demonstrator by Joshua   
I wouldn't mind to see a bit more love for yellow. The Citroenpers is one of my favorites. I think conservative German sensibilities keep some of the more intriguing colors from getting incorporated into their pens. Most of the really exciting colors that have come out over the years have been destined for foreign markets.
          Upscale, Modern Japanese Seafood & Steak in Northeast Dallas Texas   

Prime location Upscale Japanese seafood & steak restaurant in Northeast Dallas voted as the best sushi restaurant in the area is available for acquisition. Established and acquired with a one-of-a-kind interior built by the current owner of the business in 2012. While there are few competitors within the immediate market area, this is the only Japanese restaurant in the area with a truly upscale and modern take on the interior design along with strong product mix provided to the customers. Although the bulk of the customers are high income families from the local area, during happy hour the majority of customers transitions into the younger generation to young adults. Sales have continued to grow at a constant rate of around 10% every year and are currently at an average of $1,800,000 - $1,900,000/year and a conservative projection for 2016 sales is around $2,000,000. Proactive marketing is necessary due to the current lack of marketing except word of mouth and coupon distribution to schools. Various forms of marketing can be used to increase sales such as flyers, social media outlets, delivery service, and expansion of local alcoholic beverages. Recent addition of the yakitori grill will also increase revenue with the expansion of the already large menu this Upscale Japanese restaurant provides. Their extensive menu of various items consists of appetizers, soups, salads, sushi, stir-fried noodles, fried rice, udon noodles, bento boxes, hibachi grill, yakitori, Hawaiian BBQ, lunch specials, and desserts to complement your meal. Voted as the Best Sushi in the city, this Upscale Japanese restaurant has much to offer in terms of potential growth of sales and a unique interior design that cannot be replicated by any other competitors.For more info, please call Moon Kim at 1-866-519-2421.
          Jeff Bridges ‘Comes Out’ in Hollywood: ‘I’m Rooting for Trump’   
Most celebrities are outspoken liberals, happy to criticize Republicans and Donald Trump at any opportunity. Conservative celebrities are much harder to find, largely because most of them keep quiet about
          Dispatch From the Middle East: U.S. Buildup in Syria All About Iran   
TheAmericanConservative Dispatch From the Middle East: U.S. Buildup All About Iran Requiring an American wedge between Syria and Iraq. By SHARMINE NARWANI • June 28, 2017 DAMASCUS – As the drive to push ISIS out of its remaining territories in Syria and Iraq rapidly advances, the U.S. and its allied forces have entrenched themselves in the southeastern Syrian border town […]
          No, Dana Loesch Isn't A Racist White Supremacist Calling For Civil War. Are You People High?   
Cortney grabbed this delicious thread on Twitter between Dana Loesch and liberal CNN contributor Sally Kohn, who accused the conservative commentator and Second Amendment supporter of inciting violence in her latest adthat denounces violence. It's comedic theater that's going on here, folks.
          As California Begins Confiscation, a Lone Judge Defends the Second...   
In a 66-page order, Judge Roger Benitez temporarily blocked a new California law that required citizens to surrender possession of any gun magazine capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. Remember how gun-controllers mock conservatives who claim that progressives really want to confiscate lawfully owned weapons? Well, someone forgot to tell California progressives to hide their radical cards.
          LGBT Religion News Summary - January 31, 2011   
As hundreds of LGBT faith leaders convene in Minneapolis for Creating Change: Practice Spirit, Do Justice, Nicole Garcia of Lutherans Concerned garnered an interview with the Associated Press that was picked up by NPR.   

Nicole Garcia

Creating Change participants will be remembering David Kato, a gay Ugandan who was murdered just days after a court victory  against “Rolling Stone” newspaper, which had published his picture with a noose next to it. Many people are lifting up the role of some American religious activists who have been fomenting anti-LGBT sentiment for years, and most intensively in recent years. In the midst of this, a Ugandan lesbian was almost deported until a judge in Britain halted the deportation proceedings.    The Archbishop of Canterbury  publically condemned the murder, and Anglican Bishops meeting in Ireland  urged that anti-LGBT hatred be confronted. About one-third of the bishops did not show up in protest of the acceptance of gay people by The Episcopal Church. In other Episcopal News, the Washington Post reported that a prominent conservative leader was fired from the historic Truro Church in northern Virginia for surfing pornographic websites. In Fort Worth, an Episcopalian congregation that broke away in protest of the ordination of gay priests received a summary judgment by a state district court to surrender their church property.   

Jay Bakker

In the Evangelical world, some wonder if  scripture should be debated. A Religion New Service wire article asked if there was a “Great Gay Awakening” as Jay Bakker, straight ally and the son of famed Jim and Tammy Faye, garnered several interviews, including an appearance on the Today Show for his new book, Fall to Grace. In an interview, Ted Haggard said that if he were 21 years old he would call himself bisexual. Deborah Haffner connected the dots between Ted Haggard, Joel Osteen calling gay people sinners and the violence that continues around the world.   

Bishop Paul Egertson

Lutherans grieved the loss of Bishop Paul Egertson, a staunch straight ally to LGBT people for many years. And, the adjustments to the ELCA’s inclusive policies continue. In Fargo, N.D., some former members of congregations that left the ELCA are re-establishing themselves with the help of a United Methodist congregation.    In other news, Presbyterians are voting presbytery by presbytery across the country on whether or not to ordain partnered gay clergy. Bishop Harry Jackson was turned away by the court in his effort to overturn marriage equality in Washington, D.C. Belmont University in Nashville announced that it would include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policy, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced their own school plan to not discriminate against the children of gay and lesbian couples.
February 1, 2011

          LGBT Religion News Round Up, July 23, 2010   
Marriage was a big news item last week as Argentina legalized marriage for gay couples and gay Mormons condemn the LDS Church’s role in opposing the successful legislation.  In California, two polls show growing support for marriage equality.    Meanwhile, marriage equality in Washington D.C. was upheld by the Court of Appeals. In the Evangelical world, Peggy and Tony Campolo, an Evangelical Christian couple who famously disagree on gay issues, coordinated a dialogue with the Baptist Peace Fellowship in upstate New York.  Janet Edwards asked whether gay rights are an “evangelical thing.” John Blake asked whether the religious right has lost its children.  A megachurch in Las Vegas was dropped from HIV work because of its link to Martin Ssempa, the virulently anti-gay Ugandan pastor, and the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, elected a conservative leader. In mainline Protestant denominations, responses to the Presbyterian  decision on  gay clergy range from  the Rev. Peter M. Wallace saying God’s spirit was at work, to an Orthodox priest who said the opposite.  A Michigan-based gay rights group has donated $400,000 to the Episcopal Church for its use in developing marriage liturgies for gay couples and a Methodist minister and his boyfriend were attacked in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Internationally, the UK government responded to the petition opposing the Pope’s planned visit.  A meeting of faith groups in Vienna, held in advance of the 18th International AIDS Conference, was told by Netherlands AIDS ambassador Marijke Wijnroks that faith leaders can play a key role in combating HIV/AIDS.  Tel Aviv encouraged LGBT tourism with a new ‘Gay Vibe’ campaign, while the Jewish Journal highlighted Orthodox lesbians at the Jerusalem Post.  Serbian gay rights groups asked for the Orthodox Church’s help in curbing anti-gay violence.  Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe refused to include gay rights in a draft of the country’s new constitution, and the new primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria followed his predecessor in condemning homosexuality. Also in the mix, Daniel Burke compared the use of the Bible during the church dispute over slavery in the 19th century to the debates surrounding LGBT issues today.  Soldiers’ rights hotlines are being asked if soldiers could qualify for conscientious objector status for opposing the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but the groups say no.  An ‘ex-gay’ coach has been accused of molesting male clients, while so-called ‘ex-gay’ Donnie McClurkin is set to attend Boston’s GospelFest.   Mike Ghouse argued that religious people should stand up for gays, Jews and Mexicans.  Finally, Lady Gaga and her “little monsters” take on Westboro Baptist Church. Subscribe to the Religion News Summary by writing "subscribe" in an email to
July 23, 2010

          Rev. Mary Glasspool is Consecrated as an Openly Lesbian Bishop   
The Right Rev. Mary Glasspool took her place in history as the first openly lesbian bishop in The Episcopal Church when she was consecrated at the Long Beach, Calif. Arena, on Saturday, May 15. More than three thousand people in attendance stood and applauded. Bishop Glasspool follows in the footsteps of Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, who was became a bishop in 2004.  Since then, The Episcopal Church faced major pushback from its mother church, the Anglican Church for ordaining Bishop Robinson and was asked to have a moratorium on the ordination gay priests and bishops.  When the moratorium ended, despite threats of sanctions and attempts to realign whole dioceses with conservative jurisdictions in South American and Africa, The Episcopal Church moved ahead and voted overwhelmingly to support the full membership of LGBT people—including ordination at all levels. Soon thereafter, the Diocese of Los Angeles nominated two openly gay priests for assistant bishop positions. In December, the diocese officially elected one of those priests, the Rev. Mary Glasspool of Maryland, and was harshly criticized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Church.  He later apologized, but it appears disingenuous since the London Times quoted Williams calling the current consecration “regrettable.” The Rev. Susan Russell, former president of Integrity, said, "What we do here today isn't just for this diocese but … it's a beacon of hope to everyone looking for a community willing to lead in love, justice and compassion for all people." GLAAD will continue monitoring the news coverage of this historic step toward equality in the faith world to help journalist avoid the trap of talking about division when inclusion is the real topic.
May 17, 2010

          Top REIT Manager, Sam Miklosko, Evaluates Medical Properties Trust   
Since 2008, REITs have been the salvation for conservative investors, often paying out 100 times more than savings accounts and money market funds. However, in anticipation of rising interest rates, many investors have sold their REIT holdings creating what Sam Miklosko believes are bargains.
          Everything You Will Need To Know About Heel Soreness   

Feet Pain

Every mile you walk puts tons of stress on each foot. Your feet can handle a heavy load, but too much stress pushes them over their limits. When you pound your feet on hard surfaces playing sports or wear shoes that irritate sensitive tissues, you may develop heel pain, the most common problem affecting the foot and ankle. A sore heel will usually get better on its own without surgery if you give it enough rest. However, many people ignore the early signs of heel pain and keep on doing the activities that caused it. When you continue to walk on a sore heel, it will only get worse and could become a chronic condition leading to more problems.


While heel pain has many causes, it is usually the result of poor biomechanics (abnormalities in the way we walk). This can place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues attached to it. The stress may result from injury, or a bruise incurred while walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces: wearing poorly constructed footwear or being significantly over weight. Systemic diseases such as arthritis can also contribute to heel pain.


Common symptoms, heel Spurs: the pain is usually worst on standing, particularly first thing in the morning when you get up. It is relatively common, though usually occurring in the over forty's age group. There are no visible features on the heel but a deep localised painful spot can be found in or around the middle of the sole of the heel. Although it is often associated with a spur of bone sticking out of the heel bone (heel spur syndrome), approximately ten per cent of the population have heel spurs without any pain. Heel Bursitis, pain can be felt at the back of the heel when the ankle joint is moved and there may be a swelling on both sides of the Achilles tendon. Or you may feel pain deep inside the heel when it makes contact with the ground. Heel Bumps, recognised as firm bumps on the back of the heel , they are often rubbed by shoes causing pain.


The diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is generally made during the history and physical examination. There are several conditions that can cause heel pain, and plantar fasciitis must be distinguished from these conditions. Pain can be referred to the heel and foot from other areas of the body such as the low back, hip, knee, and/or ankle. Special tests to challenge these areas are performed to help confirm the problem is truly coming from the plantar fascia. An X-ray may be ordered to rule out a stress fracture of the heel bone and to see if a bone spur is present that is large enough to cause problems. Other helpful imaging studies include bone scans, MRI, and ultrasound. Ultrasonographic exam may be favored as it is quick, less expensive, and does not expose you to radiation. Laboratory investigation may be necessary in some cases to rule out a systemic illness causing the heel pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, or ankylosing spondylitis. These are diseases that affect the entire body but may show up at first as pain in the heel.

Non Surgical Treatment

Orthotics, by treating the cause of the problem, lead to the cure bette than 90% of the time. A small number of patients have waited so long that the plantar fascia has become thickened and filled with scar tissue and are not helped by ?conventional? means. Those are the patients that have, traditionally, required surgical treatment in which the plantar fascia is cut off the heel bone. Luckily, most surgery has been replaced by a relatively new mode of treatment, ESWT or Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy. ESWT involves the application of multiple shockwaves to the diseased tendon or ligament and has an approximately 85 to 90% success rate. Keep in mind we are talking about this success rate in patients who are ?tough cases,? that is, already had the conventional treatment. The ESWT machines look like miniature renal lithtripsors (kidney stone crushers). There are virtually no side effects to ESWT other than the price as only about 30% of insurance companies are paying for it. They realize that it is less costly and safer than surgery but also know that many more people who would avoid surgery would have no problem getting ESWT so the volume of services would go up. You don?t have to live with painful heels.

Surgical Treatment

When a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis is made early, most patients respond to conservative treatment and don?t require surgical intervention. Often, when there is a secondary diagnosis contributing to your pain, such as an entrapped nerve, and you are non-responsive to conservative care, surgery may be considered. Dr. Talarico will discuss all options and which approach would be the most beneficial for your condition.

back of heel cushions


Feet Pain

You can reduce the risk of heel pain in many ways, including. Wear shoes that fit you properly with a firm fastening, such as laces. Choose shoes with shock-absorbent soles and supportive heels. Repair or throw out any shoes that have worn heels. Always warm up and cool down when exercising or playing sport, include plenty of slow, sustained stretches. If necessary, your podiatrist will show you how to tape or strap your feet to help support the muscles and ligaments. Shoe inserts (orthoses) professionally fitted by your podiatrist can help support your feet in the long term.
          Great News! Germany Will Vote on Same-Sex Marriage on Friday   

The German Parliament plans to vote Friday on whether to legalize same-sex marriage – — only days after Chancellor Angela Merkel backed off her conservative party’s long-standing position that equal marriage risked “The well-being of children.” Merkel surprisingly said Monday she could see lawmakers making the issue a “decision of conscience,” voting according to individual […]

The post Great News! Germany Will Vote on Same-Sex Marriage on Friday appeared first on Sambag Blog.

          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Scott S   
Argentina Orange You said <blockquote> Underpants Gnomes. </blockquote> What does this mean? You also said <blockquote> However, if you are able to get such obvious nonsense as "beliefs cause harm to others" established as legal fact, it is a good first step in getting beliefs criminalized.</blockquote> Wow. This is a stupid response to what I have been posting, but I want to respond first to your second point. I have never said or even implied that my point about people's shitty beliefs should be established as a legal fact and I would fight to the death any attempt to criminalize other people's beliefs. But you're flat wrong to call my my notion that shitty beliefs cause harm as nonsense. To me it is so obvious that it doesn't require defending. People are very guided by things they believe to guide them in the decisions they make. On often those beliefs guide them to decisions that harm people. This happens ALL.THE.TIME. Terrorists flying planes into buildings. Parents not taking their sick child to the hospital because its against their religion. Refusing blood transfusions becasue it's against their religion. Parents kicking their gay teenagere out of the house into a life of prostitution and homelessness because they're gay. Making black people sit in the back of the bus because of beliefs in white-supremacy. Approving of chattel slavery because of white supremacy. Harming young adult sexuality by glorifying virginity and teaching abstinence until marriage. All of these are shitty beliefs that cause real harm to people. I could go on and on. Why do you think beliefs DON'T cause harm? So I depend on the SPLC to teach me about people and groups and their shitty beliefs that cause them to engage in actions that harm people.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by James   
the twitter exchange from that footnote had me in stitches
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Nobody   
<blockquote>Does Antifa proudly support these actions, or does it condemn them?</blockquote> Proudly supports and encourages.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Cromulent Bloviator   
My father, who was a protester in the 1960s, always told me that the Civil Rights Movement succeeded because a bunch of young southern Christians realized the Truth of the matter, led primarily by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they did the work to defend the legal progress that had been made and to at least partially convert it into the real change we have. Given the current rise of White Supremacy disguised as Nationalism, I just assume people who hate the SPLC are part of this modern "debate" over those same laws.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Tarrou   
As a legal matter, I'm in agreement with our blog host. As a tactical matter, it might behoove the Right to use whatever levers they can find to incentivize the Left to resort to defending the 1st Amendment. If the First is a partisan matter, it is never more than an election away from obsolescence. As a broader observation, you can tell a lot about who holds power in society by who is appealing to free speech.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Sol   
@Horkthane: Are you genuinely this ignorant of history, or do you just think everyone else is? <blockquote>And it's taken a generational shift in the right for them to begin to attempt the same behavior.</blockquote> No, it really hasn't. To use your own rather tortured metaphor, it's like you have two muggers, and one of them puts on a big white sheet (with optional hood) and goes 'look, I'm a pacifist! Support me against that mean mugger!' (Although even more accurately, *both* muggers are yelling about how pacifist they are, and because both are actually a massive conglomerate of people, with pacifists and muggers on both sides, you make an emotional decision about which one you like more, ignore all the muggers on that side, ignore all the pacifists on the other side, and then go 'look at all these pacifists on one side, and all these muggers on the other.') ... getting away from that now very dead metaphor, and speaking nice and clearly. The 'right wing', as an overall movement, and the post-Southern-Strategy Republican party in particular, <strong>have never been</strong> pro- free speech for absolutely everyone. They have always been pro-free speech for them, anti-free speech for those evil corrupting liberals. After all, <strong>they</strong> are just telling God's plain truth, and they're only opposed to liberal lies and propaganda. Right? Fox News, America's largest cable ne- sorry, <em>entertainment</em> channel, was launched over twenty years ago. Rush Limbaugh began his show in 1984, and had five million listeners by 1990. 'Shout down and silence your opponents and demand that they be punished for their opinions' has been a major part of the right wing playbook for... well, far earlier than that, really. For about as long as it's been part of the left wing playbook, i.e. all of history. We could pick Hoover and COINTELPRO as an arbitrary starting point of the "modern" concept of attacking your opponents for their political beliefs, if you like, but I'm sure plenty of earlier examples exist. This has taken far too long already for me to try and make any attempt at determining the 'first'.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Tom Scharf   
@Steve Losing 0.5% of the population would be worth paying attention to, that is an extraordinarily bad argument. Most people do overestimate the threat and frequency of <strong>current</strong> terrorism. What cannot be dismissed is the threat of <strong>future</strong> terrorism, as in black swan events as demonstrated by 9/11. One cannot assume that future terrorism losses will fall in line with past trends in the same way auto deaths are very predictable year to year. The threat of an international terror actor acquiring a rogue nuclear weapon, bioweapon, or nuclear material for a dirty bomb is non-zero. This is a legitimate fear, Obama, 2014: <blockquote>I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan</blockquote> ISIS would gladly do this if it had the means. Auto deaths, furniture deaths, or cancer deaths will not suddenly spike 1000x year to year. It cannot be ignored, but how much emphasis to place on its prevention is a debate worth having.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Wick   
@Michael Heaney. Personally, I agree with you that FRC is a hate group. Whether or not FRC is a hate group is an opinion; and, therefore, can not be libelous.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by william the stout   
@ GuestPoster - Fair points I suppose, although if actions like we're discussing happen EVERY TIME the Antifa becomes involved somewhere, then at what point does it become a core goal? And your definition of hate group is way too tight - by your definition ISIS is not a hate group. After all, they bomb, shoot, and behead people who have different religious beliefs than them, something that the victims could choose to change. @rsteinmets - No. BLM is nowhere near a hate group. Is that a serious question?
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by rsteinmetz70112   
Is BLM a hate group?
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Michael Heaney   
I'd like to provide an example to work with. The Family Research Council is an aggressively anti-homosexual group which has repeatedly spread objectively demonstrable misinformation in order to attempt to promote discrimination against homosexuals, including attempts to enshrine and institutionalize such in law. Now if you're actually going to say that it's impossible to accurately categorize them as a, "hate group," that to even attempt it is no different than calling someone an SJW or cuck, then at this point you're just flat out lying, and if you're just going to lie to your readers about shit like this then you might as well bring Clarkhat back. I'm not sure what your grudge with the SPLC is, in no small part since you never bother to provide any concrete reasons or arguments for why this essay's B-plot is practically a hit piece on them, but dishonesty isn't the way to promote the idea. Hell, if you can't figure out what a hate group is then why even bother lauding them back when they opposed the KKK or Nazis? How would you even be able to tell the difference, or decry either group as, "bad?"
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by GuestPoster   
@the Stout, I suppose the answer to your question is a question: is it a central tenet of Antifa operating procedure to run around setting fires and hitting people one disagrees with in the head with a bike lock? Is that what members are expected to do? Or is that the action of some small number of people who happen to identify themselves as Antifa? Does Antifa proudly support these actions, or does it condemn them? And, critically: are you able to see how the answers to these questions change the answer to your own question? Do you understand the difference between an organization whose goal (or which has as *a* major goal) is to promote hatred of some group of people based on their immutable characteristics, and an organization that does NOT promote such hatred, but happens to have some horribly violent people associate with it? Do you happen to see how these two things are not the same?
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by william the stout   
Is the Atifa a hate group? Running around setting fires and hitting people you disagree with in the head with bike locks seems....hateful. Or do they get the RightThink Exception?
          The Philippines a Century Hence   
(by José Rizal Translated by Charles E. Derbyshire)

NOTE: This famous essay of Rizal entitled "Filipinas de cien años" was first published in La Solidaridad, Madrid, between September 30, 1889, and February 1, 1890

PART ONE: Following our usual custom of facing squarely the most difficult and delicate questions related to the Philippines, without weighing the consequences that our frankness may bring upon us, we shall in the present article treat of their future.

In order to read the destiny of a people, it is necessary to open the book of its past, and this, for the Philippines may be reduced in general terms to what follows.

Scarcely had they been attached to the Spanish crown than they had sustained with their blood and the efforts of their sons the wars and ambitions, and conquest of the Spanish people, and in these struggles, in that terrible crisis when a people changes its form of government, its laws, usages, customs, religion and beliefs; the Philippines was depopulated, impoverished and retarded -- caught in their metamorphosis without confidence in their past, without faith in their present and with no fond home of the years to come. The former rulers who had merely endeavored to secure the fear and submission of their subjects, habituated by them to servitude, fell like leaves from a dead tree, and the people, who had no love for them nor knew what liberty was, easily changed masters, perhaps hoping to gain something by the innovation.

Then began a new era for the Filipinos. They gradually lost their ancient traditions, their recollections, -- they forgot their writings, their songs, their poetry, their laws in order to learn by heart other doctrines, which they did not understand, other ethics, other tastes, different from those inspired in their race by their climate and their way of thinking. Then there was a falling-off, they were lowered in their own eyes, they became ashamed of what was distinctively their own, in order to admire and praise that was foreign and incomprehensible; their spirit was broken and they acquiesced.

Thus years and centuries rolled on. Religious shows, rites that caught the eye, songs, lights, images arrayed with gold, worship in a strange language, legends, miracles and sermons, hypnotized the already naturally superstitious spirits of the country but did not succeed in destroying it altogether, in spite of the whole system afterwards developed and operated with unyielding tenacity.

When the ethical abasement of the inhabitants had reached this stage, when they had become disheartened and disgusted with themselves, an effort was made to add the final stroke for reducing so many dormant wills and intellects to nothingness, in order to make of the individual a sort of toiler, a brute, a beast of burden and to develop a race without mind or heart. “Then the end sought was revealed, it was taken for granted, and the race was insulted, an effort was made to deny it every virtue, every human characteristic, and there were even writers and priests who pushed the movement still further by trying to deny to the natives of the country not only capacity for virtue but also even the tendency to vice.

Then this which they had thought would be death was sure salvation. Some dying persons are restored to health by a heroic remedy.

So great endurance reached its climax with the insults, and the lethargic spirit woke up to life. His sensitiveness, the chief trait of the native, was touched, and while he had the forbearance to suffer and die under a foreign flag, he had it not when they whom he served repaid his sacrifices with insults and jests. Then he began to study himself and to realize his misfortune. Those who had not expected this result, like all despotic masters, regarded as a wrong every complaint, every protest, and punished it with death, endeavoring thus to stifle every cry of sorrow with blood, and they made mistake after mistake.

The spirit of the people was not thereby cowed, and even though it had been awakened in only a few hearts, its flame nevertheless was surely and consumingly propagated, thanks to abuses and the stupid endeavors of certain classes to stifle noble and generous sentiments. Thus when a flame catches a garment, fear and confusion propagate it more and more, and each shake, each blow, is a blast from the bellows to fan it into life.

Undoubtedly during all this time there were not lacking generous and noble spirits among the dominant race that tired to struggle for the rights of humanity and justice, or sordid and cowardly ones among the dominated that aided the debasement of their own country. But both were exceptions and we are speaking in general terms.

Such is an outline of their past. We know their present. Now what will their future be?

Will the Philippine Islands continue to be a Spanish colony, and if so, what kind of colony? Will they become a province of Spain, with or without autonomy? And to reach this stage, what kind of sacrifices will have to be made?

Will they be separated from the mother country to live independently, to fall into the hands of other nations, or to ally themselves with neighboring powers?

It is impossible to reply to these questions, for to all of them both yes and now may be answered, according to the time desired to be covered. When there is in nature no fixed condition, how much less must there be in the life of a people, being endowed with mobility and movement! So, it is that in order to deal with those questions, it is necessary to presume an unlimited period of time, and in accordance therewith try to forecast future events.

PART TWO: What will become of the Philippines within a century? Will they continue to be a Spanish colony?

Had this question been asked three centuries ago, when at Legazpi’s death the Malayan Filipinos began to be gradually undeceived and, finding the yoke heavy, tried in vain to shake it off without any doubt whatsoever the reply would have been easy. To a spirit enthusiastic over the liberty of the country, to those unconquerable Kagayanes who nourished within themselves the spirit of Mgalats, to the descendants of the heroic Gat Pulintang and Gat Salakab of the Province of Batangas, independence was assured, it was merely a question of getting together and making a determination. But for him who, disillusioned by sad experience, saw everywhere discord and disorder, apathy and brutalization in the lower classes, discouragement and disunion in the upper, only one answer presented itself, and it was: extend his hands to the chains, bow his neck beneath the yoke and accept the future with the resignation of an invalid who watches the leaves fall and foresees a long winter amid whose snows he discerns the outlines of his grave. At the time discord justified pessimism -- but three centuries passed, the meek had become accustomed to the yoke, and each new generation, begotten in chains, was constantly better adapted to the new order of things.

Now then, are the Philippines in the same condition they were three centuries ago?

For the liberal Spaniards the ethical condition of the people remains the same, that is, the native Filipinos have not advanced; for the friars and their followers the people have been redeemed from savagery, that is, they have progressed; for many Filipinos ethics, spirit and customs have decayed, as decay all the good qualities of a people that falls into slavery that is, they have retrograded.

Laying aside these considerations, so as not to get away from our subject let us draw the brief parallel between the political situation then and the situation at present, in order to see if what was not possible at that time can be so now, or vice versa.

Let us pass over the loyalty the Filipinos may feel for Spain; let us suppose for a moment, along with Spanish writers, that there exist only motives for hatred and jealousy between the two races; let us admit the assertions flaunted by many that three centuries of domination have not awakened in the sensitive heart of the native a single spark of affection or gratitude; and we may see whether or not the Spanish cause has gained ground in the Islands.

Formerly the Spanish authority was upheld among the natives by a handful of soldiers, three to five hundred at most, many of whom were engaged in trade and were scattered about not only in the Islands but also among the neighboring nations, occupied in long wars against the Mohammedans in the south, against the British and Dutch, and ceaselessly harassed by Japanese, Chinese, or some tribes in the interior. Then communication with Mexico and Spain was slow, rare and difficult; frequent and violent the disturbances among the ruling powers in the Islands, the treasury nearly always empty, and the life of the colonists dependent upon one frail ship that handled the Chinese trade. Then the seas in those regions were infested with pirates, all enemies of the Spanish name, which was defended by an impoverished fleet, generally manned by rude adventurers, when not by foreigners and enemies, which was checked and an expedition of Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, which was checked and frustrated by the mutiny of the Chinese rowers, who killed him and thwarted all his plans and schemes. Yet in spite of so many adverse circumstances the Spanish authority had been upheld for more than three centuries and, though it has been curtailed, still continues to rule the destinies of the Philippine group.

On the other hand, the present situation seems to be gilded and rosy -- as we might say, a beautiful morning compared to the vexed and stormy night of the past. The material forces at the disposal of the Spanish sovereign have now been trebled; the fleet relatively improved: there is more organization in both civil and military affairs; communication with the sovereign country is swifter and surer; she has no enemies abroad; her possession is assured and the country dominated seems to have less spirit, less aspiration for independence, a world that is to it almost incomprehensible. Everything then at first glance presages another three centuries, at least, of peaceful domination and tranquil suzerainty.

But above the material considerations are arising others, invisible, of an ethical nature, far more powerful and transcendental.

Orientals and the Malays, in particular, are a sensitive people: delicacy of sentiment is predominant with them. Even now, in spite of contact with the Occidental nations, who have ideas different from his, we see the Malayan Filipino sacrifice everything -- liberty, ease, welfare, name for the sake of an aspiration or a conceit sometimes scientific, or of some other nature but at the least word which wounds his self-love he forgets all his sacrifices, the labor expended, to treasure in his memory and never forget the slight he thinks he has received.

So the Philippine peoples have remained faithful during three centuries, giving up their liberty and their independence, sometimes dazzled by the hope of the Paradise promised, sometimes cajoled by the friendship offered them by a noble and generous people like the Spanish, sometimes also compelled by superiority of arms of which they were ignorant and which timid spirits invested with a mysterious character, or sometimes because the invading foreigner took advantage of internecine feuds to step in as the peacemaker in discord and thus after to dominate both parties and subject them to his authority.

Spanish domination once established, was firmly maintained, thanks to the attachment of the people, to their mutual dissensions, and to the fact that the sensitive self-love of the native had not yet been wounded. Then the people saw their own countrymen in the higher ranks of the army, their general officers fighting beside the heroes of Spain and sharing their laurels, begrudged neither character, reputation nor consideration; then fidelity and attachment to Spain, love for the fatherland, made of the native encomendero and even general, as during the English invasion; then there had not yet been invented the insulting and ridiculous epithets with which recently the most laborious and painful achievements of the native leaders have been stigmatized; not then had it become the fashion to insult and slander in stereotyped phrase, in newspapers and books published with governmental and superior ecclesiastical approval, the people that paid, fought and poured out its blood for the Spanish name, nor was it considered either noble or witty to offend a whole race, which was forbidden to reply or defend itself, and if there were religious hypochondriacs who in the leisure of their cloisters dared to write against it, as did the Augustinian Gaspar de San Agustin and the Jesuit Velarde, their loathsome abortions never saw the light, and still less were they themselves rewarded with miters and raised to high offices. True it is that neither were the natives of that time such as we are now: three centuries of brutalization and obscurantism have necessarily had some influence upon us, the most beautiful work of divinity in the hands of certain artisans may finally be converted into a caricature.

The priests of that epoch, wishing to establish their domination over the people, got in touch with it and made common cause with it against the oppressive encomenderos. Naturally, the people saw in them learning and some prestige and placed its confidence in them, followed their advice, and listened to them in the darkest hours. If they wrote, they did so in defense of the rights of the native and made his cry reach even to the distant steps of the Throne. And not a few priests, both secular and regular, undertook dangerous journeys, as representatives of the country, and this, along with the strict and public residencia then required of the governing powers, from the captain-general to the most insignificant official, rather consoled and pacified the wounded spirits, satisfying, even though it were only in form, all the malcontents.

All this has passed away. The derisive laughter penetrates like mortal poison into the heart of the native who pays and suffers and it becomes more offensive the more immunity it enjoys. A common sore the general affront offered to a whole race, has wiped away the old feuds among different provinces. The people no longer have confidence in its former protectors, now its exploiters and executioners. The masks have fallen. It has been that the love and piety of the past have come to resemble the devotion of a nurse, who, unable to live elsewhere, desires the eternal infancy, eternal weakness, for the child in order to go on drawing her wages and existing at its expense, it has seen not only that she does not nourish it to make it grow but that she poisons it to stunt its growth and at the slightest protest she flies into a rage! The ancient show of justice, the holy residencia has disappeared; confusion of ideas begins to prevail; the regard shown for a governor-general, lie La Torre, becomes a crime in the government of his successor, sufficient to cause the citizen to lose his liberty and his home; if he obeys the order of one official, as in the recent matter of admitting corpses into the church, it is enough to have the obedient subjects later harassed and persecuted in every possible way; obligations and taxes increase without thereby increasing rights, privileges and liberties or assuring the few in existence; a regime of continual terror and uncertainty disturbs the minds, a regime worse than a period of disorder for the fears that the imagination conjures up are generally greater than the reality; the country is poor; the financial crisis through which it is passing is acute, and every one points out with the finger the persons who are causing the trouble, yet no one dares lay hands upon them!

True it is that the Penal Code has come like a drop of balm to such bitterness. But of what use are all the codes in the world, if by means of confidential reports, if for trifling reasons, if through anonymous traitors any honest citizen may be exiled or banished without a hearing, without a trial? Of what use is that Penal Code, of what use is life, if there is no security in the home, no faith in justice and confidence in tranquility of conscience? Of what use is all that array of terms, all that collection of articles, when the cowardly accusation of a traitor has more influence in the timorous ears of the supreme autocrat than all the cries for justice?

If this state of affairs should continue, what will be come of the Philippines within a century?

The batteries are gradually becoming charged and if the prudence of the government does not provide an outlet for the currents that are accumulating, some day the spark will be generated. This is not the place to speak of what outcome such a deplorable conflict might have, for it depends upon chance, upon the weapons and upon a thousand circumstances which man cannot foresee. But even though all the advantages should be on the government’s side and therefore the probability of success, it would be a Pyrrhic victory, and not government ought to desire such.

If those who guide the destinies of the Philippines remain obstinate, and instead of introducing reforms try to make the condition of the country retrograde; to push their severity and repression to extremes against the classes that suffer and think they are going to force the latter to venture and put into play the wretchedness of an unquiet life, filled with privation and bitterness, against the hope of securing something indefinite. What would be lost in the struggle? Almost nothing: the life of the numerous discontented classes has no such great attraction that it should be preferred to a glorious death. It may indeed be a suicidal attempt -- but then, what? Would not a bloody chasm yawn between victors and vanquished and might not the latter with time and experience become equal in strength, since they are superior in numbers to their dominators? Who disputes this? All the petty instructions that have occurred in the Philippines were the work of a few fanatics or discontented soldiers, who had to deceive and humbug the people or avail themselves of their powers over their subordinates to gain their ends. So they all failed. No insurrection had a popular character or was based on a need of the whole race or fought for human rights or justice, so it left no ineffaceable impressions, but rather when they saw that they had been duped the people bound up their wounds and applauded the overthrow of the disturbers of their peace! But what if the movement springs from the people themselves and based its causes upon their woes?

So then, if the prudence and wise reforms of our ministers do not find capable and determined interpreters among the colonial governors and faithful perpetrators among those whom the frequent perpetrators among those whom the frequent political changes send to fill such a delicate post; if met with the eternal it is out of order, preferred by the elements who see their livelihood in the backwardness of their subjects, it just claims are to go unheeded, as being of a subversive tendency; if the country is denied representation in the Cortes and an authorized voice to cry out against all kinds of abuses, which escape through the complexity of the laws; if in short, the system, prolific in results of alienating the goodwill of the natives, is to continue, pricking his apathetic mind with insults and charges of ingratitude, we can assert that in a few yeas the present state of affairs will have been modified completely -- and inevitably. There now exists a factor which was formerly lacking -- the spirit of the nation has been aroused and a common misfortune, a common debasement has united all the inhabitants of the Islands. A numerous enlightened class now exists within and without the Islands, a class created and continually augmented by the stupidity of certain governing powers, which forces the inhabitants to leave the country, to secure education abroad, and it is maintained thanks to the provocation and the system of espionage in vogue. This class, whose number is cumulatively increasing, is in constant communication with the rest of the Islands, and if today it constitutes only the brain of the country in a few years it will form the whole nervous system and manifest its existence in all its acts.

Now, statecraft has various means at its disposal for checking a people on the road to progress; the brutalization of the masses through a caste addicted to the government, aristocratic, as in the Dutch colonies, or theocratic as in the Philippines; the impoverishment of the country; the gradual extermination of the inhabitants; and fostering of feuds among the races.

Brutalization of the Malayan Filipinos has been demonstrated to be impossible. In spite of the dark horde of friars in whose hands rests the instruction of youth, which miserably wastes years and years in the colleges, issuing therefrom tired, weary and disgusted with books: in spite of the censorship which tries to close every avenue to progress; in spite of all the pupils, confessionals, books, and missals that inculcate hatred toward not only all scientific knowledge but even toward the Spanish language itself; in spite of this whole elaborate system perfected and tenaciously operated by those who wish to keep the Islands in holy ignorance; there exist writers, freethinkers, historians, philosophers, chemists, physicians, artists, and jurists. Enlightenment is spreading and the persecution it suffers quickens it. No, the divine flame of thought is inextinguishable in the Filipino people and somehow or other it will shine forth and compel recognition. It is impossible to brutalize the inhabitants of the Philippines!

May poverty arrest their development? Perhaps, but it is a very dangerous means. Experience has everywhere shown us and especially in the Philippines, that the classes which are better off have always been addicted to peace and order, because they live comparatively better and may be the losers in civil disturbances. Wealth brings with it refinement, the spirit of conservation, while poverty inspires adventurous ideas, the desire to change things and has little care for life. Machiavelli himself held this means of subjecting of a people to be perilous, observing that loss of welfare stirs up more obdurate enemies than loss of life. Moreover, when there are wealth and abundance, there is less discontent, less compliant and the government, itself wealthier, has more means for sustaining itself. On the other hand, there occurs in a poor country what becomes in a house where bread is wanting? And further, of what use to the mother country would a poor and lean colony be?

Neither is possible gradually to exterminate the inhabitants. The Philippine races, like all the Malays, do not succumb before the foreigner, like the Australians, the Polynesians and the Indians of the New World. In spite of the numerous wars the Filipinos have had to carry on, in spite of the epidemics that have periodically visited them, their number has trebled, as has that of the Malays of Java and the Moluccas. The Filipino embraces civilization and lives and thrives in every clime, in contact with every people. Rum, that poison which exterminated the natives of the Pacific islands, has no power in the Philippines, but rather, comparison of their present condition with that described by the earlier historians, makes it appear that the Filipinos have grown soberer. The petty wars with the inhabitants of the south consume only the soldiers, people who by their fidelity to the Spanish flag, far from being a menace, are surely one of its solidest supports.

Three remains the fostering of internecine feuds among the provinces.

This was formerly possible, when communication from one island to another was rare and difficult, when there were not steamers or telegraph lines, when the regiments were formed according to the various provinces, when some provinces were cajoled by awards of privileges and honor and other were protected from the strongest. But now that the privileges have disappeared, that through a spirit of distrust the regiments have been reorganized, that the inhabitants move from one island to another, communication and exchange of impressions naturally increase, and as all see themselves threatened by the same peril and wounded in the same feelings, they clasp hands and make common cause. It is true that the union is not yet wholly perfected, but to this end the measures of good government, the vexations to which the townspeople are subjected, the frequent changes of officials, the scarcity of centers of learning, forces of the youth of all the islands to come together and begin to get acquainted. The journeys to Europe contribute not a little to tighten the bonds, for abroad the inhabitants of most widely separated provinces are impressed by their patriotic feelings, from sailors even to the wealthiest merchants, and at the sight of modern liberty and the memory of the misfortunes of their country, they embrace and call one another brothers.

In short, then, the advancement and ethical progress of the Philippines are inevitable, are decreed by fate.

The Islands cannot remain in the condition they are without requiring from the sovereign country more liberty. Mutatis mutandis. For new men, a new social order.

To wish that the alleged child remain in its swaddling clothes is to risk that it may turn against the nurse and flee, tearing away the old rags that bind it.

The Philippines, then, will remain under Spanish domination, but with more law and greater liberty, or they will declare themselves independent after steeping themselves and the mother country in blood.

As no one should desire or hope for such an unfortunate rupture, which would be an evil for all and only the final argument in the most desperate predicament, let us see by what forms of peaceful evolution the Islands may remain subjected to the Spanish authority, with the very least detriment to the rights, interests and dignity of both parties.

PART THREE: If the Philippines must remain under the control of Spain, they will necessarily have to be transformed in a political sense, for the course of their history and the needs of their inhabitants so required. This we demonstrated in the preceding article.

We also said that this transformation will be violent and fatal if it proceeds from the ranks of the people, but peaceful and fruitful if it emanates from the upper classes.

Some governors have realized this truth, and impelled by their patriotism, have been trying to introduce needed reforms in order to forestall events. But notwithstanding all that have been ordered up to the present time, they have produced scanty results, for the government as well as for the country. Even those that promised only a happy issue have at times caused injury, for the simple reason that they have been based upon unstable grounds.

We said and once more we repeat, and all will ever assert, that reforms, which have a palliative character, are not only ineffectual but even prejudicial when the government is confronted with evils that must be cured radically. And were we not convinced of the honesty and rectitude of some governors, we would be tempted to say that all the partial reforms are only plasters and salves of a physician, who, not knowing how to cure the cancer, and not daring to root it out, tries in this way to alleviate the patient’s sufferings or to temporize with the cowardice of the timid and ignorant.

All the reforms of our liberal ministers were, have been, are, and will be good -- when carried out.

When we think of them, we are reminded of the dieting of Sancho Panza in this Barataria Island. He took his seat at a sumptuous and well-appointed table “covered with fruit and many varieties of food differently prepared,” but between the wretch’s mouth and each dish the physician Pedro Rezio interposed his wand, saying, “Take it away!” The dish removed, Sancho was as hungry as ever. Truth is that the despotic Pedro Rezio gave reasons, which seem to have been written by Cervantes especially for the colonial administrations. “You must not eat, Mr. Governor, except according to the usage and custom of other islands, where there are governors.” Something was found to be wrong with each dish: one was too hot, another too moist, and so on, just like our Pedro Rezio on both sides of the sea. Great good did his cook’s skill do Sancho!

In the case of our country, the reforms take the place of the dishes, the Philippines are Sancho, while the part of the quack physician is played by many persons interested in not having the dishes touched, perhaps that they may themselves get the benefit of them.

The result is that the long suffering Sancho, or the Philippines, misses his liberty, rejects all government and ends up by rebelling against his quack physician.

In this manner, so long as the Philippines have no liberty of the press, have no voice in the Cortes to make known to the government and to the nation whether or not their decrees have been duly obeyed, whether or not these benefit the country, all the able efforts of the colonial ministers will meet the fate of the dishes in Barataria Island.

The minister, then, who wants his reforms to be reforms, must begin by declaring the press in the Philippines free and by instituting Filipino delegates.

The free press in the Philippines, because their complaints rarely ever reach the Peninsula, very rarely, and if they do they are so secret, so mysterious that no newspaper dares to publish them, or if it does reproduce them, it does so tardily and badly.

A government that rules a country from a great distance is the one that has the most need for a free press more so even than the government of the home country, if it wishes to rule rightly and fitly. The government that governs in a country may even dispense with the press (if it can), because it is on the ground, because it has eyes and ears, and because it directly observes what it rules and administers. But the government that governs from afar absolutely requires that the truth and the facts reach its knowledge by every possible channel so that it may weigh and estimate them better, and this need increases when a country like the Philippines is concerned, where the inhabitants speak and complain in a language unknown to the authorities. To govern in any other way may also be called governing, but it is to govern badly. It amounts to pronouncing judgment after hearing only one of the parties; it is steering a ship without reckoning its conditions, the state of the sea, the reefs and shoals, the direction of the winds and currents. It is managing a house by endeavoring merely to give it polish and a fine appearance without watching the money chest, without looking after the servants and the members of the family.

But routine is a declivity down which many governments slide, and routine says that freedom of the press is dangerous. Let us see what History says: uprisings and revolutions have always occurred in countries tyrannized over, in countries where human thought and the human heart have been forced to remain silent.

If the great Napoleon had not tyrannized over the press, perhaps it would have warned him of the peril into which he was hurled and have made him understand that the people were weary and the earth wanted peace. Perhaps his genius, instead of being dissipated in foreign aggrandizement would have become intensive in laboring to strengthen his position and thus have assured it. Spain herself records in her history more revolutions when the press was gagged. What colonies have become independent while they had a free press and enjoyed liberty? Is it preferable to govern blindly or to govern with ample knowledge?

Someone will answer that in colonies with a free press, the prestige of the rulers, that prop of false governments, will be greatly imperiled. We answer that the prestige of the nation is not by abetting and concealing abuses, but by rebuking and punishing them. Moreover, to this prestige is applicable what Napoleon said about great men and their valets. Who endure and know all the false pretensions and petty persecutions of those sham gods, do not need a free press in order to recognize them; they have long ago lost their prestige. The free press is needed by the government, the government which still dreams of the prestige which it builds upon mined ground.

We say the same about the Filipino representatives.

What risks does the government see in them? One of three things, either that they will prove unruly, become political trimmers, or act properly.

Supposing that we should yield to the most absurd pessimism and admit the insult, great for the Philippines but still greater for Spain, that all the representatives would be separatists and that in all their contentions they would advocate separatist ideas; does not a patriotic Spanish majority exist there, is there not present there the vigilance of the governing powers to combat and oppose such intentions? And would not this be better than the discontent that ferments and expands in the secrecy of the home, in the huts and in the field? Certainly the Spanish people does not spare its blood where patriotism is concerned but would not a struggle of principles in parliament be preferable to the exchange of shot in swampy lands, three thousand leagues from home in impenetrable forests, under a burning sun or amid torrential rains? These pacific struggles of ideas, besides being a thermometer for the government, have the advantage of being cheap and glorious, because the Spanish parliament especially abounds in oratorical paladins invincible in debate. Moreover, it is said that the Filipinos are indolent and peaceful -- then what need for government fear? Hasn’t it any influence in the elections? Frankly speaking, it is a great compliment to the separatists to fear them in the midst of the Cortes of the nation.

Now then, if the real objection to the Filipino delegates, is that they smell like Igorots, which so disturbed in open Senate the doughty General Salamanca, then Don Sinibaldo de Mas, who saw the Igorots in person and wanted to live with them, can affirm that they will smell at worst like powder, and Señor Salamanca undoubtedly has no fear of that odor. And if this were all, the Filipinos, who there in their own country are accustomed to bathe every day, when they become representatives may give up such a dirty custom, at least during the legislative session so as not to offend the delicate nostrils of Salamanca with the odor of the bath.

It is useless to answer certain objections of some fine writers regarding the rather brown skins and faces with somewhat wide nostrils. Questions of taste are peculiar to each race. China, for example, which has four hundred million inhabitants and a very ancient civilization, considers all Europeans ugly and calls them “fankwai”, or red devils. Its taste has a hundred million more adherents than the Europeans. Moreover, if this is the question, we would have to admit the inferiority of the Latins, especially the Spaniards, to the Saxons, who are much whiter.

And so long as it is not asserted that the Spanish parliament is an assemblage of Adonises, Antoniuses, pretty boys and other like paragons, so long as the purpose of resorting thither is to legislate and not to philosophize or wonder through imaginary spheres, we maintain that the government ought not to pause at these obligations. Law has no skin nor reason nostrils.

So we see no serious reason why the Philippines may not have representatives. By their institution many malcontents would be silenced, and instead of blaming its troubles upon the government, as now happens, the country would bear them better, for it could at least complain and with its sons among its legislators, would in a way become responsible for their actions.

We are not sure that we serve the true interests of our country by asking for representatives. We know that the lack of enlightenment, the indolence, the egotism, of our fellow countrymen, and the boldness, the cunning and the powerful methods of those who wish their obscurantism, may convert reform into a harmful instrument. But we wish to be loyal to the government and we are pointing out to it the road that appears best to us so that its effort may not come to grief, so that discontent may disappear. If after so just, as well as necessary, a measure has been introduced, the Filipino people are so stupid and weak that they are treacherous to their own interests, then let the responsibility fall upon them, let them suffer all consequences. Every country gets the fate it deserves and the government can say that it has done its duty.

These are the two fundamental reforms, which properly interpreted and applied, will dissipate all clouds, assure affection toward Spain, and make all succeeding reforms fruitful. These are the reforms sine quibus non.

It is puerile to fear that independence may come thorough them. The free press will keep the government in touch with public opinion, and the representatives, if they are, as they ought to be, the best from among the sons of the Philippines, will be their hostages. With no cause for discontent, how then attempt to stir up the masses of the people?

Likewise inadmissible is the obligation offered by some regarding the imperfect culture of the majority of the inhabitants. Aside from the fact that it is not so imperfect as is averred, there is no plausible reason why the ignorant and the defective (whether through their own or another’s fault) should be denied representation to look after them and see that they are not abused. They are the very ones who most need it. No one ceases to be a man, no one forfeits his rights to civilization merely by being more or less uncultured, and since the Filipino is regarded as a fit citizen when he is asked to pay taxes or shed his blood to defend the fatherland why must this fitness be denied him when the question arises of granting him some right? Moreover, how is he to be held responsible for his ignorance, when it is acknowledged by all, friends and enemies that his zeal for learning is so great that even before the coming of the Spaniards every one could read and write, and that we now see the humblest families make enormous sacrifices to the extent of working as servants in order to learn Spanish? How can the country be expected to become enlightened under present conditions when we see all the decrees issued by the government in favor of education meet with Pedro Rezios who prevent execution whereof because they have in their hands what they call education? If the Filipino, then, is sufficiently intelligent to pay taxes, he must also be able to choose and retain the one who looks after him and his interests, with the product whereof he serves the government of his nation. To reason otherwise is to reason stupidly.

When the laws and the acts of officials are kept under surveillance, the word justice may cease to be a colonial jest. The thing that makes the English most respected in their possessions is their strict and speedy justice so that the inhabitants repose entire confidence in the judges. Justice is the foremost virtue of the civilized races. It subdues the barbarous nations, while injustice arouses the weakest.

Offices and trusts should be awarded by competition, publishing the work and the judgment thereon, so that there may be stimulus and that discontent may not be bred. Then, if the native does not shake off his indolence he can not complain when he sees all the offices filled by Castilas.

We presume that it will not be the Spaniard who fears to enter in this contest, for thus will he be able to prove his superiority by the superiority of intelligence. Although this is not the custom in the sovereign country, it should be practiced in the colonies, for the reason that genuine prestige should be sought by means of moral qualities, because the colonizers ought to be, or at least to seem, upright, honest and intelligent, just as a man stimulates virtues when he deals with a stranger. The offices and trusts so earned will do away with arbitrary dismissal and develop employees and officials capable and cognizant of their duties. The offices held by natives, instead of endangering the Spanish domination, will merely serve to assure it, for what interest would they have in converting the sure and stable into the uncertain and problematical? The native is, moreover, very fond of peace and prefers a humble present to a brilliant future. Let the various Filipinos still holding office speak in this matter, they are the most unshaken conservatives.

We could add other minor reforms touching commerce, agriculture, security of the individual and of property, education, and so on, but these are points with which we shall deal in other articles. For the present we are satisfied with the outlines and no one can say that we ask too much.

There will be lacking critics to accuse us of Utopianism: but what is Utopia? Utopia was a country imagined by Thomas Moore, wherein existed universal suffrage, religious toleration, almost complete abolition of the death penalty and so on. When the book was published these things were looked upon as dreams, impossibilities, that is Utopianism. Yet civilization has left the country of Utopia far behind, the human will and conscience have worked greater miracles, have abolished slavery and the death penalty for adultery -- things impossible for even Utopia itself!

The French colonies have their representatives. The question has also been raised in the English parliament of giving representation to the Crown colonies, for the others already enjoy some autonomy. The press there is also free. Only Spain, which in the sixteenth century was the model nation in civilization, lags far behind. Cuba and Puerto Rico, whose inhabitants do not number a third of those of the Philippines, and who have not made such sacrifices for Spain, have numerous representatives. The Philippines in the early days had theirs, who conferred with the King and Pope on the needs of the country. They had them in Spain’s critical moments, when she groaned under the Napoleonic yoke, and they did not take advantage of the sovereign country’s misfortunes like other colonies but tightened more firmly the bonds that united them to be the nation, giving proofs of their loyalty and they continued until many years later. What crime have the Islands committed that they are deprived of their rights?

To recapitulate: the Philippines will remain Spanish if they enter upon the life of law and civilization, if the rights of their inhabitants are respected, if the other rights due them are granted, if the liberal policy of the government is carried out without trickery or meanness, without subterfuges or false interpretations.

Otherwise, if an attempt is made to see in the Islands a lode to be exploited, a resource to satisfy ambitions, thus to relieve the sovereign country of taxes, killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, and shutting its ears to all cries of reasons the, however, great may be the loyalty of the Filipinos, it will be impossible to hinder the operations of the inexorable laws of history. Colonies established to subserve the policy and the commerce of the sovereign country, all eventually become independent said Bachelet, and before Bachelet, all the Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, English, Portuguese, and Spanish colonies have said it.

Close indeed are the bonds that unite us to Spain. Two peoples do not live for three centuries in continual contact, sharing the same lot, shedding their blood on the same fields, holding the same beliefs, worshipping the same God, interchanging the same ideas, but that ties are formed between them stronger than those engendered by affection. Machiavelli, the great reader of the human heart said: la natura degli huomini, e cosi obligarsi pe li beneficii che essi fanno come per quelli che essi ricevono (it is human nature to be bound as much by benefits conferred as by those received). All this, and more, is true but it is pure sentimentality, and in the arena of politics stern necessity and interests prevail. Howsoever much the Filipinos owe Spain, they can not be required to forego their redemption, to have their liberal and enlightened sons wander about in exile from their native land, the rudest aspirations stifled in its atmosphere, the peaceful inhabitants living in constant alarm, with the fortune of the two peoples dependent upon the whim of one man. Spain can not claim, nor even in the name of God himself, that six millions of people should be brutalized, exploited and oppressed, denied light and the rights inherent to a human being and then heap upon them slights and insults. There is no claim of gratitude that can excuse, there is not enough power in the world to justify the offenses against the liberty of the individual, against the sanctity of the home, against the laws, against peace and honor, offenses that are committed three daily. There is no divinity that can proclaim the sacrifice of our dearest affections, the sacrifice of the family, the sacrileges and wrongs that are committed by persons who have the name of God on their lips. No one can require an impossibility of the Filipino people. The noble Spanish people, so jealous of its rights and liberties, cannot bid the Filipinos to renounce theirs. A people that prides itself on the glories of the past cannot ask another, trained by it, to accept abjection and dishonor its own name!

We, who today are struggling by the legal and peaceful means of debate so understand it, and with our gaze fixed upon our ideals, shall not cease to plead our cause, withou t going beyond the pale of the law, but if violence first silences us or we have the misfortune to fall (which is possible for we are mortal) then we do not know what course will be taken by the numerous tendencies that will rush in to occupy the places that we leave vacant.

If what we desire is not realized. . .

In contemplating such an unfortunate eventuality, we must not turn away in horror, and so instead of closing our eyes we will face what the future may bring. For this purpose, after throwing the handful of dust due to Cerberus, let us frankly descend into the abyss and sound its terrible mysteries.

PART FOUR: History does not record in its annals any lasting domination exercised by one people over another, of different races, of diverse usages and customs, of opposite and divergent ideals.

One of the two had to yield and succumb. Either the foreigner was driven out, as happened in the case of Carthaginians, the Moors and the French in Spain, or else these autochthons had to give way and perish, as was the case with the inhabitants of the New World.

One of the longest dominations was that of the Moors in Spain, which lasted seven centuries. But, even though the conquerors lived in the country conquered, even though the Peninsula was broken up into small states, which gradually emerged like little islands in the midst of the great Saracen inundation and in spite of the chivalrous spirit, the gallantry and the religious toleration of the caliphs, they were finally driven out after bloody and stubborn conflicts, which formed the Spanish nation and created the Spain of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The existence of a foreign body within another endowed with strength and activity is contrary to all natural and ethical laws. Science teaches us that it is either assimilated, destroys the organism, is eliminated or becomes encysted.

Encystment of a conquering people is possible, for it signifies complete isolation, absolute inertia, and debility in the conquering element. Encystment thus means the tomb of the foreign invader.

Now applying these considerations to the Philippines, we must conclude, as a deduction from all we have said, that if their population be not assimilated to the Spanish nation, if the dominators do not enter into the spirit of their inhabitants, if equitable laws and free and liberal reforms do not make each forget that they belong to different races, or if both peoples be not amalgamated to constitute one mass, socially and politically, homogeneous, that is, not harassed by opposing tendencies and antagonistic ideas and interests some day the Philippines will fatally and infallibly declare themselves independent. To this law of destiny can be opposed neither Spanish patriotism, nor the love of all Filipinos for Spain, not the doubtful future of dismemberment and intestine strife in the Islands themselves. Necessity is the most powerful divinity the world knows, and necessity is the resultant of physical forces set in operation by ethical forces.

We have said and statistics prove that it is impossible to exterminate the Filipino people. And even were it possible what interest would Spain have in the destruction of the inhabitants of a country she can not populate or cultivate, whose climate is to a certain extent disastrous to her? What good would the Philippines be without the Filipinos? Quite otherwise, under her colonial system and the transitory character of the Spanish who go to the colonies, a colony is so much the more useful and productive to her as it possesses inhabitants and wealth. Moreover, in order to destroy the six million Malays, even supposing them to be in their infancy and that they have never learned to fight and defend themselves, Spain would have to sacrifice at least a fourth of her population. This we commend to the notice of the partisans of colonial exploitation.

But nothing of this kind can happen. The menace is that when the education and liberty necessary to human existence are denied by Spain to the Filipinos, then they will seek enlightenment abroad, behind the mother country’s back or they will secure by hook or by crook some advantages in their country with the result that the opposition of purblind and paretic politicians will not only be futile but even prejudicial because it will convert motives for love and gratitude into resentment and hatred.

Hatred and resentment on one side, mistrust and anger on the other, will finally result in a violent terrible collision, especially when there exist elements interested in having disturbances, so that they may get something in the excitement, demonstrates their mighty power, foster lamentations and recriminations, or employ violent measures. It is to be expected that the government will triumph and be generally (as is the custom) severe in punishment, either to teach a stern lesson in order to vaunt its strength or even to revenge upon the vanquished the spells of excitement and terror that the danger caused it. An unavoidable concomitant of those catastrophes is the accumulation of acts of injustice committed against the innocent and peaceful inhabitants. Private reprisals, denunciation, despicable accusations, resentments, covetousness, the opportune moment for calumny, the haste and hurried procedure of the court martials, the pretext of the integrity of the fatherland and the safety of the state, which cloaks and justifies everything, even for scrupulous minds, which unfortunately are still rare and above all the panic-stricken timidity, the cowardice that battens upon the conquered -- all these things augment the severe measures and the number of the victims. The result is that a chasm of blood is then opened between the two peoples that the wounded and the afflicted, instead of becoming fewer, are increased, for to the families and friends of the guilty, who always think the punishment excessive and the judge unjust, must be added the families and friends of the innocent, who see no advantage in living and working submissively and peacefully. Note, too, that if severe measures are dangerous in a nation made up of homogeneous population, the peril is increased a hundred-fold when the government is formed a race different from the governed. In the former an injustice may still be ascribed to one man alone, to a governor actuated by personal malice, and with the death of the tyrant the victim is reconciled to the government of his nation. But in a county dominated by a foreign race, even the most just act of severity is construed as injustice and oppression, because it is ordered by a foreigner, who is unsympathetic or is an enemy of the country, and the offense hurts not only the victim but his entire race, because it is not usually regarded as personal and so the resentment naturally spreads to the whole governing race and does not die out with the offender.

Hence the great prudence and fine tact that should be exercised by colonizing countries, and the fact that government regards the colonies in general and our colonial office in particular, as training schools, contributes notably to the fulfillment of the great law that the colonies sooner or later declare themselves independent.

Such is the descent down which the peoples are precipitated. In proportion as they are bathed in blood and drenched in tears and gall, the colony, if it has any vitality, learns how to struggle and perfect itself in fighting while the mother country whose colonial life depends upon peace and the submission of the subjects, is constantly weakened and even though she makes heroic efforts, as her number is less and she has only a fictitious existence, she finally perishes. She is like the rich voluptuary accustomed to be waited upon by a crowd of servants toiling and planting for him and who on the day his slaves refuse him obedience, as he does not live by his own efforts, must die.

Reprisals, wrongs and suspicions on one part and on the other the sentiment of patriotism and liberty, which is aroused in these incessant conflicts, insurrections and uprisings, operate to generalize the movement and one of the two peoples must succumb. The struggle will be brief, for it will amount to a slavery much more cruel than death for the people and to a dishonorable loss of prestige for the dominator. One of the peoples must succumb.

Spain, from the number of her inhabitants, from the condition of her army and navy, from the distance she is situated from the Islands, from her scanty knowledge of them, and from struggling against a people whose love and goodwill she has alienated, will necessarily have to give way, if she does not wish to risk not only her other possessions and her future in Africa, but also her very independence in Europe. All this is at the cost of bloodshed, and crime, after mortal conflicts, murders, conflagrations, military executions, famine and misery.

The Spaniard is gallant and patriotic, and sacrifices everything in favorable moments, for his country’s good. He has the intrepidity of his bull. The Filipino loves his country no less and although he is quieter, more peaceful and with difficulty stirred up, when he is once aroused he does not hesitate and for him the struggle means death to one or the other combatant. He has all the meekness and all the tenacity and ferocity of his carabao. Climate affects bipeds in the same way that it does quadrupeds.

The terrible lessons and the hard teachings that these conflicts will have afforded the Filipinos will operate to improve and strengthen their ethical nature. The Spain of the fifteenth century was not the Spain of the eighth. With their bitter experience, instead of intestine conflicts of some islands against others, as is generally feared, they will extend mutual support, like shipwrecked persons when they reach an island after a fearful night of storm. Nor may it be said that we shall partake of the fate of the small American republics. They achieved their independence easily and their inhabitants are animated by a different spirit from what the Filipinos are. Besides the danger of falling again into other hands, English or German, for example, will force the Filipinos to be sensible and prudent. Absence of any great preponderance of one race over the others will free their imagination from all mad ambitions of domination, and as they tendency of countries that have been tyrannized over, when they once shake off the yoke, is to adopt the freest government, like a boy leaving school, like the beat of the pendulum or by a law of reaction, the Islands will probably declare themselves a federal republic.

If the Philippines secure their independence after heroic and stubborn conflicts, they can rest assured that neither England or Germany, nor France, and still less Holland will dare to take up what Spain has been unable to hold. Within a few years Africa will completely absorb the attention of the Europeans, and there is no sensible nation which, in order to secure a group of poor and hostile islands, will neglect the immense territory offered by the Dark Continent, untouched, undeveloped and almost undefended. England has enough colonies in the Orient and is not going to sacrifice her Indian Empire for the poor Philippine Islands -- if she had entertained such an intention she would not have restored Manila in 1763, but would have kept some point in the Philippines whence she might gradually expand. Moreover, what need has John Bull the trader to exhaust himself over the Philippines, when he is already lord of the Orient, when he has Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai? It is probable the England will look favorably upon the independence of the Philippines, for it will open their ports to her and afford greater freedom to her commerce. Furthermore, there exist in the United Kingdom tendencies and opinions to the effect that she already has too many colonies, that they are harmful, that they greatly weaken the sovereign country.

For the same reasons Germany will not care to run any risk, and because a scattering of her forces and a war in distant countries will endanger her existence on the continent. Thus we see her attitude, as much in the Pacific as in Africa, is confined to conquering easy territory that belongs to nobody. Germany avoids any foreign complications.

France has enough to do and see more of a future in Tongking and China, besides the fact that the French spirit does not shine in zeal for colonization. France loves glory, but the glory and laurels that grow on the battlefields of Europe. The echo from battlefields in the Fear East hardly satisfies her craving for renown, for it reaches her quite faintly. She has also other obligations, both internally and on the continent.

Holland is sensible and will be content to keep the Moluccas and Java. Sumatra offers her a greater future than the Philippines whose seas and coasts have a sinister omen for Dutch expeditions. Holland proceeds with great caution in Sumatra and Borneo, from fear of losing everything.

China will consider herself fortunate if she succeeds in keeping herself intact and is not dismembered or partitioned among the European powers that they are colonizing the continent of Asia.

The same is true with Japan. On the north side she has Russia, who envies and watches her, on the south England, with whom she is in accord even to her official language. She is, moreover, under such diplomatic pressure from Europe that she can not think of outside affairs until she is freed from it, which will not be an easy matter. True it is that she has an excess of population, but Korea attracts her more than the Philippines and is also easier to seize.

Perhaps the great American Republic, whose interests lie in the Pacific and who has no hand in the spoliation of Africa, may dream some day of foreign possession. This is not impossible, for the example is contagious, covetousness and ambition are among the strongest vices, and Harrison manifested something of this sort in the Samoan question. But the Panama Canal is not opened nor the territory of the States congested with inhabitants, and in case she should openly attempt it the European powers would not allow her to proceed, for they know very well that the appetite is sharpened by the first bites. North America would be quite a troublesome rival, if she should once get into the business. Furthermore, this is contrary to her traditions.

Very likely the Philippines will defend with inexpressible valor the liberty secured at the price of so much blood and sacrifice. With the new men that will spring from their soil and with the recollection of their past, they will perhaps strife to enter freely upon the wide road of progress, and all will labor together to strengthen their fatherland, both internally and externally, with the same enthusiasm, with which a youth falls again to tilling the land of his ancestors who long wasted and abandoned through the neglect of those who have withheld it from him. Then the mines will be made to give up their gold for relieving distress, iron for weapons, copper, lead, and coal. Perhaps the country will revive the maritime and mercantile life for which the islanders are fitted by their nature, ability and instincts, and once more free, like the bird that leaves its cage, like the flower that unfolds to the air, will recover the pristine virtues that are gradually dying out and will again become addicted to peace -- cheerful, happy, joyous, hospitable and daring.

These and many other things may come to pass within something like a hundred years, but the most logical prognostication, the prophecy based on the best probabilities, may err through remote and insignificant causes: An octopus that seized Mark Anthony’s ship altered the face of the world; a cross on Calvary and a just man nailed thereon changed the ethics of half the human race, and yet before Christ, how many just men wrongly perished and how many crosses were raised on that hill! The death of the just sanctified his work and made his teaching unanswerable. A sunken road at the battle of Waterloo buried all the glories of two brilliant decades, the whole napoleonic world, and freed Europe. Upon what chance accidents will the destiny of the Philippines depend?

Nevertheless, it is not well to trust to accident, for there is sometimes an imperceptible and incomprehensible logic in the workings of history. Fortunately, peoples as well as governments are subjects to it.

Therefore, we repeat and we will ever repeat, while there is time, and that is better to keep pace with the desire of a people than to give way before them; the former begets sympathy and love, the latter contempt and anger. Since it is necessary to grant six million Filipinos their rights, so that they may be in fact Spaniards, let the government grant these rights freely and spontaneously, without damaging reservations, without irritating mistrust. We shall never tire of repeating this while a ray of hope is left us, for we prefer this unpleasant task to the need of some day saying to the mother country: “Spain, we have sent our youth in serving thy interests in the interests of our country; we have looked to thee, we have expended the whole light of our intellects, all the fervor and enthusiasm of our hearts in working for the good of what was tine, to draw from them a glance of love, a liberal policy and that would assure us the peace of our native land and thy sway over loyal but unfortunate islands! Spain, thou hast remained deaf, and wrapped up in thy pride, hast pursued thy fatal course and accused us of being traitors, merely because we love our country because we tell thee the truth and hate all kinds of injustice. What dost thou wish us to tell our wretched country when it asks about the result of our efforts? Must we say to it that, since for it we have lost everything -- yo
          Trump Urges GOP to Repeal Obama Law Now, Replace Later   

President Donald Trump urged divided congressional Republicans on Friday to break their logjam over dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law by "immediately" repealing it and replacing it later, a formula that GOP leaders dismissed months ago as politically unwise.

Trump's early-morning tweet embraced a sequential approach favored by only a handful of conservatives eager to take quick action on one of the party's foremost priorities — repealing Obamacare, something Republicans have long promised to do. But his suggestion threatened to sharpen divisions between conservatives and moderates, who are leery of stripping coverage from millions of constituents without something to substitute for it.

"If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!" Trump tweeted.

The White House said it remains "fully committed" to pushing through a health care plan in the Senate but is "looking at every possible option" to repeal and replace the Obamacare law.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that Trump "hasn't changed his thinking at all" about the struggling health care bill.

Supporters of that idea include Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

House and Senate leaders long ago abandoned initial thoughts of first erasing Obama's law, and then replacing it.

Such a step-by-step approach would leave Republicans vulnerable to Democratic accusations that they were simply tossing people off coverage without helping them obtain medical care. It could also roil insurance markets by prompting insurers to flee or boost premiums because of worries over whether, when and how Congress would replace the statute.

And the idea would leave unresolved the quandary stumping lawmakers today — how to replace Obama's system of online insurance markets, tax subsidies and an expanded Medicaid with something that will get enough Republican votes to pass Congress.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Trump's tweet.

Underscoring the fissures within the GOP, conservative group leaders welcomed Trump's suggestion but said it didn't go far enough because it could open the door to a subsequent bipartisan compromise to replace Obama's law. They accused McConnell of not wanting to go far enough and protecting GOP moderates who want to keep parts of the statute, such as insurance coverage requirements.

"It's distressing to see so many Republicans who've lied about their commitment to repeal. Mitch McConnell wants to amend Obamacare," Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a conference call. Mimicking a southern accent, the New Jersey-born Cuccinelli said, "Root and branch, root and branch," repeating an expression McConnell once used about how thoroughly he wanted to repeal the Obama law.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans were considering breaking a stalemate over what their replacement bill should do by preserving a tax boost Obama's law imposed on high earners. Keeping that tax increase in place was a bid to woo party moderates and rescue their sputtering push to repeal his health care overhaul.

The break from dogma by a party that has long reviled tax boosts — and most things achieved by Obama — underscores McConnell's feverish effort to rescue the Senate legislation from the brink of possible defeat.

The money from the tax boost would instead be used to bolster proposed health care subsidies for lower-income people.

The change, proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would give a more populist flavor to the bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that as the legislation now is written, it would boost out-of-pocket costs for many poor consumers and produce 22 million uninsured people while cutting around $700 billion in taxes over a decade — largely for richer people and the health care industry.

"You're increasing the burden on lower-income citizens and obviously alleviating the burden on the wealthy. That is not an equation that works," Corker said. He said he was "very confident" that leaders would address the issue in the updated bill.

Top Republicans also considered an amendment pushed by conservatives to let insurers offer plans with low premiums and scant benefits. To do so, a company would also have to sell a policy that abides by the consumer-friendly coverage requirements in Obama's 2010 statute, which the GOP is struggling to repeal.

Both proposals were encountering internal Republican opposition, and it was uncertain either would survive.

McConnell postponed a vote on an initial version Tuesday because of opposition from conservatives and moderates alike. By this week's end, he wants to nail down changes that would assure the bill's passage after Congress' weeklong July 4 recess. No more than two of the 52 GOP senators can oppose the measure for him to prevail, and there were no indications he'd achieved that margin as senators left town Thursday.

"We're kind of at a stalemate right now, I'd say," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who with Ohio GOP Sen. Robert Portman and others wants to forestall reductions the measure would make in Medicaid.

Under Corker's proposal, the bill would retain Obama's 3.8 percent tax increase on investment income for married couples making more than $250,000 a year and individuals making more than $125,000. Keeping that increase would save $172 billion over 10 years, and moderates want to use that money to make coverage more affordable for poorer consumers.

Conservatives said they opposed the idea, along with the chairmen of Congress' two tax-writing committees: Senate Finance chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Mary Clare Jalonick, Kevin Freking and Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
          7/1/2017: WORLD: Briefs   
May forced into backdown British Prime Minister Theresa May was forced into a new policy on abortion to halt a rebellion by Conservative backbenchers yesterday. In a move that was seized on as a sign of the government’s weak grip on power, May caved...
          Comment on peter berger and tobacco sociology by Jay Livingston   
As the “cult” name-calling implies, Berger was aiming at the motives of the anti-smoking groups, not their facts. Unlike his paymasters, he didn’t suppress data (AFAIK); he probably didn’t even do a serious methodological criticism of the other side’s data. My impression is that his anti-anti position was part of a disenchantment with the left. If liberals were for it, there must be something wrong with it. If liberals were against it, it must not be so bad. He also seems to have viewed public health initiatives as nanny-state assaults on individual freedom. He also opposed Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce diabetes and obesity by limiting the size of soft-drinks that movie theaters could sell. Forcing the very thirsty to buy two 15-oz. cups rather than one 30-oz. cup struck him as but a step away from Saudia Arabia. (I am not making this up – FWIW, more about it in my blog post from 2012 <a HREF="" rel="nofollow">here</A> .) He also came to share the conservative reflex that if something was European, it must be bad. So he also criticised Mayor Bloomberg for living with a woman not his wife. “I cannot say whether Bloomberg’s quasi-European lifestyle has anything to do with his idea of New York City as a quasi-European welfare state.” (Nice example of apophasis, btw.) Andrew Gelman, who knew well of Berger’s work as a shill for Big Cig, also had this to say (<a HREF="" rel="nofollow">here</A>): “But what impresses me is that Berger is doing <a HREF="" rel="nofollow">regular blogging</A> at the age of 84, writing a long essay each week. That’s really amazing to me. Some of the blogging is a bit suspect, for example <a HREF="" rel="nofollow">the bit</A> where he claims that he personally could convert gays to heterosexual orientation (“A few stubborn individuals may resist the Berger conversion program. The majority will succumb”)—but, really, you gotta admire that he’s doing this. I hope I’m that active when (if) I reach my mid-80s. (As a nonsmoker, I should have a pretty good chance of reaching that point.)
          Incorruptible - ICED EARTH   
With the current upsurge of the popularity of traditional metal styles stateside, the heavy music climate is favorable for longtime titans ICED EARTH. If we allow the conversation to devolve into a debate over which metallic branch the band leans more toward on the tree of heavy metal subgenres, there will be obvious mentions of power metal and thrash metal. But at the end of the day, it's clear that the group is a heavy metal band with clear roots in the style's origins. Mastermind Jon Schaffer has been driving forward through times both good and bad for metal, never yielding to trends, not even knocked out by two major back surgeries. He has remained steadfast in purpose and resolve with the band's celebration of all things metal for over 30 years. Like many bands, earlier gems will be difficult to usurp in the hearts of longtime fanatics, yet, in all this time, ICED EARTH has never released a bad album. "Incorruptible" is strong and accessible enough to reel in newbies and satiate old timers with an organic outpouring of shameless heavy metal. True to form, the band doesn't try too hard. The expression is natural. There isn't an odor of fromage à la GRAVE DIGGER or DRAGONFORCE. With album number 12, for those still counting, former INTO ETERNITY vocalist Stu Block shines with his most confident and soulful performance to date. His involvement with ICED EARTH reaches back to 2011, and his musical relationship with Schaffer is documented lyrically on the track “Brothers". In stark contrast to its penchant for crafting concept albums ("Night of the Stormrider", "The Dark Saga", "The Glorious Burden", among others), "Incorruptible" is—on a lyrical level—a collection of disparate tales. Opener "Great Heathen Army" reads from the pages of Viking history, while "Black Flag" serves as ICED EARTH's take on pirate metal. The epic, nearly 10-minute long album closer, "Clear the Way (December 13th, 1862) ", meanwhile, documents the Irish Brigade at the Battle of Fredericksburg, a blood-drenched clash that occurred during the Civil War. Slow number "The Veil" is evocative in a manner that recalls the glory days of eighties metal. On the flip side, in terms of tempo, "Seven Headed Whore" pummels with a speed metal attack laden with a double-kick frenzy and chugging riffs, whilst Block offers a coupling of eviscerating, almost blackened shrieks as well as a high-register vocal that suggests the mighty KING DIAMOND. Schaffer has always had a clear vision within a musically conservative style, suggesting obvious creative challenges for a band deep into its career. However, the contribution of incoming guitarist Jake Dreyer (WITHERFALL, ex-WHITE WIZZARD) is noticeable, and the injection of new blood has revitalized ICED EARTH, adding an exciting, high-energy touch to "The Relic (Part 1) " and a bold approach to "Defiance". Once again, ICED EARTH's star shines bright with a shameless display of heavy metal mastery that is as uncompromising now as it was when they first stoked the fires back in 1985.
          Black Laden Crown - DANZIG   
Glenn Danzig is a bona fide metal and punk god. His irreverence for genre conventions has been accepted with open arms within musically conservative music scenes, expanding the boundaries of metal and heavy music from the horror punk of the MISFITS through transitioning band SAMHAIN and finally through to the heavier metal-inclined band bearing his name. Highly publicized events and episodes extracurricular to his actual music have dominated headlines and social media exchanges in recent years, but one can't overstate the man's indelible imprint upon heavy music. The quality of DANZIG's post-nineties material has been inconsistent and lackluster compared to that early period during which the band released its first four blues drenched albums performed by the "classic" lineup. While 1996's "Danzig 5: Blackacidevil" was a turning point, it was dismissed by many diehards and stubborn critics alike. However, the bold foray into industrial metal terrain was creative and interesting. It was also the first DANZIG material to feature the talents of long-time collaborators drummer Joey Castillo (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, EAGLES OF DEATH METAL, SUGARTOOTH) and guitarist Tommy Victor (PRONG). Overlooking 2015's forgettable covers album, "Skeletons", it's been seven years since the release of DANZIG's previous album, "Deth Red Sabaoth", the longest period between releases in the band's career. That effort referenced the older period for which the band is known, but it's a much more comfortably applied starting point and inspiration for "Black Laden Crown". This return to old benefits from Victor's more noticeable adjustment to the definitive DANZIG sound, dialing back his proclivity for lustrous, jagged, industrial-friendly guitar aesthetics—which were perfect for "Danzig 5: Blackacidevil" and "6:66 Satan's Child". Instead, he favors a dingy blues quality reminiscent, but not plagiaristic, of original DANZIG guitarist John Christ, perhaps most evident with his application of pinch harmonics. Victor's performance stands as the album's strongest point, in fact, with simple, bare-bones guitar work highlighted even more so considering the simplistic percussive backbone that was performed, ironically enough, by five drummers: Joey Castillo, Johnny Kelly (TYPE O NEGATIVE), Dirk Verbeuren, Karl Rosqvist and Danzig himself. Indeed, Danzig's voice was once the undeniable centerpiece, now it constitutes an elemental strand woven together meticulously and thoughtfully with the rest. Simply put, DANZIG's voice isn't as monstrous as it once was. It isn't bad. It isn't weak. It just isn't the same. Perhaps his selection of the predominantly blues driven material was rooted in an awareness of this limitation, or maybe the predominantly pensive, slow burning songs—"Blackness Falls" and "Last Ride"—were crafted as a result of an aging artist's more restrained or lessened sense of angst. All speculation aside, for better and worse, "Black Laden Crown" is certainly less biting than DANZIG's music has been in the past. The weak production, handled by Danzig himself, doesn't help matters—everything sounds thin. It is a good album, but it is very demo-like since many ideas seem underdeveloped, and there is a sense that most things could have been edited better. The title track, for instance, crawls forth with a likable and memorable groove, however, it drifts on too long. The triumphant upsurge at the tail end would have been just as moving had it kicked in a minute or two sooner. There is a sense of maturity that's evident with our Evil Elvis, but Satan's child still exhibits a youthful nonconformity and taste for all things dark. This is evident on songs like "Devil On Hwy 9", a track that has a playful WHITE ZOMBIE-via-DANZIG-via-MISFITS quality. Danzig is 62 years old. That certainly doesn't mean he is beyond criticism, yet one can't help but admire his tenacity and fire that still burns.
          Question Time   
One of Spartacus’s pleasures in posting on Catallaxy is to read the comments.  I always try to read comments and always learn something. It seems that there are supporters of both the Liberal Democrats and the Australian Conservatives out in … Continue reading
          Comment on Will NASA Suffer as Trump Administration Tightens Control? by mike_shupp   
Jimmy me boy, you don't appreciate the site owner or his efforts, and you're just here to slap down liberals and display your conservative attitudes. So you're a troll and nothing more. Why not go back to under your bridge and wait for a billy goat?
          Safety problems are not confined to social housing   

TO AN observer of the past fortnight’s news, a council estate in Finsbury Park may not seem like a desirable place to live. Last week a man drove a van into worshippers outside a local mosque in an apparent terrorist attack. Two weeks ago a tower block run by a council on the other side of the capital caught fire, killing at least 80 people. Yet locals on the Six Acres estate see things differently. Mehmet, a young taxi driver who “wanted to leave as soon as possible” when he grew up on the estate, says he is happy to stay, after the council carried out a big refurbishment.

The Grenfell Tower disaster has prompted a national reflection on the state of social housing. Over the past four decades there has been a sharp decline in the number of Britons who live in homes owned by the state, following a sell-off accelerated by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative governments in the 1980s. Since councils were banned from borrowing cash to build replacements, stocks of social housing fell sharply. In 1980 about a third of homes were rented from councils or housing associations. Now the figure is less than a fifth.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, it has become apparent that much of the remaining high-rise stock falls short of safety standards. After it emerged that flammable external cladding may have helped the Grenfell fire to spread, the government...

          Britain’s decline and fall   

WRITING to his wife in May 1942, Evelyn Waugh recounted a true story of military derring-do. A British commando unit offered to blow up an old tree-stump on Lord Glasgow’s estate, promising him that they could dynamite the tree so that it “falls on a sixpence”. After a boozy lunch they all went down to witness the explosion. But instead of falling on a sixpence the tree-stump rose 50 feet in the air, taking with it half an acre of soil and a beloved plantation of young trees. A tearful Lord Glasgow fled to his castle only to discover that every pane of glass had been shattered. He then ran to his lavatory to hide his emotions, but when he pulled the plug out of his washbasin “the entire ceiling, loosened by the explosion, fell on his head.”

A year on from the Brexit referendum Britain feels like Lord Glasgow’s castle. The most visible damage has been done to its domestic politics. With the Conservative Party in turmoil Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s hard-left leader, talks about being...

          FINALLY! Trump & Congress Moving Toward First Full Repeal And Replace Later   
Repeal and Replace

President Trump’s most recent comments on the GOP attempts to fix our nation’s failing healthcare system is music to conservative ears. First repeal and replace later.  If healthcare is done that way, “repeal” would mean get rid of every last sentence, every punctuation, of that freedom-killing Obamacare bill and toss it in the nearest fireplace. Conservative […]

The post FINALLY! Trump & Congress Moving Toward First Full Repeal And Replace Later appeared first on The Lid.

          Why Does it Matter That America Is Now a Villain?   
by Neil H. Buchanan

The annual Independence Day holiday festivities provide an opportunity to reflect on the unique place that the United States holds in world affairs, for better and for worse.  How much worse has it become because of Donald Trump?  And does it matter?

Back in 2008, as the Bush era was ending and we were attempting to assess the disturbing legacy of the Bush/Cheney Administration -- the falsified case for the Iraq invasion, the horrors at Abu Ghraib prison that had been perpetrated by U.S. Army and CIA personnel, the ongoing human rights disaster that was (and still is) the Guantanamo Bay prison, and on and on -- it had become obvious that the reputation of the United States as a beacon of hope had taken a huge hit in the eyes of the world.

In December of that year, I wrote a short essay, "Our Reputation Matters," expanding on an editorial in The New York Times that had argued for closing Guantanamo as a matter of both moral imperative and national self-interest.  The key argument in that editorial was that the world would not continue to follow the leadership of the U.S. if we were to continue -- especially, I would emphasize, under our new and idealistic president-elect -- to violate all standards of justice and decency by keeping the prison open.

We now know that Republicans and many Democrats prevented President Obama from delivering on that campaign promise.  Even so, U.S. standing and leadership in the world generally improved during the Obama years.  And now we have Trump.

In my 2008 essay, I used a 1945 movie (Roberto Rossellini's "Rome: Open City") about the Nazi occupation of Rome during the latter part of World War II as a vehicle to consider how the rest of the world thinks about a country.  In that great film, a Nazi officer is depicted as the essence of pure evil, cruel and amused by the pain and death that he could impose on vulnerable people.

This was, indeed, the general theme of the world's collective memory of that war.  The Allies were the Good Guys and the Axis Powers were the Bad Guys.  And although it is true that history would not be told in that way if the other side had won, the essential point is that Americans were able to say with considerable justification that we had ridden to the rescue of the world when it was faced with unimaginable evil.

In other words, it was not just that we won.  We had a more than defensible argument that it was good that we won.

I do not want to overstate the case, of course, because there are certainly plausible arguments that we took too long to act, that the use of the atomic bomb (twice) stains our legacy, and so on.  Without taking a position on any of those issues, however, the point is that the U.S. has since WWII been able to say that we have at least tried to be on the side of human advancement.

Americans are sure that, unlike that Nazi officer in Rossellini's film, we are not cruel people who inflict pain on other, weaker people for our own gratification.  That is what bad guys do.

And even those of us who refuse to forget the state-sponsored evils of the Jim Crow era, or the history of the Vietnam War, have always been able to say, "Well, we have never lived up to our highest ideals, but the world still looks to us with hope."  The only question has been how to do a better job of living up to that reputation as we move forward.

Finding out that "we" tortured people during the Bush era was bad enough.  What was much worse was that the people who ordered the torture never admitted that what they did was a blatant violation of international law, that they were never prosecuted, and that they found champions throughout the American political system -- most obviously among Republicans who thought that the TV show "24" was a how-to manual.

And then, through an eye-of-the-needle win made possible by one of the many racist and elitist features of our Constitution (the Electoral College), we improbably elected a president who thinks that the world's apparent esteem for the United States is nothing but a cover for laughing at us behind our backs.

Trump was in fact merely mainstreaming an idea that has been rumbling around in U.S. culture for decades.  In movies and television shows, sometimes seriously and sometimes as a joke, it is hardly uncommon to hear an American say to a Brit, a Frenchman, or anyone else: "You'd be speaking German right now if it wasn't for us, you ingrate!"

That a reunited (and politically reformed) Germany is the country that is stepping forward to lead where the U.S. has retreated is of some irony.  But the larger point is that even people who have long criticized the U.S. (and again, there are plenty of valid criticisms of U.S. actions over the decades, even as our overall track record has been defensible) have nonetheless had reason to think that we would take the lead to make good things happen.

For example, sometime in the mid-2000's, I recall watching a TV show that examined how the child abuse scandal that had rocked the Roman Catholic Church was playing out in Ireland.  During a tearful interview with a U.S. news outlet, an Irish activist said words to the effect that "I know the U.S. will do something to make the Irish government do the right thing, if only we can let them know what's happening."

That an idealistic non-American would be saying this about the U.S., even in the middle of the Bush era, was in some ways astounding, but in other ways it was completely unsurprising and even normal.  We were the superpower that at least had some reputation for doing good for the sake of doing good.  Of course we would do the right thing!

And now?  Last week, the Pew Research Center published the results of global polls showing that the Trump presidency has delivered a severe blow to the reputation of the U.S. around the world.  The Washington Post quoted Frank Wisner, a former U.S. diplomat:
"America’s image has taken hits in recent years, from the decision to invade Iraq to the events of 2007 and 2008, when the American financial model took a huge hit.  But the most consequential is the ascent of Mr. Trump to the Oval Office."
How bad is it?  At the end of the Obama Administration, 64% of the respondents in 37 countries had "confidence" in the U.S. president, as opposed to 22% now.  Showing that the world is still holding on to a historic sense that the U.S. is more than its current president, almost half of respondents still have a "favorable view of the U.S.," but that is down by 15% in 2017 polls compared to 2014-16.

Those numbers, moreover, are propped up by responses from Russia, where positive views of Trump (53%) show marked improvement from Russians' views of Obama (11% positive), and Israel (where the rise has been much smaller, 49% to 56%).  So other than in two very unique situations (at least one of which does not reflect especially well on Trump), Trump has dealt a huge blow to the reputation of the U.S. around the world.

The Post's Aaron Blake followed up on the release of the Pew polls with an analysis highlighting four devastating points:

(1) The world distrusts Trump more than even Vladimir Putin,

(2) In each of allied countries, 9 out of 10 view Trump as "arrogant," 7 in 10 as "dangerous,"

(3) Even nationalists don't love Trump, and

(4) Trump's reputation is already worse than George W. Bush's -- at the depths of his presidency.

But maybe none of this matters.  It is not as if the U.S. has any right to believe that it will be the most respected nation in the world.  Conservatives argue that America is exceptional for specific reasons, but they usually use those reasons to argue that we should be more politically conservative rather than as a call to take our global leadership seriously.

Maybe the U.S.'s leadership position in the world was merely a historical accident, and the next stages of history will see our country becoming ever less influential and isolated.  Other commentators have noted that Trump's version of America First is more accurately described as America Alone, so Trump and his followers might even welcome the idea that the world no longer thinks of us as the good guys.

There is, however, something about the founding documents of the United States that pushes irresistibly against this pessimistic view of the future.

As noted above, it is not as if those documents (even after amendments that erased the Three-Fifths Compromise and allowed women to vote, among other corrections) are not situated in a history of exploitation and white supremacy.  Consider, for example, that the Declaration of Independence includes this complaint about King George III:
"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."
Wide-eyed innocence is unwise, of course, but the fact is that even given the complicated historical context, the Declaration and the Constitution are uniquely optimistic statements of human capacity for doing good.  For example, the Declaration of Independence, far from being the anti-tax screed that many Republicans think it is, is actually a call for the rule of law and truly representative government (and taxation with representation).

The Trump presidency and everything it represents twist and mock the highest ideals of our founding documents.  Worse, Trump represents a catastrophic departure even from this country's highly imperfect and inconsistent efforts to live up to some of those ideals.

Trump has shown again and again that he sees no reason for the U.S. to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, because then the world is supposedly "laughing at us."  (As opposed to what is happening now?)  Indeed, it seems unlikely that he knows the difference between right and wrong.

Everything is supposedly about getting a good "deal," but even there, Trump still does not understand that bargains are supposed to be win-win.  If the other side gets something good out of a deal, then Trump hates it (unless, of course, the other party is an authoritarian government).  Winning means nothing less than total domination.

This is the mindset of old-style corrupt political bosses and organized criminals.  Government and power more generally are useful for the purposes of enriching oneself and one's (currently useful, but completely expendable) associates.  It appears that Trump thinks we can only be great if we act like wise guys.

The rest of the world disagrees, of course, as well they should.  Unfortunately, it does not end there.  In the view of Trump and many of his Republican enablers, only some Americans are real Americans.  Trump and the vast majority of his party would happily take away health care from tens of millions of people, because those people evidently do not truly count as the Americans who should benefit from our supposed return to greatness.

The U.S. government, as it is constituted under Donald Trump, is now making us villains abroad and gratuitously cruel at home.  No matter what one thinks about whether we Americans should be able to think of our country as a unique force for good in the sweep of human history, we are doing real damage to real people everywhere.

Is it too much to ask, as we celebrate our nation's birth, that we at least stop moving in the wrong direction?
          Distorted lessons from the Philippine-American War   
Published July 25, 2008

Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama was touring the Middle East when a well-known columnist for a major US newspaper tried to point the way out of the mess in Iraq by citing lessons from another American military misadventure more than a century ago – in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, conservative commentator Michael Medved's piece for USA Today, "Filipino war's lesson for Iraq," draws distorted, even dangerous, lessons from the tragedy in our homeland.

He begins by drawing parallels between the current presidential race and the 1900 contest between William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley. Medved describes Bryan as the "handsome young Democratic nominee" known as "the most spellbinding orator of his generation" who promised "dramatic change to correct economic injustice" and an end to the American occupation of the Philippines. He was up against the older McKinley, a Civil War veteran and avid supporter of the occupation whom Medved portrayed as the "tough, fight-it-out Republican" and "a hero in his youth (three decades earlier) in the Civil War."

Echoes of Obama versus McCain indeed.

But McCain probably would not appreciate being too closely compared to McKinley, given that US president's bizarre, even creepy, account of how he came to realize that America must occupy the Philippines. In one of the oddest anecdotes in the history of the US presidency, McKinley recalled how he "went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance," which made him see that "there was nothing left for us to do but … to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them."

(Apparently, McKinley did not get a memo telling him that the Philippines was then a staunchly Catholic nation -- another reason for McCain to balk at any close identification with the former president, given his own foreign affairs faux pas like mixing up Sunnis and Shiites and referring to a non-existent Iraq-Pakistan border.)

Still, it's not surprising that Medved and other conservatives are hoping for a repeat of that chapter in US history: After all, the older, more hawkish Republican McKinley won that election against the "inexperienced but charismatic anti-imperialist Democrat."

But Filipinos and Filipino Americans should find Medved's version of the Philippine-American War troubling. "This nearly forgotten conflict deserves renewed attention today since the parallels with our present predicament count as both eerie and illuminating," he writes.

True enough.

But then Medved recasts the bloody conflict as a war that the United States "stumbled into" but from which emerged a free and happy nation ever so grateful for American generosity and compassion. He cites former President Manuel L. Quezon's famous quote, "Damn the Americans! Why don't they tyrannize us more?"

Medved essentially is asking: Now why in the world can't we do that again in Iraq?

"Our failure to 'tyrannize' our Iraqi allies could similarly destroy the chances of the Islamist terrorists who oppose us," he writes. "The outcome in today's Middle East remains uncertain, but our painful Philippine experience a century ago suggests that a positive result is still possible through a combination of public patience, battlefield brilliance and compassionate determination to provide better lives and freedom to the far-away people who became the war's chief victims."

I nearly choked when I read this for while Medved made a passing reference to water cure, the notorious torture technique the US military used against Filipino independence forces (and used in Iraq under the name "water boarding"), and while he noted that at least 200,000 Filipinos died in the conflict (other historians cite a higher figure), he downplayed the more sordid chapters of the Philippine-American War: the massacres, the brutal military campaigns, the suppression of basic Filipino civil and human rights.

Medved writes that "for the most part, America's volunteer troops maintained high morale, resenting anti-war activists back home because they understood this agitation encouraged the enemy." I suspect "high morale" had nothing to do with what happened in the town of Balangiga, Samar when General Jake Smith told his men to turn the island into a "howling wilderness" so that "even birds could not live there."

"Kill and burn! The more you kill and burn, the better you will please me,"' he ordered. Asked to clarify who the troops' targets were among the population, the general replied: "Everything over 10."

Medved also ignores the blatant racism of US political leaders led by President William Howard Taft, who served as governor-general of the islands, and who called Filipinos "our little brown brothers.''

Then there was the former U.S. superintendent who helped set up an American-style public school system in the Philippines who argued that the Filipinos "are children, and childlike, do not know what is best for them. . . By the very fact of our superiority of civilization and our greater capacity for industrial activity, we are bound to exercise over them a profound social influence.''

Medved's piece reminded me of the now despicable concept of the “white man's burden,” that famous exhortation to Western domination. The phrase was actually coined by British poet Rudyard Kipling during this period in support of the American colonization of the Philippines and other former Spanish colonies. Reading just a part of the poem today would make one cringe.

"Take up the White Man's burden
Send forth the best ye breed
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child..."

The great American writer Mark Twain was so horrified by US atrocities in our homeland that he called the $20 million the United States paid for the Philippines an "entrance fee into society -- the Society of Sceptered Thieves."

"The White Man's Burden has been sung,"' Twain wrote. "Who will sing the Brown Man's?"

Twain also once said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." In his bid to justify an unpopular war in Iraq, Medved came up with a mangled account of a dark chapter in our history that has neither rhyme nor reason.

Copyright 2008 by Benjamin Pimentel

Bay Area journalist Benjamin Pimentel can be reached at

          Bill Clinton & Gloria Arroyo: Scandal Duo of the Class of '68   
Published April 25, 2008

If it were not for other pressing matters, Bill Clinton and Gloria Arroyo would probably be looking forward to what could be a fun and important event: Their college reunion.

This year is the 40th anniversary of Georgetown University’s Class of 1968. The class homecoming at the oldest and most prestigious Catholic, and Jesuit, university in the United States kicks off late May. But the list of expected attendees does not mention either Clinton or Arroyo.

That’s too bad. They were stars of the class.

Clinton and Arroyo, who were classmates from 1964-66, share the distinction as two of only three Georgetown alums from the Class of ’68 to become a head of state. (The third is Alfredo Christiani, the former president of El Salvador.)

Then again, the two also have reasons for skipping the party. Not just because he’s campaigning for his wife’s presidential bid, and she’s busy trying to survive the latest scandal in her turbulent administration.

But they may decide not to show up because Bill and Gloria also have been at the center of some of the most jaw dropping political scandals in recent history. They were the Scandal Duo of the Class of ’68.

Clinton was the star of arguably the most bizarre sexual fiasco in the history of American politics. I’ll skip the sordid details. Just Google the following words: “White House intern,” “Monica Lewinsky,” “blue dress.”

Even more damaging in the eyes of many were his presidential pardons including the one he granted to Marc Rich, a fugitive who was accused of tax evasion, racketeering and trading with the enemy – whose wife reportedly made generous donations to Clinton’s presidential library and Hillary Clinton’s senate campaign.

And Gloria Arroyo? Why waste space here. Just Google “Hello Garci,” “Jocjoc Bolante,” “NBN,” “Mike Arroyo.”

You can just imagine the idle chit-chat at the Georgetown reunion parties about the two powerful, controversial, Class of ’68 alums.

“He did what with the cigar with the intern in the Oval Office?”

“Her voice got turned into a ring tone? And she was asking an election official about winning by how many votes?”

There might even be a class poll on who should have been voted “most likely to get mired in an embarrassing political scandal.” Or on who did a better job surviving a political scandal. Arroyo should have the edge on that one. He was acquitted during his impeachment trial; she’s actually outfoxed those who’d like to impeach her.

Arroyo spent only two years of college at Georgetown. She finished her undergraduate studies at Assumption College. But she’s clearly proud of having studied at Georgetown and has fond memories of her years at the Jesuit institution.

“In our time, [Georgetown] was one of the good schools, and it produced three presidents," she said at the university a few months after taking over as president. "Now it is one of the best schools, and you can imagine what is expected."

And she clearly has shared a special friendship with Bill Clinton. During his 1994 visit to the Philippines as US President, Arroyo, who was then senator, survived an accident after the helicopter she was in crash-landed in Manila. The incident didn’t prevent Arroyo from meeting her classmate.

"I'm glad you are all right," Clinton was quoted in news reports as telling Arroyo as they warmly shook hands during arrival honors for Clinton at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila. "We read about you in the papers."

Arroyo responded, "Of course I had to be well enough to get up and meet my former classmate."

It would be fascinating to drill down on the kind of political education they shared at Georgetown. For both Arroyo and Clinton built impressive political careers that, in the eyes of many, steadily fell apart once they attained power and eventually led to political disasters.

Bill Clinton was the kid from Hope, Arkansas who overcame a hard life and used what is undoubtedly a brilliant mind to become the first baby boomer president of the United States. There is even a famous photo of him as a young boy shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy during a tour of the White House. And he is known for putting an end to 12 years of conservative Republican rule, ushering in what was supposed to be a new era of progressive American politics.

Instead, Monica Lewinsky and the other scandals have ended up also defining his legacy. Even Hillary Clinton is paying the price for this. When Democratic US Senator Claire McCaskill, a one time Hillary supporter, announced that she was endorsing her rival, Barack Obama, she told a TV journalist that Bill Clinton may have been a great leader, “but I don’t want my daughter near him.”

Gloria Arroyo, daughter of a former president, was a respected academic and opposition fighter during the Marcos dictatorship. She was seen as the answer to the chaotic administration of actor-turned-politician Joseph Estrada. With her wooden image, few expected her to be a beacon of inspiration. But most Filipinos expected and hoped that with her academic training, political experience and pedigree, she would at least get the job done – and get it done with unquestionable integrity.

Instead, Arroyo will be remembered as the as the leader who presided over one of the most scandal-ridden administrations in the country’s history – and the only Philippine president to be caught on tape in what strongly appeared to be a blatant attempt at vote-rigging .

In any case, Clinton and Arroyo will likely not get a chance to swap political war stories at the Georgetown homecoming (unless they have quietly and secretly been making plans to attend). And their schedules over the coming months will probably be too hectic to permit any other kinds of reunion.

But that could also change.

If Hillary Clinton wins the American presidency and Arroyo survives this latest crisis in Manila, then maybe she and Mike Arroyo will get to attend the inauguration gala in January. Hell, with the Clintons back at the White House, she may have many more opportunities to hang out with her Georgetown buddy.

And as the two couples are enjoying their private moments together, Hillary might even ask Gloria Arroyo, “So what’s the most important thing to remember about being a woman president, Glo?”

“Oh, gee, Hillary, just keep on top of the issues, your cabinet and your allies,” Gloria would respond. “Oh, and make sure your husband behaves himself and not cause any trouble.”

Hillary would nod, but then quickly add, “Yeah, well, I learned that a long time ago, sister.”

If Hillary triumphs, Bill Clinton would also take on a new and unusual role as the United States of America’s very first “First Gentleman.” And so a get-together with Gloria and the Philippine FG would also be an opportunity for him to ask her husband for advice.

“So Mike, what’s it like to be First Gentleman?” Bill would ask. “Got any tips, buddy?”

“Oh, it’s lotsa fun, Bill,” Mike Arroyo would say. “Plenty of perks, not too many back-breaking responsibilities. Just remember to get out of the missus’s way, keep a low profile, stay out of trouble, be good and behave.”

Bill Clinton would give him a questioning look. Mike would shrug his shoulders. They would stare at each other for a second or two.

Then they would both burst out laughing.

W książce „GRU. Radziecki wywiad wojskowy”, Wiktor Suworow opisywał poszczególne kategorie sowieckich agentów. Wymienił przy tym „kategorię najbardziej ze wszystkich obrzydliwą” i określił ją mianem „gawnojedów” – nadanym owym „członkom wszelkiej maści Towarzystw Przyjaźni ze Związkiem Radzieckim, działaczom organizacji pacyfistycznych (z ruchem na rzecz jednostronnego rozbrojenia na czele), Zielonym i innych postępowym radykałom”, przez ludzi radzieckiego wywiadu.
Przypominam ten (ogólnie znany, jak sądzę) termin, bo trudno dziś znaleźć określenie celniejsze, dla opisania tak powszechnej, odpychającej i niewolniczej postawy wobec Rosji. W ostatnich latach nabrało ono nowego rysu i wolno je zastosować do kilku innych,(poza agenturalnymi) grup prorosyjskiej menażerii.
Rosja posiadła zdolność doskonałego rozgrywania tej anomalii i od wielu dziesięcioleci wykorzystuje ją do budowania swojej pozycji. Tysiące polityków, pisarzy, dziennikarzy oraz zastępy tzw. artystów i aktorów, wzorem amerykańskiego półgłówka Johna Reeda, infekują „wolny świat” bałwochwalczym uniżeniem wobec ludobójczego reżimu i zatruwają umysły fałszywym obrazem Rosji.
Przez szereg lat, ta najniższa kategoria rosyjskich paputczików obejmowała głownie osoby z kręgów lewackich i lewicowych - rozmaitych ekologów, liberałów i „postępowych demokratów”, piewców światowego „odprężenia” i ogłupiałych rzeczników „resetów”, traktujących państwo Putina niczym solidnego partnera w rozwiązywaniu globalnych problemów.
Ta ostatnia patologia – bodaj najpowszechniejsza we współczesnej polityce, jest pochodną sowieckiej idei zbieżności – zwanej teorią konwergencji. Uknuta w podziemiach Łubianki „doktryna” kazała wierzyć, że dwa rywalizujące za sobą i początkowo krańcowo odmienne systemy polityczne, w miarę rozwoju wzajemnych kontaktów, będą stopniowo upodabniały się do siebie i mogły nawiązywać bliższe kontakty. „Konwergencja” usprawiedliwiała więc wszelkie związki ze światowym komunizmem i rozgrzeszała zgraję łajdaków z paktowania z kremlowskimi bandytami. Dzięki uprawianiu tej hiper bredni, zalegalizowaniu partii i środowisk komunistycznych, sowieckie zniewolenie bez przeszkód torowało sobie drogę do zachodnich szkół i uniwersytetów, co wkrótce doprowadziło do sytuacji, w której znaczna część wpływowych środowisk opiniotwórczych znalazła się pod inspiracją „idei marksistowskich”. Tym samym – „konwergencja”, w wydaniu sowieckim, doprowadziła do „oswojenia” Zachodu z komunizmem i zainfekowania całej myśli politycznej błędnymi teoriami i wyobrażeniami. Była pseudonaukowym podłożem, na którym wyrastały nowe zastępy gawnojedów i użytecznych idiotów, sławiących ducha współpracy i przyjaźni z Rosją.
Osadzenie tych dewiacji w środowiskach lewackich i lewicowych, nie wynikało bynajmniej z „pobratymstwa ideowego”, jak tłumaczy się to zauroczenie. Komunizm, który nigdy nie był żadną ideologią, filozofią ani doktryną polityczną, wykorzystał jedynie intelektualne upośledzenie liderów tych środowisk i narzucił im „kilka pojęć jak cepy”. 
A czymże jest nasza teoria – przyznawał Lew Trocki - jeśli nie po prostu narzędziem działania? Tym narzędziem jest dla nas teoria marksistowska, bo aż do dziś nie wymyślono lepszego.”
Pułkownik Putin, który nie musiał już bawić się w „marksistowskie teorie” itp. absurdy, doprowadził komunizm na wyższy stopień pasożytnictwa i posłużył narzędziem dostosowanym do potrzeb współczesnego świata. Należało tylko usprawnić „konwergencję” o motyw pieniądza i żądzę zysku, by uczynić z niej doskonałą przynętę na sytych i głupich gawnojedów.  Ich samych również podniesiono na wyższy poziom i zaczęto traktować jako wspólników, kontrahentów i partnerów politycznych. Zasady nie uległy jednak zmianie.
Kluczem do nowego rozdania starej bredni o „konwergencji”, są opowieści o „potrzebie normalizacji” stosunków Rosji z Zachodem  oraz powszechne przeświadczenie, że bez udziału kremlowskiego satrapy, nie da się rozwiązać światowych problemów.
W tym przeświadczeniu pobrzmiewają oczywiście echa prostackiej „kombinacji z kozą”, o której pisałem przed rokiem w tekście „O PUTINIE, RABINIE I KOZACH”. Tego rodzaju kombinacje operacyjne, były wielokrotnie stosowane przez służby sowieckie i do dziś są ważnym narzędziem kreowania rzeczywistości. Polegają one na wytworzeniu określonych zdarzeń lub sprowokowaniu trudnych sytuacji, wobec których przeciwnik będzie zmuszony podjąć określone decyzje i stworzyć sobie fałszywy obraz agresora. Jak w przypowieści o Żydzie, rabinie i kozie - chodzi o celowe wywołanie problemu i sprawienie, by delikwent poczuł się nim zmęczony i przytłoczony. Wówczas do akcji wkracza ten, który „kozę” wprowadził i wielkodusznie proponuje pomoc w rozwiązaniu problemu. Szczęśliwy głupiec odczuwa (pozorną) ulgę, zaś „rabin-wybawca” kreuje się na przyjaciela i sojusznika.
Ponieważ Rosjanie dość dawno dostrzegli, że (wywołane w dużej mierze przez ich agenturę) lewackie anomalie zostaną wkrótce skompromitowane i odrzucone przez „wolny świat”, skroili nową „teorię konwergencji”, pod inny typ odbiorcy. Znaleziono go w środowiskach „konserwatywnych” i „narodowych”, wśród polityków odwołujących się do chrześcijaństwa lub „tradycyjnych wartości”. Nazwy te celowo opatruję cudzysłowem, bo rzeczywiste postawy tych ludzi oraz ich stosunek do spadkobiercy Związku Sowieckiego, całkowicie przekreśla sens  takich  określeń.
Nie można być konserwatystą i dążyć do współpracy z państwem, które łamie wszelkie zasady ludzkie i boskie i wyznaje skrajny relatywizm etyczny. Nie można deklarować szacunku dla interesów narodowych i sprzymierzać się z ludźmi, którzy gwałcą prawa innych narodów, a swoją wspólnotę traktują niczym stado niewolników. Nie sposób też usprawiedliwić takich postaw chrześcijańskich, które w społeczności kompletnie zdegenerowanej, w zamęcie zła, nierozliczonych zbrodni i cierpień milionów ofiar, chcą widzieć rys Ewangelii.
Zainicjowana przez Putina wymiana, ma mocną, racjonalną podstawę. Jaki bowiem pożytek operacyjny pływnie z agenta ulokowanego w partii socjaldemokratycznej, czy innym, lewackim organie, o którym każdy wie, że wyznaje „marksistowskieidee”? Dopiero pozyskanie przyjaciół wśród „prawicowców” i „katolików” daje pole do rozgrywania ważnych kombinacji operacyjnych i gwarantuje solidne „przykrycie” polityczne.   
Jeśli „środowiska  konserwatywne” Zachodu dostrzegają w działaniach Putina cechy bliskie tradycyjnym wartościom, jest to dowód nie tylko ich historycznej głupoty, ale skuteczności rosyjskiej propagandy i dezinformacji.
Celem Putina nie jest bowiem „silna Rosja”, „obrona narodu” czy „wartości chrześcijańskich” – lecz władza, rozbój i panowanie nad światem kolejnej watahy komunistycznej. Wszelkie „idee narodowe”, głoszone przez kremlowskiego despotę, jego odwołania do religii i „chrześcijańskich wartości”,  mają taką samą wartość, jak „teoria marksistowska” Trockiego i jego kompartii i są zaledwie narzędziem w rękach bandytów i dewiantów. Były przydatne, więc zostały zastosowane. Gdy skończył się czas ich przydatności, odrzucono je i sięgnięto po nowe.
Putin będzie więc socjalistą dla zaczadzonych socjalizmem i narodowcem, dla wyznawców idei narodowych. Stanie się gorliwym chrześcijaninem, gdy przyjdzie mu oszukać chrześcijan i pierwszy sięgnie po symbole wolnomularstwa, gdy sprzymierzy się z masonami. Dla Żydów założy jarmułkę, a muzułmanom zbuduje meczet.
Nie ma takich idei, doktryn i religii, których „prawdziwy czekista” nie byłby w stanie wyznawać.
Odradzanie komunizmu pod różnymi nazwami i w różnych mutacjach dowodzi, że jest on istotnie "nieśmiertelny" -  w tym sensie, że wykorzystując rozmaite idee i pasożytując na  zdobyczach myśli ludzkiej, dąży do zaspokojenia najbardziej zbrodniczych skłonności i pragnień.
Ta dostosowawcza umiejętność mimikry, właściwa w świecie przyrody dla niektórych drapieżników i organizmów prymitywnych, jest często jedynym warunkiem przetrwania i staje się konieczna w grupie, odwołującej się do atawistycznych dążeń.
Na tej zdolności polega istota komunistycznego zafałszowania i dynamika zbrodniczej sukcesji.
Od kilku lat można obserwować zjawisko wymiany rosyjskiej agentury oraz rotacji kategorii „gawnojedów”. Wysłużony garnitur światowych lewaków, liberałów itp. użytecznych,zostaje zastąpiony menażerią „narodowców”, „prawicowców” i „konserwatystów” oraz poszerzony o wyznawców „wspólnych krucjat” i „propagowania chrześcijańskich wartości”.
Wiele z tych grup jest finansowanych i wspieranych przez Rosję lub posiada cechy przedstawicielstw agenturalnych. Czeski Národní demokracie, francuski  Front Narodowy czy UnitéContinentale, węgierski Jobbik, rumuńska Noua Dreaptă, brytyjskie British First i National Party, amerykańska Freedom Party czy polski Kongres Nowej Prawicy – to tylko niektóre z dziesiątków partii i organizacji, z których Rosja zamierza budować „Światowy Ruch Narodowo-Konserwatywny” („World National-Conservative Movement”) – WNCM. Ma on stanowić alternatywę dla zachodnich partii liberalno-demokratycznych i pod wodzą organizacji Rodina i Rosyjskiego Ruchu Imperialistycznego walczyć o „nowe oblicze” świata.
Wpływy rosyjskie sięgają jednak dalej niż do niszowych partii i wyznawców endokomuny i nie ma wątpliwości, że proces integracji konserwatywnej będzie przebiegał pod egidą Moskwy.
Do najwierniejszych sojuszników Putina należy z pewnością „prawicowiec” Wiktor Orban, który wielokrotnie dawał świadectwo „zwrotu na Wschód”. Węgry aktywnie wspierają projekt South Stream, popierają utworzenie armii europejskiej (wg. zamysłów Merkel-Putin), sprzeciwiają się nowym sankcjom wobec Moskwy, a w trakcie zbrojnej napaści rosyjskiej na Donbas domagały się autonomii dla ukraińskich Węgrów. Podczas wizyty Orbana w Moskwie w lutym br. uzgodniono szereg wspólnych projektów gospodarczych, zaś szef rządu węgierskiego zadeklarował, że nadal będzie dążył do tego, „by relacje między narodem rosyjskim i węgierskim były jak najbardziej przyjazne”.
Podobnie wygląda polityka rządu słowackiego, złożonego z czterech partii narodowych. Słowacja nie tylko otwarcie potępia sankcje nałożone na Rosję, ale deklaruje ścisłą współpracę gospodarczą z państwem Putina ( podłączenie do planowanego przez Gazprom rurociągu omijającego Ukrainę) oraz współpracę wojskową, w tym modernizację systemu przeciwrakietowego S-300 i śmigłowców Mi-17.
Po wyborach w Bułgarii i Mołdawii, również w tych państwach Rosja znajdzie zadeklarowanych przyjaciół.
Już dziś można przewidzieć, że doskonałe relacje będą łączyły Putina z „republikaninem” Francois Fillonem, który prawdopodobnie zostanie kolejnym prezydentem Francji i reprezentuje w wyborach tzw. francuską prawicę. Fillon, w najcieplejszych słowach wypowiada się o Putinie, domaga się zniesienia sankcji wobec Rosji oraz uznania Krymu za rosyjskie terytorium. Zdaniem „Nowaj Gaziety”, francuski polityk „z entuzjazmem akceptuje działania Putina w Syrii i potępia obecną politykę unijną wobec Moskwy”. Jednocześnie, ten „ultrakonserwatysta” deklaruje, że Francja jest krajem tradycji katolickiej i zamierza przywrócić nauczanie religii w szkołach
Najmocniejszym akcentem zjawiska rotacji środowisk przychylnych Rosji, jest bez wątpienia zaangażowanie służb rosyjskich w proces wyborczy w USA. Radość Putina po wygranej Donalda Trumpa oraz szampany otwierane w rosyjskiej Dumie, to dość widowiskowy znak nadziei związanych z prezydenturą amerykańskiego przedsiębiorcy.
Uważam, że nadziei całkowicie uzasadnionych. Szereg wypowiedzi Trumpa, kontakty członków jego sztabu z Rosjanami oraz pierwsze decyzje dotyczące nowej administracji (tu szczególnie kandydatura gen. Michaela Flynna na stanowisko doradcy ds. bezpieczeństwa narodowego) pozwalają przypuszczać, że prezydentura kompletnego ignoranta politycznego, jakim jest D. Trump, będzie obfitowała w decyzje oparte na „idei konwergencji” i znakomicie poszerzy prorosyjską bazę gawnojedów.
Oczywiście, nie posądzam Trumpa o jakąkolwiek ideowość ani kierowanie się zasadami konserwatyzmu. Człowiek, który pięciokrotnie zmieniał barwy partyjne, nie ma żadnych poglądów i jest zdolny dostosować się do każdej koniunktury. Ten polityczny indyferentyzm stanowi cechę, która zbliża Trumpa do Putina i pozwala amerykańskiemu elektowi z podziwem obserwować poczynania kremlowskiego władcy. Nie można nie zauważyć, że jego fascynacja (później już maskowana) ma podłoże we wspólnym rozumieniu kwestii „interesów narodowych”. Dla Putina są one pustym sloganem, pozwalającym wszakże przedłużać władzę czekistowskich siłowików i tłumaczyć strategię komunistyczną dbałością o „dobro narodu rosyjskiego”. Dla Trumpa, ta sama kwestia, staje się użytecznym narzędziem -„wytrychem”, który zmobilizuje elektorat, zmęczony lewackimi eksperymentami Clintonów i Obamy i wyzwoli w Amerykanach „narodową dumę”.
Jest wielce prawdopodobne, że tak pragmatyczni przywódcy, szybko znajdą wspólny język i umocnią swoje „konserwatywne” zdobycze.    
Nie próbuję dziś rozstrzygać, jak będzie wyglądała prezydentura Trumpa i przyznaję, że niewiele mnie obchodzą wewnętrzne problemy Ameryki. Błąd, popełniany nagminnie przez polskich komentatorów życia politycznego, polega na formułowaniu generalnych ocen na temat prezydenta elekta, na podstawie wyobrażeń o jego „prawicowości” i „konserwatyzmie”. Jest to błąd tak dalece zakorzeniony, że odrzuca nawet elementarną refleksję nad życiem osobistym Trumpa, jego stosunkiem do ludzi, religii i zasad moralnych. Ponieważ większość użytecznych głupcówpopełnia ten sam błąd w ocenie prezydenta Rosji, jest to jeszcze jednak cecha znakomicie integrująca te dwie postaci.
Abstrahując od głębszych analiz politycznych i przewidywań prorosyjskich działań Donalda Trumpa, chcę jedynie zwrócić uwagę na rażącą absurdalność polskich nadziei związanych z tą prezydenturą. Taka sama skala absurdalności dotyczy relacji z Wiktorem Orbanem i każdym innym „konserwatystą”, wyznającym przyjaźń pułkownikowi KGB.
Ten, kto przekonuje Polaków, że tacy politycy mogą być naszymi sprzymierzeńcami i działać na rzecz polskich interesów, musi wpierw zmierzyć się pytaniem – jak to możliwe, jeśli owi politycy deklarują „normalizację” stosunków z naszym największym, odwiecznym wrogiem, chcą prowadzić z nim wspólne interesy i razem rozwiązywać światowe problemy?  
Czy można być „przyjacielem” państwa zagrażającego polskiej suwerenności i sławić polityka odpowiedzialnego za zbrodnię smoleńską i jednocześnie deklarować „braterstwo” z Polakami?
Jeśli nawet  uda się pokonać tę sprzeczność na poziomie logiki (pragmatyki) politycznej, która nie wyklucza zawiązywania sojuszy bez podtekstu „związków przyjacielskich”, to w żaden sposób nie można jej zignorować w kontekście interesów poszczególnych państw.
Czy Trump, który chce odbudowy amerykańskiej mocarstwowości i widzi w tym sposób na wewnętrzne odrodzenie „wartości amerykańskich”, będzie przedkładał polskie racje ponad interes moskiewskich sprzymierzeńców? Ile, w oczach amerykańskich „konserwatystów” kosztuje spokój na Bliskim Wschodzie i rozwiązanie problemów z tzw. ISIS, w porównaniu ze spokojem w Warszawie czy Kijowie?  
Czy Orban, który robi z Putinem interesy handlowe i energetyczne, dostaje z Rosji ogromne kredyty i ma otwarty rynek zbytu na towary węgierskie, zaryzykuje utratą takich korzyści i stanie po stronie Warszawy, gdy dojdzie do konfliktu z jego kremlowskim kamratem ?
Trzeba rażącej ślepoty i kompromitującej ignorancji, by w kontekście faktów już dokonanych oraz ważnych deklaracji politycznych, lekceważyć tak istotne przesłanki i opierać się na domniemaniach i pustych wyobrażeniach. Rząd, który w takich kategoriach chciałby budować polską pozycję w świecie, będzie grupą politycznych hochsztaplerów lub nieudolnych utopistów.
Stosunek do następcy Rosji Sowieckiej, jest i pozostanie najważniejszym wskaźnikiem politycznych intencji, a każda deklaracja „przyjaźni” z sukcesorami sowieckiego okupanta,  jest wymierzona w polskie interesy. Tylko w takiej perspektywie wolno nam oceniać bilans polskich korzyści.
Nie ma tu miejsca na dywagacje o „cywilizowaniu” Rosji ani uprawianie sowieckiej mitologii „konwergencji”. Współczesna Federacja Rosyjska jest kontynuatorką wszystkich antypolskich i antynarodowych dążeń i pełnym dziedzicem komunistycznego bandytyzmu.
Przedstawiciele rosyjskiej Dumy, w wydanej wczoraj uchwale na temat polsko-ukraińskiej "Deklarację pamięci i solidarności", zarzucili Polsce i Ukrainie „podważanie nienaruszalność własnych granic” i stwierdzili wprost – „Rosja, jako spadkobierczyni ZSRR, zwycięzcy w czasie drugiej wojny światowej, nie pozwoli na dokonanie rewizji jej historii”.
W ramach naszej, polskiej racji stanu, leży zatem ocena potencjalnych partnerów w kontekście ich relacji z Rosją. Nikogo nie zmusimy do zaniechania „normalizacji” stosunków z Putinem i izolowania kremlowskiego watażki, ale interes Polski wymaga, by dostrzegać i równoważyć to zagrożenie.
Dostrzegać – czyli wykazywać maksymalną rozwagę w kreowaniu niepewnych sojuszy oraz porzucić partyjną demagogię na rzecz solidnej roboty dyplomatycznej i realnych decyzji politycznych. Równoważyć zaś, poprzez budowanie światowej koalicji antyrosyjskiej, wzmacnianie polskiego potencjału obronnego, twardą rozprawę z wewnętrzną agenturą, oraz uczynienie z Polski głównego i niezbędnego partnera w relacjach ze wszystkimi państwami Europy Wschodniej. Tylko wtedy, gdy Trumpowi czy Orbanowi, nie będzie się „opłacało” tracić korzyści z polskiego partnerstwa, możemy liczyć na zniwelowanie zagrożeń wynikających z uprawiania „przyjaźni” z Putinem.
Rząd, który nie chce lub nie potrafi wykazać takiej determinacji i próbuje zwodzić Polaków wizją iluzorycznych sojuszy, naraża nas na ogromne niebezpieczeństwo i utratę resztek suwerenności.
Przyszły, 2017 rok, przyniesie kolejną ofensywę „rosyjskiej siły”, wspartą na pomocy „konserwatywnej” agentury i  życzliwości tysięcy „prawicowych” gawnojedów. Putin, kreując się na decydenta w sprawach terroryzmu i Bliskiego Wschodu oraz posługując się retoryką narodowo-konserwatywną,  już zapewnił sobie nienależną pozycję „rabina – wybawcy”. To dziś najpoważniejsza broń Kremla, która nie wymaga angażowania zdezelowanych tanków i kompromitowania ruskich żołdaków.
Nie tylko nie jesteśmy przygotowani na taką ofensywę, ale manifestując polityczną słabość i zależność od niepewnych partnerów, stajemy się łatwym łupem rosyjskiego agresora. 

          Norman Tebbit: It's 'doubtful' you can be a Christian and support gay sex   
Conservative politician Norman Tebbit says he thinks gay sex is a sin because the Bible says so. Lord Tebbit, a former Chairman of the Party, said that it was 'doubtful' one could be a Christian and believe homosexual sex not to be a sin.
          Clouds On The Horizon For The U.S.-Korea Alliance Under Trump and Moon?   
Following a decade of convergence between South Korean conservatives and the Obama administration

          Tony Abbott’s plan for revenge has gone horribly wrong   

Analysis for Crikey [$].Filed under: Political parties, Politicians Tagged: Angus Taylor, Christian Porter, conservatives, leadership, Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott

          Tonight: Don't Miss David Murray and Kahil El’Zabar at the Old Church   
by Robert Ham

David Murray & Kahil ElZabar
David Murray & Kahil El'Zabar

Like a lot of players their age, saxophonist David Murray (62) and percussionist Kahil El’Zabar (63) provide a crucial thread between jazz musicians who exploded the genre through bop and avant garde experiments and the current generation, who are still feeding off of vital recordings of yore. As Murray told writer Bill Milkowski in 2000, “I feel like the missing link sometimes... I knew a lot of the older cats that none of these younger cats today would ever have been able to meet.”

When both men’s careers were just getting underway in the early '70s, they were able to connect and collaborate with many of these pioneers. Originally from Oakland, Murray fell in with an impressive multitude of players, including Oliver Lake and Julius Hemphill (with whom he formed the World Saxophone Quartet), and a longstanding relationship with the combustible blues guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer.

El’Zabar quickly fell in with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in his hometown of Chicago, becoming the group’s chairman in 1975 and finding plentiful inspiration with his fellow members. That has led to some mind-altering work with trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and the late Lester Bowie, a stirring recording of African-inspired fusion with the group Infinite Spirit Music, and his own projects the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and his Ritual Trio.

As does happen with long jazz careers, both Murray and El’Zabar have ridden the current of the music industry into somewhat safer waters. Their music over the past couple of decades has softened at times, and they’ve taken some conservative gigs (Murray plays regularly with Macy Gray; El’Zabar has performed at times with Paul Simon). But when their trajectories cross, which has been happening frequently since the ‘80s, they bring out something special in one another.

At times that can be a tenderness and stillness as heard on the title track for their 1989 album The Golden Sea, or an air of fun through the minimalist funk of a song like “Far Too Long” (from 2000’s One World Family). The prevailing tide of this duo project is more muscular and freeform, with splashy drum explorations pushing and teasing against Murray’s sinuous, heated solos. That’s the spirit that makes up the bulk of We Is, a document of the pair performing live at the Bop Shop, a record store in western New York. Closing track “Sweet Meat” is like a modern dance ensemble set to music, limbs flailing and bodies straining, taking shapes that look uncomfortable and seductive.

While El’Zabar is still a proud Chicagoan, Murray is coming over to the US less frequently, as he calls Paris his home. Which makes the current short tour that the saxophonist is doing with his friend and fellow artist the kind of rare occasion that should bring the movement of the city to a standstill—at least for the couple of hours these men are onstage together at the Old Church.

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          This New NRA Ad Is Not At All Unhinged and Is So Totally Not an Incitement to Violence   
by Dan Savage

Their media, their schools, their movie stars, their ex-president, their singers, comedy shows, and award shows are all inciting violence. Only the police and the "clenched fist" (not the trigger finger?) of NRA members can stop "them" from destroying "our" country.

Business Insider:

A National Rifle Association ad that has gained traction on social media this month urges Americans to join "freedom's safest place" as protesters and members of the "resistance" movement who oppose Donald Trump's presidency "smash windows, burn cars," and "terrorize the law-abiding."

The one-minute ad features footage of protesters and marches overlayed with commentary by the conservative media personality and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.... The ad prompted backlash from some progressives, who called it "an open call to violence" and "barely a whisper shy of a call for full civil war." The conservative columnist Anne Applebaum also denounced the ad, saying it called on Americans "to arm themselves to fight liberals. Violence is coming."

Killing ten of thousands of Americans by stripping them of health care isn't good enough for the NRA. They want a shooting war.

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          Another Letter to the NYT Not Printed   

The outcry of disappointed and even angry Jews demanding egalitarian prayer privileges at Jerusalem's Western Wall against the Israel government's decision to freeze an arrangement ("Israel Suspends Plan for Egalitarian Prayer Area at Western Wall
June 25
​)​ need be put into perspective.

A very small minority of Conservative and Reform Jews, if even that, support any form of Jewish prayer less than 100 yards away on the Temple Mount. One cannot demand a right if one denies that same right to others.

          Inside the real Brexit negotiations   
Forget Brussels, it’s the Conservative party that needs a deal to heal its own divisions
          Where is the space in the Guardian for traditional values? | Letters   
Is there no room for people who hold conservative views on issues such as marriage and abortion, asks Paul Tench. Plus Dawn McAvoy takes issue with Stella Creasy’s views on the rights of women in Northern Ireland

It is quite understandable that you challenge the DUP on their past (A troubled past, G2, 28 June) and their conservative attitudes on social issues. But is there no room in the Guardian world for people who hold traditional views on marriage, abortion, euthanasia, keeping Sunday different, women who are happily content to be homemakers, etc?

It is obvious that many people in Northern Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, hold such traditional views, as do many people in England, Wales and Scotland. The latest survey of British social attitudes (Tolerance of austerity ‘drying up’, 28 June) “identified accelerated growth in socially liberal attitudes towards sex and sexuality”, but that still means there are a lot of people who do not subscribe to those views. We don’t see as much reporting on traditional views in the Guardian as we do on liberal attitudes. We are used to seeing articles attacking and even mocking traditional views, but never any that question, let alone criticise, liberal views.

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          Oliver Stone Tells Ron Paul: Edward Snowden Is The "Most American Of Patriots"   

Director Oliver Stone, who’s recently released series “The Putin Interviews” stirred up controversy among liberals who accused him of being a Russian propagandist, appeared on the Liberty Report with former Texas Congressman Ron Paul to discuss the documentary, his views about former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and why the US’s aggressive approach to containing the purported threat posed by Russia has led to a breakdown in relations between the two powers.

Stone said he’s been “interested” in Russia since being raised