Re: "How Do Your Financial Priorities Stack Up With Our Pyramid?"   
When I started out, my goals were to build up my savings, start saving for retirement, and pay off my modest student loan debt. My first priority was to save and once I had savings, I started looking for better investment vehicles. Early on, I started with a workplace savings plan too. The odd thing was that I was pretty conservative in the beginning and my IRA was in FDIC Insured Certificates of Deposit until a friend went into the brokerage business. The IRA went to him but even then I bought another CD and three zero coupon treasuries paying 8% along with the first stock I ever bought, which was AST Research.

Can't say that I thought a lot about asset allocation though I always loved having money in the bank. The more, the better. It seemed that life was unpredictable and going through unexpected challenges went better if you had good cash reserves.

The way I think of the Pyramid is probably the way college students think of the 4 food groups: Pizza, Beer, Top Ramen, and Nachos. When you start out, you just sort of go with what makes sense at the time. It isn't like I had all my life goals planned out when I graduated from college. It just seemed that doors would open up at the right time.
          Liberty’s Revolution   

By Kyle Becker

The War of Independence was not the culmination of irresistible forces but of enlightened ideas. It was the shining ideal of liberty that changed the course of history, and it remains eternally available for mankind to do so again. The path to liberty was long and arduous. Nothing came easy, and the oppressive state that ruled our forebears did not yield to eloquence, but to force. It required the steely resolve of our intellectual ancestors, men willing to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, for the American colonists to shrug off their oppressors. The European heritage of ...

The article Liberty’s Revolution is original content from Conservative Daily News.


          The Perils of Democracy   

By Kyle Becker

In America, it is nearly a ubiquitous truism that ours is a democratic nation. In popular imagination, all virtues spring forth from the fountainhead of democracy, and all vices consist of its aristocratic or reactionary opposition. Yet we were blessed with the founders’ vision to anticipate the instability and capriciousness of mob-majority rule, and our Constitution was imbued with individual rights, sanctioned by no less than the Almighty itself. The terms democracy, freedom, and liberty are retained in our popular vernacular without meaningful engagement of the historical circumstances that gave rise to them in the culture. The intellectual doctrines of ...

The article The Perils of Democracy is original content from Conservative Daily News.


          Zumba Before And After Picutures   
Democratic Transition in Tunisia

"Tunisia is between radical and authoritarian democracy"
EROS BY SANA (January 31, 2011)

Source: http://www.bastamag .net/article1401.html

How to build the democratic transition in Tunisia? Vincent Geisser, a researcher at the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim world, analyzes the role played by different actors in Tunisia - political opponents, former regime of Ben Ali, "Islamist" party, army, police - and foreign powers. It describes possible scenarios of democratic consolidation in the coming weeks. Maintenance.

Basta! : Where is the revolution in Tunisia? What are the strategies of the opposing forces to build the "transition Democratic?

Vincent Geisser [1]: The "democrats" Tunisians who supported and accompanied the revolution are deeply divided over the future of the protest movement. There are those who feel the need to strengthen the nascent democracy by putting a definitive end to the protest process. They are supporters of a certain security standards, based on a historic compromise between the "doves" of the former regime, opponents and independent representatives UGTT single union (the General Union of Tunisian Workers). They want to consolidate the democratic transition, including by dealing with the army and the party more "healthy" of the security apparatus, as well as some former bosses of the regime known for their "openness." This is the position advocated by Najib Chebbi (Democratic Progressive Party), former opponent in Ben Ali, currently Minister of the transitional government.

Others want to eradicate all traces of the old regime and the party-state, and reject any compromise. This is where supporters of Marzouki (Congress for the Republic) and members of the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers (POCT). And of course leaders movement of "unemployed graduates" of the interior. They wish to push through the "democratic revolution" to give birth to a new political, economic and social development. Both camps have no real difference in political culture, they are animated by democratic ideals. What separates them fundamentally, the strategy of rupture and especially the "democracy agenda".

What remains of the old regime?


There is some disappointment today protesting actors, quite understandable - I think particularly young people "unemployed graduates". But there is no objective risk of returning to the old regime or system restore mafia. A break has occurred. The dictator is gone. This is a crucial element when it is known that while Tunisia was around him, with extreme personalization of power. mafia clans and profiteers - families Ben Ali, Trabelsi and others - have fled. Darkest segments of the security apparatus were largely dismantled.

If we can legitimately understand the disappointment of " radical democrats, "as Marzouki, Hammami, Nasraoui, and unemployed graduates who feel that their revolution was stolen, the former regime is ousted. We are in a transition phase. But this transition can lead to a regime that bastard would an independent candidate access to presidential power, with new elements but also with elements of the old regime. This will lead to reinforce a kind of "authoritarian democracy" or "democratic authoritarianism".

What role did the Tunisian army played in the revolution and what role can it play in the future?

The army has been in recent weeks a fundamental role, not supporting the plan of repression of Ben Ali. She clearly rejected the extreme policies of the supreme leader, and instead played a protective role players protesters. The reason? The army is not connected with the mafia and clan interests of power. Unlike Egypt, Syria or even Algeria, Tunisia army has no direct interest in industry or in the management of oil revenues. It is an army of about 35,000 men, composed of employees, officials, technicians and engineers.

should not be provided to paint a romantic portrait. The Tunisian army played a repressive role in 1978 to channel the social movements, and in 1981 and 1984 to quell the "bread riots". This time, she refused the role because the sources of legitimacy of the regime were exhausted. Ben Ali was discredited, corruption was widespread. Faced with this stalemate, the military has understood that the only solution was to replace the dictator.

This reaction - some would say "Republican" - is primarily dictated by pragmatic: generals and senior officers are convinced that a crackdown could lead to chaos and their own demise. As the "political fluidity" present, the Tunisian army can play a more important role in the constitutional process and the "pacification" social, oscillating between registry and registry security mediation with the forces of the country.

"security apparatus" Tunisia is it still present and operational?

France has 60 million inhabitants, Tunisia 9 million. Yet both countries have almost the same number of police officers: 135.000. is huge! Tunisia is one of the countries with the most police per capita. The security apparatus, through the Ministry of Interior is fully engaged in repression. Part of the police fired into the crowd with live ammunition. It is the security apparatus of Ben Ali who is responsible for nearly 70 deaths officially deplored and thousands injured. But the whole apparatus police is not corrupt: the "rotten" mafia of the security apparatus was largely dismantled.

There is more to fear from areas of the Department of the Interior directly to the clans and Ben Ali Trabelsi. They are currently in hiding. I do not believe in a return of "old demons" even if the future Tunisian democracy can deal with safety trends similar to those we see now in France with Nicolas Sarkozy. In this sense there is a danger of creating in Tunisia in the coming months an "authoritarian democracy".

What role can the "Islamists" in the democratic process?


The "Islamists" Tunisians have long been integrated into "democratic forums." They are "fundamentalists embedded" in the democratic debate in exile. They participated in Paris, London, Marseille numerous opposition rallies, alongside the left, communist, socialist, even anti-Islamic. Many leaders of the left Tunisian 'secular' leaders have frequently met with "Islamists". In many ways the 'fundamentalists' are already integrated into the political game of Tunisia.

For the party Ennahdha (Renaissance) Rached Ghannouchi, the model is not radical Islam or Islamism Salafi Saudi-style, but the AKP, which currently leads Turkey. This means accepting the parliamentary game and advocating economic liberalism tinged social, and especially a certain pragmatism with other Democrats. There is a huge myth about "Islamists" of Tunisia. The party Ennahdha is more of a liberal conservative party, which is not at all in a process of creating an Islamic state or Islamic theocracy. The Islamists classic "Tunisians are now looking to Ankara, they did nothing" green fascists. " How

react today Western countries and Arab neighbors?


The United States has played a leading role in the departure of Ben Ali.
support President Barack Obama to the social movement, even if he was shy, was much sharper than that of France. Beyond this symbolic support, it would seem that the Obama administration has given its support to the Tunisian army and "doves" of the regime (Mohamed Ghannouchi, Prime Minister and Kamel Morjane, the Minister of Foreign Affairs) to sacrifice Ben Ali. It is clear that the United States supported the transition scenario.

Regarding the Arab countries, we can really worry that some plans make every effort to derail the democratic process in Tunisia. Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria has no interest in a democracy can arise in the Arab world. A "loose coalition" of Arab dictators could be to sabotage or disrupt the democratic process in Tunisia.

Support from U.S., EU and France to Tunisian Democrats is essential. Either you play the card of democracy in the Arab world or, rather, play an ambiguous role and promotes the perverse game of Saudi Wahhabis, the megalomaniac dictatorship of the regime of Gaddafi and Algerian generals. In this case, we should not complain about the progress of the Salafist jihadist ideology!

How Does France have made such errors of analysis on the situation of Tunisia?

The official position of France was not based on an error analysis, but on a political logic of total and blind support for Ben Ali regime. Interpret the statements of Michele Alliot-Marie as a political mistake is wrong. This is not a political mistake, this is a failing policy. France has always supported authoritarian regimes . She believes that one does diplomacy in relations between States and civil societies are not important.

The United States have both supported Ben Ali and developed concrete relations with unions and all the dissidents of the regime. In contrast, France has always prohibited its diplomacy to have any contact with everything that could affect the quality of its relations with Ben Ali. This blindness is the logic of French policy towards the Arab world: "We support dictators against the risks of destabilization! It seems that France has included a number of mistakes. Hopefully it reorients its policy towards Tunisia openly supporting the democratic process.

What are the possible scenarios in the weeks and months ahead?

Tunisia has a choice between two options. Either authoritarian democratic consolidation that would lead the country until elections, with a broad coalition around an opponent as independent Nejib Chebbi (PDP), with some elements of former regime elements and the trade union left. In this case, the elections will certainly be "democratic" (at least in appearance), but the scenario is first "programmed" the government candidate will have particular ways superior to those of its opponents. This scenario of "managed democracy" is intended to protect Western interests and pursue the integration of Tunisia in the "world economy" in the footsteps of the Bank World Bank and the IMF. A scenario where the candidate would be a sort of "Tunisian Ouattara.

Another assumption: the pressure of the street continues or increases and pushes the government to resign or to go much further, with the dissolution of the party of Ben Ali (RCD), the establishment of a genuine process with the constitutional election of a constituent assembly. Total semi-democracy or democracy? Radical break with the old regime or consolidation autoritaro-democratic? This is how I would put the political future of Tunisia. A future which, in all cases, will be without Ben Ali.

Interview by Eros Sana



Notes [1] Vincent Geisser is a sociologist and researcher at the CNRS and the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim world (IREMAM). He is author, with Marzouki, dictators on borrowed time. A democratic path in the Arab world, editions of L'Atelier, 2009.

          Ministers Question Status of Washington House   
The C Street Center received a jolt of notoriety last year after conservative politicians said they sought spiritual counseling there in connection with an affair....
          MISSISSIPPI   
Ronnie Shows, a conservative Democrat, won the state's most interesting House race, for the Fourth District seat being vacated by Representative Mike Parker, a Republican. Mr. Shows had name recognition as an elected highway commissioner and forme...
          On Conference Call, Conservative Leaders Demand Full Repeal of Obamacare   
(CNSNews.com) – During a conference call on Friday, conservative leaders from organizations including the Tea Party Patriots, Club for Growth, and ForAmerica, as well as former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), demanded that Republicans in Congress completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. “It is important to remember that our current situationContinue reading
          #ToriesOut: 1,000s join anti-government rally in London (VIDEOS)   
– #ToriesOut: 1,000s join anti-government rally in London (VIDEOS): Thousands of protesters took to the streets of London on Saturday to protest Britain’s Conservative government. The rally, dubbed ‘Not One Day More #ToriesOut’, started at BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place and marched for hours through to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Enormous crowd ... Read more
          Jeremy Corbyn sacking Labour MPs who voted against Conservatives to protect Britain’s place in Single Market   
Jeremy Corbyn's Labour has been showings its true colours on Brexit: less than 1 in 5 Labour MPs voted against the Conservatives to protect Britain's position in the Single Market.
          Pro-Life Provisions in Obamacare Repeal Bill ‘Non-Negotiable’ for Many Republicans   

Many conservative leaders say whatever form the Republican bill to repeal and/or replace Obamacare takes, it must contain provisions to protect the unborn and get taxpayers out from having to fund Planned Parenthood.
          Exclusive– Seniors Group Files FCC Complaint Against Very Fake News CNN   

The Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC), the leading conservative seniors' organization in the country, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Thursday over CNN's reporting on Russian hacking.
          Comment on Look 20 years out by RJW   
Rob, The end of the process probably won't be market rules capitalism because the middle class will be impoverished, but a return to feudalism on the Latin American model. The rich will prosper. Members of the middle class are always easy marks for conservative low tax, small government propaganda, even though they have proportionally, the most to lose. Let's be optimistic, surely America's institutions will prevent it from following that scenario.
          Corbyn condemns ‘UNBELIEVABLE HYPOCRISY’ of Tory MPs at Parliament Square protest   


JEREMY Corbyn has hit out at the “hypocrisy” of Conservative MPs during a fiery speech following today’s Parliament Square protest.
          'Tories Out' march: Jeremy Corbyn rallies comrades in bid to oust Theresa May & become PM   


THOUSANDS of Corbynistas descended onto Parliament today in a national march against the Conservative Government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
          Chris Cuomo’s CNN Producer Caught on Secret Video   
The Hill reports (video below): Conservative provocateur and Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe released a fourth secretly recorded video early Friday morning that shows a CNN ...
             
The Conservative Party of Canada is podcasting.
          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
By now, we can probably say that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The word "probably" is apt because nothing is certain about the plans of this or any other Supreme Court justice when it comes to ending his or her service on the nation's highest court. But this week, the court wrapped up the current term, and Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, seems to have decided to stay on the job — at least for the coming term. There could be a variety of reasons. As an institutional matter, he could well have concluded that there had been enough uncertainty and drama on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the vacancy that lasted for well over a year with Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama's nominee. Kennedy may also have thought it best to ensure that there is a full complement of nine justices for at least a year. He could even have been put off by President Trump's tweets about the judiciary. But it is unlikely that
          01/07/2017: FRONT PAGE: Tories warned to ‘change hard’ to beat Corbyn   
THERESA May’s most senior minister will warn Conservatives to “change hard” to win over young voters who backed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. Damian Green will tell Tories they must modernise after losing their House of Commons majority in an election in...
          01/07/2017: FRONT PAGE: Northern Ireland case for funds is no more pressing than ours   
DISCUSSING the ConservativeDemocratic Unionist Party agreement, Ian Lakin (Letters, June 30) says that the extra funding for Northern Ireland is “much needed”. Why exactly is extra funding much needed for Northern Ireland but not for Scotland or Wales?...
          Comment on How Israeli/Saudi ‘Alliance’ Plays Trump by Stephen J.   
Interesting article below: ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Make No Mistake, We Are Already at War in Syria Trump's anti-war promises were just glib campaign rhetoric. By PHILIP GIRALDI • June 30, 2017 http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/make-no-mistake-we-are-already-at-war-in-syria/
          Cornyn Drops Out Of Running For FBI Director Job; Merrick Garland To Remain A Judge   
Updated at 2:44 p.m. ET Neither Merrick Garland nor Sen. John Cornyn of Texas will be the new FBI director. Two friends of Judge Merrick Garland who asked not to be named say he loves being a judge, and he intends to remain on the bench. This comes after word that Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell recommended Garland to President Trump as a candidate for FBI director. Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, but never received even a hearing from the GOP Senate that McConnell runs. Cornyn pulled himself out of the running Tuesday, saying he believes the best way to serve the country is as a senator. "Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI Director," Cornyn said. I've informed the administration that I'm committed to helping them find such an individual, and that the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate." NPR's Domenico
          BREAKING: Francis names Jesuit as Vatican doctrine chief    
BREAKING: Francis names Jesuit as Vatican doctrine chief 
What a surprise, not!
SOURCE
Francis has named a Jesuit, Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, to replace Cardinal Gerhard Müller as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).  
Ladaria Ferrer, 73, was previously Secretary of the CDF.

The appointment is coming at the end of Müller's five-year term, however prefects have generally had their terms extended until normal retirement age at 75.


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger served as prefect from 1981-2005, leaving the post at age 78 when he was elected Pope Benedict XVI.
The head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was at one time second in power only to the Pope.
Cardinal Muller has been steadfast in his opposition to the liberal interpretation of Amoris Laetitia favored by Francis.
In terms of vocal "conservatives" in the hierarchy of the Vatican only Cardinal Robert Sarah remains. Cardinal Burke was removed by Francis and demoted to patron of the Order of Malta. Australian Cardinal George Pell, as reported this week, is now off to his home country to defend himself against media-hyped charges of sexual abuse.
Cardinal Muller, according to sources, seems set to take over as the Patron of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, replacing Cardinal Edwin O’Brien who at 78 is three years past retirement age.

TCK: The Apostate Church of Darkness of Rome is close!  Blessed Anna emmerick warned....Pope Benedict XVI will soon flee Rome.  Antipope francis will step to the side or "resign" paving the way for the False Prophet "Master Jesus"

TradCatKnight Exclusive: Bl. Anne Emmerich & the Apostasy 

TradCatKnight Exclusive: Back to the Catacombs  











          DAYS OF LOT: German Parliament approves same-sex marriage   
DAYS OF LOT: German Parliament approves same-sex marriage
We are truly living in the last days.  Do you recall the fire and brimstone which came down from heaven killing off the sodomites?  Guess what Planet X will be "kicking in"?  70 pound fiery space rocks will eventually fall from the sky like hail.  God is not amused...
SOURCE

Apocalypse 8: 8:11  And the second angel sounded the trumpet: and as it were a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood: And the third part of those creatures died, which had life in the sea, and the third part of the ships was destroyed. And the third angel sounded the trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, burning as it were a torch, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters: And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she voted against same-sex marriage because she believes the country’s law sees it as between a man and a woman, but that the opposite view must be respected.
Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in a snap vote Friday. Lawmakers voted 393 for legalizing “marriage for everybody” and 226 against with 4 abstentions. Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages remained illegal.
Bringing the measure to a vote in Friday’s session, the last before September elections, was fast-tracked after Merkel said Monday lawmakers could take up the issue as a “question of conscience,” freeing members of her conservative coalition, which has been against same-sex marriage, to individually vote for the measure.
She says “for me marriage as defined by the law is the marriage of a man and a woman” but she continues to see the interpretation as a “decision of conscience.”



All of Merkel’s potential coalition partners after the September 4 election, including the center-left Social Democrats of her challenger, Martin Schulz, have been calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized.
The measure, which is expected to see legal challenges, also opens the door for gay couples to adopt - which Merkel says she supports.
Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, said he “regretted” the parliament “gave up the essential content of marriage” in passing the new law. The archbishop heads the family life committee for the German bishops’ conference.
In a statement, he lamented the abandonment of “a differentiated perception of different forms of partnership,” adding that “differentiation is not discrimination.”
Koch also said “marriage did not deserve” to be caught “in the wheels of political tactics,” referring to the snap vote on the issue.
He concluded his statement by saying the bishops will now intensify their efforts to promote “the vitality of the Catholic understanding of marriage,” which he affirmed would be unaffected by the decision in parliament.




LGBT Mega-Donor Reveals Next Goal: ‘Punish the Wicked’ Gay Marriage Opponents


A prominent LGBT activist who has donated more than anyone else to LGBT causes has said that “wicked” people who advocate for laws protecting the religious freedom of conservative Christians to act in accordance with their views on marriage and sexuality need to be “punished.” The Rolling Stone recently published a lengthy profile piece examining the
contributions of Tim Gill, a software entrepreneur who has quietly been at the forefront of the push for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights in the United States over the past several decades. The article explained how Gill, who is gay, has spent over $422 million to advance the LGBT cause and explained the impact that his associated organizations such as the Gill Foundation, Gill Action, and OutGiving have made on LGBT advocacy in America. READ MORE




DAYS OF LOT: Canadians Choose a Gay, Transgender or Atheist Leader Over an Evangelical


Canadians are more likely to vote for an atheist, gay or transgender person than an evangelical Christian to lead their country, according to a Canadian research institute. The Angus Reid Institute survey, conducted in May with a sample size of 1,533 Canadian adults and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, found that 85 percent said they would vote for a party that is led by a gay man; 84 percent would back a lesbian; 80 percent, an atheist; and 69 percent, a
transgender. Meanwhile, 65 percent said they would support an evangelical Christian. Evangelicals fared better in the United States, with 72 percent of Americans saying they would vote for an evangelical presidential candidate. Americans are less likely to vote for a gay man or lesbian, at 63 and 62 percent, respectively. And atheists and transgender individuals are near the bottom of the U.S. list, at 52 and 50 percent, respectively. READ MORE




DAYS OF LOT: YouTube channel seeks to teach kids about dressing in “Drag and Transgenderism”


“Queer Kid Stuff,” a YouTube channel geared toward teaching children about sexual preferences, homosexuality, transgenderism, and more, celebrated “Pride Month” by releasing a video talking to kids about people dressing in drag. The producer and host of “Queer Kid Stuff,” Lindsay Amer, created the channel in June 2016 to help children ages 3-7 better understand the LGBT community, according to the show’s website.
“Young queer people need to see themselves represented in their media and that is exactly what I aim to do,” Amer wrote. In the videos, she and her co-host Teddy, a stuffed bear, invite guests on to explain various parts of the LGBT community, including the definitions of “gay,” “gender,” and “intersex.” They also discuss the subject of consent and include a sing-along video to go with it. Additionally, the channel discusses the Disney movie, “Frozen,” and how Elsa is allegedly homosexual.  READ MORE

RELATED on the COMET to HIT US:
http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2014/10/st-hildegard-america-in-catholic.html


If Doomsday Asteroids were to Hit Earth(full documentary)


Apocalypse: Wormwood, Poleshift & Prophecy



          Brandon Smith: “Next Phase of Collapse Will Include the End of the Dollar as We Know It”   
Brandon Smith: “Next Phase of Collapse Will Include the End of the Dollar as We Know It”
SOURCE

The Federal Reserve Is A Saboteur – And The “Experts” Are Oblivious
I have written on the subject of the Federal Reserve’s deliberate sabotage of the U.S. economy many times in the past. In fact, I even once referred to the Fed as an “economic suicide bomber.” I still believe the label fits perfectly, and the Fed’s recent actions I think directly confirm my accusations.
Back in 2015, when I predicted that the central bankers would shift gears dramatically into a program of consistent interest rate hikes and that they would begin cutting off stimulus to the U.S. financial sector and more specifically stock markets, almost no one wanted to hear it. The crowd-think at that time was that the Fed would inevitably move to negative interest rates, and that raising rates was simply “impossible.”


Many analysts, even in the liberty movement, quickly adopted this theory without question. Why? Because of a core assumption that is simply false; the assumption that the Federal Reserve’s goal is to maintain the U.S. economy at all costs or at least maintain the illusion that the economy is stable. They assume that the U.S. economy is indispensable to the globalists and that the U.S. dollar is an unassailable tool in their arsenal. Therefore, the Fed would never deliberately undermine the American fiscal structure because without it “they lose their golden goose.”
This is, of course, foolish nonsense.
Since its initial inception from 1913-1916, the Federal Reserve has been responsible for the loss of 98% of the dollar’s buying power. Idiot analysts in the mainstream argue that this statistic is not as bad as it seems because “people have been collecting interest” on their cash while the dollar’s value has been dropping, and this somehow negates or outweighs any losses in purchasing power. These guys are so dumb they don’t even realize the underlying black hole in their own argument.
IF someone put their savings into an account or into treasury bonds and earned interest from the moment the Fed began quickly undermining dollar value way back in 1959, then yes, they MIGHT have offset the loss by collecting interest. However, this argument, insanely, forgets to take into account the many millions of people who were born long after the Fed began its devaluation program. What about the “savers” born in 1980, or 1990? They didn’t have the opportunity to collect interest to offset the losses already created by the Fed. They were born into an economy where saving is inherently more difficult because a person must work much harder to save the same amount of capital that their parents saved, not to mention purchase the same items their parents enjoyed, such as a home or a car.
Over the decades, the Fed has made it nearly impossible for households with one wage earner to support a family. Today, men and women who should be in the prime of their careers and starting families are for the first time in 130 years more likely to be living at home with their parents than any other living arrangement.
People are more likely to be living with their parents now than back during time periods in which young people actually wanted to stay close to their parents to take care of them. That is to say, most young people are stuck at home because they can’t afford to do anything else, not because they necessarily want to be there.
This is almost entirely a symptom of central bank devaluation of the currency and its purchasing potential. The degradation of the American wage earner since the Fed fiat machine began killing the greenback is clear as day.
The Fed is also responsible for almost every single major economic downturn since it was established. As I have noted in the past, Ben Bernanke openly admitted that the Fed was the root cause of the prolonged economic carnage during the Great Depression on Nov. 8, 2002, in a speech given at “A Conference to Honor Milton Friedman … On the Occasion of His 90th Birthday:”
“In short, according to Friedman and Schwartz, because of institutional changes and misguided doctrines, the banking panics of the Great Contraction were much more severe and widespread than would have normally occurred during a downturn.
Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”
Bernanke is referring in part to the Fed’s program of raising interest rates into an economic downturn, exacerbating the situation in the early 1930’s and making the system highly unstable. He lies and says the Fed “won’t do it again;” they are doing it RIGHT NOW.
The Fed was the core instigator behind the credit and derivatives bubble that led to the crash in 2008, a crash that has caused depression-like conditions in America that we are still to this day dealing with. Through artificially low interest rates and in partnership with sectors of government, poor lending standards were highly incentivised and a massive debt trap was created. Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan publicly admitted in an interview that the central bank KNEW an irrational bubble had formed, but claims they assumed the negative factors would “wash out.”
Yet again, a Fed chairman admits that they either knew about or caused a major financial crisis. So we are left two possible conclusions — they were too stupid to speak up and intervene, or, they wanted these disasters to occur.
Today, we are faced with two more brewing bubble catastrophes engineered by the Fed: The stock market bubble and the dollar/treasury bond bubble.
The stock market bubble is rather obvious and openly admitted at this point. As the former head of the Federal Reserve Dallas branch, Richard Fisher, admitted in an interview with CNBC, the U.S. central bank in particular has made its business the manipulation of the stock market to the upside since 2009:
“What the Fed did — and I was part of that group — is we front-loaded a tremendous market rally, starting in 2009.
It’s sort of what I call the “reverse Whimpy factor” — give me two hamburgers today for one tomorrow.”
Fisher went on to hint at his very reserved view of the impending danger:
“I was warning my colleagues, Don’t go wobbly if we have a 10 to 20 percent correction at some point… Everybody you talk to… has been warning that these markets are heavily priced.” [In reference to interest rate hikes]
The Fed “front-loaded” the incredible bull market rally through various methods, but one of the key tools was the use of near-zero interest rate overnight loans from the central bank, which corporations around the world have been exploiting since the 2008 crash to fund stock buybacks and pump up the value of stock markets. As noted by Edward Swanson, author of a study from Texas A&M on stock buybacks used to offset poor fundamentals:
“We can’t say for sure what would have happened without the repurchase, but it really looks like the stock would have kept going down because of the decline in fundamentals… these repurchases seem to hold up the stock price.”
In the initial TARP audit, an audit that was limited and never again duplicated, it was revealed that corporations had absorbed trillions in overnight loans from the Fed. It was at this time that stock buybacks became the go-to method to artificially prop up equities values.
The problem is, just like they did at the start of the Great Depression, the central bank is once again raising interest rates into a declining economy. This means that all those no-cost loans used by corporations to buy back their own stocks are now going to have a price tag attached. An interest rate of 1% might not seem like much to someone who borrows $1000, but what about for someone who borrows $1 Trillion? Yes, borrowing at ANY interest rate becomes impossible when you need that much capital to prop up your stock. The loans have to be free, otherwise, there will be no loans.
Thus, we have to ask ourselves another question; is the Fed really ignorant enough to NOT know that raising rates will kill stock markets? They openly admit that they knew what they were doing when they inflated stock markets, so it seems to me that they would know how to deflate stock markets. Therefore, if they deliberately engineered the market rally with low interest rates, it follows that they are deliberately engineering a crash in markets using higher interest rates.
Mainstream economists and investment “experts” appear rather bewildered by the Federal Reserve’s exuberance on rate hikes. Many assumed that Janet Yellen would hint at a pullback from the hike schedule due to the considerable level of negative data on our fiscal structure released over the past six months. Yellen has done the opposite. In fact, Fed officials are now stating that equities and other assets appear to be “overvalued” and that markets have become complacent. This is a major reversal from the central bank’s attitude just two years ago. The fundamental data has always been negative ever since the credit crisis began. So what has really changed?
Well, Donald Trump, the sacrificial scapegoat, is now in the White House, and, central bank stimulus has a shelf life.  They can’t prop up equities for much longer even if they wanted to. The fundamentals will always catch up with the fiat illusion. No nation in history has ever been able to print its way to prosperity or even recovery. The time is now for the Fed to pull the plug and lay blame in the lap of their mortal enemy – conservatives and sovereignty champions. They will ignore all financial reality and continue to hike. This is a guarantee.
In the Liberty Movement the major misconception is that the Fed is attempting to “catch up” to the next crash by raising interest rates so that they will be ready to stimulate again. There is no catching up to this situation. The Fed has no interest in saving stock markets or the economy. Again, the fed has raised rates before into fiscal decline (during the Great Depression), and the result was a prolonged crisis. They know exactly what they are doing.
What does the Fed gain from this sabotage? Total centralization. For example, before the Great Depression there used to be thousands of smaller private and localized banks in America. After the Great Depression most of those banks were either destroyed or absorbed by elite banking conglomerates. Banking in the U.S. immediately became a fully centralized monopoly by the majors. In a decade, they were able to remove all local competition and redundancy, making communities utterly beholden to their credit system.
The 2008 crash allowed the banking elites to introduce vast stimulus measures requiring unaccountable fiat money creation. Rather than saving America from crisis, they have expanded the crisis to the point that it will soon threaten the world reserve status of our currency. The Fed in particular has set the U.S. up not just for a financial depression, but for a full spectrum calamity which will include a considerable devaluation (yet again) of our currency’s value and resulting in extreme price inflation in necessities.
The next phase of this collapse will include the end of the dollar as we know it, making way for a new global currency system that uses the IMF’s SDR basket as a foundation. This plan is openly admitted in the elitist run magazine ‘The Economist’ in an article entitled “Get Ready For A Global Currency By 2018.
It is important to understand what the Fed actually is — the Fed is a weapon. It is a weapon used by globalists to destroy the American system at a given point in time in order to clear the way for a new single world economy controlled by a single managerial entity (most likely the IMF or BIS). This is the Fed’s purpose. The central bank is not here to save the U.S. from harm, it is here to make sure the U.S. falls in a particular manner — a controlled demolition of our fiscal structure.


The US Is Becoming A 3rd World Nation As The Economy Breaks Down: Paul Craig Roberts

 



          After Sy Hersh's Bombshell Investigation, Why Won't Media Tell the Real Story of Trump's Military Strike in Syria?   
Western media are continuing to do their part in the propaganda war on Syria.

If you wish to understand the degree to which the supposedly free western media are constructing a world of half-truths and deceptions to manipulate their audiences, keeping us uninformed and pliant, there could hardly be a better case study than their treatment of Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

All of these highly competitive, for-profit, scoop-seeking media outlets separately took identical decisions: first to reject Hersh’s latest investigative report, and then to studiously ignore it once it was published in Germany last Sunday. They have continued to maintain an absolute radio silence on his revelations, even as over the past few days they have given a great deal of attention to two stories on the very issue Hersh’s investigation addresses.

These two stories, given such prominence in the western media, are clearly intended to serve as “spoilers” to his revelations, even though none of these publications has actually informed their readers of his original investigation. We are firmly in looking-glass territory.

So what did Hersh’s investigation reveal? His sources in the U.S. intelligence establishment told him the official narrative that Syria’s Bashar Assad had dropped deadly sarin gas on the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 was incorrect. Instead, they said, a Syrian plane dropped a bomb on a meeting of jihadi fighters that triggered secondary explosions in a storage depot, releasing a toxic cloud of chemicals that killed civilians nearby.

One might assume that an alternative narrative of the events would be of great interest to the media, given that Donald Trump approved a military strike on Syria based on the official narrative. Hersh’s version suggests that Trump acted against the intelligence advice he received from his own officials, in a highly dangerous move that not only grossly violated international law but might have dragged Assad’s main ally, Russia, into the fray. The Syrian arena has the potential to trigger a serious confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

But in fact, the western media were supremely uninterested in the story. Hersh, once considered the journalist’s journalist, went hawking his investigation around the U.S. and UK media to no avail. In the end, he could find a home for his revelations only in Germany, in the publication Welt am Sonntag.

There are a couple of possible, though unlikely, reasons all English-language publications ignored Hersh’s story. Maybe they had evidence his inside intelligence was wrong. If so, they have yet to provide it. A rebuttal would require acknowledging Hersh’s story, and none seems willing to do that.

Or maybe the media thought it was old news and would no longer interest their readers. It would be difficult to sustain such an interpretation, but at least it has an air of plausibility—except for everything that has happened since Hersh published last Sunday. His story has spawned two clear “spoiler” responses from those desperate to uphold the official narrative. Hersh’s revelations may have been entirely uninteresting to the western media, but strangely they have sent Washington into crisis mode.

Of course, no U.S. official has addressed Hersh’s investigation directly, which might have drawn attention to it and forced western media to reference it. Instead, Washington has sought to deflect attention from Hersh’s alternative narrative and shore up the official one through misdirection. That alone should raise the alarm that we are being manipulated, not informed.

The first spoiler, made in the immediate wake of Hersh’s story, was statements from the Pentagon and White House warning that the U.S. had evidence Assad was planning yet another chemical attack on his people and that Washington would respond harshly if he did so.

Here is how the Guardian reported the U.S. threats:

The U.S. said on Tuesday that it had observed preparations for a possible chemical weapons attack at a Syrian air base allegedly involved in a sarin attack in April following a warning from the White House that the Syrian regime would ‘pay a heavy price’ for further use of the weapons.

On Friday, the second spoiler emerged. Two unnamed diplomats “confirmed” that a report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had found that some of the victims from Khan Sheikhoun showed signs of poisoning by sarin or sarin-like substances.

There are obvious reasons to be mighty suspicious of these stories. The findings of OPCW were already known and had been discussed for some time. There was absolutely nothing newsworthy about them.

There are also well-known problems with the findings. There was no “chain of custody”—neutral oversight—of the bodies that were presented to the organization in Turkey, as Scott Ritter, a former weapons inspector in Iraq, has noted. Any number of interested parties could have contaminated the bodies before they reached OPCW. For that reason, OPCW has not concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for the traces of sarin. In the world of real news, only such a finding—that Assad was responsible—should have made the OPCW report interesting again to the media.

Similarly, by going public with their threats against Assad, the Pentagon and White House did not increase the deterrence on Assad, making it less likely he would use gas in the future. That could have been achieved much more effectively with private warnings to the Russians, who have massive leverage over Assad. These new warnings were meant not for Assad but for western publics, to bolster the official narrative that Hersh’s investigation had thrown into doubt.

In fact, the U.S. threats increase, rather than reduce, the chances of a new chemical weapons attack. Other anti-Assad actors now have a strong incentive to use chemical weapons in false-flag operation to implicate Assad, knowing that the U.S. has committed itself to intervention. On any reading, the U.S. statements were reckless—or malicious—in the extreme and likely to bring about the exact opposite of what they were supposed to achieve.

But beyond this, there was something even more troubling about these two stories. That these official claims were published so unthinkingly in major outlets is bad enough. But what is unconscionable is the media’s continuing blackout of Hersh’s investigation when it speaks directly to the two latest news reports.

No serious journalist could write up either story, according to any accepted norms of journalistic practice, and not make reference to Hersh’s claims. They are absolutely relevant to these stories. In fact, more than that, the intelligence sources he cites are not only relevant but are the reason these two stories have been suddenly propelled to the top of the news agenda.

Any publication that has covered either the White House-Pentagon threats or the rehashing of the OPCW report and has not mentioned Hersh’s revelations is writing nothing less than propaganda in service of a western foreign policy agenda trying to bring about the illegal overthrow of the Syrian government. And so far that appears to include every single U.S. and UK mainstream newspaper and TV station.

 

 

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          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage after Merkel U-turn   

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.


          Newsmax, One America Get Seats in White House Briefings   
The White House Correspondents Association unveiled a new seating chart for the 49 seats in the White House briefing room, with conservative outlets Newsmax and One America News Network getting placement. One America will share its seat with the BBC. Also getting a seat is the Daily Mail, HuffPost, and Univision. HuffPost will share its... Read more »
          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          Republican Congressman Calls for Robert Mueller To Recuse Himself From Russia Probe   

Why is there just one Republican? There should have been dozens on our side calling for Mueller to recuse himself when it was clear he could not be impartial and because of his close relationship for years with James Comey.  Even after news broke that Special Prosecutor Mueller was hiring lawyers who had contributed exclusively to Hillary Clinton's campaign, Republicans were silent. 


washingtonexaminer
A freshman member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus is calling for special counsel Robert Mueller to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because he has brought on "highly partisan" lawyers to help with the probe.

"Special Counsel Robert Mueller should recuse himself because the integrity of his appointment is in question due to former FBI Director James Comey's manipulative leaks and the relationship between Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller," Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said in a statement Friday. "His ability to be impartial is doubtful because he has surrounded himself with highly partisan lawyers who make a special practice to line the coffers of Democrats."

News outlets have reported at least three lawyers Mueller has hired to help conduct his investigation have donated almost exclusively to Democrats. Also, Mueller and Comey are friends and former colleagues.

more here...



          Scalise Shooter Had a Kill List of Republican Lawmakers' Names    
Fox News reports that a handwritten list was found in Hodgkinson's van by FBI. One of the names on the list was Trent Franks of Arizona. He talks to Martha MacCallum about the news in the video here.
WATCH:


The gunman who opened fire on congressmen at a Virginia baseball field on Wednesday had a list of Republican names in his pocket at the time of the incident, Fox News has confirmed.

The handwritten list was found in a van belonging to James Hodgkinson by the FBI, and the lawmakers named on the list are known to be conservative members .

Reps. Scot DesJarlais (R-TN) (pronounced day-zharr-LAY), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA).

Franks told Fox News Friday on "The Story with Martha MacCallum" that he has been notified that he is involved in the investigation. (Fox News)

------

Republicans on the Hodgkinson list are all associated with the Freedom Caucus.



          Women Will Work For Free From Now Until The End Of The Year, Says Charity   

Monday 9 November marks Equal Pay Day in the UK. The Fawcett Society claims that it will take over 50 years to close the gender pay gap.

Pauline Bercker from Leeds joins an equal pay for women demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London, 18 May 1969.

Stan Meagher / Getty Images

Monday 9 November marks the day when women working full-time essentially stop earning and work for free the rest of the year, the UK's leading gender equality charity announced today.

Women are paid on average 14.2% less an hour than men according to the Fawcett Society, which analysed 2014 data on the average full-time hourly earnings for men and women using the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

After subtracting the percentage difference of average earnings from 100%, the findings revealed women are paid on average 14.2% less an hour than men.

Equal Pay Day was then calculated by subtracting 14.2% of the year (52 days) from the end of the year, producing today's date.

Prime minister David Cameron speaking to an audience in Edinburgh.

Wpa Pool / Getty Images

The gender pay gap has declined by 1.3% in the last five years. At this rate of progress, it will take over 50 years to close the gap, the charity claims.

"Progress has stalled in recent years but with real commitment from government and employers, together with action from women and men at work, we could speed up progress towards the day when we can consign it to history," Sam Smethers, the Fawcett Society's chief executive, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, prime minister David Cameron pledged to "end the gender pay gap in a generation". The Conservative government made it mandatory for large companies to publish information about the gender differences in average earnings.

The government claims the national living wage of £7.20 per hour will also help with the pay gap.


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          Pay members of Congress for their performance — or lack thereof   
Feeding at the government trough breeds dependency and laziness, according to conservatives. So let’s introduce pay for performance in Congress, tieing their paychecks to the health of the citizens they serve.
          Cruising the Web   
For all those people who think that Trump's tweets are brilliant at reaching the public and throwing his opponents off balance or whatever other bit of analysis used to show that somehow he's playing three-dimensional chess while the rest of the world can't even set up the checker board, is this really a set of tweets that makes you proud that he's your president?




These morning tweets follow other tweets touting ones supporting policy actions by his administration and the GOP. Does he think anyone will pay attention to any of that when he's tweeting comments on a morning show's appearance and the show's ratings? It's as if he's taken a master a class on self-sabotage.

Isn't he supposed to be in the middle of trying to help a GOP repeal of Obamacare?

Remember when conservatives ridiculed Obama interview talking to GloZell, the woman who is mainly known for eating cereal while sitting in a bathub of milk or going on Between Two Ferns? Well, was any of that less respectful of the office of the presidency than such tweets? I have come to regard Trump's tweets as a verbal expression of his id. That is the level he operates at and we get a glimpse at what impulses control him through Twitter. All his advisers urging him to focus on policy and presenting an image of gravitas are the ego trying to mediate between those impulses and reality. They might win out for hours, even days sometimes, but the id is there ready to take over.

There used to be a time when Republicans claimed that character mattered in the presidency. Today...not so much.

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Canada thinks it can control the Internet.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Google on Wednesday in a closely-watched intellectual property case over whether judges can apply their own country's laws to all of the Internet.

In a 7-2 decision, the court agreed a British Columbia judge had the power to issue an injunction forcing Google to scrub search results about pirated products not just in Canada, but everywhere else in the world too.

Those siding with Google, including civil liberties groups, had warned that allowing the injunction would harm free speech, setting a precedent to let any judge anywhere order a global ban on what appears on search engines. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, downplayed this objection and called Google's fears "theoretical."
Charles C. W. Cooke comments,
That amusing episode of The I.T. Crowd notwithstanding, “the Internet” is not a single black box somewhere in London, but a massively decentralized network of networks that, while conforming to a few agreed-upon technical specifications, gives new meaning to the word “diffuse.” Or, put another way, “the Internet” is a patchwork quilt of cables, satellites, switches, service providers, cell phones, desktops, laptops, web-servers, and protocols that, taken together, forms the sprawling web to which we are all so accustomed. The beauty of this arrangement is that anybody can participate. Want to be the next Facebook? To start with, at least, all you’ll need is a domain name, an internet connection, and a computer, and . . . that’s it. Though there are certain breakpoints (IP allocation, root DNS, etc.), there is no central permission structure that newcomers have to navigate. It’s open. It’s wild. It’s wonderful.

Now, this is not to say that censorship is impossible. It’s not. If a government wishes to block access to a particular site within the physical borders over which it has jurisdiction, it can do so. Likewise, websites and services that contradict local law can be legally removed, and, if it so wishes, a government can demand that any organization operating on a network within its borders must conform to its rules. What it can’t do, however, is export those judgments abroad.

Suppose that I, a permanent resident of the United States, were to host a website that contained speech that was banned in, say, Germany. Certainly, the German authorities could prevent Germans from seeing my site. And, if anyone chose to mirror my site on server inside Germany, they could shut that person down quite quickly. But they couldn’t have me shut down in America, and they couldn’t prevent people in other countries from accessing my site over the web. My server would be in America, connected to a network in America, subject to the law in America, and guaranteed the protections to which Americans are entitled. The German government, annoyed as it might be, would have to accept that....

And that, ultimately, is why the Canadian Court’s decision is so hilarious. I understand why people are worried about the idea — if taken seriously, it would give any less-free-than-America country an effective veto over the First Amendment. But they shouldn’t fret too much: The judges can say what they like, but their edict is simply unenforceable. If it wishes to do so, the government of Canada can prevail upon Google to abide by its rules within Canada. In addition, it can regulate the web in Canada to prevent access to sites it dislike. But it can’t force Google in America or France or Australia or Singapore to do a single goddamned thing. And thank goodness for that, eh?
I hope that he is correct, but we've seen the EU slapping a $2.7 billion fine on Google because the EU thinks it violates antitrust for Google to promote Google Shopping sites over other shopping sites. I'm not sure what there is about a FREE service like Google that the Europeans don't understand. Are European citizens actually hurt by Google giving them a free shopping search engine and then putting their items at the top? Would they prefer to pay for their search engines? Please, just keep your hands off Google. As more countries try and figure out ways to make money off of fining Google, they should consider the unintended consequences.
“The EU has effectively decided that some companies have become too big to innovate,” Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said in a statement following the Google Shopping decision. “The EU’s actions have created a cloud of uncertainty that will make large tech companies overly cautious about making changes to the user experience and service offerings that would benefit consumers.”

Jonathan Tobin applies Occam's Razor
to explain why Obama didn't do more about Russia's attempts to interfere in our election last year.
But the real problem here is not so much Barack Obama’s failure to act as the most plausible reason for his inaction: Vladimir Putin’s capers didn’t impact the election results.
Despite the efforts by Democrats to blame Russia for Hillary Clinton's loss and their frustration that Obama didn't do more about it, there really is no evidence that the WikiLeaks revelations from John Podesta's emails had any effect on the course of the election.
But there’s a simpler, even more plausible explanation for Obama’s inaction: The president saw that the hacking was having almost no impact on the course of the campaign and thus wasn’t going to mess with the results. Far from the crime of the century, it was, at worst, a minor annoyance to Clinton that Obama obviously felt didn’t warrant a major dustup with Putin.

It’s true that Russia’s actions were outrageous and deserved a strong US response, both then and now. It can also be argued that the public had a right to know about it. But it was only after Clinton lost and she and her supporters began searching for excuses that Russia’s actions were considered an important factor in the outcome.

While Putin was way out of line, the impact of the WikiLeaks document dumps on Clinton’s candidacy was marginal at best.

The contents of the Democratic National Committee e-mails were embarrassing to Podesta and then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who wound up losing her job after proof of DNC collusion with Clinton against Bernie Sanders was produced. But there was almost nothing in those documents that related directly to Clinton, let alone being enough to influence voters.

Every WikiLeaks story was also almost immediately overshadowed by other, more damaging gaffes or revelations about Trump, such as his attack on a Gold Star family or the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. Nothing the Russians did matched the damage done by either of those Trump disasters.
Instead of looking for some external events or action, just admit that Hillary was a lousy candidate. That should actually be comforting to the Democrats. With such a compromised candidate whom so many Americans just never liked, they still won the popular vote and came really close to winning the states that put Trump over the top. If they can pick a better candidate in 2020, and can make an appeal for the voters they lost in the Rust Belt, chances are pretty strong that they'll win that year. They should be more concerned about forging a message that doesn't repel independents and those voters they lost in 2016. That's their real challenge and focusing all the time on Russia, Russia, Russia won't help them achieve that goal.


Good to know.
Tell your friendly environmentalist activist. But they're not really interested.
The benefits of fracking far outweigh its costs not only economically, but environmentally, a Stanford University geophysicist said Friday.

After teaching geophysics at Stanford for 30 years Mark Zoback took the helm of Stanford's new Natural Gas Initiative three years ago, he said, because of gas's environmental benefits.

"We did it because there were so many important and obvious environmental benefits to the utilization of natural gas," Zoback said. "So it’s somewhat ironic to be asked to argue for the notion that these benefits outweigh the environmental costs, when it’s the environmental benefits that got me into this business in the first place."

Zoback's remarks opened the annual debate at Stanford's Silicon Valley Energy Summit, and were swiftly challenged by representatives of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Counci
Zoback argued that natural gas can replace coal and "dirty diesel" at significant scale throughout the world, supporting economic growth while slashing carbon emissions. (When burned, natural gas emits about half the CO2 that coal does).

The Senate has some really dumb rules. And the minority party can use them to slow everything down to a standstill. Chuck Schumer is taking advantage of every tool that the rules provide.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer used an upper chamber procedure Wednesday to block a national security briefing hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, irritating Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.

The rule that Schumer had invoked, which he has been exercising the use of over the past two weeks, blocks Senate committee business from happening two hours after the Senate convenes session for the day. Schumer has consistently used the procedure as a way to delay business in Senate to make demands on Republicans on the health care bill.

The rarely-used tactic has cut short a committee hearing on free speech, stopped a hearing on Russian meddling in the U.S. elections and blocked a mark-up to advance bipartisan anti-human trafficking legislation....

Grassley had sent a joint letter with subcommittee judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham to the FBI Tuesday requesting all documents related to the FBI FISA surveillance requests on the Russia investigation.

“Today, the Judiciary Committee was set to hear from senior intelligence officials about highly sensitive intelligence gathering authorities that will soon require action from Congress. It’s disturbing and reckless for the Minority Leader to block the briefing. We’ve seen too many recent reminders of how unsafe the world is today. This is no time to play politics with our national security,” he said.
If they could use the nuclear option to get rid of a much more prominent rule concerning filibusters of Supreme Court nominees, why not use it to get rid of this stupid rule. If it's a "rarely-used tactic," no one except the angry members of the minority party will miss it.


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I had so much fun last night. I'm visiting my daughters in D.C. and we went to the Nats-Cubs game. I haven't seen a live baseball game in about 50 years since I was a kid and we'd go to the Cubs games. So I scheduled my trip to catch the game. After falling behind in the seventh inning, I thought it was pretty hopeless for the Cubs based on the way they've been playing this year. But they rallied in the ninth inning to go ahead on a triple by Jon Jay. It was so exciting and I could celebrate with all the other Cubs fans in the stadium including a cute little girl, about 10 years old, sitting with her family of Cubs fans in front of me who told her parents that John Jay had written five of the Federalist Papers. Exactly right and the Cubs' Jon Jay was a hero tonight. Go Federalists!


What a blast! And then as walked out of the stadium and came back on the Metro and hear all the Nationals fans complaining about the Nationals' bullpen. Eh, they're still doing well. I'm just hoping that the Cubs are recovering their mojo. At least their closer, Wade Davis, another historically relevant name on the Cubs roster


          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          Talks Between UK Conservatives And Northern Ireland's DUP Restart   
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          CPAC Turns Left with Pro-Homosexual, Pro-Atheist Groups   
Contact: John Ritchie, 717-495-5427 WASHINGTON, March 3, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is under fire this year for accepting the sponsorship of Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT activist group that promotes Bruce Jenner, same-sex "marriage," and open homosexuality in the U.S. Armed Forces. CPAC has also welcomed Atheist Voter as an exhibitor at its March 2-5 event at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center south of Washington, D.C. Source: Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)
          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
By now, we can probably say that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The word "probably" is apt because nothing is certain about the plans of this or any other Supreme Court justice when it comes to ending his or her service on the nation's highest court. But this week, the court wrapped up the current term, and Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, seems to have decided to stay on the job — at least for the coming term. There could be a variety of reasons. As an institutional matter, he could well have concluded that there had been enough uncertainty and drama on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the vacancy that lasted for well over a year with Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama's nominee. Kennedy may also have thought it best to ensure that there is a full complement of nine justices for at least a year. He could even have been put off by President Trump's tweets about the judiciary. But it is unlikely that
          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
By now, we can probably say that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The word "probably" is apt because nothing is certain about the plans of this or any other Supreme Court justice when it comes to ending his or her service on the nation's highest court. But this week, the court wrapped up the current term, and Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, seems to have decided to stay on the job — at least for the coming term. There could be a variety of reasons. As an institutional matter, he could well have concluded that there had been enough uncertainty and drama on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the vacancy that lasted for well over a year with Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama's nominee. Kennedy may also have thought it best to ensure that there is a full complement of nine justices for at least a year. He could even have been put off by President Trump's tweets about the judiciary. But it is unlikely that
          Ensuring the Export-Import Bank Stays Dead   
On Wednesday July 15, Tea Party Patriot’s President and Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin joined in a press conference with fellow conservatives after the expiration of the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank authorization. Martin was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz , Sen. Mike Lee, Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Flores, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan […]
          News Briefing for Wednesday, June 3   
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: Patriot Act Renewal: Senate Overwhelmingly Votes To Proceed “…Conservative groups are arguing against McConnell’s amendments, and that could augur trouble in the House. So far, the USA Freedom Act has enjoyed unusual support from both tea party groups and the American Civil Liberties Union. “We support passage of the USA Freedom Act […]
          News Briefing for Tuesday, May 12   
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: Kirsten Powers: ‘How the left is killing free speech’ and demonizing conservatives “…THE TEA PARTY GAUGE – The Tea Party Patriots — the nation’s largest umbrella group for the grass-roots movement — is now conducting its own weekly gauge of popular sentiments among the group’s huge membership. Co-founder Jenny Beth Martin has […]
          News Briefing for Monday, April 13   
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: Fiorina, Tea Party loyalists have much in common “Carly Fiorina told the Tea Party Patriots Sunday that she too wants smaller, more responsive government, as she spoke and took questions from callers. The grassroots conservative group has been hosting government officials and potential presidential candidates in its teleconferences. Fiorina, a former corporate […]
          Top Tories in revolt against May over public spending   
Jeremy Hunt and Justine Greening tell PM it is time to ease austerity as poll shows party leader’s popularity plummeting

Theresa May is facing a chorus of Tory demands for a radical overhaul of state funding for public services as cabinet ministers and senior Conservative MPs back higher pay for millions of NHS workers, more cash for schools and a “national debate” on student debt.

The prime minister’s waning authority was highlighted as her health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and education secretary Justine Greening lobbied for an easing of austerity and senior Conservative MPs insisted public services would be in growing peril without an urgent loosening of the purse strings.

Continue reading...
          Broad Swath of S. Africans Meets on Nation's Future    

THE broadest spectrum of parties ever to come together for political talks in South Africa gathers here today to plan a resumption of negotiations on the country's transition to democracy.

Ten months after multiparty talks broke down, the groups are returning to the table with a new sense of urgency. Three months of bilateral talks between the ruling National Party and the African National Congress (ANC) have cleared the way for a resumption of full negotiations.

"They're back at the table at last and this time there are more of them and the chemistry is looking good," says a Western diplomat monitoring the negotiation process.

Today's meeting, which will set a date for the resumption of full-blown multiparty talks, for the first time will include white right-wing parties and radical black rivals to the left of the ANC.

Participants are expected to include 23 delegations from 21 political groups - four more than the 19 delegations that attended the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, which deadlocked last May after five months of deliberations. Wide spectrum of parties

Among the attendees will be the militant Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), which failed to reach agreement with the government in talks this week about the suspension of the armed struggle being waged by its radical military wing, the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army.

The right-wing Afrikaner Volks Unie, which broke away from the more hard-line Conservative Party last year, will take part in a six-party committee chairing the meeting. This marks the first direct involvement of a right-wing party in steering multiparty talks.

There is also cautious optimism that Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), is preparing to put his full weight behind multiparty talks.

Today's meeting will be attended by chief negotiators rather than political leaders. A delegation from the semi-autonomous KwaZulu homeland could provide the mechanism for the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, to attend the next round of talks.

There is still disagreement over the boundaries, powers, and functions of South Africa's regions and whether they should be bound in a federation or a looser arrangement. But consensus is growing among the parties that the new constitution will need to provide for a high degree of autonomy for regional governments to prevent secessions that could fragment the country.

In the past three months, the ANC has made major concessions in the direction of a federal-type system and ANC leader Nelson Mandela has gone out of his way to recognize the principle of self-determination in talks with white right-wing leaders.

Multiparty talks, which could be held this month, must reach agreement on the powers and functions of a Transitional Executive Committee (TEC), an independent Electoral Commission, and an independent Media Commission that will have the task of leveling the political playing field.

The TEC, a multiracial super-advisory body, will function with sub-councils that will establish multiparty management of the security forces during the run-up to the elections. The three commissions should be established by June, by which time the multiparty forum is expected to have agreed on an election date.

"I think by the time we get to July it will be all systems go for the election," says ANC Electoral Commission head Popo Molefe.

The talks take place in the wake of the March 2 massacre of six school pupils in the violence-racked hills around Pietermaritzburg, which has served as a grim reminder of the bitter war still raging between supporters of the ANC and the IFP in that province.

The killing of the pupils has evoked national outrage across the political spectrum and Law and Order Minister Hernus Kriel has offered an $80,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited the bereaved community with other church leaders yesterday in a bid to calm political passions and prevent revenge killings.

Figures published Wednesday by the Human Rights Commission, a civil rights group that monitors political violence, indicate that deaths this year from political violence have dropped to levels well below the 300-a-month average for 1992. Coalition government

Today's talks will take place against the backdrop of an understanding reached last month between the government and the ANC that the drafting of a democratic constitution after the first democratic ballot will be followed by a period of coalition rule lasting up to five years.

The coalition government will include all parties that win at least 5 percent of the vote. According to recent polls this is sure to include the ANC and the National Party and is likely to include the PAC, the IFP, and possibly the right-wing Conservative Party.

"One could say that the real challenge of the ballot will be about whether South Africa can hold a peaceful election rather than who will win the election," says Larry Garber, an official of the National Democratic Institute in Washington, which helps run a South African voter education program.

The major challenge prior to the election will be to educate an estimated electorate of 21 million - about 16 million of whom are blacks who have never voted before - in the basics of democracy and electoral procedures.

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           Return of the Dandy 1966   

Ruffles foaming over the shirt-fronts of dinner-jackets and lace spilling out of the sleeves, tight-fitting pants, worn by young men who will demand 20 sittings at a tailor to be sure that the length of the vent is just so, that the trouser leg moves an inch bell-wise at the bottom!  There are tales of Beau Brummell and Oscar Wilde, interviews with David Mlinaric, Patrick Lichfield and Rupert Lycett-Green of Blades. Musings on Pop Stars, Photographers, Hung On You, custom made shirts by the dozen and much more...it's all here, in this excellent in-depth 6 page feature on dandyism, originally published in 1966.





                                                          RETURN OF THE DANDY
Ruffles foam over the shirt-fronts of the dinner-jackets and lace spills out of the sleeves. Velvet pantaloons, which would have raised eyebrows if seen on men three years ago, attract hardly a glance anymore. The jackets are increasingly waisted, flare sharply over the hips and are getting almost Edwardian in length. The trousers fit so tightly that the more extreme ones are hard to sit down in and look best only when the man in them is standing almost at attention. There has not been such elegance, style and boldness in men's clothes in London since Oscar Wilde. The new wave of English dandyism started, most people agree, about five years ago. Young David Mlinaric, a designer, and one of the best dressed young men in London, thinks pop music had a good deal to do with it. ''The pop singers have the panache of the movie stars in the thirties. The pop singers and designers and film stars dress adventurously - and the others have followed them. Also, people today are more interested in young people than ever before - and they copy what the young people do.''

Patrick Lichfield, another of the best dressed young English men, thinks that the adventurousness of people's occupations has a lot to do with their clothes. He himself is an Earl, but he's also a photographer. ''Many people,'' he points out, ''are still stuck in environments like the city where conservative dress is absolutely required. But these days film stars, pop singers, hairdressers, photographers have all become respectable people. People like us can dress as we like: we can experiment. If a duke wandered into a cocktail party without a tie, people would find it odd, but if a film star did it, he'd be accepted. Presently, the duke might even follow suit.''

The revolution in men's clothes has even deeper roots than that. All the great periods of dandyism have occurred in periods of revolutionary upheaval in the pecking order of society. The Regency dandies followed the Napoleonic wars, a period when the monarchy and aristocracy were despised and a new middle class was beginning to emerge. The French wave of dandyism (strictly an import from England) followed the Revolution of 1830, again with a great levelling of social barriers. The Edwardian dandies followed the industrial revolution when the money and power structure shifted from the landed aristocracy to the new industrial magnates. The new dandies of today are living in an age when the caste system in England is breaking down at both top and bottom.








Like Nicholas Hilliard's Elizabethan dandy, today's dandy, Dennis Stansfield (above), looks effective in a rural setting. Stansfield, a 20-year old commercial artist, designs his own clothes and has a tailor in Tooting. His sister-in-law makes his shirts.


The greatest of all dandies, Beau Brummell, was the most scornful of men. (''You can't call that thing a coat?'') He had no title, no fortune, no professionnot even a carriage; he had nothing but a superb arrogance and assurance and presence; with these weapons alone he was copied, quoted, much feared, greatly respected, and wielded very real power. When the Prince Regent (who became George IV) broke with him, he remarked disdainfully of the future monarch: ''I made him what he is today and I can unmake him.'' This Brummellian scorn and self-assurance is very much a part of the make-up of the young pop set. The young film stars, photographers, models, designers and pop singers don't give a damn what their fathers or you or I or anyone else think of their far-out clothes or their far-out behaviour. Albert Camus has called the dandy the archetype of the human being in revolt against society. Almost always the dandy is thumbing his nose at the rest of the pack. The great Beau himself, some of his admirers think, was in the privacy of his own heart, mocking the very dandyism for which he was admired.











Lichfield, when I talked to him, had just come out of his dark-room, dressed casually in a polo-necked sweater and corduroy trousers. Lichfield looks well turned out in even the most casual clothes. ''Some people dress with flair alone.'' he says. I think Mlinaric is the best dressed man I know. Some of his effects are sheer audacity. I saw him one night in evening suit with a marvellous ruffled shirt. I admired it and he told me he'd just pinned some ruffles on a plain white shirt. It looked great.'' Lichfield admits he spends ''a fortune'' on his clothes, and says that some of his suits are total failures. ''I wear them two or three times, then never again.'' We toured his wardrobe. Twenty-six suits. ''I like brown suits very much.'' Many of today's young dandies like brown. ''Tweeds for the country.'' He showed a grey wooly one. ''I like big buckles.'' He showed me one immense silver one on a black belt. ''I think these buckles are going to be very fashionable. I love suede coats.'' He has four of varying cut. ''For shooting...'' He brought out a pair of bottle-green corduroy breeches. ''I've ordered all my gamekeepers to wear these.''

He opened a drawer packed with sweaters. ''I have a lot of polo-necked jerseys, mostly green and beige. They cost me a fortune in cleaning because you can only wear them two or three times. Now here's my most precious possession...'' He pulled out a pair of worn, patched and splendidly faded Levis. ''If the house was burning down, this is what I'd rescue first. The rest of my clothes can be replaced but it takes years of wear to get that lovely patina. American trousers are the only things I buy ready-made.'' He has 50 shirts, most of them custom-made from Harvie & Hudson at £6 apiece. When a shirt catches his fancy, he may buy one and ship it to Hong Kong to be copied by the dozen in silk. He has about 50 ties, many of the patterned pastel type which is very with it at the moment, but he also likes severely plain black knitted ties. He takes very good care of his clothes and is exasperated by people who don't. ''I know people who throw clothes on the floor that have cost them a fortune.'' He has an electric trouser-press in his bedroom which presses his trousers while he's in the bath (the jacket hangs itself out as part of the gadget). ''I haven't had a suit pressed since I left the Army — but cleaning costs me a fortune.'' I don't understand people who dress simply to keep warm,'' says Lichfield. ''A man should enjoy his clothes. He dresses to attract the girls —unlike the girls, who dress to impress one another. I have an idea all men dress to be sexy like cock pheasants in the mating season. I always dress more carefully the first time I take a girl out than the second. English girls, I think, are more adventurous in their tastes than girls of other countries and they admire adventurously dressed men.''



Among the most adventurous is Mlinaric. Standing in the immense square drawing-room of his Tite Street house (another great dandy, Oscar Wilde, lived in this street, a block away), Mlinaric was wearing a brown (he too, likes brown) double-breasted jacket that buttoned almost to the neck, the lapels edged in black, with short sleeves in order to display the cuffs of the shirt. His suits, he said, were getting more brightly coloured. His latest, of which he expected much, was cinnamon-coloured. ''Clothes are my greatest extravagance,'' he says. ''I feel very strongly about the way clothes are stitched. I'm tremendously interested in the best materials as well as the cut. I think a great many of the Carnaby Street clothes are very badly put together and of poor material.''




Ted Dawson, male model, spends about £500 a year on clothes. His wardrobe includes 100 ties, 75 shirts, 30 suits, 14 jackets.




Above: The wonderful Michael Rainey 25, who designed all the clothes for his boutique Hung On You, discusses ties with journalist Christopher Gibbs. (extreme right).



How well dressed are today's young men in comparison with the great dandies of the past? Hardly within whistling distance, I think. Max Beerbohm, the last of the dandies, wrote of Beau Brummell: ''Is it not to his fine scorn of accessories that we trace the first aim of modern dandyism, the production of the supreme effort through means the least extravagant? In certain congruities of dark cloth, in the rigid perfection of lines, in the symmetry of the gloves with the hands, lay the secret of Mr Brummell's miracle. He ever was most economical, most scrupulous of means.'' None of today's dandies lives up to these uncompromising standards (nor did Beerbohm). Brummell himself would have nothing but freezing contempt for Carnaby Street.

















The real dandies buy their suits at Blades in Dover Street. Eric Joy, the partner and chief designer, has a good deal of Brummellian scorn for most of the cutters and designers of Savile Row and thinks all mens clothes designed between 1914 and 1960 were a wasteland of mediocrity. ''Up to five years ago, masculinity was to be a good rugger player,'' he says scornfully. ''I thought it was about time we designed a collection that made men look like men, not bloody Daleks.'' He haunted the Victoria and Albert Museum for ideas. Many of the jackets are the modified descendants of military uniforms which are in fact the ancestors of many great English men's suits.'' Rupert Lycett Green, proprietor of Blades, a bit of a dandy himself (though he denies it), lists as a barely adequate wardrobe for a well-dressed man: two dinner jackets (silk for summer, worsted for winter), with perhaps a velvet evening suit to boot; one grey suit; one black suit; a couple of working suits, both comfortable and elegant; a country suit of lightweight tweed; two light summer suits; one travelling grey suit; one crushproof traveling suit for air travel and trains; three overcoats (one dark evening coat, one tweedy raglan type for country, one short for motoring or town wear); at least two sports or odd jackets; half a dozen assorted slacks or odd trousers; 50 shirts and 50 ties. Blades is opening its own shop in New York soon, but design there will be severely modified. The extreme dandyism quite acceptable in London still has strong homosexual implications in New York, and in fact everywhere else. London is years ahead of the rest of the world in having got rid of the homosexual overtones of dandyism. Most of today's English dandies are blatantly heterosexual.



Above: Rupert Lycett Green, proprietor of Blades where the best beaux are dressed, is opening a new shop in New York soon, but designs will be severely modified.


Historically, dandyism has had a homosexual tint only since its last flowering in the nineties, and you can blame Oscar Wilde for that. Most of the earlier dandies were conspicuously hetero — certainly the Regency rakes were. Brummell himself was thought to be glacially indifferent to women and sex and totally immersed in himself. The Victorian attitude toward dandies and dandyism was laid down originally by Thomas Carlyle in ''Sartor Resartus''. Before ''Sartor Resartus'', dandyism had been reasonably respectable, even admirable. However, Carlyle's Scottish puritanism so changed the emotional climate toward dandyism that Edward Bulwer Lytton  eliminated whole passages of ''Pelham'', his very successful novel about a dandy. Ever since Carlyle's outburst, dandies have been considered figures of fun, and since Wilde's day, probably homosexual.  Remnants of the Victorian disapproval are still with us. A recent article by John Morgan  in the New Statesman dripped with scorn about the new wave of dandyism which he called ''tedious to the point of tears.'' ''I find it impossible,'' he wrote, ''to make any emphatic leap into the nature of young men who will demand 20 sittings at a tailor to be sure that the length of the vent is just so, that the trouser leg moves an inch bell-wise at the bottom.'' Morgan also states in his article '' No one suffers from elegance but from the prose it produces,'' stating clearly that any writing about dandyism is a bore. This simply isn't true. Dandies and dandyism have a long and honourable literary tradition, both as authors and as subjects of novels and plays, some good, some appalling, but almost all enormously popular. ''Pelham'' by Bulwer and ''Vivian Grey'' by Benjamin Disraeli (himself a great dandy) were enormously popular; both had dandies as heroes.


Dandyism was one of the principal preoccupations of Stendhal in ''The Red and The Black'', though his own attitude toward the dandies is contradictory. Balzac, who considered himself a dandy though no one else did. wrote ''La toilette est l'expression de la societé.'' His ''Comedie Humaine'' was full of dandies. Baudelaire was not only a dandy but also a philosopher of dandyism — ''La culte de soi-meme'', as he called it. The novels of Dickens and of Thackeray (who loathed dandies) are full of dandies and the cult of dandyism. Pinero's and Shaw's plays are larded with dandies, and Wilde's plays, of course, consist of nothing else. ''Dorian Gray'' was dandyism at its most decadent and it has helped immeasurably to give dandyism a bad name. Within the last three years, the winds of disapproval have begun to abate. There are temperamental similarities and at the same time great differences between today's dandies and the bucks of the Regency. Most important, the present crop are conspicuously doers of things, like film making, hairdressing or acting. They are notoriously energetic and ambitious. The Regency dandy —especially Brummell —considered any form of activity except clothes to be beneath them. Beau, again probably in pure mockery, considered even the forming of an opinion slightly wearisome. Once, when a visitor asked which of the English lakes he thought most beautiful, he called the servant in: ''Which of the lakes do I find most beautiful?'' Brummell's wit would be admired by some of the avant-garde film-makers. He was not a man of mot or epigram. A shrug, a lifted eyebrow, sometimes nothing but the memory of a known Brummellian attitude made their own silent but devastating witticisms. When you can be witty without words, why use them?


                              IMAGE CREDITS, LINKS & FURTHER READING
All images scanned by Sweet Jane from The Observer Magazine, May 1st, 1966. All photographs by Colin Jones from The Observer, *Except for photo No.6 Rainey/Gibbs an outtake of the original which I scanned from Boutique: A '60s Cultural Phenomenon by Marnie Fogg (purely to include the extra hand-painted tie which had been edited out of the magazine version), original article by John Crosby.  View some other examples of the return to dandyism in one of my previous posts, plus further examples of Blades tailoring and more here. You'll find a collection of Patrick Lichfield's 1960s photography work on Flickr. Read the transcript of a discussion about the future of the tailoring industry from a 1971 issue of The Tailor and Cutter, which includes some very sharp comments from the outspoken Eric Joy, partner/designer at Blades here, Further reading about The Eccentric Mr. Brummell here and more via the associated links on Dandyism.Net, where you will also find Dandies and Dandies By Max Beerbohm, (1896). Discover more about Sartor Resartus (meaning 'The tailor re-tailored') the 1836 novel by Thomas Carlyle, first published as a serial in 1833–34 in Fraser's Magazine, and you can read the aforementioned Chapter X. The Dandiacal Body here as well as Chapter XI. on Tailors. Check out Pelham; 'The adventures of a gentleman' by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  Watch The Picture of Dorian Gray, the 1945 film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel here for free. It has of course been adapted for film & tv many times, you'll find a review of Massimo Dallamano's 1970 version set in Swinging London over on Dreams Are What Le Cinema Is For. And finally, no matter what they say..Dandy, you're all right.


          How Online Job Market and Freelancing Can Make Bangladesh a Middle-earning Country   

The recent outrage in online job market and freelancing and most of all outsourcing industry has turned into a revolution. It seems like it is not taking a step back. This revolution that is going on within the young community, for IT freelancing and outsourcing, shows us new prospects to grow the economy of Bangladesh. In recent years, freelancing alone brought more than $20 million into Bangladesh and the amount is growing day by day.

Silent Revolution in Bangladesh

It might make you wonder, how did this happen? It was a revolution that was not instigated by the government for long years. Rather, it happened silently. But, due to recent government’s pledge to put “e” to all activities, things have been fastened in a large scale.

Why did this happen? If we observe the situation in Khulna, then you’ll see that many industries closed down, due to corruption and inability to sustain. The older generation in Khulna is not that well off due to this fact. The younger generation is more educated by the mass, as the older generation envisioned that education will be their only asset in future. The surrounding industry failed to employ them properly. But, they did not sit idle. They had to come up with something that would not make them leave Khulna. So, steadily the revolution unveiled.

But, there are still many problems that haunt Bangladeshi freelancers and outsourcing partners. If they are provided the opportunity, the freelancing and outsourcing revolution will take several steps ahead. But, to provide this opportunity, government has always been very conservative. Just take an example of SEA-ME-WE fiber optic cable connection. It was denied twice by late governments on the fear of national data privacy. But, it was realized that, it was really a very conservative decision we ever made. Currently, the internet infrastructure is stronger than before. But, ability to access premium online service still has some way to go. And this is actually not that long.

Prospects

Outsourcing is a $3.4 Trillion industry and we are not even taking even 1% of it. Our neighbor India is taking major share of these outsourcing opportunities. The situation we have here in Bangladesh was created 10 years ago in India. So, it is obvious that we still are a decade backward, in terms of India. But, that does not mean we have to stay a decade back. We have the know-how and the skilled forces that can take us a generation ahead, if we can give them the opportunity. Otherwise, with countries like Vietnam and Philippines that are directly competing with us, will gain better momentum than us. But, imagine if we could take just 1%, it could be way more than what we earn through Garments Industry and remittance from non-resident citizens.

Bringing Women in

If you look at our societal norm, you’ll find that we have not yet grown into a liberal society, even after many changes. The average poor and middle class society aka the major portion of our population is still very conservative. We still have gender-based separate sitting arrangement in bus. Most women in poor societies and some women in middle class societies are still not allowed to roam freely in society. 

Women are the first gender that gets the priority for education dropout. Those who make it, also dropout from career, when they have their first, if not, second child. No one can say that, this change in career as good or bad. Because, raring child and taking care of the family by women has been a century (if not millennia)  long tradition. Even in advanced countries, women cannot avoid this phenomenon. So, ultimate center of concentration of a woman becomes her home.

But, they are the weaker half (48%) of our population. I mean, weaker by the number not by merit or skill. If you can not engage this portion of the population in earning, then there is no way a nation can grow. But, accepting our norm of the society, how can we generate jobs for them without making them leave home? 

I think you all know the answer.

Bringing Senior Citizens in

Again another portion is the senior citizens who become dependent on the earning member in the next generation. Because, they are not suitable to do any physical work. So, they jump out of the earning member population and usually never come back. But, how can we make them earning member without having to make them do physical work? 

I think you all know the answer.

Bringing the Handicapped in

Sometimes we think that the handicapped are the weakest portion of the population. But, we should remember that they are not 100% handicapped. I have seen many handicapped people showcasing extreme knowledge, talent, and skills. But, they are not capable of doing regular jobs. Accepting their handicap situation, how can we bring them into the money earning demography? 

I think you all know the answer.

Bringing All of Them in

When we are talking about Online Job Market, Freelancing and Outsourcing, we are mostly talking about the youths. Yes, they are our future. But, think how far we can go with freelancing and outsourcing, if we can involve all the unemployed population in Bangladesh. i.e.

  1. The Unemployed Youths
  2. Women (Homebound, Conservative, Mothers, etc)
  3. Senior Citizens and
  4. Handicapped people.

The Dream to be a Medium Earning Country

So, to live the dream as a medium earning country, Bangladesh government should try it’s best to make this industry grow as fast as it can. One of the major barriers to the Freelancing and Outsourcing industry is the online and international payment system. Currently, Payza has been introduced, but Paypal and other sorts of online and international payments are still not possible. Bangladesh Bank here has been playing a conservative role for long time. But, things are progressing and we might see them available in near future. 

Yes, there are defaulters, corrupter  and money launderers. But, for these filthy people, the vast opportunity for the whole population cannot wait. The Government’s job is policing, not making vast opportunity slip out of the hands of the citizens.


          Bakken oil is back, hungrier than ever    

WATFORD CITY — From Watford City and Williston and places all around the oilfield, companies came to Watford City’s first big job fair in the Rough Rider Center. The companies were hungry to hire, and hire they did, many times right on the spot. But most of the companies went home with fewer prospects than they had available jobs.“I don’t know what everyone else is doing, but I have my three hiring managers here and we are doing interviews and making conditional offers on the spot,” said Doug Kirkwood, with Select Energy Services. 

The conditions included passing a drug screening and background check. Ten conditional offers had been made at the midpoint of the first fair, leaving another 20 positions still open.

Read the article in the Williston Herald.

The job fair attracted about 225 people, which Kirkwood said was better than he expected given it’s the first. Hiring in the Bakken, he said, is a continuous operation.

“With the turnover and the growth and the future, you just have to go ahead and hire and hope your plan is correct,” he said.

Select Energy has been in the Bakken about five years now, buying out International Western Company, which itself was formed about eight years ago. The company provides fresh water to hydraulic fracturing sites.

Among the company’s specialities is pumping the water, which takes about 100 trucks off the roads, Kirkwood said.

“We map the ponds for them, so they can monitor the levels while pumping,” Kirkwood said. “It’s semisonic wavelengths that go in to monitor in real time, and the data can get sent to someone in Houston that hey, this is how much water there is for you to use.”

The company weathered the downturn by hiring conservatively and holding positions open.

“We had very few layoffs, because our CEO just managed the business properly,” Kirkwood said.

The company prefers to hire locals. 

“There’s money to be made here, and it’s nice to put it back to the people who are here,” he said. “Our guys are not rotational. They live here.”

The company would like experience, but they will also train the right person. Honesty, integrity and a willingness to learn and work hard are the key characteristics he’s looking for.  

“We will start someone with no experience,” he said. “Jerry Durden isn’t here, but when he started he had absolutely no experience and now he’s a manager, because he took the time to learn the business.”

Likewise, Panther Pressure Testers, a few booths down, was hiring all levels for both the field and the shop.

“My workload is such with oil coming back that I am turning down jobs,” James Meyer told a prospective employee. “During the slowdown, we never did a layoff. We had our testers work on their own trucks while they had the time, but now they don’t. So I need more shop hands.”

Panther Pressure Testers specializes in blowout prevention pressure testing on drilling and workover rigs, and has been in the Williston Basin since 1991. During the downturn, the company added pipeline pressure testing to its repertoire, and trained a subset of employees whose jobs were at risk, so that it didn’t have to do any layoffs.

“We boast a fleet of 54 vehicles and 31 employees across two states,” Meyer said. “We just built a 25,000 square foot facility from the ground up here in Watford City.”

Key Energy Services, meanwhile, had talked to more than 100 candidates, several of whom are being considered for their Williston operation.

“Yes, we came to Watford to hire for the Williston area,” said Samuel Gonzalez, Key Energy’s Director of Recruiting.

His applicants hailed from as far away as Bakersfield, California and Arizona. He himself is based in Texas.

“We have some potential hires, which is good, and it’s also good to hear people’s stories,” he said. “People are hearing that the work is coming back to 2014 levels, and there are several candidates ready to go back to work.”

His positions included workover rig crews, floor hands, derrick hands and rig operators, for those with some oilfield experience already. 

He had hired about 20 on the spot at Watford City, but said he wasn’t done yet. He planned to be back in Williston Thursday morning from 8 a.m. to noon for another hiring event.

“If we were to train anyone,” Gonzalez added, “It would be a local hand. You work hard to find someone, and if they’ve never spent a winter up here in North Dakota — well a winter in Arizona just doesn’t compare.”

Perhaps the busiest booth of all, however, was one that adamantly was not hiring on the spot. ONEOK was at a table surrounded by workers talking to hiring managers.

“We are a little more pragmatic in our approach,” said Jamie Kalanick, recruiter. “This is not a job that you will get for three months and then get laid off. We keep people for a long time.”

ONEOK has 31 positions in the Bakken, Kalanick said, and unlike some of the other companies, they are not looking for locals to train. They are looking for the best qualified individuals they can get, wherever they may be.

“We still have the flexibility to offer people packages to move to the area if they aren’t living in the area already,” Kalanick said. 

She felt Watford City’s inaugural job fair had been “pretty good” for their purposes with a steady stream of people. She estimated they had 50 solid prospects by the end of the fair.

“People seem very well prepared, so that is good,” she said. “We have seen a lot of people with trucking experience and various other mixed oilfield jobs, so that has been good.”



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          The Good Life: As Job Numbers Grow, Group Touts N.D. as the Place to Be   
By Grand Forks Herald
There are about 2,500 open jobs in Grand Forks County alone. The number statewide is approximately 25,000.

According to representatives from the state's Find the Good Life in North Dakota campaign, it won't get much better anytime soon, either. The group says there will be another 75,000 jobs coming online in North Dakota over the next five years.

That's a lot of job openings for a state this size, and, they say, it's why the Find the Good Life campaign is so important for North Dakota's economy.

"The bottom line is this: What we're trying to do with this campaign is we want to get North Dakota into people's considerations," said Sara Otte Coleman, North Dakota's director of tourism. "We want to be one of the top three states people are considering moving to."

Otte Coleman and North Dakota Director of Workforce Development Wayde Sick recently visited with the editorial board of the Grand Forks Herald, spending nearly an hour talking about North Dakota's worker shortage and how it likely will be compounded in the coming years. They were accompanied by Eric Trueblood, a member of the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation.

Their goal is to get the word out that North Dakota not only has thousands of good jobs available, but also that the state needs to work harder to persuade people to live here. That means recruiting from other states, working to lure veterans to the region and persuading communities to dedicate themselves to retaining high school and college graduates, Otte Coleman said.

The Find the Good Life in North Dakota campaign has been working on that since May 2014, using all sorts of methods—from social media campaigns to national magazine stories—to spread the message. Private fundraising has contributed more than $1 million to the program.

Following are edited and abbreviated answers by Sick and Otte Coleman to a series of questions posed by members of the Herald editorial board:

Q. You say the statewide number of job openings is about 25,000. What is the number for Grand Forks County and how does that compare with other North Dakota counties?

Otte Coleman: The statistics we have for Grand Forks County is 2,500 jobs posted with Job Service. The statistics that we have, for example, for Cass County is 6,600 open jobs. ... This is a long-term focus for us. The need for jobs isn't going to go away.

That begs the question, is the goal to get that number to go down? It's a mixed answer. Yes and no, because if we continue to grow the economy and new businesses come in, they will continue to expand and we will continue to see that number growing.

It might be a zero sum game. You might be filling 10,000 of those jobs, but 10,000 more have come online because we were able to show we have the workforce to sustain growth.

Q. Is the number of jobs growing? And is that how you measure success?

Otte Coleman: Yes, and that's a really good question. ... The bottom line is this: What we're trying to do for the campaign is we want to get North Dakota into people's considerations. We want to be one of the top three states people are considering moving to.

Does that mean they will necessarily go and register their resume online with Job Service North Dakota? Probably not. Especially with the younger workforce. They are searching in different ways and finding information in different ways.

So we are doing social media and doing digital marketing campaigns and tactics to reach people who won't necessarily show up on the metrics every month. But we still wanted to do something consistent, knowing that there really isn't a perfect mechanism.

Two things that we haven't found: We haven't found the "easy button" in marketing to get everybody to come, and we haven't orchestrated a checkpoint where everybody has to check in when they cross the border with their moving vans.

When we look at what markets we have targeted, we looked at 15 different statistics and overlaid them to determine what states we should focus these efforts in, ranging from census data, to job service data, to even metrics that I track on the tourism side for inquiries and interest.

We haven't found the magic number. We look at these and ask, how do we determine success? It's just not an easy answer.

Q. What is an example of your research?

Otte Coleman: We did do some research last winter where we looked at 350 new residents who moved into the state in the past five years and tried to determine what it was that made them decide to move. That helped us define tactics and mediums, but also messaging.

Online is No. 1, but people don't necessarily say it was the Find The Good Life in North Dakota website that made them start thinking about it. It was probably five or six websites, and two or three social media efforts and a couple of articles that they read. It was a combination of things.

Q. With that sample group, what did you find was the overriding reason people decided to move to North Dakota?

Otte Coleman: Most of them had a connection to the state in some way. Maybe they went to school here or even visited here. A lot of them did come just for the job. ... One concern in the research was that a good majority of them, when they took the job, they didn't plan on staying. That means all of our communities have a job ahead of them to engage those people, and include them and keep them, because we really want to retain those new employees. Some of that, we hope, has already changed. We hope to do a follow-up study.

Q. How will you judge your work to be successful?

Otte Coleman: I don't know that I have a perfect answer for that. I think we will determine the metrics and continue to look at the tactics and keep measuring each of those individually. For instance, we just did a social media campaign that garnered 11 or 12 million impressions with 100,000 click-throughs. You measure pieces like that so we know we made a contact point.

We will start looking at the folks who have moved in, through the census data, but that takes time.

We'll look at campaign metrics to define our next step. Long-term, we look at census data and Job Service data and all of those things to see if we're seeing growth in some areas we have targeted.

We also are working closely with other folks who are trying to tackle this problem, like development corporations. For instance, we just met with the Grand Forks EDC.

Fargo and Bismarck are doing similar programs. For example, in Bismarck, they did a digital ad campaign that focused directly on the five areas where they know they have the most jobs. Nurses, CDLs, techs, engineers and diesel mechanics. We are overlaying their results with ours to see which was more effective, and they are doing the same.

But that was a 16-week campaign. It takes six to 18 months to make a decision to move and then you have that moving time in there. So, I don't have a perfect answer about that, and we have been honest about that up front.

We don't know the perfect way to measure success with this, but we have a lot of things we're measuring.

Q. Is there realistic hope for a county that has 6,000 open jobs? Or 2,500 open jobs? Can you really make a dent in this?

Otte Coleman: We think we can. It comes from a combination of things, such as improving the awareness of the state, educating people about the life they can have here in North Dakota.

But the other thing we have been hearing a lot about with our partners is how they are working with alumni groups and even current students on opportunities. ... Ten years ago, a lot of people probably didn't think about staying in North Dakota, and that perception is changing as well.

Sick: A lot of local efforts have been (about) retaining high school and college graduates. That's definitely something a local community can probably do better because they do have those closer ties.

I think we are seeing our graduates considering North Dakota and not leaving. I look at my high school graduation class and at least half of us are not in the state.

As we study those graduation numbers and compare it with wage data down the road, that number will climb because of the local efforts.

I think parents are having those conversations with kids, saying that you don't need to leave. There are opportunities in the state, and you don't need to look elsewhere anymore.

Q. Do you expect this ongoing recruiting effort to get more difficult as time goes on, and as other states' economies improve?

Sick: That has been part of the conversation since the beginning, because we know other states' economies are going to improve eventually. It's another challenge.

Otte Coleman: You look at our top states where people have engaged—Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan and California—where the most folks have clicked on our website, or ads, or gotten online social media-wise. Especially, Minnesota's economy is rebounding fast, and they have way more open jobs than we do. So, absolutely, that is a concern.

We hope a consistent and sustainable effort will be in place for a long time. It's more about creating a message. We don't want to be a quick fix anymore.

Q. Are there other specific groups you are looking to target?

Sick: The focus of Find the Good Life, for a long time, has been recruiting veterans. A lot of service members are either retiring or transitioning out of the military. We have done marketing to service members, and we have attended some hiring events, and plan to attend more this fall and winter.

The effort going forward is going to "Hire Our Hero" events. What we hear from individuals who organize these events is that when somebody transitions out of the military, a third of them stay where they are at, a third go home and a third go where the opportunities are. That is obviously our target—where the opportunities are.

North Dakota has a lot of opportunities and wide-open spaces. These individuals are used to moving around and used to working in not the most ideal work situations. So, it's a great target. That's the right thing to do, to work with service members and help them transition into civilian life.

We also have done some efforts with the University of Minnesota. We think that's a good target as well—college students in the region.

Otte Coleman: We stopped by the UND Alumni Association and NDSU. We haven't gotten that off the ground yet, but we think that's a natural connection point as well. We have done some individual alumni efforts, such as working with UND Center for Rural Health.

Sick: Alumni is a natural next step. Our research shows that people who have moved to North Dakota in the past five years had some kind of connection, where they grew up in North Dakota or went to college in North Dakota. There was some connection.

So alumni is a pretty good fit for us.

Q. Has the oil-drilling slowdown changed anything in your approach?

Otte Coleman: It has a little bit. I think people in this area understand it better and realize this isn't really a bust and understand the framework involved. But the national media, not necessarily.

So, we have focused the last three or four months on content development. We are trying to get good stories told. Some of that is working with bloggers and writers and talking about the people who have moved to North Dakota.

We are doing more video development, and we are working with 15 different bloggers to get those stories in place. We have other public relations efforts in place right now with a couple of new contract relationships with firms that can help us get those stories out there.

For example, there is a 25-page feature in the July edition of Delta Sky.

Q: How important is the role that tourism plays in this?

Otte Coleman: I think that's why we have airport signage in place in Bismarck and Williston, and as airport signage becomes available, I think we will add more. If you can connect to people who are visiting here and plant that seed, it makes sense.

All of our visitors guides are distributed to crew camps where we know we have transient workers.

The bottom line is people visit first. Tourism marketing helps everything. Part of the reason we have this problem (with open jobs) is we have underfunded marketing in the state for years, because we are conservative and haven't spent a lot of money in that area. So, we don't have a lot of awareness.

But interestingly, when you look at the metrics, they all mirror where we have spent most of our tourism dollars. (People in those places) have more awareness of us because we have been showing them what we have. It's a huge correlation.

We are one of two states that a research firm chose to study to find out the residual effect of tourism marketing on all economic development. The numbers were amazing. People's likelihood to retire here, to move here, to start a business here was double if they had seen the tourism ads. That's not even if they had visited.

The Good Life: As Job Numbers Grow, Group Touts N.D. as the Place to Be - Grand Forks Herald

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          There’s a New Silicon Valley of Drones, and it Isn’t in California   
By MW Market Watch
The “Silicon Valley of drones” is taking shape in a place you probably wouldn’t expect.

With the most open airspace in the country, vast tracts of farmland, infrastructure to test on and the nation’s first unmanned aircraft degree program, it makes sense that North Dakota would be the place for drone technology to spread its wings, and it’s now expanding at an unprecedented rate.

The U.S. has previously been circumspect about allowing companies to commercialize drones; murky rulings from the Federal Aviation Administration and the haphazard enforcement of laws have made it challenging for drone companies to operate in the U.S. — so challenging, in fact, that many operators, including Amazon Prime Air, have expressed an intention to leave the U.S. to work in other countries.

But it’s a different story in North Dakota.

This summer, the nation’s first unmanned airport, the Grand Sky Development Park, opens at the state’s Grand Forks Air Force Base. The project, which has 1.2 million square feet of hangar, office and data space, is being developed by Grand Sky Development Co. A runway will allow for traditional and vertical takeoffs by drones.

The airport is expected to generate about 3,000 jobs by its 2016 completion, including 1,000 permanent jobs on site, 1,000 jobs around the community and 1,000 jobs outside the state, said Tom Swoyer, the project’s developer. Pilots would be able to control drones launching at the site from anywhere in the world.

“It’s going to touch a lot of places,” Swoyer said. “A pilot could be in Southern California and pilot the plane launched from North Dakota.”

It’s an appealing proposition for companies like Northrop Grumman NOC, -0.62%  , which has signed on as the site’s anchor tenant but has its aerospace-systems headquarters in Redondo Beach, Calif.

North Dakota committed $5 million to help bring infrastructure to the site as part of its 2015-17 executive budget and another $7.5 million in grants for runway improvements. With the project expected to cost about $25 million in total, the balance will be covered by private investment, said Swoyer.

“This project evolved here in North Dakota with the right combination of political will and an economy that was growing,” Swoyer said. “It’s a state that is investing in the industry. It’s a community willing to raise their hands and say, ‘Let’s try something completely different.’ ”

A community ‘all focused on unmanned aviation’
In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) considered closing the Air Force base.

“Our performance and safety record in fighter aircraft was unprecedented, but despite that our aircraft were getting old and weren’t going to get replaced,” said Robert Becklund, then commander of the North Dakota Air National Guard.

To avoid a drastic action by BRAC, the base made a bold move — replacing its KC-135 Stratotankers with drones.

“This was a dramatic change going from a single-seat manned fighter aircraft to unmanned aircraft,” Becklund said. “But it was the right thing to do for the nation.”

The base is now the site of the Global Hawk and MQ-1 Predator drone aircraft.

At about the same time, the University of North Dakota established a “center of excellence” for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), offering the nation’s first undergraduate degree program in unmanned aviation. Five students received degrees in 2011, the program’s first graduating class. Today, more than 100 students are enrolled, and the program is one of more than 30 similar degree programs at universities throughout the country.

“We have academia, our military, the Department of Homeland Security and industries in the region all focused on unmanned aviation,” Becklund said.

In 2014, North Dakota was one of six states allowed to develop a test site for commercial drone applications: the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks. The site is part of an FAA program looking toward the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into airspace.

North Dakota’s test site was the first to earn operational designation from the FAA and the first to fly under the agreement. The site covers more than half the state, boasting 45,000 square miles of authorized airspace — the largest such volume of any single state.

“If North Dakota hadn’t been selected as a test site, I would have questioned our country’s decision making,” said Becklund, who now serves as the executive director of the test site.

The state budget allocated $4.2 million in its 2015-17 budget for operating the test site. Of that, $1.2 million goes directly to drone companies in the form of a dollar-for-dollar matching program for those opting to partner with one of North Dakota’s research universities on a project. A related but separate program, Research North Dakota, provides up to $300,000 in matching funds for qualified firms.

But there’s a catch. For major companies to fly at the test site, they have to lease their unmanned aircraft to the site so that they can fly under public domain. That caveat is what may have driven companies like Amazon to explore drone-delivery testing outside of the U.S.

“There is no way these companies will lease their airplanes to us,” Becklund said. “It’s a proprietary machine. Any company developing their own aircraft will not lease that to anyone outside their company.”

That restriction has posed a major problem for test sites trying to attract corporate research.

“The FAA says they are here to support industry, but to [participate at a test site] companies have to lease their aircraft to us,” Becklund said.

Companies could get around the requirement by applying for an experimental certification, but that still restricts them to research — not commercial — applications.

A vibrant startup scene
Despite the challenges, other (often smaller) drone companies benefit from the test site.

Most of those companies are based in Fargo, a city that entrepreneurs say bursts with an energy that’s akin to that of the startup scene in San Francisco. But this scene is dominated by drone-based industries.

“We’re becoming a robust startup community,” said North Dakota’s lieutenant governor, Drew Wrigley. “They are the geek squad over in Fargo. You’ve got technical companies and young, energetic entrepreneurs.”

Appareo Systems builds flight-data recorders and ADS-B, a type of aircraft tracking system. Since 2001, that startup has worked on a project in partnership with NASA and the University of North Dakota to build, design and manufacture the ADS-B equipping the airplanes.

Another company, Packet Digital, combines high-speed power electronics with advancements in solar to double drone flight times. The ultimate goal is to provide drones with unlimited flight.

“Once you extend flight time, you open up the possibility of many more types of applications and uses for drones,” said Terri Zimmerman, Packet Digital’s CEO. Those applications could include agriculture, allowing farmers to fly drones over farmland to monitor their crops.

And as more drones fill the airspace, there’s a company working on technology that gives pilots situational awareness of other drones in the area. Botlink allows operators to control a drone from a tablet and detect other drones flying nearby.

The company was founded by Shawn Muehler. He’s the guy behind DroneFocus, a meet-up group in Fargo that grew to 50 members, including Becklund, local startups and public officials. “We’re bringing the government, the private sector, the commercial side together to cut through the red tape,” Muehler said. “It’s the only meet-up where we get every industry player in one room.” Lt. Gov. Wrigley has been known to attend.

Indicative of the group’s attitude, the whole thing is organized through Meetup.com. That means anyone is welcome; you just click a button to join. When the group huddles, the gathering feels more like a block party than a rigid policy meeting with a strict agenda, according to attendees.

“We just have a different personality out here,” Muehler said. “It’s not about how we can beat our competitors. It’s how we can help each other out to propel this industry forward.”

North Dakota’s drone sector has already blown away industry predictions. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) released an economic report in 2013 (before North Dakota was chosen as a test site) predicting the economic impact of drone integration in the U.S. The data were based on airspace activity at the time the report was created.

They forecast that between 2015 and 2017, California’s drone industry would have the largest economic impact in terms of dollars, and North Dakota’s would have the third lowest.

North Dakota’s Department of Commerce revised those predictions in 2013 based on the assumption that the state would become a test site. Its data showed that North Dakota would have the greatest percentage of drone-related jobs (relative to population) of any state.

“Obviously, California has a number of aerospace companies as well as companies that develop sensors, payloads, software and a variety of different products that fit within this industry,” said Paul Lucy, a director at the North Dakota Department of Commerce. “They underestimated the potential for companies to come here and do R&D work with our test site.”

Still, Becklund doesn’t believe North Dakota is a complete replacement for Silicon Valley, he said. There just aren’t enough people working in engineering and technology to fill jobs in a state that already has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, he said. North Dakota’s unemployment rate in May was 3.1% versus the national average of 5.5%.

“But if those engineers who developed the technologies in Silicon Valley are looking for a place with a low cost of living, a highly educated workforce and a cooperative community — whether that’s the government or financially — probably this is the best place to do that,” he said.

But even if the jobs get filled, there’s still the issue of funding.

“We can’t get funding because the people in the state tend to be fiscally conservative,” Botlink’s Muehler said. His company received $500,000 in seed funding from local investors. But that’s a paltry figure if the state is going to compete with such venture-backed Silicon Valley drone startups as Airware, which has raised over $40 million in five funding rounds, or 3D Robotics, which has more than $100 million in venture capital.

“We’ve been searching for Series A on a local level because we want to keep the money in the state, so we’re looking for funding sources within North Dakota,” said Muehler.

But where these startups lack private capital, the state is trying to foot the bill. Since 2006, North Dakota has allocated $32.5 million in grant funding to companies interested in commercial drone development through 2017. In addition, the state’s Research North Dakota program offers $5 million biannually in grants from research and development to organizations and companies involved in UAS research through state universities.

Those business incentives have drawn companies from around the U.S. to the state. Florida-based drone manufacturer Altvavian announced in February a $3.2 million agreement to manufacture drones at a plant in North Dakota, the first official UAS manufacturing project in the state.

Wrigley said he sees his state as the Silicon Valley of drones. “People look to North Dakota and say they want to emulate this,” the lieutenant governor said. “We’re blessed with the natural conditions that make it easy to expand drone technology, industries that are keen to tie in UAS technology — and on top of that you have people passionate for aviation and emerging technologies. It’s a part of our pioneering culture.”

There’s a New Silicon Valley of Drones, and it Isn’t in California - MW Market Watch

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          Shale Boom Helps North Dakota Bank Earn Returns Goldman Would Envy   
By Wall Street Journal
Displaying WSJ Harmeyer.jpgIt is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.

Meet Bank of North Dakota, the U.S.’s lone state-owned bank, which has one branch, no automated teller machines and not a single investment banker.

The reason for its success? As the sole repository of the state of North Dakota’s revenue, the bank has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the boom in Bakken shale-oil production from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In fact, the bank played a crucial part in kick-starting the oil frenzy in the state in 2008 amid the financial crisis.

When other banks around the U.S. were curtailing lending and increasing reserves, Bank of North Dakota helped smaller banks in the state ride out the crisis by providing them with letters of credit, loan sales and bank stock. Since then, its total assets have more than doubled, to $6.9 billion last year from $2.8 billion in 2007. By contrast, assets of the much bigger Bank of America Corp. have grown much more slowly, to $2.1 trillion from $1.7 trillion in that period.

Much of that growth has been fueled by surging deposits of mineral-rights royalty payments and taxes stemming from North Dakota’s leap from the country’s sixth-largest oil producer to its second largest over the past five years. The bank taps those coffers to extend loans for new businesses, infrastructure such as hospitals and purchases of new homes, all of which have seen increased demand as oil workers flock to the state.

Set up in 1919 under a socialist-oriented government that represented farmers frustrated with out-of-state commodity and railroad owners, the bank treads a fine line between the private and public sectors in what today is a solidly Republican state. It traditionally extends credit, or invests directly, in areas other lenders shun, such as rural housing loans.

The bank’s mission is promoting economic development, not competing with private banks. “We’re a state agency and profit maximization isn’t what drives us,” President Eric Hardmeyer said. At the same time, he said “it’s important to me that we show a respectable bottom line” to taxpayers, noting that the bank historically has returned profits to the state’s coffers.

Its profit, which hit $94 million last year, has grown by double-digit percentages annually since 2010. Return on equity, a measure of profitability, is 18.56%, about 70% higher than those at Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. To be sure, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are much larger institutions with more complex balance sheets.

North Dakotans can open a personal account at the bank’s only branch in downtown Bismarck, the state capital. But the bank offers few of the perks offered by traditional lenders and says retail banking accounts for just 2%-3% of its business. The bank’s focus is providing loans to students and extending credit to companies in North Dakota, often in partnership with smaller community banks.

Bank of North Dakota also acts as a clearinghouse for interbank transactions in the state by settling checks and distributing coins and currency. “We get compared to a little, mini Federal Reserve” on the prairie, said Mr. Hardmeyer, who has led the bank for nearly 14 years.

For years, Bank of North Dakota paid exactly $30 million annually back into the state’s general budgetary fund. But with North Dakota’s coffers flush with oil revenue, the legislature hasn’t requested the payments from the bank since 2010. Its loan book has expanded, but not fast enough to keep up with deposits and retained earnings.

It recently started offering mortgages to individuals in the most underserved corners of the state. But Mr. Hardmeyer dismisses any notion the bank could run into trouble with deadbeat borrowers. “We know our customers,” he said. “You’ve got to understand the conservative nature of this state. Nobody here is really interested in making subprime loans.”

Five years ago, Bank of North Dakota lent about 90% of its deposits, but that ratio shrank to around 60% in 2013.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services last month reaffirmed its double-A-minus rating of the bank, whose deposits are guaranteed by the state of North Dakota. That is above the rating for both Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan and among U.S. financial institutions, second only to the Federal Home Loan Banks, rated double-A-plus.

Lawmakers in a few other states such as Colorado and Maryland have advanced proposals to emulate Bank of North Dakota and set up state-owned lenders in recent years, so far without success. “Last year was a peak in terms of introducing these bills,” said Mathew Street, deputy general counsel at the American Bankers Association. “However many bills have been introduced, none have passed since 1919,” he said.

North Dakota officials hesitate to tout the bank as a model. “We think it’s worked well for us, but only because we’re very careful about how we use it,” said North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

Not all of Bank of North Dakota’s initiatives have succeeded. One misfire in the early 2000s involved financing “Wooly Boys,” a film starring Peter Fonda and Kris Kristofferson. The movie, about a sheep rancher’s family, was a box-office flop. The bank, which had hoped to spark a tourism boom similar to that in South Dakota after the release of the Kevin Costner hit “Dances with Wolves,” wrote off the loss.

Shale Boom Helps North Dakota Bank Earn Returns Goldman Would Envy - The Wall Street Journal

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          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

          A BRITISH STORY:   
American Culture: A Story (Bruce Frohnen, May 2017, Imaginative Conservative)

[I]n the interest of brevity, I will skip just a bit further forward, to Mount Sinai. Following Russell Kirk,[1] we can pick the story up here because it set the Israelites apart from their neighbors in a politically crucial way. I refer, of course, to the handing down by God of the Ten Commandments; a transformative, defining moment for the Israelites, and for those whom they influenced.

Some point out that the Ten Commandments were not all that different from other codes, like the Code of Hammurabi. But that is not the point. The point is that it was Hammurabi's code, a law handed down by a supposedly sacred political power, who saw himself as the creator of right and wrong--just as, I would argue, our liberal friends tend to see both law and government. Moses, on the other hand, gave the Israelites God's law, and thereby established a higher law tradition, according to which worldly governors can be judged by standards higher than their own will.

Again in the interest of brevity, I will just mention some other parts of the story: man's discovery of the powers of reason in Greece; our training in the virtues of republican government in Rome; I even will skip over the utterly transformative moment in a later Jerusalem, when God saved man's transcendent humanity by Himself becoming Man, and, through His death and resurrection, making clear our duty to love one another as ourselves. I instead will move to a lesser-known part of the story, set in early medieval Rome. For it was here that the Pope won the struggle with the Holy Roman Emperor, and gained the right to appoint bishops, which formerly had been appointed by the emperor himself.

So what?

So, this victory institutionalized Mount Sinai. It set up a separate religious authority, independent of the state, which would tell kings they were behaving wrongly, even excommunicate them and tell their subjects they owed them no allegiance. That investiture struggle institutionalized the higher law tradition and made natural law the standard of all governments and societies in the west. It made possible the Great Charter of Britain, which guaranteed the rights of the church, of the barons, and of the towns, in the face of a centralizing king. And that charter--and others like it on the continent--made possible the flourishing of towns, guilds, parishes, families, and other associations, which gained their own chartered rights, along with the ability and will to defend them.

Strong associations meant a multiplicity of authorities, protecting both communal and independent action through legal and customary rights. They also constituted a diversity of groups within which one acted, and to which one could look for protection. This diversity, these groups, and these rights came into bad odor in the era of absolutism and centralization. But, for a variety of reasons we need not go into, in Britain in particular there was resistance to this centralizing trend, which said, "There can be only one sovereign, one source of power and authority." Instead, there continued a healthy--though unfortunately difficult and at times bloody--competition among social and political authorities.

It was in the midst of this competition that the first settlers came to America. Many of them were seeking money. They had troubles. Others, for a long time the more successful settlers, were seeking to set up communities of faith and virtue, to follow the way of their Lord in common. Most of the colonies had their own charters, as well as an ocean keeping British authority safely distant, and allowing them to become self-governing local societies, themselves made up of largely self-governing communities. Self-government became second nature.

There was an abortive attempt to change all this, which we tend to forget, but which earlier Americans kept vividly in their minds. In 1688, as he was trying to consolidate power in Britain, James II also sought to consolidate power in America, erasing borders, dismissing legislatures, and assuming full sovereignty. The colonists resisted, fiercely. I skip over the rather nasty anti-Catholicism that was a part of this resistance because that is what adults do; because the fact that a sin was involved does not mean that it was either the cause of, or caused by, the event. The point is, the Glorious Revolution became a defining moment for Americans because it was not simply a British event; it also was American. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 showed, to both peoples, the increasing power of charters, and of petitions of grievances charging kings with violating inherited rights, to defend pre-existing ways of life.


          WE ARE ALL THIRD WAY NOW:   
The Case For a Universal  Basic Income (Sebastian Johnson, 7/01/17, The Los Angeles Times)

There are competing ideas about how exactly the policy should work. Advocates on the left call for a UBI that would increase benefits to the poor and be financed by increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Conservative advocates favor an approach wherein programs in the current safety net, such as Social Security and food stamps, are replaced with a UBI. Others favor an incrementalist policy in which current safety net programs are expanded to include all Americans, while another faction wants to build a UBI program from scratch. Despite their differences, all approaches to UBI policy share the core goal of establishing an income floor for every American.

An income floor would help American workers in a number of critical ways. Relieved of the immediate pressure to pay bills, workers could pursue training for the kinds of jobs that automation will bring. A universal basic income would allow skilled workers to take entrepreneurial risks they cannot afford now. It would also allow Americans to work fewer hours but maintain their living standards, leaving more time for caregiving and raising children. Overall, UBI would provide a significant boost to the American middle class, which has stagnated even as productivity and overall wealth continue to rise. By putting more money into the pockets of workers, a UBI could fuel aggregate demand and job growth in different sectors across the country.

Momentum is building. Child poverty experts in growing numbers have called on states and the federal government to consider a child allowance -- UBI for kids -- that would help level the playing field for low- and middle-income families. The California Senate is considering ambitious cap-and-trade legislation that would send "climate dividend rebates" to every citizen. Even some oil companies are in favor of schemes to tax carbon and send checks to every American.

          Berlusconi on his comeback: 'Actually, I never went away'   
(ChinaPost.com.tw) - The scandal-tainted former Italian premier said Friday he would lead conservatives in next year's general elections.
          Comment on SBC Seminary enrollment wars and other interesting data points by Dwight Mckissic   
William & Allen, SWBTS faces by a long shot more competition that any other SBC seminary for students with evangelical and moderate-liberal seminaries and graduate schools within the DFW region and the state of Texas. That may explain why SWBTS no longer hold its lofty enrollment status compared to the other SBC seminaries. Students attracted to SWBTS may be equally or for various reasons, more so attracted to Dallas Theological Seminary, Criswell College, Dallas Baptist University, The Kings Universtiy, Truett Seminary(only 75 miles from DFW) or even more more moderate-liberal schools such as Brite Divinity School(TCU), Perkins School of Divinity(SMU), or graduate schools at Hardin-Simmons, or Baylor School of Religion. Probably no other SBC school comes anywhere close to facing that kind of stiff competition within a 100 mile radius of their campus. Having said that though, SWBTS in my opinion hurt themselves in how they handled the Sherri Klouda case, my chapel sermon that addressed the IMB policies that now align perfectly with what I advocated in my sermon in 2006, and a deserved or undeserved reputation with some African Americans that the atmosphere there is not engaging or affirming, and the unabashed Republicanism is repulsive to many, not all. It appears to me to not be as appealing to Black students today, as it was 35 yrs ago, up until the Klouda incident. I really would like to volunteer and help them increase the Black enrollment. But, I'd wish that they would be proactive in engaging and affirming Black students, Black church history, and the Black church. I wish that they would tone down the blatant Republican tweets and rhetoric, while toning up any issue with biblical support that may indeed align with Republican or conservative values. Yet, we have to stop way short, of making it appear that Republicans or President Trump are in any wise, more representative of the Kingdom than any other party or candidate. It's very obvious that he's not, and they're not. So, to see professors and even Dr. Patterson at times to appear to be totally sold out to President Trump and the Republicans is sickening. I recently read a tweet from a SWBTS professor that made me rethink whether or not, I should continue recommending students there, because of his blind loyalty to Trump. It would be poisonous for an African American to be trained in that kind of influence and culture and then go to serve a Black Church where the thinking would be so radically different. The infamous gangsta photo picture suggests that the preaching professors may do a great job, training Black preachers in exegeting a text, but clearly, they were so disconnected from culture & the Black culture( based on that photo) I seriously question are they able to teach Black preachers how to apply and illustrate the text within the context of the Black preachers culture. All of these incidents at SWBTS had had an adverse affect on Black enrollment in my opinion. Three of my preacher boys, who are also serving as Senior Pastors recently enrolled in Truett Seminary at Baylor. They commute from the Metroplex. In all three cases they perceive SWBTS to be cessationist, hypercomplentarian as opposed to soft complementarian, and hardlined Republican. My three preacher boys would be the opposite of how they perceive SWBTS. During the Hemphill reign, SWBTS wasn't percied in this manner. However, it's largely perceived that way now, and it's affecting enrollment. Don't think SWBTS want to change that perception. But, if they did, enrollment I believe would increase. SWBTS doesn't have to change her theology. But, just as Hemphill managed not to leave the perception of managing a seminary that's hardline cessationist, hypercomplimentarian, and Republican, if SWBTS wanted to, they could return the school to a more balanced perspective and views, as was held during the Hemphill reign.
          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas agreed on cases spanning several hotly contested issues, including same-sex marriage, gun rights, immigration and taxpayer aid to religious schools.
          President Trump upset states not fully cooperating with voting panel   
OKLAHOMA CITY — President Donald Trump is upset that all states aren’t fully cooperating with his voting commission’s request for detailed information about every voter in the United States. Some of the most populous ones, including California and New York, are refusing to comply. But even some conservative states that voted for President Trump, such as Texas, say they can provide only partial responses based on what is legally allowed under state law. “Numerous states are refusing to give information […]
          Chronicles Magazine   
Tom Fleming and his little mag are a delight, assuring me there's some wit left in the Catholic remnant. A pleasant change from the Remnant Newspaper, which is incapable of humor. In this month's Perspective column:

"Here in the United States, so-called liberals are really no revolutionary Marxists, while the people who call themselves conservatives are, at one extreme, libertarian capitalistsWho reject any principle or experience that cannot be sold at a profit or, at the other, monomaniacs engaged in a desperate search for a leader to tell them which cliff to jump off of."

Subscribe here: www.ChroniclesMagazine.org

          Santorum or Paul ?   

I (and dozens of other folks) received a political endorsement from a very nice, well-meaning woman from my traditional Mass group this week. She was excited that Rick Santorum was talking publicly about the problem of birth control, and she asked us all to support someone who “shared our values.” Her Santorum plea intrigued me—I haven’t seen a faithful Catholic run for highest office, except for Buchannan, who was in a way “before my time”—but I’m still not in Santorum’s camp, to say the least. The Ron Paul sticker is still on my car.

Anyways, I spent a couple of hours crafting a response to her endorsement. I haven’t “stretched my polemical legs” in quite a while, so I’m grateful she gave me the opportunity and the inspiration. Since I was moderately satisfied with how my response turned out, I’m converting it to a blog post. Here goes:

Santorum's personal rejection of contraception is admirable, of course, and it's somewhat in contradiction to...say...Ron Paul, who--as an obstetrician in the 70s and 80s--presumably prescribed contraceptives and performed sterilizations. I'm making that assumption because he's a Protestant, and if he hadn't wrote scrips for the pill, NARAL and Planned Parenthood would surely have found out and painted him as an extremist by now.

But I don't think Santorum's personal position on contraception...even in contrast to someone like Paul who must have personally promoted it (whether he knew better or not)...is enough to compel my vote. Why not? Obviously, someone like Ron Paul isn’t consistently pro-life. But at the most basic level, Santorum isn't consistently "pro-life" either. Santorum’s "pro-life" personal views didn't get in the way of his politics when it would have mattered most: his support of Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary a few years ago. When Santorum could have backed another pro-lifer, Pat Toomey, and tipped the scales, he didn't. Instead, he supported Specter, who was NOT ONLY a pro-abort who controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee (where the best pro-life judicial nominees need not apply, even in the GOP's best days), but was also a turncoat who switched to the Democratic party a couple years later. Every observer I've read agrees that if Santorum had stuck to principle and stumped for Toomey, Toomey would have won (instead of lost by 1.7%), we'd have had a better Judiciary Committee, hence better federal judges, and the Dems wouldn't have had a filibuster-proof majority in the next go-round. (BTW, Toomey did beat Specter the next time and go to the senate after Santorum lost his own seat to a Democrat!)

And really, the issue of outlawing contraception in national politics...it doesn't simply matter, and Santorum won’t pursue it. I'm not saying that it shouldn't matter. It should, but it doesn't. Maybe some day it will at least matter at the state level. It's like nationally outlawing all pornography or buggery or usury or no-fault divorce. They are all admirable goals but candidly, they are not achievable on a national level at our present time and place. Although the link between abortion and all that bad stuff I mentioned above is obvious to us traditional Catholics, most non-Catholics (and heck, perhaps most novus ordo Catholics) aren't intellectually or spiritually equipped to deal with the link right now. We laymen should work one-on-one to convert people away from contraception, and our Bishops and priests should preach against it. However, too much public talk of outlawing contraception by a national political candidate at the present moment will be counterproductive. It will be exploited by his pro-abort enemies and slow down all our efforts to stop the greatest and "most fixable" of these evils...abortion. On this issue, we will only succeed if we tackle only one thing at a time.

The lady said Santorum “shares our values.” Well, leaving the pro-life issue and moving on to look at Santorum's other values? I honestly can't say they're the same as mine:

FIRST Santorum's an interventionist, looking to keep a huge United States military presence throughout the world--running up more debt, getting more American boys killed, and making more foreign enemies. For Santorum, patriotism is about geopolitical power. For me? Nope, patriotism is about loving ones’ land for what it is, not loving one’s government for the power it can project over other governments. Patriotism for me doesn't include going from one undeclared war to another….especially when the next one will be against a huge, prosperous country with a large, well-organized and educated populace that can really fight back—i.e., Iran. Nor does it involve the same bankrupting globalist busybody strategy as that other recently-collapsed empire: Great Britain.


SECOND, Santorum loves Israel--a state and a society which is absolutely hostile to the Church, and which is the very cause of that the "Islamo-Fascism" that Sean Hannity and Billy O’Reilly and the other neoconservative blowhards denounce. I, on the other hand, recognize that Israel is not a reliable ally, and that Moslems don't hate us for our freedom--they hate us because guys like Santorum vote to send Israel the guns and tanks and planes (and bombs marked "Made in the USA") that are used to kill their co-religionists, or if they’re lucky, merely expel them from their ancestral homes and leave them fenced in and starving.


THIRD, Santorum also believes in centralization of government, for example, federalizing education and doubling the number of education bureaucrats (99% of whom probably hate homeschooling). I adhere to the Catholic principle of subsidiarity--that is, the exercise of power by the lowest level capable of doing so (the family, the local church, the community, the state, and only where absolutely necessary, by the feds).


FOURTH, Santorum loves the police state, having voted for all sorts of restrictions on our ability to travel and communicate, and all sorts of new mechanisms for monitoring the daily activities of people in the United States. I value freedom of movement and (in my 30 or 40 flights a year) recognize that the TSA goons, the humiliating porn scanners, and the other monitoring of our activities don't keep us "secure"--they are simply part of a subtle retraining US residents to be sheepish and compliant subjects of the totalitarian state.


Neoconservatives like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich love the general growth in government as much as "moderates" like Mitt Romney and liberals like Hillary Clinton and Barry Obama. While their rhetoric is couched slightly differently, all of them want more government, more federal intrusion on our daily life, more perks for their friends (be they Obama's Chicago Daly Machine wonks or Mitt's Goldman Sachs pals or Santorum's military contractor donors or Newt's insurance company lobbying clients). Santorum won't make it easier for the Church to pursue its mission. He won't make it easier for faithful Catholics to raise holy families. He won't make it easier for our boys to find good jobs. He won't create the conditions necessary to rebuild Christian culture in the United States. And of course, he won't outlaw contraception. He has so many "backs to scratch" that he probably won't even get around to nominating judges that will unwind the nonsensical web of Constitutional "privacy" jurisprudence that prevents states from regulating contraception, prohibiting abortion, and discouraging buggery.

A friend of mine who’s since moved out of state—a very well-formed guy--once recommended Frank Sheed's book, Society and Sanity. Sheed is on solid Catholic ground, and he's an eloquent apologist. One of the central points of the book is a consideration of Christ's answer to the Pharisees, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's...." He approaches modern politics (circa 1960, I think) in the form of two questions about government which should be distinct in everyone's mind, but which are often muddled...they are paraphrased by me as "Who gets to be Caesar?" and "What things are Caesar's?" which I'll further rephrase as "How far does Caesar's authority extend?" My friend also pointed me to where St. Thomas Aquinas addresses the same issues, but I found Sheed to be much more accessible.

So here we are in 2012: this is an election which should be more about the second question than it is the first. All but one of the candidates is focused entirely on the first question. They all want me to believe that if they're Caesar, I can trust them because they share my values, and they can do more for me, and they can do it better. The organs of the federal government will be more efficient and stronger, but they’ll serve my interests. Only one of the candidates has anything substantive to say about that second question, and only one wants you to think about the limits of Caesar's reach. And unfortunately, it ain't Catholic Rick Santorum. It's Protestant Ron Paul.

In a field of imperfect candidates (all either statists or liberals), Ron Paul not only opposes abortion, but he is the one who is the most likely to REALLY give new momentum to the life movement (perhaps more momentum than he himself intends). He'll install judges who read the Constitution as it is (imperfect though it may be) and throw out the reasoning in cases like Roe and Doe and even Carpenter (the case that invented the "right to privacy" that prevented states from regulating contraceptives) and Lawrence (the case that prevents states from outlawing buggery). He’s not touting a huge program of federal prohibitions in their place like some pro-life lobbyists want, but really, such a prohibition is a pipe dream. Returning the life issues to the states (where the battle can be fought and won at least in most places over time) is really the best we can hope for—and the best we should hope for. The several states, after all, are where the plenary power to punish offenses against life and property properly rest.


Also, even though Paul's economic positions aren't perfect, there isn't a Rerum Novarum candidate to compare him to. His Austrian economic theory (BTW, at least he can speak intelligently about economics--the other candidates can't) is a much more sound basis for economic policy than Obama's soft socialism or Romney's Goldman Sachs TARP capitalism or Santorum's military industrial cronyism. In the absence of a candidate with a workable Distributivist program (if there is such a thing), quoting or at least plagiarizing Hillaire Belloc, Pope Leo XIII, and GK Chesterton, Paul's the one candidate who will at least redirect the country in a general direction that could ultimately be refined to a Catholic economic order.


As for militarism and interventionism—Paul’s obviously not a jingo. And as for subsidiarity--that big question about the scope of Caesar's authority--it's clear that a Ron Paul administration will have a smaller federal government--leaving more room in our society for families, the Church, communities, and states to operate and seek the Good on their own. I don't think anyone would argue that point.

The restoration (or rather reformation) of American culture on sound Catholic principles won't be easy. Barring a huge cataclysm, it won't happen in my lifetime. But whenever and however it happens (if it happens at all), it can only come back if we clear away the choking roots of our out-of-control, anti-Catholic, antagonistic federal government, and leave some open ground for the shoots of a civil society where Catholic principles to grow and flourish. A Catholic Humanae Vitae candidate (or…for the pre-Vatican II crowd…a Casti Conubii candidate) who otherwise promises more central government control of society, more war, and more spending, isn't going to do that. But a Protestant obstetrician will do it, even if he may not really appreciated what he was doing with his prescription pad a few decades ago. Ultimately Ron Paul is not the best possible candidate, but this is a multiple-choice test, not fill-in-the-blank.


As I said before, the question is "Who understands what things are really Caesar's?" In each case, Ron Paul is the answer that comes closest to the correct one.


          150 Things to Know on Canada’s 150th Birthday   
On the occasion of Canada’s 150th birthday here are 150 things to know...

1. Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the world’s most popular political leaders.
2. Justin Trudeau emerged out of the shadows and into the political spotlight when delivering the eulogy at his father’s funeral, the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau in September 2000.
3. The four pallbearers at the funeral were Justin Trudeau, the Aga Khan, former President Jimmy Carter and…the late Cuban autocrat Fidel Castro.
4. Justin Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, is a fearless filmmaker, who was Embedded in Baghdad before, during and after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
5. While Justin is a social media star, his father was the true showman, who once famously pirouetted behind Queen Elizabeth’s back.
6. In fact, this was just one of many colorful moments. To this day in Canada to give the ‘Pierre Trudeau salute’ means something, very interesting…
7. And who can forget the moment featuring the Rolling Stones, the paparazzi and the Prime Minister.
8. However, the elder Trudeau also did some amazing things for Canada. For starters, until 1982 when he brought it back to Canada, the constitution was effectively governed by the Queen of England.
9. That same year he pushed through the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
10. This protection of Canadian rights and diversity did not emerge overnight. Back in 1971, the elder Trudeau declared the new Canadian multiculturalism policy.
11. Four years earlier, in 1967, Pierre Trudeau uttered these famous words: “There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” when he decriminalized homosexuality in sweeping changes to the criminal code.
12. It took Canada until 2005 to legalize same-sex marriage, being the first nation outside of Europe and fourth in the world to do so.
13. However, while things were eventful under Pierre Trudeau they were also turbulent. He suspended civil liberties during the ‘October Crisis’ in 1970, when he invoked the ‘War Measures Act’ after a provincial cabinet minister was kidnapped by separatist militants.
14. He also enacted the National Energy Program in the 1980s which effectively federalized revenues from energy resources in Alberta, creating long-term hostility towards the federal Liberal Party in the years to come in Western Canada.
15. Trudeau was also an antagonist to separatist ambitions in Quebec, delivering two fiery speeches, one in 1980, and another in 1995 to thwart referendums for independence.
16. All in all, the elder Trudeau served for 15 years but he wasn’t the longest serving Prime Minister. That would be William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served for 21 years.
17. In second place was the founding Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, who served for 18 years – and who also had a bit of a drinking problem.
18. When Canada was founded in 1867, there were only four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
19. In fact it was not until 1949 that the last province, Newfoundland joined Canada, and that was only after a barely won referendum.
20. Canada also has three Territories: the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavat, the latter being formed in 1999.
21. The country is extremely ‘big’, the second largest in the world with over 2 million lakes, among other things.
22. But, 75% of Canadians actually live within 100 miles of the U.S.-Canada border.
23. This may be one of the reasons why the U.S.-Canada economic relationship is the largest in the world, estimated to total US$630 billion in 2016 alone.
24. Close to 30,000 trucks cross the border every single day between the two countries.
25. While things are rosy today, it wasn’t always so. During the War of 1812, the Canadas, as the British colonies were known then, went to battle with the U.S., ultimately burning down the White House on August 24, 1814.
26. War was quite frequent back then due to competing French, British, and American ambitions. After fierce fighting, the 1763 Treaty of Paris essentially gave the British control over much of French Canadian land.
27. In addition, one cannot forget that much of Canadian land belonged to the First Nations, who have been marginalized, ostracizied, occupied and colonized throughout much of Canadian history.
28. During Canada’s first years, a group of people called the Metis who were ethnically mixed between First nations and European descent, rose up in rebellion, ultimately establishing a short-lived provisional government in 1870.
29. The leader of that rebellion Louis Riel was ultimately ranked as the 11th Greatest Canadian.
30. That battle was only one of many for the acknowledgement of the rights of First Nations. One of the worst stains on Canadian history was the residential school system that at one point put a third of all First Nations children under the care of the state.
31. Thousands of students died, and many more were subject to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
32. While today, people acknowledge some of these aspects of history, the fight is not over. One of the scandals that was a campaign issue for Justin Trudeau, was the plight of up to 4,000 missing or murdered aboriginal women.
33. Canada’s history has not always been one of inclusivity. The Chinese Exclusion or Immigration Act of 1923 effectively banned immigrants of Chinese origin.
34. This was a culmination of violence and protests against immigrants from East and South Asia, including riots in 1907 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
35. Today, whites are expected to become a minority in Vancouver by 2031 (although I suspect this has already happened).
36. 20.6% of Canadians are foreign-born today and 19.1% identify themselves as visible minorities. 3% of the population identifies as Muslim.
37. There are more Sikhs in the Canadian Cabinet than there are in India’s government (4 versus 2).
38. It was not until the 1940s, however, that Sikhs truly received voting rights.
39. Canadian women achieved the right to vote around the same time as women in the U.S. in the late 1910s.
40. Canada also became home to a number of Black Canadians due to the Underground Railroad, although racism has reared its ugly head in Canada as well.
41. While ethnic and racial struggles have been real, so have class struggles. A lot of this culminated in gained labor rights and ultimately universal healthcare.
42. The ‘grandfather’ of universal healthcare was actually New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas, who was named the Greatest Canadian in that (in-)famous poll.
43. Tommy Douglas is also the grandfather of prominent Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland.
44. Kiefer Sutherland’s father is Donald Sutherland, who married Tommy Douglas daughter, prominent public figure, Shirley Douglas.
45. While living in the U.S. Donald Sutherland retained only Canadian citizenship but lost the right to vote due to the Conservative Party’s new laws in 2015.
46. This also led to a rallying cry by then candidate Justin Trudeau, that “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
47. There are almost 3 million Canadians living abroad but many retain a vibrant Canadian identity.
48. For example, the Terry Fox Run, a hallmark of Canada, has been held in over 60 countries by countless millions over the years.
49. Through these runs over $650 million has been raised for cancer research.
50. And it is all inspired by Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope in 1980 after losing one leg to cancer.
51. He ended his run after reaching 5,373 kilometres over 143 days.
52. Inspired by Terry’s courage, a fellow West Coaster, Rick Hansen embarked on a Man in Motion World Tour for two years in 1985.
53. He criss-crossed 34 countries raising $26 million along the way.
54. It also inspired the song St. Elmo’s Fire, which reached #1 on the Billboard Charts.
55. The best-selling Canadian artist of all time remains Celine Dion, who has sold over 200 million albums worldwide.
56. It appears though that fellow Canadian Justin Bieber may soon beat her on the charts.
57. There are a lot of Canadian singers, that are quite prominent, but they often live abroad, like Bryan Adams.
58. In fact, Bryan Adams and Beverley Hills 90210 star Jason Priestly went to the same high school, Argyle Secondary School in Vancouver.
59. And while Bryan Adams is known for his singing, he once mixed up the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem.
60. The Canadian national anthem, ‘O Canada’, was itself composed in 1880.
61. However, the lyrics of the anthem were originally French and were then translated into English.
62. The final English version emerged two decades later, which remains with us today.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has given hope to progressives who want him to forge ahead with his vision for a more welcoming Church that concentrates on mercy rather than the strict enforcement of rigid rules they see as antiquated.

Mueller is one of several cardinals in the Vatican who have publicly sparred with the pope.

SECOND CONSERVATIVE DEPARTURE IN THREE DAYS

His departure follows the high-profile exit of fellow conservative Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican economy minister who took a leave of absence on Thursday to face charges of historical sexual abuse in his native Australia.

In 2015 both were among 13 cardinals who signed a secret letter to the pope complaining that a meeting of bishops discussing family issues was stacked in favor of liberals. The letter was leaked, embarrassing the signatories.

"Clearly, the pope and Cardinal Mueller have not been on the same page for five years," the priest said.

Mueller has criticized parts of a 2016 papal treatise called "Amoris Laetitia" (The Joy of Love), a cornerstone document of Francis' attempt to make the 1.2 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning.

In it, Francis called for a Church that is less strict and more compassionate toward any "imperfect" members, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying "no one can be condemned forever".

Conservatives have concentrated their criticism on the document's opening to Catholics who divorce and remarry in civil ceremonies, without getting Church annulments.

Under Church law they cannot receive communion unless they abstain from sex with their new partner, because their first marriage is still valid in the eyes of the Church and therefore they are seen to be living in an adulterous state of sin.

In the document the pope sided with progressives who had proposed an "internal forum" in which a priest or bishop decide jointly with the individual on a case-by-case basis if he or she can be fully re-integrated and receive communion.

After the document was published Catholic bishops in some countries, including Germany, enacted guidelines on how priests could allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

But Mueller has said there should be no exceptions, making him a hero to conservatives who have made the issue a rallying point for their opposition to Francis.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Helen Popper and Jason Neely)


          Pope shakes up Vatican by replacing conservative doctrinal chief    

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - In a major shake-up of the Vatican's administration on Saturday, Pope Francis replaced Catholicism's top theologian, a conservative German cardinal who has been at odds with the pontiff's vision of a more inclusive Church.

A brief Vatican statement said Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller's five-year mandate as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department charged with defending Catholic doctrine, would not be renewed.

The position is the most important one that a pope fills in the Vatican hierarchy after the Secretary of State. Most incumbents keep it until they retire, which in Mueller's case would have been in six years.

Mueller, 69, who was appointed by former Pope Benedict in 2012, will be succeeded by the department's number two, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.

Ladaria, a 73-year-old Spaniard who, like the Argentine pope is a member of the Jesuit order, is said by those who know him to be a soft-spoken person who shuns the limelight. Mueller, by contrast, often appears in the media.

"They speak the same language and Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the pope and does not threaten him," said a priest who works in the Vatican and knows both Mueller and Ladaria, asking not to be named.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has given hope to progressives who want him to forge ahead with his vision for a more welcoming Church that concentrates on mercy rather than the strict enforcement of rigid rules they see as antiquated.

Mueller is one of several cardinals in the Vatican who have publicly sparred with the pope.

SECOND CONSERVATIVE DEPARTURE IN THREE DAYS

His departure follows the high-profile exit of fellow conservative Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican economy minister who took a leave of absence on Thursday to face charges of historical sexual abuse in his native Australia.

In 2015 both were among 13 cardinals who signed a secret letter to the pope complaining that a meeting of bishops discussing family issues was stacked in favor of liberals. The letter was leaked, embarrassing the signatories.

"Clearly, the pope and Cardinal Mueller have not been on the same page for five years," the priest said.

Mueller has criticized parts of a 2016 papal treatise called "Amoris Laetitia" (The Joy of Love), a cornerstone document of Francis' attempt to make the 1.2 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning.

In it, Francis called for a Church that is less strict and more compassionate toward any "imperfect" members, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying "no one can be condemned forever".

Conservatives have concentrated their criticism on the document's opening to Catholics who divorce and remarry in civil ceremonies, without getting Church annulments.

Under Church law they cannot receive communion unless they abstain from sex with their new partner, because their first marriage is still valid in the eyes of the Church and therefore they are seen to be living in an adulterous state of sin.

In the document the pope sided with progressives who had proposed an "internal forum" in which a priest or bishop decide jointly with the individual on a case-by-case basis if he or she can be fully re-integrated and receive communion.

After the document was published Catholic bishops in some countries, including Germany, enacted guidelines on how priests could allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

But Mueller has said there should be no exceptions, making him a hero to conservatives who have made the issue a rallying point for their opposition to Francis.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Helen Popper and Jason Neely)


          Van Jones Slams “Edited Right-Wing Propaganda Video”   
CNN contributor Van Jones says he was taken out of context in conservative provocateur James O’Keefe’s second of two videos out this week attacking the cable news network. In the video, Jones is heard saying, “The whole Russia Thing is a big nothing burger. There is nothing you can do –,” before being cut off by the arrival of a CNN colleague. Jones had made the remark after being asked, on the street outside CNN’s Los Angeles offices, “What do you think is going to…
          Comment on Benedict Is No Friend Of Ours by Joseph D'Hippolito   
Perhaps Benedict is viewed as a "disappointment" because people viewed his career through their own ideological spectacles? A lot of people view John Paul II as a staunch theological conservative when he was anything but (his arbitrary revisionism of Catholic teaching on capital punishment proves that). In John Paul II's case, I believe his uncompromising opposition to Communism (and its bastard stepchild, Liberation Theology) -- especially compared to many church figures -- motivated political conservatives to view him according to their own ideological categories, complete with all the implied assumptions they carry. I think that was especially true here in the United States.
          Egyptian Cycling History - Then and Now - Subversive Photo Series   
In this latest installment of our "Subversive Cycling Photos" series, we travel to Egypt. The same utterings are heard here as most other places. About how "it's too hot to cycle" and "oh, but we never had urban cycling here..." With these historical photos, we once again bust some myths, like we've done for Singapore, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, New South Wales, Vancouver, Oslo, Dublin, Canberra, etc.

Copenhagenize Design Company has had the pleasure of hosting architect and urban planner, Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal, on an exchange from Egypt made possible by the support of the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute. He curated these photographs highlighting a long and proud history of using the bicycle as transport in his country.

By Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal




Egypt's President Sisi has been on a bike ride or two, like this one in 2014. He has said that Egyptians should cycle more and that the country can save 16 Egyptian pounds for each 20 km cycled. He has, however, failed to provide any infrastructure.

In the recent memory of some Egyptians, cycling used to serve a much wider group of users than today. Residents in Port Said, a port city on the Suez Canal, are proud that cycling used to be their main mode of transportation. Indeed, during rush hour, the ferries were loaded with the bicycles of employees going to work. It´s a narrative that is heard in many other cities, usually followed by remarks about how women and children used to feel much safer cycling in cities and how there used to be many more bike shops - especially those serving a double-purpose. Shops that were also garages that would clean, repair and store bikes overnight.

Stories of huge bicycle racks next to office buildings, factories and schools are heard across the nation, from the north to the south. The textile factory in Shebin, a city in the northern Nile Delta used to host one of those, which was removed after cycling disappeared under the weight of car-centric planning.

Egyptian Cycling History
A bicycle rushing past an omnibus, Port Said, late 19th century.

Egyptian Cycling History
Cairo, early 20th century

Egyptian Cycling History
College Saint Marc students, Alexandria, early 20th century

Egyptian Cycling History Egyptian Cycling History
Left: A magazine article about the opening of a factory in Qena, south of Egypt. Factories were associated with bicycles in the 1960s.
Right: Bike shops used to be a very common sight, catering to many clients. Port Said.

Egyptian Cycling History 1950s
Caption reads: “University girls in Asyut are more practical than their colleagues, overcoming traffic problems by using bicycles” a quote from a magazine. Asyut 1960s.

Egyptian Cycling History 1935
Street scene, 1935.

Egyptian Cycling History 1980
Bicycles were a normal sight on the streets, at least through the 1980s.

See more historical photos from Egyptian cycling history here.

Cycling Persists in Egypt

Egyptian Cycling Culture
“Change the way you commute” An advertisement in Tahrir square for vacation houses on the red sea coast. Summer 2016.

For many Egyptians, like other places around the world, cycling has become something unusual. Something subcultural, something done by poor messengers to transport goods, something for kids to do or a tool for advertising luxury, gated communities (photo, above).

Egyptian Cycling Culture
Bike parking at a school in Assiout, Southern Egypt. Photo credits: Yusuf Halim.

In many areas in the south of Egypt and the Nile delta, one can, however, still witness a wide variety of bicycle users. In Assiout, in the more conservative south, one can still see huge bike racks in schools (above) and public buildings.

Egyptian Cycling Culture
Bicycle user on a vintage bike. Photo credits: Osama Aiad

While in other cities, men in their 50s or 60s riding vintage bicycles serves as a reminder that cycling is not alien to Egyptian minds and culture.

Egyptian Cycling Culture
Bread delivery man riding in a Cairo street while holding wooden trays and reading a newspaper. Source: facebook page; Everyday Egypt

When former bicycle users from this generation are asked about the reasons for the decrease in cycling modal share, they talk about the change of time, about the era where cars were much less and streets safer and you could feel safe about your kids rushing on their own through the streets. They also talk about the availability of bike racks near homes and work, and services around the city. All practical reasons that could easily be addressed by cities that aim to have less congested, less polluted streets with a better quality of life that is not exclusive to luxurious gated communities. Not to mention a healthy density and an economic alternative to sprawl.

Egyptian Cycling Culture

Unlike the old era, attempts to build bike infrastructure in the few last years in Egypt haven’t achieved the required goals. Instead of being used as an example of how cycling doesn’t fit the Egyptian culture, these projects must be addressed critically.

Egyptian Cycling Culture
A symbolic stretch of bike lane.

The bicycle lanes painted on the Shahid corridor, an 8-lane highway in the desert, 14 km from the center of Cairo and 3 km from the nearest residential low density suburban area doesn’t seem to be a logical location to start.

The UNDP project of cycling lanes in Shebin are often ignored by bicycle users; the lanes deal poorly with intersections, also they don’t provide enough safety for bike users from traffic and are very vulnerable to be overtaken by car parking.

Safety and the perception of safety is a main issue keeping down the numbers of bike users and, if not addressed properly with infrastructure, cycling will not rise again as transport in Egyptian cities.



          Price Tag for Bullying Bill Debated   

A bill on Governor Branstad’s to-do list is sparking controversy  at the statehouse.  The bill addresses the problem of bullying in the schools,  especially as it occurs on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.       But how much money to spend on the  problem remains a stumbling block.   Also,  a coalition of  conservative House Republicans has its  own ideas.    


          Comment on Trump Blows, Spews ‘Bleeding Badly’ Mika Brzezinski Tweets *Updated* by Caroline   
You are right about Melania and Huckabee Sanders. This all gets back to what you said many moons ago about how conservative women do not know how to lead. They attempt to do the impossible which is lead in a patriarchy. It can't be done by a woman.
          Muslim leader urges Indonesians to boycott Starbucks over LGBT stand   

Muslim leader urges Indonesians to boycott Starbucks over LGBT standBy Nilufar Rizki and Jessica Damiana JAKARTA (Reuters) - A leader of Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization has called for a boycott of Starbucks, saying that the international coffee chain's pro-gay stand risks ruining the "religious and cultured" core of the Southeast Asian nation. With the exception of the ultra-conservative Aceh province, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia. Anwar Abbas of Muhammadiyah, an organization that has around 30 million members, said the government should revoke Starbucks' operating license as the company's support for the LGBT community is "not in line" with the nation's ideology.



          'The Strange Death Of Europe' Warns Against Impacts Of Immigration : NPR   
MURRAY: Let me give you one very quick example. In Britain, we, some decades ago, came to a fairly straightforward accommodation and belief towards tolerance towards people who were of sexual minorities. If you - if you look now at all opinion surveys of the people who've come in most recently, they have very, very different views. A poll carried out a couple of years ago found that among U.K. Muslims there was zero - zero - belief that homosexuality was a permissible lifestyle choice. And a poll taken just last year in Britain found that 52 percent of British Muslims wanted being gay in the U.K. to be made illegal now. Now, there are people who won't bake your wedding cake if you're gay. There are some ultra-Protestants who won't marry you in their churches. But these are people who actually want to make it a crime punishable in law in the 21st century in Britain. So I'm afraid that everyone has to concede - liberal or conservative or whatever -…
          Comment on If All You See… by david7134   
DP, Don't be hard on him. As I said before, as a child Jeff was subjected to the presence of a conservative that happened to be a pervert and no one did anything to him. That is why he hates so much.
          The Failure of Public Transportation   
By Douglas V. Gibbs
AuthorSpeakerInstructorRadio Host

Public transportation has its place.  For some people it is a necessary mode of travel.  Not everyone has the ability to afford a vehicle, or the fortune of having a job that is only a bike ride away.  Therefore, the extreme idea of eliminating any public transportation is not being entertained here.  But, as much as we should not totally eliminate public transportation, we also should not push for increasing public transportation with the goal of removing people from their vehicles, or to the point of building super-trains with money we don't have for a population that will likely not ride it.

In California the liberal left Democrats want us out of our cars, and they look to New York's mass transit system as an example.  The reality is, New York City's public transportation is a mess, as is anything, eventually, when the government controls it.

NYC BREAKDOWN: Subways held together with zip ties...

First raccoon, now giant snake hitches ride...

Cuomo Declares State Of Emergency...


-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary
          About That Tax Cut for the Rich   

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came to terms with reality and announced that he would delay the health care vote he had been planning to hold this week. Since then, Republican members of Congress have been negotiating terms, trying to strike a health care agreement before flying back to their home states on Friday to screw around for 10 days. Though they were making progress by Thursday morning in narrowing the options, senators still had to get through that little part where they make impossible decisions on the issues that have bitterly divided them.

Some of the more obvious tweaks have been made. Senate holdouts representing states hollowed out by the opioid crisis—West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, and others—are likely to get the full $45 billion in grant funding that they’ve been seeking all along, Politico reported Wednesday night. The bill will also likely be adjusted to allow people to use their health savings accounts to pay for premiums, something conservatives fought for in this bill.

But these changes still fall within the realm of tinkering. Capito, for instance, has said that the opioid money would not be enough—she wants the stingy long-term growth rate for the bill’s Medicaid caps raised, too. That’s something conservatives would be loath to do.

A lot of senators, including many in the rank-and-file, still want to see the bill’s refundable tax credits for individuals boosted. And the most conservative wing of the party, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, want more market deregulation. The “grand bargain,” then, still amounts to conservatives giving way on Medicaid cuts and other spending, while moderates give way on market regulation.

Here’s what that might look like, per the current discussions.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis, you’ll recall, left McConnell about $188 billion in additional funds to spread around to buy votes. The opioid crisis funds and HSA changes could exhaust about half of that. If senators wanted to substantially increase the tax credits to those with lower and middle incomes—or even dependents on employer plans—that could exhaust the savings, and a new stream of revenue would be needed.

That’s why some senators are now talking more seriously about keeping the Affordable Care Act’s 3.8 percent net investment tax, as Bloomberg first wrote Wednesday afternoon. This is not a new conversation: Since December, there’s been a debate over whether to keep any of the ACA’s taxes to help fund elements of replacement legislation. Opinions have varied. But the House-passed American Health Care Act chose to repeal nearly all of the taxes and finance the bill through Medicaid cuts. And the Senate kept that framework. The very correct depiction of Trumpcare as “cutting Medicaid to finance tax cuts for the wealthy” has caused a lot of political headaches for the party, and now some senators are having second thoughts.

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds said Wednesday that he wanted the party to reconsider ditching the investment tax, which only affects individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000, and using that money to bump up the individual tax credits.

“If we did that, that would be another $172 billion that could then be utilized to perhaps offset some of the areas in which people have expressed concern,” Rounds said, “or as a way to allow for individuals who have never been helped by Obamacare, in the group market.”

Rounds has always been receptive to keeping the investment tax. He now has more support—and more importantly, it appears that this wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for conservatives. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a conservative holdout, said on Thursday that he could live with keeping the Obamacare tax. Cruz said that he doesn’t want to keep it but didn’t answer when asked whether it would be a deal-breaker. Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Thursday that keeping the tax wouldn’t be a deal-breaker in his chamber either.

The conservative holdouts would demand a price, though: Give us deregulation, and we’ll stomach the losses.

Cruz has been selling one particular deregulatory proposal hard over the last week, which leaders are now taking seriously as something they’ll have to engage with to get conservative votes. As my colleague Jordan Weissmann wrote Thursday, the amendment would allow insurers within a state to sell cheaper plans that don’t comply with the ACA’s regulations so long as they also sell one plan that does.

One might call this “the MacArthur amendment by other means.” The MacArthur amendment, which sealed conservatives’ support for the House bill, allowed states to waive the ACA regulation, called community rating, that barred insurers from charging sicker people more. Eliminating that regulation would bring down premiums for healthier people while sequestering those with pre-existing conditions in high-risk pools. The Cruz amendment, essentially, would embed the high-risk pool within the traditional market: All the healthy, younger people would sign up for the cheaper, noncompliant plan, causing an increase in prices for the regulated plans as only sicker people enroll in them. In other words, it could undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, much as experts fear would happen under the MacArthur amendment. Cruz believes that the federal subsidies and stabilization money would be enough to ensure that premiums remain within reach for those most in need of care. But his more moderate colleagues, after witnessing the shellacking the House bill got with the MacArthur amendment, are leery of such a move. And yet South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of the Senate leadership, said leaders could consider it if there was a way to ensure it didn’t unravel markets. (There’s also, as with all regulatory changes considered under the reconciliation process, concerns about whether the Senate parliamentarian would allow it.)

Again, senators have about 24 hours to reach an agreement under McConnell’s latest artificially imposed deadline. That means that senators who have been fighting for the last two months will have 24 hours to miraculously come together around an agreement where conservatives abandon some of their deeply held priors on tax cuts and spending while moderates assent to market reforms that could undermine protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Maybe they’ll need the weekend.


          City Goes Full Libertarian, Takes a Dark Turn   
To fill a $28 million budget hole, Colorado Springs' political leaders -- who until that point might have been described by most voters as fiscal conservatives -- proposed tripling property taxes. Nearly two-thirds of voters said no. In response, city officials (some would say almost petulantly) turned off one out of every three street lights. That's when people started paying attention to a city that seemed to be conducting a real-time experiment in fiscal self-starvation. But that was just the prelude.
          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 ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
Obamacare Has Problems. The Senate Health Care Bill Doesn't Solve Them, Experts SayNPR
CNN -Fox News -NBCNews.com -ABC News
all 6,139 news articles »

          Elizabeth Makes It Official: The Queen Backs Brexit And Era of Independence   
"My government's priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union." With these words Queen Elizabeth today officially opened the 57th Parliament. With the first session scheduled to last two years, it should give the Conservative government sufficient time to concentrate on exiting the European Union by March 2019. So the British ship of state has cleared its decks for Brexit.As if to emphasize the seriousness of the moment, the State Opening lacked the pomp...
          With the Tories in Disarray Editor George Osborne Starts Feeling His Oats   
The editor of London's Evening Standard is feeling his oats. George Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer until last June's Brexit referendum, when prime minister David Cameron left office after his support for the "Remain" campaign. When Theresa May acceded to the leadership, Mr. Osborne felt the bristles of the new broom.Mr. Osborne landed the Standard editorship last month, and promptly started using his new perch to cast aspersions upon the Conservative Government of which he had once...
          Britain Appears To Be Ripe For Collective Government By 'Ministry of All Talents'   
Though Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn is one of the few major figures in British politics publically calling for Theresa May to stand down from her premiership, the sentiment is rampant in Conservative constituencies and Establishment enclaves across Great Britain. The Prime Minister's electoral gamble of trying to backfoot Mr. Corbyn's troubled tenure, and increase her parliamentary majority, failed spectacularly.To remain in power as leader of a minority party, Mrs. May must seek an agreement of...
          Tories' Muddled Approach To British Independence Costs UK Its Compass   
Not for the first time, Britons go to the polls with the European Union the unseen ballot question.In 2013 David Cameron promised fractious Conservative members of parliament, chaffing under a coalition government, that a referendum on remaining within the European Union would be put before the people. Then it was the Brexit vote itself, with a majority of Britons voting for independence.Now, with a general election tomorrow, the question revolves around who will steer negotiations: Theresa...
          By: Steve Todd   
Labrator at 11:24 am "My snipe was about the perennial 'return to FPP, it’s the only way to vote' types." I accept your clarification, Labrator, but you have to admit, your "throw away comment" *was* rather obtuse; that no-one could have taken from it what you now say you meant by it. I read, and re-read, your comment several times, trying to work out what you were saying, and finally concluded you were saying that the UK Conservatives are using "an unusual form" of the discredited 'STV' system we used in the first flag referendum. As an advocate and defender of STV / preferential voting, I couldn't let that go, hence my reaction. Glad it's now sorted.
          By: labrator   
@Steve Todd you sure put a lot of effort into a throw away comment. I prefer STV when the people voting for it are educated. My snipe was about the perennial "return to FPP, it's the only way to vote" types. This is the Conservative party effectively using STV which seems an endorsement of sorts.
          By: Steve Todd   
Labrator at 10:33 pm "So an unusual form of STV, there’s a few around these parts that will be disgusted at that notion." Oh, come on Labrator, there was nothing wrong with the two-part Flag Referendum process, except for the options on offer. The UK Conservative Party leadership electoral process is by 'exhaustive ballot'. Given there are five candidates, one will be knocked out tonight, and another ballot will be held on Thursday night, at which time another candidate will be knocked out. On Tuesday night next week, a final ballot of the three remaining candidates will be held. The two candidates who receive the most votes will go forward to a ballot of the party membership, with the candidate who receives a simple majority of the votes cast being elected leader of the party. Given that the Conservative Party is a private organisation, and therefore can take its time in choosing who will be its leader, don't you think the process described above is pretty good? If not, how do *you* think the contest should be conducted?
          By: ChardonnayGuy   
Gove has a very unpopular portfolio record while serving as Cameron's Education Secretary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gove It would be most interesting to have Theresa May as Conservative leader, facing Angela Eagle as Labour Opposition leader. They are both highly intelligent, disciplined and formidable politicians. Andrea Leadson is a high calibre politician too- she'd make an excellent Treasurer.
          By: labrator   
<blockquote>The Conservative caucus vote on the five candidates, and the two highest polling go forward to a full membership ballot.</blockquote> So an unusual form of STV, there's a few around these parts that will be disgusted at that notion..
          By: Changeiscoming   
If they elect a new PM that was part of the remain camp, the conservatives will be in a lot of trouble.
          Canadian National Historic Sites - NHP Sir John Carling - London, Ontario   
From the plaque:
Born in London Township, Carling succeeded his father as President of Carling Brewing and Malting Co., entered politics as a Conservative and represented London in the Legislative Assembly of Canada (1857-67), in the provincial legislature (1867-73), and in the House of Commons (1867-74, 1878-91, and 1892-5). Called to the Senate in 1891 he resigned the following year only to be reappointed in 1896. He held portfolios in several cabinets but his most significant contribution to Canadian life occurred when, as Minister of Agriculture (1885-92), he founded the system of Dominion Experimental Farms. He died at London.



          Pope shakes up Vatican by replacing conservative doctrinal chief   
none
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          Offer - Manhattan.dental dental service - Salem   
Manhattan Dental is a dental services provider situated in Manhattan committed to the effective investigation and treatment of disorders and dental injury. Our chief objective will be to restore and improve the natural beauty of your smile through state-of-the-art and conservative processes that are not only safe but ease the formation of beautiful and healthy smiles.
          Comment on Professor disagrees with Elon Musk’s Mars colonization plans by baddata6   
Peabrain dog: Well, you are correct in some ways for the first time (probably since you were born). I did not serve in the military because I was designing things for the military which prevented me from joining. Because the US government will not take anyone making or designing parts for the military to enter the military because they are needed more by the government and the military doing the job they were trained for. Whereas people who are only eligible to dig ditches like you are taken no questions asked along with smart people. This is not your country, you have nothing good to say about it, this is a capitalistic country and you hate it as proved by your replies to this post, and all reading these posts will understand that, because you're not fooling anyone. (Quote) "It can be said more accurately that capitalism is fine until you run out of other people's blood, sweat, and tears. So you hate capitalism and this country is capitalistic. So take your own advice and go to Russia it's not capitalistic. Keep making a fool of yourself us conservatives love it. Keep squirming! Man. this is fun!!!
          Controversial New NRA Recruitment Video Asks Americans To Join To Eliminate Liberal Enemies   

The NRA release new recruitment video telling Americans to defeat enemy liberals.

The NRA have just released a controversial new video in which Americans are asked by conservative radio host Dana Loesch to join the National Rifle Association so that they can help to defeat and eliminate the real enemies of the country – liberals. In the new NRA video there is no rhetoric about making sure that the American citizen’s right to bear arms is upheld.

In fact, the Second Amendment of the US Constitution isn’t brought up at all. Instead, Americans are told that the biggest threat to the country and those that pose the most danger are liberals, and for this reason Americans need to join the NRA as quickly as they possibly can.

Click here to continue and read more...


          Pope Francis Makes Interesting Statement By Replacing Conservative Doctrinal Chief   

Pope Francis Replaces Cardinal Gerhard Mueller

It’s been a rough few days for the Catholic Church. First, Australian Cardinal George Pell — the third-ranking official in the Holy See — was charged with sexual abuse after the police received several complaints from alleged victims. Pope Francis made a statement by refusing to have the Vatican pay for Cardinal Pell’s attorney fees, and by putting him on leave, even though the cardinal maintains his innocence.

Now the pope — who has distinguished himself by making progressive statements that no other pope would’ve ever dreamed of making — is shaking things up again after he decided to replace German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Catholicism’s top theologian.

Click here to continue and read more...


          #ThursdayThoughts: Why did the White House contact a fringe alt-right LGBTQ group during Pride Month?   

 

 

Co-Founder of Deplorable Pride: “I was told: ‘The president is going to want to see this.’”

NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today voiced concern over the report by the North Carolina-based newspaper The News & Observer 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, and even the LGBTQ community itself.

The White House has chosen to stay silent and refuse to recognize LGBTQ Pride Month. By instead contacting Deplorable Pride, the Office of Political Affairs has further shown how completely tone deaf this administration is to the inclusive umbrella of the LGBTQ community.

The News & Observer report caps off what has been (so far) complete silence by the White House in recognizing June as National LGBTQ Pride Month. The White House has, however, issued proclamations on “Great Outdoors Month,” “National Ocean Month,” and “National Homeownership Month.” Further, President Trump’s silence highlights his administration’s agenda of systematically erasing LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation. Whether it’s filling his administration with long-time anti-LGBTQ activists or erasing LGBTQ Americans from government websites, federal surveys, and even the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, the Trump Administration has proven itself to be anything but an ally to the LGBTQ community.

GLAAD urges media to question The White House on the about why they chose to contact Deplorable Pride and have remained completely silent on LGBTQ Pride Month.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Brian Talbert, Co-Founder of Deplorable Pride

  • Used derogatory anti-LGBTQ terms to attack people; including “f*ggot.”
  • Threatened to kill “every single” Muslim in a Facebook post.

  • Called Muslims “camel f*ckers” while voicing support of President Trump’s ban on Muslims.
  • Admitted that he doesn’t support Pride Month and said LGBTQ People should be ashamed of themselves.
  • Called Liberal LGBTQ people “some of the most vile and disgusting people on earth.”
  • Argued that a new version of the rainbow flag created to address LGBTQ people of color was racist for not having a white stripe.
  • Expressed extreme views towards people who are pro-choice.

###

 

June 29, 2017
Issues: 
Tags: 

          Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘million’ fans protest as deluded Diane Abbott declares he will be PM   


IT was not quite a million and it did not bring down the Government. But tens of thousands of hard-core Corbynistas heeded their masters’ calls and took to the streets of London yesterday in a mass protest against the Conservatives.
          REVEALED: Conservative election fallout sees move to outlaw health tourism AXED   


A CRACKDOWN on health tourism that would have saved the NHS £500million a year has been abandoned by the Government.
          'He'll never be MP again' Conservative manifesto author shunned from Westminster   


THE author of the Tories’ disastrous manifesto will face trouble returning to politics because backbenchers blame him for the Conservatives’ failure to win an outright majority at the general election.
          Conservatives must modernise tuition fees policy to win young voters, says senior Tory MP   


BRITAIN may need to have a national debate on university tuition fees, Prime Minister Theresa May’s most senior minister said yesterday.
          Appalachian Wrestling's Greatest Villain: 'The Progressive Liberal'   
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COAAQ4ux2NU When Daniel Harnsberger leaves his home on the East Coast and drives into Appalachia, he usually packs a T-shirt covered in Hillary Clinton faces and spandex wrestling briefs that say "Progressive Liberal." That's his wrestling persona — and his costume. And most weekends, Harnsberger dons it to work in semipro regional circuits as a stereotypical coastal elite who trolls in Donald Trump country. (He sometimes also wears a shirt that says "Not My President.") He's wrestled for years — until recently, without the left-leaning political tilt — in conservative corners of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. It's a grind. These are small gigs, often in high school gyms or on county fairgrounds. On these regional circuits, wrestlers often schedule a match at a time. "I was wrestling for $5 and a hot dog and a soda," Harnsberger tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "There were times I didn't get paid at all." But two years ago — just after Donald Trump
          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          A stellar choice for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity   
(Paul Mirengoff) President Trump has appointed our friend Hans von Spakovsky to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. As with Eric Dreiband, Trump’s excellent pick to head the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the liberal media is already attacking von Spakovsky. For example, this Washington Post story begins: “President Trump on Thursday appointed a divisive conservative voting rights expert to spearhead the White House’s search into allegations of widespread fraud in the
          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          The Conservative’s Guide to Having Ineffective Education Debates   

Right-wingers pioneered new solutions: homeschooling, for-profit colleges, think-tanks, independent book clubs, and conservative accredited universities. But everything conservatives did failed.

The post The Conservative’s Guide to Having Ineffective Education Debates appeared first on BarbWire.com.


          Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law Gets Its Day In Court   
Pennsylvania's voter ID law will be back in state court Monday after more than a year of legal limbo. A state judge will decide whether the 2012 law — which hasn't been enforced — violates the state's constitution. The measure requires voters to show a particular state-issued photo ID before casting ballots. Last week, civil rights advocates like the NAACP's John Jordan railed against the requirement. "It's a ploy to take votes away from people who deserve them — veterans, seniors, students, people with disabilities, people of color and hard-working folk," Jordan said. It's the same disagreement that has caused conservative lawmakers and voting rights activists to lock picket signs at state capitols across the country. Supporters say photo ID is a common-sense requirement that keeps people from impersonating someone else and casting a fraudulent ballot. Opponents say it's an attempt to disenfranchise minorities and Democratic-leaning groups, who are less likely to have photo
          Pope Francis Forcibly Exiles Powerful Conservative Cardinal for Refusing to Obey   

Pope Francis made a bold move today few expected …

The post Pope Francis Forcibly Exiles Powerful Conservative Cardinal for Refusing to Obey appeared first on Truth And Action.


          Comment on The SPLC: Another favorite academic primary source falls apart by Rusty Writer   
Restored Hope Network is a tiny 3 year old group of those who continued the old claims in spite of the consensus among the past 4 decades of ex-gay leadership. RHN is run by Anne Paulk, who was bisexual before becoming an ex-gay Christian and who continues to be bisexual, per her own interviews on Christian radio shows. So, she herself has not experienced a sexual orientation change to heterosexual. I give her credit for being candid about this on-air. Anne was half of the most famous ex-gay married couple in ex-gay history, but she is finalizing the divorce of her husband, John Paulk, who also admitted he had not experienced a change of sexual orientation to heterosexual. He remains gay, but is now open about it and he publicly apologized for the harms done to the LGBT community because of the ex-gay claims he had long known were at best wishful thinking. Christopher Doyle may never have been gay. He had a different issue altogether. If you Google search "ex-gay Doyle admits trying to molest girls in daycare" you can see for yourself what has been going on in his life. I understand conservatives want it to be true that getting some counseling will cure gays, but this is so far from the truth that the World Psychiatric Association has joined every national medical association calling for an end to all forms of reparative gay conversion therapy, explaining sexual orientation change efforts are ineffective and in too many cases harmful.
          Comment on The SPLC: Another favorite academic primary source falls apart by Rusty Writer   
If we accept the claims in this article, it still leaves out the most important point: After 40 years of 'change' claims, every major, decades-old Christian ex-gay ministry from the US to Australia closed forever. Leaders admitted no Christians had changed from homosexual to heterosexual. This confirmed what every medical association had long explained: sexual orientation is not a choice. "Pray away the gay" and "pay away the gay" therapies failed totally. Reparative gay conversion therapy, which was never scientific or medical (religiously based in spite of denials) was proven in court (JONAH case) to be consumer fraud. The supreme court affirmed this ruling by deciding not to even hear the appeal of the gay-curing quacks who the medical experts said healed nobody and harmed many. Brain scans show differences for homosexuals vs. heterosexuals with fetal brain scans showing those areas of difference begin to form in utero. Science has gone way past the original gay gene theory, discovering the role of epigenetic markers and hormones which interact with genes in the development of sexuality. But, what is the alternative explanation to being born gay? Freud's 1890's speculations that childhood traumas determine sexual orientation. One would expect compassion from those who hold this position since traumas like rape do great harm, more than a child can deal with. Yet, sadly this has not been the conservative stance.
          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
By now, we can probably say that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The word "probably" is apt because nothing is certain about the plans of this or any other Supreme Court justice when it comes to ending his or her service on the nation's highest court. But this week, the court wrapped up the current term, and Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, seems to have decided to stay on the job — at least for the coming term. There could be a variety of reasons. As an institutional matter, he could well have concluded that there had been enough uncertainty and drama on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the vacancy that lasted for well over a year with Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama's nominee. Kennedy may also have thought it best to ensure that there is a full complement of nine justices for at least a year. He could even have been put off by President Trump's tweets about the judiciary. But it is unlikely that
          Pope removes German cardinal as sex abuse crisis catches up - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Pope removes German cardinal as sex abuse crisis catches up
Washington Post
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis sacked the head of the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases Saturday, just days after he released another top Vatican cardinal to return home to stand trial for alleged sexual assault. The developments underscored ...
Cardinal's sex abuse charges raise questions about pope's recordUSA TODAY
Pope pushes out German hard-liner, chooses new doctrine chiefThe Boston Globe
Cardinal Muller departs the CDF: What does it mean?National Catholic Reporter (blog)
HuffPost -Christian Post -BBC News -New York Post
all 228 news articles »

          New 2018 Merida Reacto III - Top Things to Know   
New 2018 Merida Reacto III - Top Things to Know

For 2018, Merida has just announced the third iteration of this well-rounded aero road bike, the Reacto III. Improving on the previous version that earned praise thanks to its wind tunnel test results and ability to smooth out rough roads, the Reacto III looks set to keep up with the fast developing market. It's a bike that will be seen in use with Bahrain Merida’s Tour de France debut. Here are ten things to know.

Not sure if an aero road bike is right for you? Watch and read our guide to how Aero road bikes stack up against traditional race and endurance road bikes.

1. Similar profile to the last

From a distance, the new Reacto looks much like its predecessor (unless you’re looking at the disc version!), and that’s because in many ways it is. The sculpted seattube and lowly-set seatstays remain, as does the deep aero S-Flex seatpost. Likewise, Merida sticks with its NACA Fastback profiles on many of the frame’s tubes for cheating the wind.

However, take a closer look at some subtle exterior differences appear. The downtube shape is slimmer, the seatstay connection is lower and obviously, there’s that one-piece cockpit setup too. All told, Merida claims a 5% improvement in aerodynamics compared to the previous Reacto.

2. Two frame levels, two geometries

wx5u3oqfu5e7mf1st_mtzh_lm-jpg

The new Reacto is available in two levels of frame, the premium CF4 and the CF2, each with differing geometry.

Sitting as the top-end option, the CF4 frame uses a premium carbon fiber layup and hosts a number of subtle features that help it to be a little faster. Most notably, the CF4 frame features a more aggressive geometry that’s well suited to the racers. In fact, the stack height is lower and the head angle steeper when compared to the previous Reacto. The bottom bracket height has been dropped 5mm too.

The more affordable Reacto bikes make use of the CF2 frame, something that’s a little heavier and also features a more relaxed geometry when compared to the CF4. Here, the head tube angles are relaxed by half a degree, the stack sits over 20mm higher and the reach is also subtly shorter.

3. Lighter, faster, smoother

It wouldn’t be the bike industry without such claims, and Merida certainly hasn’t disappointed in improving the most obvious metrics.

While frame stiffness is said to be kept the same as the previous version, the weight is drastically different, 18.5% less for the entire frameset in fact. Including frame, fork, headset, seatpost and seatpost clamp, the previous Reacto weighed 2,046g, with the new at 1,695g.

Looking at the specifics (sizes unknown), the new CF4 rim brake frame and fork together weigh a claimed 1,368g. The CF4 Disc version adds just 60g to the figure.

Featuring a few subtle differences, namely a cheaper carbon fibre lay-up, the CF2 rim brake frame and fork weigh a claimed 1,500g together, with the disc brake version adding 97g.

The weight loss, achieved through slimmer tubes and a new carbon layup, hasn’t come at the cost of ride comfort. With the lower set seatstays and an updated seatpost said to provide a bike that’s approximately 10% smoother.

4. Disc and rim brake options

merida-reacto-3-2018-10-things-to-know-10-1-jpg

It seems fewer and fewer road racing bikes are being released without a disc-brake option, and the new Reacto is no exception. While all models will remain available with a direct-mount rim brake option, a large number of models will also be available in a disc-brake version (disc versions are sadly not being brought into Australia).

The disc brake versions feature flat-mount calipers, 12mm thru-axles and 160mm rotors front and rear.

5. Borrowed from the Scultura Disc

First seen with last year’s Merida Scultura Disc road bike, the Reacto Disc makes use of the same clever disc cooling system. These aluminium fins that sit on the fork and left chainstay help direct air into the brake calipers and rotors, and are said to reduce temperatures by around 35%.

6. Tricky Thu-Axles for the Disc

merida-reacto-3-2018-10-things-to-know-11-1-jpg

Where the rim brake versions stick with tried-and-trued quick releases, the disc versions make use of 12mm thru-axles front and rear. Interestingly, the CF4-level bikes receive the fast ‘R.A.T’ system, something designed to aid speedy wheel changes in a race situation.

This ‘Rapid Axle Technology’ (R.A.T) system was originally conceived by Focus Bikes and offers a clever keyed system that requires a flick of the quick lever and then quarter turn to undo, not the full unwinding of a more common threaded thru-axle system (something the CF2 Disc bikes make use of).

7. Tire clearance

merida-reacto-3-2018-10-things-to-know-2-jpg

Tires are forever getting wider as research has proven narrower isn’t always faster. Where some bikes are touting space for 28 or even 30c tires, Merida has kept the new Reacto a little more conservative and promises easy fitting of 25c tires on both the rim and disc-equipped versions.

8. Integrated cockpit

merida-reacto-3-2018-10-things-to-know-3-jpg

Integrated cockpits have become a popular pick on the latest aero road bikes, and smoothing out the front of the bike just makes sense when looking to fully optimize aerodynamics.

Where we’ve seen brands such as Trek, Specialized, Canyon and others go to the efforts of designing such an integrated handlebar and stem in-house, Merida instead reached out to a long-time component partner to refine a proven product.

As a result, the CF4-level Reactos will feature a one-piece carbon handlebar and stem that’s a close match to FSA’s Metron 5D. A special headset cone spacer has been supplied for a smooth, integrated fit with this cockpit setup.

The CF2 bikes will stick with a more traditional stem and handlebar, as is often the case on more affordable aero road bikes.

9. S-Flex seatpost gets better

Merida’s comfort adding S-Flex seatpost that features a flexible design and a small vibration-dampening rubber insert gets a small makeover. The design has been in use since 2012 and for 2018 will offer more comfort at a lower weight (94g saved).

The CF4-level bikes will feature a 206g fixed-offset version, while the cheaper CF2 framed bikes will use a flip-able head design that offers 0-15mm fore-aft saddle adjustment.

The seatposts are interchangeable between frames and Merida will offer the lighter fixed seatpost in either 15 or 25mm offset versions.


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          A stellar choice for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity   
(Paul Mirengoff) President Trump has appointed our friend Hans von Spakovsky to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. As with Eric Dreiband, Trump’s excellent pick to head the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the liberal media is already attacking von Spakovsky. For example, this Washington Post story begins: “President Trump on Thursday appointed a divisive conservative voting rights expert to spearhead the White House’s search into allegations of widespread fraud in the
          UPDATE 1-Maine governor orders partial shutdown with budget in limbo   
July 1- A budget impasse between Maine Governor Paul LePage and Democratic lawmakers triggered a shutdown of nonessential state services on Saturday, after the conservative Republican threatened to veto a bipartisan compromise reached by lawmakers. "This is about the future of Maine. The Maine people are taxed enough.
          Party of the Poor?   
In the past, I have not been pleased with either party, but have voted Republican only for their pro-life stance, which has not always been as strong as it might have been. Sadly, we have watched the Democratic party go from being the party of the working class to the party of abortion and sodomy. From Crisis:
For decades liberals have claimed that Democrats care for the poor and Republicans don’t. And they really believe it. A meme that circulated widely over left-leaning blogs a few years back had a depiction of Jesus with a child on his lap, reading,

It’s ironic because the biggest enemy of the Republicans isn’t Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, it’s THIS MAN… He said heal the sick, feed the hungry care for the weakest among us, and always pray in private.

The real irony for the Party of Pro-choice and its apologists is the child in Jesus’ arms. More recently, religious progressive Jack Jenkins wrote a piece, bluntly titled, “The Strange Origins of the GOP Ideology that Rejects Caring for the Poor” in reaction to comments made by GOP Congressman Roger Marshall on health care. In an attempt to explain why government-run programs don’t work, the Kansas Representative remarked, “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us. There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.” Although Marshall clarified that he was speaking “in the context of supporting the obligation we have to always take care of people (emphasis added),” progressives, imagining themselves tapped into the divine mind-set, took to the media with their own hermeneutics.

There was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough who disparaged the lawmaker’s comments as a “complete twisting of everything that the Gospel is about. Everything! Read the Gospel. Read the Sermon on the Mount. … I mean, Jesus was pretty clear.” Yes, he was, and Scarborough would do well to read those texts himself—or, perhaps, a little more closely.

There was also Matthew Loftus in America: The Jesuit Review who traced Marshall’s biblical quote to Deuteronomy 15:11 where the Israelites were commended “[to] always be generous and open-handed with their neighbors.” Jack Jenkins included a link to the same verse in his critique. Such biblical expositors should note that unless we are living under a theocratic government, as was ancient Israel, the state has no biblical duty to the poor. As James Madison put it, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.” Our nation’s Founders understood that, biblically, the role of the state is limited to protecting the citizenry, preserving civil order, and executing justice, and that care of the needy is the responsibility of those closest to their need—neighbors and de-centralized civic and faith-based organizations.

Contrary to the “clobber” verses marshaled to argue otherwise (e.g., Matthew 5 and Matthew 25), when Jesus taught about duty to the poor, he was not speaking to government officials or their political bodies, he was speaking to his disciples—sometimes privately—indicating that the care of the needy is their responsibility as Christians.

For nineteen hundred years, their followers did just that, individually, and through the collective of the Church, caring for each other and their neighbors by establishing hospitals, orphanages, food distribution systems, and houses for the poor and aged. Although exceptions can be found on both sides of the political aisle, Republicans do not care any less about the poor than Democrats. They just differ on how and by whom it should be given. In short, they believe that care is best handled at the local level by individuals and “mediating” institutions like churches, faith-based charities, civic groups, and other volunteer associations. They reject programs that encourage a culture of idleness and dependence, in favor of those that help the able-bodied poor become employable and self-reliant so that they can have the dignity of earning a living and providing for their families. (Read more.)

          Germany's Atonement?   
A fascinating article on Merkel, with a reference to my cousin John Laughland. From American Thinker:
In the mainstream media, the policies of the German prime minister, Angela Merkel, are often portrayed as a form of atonement for Germany’s past sins of imperialism and genocide. Letting in a million refugees is supposedly the absolute negation of the Holocaust, and pressing for further European cooperation is seen as the opposite of Germany’s old attempts to violently bring the rest of Europe under its control. And for these very reasons, progressive politicians and intellectuals around the world are now looking up to Merkel as the defender of pluralistic Western values.

At first sight, this praise for Merkel doesn’t seem so far-fetched, even for conservatives who fundamentally oppose her policies. After all, she is acting out of genuine goodwill and charity towards the downtrodden of the Middle East, isn’t she? And we may disagree about the feasibility and consequences of further European integration, but given Europe’s bloody past it seems perfectly understandable that Germany’s prime minister is calling for more harmony among European nations.

Nonetheless, it is important to point out that the popular image both of Angela Merkel and of modern Germany is deeply flawed. Because far from representing a negation -- or a misguided attempt at negation -- of past German policies and attitudes, the modern German mentality is in many ways a mutation or an update of the same mentality that has guided Germany since the eighteenth century, and especially since the unification of the country in 1870.
Let us begin with the more obvious parallel: German support for further European integration. Despite all the German talk about subordinating narrow national interests to the European project, careful observers must have noticed the coincidence that the Germans always see themselves as the leaders of this disinterested project, and that the measures deemed to be necessary for further European cooperation always seem to be German-made.

Are the Germans really such idealistic supporters of the European project? It is more probable that in reality they see the European Union as an ideal instrument to control the rest of Europe. Indeed, in 1997 the British author John Laughland wrote a book about this subject, The Tainted Source: the Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea, which is still worth reading for anyone who wants understand what kind of organization the EU actually is. According to Laughland, the Germans are such big supporters of the European ideal because they know that all important decisions in a confederation of states can ultimately only be taken by or with the approval of the most important state -- in this case, Germany. (Read more.)

          Top Kansas Lawmakers Rebuke Brownback Over Budget, Taxes - U.S. News & World Report   

U.S. News & World Report

Top Kansas Lawmakers Rebuke Brownback Over Budget, Taxes
U.S. News & World Report
Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, left, R-Overland Park, makes a point during a meeting on budget issues, as Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, listening to his right, Friday, June 30, 2017, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan.
New Kansas Income Tax Law Means Changes For Small Businesses — And PaychecksKCUR
Is Kansas conservative? That is a mythParsons Sun
Lawmakers argue again with Brownback, agree to allow Kansas to borrow $900 millionKansas City Star
The Garden City Telegram -Wichita Eagle (blog)
all 18 news articles »

          Right Likes To Mix Oil With Their Tea   
If conservatives really cared about limited government, they would be the ones trying to end tax-dollar giveaways to Big Oil
          Comment on Letter: The Left perfected ‘fake news’ by RfromN   
Your letter reeks of Mein Kampf and the big lie "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself." It is your contention that the vast majority of the press are fake news except for the sources you choose to believe. You bring up "Rathergate" yet you fail to include the fact that there were repercussions. Journalists lose their jobs if they don't publish factually correct articles. The website you promote and the rest of the conservative propaganda outlets do not have the same standards. If you think Hillary was guilty for Benghazi, which a majority of conservatives do, it is because Powerlineblog, Breitbart, Fox news and the rest of the state media published 1000s of articles promoting her guilt. The problem is there were Eight investigations by House Select Committeees and every one of them found no wrong doing on her part. This is just one the big lies that has been repeated often enough by the Republicans. Did anyone from Powerlineblog, Breitbart or Fox lose their jobs for promoting these false stories? Of course not. Another big lie is the ACA is a disaster. They point out the few states with the worst record and hold them up as the majority, yet the fact is, the overall rates have risen slower during the ACA than before. There is also the fact that ~14 million gained coverage which led to thousands of lives being saved. Does that sound like a disater. NO, but they keep repeating the lie. This is true for Hillary's emails and Obama not being a US citizen, just to name a few. If you look back to the Nazis, they ran on nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiments and against the Luggenpresse (lying press). Does this sound familiar? Putin knows that to destroy a democracy, you have to undermine the free press, which is a big reason why his efforts supported Trump. So remember, Putin smiles everytime someone spreads the fake news lie.
          Humanity Party cult leader Chris Nemelka to introduce Donald Trump at Roanoke rally, promises ‘big truth’   
ROANOKE, Va. — Trump aides confirmed Humanity Party leader Chris Nemelka, a neoconservative religious cult leader who plies his congregation with opioids, is scheduled to introduce the 2016 Republican presidential nominee at a rally in the quiet mountain village of Roanoke, Virginia. Nemelke said in a podcast he supports Trump specifically because Trump stands for …
          Justice Neil Gorsuch votes 100 percent of the time with most conservative colleague   
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas agreed on cases spanning several hotly contested issues, including same-sex marriage, gun rights, immigration and taxpayer aid to religious schools.
          Patriotism   

There are calls to patriotism from some corners of the Conservative Party. What exactly is patriotism?


When we all lived in caves, patriotism (or tribalism, as it was then) was a biological, gut reaction that ensured survival against other tribes. It still has relevance, perhaps, in times of war, but not necessarily for everyone. When someone is about to jump off a cliff and calls on your to follow them using the call to patriotism, the word is bereft of all intellectual meaning, not that it has much these days anyway. It is the last resort of a scoundrel, as Dr Johnson once said, by which he meant it's used when all else fails - logic, reason, etc.

If you call me to follow you today, citing patriotism, what happens in 5 years time when you are no longer in favour and have been voted out? Does the patriotism I exhibited when I followed you suddenly become treason? The current calls to patriotism seek to demonise a very large section of the population that disagrees profoundly with a certain party's actions (what's the opposite of a patriot?). That is morally reprehensible.

The mistake a lot of voters make these days - and probably have since time immemorial - is to dogmatically defend their chosen party, whether they be right or wrong. This inevitably leads them at some stage into the untenable position of trying to defend the indefensible. Rather than admit that an area of policy is just not up to scratch, they will argue black is white to justify their allegiance and end up tying themselves in logical knots in any argument. A dogmatic position in politics, as in religion, is a route to disaster and invariably makes one look stupid, as there is guaranteed to be a paradox or logical inconsistency somewhere that has to be defended.

A call to patriotism usually comes from a demagogue. Populist demagoguery appears when people lose a sense of identity and scapegoats are sought in order to lay the blame elsewhere. You become a victim and place your faith in a perceived 'strong leader', which is dangerous thinking, as that strong leader generally has feet of clay and cannot deliver on his or her promises anyway. Once this realisation kicks in on the part of the populist demagogue, tyranny can easily follow, especially if the demagogue has destroyed civil liberties in the name of 'strong and stable' leadership.

Like it or not, the world is going global, and turning inward and pulling up the drawbridge under such circumstances is dangerous. Whereas the free market is very good at generating wealth, it’s a terrible mechanism for distributing that wealth and leaves vast swathes of the population worse off and prey to the demagogue. Populist demagoguery, based on lies and deception, is the precursor to nationalism and nationalism, as a reaction to globalism, is a medication that’s worse than the disease itself.



          Age Related Conservatism   

a few weeks ago I received an invitation to join YouGov, the polling firm, to provide input to many of their polls. No idea why I was selected, but I thought it a good idea. YouGov has daily polls on some three subjects that are in the news and the result of the polls are fed back to those who participate. The results are broken down by gender, political leanings, UK region and age group, and they show some interesting trends, the most obvious one being that people move to the right of the political spectrum as they get older.


Psychologists have studied this age related conservatism (with a small c) and have identified a number of factors.

  1. As we grow older our thinking slows down, and intellectual curiosity stagnates. This leads to us becoming less inclined to seek out new experiences, which are proven to open us up to alternative views.
  2. After the age of about 40, and accelerating as we enter into our 60s, this slower thinking tends to make us see things as either black or white and we dismiss views that conflict with preconceptions, shutting out new knowledge.
  3. As we age we prefer to navigate life on autopilot, feeling more comfortable with the perceived certainty of our isolated views. Remaining open-minded causes uncertainty, leading to insecurity and self-doubt. Older people are less willing to admit they've made a mistake and cling tenaciously to old, discredited mantras.
Time after time, the daily YouGov poll feedback shows those over 50 generally have more reactionary views, while those at the other end of the age continuum are more progressive.

The strange thing is that the older I get, the more I seem to be moving to the left. It could be a lot to do with the fact that the older I get, the more frugally I tend to live life, meaning I've become less acquisitive and much happier in my skin, which makes me think a bit more about those less fortunate than me.

Having said that, like most people, I inherited my politics from my father - a Conservative - and voted that way for decades, not really questioning why. In my 40s I moved a tad left of centre and remained there, having developed a more analytical approach to politics and a social conscience. To be honest, I've not moved further left; the left seems to have moved closer to me. I'm constantly horrified by the number of people who never read a manifesto and vote on the basis of either blind, tribal allegiance (as in the parental example above), or the presidential attributes of the party leaders.



          Foxy Well Politicians   

The inevitable happened last night - Foxy came for his dinner only to run into Kitty. There was a bit of a scuffle and Kitty saw him off. As soon as Kitty came off guard duty he came back though.

Hay had an appointment yesterday at something called a Well Woman Clinic. Bloody oxymoron, if you ask me. A bloke doesn't even go to see his GP when he's ill, never mind about when he's well.


Apparently a team of scientists have used algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics used to describe the properties of objects and spaces regardless of how they change shape, to analyse the brain. They found that groups of neurons connect into 'cliques', and that the number of neurons in a clique would lead to its size as a high-dimensional geometric object. "We found a world that we had never imagined," says lead researcher, neuroscientist Henry Markram from the EPFL institute in Switzerland. "There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to 11 dimensions." 

Human brains are estimated to have a staggering 86 billion neurons, with multiple connections from each cell webbing in every possible direction, forming the vast cellular network that somehow makes us capable of thought and consciousness. With such a huge number of connections to work with, it's no wonder we still don't have a thorough understanding of how the brain's neural network operates.

In order to simplify the study, I'm led to believe that the team will be working on Brexit supporting Conservative politicians' brains. They'll move on to something more complex at a later stage.



          Strong and Stable   

Overheard while watching the fox in the garden:

Hay: "How do you make signs to a fox that you aren't a threat?"

Chairman: "I think it helps if you're not mounted on a horse with a pack of hounds."

So we have a minority Conservative government propped up by a bunch of homophobic, young earth creationist, anti-abortionist, climate change denyers. That'll work out well then. She promised certainty, but I didn't think it meant the certainty of hell on earth.


Not only that, but it looks increasingly likely we'll have that buffoon and serial liar, Boris Johnson, as PM within 6 months. We've just elected a PM who wasn't elected when she came to power, only to have another one foisted on us soon. The UK must be an international laughing stock.

It'll make the Brexit discussions quite interesting to have a UVF hit squad and some Semtex at the negotiating table. I wonder if Mrs May is thinking of targeting the Loyalist paramilitaries on ISIS sympathisers? The one saving grace is that the DUP favour a soft Brexit.

Too many issues have clouded this election - and the elephant in the room is Brexit. In order to allow the electorate to focus on party policies and elect a majority government, the boil of Brexit has to be lanced once and for all. The sane thing to do (but since when have the Conservative party been sane) would be to have another referendum, using the 60% majority marker, which is the case in every proper referendum, followed by another general election shortly afterwards. Accepting a simple majority in the referendum was simply bonkers and doesn't allow negotiation from a position of strength.

No, it's not what the Brexiteers want, but it's in the interests of political certainty - whether we head into Brexit negotiations or not. If we are to enter into Brexit negotiations, any government negotiating from a minority position is in a position of inherent weakness.

Either that, or stick with the original, stated intent that the referendum was advisory and ditch the whole sorry mess, leaving us to cope with 5 years of austerity and tax breaks for the rich, rather than a total disaster that Brexit will wreak.



          Power is Truth   

If there's one thing this UK election has highlighted, it's the utter folly of accepting a slim, simple majority in any referendum, as the resulting division is guaranteed to bring uncertainty and uncertainty is not good for the economic viability of any country. Strong and stable demands a large majority. Are the long knives about to be wielded? The Conservatives have now proven, in the referendum and this election, that political opportunism is the order of the day. For the 3rd time within a couple of weeks, I repeat that any endeavour having self-glorification as its endpoint is bound to end in disaster.

I was watching the James Comey testimony on TV yesterday and at one stage a Senator said something like; "It's always good when truth speaks to power." Speaking truth to power was a phrase allegedly coined by Quakers in the 1950s.

The problem in the USA, and now the UK, is that, increasingly, whatever power says is rapidly becoming truth, even if delivered by Twitter, and anyone who disagrees is labelled a traitor.


Trump is an arch proponent of the Orwellian power is truth ideology, along with a lot of news media outlets.

The problem is that if enough people believe the lie and the myth, it's as good as a reality. You only have to look at the paper money in your wallet - intrinsically worthless and backed by nothing more concrete than the market's confidence in the country, yet we can't live without it, so it's convenient to believe the lie.

Myths bind people together to achieve great things that can't be achieved by individuals. Binding myths are things like religion, nationality, cyber-currencies, trading blocs, corporations, political parties, even government itself - none are real and exist only in the minds of the believers for so long as it's convenient. For most, it's far come comfortable to live in the Matrix than to unplug themselves. The irony is that the myths are also the things that deeply divide people.

On reality; if a politician says; "The reality is....," the one thing you can guarantee is that the last thing they're talking about is an objective reality - they're talking about the myth.

I recommend reading a couple of books, both by Yuval Noah Harari; 'Sapiens' and 'Homo Deus'. The latter goes into great depth about convenient myths and where humanity is heading. I read Sapiens last week and am half way through Homo Deus.



          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          Homosexuals have more fun!   
"Gay participants in several cities complained of an almost total absence of coverage of gay culture, events and interests...They're mostly good liberals down there (at the newspaper) and they try, but they are still pretty touchy about gay stories." --Haiman, Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists, pages 43-56 I thought these two quotes were pretty interesting because they reflect some of the difficulties with including diversity in newspapers, particularly with the gay community. Newspapers are supposed to be objective and unbiased, but it's "liberal" to include "gay stories"? The fact that people consider covering the gay community in a positive way is considered "liberal" is something that makes me very angry, but that may just be my politics. I don't believe it should be considered "political" to include stories about gay couples who have normal, monogamous lifestyles, but the fact that some people do may be what hinders newspapers from covering gay people in a comprehensive and fair manner. Because so much of the conservative rhetoric against gay marriage is aimed at inciting fear that gay people publicly acknowledging their relationships will destroy the moral framework of society, depicting the truth of many gay people's lives--happy, well-adjusted, and healthy lifestyles--goes against that rhetoric. Is that political? I would just call it fair and objective reporting. I don't think it should be called "liberal." There's nothing wrong with reporting on more "flamboyant" gay people, as the man from Portland on page 44 says, but when that's all the newspaper is covering, they're conforming to a stereotype that confirms some people's misguided beliefs about the gay community in general. The dilemma is that some people don't want to hear about the full complexity of these people's lives. It's not necessarily pushing one political agenda if you're objectively reporting facts that may change the conversation about a certain issue. As a reporter, you can't ignore them. That's why I think this is an area of reporting where newspapers need to be less afraid of what the readership will think in order to really get the truth out there.
          A positive vision to leave   
For decades now, I have argued with people who suggested that it wasn't worth voting.  Same sh*t, different faces was the essence of their argument.  With the Brexit vote looming, and the possibility that we might not vote to leave, I have realised tonight that those people had a point. 

Does it really matter who tells us to do what Brussels decides?  No.  Has Cameron stamped the imprint of distinctly Conservative policies on this nation?  No.  Has he changed the agenda from the liberal-left corporatist centrist lets-just-muddle-through-and-stay-in-power smile-for-the-camera machine politics that we have had since 1990?  No.  Does he even have the power to do that?  No, he's only the Prime Minister.  He doesn't have the authority to change the agenda, because he doesn't set it. 

So let's vote for something positive on the 23rd.

Let's vote to make our politics our own again.

Let's vote to make Westminster meaningful again, to give it the chance to rise to the opportunity.

Let's vote in favour of making voting worthwhile.  

Let's vote to leave the EU.
          Some free advice for the Conservatives   
 Offered on the blog of my MP, Steve Baker, in response to his article arguing that the UKIP surge is actually a vote for disengagement with politics, pointing at the low turnout figure.  He comments:
It is a tragic fact that politicians are once again talking to themselves while commentators encourage them to do so. We have failed to inspire the public even to throw us out.
The challenge after this election is not how to defeat UKIP. It is how to speak truthfully, hopefully and realistically to a population thoroughly disenchanted with the entire political system.
My response:

You're right that there has been a strong shift towards not voting; this has been developing over several General Elections and is symptomatic of a general mistrust of politicians.  There is a cosy stalemate that has emerged between the media and senior politicians, whereby the media limit their questions to ones designed to catch politicians out and trip them into saying something that can be misinterpreted, and politicians avoid saying anything of any substance or meaning in reply.  Both tendencies reinforce the other.  Both lead to people switching off.

UKIP have succeeded in tapping into this and presenting themselves as a break from the old order.  In that regard, by focusing on "gaffes" made by UKIP spokesmen or candidates, the traditional media have played into their hands by confirming that UKIP are not part of the club and that the Establishment is ganging up on them. 

There are opportunities in this for the Conservatives, though.  Labour have shown themselves to be a failure (I think it has been quoted that no opposition party has ever not won a Euro election until now?), so the clear focus must now be on UKIP.  The question is, why have so many Conservative supporters left for UKIP?  My suggestion would be that a general mistrust of Cameron, a feeling that when the day comes he will wriggle out of the referendum promise, and a feeling that he is a highly experienced politician and "one of them", are the main reasons.

To an extent, Cameron's shiftiness on policy has possibly been because he has been hamstrung by the constraints of coalition politics.  But now, with the Liberals effectively dead in the water and the EU staring at a clear mandate for a British exit if current terms are maintained, he can afford to strike out, say what he thinks, and maybe even do it.

In his shoes, I would

(a) Describe the exact form of EU that he would wish to see.  I for one don't actually know what that is.

(b) Set. A. Date. For. The. Referendum.  Also, publish the question that will be set.  That way, it might look as if he is committed to it.

(c) Go to Brussels and ask for his vision of Europe.  Explain bluntly that they can say "no" if they wish but it appears that the UK will leave if they do so.  Point out that there is now a hard, immovable deadline.

(d) Don't be afraid to tell interviewers they've asked a stupid question, or one based on a truckload of false assumptions.  Stop being a Westminster pansy and speak up.  Don't let them dictate the terms of the interview.  The media are not your friends, stop treating them as such.  Show a little steel.

I know of two Wycombe votes that may go back from UKIP to Conservative if this happens.
          That Conservative Party Draft EU Bill In Full...   

DRAFT European Union (Referendum) Bill

A
BILL
TO


Make provision for the holding of a referendum in the United Kingdom on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union.



Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-


1. Referendum on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union
(1) A referendum is to be held on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union.
(1A) Oh yes it will.
(1B)  No, really.
(1C) Look, we mean it this time.  We really do.
(1D) OK, I know we said we have one like this before and didn't, but this time it's different, Nigel Farage is at the door and he's looking very smug.
(2) The referendum must be held before 31 December 2017.
(2A) Or... ummm... Douglas Carswell will get really upset.
(2B) Unless the government of the day decides not to hold it after all.
(2C) Which they will be perfectly entitled to do.
(3) The Secretary of State shall by order appoint the day on which the referendum is to be held.
(3A) Unless he puts forward a Bill to rescind this Bill.
(4) An order under this section may not be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.
(5) The question that is to appear on the ballot papers is—
       “Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?”
(6) In Wales, a Welsh version of the question is also to appear on the ballot papers, as provided by order.
(6A) Scotland & Northern Ireland can cope with just an English question.
(6B) England probably won't, if someone could kindly translate the question into Polish, that'd be great, thanks.

[...]

6. Short title
(1) This Act may be cited as the Desperately Trying to Save Our Bacon (Farage) Act 2013.

          Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize   
Born in 1936 in Arequipaog, Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa has for years been Peru's most acclaimed writer. In the late 1980s he also gained a reputation as a right-wing maverick when he led a mass movement against a decision to nationalize the country''s banks and later ran for the presidency in 1990 as a free market conservative. "His political position stains his literature" were the words of Argentine writer Luisa Valenzuela. The Nobel Prize committee obviously disagreed and cited Mario Vargas Llosa "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat". A complex figure, we quote Vargas Llosa from a 2002 interview about his latest book at that time, The Feast of the Goat:

What was the inspiration for The Feast of the Goat?

In 1975, I went to the Dominican Republic for eight months during the shooting of a film based on my novel Captain Pantoja and the Special Service. It was during this period I heard and read about Trujillo. I had the idea of a novel set with this historical background. It's a long project. I went many times to the Dominican Republic to read the papers, and also to interview many people: victims, neutral people and collaborators of Trujillo.

To what degree is the book really about Alberto Fujimori?

Well, I think it's a book about Trujillo, but if you write about a dictator you are writing about all dictators, and about totalitarianism. I was writing not only about Trujillo but about an emblematic figure and something that has been experienced in many other societies.

Particularly in Latin America.

When I was at university in the Fifties, Latin America was full of dictators. Trujillo was the emblematic figure because, of course, of his cruelty, corruption, extravagance, and theatricalities. He pushed to the extreme trends which were quite common to most dictators of the time.

The corruption of power.

Dictators are not natural catastrophes. That's something I wanted to describe: how dictators are made with the collaboration of many people, and sometimes even with the collaboration of their victims.

Do you have insights into dictatorship from your political experience?

My three years in politics was very instructive about the way in which the appetite for political power can destroy a human mind, destroy principles and values and transform people into little monsters.

This novel is written partly from a woman's point of view. Was that a problem?

A challenge, not a problem. I wanted a woman to be one of the protagonists, because I think women were the worst victims of Trujillo. To his authoritarianism you have to add machismo. Trujillo used sex not only for pleasure but also as an instrument of power. And in this he went far further than many, many other dictators. He went to bed, for example, with the wives of his collaborators.

Like a Shakespeare play.

In a way. Coriolanus is a fantastic play about this subject. - from an interview with Mario Vargas Llosa conducted by Robert McCrum and published in The Observer in 2002.

1 Urania. Her parents had done her no favor; her name suggested a planet, a mineral, anything but the slender, fine-featured woman with burnished skin and large, dark, rather sad eyes who looked back at her from the mirror. Urania! What an idea for a name. Fortunately nobody called her that anymore; now it was Uri, Miss Cabral, Ms. Cabral, Dr. Cabral. As far as she could remember, after she left Santo Domingo (or Ciudad Trujillo -- when she left they had not yet restored the old name to the capital city), no one in Adrian, or Boston, or Washington, D.C., or New York had called her Urania as they did at home and at the Santo Domingo Academy, where the sisters and her classmates pronounced with absolute correctness the ridiculous name inflicted on her at birth. Was it his idea or hers? Too late to find out, my girl; your mother was in heaven and your father condemned to a living death. You'll never know. Urania! As absurd as insulting old Santo Domingo de Guzman by calling it Ciudad Trujillo. Could that have been her father's idea too?

She waits for the sea to become visible through the window of her room on the ninth floor of the Hotel Jaragua, and at last she sees it. The darkness fades in a few seconds and the brilliant blue of the horizon quickly intensifies, beginning the spectacle she has been anticipating since she woke at four in spite of the pill she had taken, breaking her rule against sedatives. The dark blue surface of the ocean, marked by streaks of foam, extends to a leaden sky at the remote line of the horizon, while here, at the shore, it breaks in resounding, whitecapped waves against the Sea Walk, the Malecón, where she can make out sections of the broad road through the palms and almond trees that line it. Back then, the Hotel Jaragua faced the Malecón directly. Now it's to the side. Her memory brings back the image -- was that the day? -- of the little girl holding her father's hand as they entered the hotel restaurant so the two of them could have lunch together. They were given a table next to the window, and through the sheer lace curtains Urania could see the spacious garden and the pool with its diving boards and swimmers. In the Patio Espanol, surrounded by glazed tiles and flowerpots filled with carnations, an orchestra was playing merengues. Was that the day? "No" she says aloud. The Jaragua of those days had been torn down and replaced by this massive shocking-pink structure that had surprised her so much when she arrived in Santo Domingo three days ago.

Were you right to come back? You'll be sorry, Urania. Wasting a week's vacation, when you never had time to visit all the cities, regions, countries you would have liked to see -- the mountain ranges and snow-covered lakes of Alaska, for instance -- returning to the island you swore you'd never set foot on again. A symptom of decline? The sentimentality of age? Curiosity, nothing more. To prove to yourself you can walk along the streets of this city that is no longer yours, travel through this foreign country and not have it provoke sadness, nostalgia, hatred, bitterness, rage in you. Or have you come to confront the ruin of your father? To learn what effect seeing him has on you, after so many years. A shudder runs the length of her body. Urania, Urania! What if after all these years you discover that behind your determined, disciplined mind, impervious to discouragement, behind the fortress admired and envied by others, you have a tender, timid, wounded, sentimental heart? - an excerpt from The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
          Tariq Ali on "The Obama Syndrome"   
What has really changed since Obama replaced Bush in the White House. Very little, argues Tariq Ali in his latest book, The Obama Syndrome: Surrender At Home, War Abroad, apart from the mood music.

I know some of his supporters might feel it’s a little harsh, but I think that we’ve had two years of him now, Amy, and the contours of this administration are now visible. And essentially, it is a conservative administration which has changed the mood music. So the talk is better. The images of the administration are better, the reasonable looks. But in terms of what they do—in foreign policy, we’ve seen a continuation of the Bush-Cheney policies, and worse, in AfPak, as they call it, and at home, we’ve seen a total capitulation to the lobbyists, to the corporations. The fact that the healthcare bill was actually drafted by someone who used to be an insurance lobbyist says it all.

Let’s look at it concretely. Bush had promised exactly the same withdrawal pattern from Iraq: by this time, we will be out. Obama has followed it. They’re not going out. What is essentially happening, they’re reducing the presence of combat troops and eliminating it in the big cities, and building six huge military bases all over Iraq, in which they’ll keep between fifty and sixty thousand soldiers, ready to act when the need be—just like the British did when they occupied Iraq in the '20s and ’30s of the last century. And the British were then driven out by a violent upheaval and revolution in the ’50s. So the US is keeping these bases in, (a) to control Iraq, and (b) as a warning to Iran. And I think there's going to be trouble.

The war isn’t over at all. We’ve seen, just a few days ago, huge explosions in Baghdad and Fallujah. It’s a total disaster and a mess. And to present that as somehow "mission accomplished part two" is a joke. That country has been wrecked, a million Iraqis dead, its social infrastructure destroyed. And in Afghanistan, they are now going from bad to worse. They know, and General Eikenberry knows and says, we cannot win this war militarily. They can’t lose it, but they can’t win it, either. So, political solution is the only way out, and that means that they have to have an exit strategy. Obama isn’t even talking about that, because that might be construed as a sign of weakness. But by who? The army knows what’s going on. They can’t stay there forever. - Tariq Ali, speaking to Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow!

In Cairo, at West Point, at Oslo, Obama has treated the world to one uplifting homily after another, each address larded with every euphemism that White House speechwriters can muster to describe America’s glowing mission in the world: ‘Our country has borne a special burden in global affairs’; ‘Our cause is just, our resolve unwavering.’ The model for this variant of imperial presidency is Woodrow Wilson—no less pious a Christian, whose every second word was peace, democracy or self-determination, while his armies invaded Mexico, occupied Haiti and attacked Russia. But cant still goes a long way to satisfy those who yearn for it... - Tariq Ali, from The Obama Syndrome.
          The beautiful brain of Sherman Alexie: War Dances wins 2010 Pen/Faulkner Award   
Sherman Alexie has won the 2010 Pen/Faulkner Award for fiction for his book of short stories, essays and poems, War Dances. He is the first Native American author to win the prestigious prize.

Are Indians pressured by the marketplace to write certain kinds of stories?

It's the corn-pollen, four directions, eagle-feathers school of Native literature. People are more interested in our spirituality than anything else. Certainly, I've never received that kind of pressure because I never wrote that kind of stuff, but there are a lot of people out there selling their spirituality.

What expectations do you encounter from readers?

It's so funny -- because I'm a public Indian figure, people assume I have all these magical Indian powers, like I'm some sort of healer or shaman. That also extends to just being a writer in general -- I think people assume that just because somebody's good with metaphors, he's a better human being. It's not true. I'm just better with metaphors than 99 percent of the population, and that doesn't make me magical, it just makes me fairly smart.

In your experience, do white Americans have a different sense of history -- both of events, and the significance of those events in contemporary culture -- than American Indians?

White Americans have a short memory. This country really hasn't entered puberty yet -- white Americans' political thoughts are really young, and the culture is really young. The one general statement you can make about America is it's young, and wildly immature, and incredibly talented. Like some twelve-year-old kid who really pisses you off, because he's really good at everything and he knows it. What can be done to bring the U.S. from this immature point to maturity?

I don't know. I'm one of those people who thinks that the world is getting better and better. I wouldn't want to be an Indian a hundred years ago -- somebody would be shooting at me. I wouldn't want to be a woman forty years ago, and I wouldn't want to be a black person twenty-five years ago. I think the world is getting better, and it's getting better because of liberal social policies. I don't think there has ever been a conservative social policy that helped anybody, except those who enacted it. I don't believe in any -ism particularly, I believe in fighting conservatism. Conservatives didn't want women to vote, didn't want Indians to become citizens.


- an excerpt from an Atlantic Unbound interview with Jessica Chapel.

WORLD PHONE CONVERSATION, 3 A.M.

After I got home with yogurt and turkey dogs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and my brother-in-law left, I watched George Romero’s “Diary of the Dead,” and laughed at myself for choosing a movie that featured dozens of zombies getting shot in the head. When the movie was over, I called my wife, nine hours ahead in Italy. “I should come home,” she said. “No, I’m O.K.,” I said. “Come on, you’re in Rome. What are you seeing today?” “The Vatican.” “You can’t leave now. You have to go and steal something. It will be revenge for every Indian. Or maybe you can plant an eagle feather and claim that you just discovered Italy.” “I’m worried.” “Yeah, Catholicism has always worried me.” “Stop being funny. I should see if I can get Mom and me on a flight tonight.” “No, no, listen, your mom is old. This might be her last adventure. It might be your last adventure with her. Stay there. Say hi to the Pope for me. Tell him I like his shoes.” That night, my sons climbed into bed with me. We all slept curled around one another like sled dogs in a snowstorm. I woke, hour by hour, and touched my head and neck to see if they had changed shape—to feel if antennae were growing. Some insects hear with their antennae. Maybe that was what was happening to me.

EXIT INTERVIEW FOR MY FATHER

· Did you, when drunk, ever get behind the tattered wheel of a ’76 Ford three-speed van and somehow drive your family a thousand miles on an empty tank of gas? · Is it true that the only literary term that has any real meaning in the Native American world is “road movie”? · How many times, during any of your road trips, did your children ask you, “Are we there yet?” · In twenty-five words or less, please define “there.” · Sir, in your thirty-nine years as a parent you broke your children’s hearts, collectively and individually, six hundred and twelve times, and you did this without ever striking any human being in anger. Does this absence of physical violence make you a better man than you might otherwise have been? · Without using the words “man” or “good,” can you please define what it means to be a good man? · Do you think you will see angels before you die? Do you think angels will come to escort you to Heaven? As the angels are carrying you to Heaven, how many times will you ask, “Are we there yet?”

REUNION

After she returned from Italy, my wife climbed into bed with me. I felt as if I hadn’t slept comfortably in years. I said, “There was a rumor that I’d grown a tumor, but I killed it with humor.” “How long have you been waiting to tell me that one?” she asked. “Oh, probably since the first time some doctor put his fingers in my brain.” We made love. We fell asleep. But, agitated by the steroids, I woke at 2, 3, 4, and 5 A.M. The bed was killing my back, so I lay flat on the floor. I wasn’t going to die anytime soon, at least not because of my little friend Tumor, but that didn’t make me feel any more comfortable or comforted. I felt distant from the world—from my wife and my sons, from my mother and my siblings, from all my friends. I felt closest to those who’d always had fingers in their brains. I didn’t feel any closer to the world six months later, when another MRI revealed that my meningioma had not grown in size or changed its shape. “You’re looking good,” my doctor said. “How’s your hearing?” “I think I’ve got about ninety per cent of it back.” “Well, then, the steroids worked. Good.” And I didn’t feel any more intimate with the world nine months after that, when one more MRI made my doctor hypothesize that my meningioma might only be more scar tissue from the hydrocephalus. “Frankly,” he said, “your brain is beautiful.” “Thank you,” I said, though it was the oddest compliment I’d ever received. I wanted to call my father and tell him that a white man thought my brain was beautiful. But I couldn’t tell him anything. He was dead. I told my wife and my sons that I was O.K. I told my mother and my siblings. I told my friends. But none of them laughed as hard about my beautiful brain as I knew my father—the drunk bastard—would have.

- three snippets from War Dances by Sherman Alexie.
          Open Government Initiative   
The federal Liberal government has recently released a party initiative designed to open up and add transparency to government. The Open Government Initiative will restore the long-form census reversing the unpopular move by the current Harper conservative government to cut the census make as many government datasets as possible available to the public starting with […]
          Top minister tells Tories national debate on tuition fees may be needed   
First Secretary of State Damian Green says the Conservatives must “change hard” to attract young, educated voters who backed Labour.
          FWi Podcast 3 - July 2006 David Cameron interview   
itunes pic
Welcome to FWi's third podcast. In this special episode FW Arable editor Julian Gairdner talks to Conservative Leader David Cameron in an exclusive FWi interview on the way to the Royal Show. To listen to the podcast simply click on the the green "Play" button below. Alternatively, to download the podcast click on the "Dowload" link below. If you are experiencing problems when listening to the podcast (ie. playback speed) try downloading the file and selecting Windows Media Player as the playback program.
          McConnell on Obamacare repeal: 'Not easy making America great again' - Politico   

Politico

McConnell on Obamacare repeal: 'Not easy making America great again'
Politico
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is sticking to his current plan of trying to simultaneously repeal and replace Obamacare, despite a call from President Donald Trump and some conservative members of his conference to separate the two tasks.

and more »

          America is not as divided as you might think — here's the proof - Business Insider   

Business Insider

America is not as divided as you might think — here's the proof
Business Insider
It was 13 years ago that a young senator from Illinois stood in front of the country and declared that "there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America." Since that 2004 speech at the Democratic National ...


          TCW Week in Review   

Six of the best Niall McCrae: The online Corbyn mob is middle class, educated and vicious Paul T Horgan: We are in for a nasty dose of socialism unless conservatives fight back soon Kathy Gyngell: Evan Davis personifies the contempt of BBC elitists for Brexit Belinda Brown: Vengeful harridans can kick an innocent boy out […]

The post TCW Week in Review appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Karen Harradine: Virtue-signalling global elitists show contempt for democracy   

Due to the nature of my husband’s profession, I travel a lot. And wherever I go in the world I can always count on meeting someone who ridicules Donald Trump. At dinner parties I have heard wealthy entrepreneurs mock Trump, who, uncomfortably for them, is one of their own. Yet what these elite virtue-signallers seem to forget is […]

The post Karen Harradine: Virtue-signalling global elitists show contempt for democracy appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Andrew Tettenborn: The Left rides roughshod over Ulster’s abortion laws   

Funny, how the Left is so keen on devolution until it involves giving power to those who disagree with it. A case in point, previously referred to in TCW here and here, is abortion in Northern Ireland, again in the news this last week. In England the abortion regime under the Abortion Act 1967 is […]

The post Andrew Tettenborn: The Left rides roughshod over Ulster’s abortion laws appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Paul T Horgan: DUP deal ensures all nations will shape Brexit   

Every cloud has a silver lining. I am sure that is the case. The most recent general election did not necessarily proceed entirely in the Conservatives’ favour. If Labour’s plan was more than merely not losing the election by as much as they did in 2015, then they were also frustrated. The Conservatives are now in a […]

The post Paul T Horgan: DUP deal ensures all nations will shape Brexit appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Reader’s Comment: Obsession with child abuse destroys village life   

In response to Rev Jules Gomes: The safeguarding industry has become a witch hunt, Phil R wrote: Friends of mine own a large place with several outbuildings in a lovely rural part of the UK near the sea. Two of the outbulidings they turned into dormitories and offered as a Christian camp, and for many years […]

The post Reader’s Comment: Obsession with child abuse destroys village life appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Nick Booth: We always knew Jon Snow and Channel 4 hated the Tories   

Jon Snow! What a blooming legend, eh? Smash the Tories? Not arf, mate! Sorry if that sounds a bit trendy vicar meets Smashy and Nicey, but Jon Snow is a one man Edinburgh Cringe Festival. By all accounts, he’s an affable man and good at his job – if you accept that he’s employed as […]

The post Nick Booth: We always knew Jon Snow and Channel 4 hated the Tories appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Belinda Brown: Vengeful harridans can kick an innocent boy out of university   

There is a new feminist assault on academia. They have won the battle of the numbers. Now wholesale behaviour change is their chosen prize. Universities UK (UUK) have produced a report: Changing the Culture. This will examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime. Cambridge University will be one of the first to carry their […]

The post Belinda Brown: Vengeful harridans can kick an innocent boy out of university appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Kathy Gyngell: Evan Davis personifies the contempt of BBC elitists for Brexit   

Scenting Tory blood, the BBC cranks up its anti-Brexit propaganda. That was the conclusion I reached at the end of the BBC’s shameless week of anti—Brexit coverage a year on from the referendum victory. The Tories’ election debacle appeared to have given them carte blanche to revolt. Now they have declared all-out war. On Wednesday night’s Newsnight Evan Davis used that […]

The post Kathy Gyngell: Evan Davis personifies the contempt of BBC elitists for Brexit appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Laura Perrins: The reality party always crushes the deluded Left   

I don’t want to get all hoity-toity here with my high-falutin language and all but is it just me or has the level of political debate taken a real nosedive in the last few months? When was the last time you heard a debate on policy that did not consist of insults, soundbites and slogans? […]

The post Laura Perrins: The reality party always crushes the deluded Left appeared first on The Conservative Woman.


          Gov. Kasich Moves to Bypass Ohio Legislature for Obamacare Money   

Governor John Kasich’s administration last week requested the Ohio Controlling Board appropriate Obamacare funds for Medicaid expansion, an attempt to circumvent the General Assembly for billions in new entitlement funding from DC.

Despite the partial shutdown of the federal government, a plan amendment submitted to DC by Ohio Department of Medicaid Director John McCarthy to expand eligibility was approved on October 10.

As Statehouse insiders have speculated for weeks, the Kasich Administration will go to the Controlling Board on October 21 to make its case — although without an executive order from the governor, as was widely predicted.

Unfortunately for Gov. Kasich, the Controlling Board “shall take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the general assembly,” according to the Ohio Revised Code.

There is no indication the Obamacare expansion meets the “legislative intent” requirement of state law, and in fact the legislature expressly forbade Ohio from adopting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion with a provision of the biennial budget approved by both the House and Senate.

In June, Kasich used a line-item veto to override the General Assembly’s clear intent.

His attempted end run around the legislature is the starkest evidence to date that John Kasich, who was elected in 2010 as a limited government conservative, is less interested in freedom than in “free” money. By 2020, the Obamacare expansion is expected to increase Ohio’s annual Medicaid spending by nearly half a billion dollars.

Kasich has simultaneously expressed his confidence the state should expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans — almost all able-bodied childless adults — and his confidence that Ohio will roll back the expansion if the federal government fails to keep its impossible funding promises.

The U.S. government is currently $16.7 trillion in debt not including unfunded entitlement liabilities; the best-case scenario from the State of Ohio’s perspective is that Kasich’s decision saddles the nation with billions per year in new bills it cannot pay.

Gov. Kasich first announced his support for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion as part of his budget plan released February 4. The policy is backed by a broad coalition of groups who found common ground in their desire for more taxpayer money.

After House conservatives stripped the Obamacare expansion from Kasich’s budget, the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA), labor unions, socialized medicine lobbyists, and a number of major chambers of commerce across the state redoubled their pleas for the new federal spending Medicaid expansion would bring.

Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a partnership of health care providers, unions, and leftist groups, has worked since February to pressure legislators into backing Gov. Kasich on Medicaid expansion, and sister organization “Healthy Ohioans Work” has begun gathering signatures to send the issue to the ballot.

Despite the efforts of an army of lobbyists and Ohio’s legacy media, who have made serious debate impossible by bashing opponents of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion as cruel ideologues, the Obamacare expansion has not received a floor vote in either the Ohio House or Ohio Senate.

Proponents of the Obamacare expansion insist Ohio’s hospitals desperately need more tax dollars, and have used veterans, drug addicts, and the mentally ill as props whose health and happiness supposedly require more federal entitlement spending.

Gov. Kasich, for his part, has abandoned all but the flimsiest pretense of fiscal responsibility, adopting the left’s talking points and even warning God will punish opponents of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

The Kasich Administration falsely insists Medicaid expansion in Ohio will be paid for entirely with “Ohio’s tax dollars,” which would go to other states as a result of Ohio refusing to enact the Obamacare expansion.

This story was originally published at Media Trackers.


          Gov. Kasich Pretends Obamacare is Not Obamacare   

Ohio Governor John Kasich is now insisting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion “is not about Obamacare,” in an attempt to message his fight for new deficit spending around conservative opposition and months of bad news about President Obama’s unpopular 2010 health law.

Expanding Medicaid – an ineffective entitlement program that already consumes nearly half of Ohio’s budget – to able-bodied childless adults under the age of 65 is a key component of Obamacare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

“Medicaid expansion is no different than the current Medicaid program, and to try to tie Medicaid to Obamacare, I don’t see the connection,” Gov. Kasich told reporter Joe Vardon last week.

The connection could not be stronger: the estimated $13 billion in new federal spending Kasich claims Medicaid expansion would “return” to Ohio over the next 7 years would come entirely from Obamacare.

Newspaper editors have joined health care industry lobbyists and progressive activists in cheering Kasich’s attempt to secure billions in “free” Obamacare funding, but Kasich must also contend with the voters and volunteers who made the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment possible in 2011.

Even before the Obama Administration began arbitrarily choosing which parts of PPACA it would enforce, Ohioans voted overwhelmingly to block the law’s implementation in the Buckeye State.

“I mean it may have been provided in there, but it was John Roberts, the Republican chief justice appointed by President (George W.) Bush, who said states can have the option to extend their Medicaid coverage,” Gov. Kasich added in his interview with Vardon.

This statement was so misleading that even Vardon, writing for the staunchly pro-expansion Columbus Dispatch, noted that Roberts actually said “states could not be compelled to expand their Medicaid programs but could opt to expand if they so choose.”

With few other exceptions, Ohio’s press has parroted Kasich Administration talking points and hospital lobby rhetoric while framing opposition to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion as a thoughtless reaction to the word “Obamacare.”

The Republican governor seems to be taking the media’s assessment to heart.

“This is not about Obamacare,” Kasich told Robert Higgs of the Cleveland Plain Dealer while discussing his speech at a July 9 socialized medicine rally. “This is not about some bureaucracy. This is not about the federal debt.”

Gov. Kasich has been making similarly ridiculous statements for months. In a February 6 RedState post, he wrote that expanding Medicaid as called for in Obamacare would “limit further damage from Obamacare.”

Kasich was far more concerned about entitlement spending, bureaucracy, and the national debt before bigger government meant reelection support from the Ohio Hospital Association and other lobbyists looking for more taxpayer money.

Responding to Obamacare’s passage, on March 22, 2010 Kasich wrote, “In the end, the federal government will just rack up higher deficits and go deeper in debt, leaving future generations to pick up the tab.”

“Ohio government spending will go up also, adding to an already bleak budget picture,” candidate Kasich warned. “Instead of letting states develop innovative solutions to their respective challenges, new federal mandates will require more Medicaid spending and stick states with large and unsustainable costs.”

“Government shouldn’t be making promises it can’t keep – especially when it’s more than $14.5 trillion in the hole,” Governor Kasich said on August 20, 2011, when the federal government was in a pit of debt $2.2 trillion shallower than it is today.

This story originally appeared at Media Trackers Ohio.


          All Things (ObamaCare) Fall Apart   

The hits just keep coming for President Obama’s beleaguered health care reform law. If you’ve had trouble keeping up with all of the bad news surrounding ObamaCare, I don’t blame you. For the sake of convenience, let’s take a look at some of this news and then consider the “big picture” for the floundering Affordable Care Act.

Health Insurance “Exchanges”

We’ll begin with the health insurance “exchanges,” which are the primary mechanism by which ObamaCare distributes massive government subsidies to private health insurance companies. These “exchanges” feature only government regulated and approved insurance plans, from which consumers are allowed to choose. When writing the law, Congressional Democrats and the White House left the dirty work of setting up these expensive, complicated “exchanges” to the states.

After a majority of states flatly refused to comply with this unfunded mandate, the Obama administration started scrambling to set up dozens of “exchanges” by itself. At the same time, the federal government is also burdened with the cost of conducting a massive public relations outreach campaign for ObamaCare, which remains unpopular with more than half of Americans. Compliant states are also struggling to implement their “exchanges,” with Idaho official Stephen Weeg acknowledging that the state bureaucracy will need to “beg, borrow, and steal” in order to get its “exchange” operational by the October 1st start date for enrollment.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services even broke ObamaCare’s own rules by approving Utah’s unique “dual exchange” system. It is clear that the Obama administration is becoming desperate to salvage its crumbling law by any means necessary. By the way, even if these “exchanges” are actually set up according to design, some of the nation’s largest insurance companies are still expressing reluctance to provide coverage plans for them in the first place. Perhaps private insurers do not find the idea of entering such government dominated “exchanges” an attractive prospect, after all?

Lawsuits

Lawsuits continue to plague ObamaCare, as well. Earlier this month, a group of small business owners sued the federal government on the grounds that the text of the ObamaCare law does not authorize the government to issue subsidies to private insurance companies in those states with federally-run health insurance “exchanges.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a separate lawsuit that uses Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ flimsy defense of ObamaCare’s individual mandate as a “tax” against the law. Revenue-raising bills, such as taxes, must originate in the House of Representatives in order to be constitutional, but the final version of ObamaCare began in the Senate. This is just a small sampling of the growing number of lawsuits brought against ObamaCare so far.

Medicaid Expansion

ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion isn’t exactly going to plan, either. The law offers full funding for the first few years for those states that expand their Medicaid programs, and then promises 90% of the funding for future years. However, there is no guarantee behind that money, and truthfully, the federal government cannot afford to hold up its end of that bargain for very long.

Once that happens, state legislatures across the country will get stuck with the tab for Medicaid expansion, which will crowd out other state budgetary priorities such as education and infrastructure. As a result, many governors are refusing to take such a risky deal. Even Missouri, which has Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, is turning down Medicaid expansion due to resistance from the state legislature.

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine casts doubt on the belief that Medicaid expansion is even a good idea. After Oregon expanded its Medicaid program in 2008, researchers found that, “…Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes” in the first two years following the expansion. To be fair, the study did discern some positive secondary effects from the expansion, but the primary purpose of Medicaid is to improve health care outcomes for low-income Americans. If the program is not accomplishing that end, then something is seriously wrong with the program, and further expansion through ObamaCare isn’t the solution.

Implementation

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is charged with leading the ObamaCare implementation effort, but it is clear that she is not up to the (potentially impossible) task. As POLITICO’s David Nather put it, “Obamacare fires are flaring up all over.” Unpopular policy and muddled messaging are hampering outreach efforts by the Obama administration, which leads Reuters’ David Morgan to question how many people will even sign up for insurance coverage under the law. After all, the law assumes that many uninsured but healthy Americans will enroll for coverage, and that these citizens will provide the necessary revenue to allow private insurance companies to comply with ObamaCare’s many costly mandates. If that assumption proves false, then the law is in serious danger of systemic failure. 

The need to boost awareness for enrollment efforts is leading President Obama and Secretary Sebelius to take extreme measures. Speaking to Planned Parenthood, President Obama pleaded with the controversial organization to spread the word about enrollment on his behalf. Secretary Sebelius is personally begging health care industry leaders to donate funds for the implementation efforts. Of course, HHS denies that there is anything improper with such solicitation attempts. Fearing the impact that a complete ObamaCare meltdown would have on their industry, some private insurers are reluctantly stepping into the breach to help with the outreach efforts.

The "Big Picture"

So, what’s the “big picture?” Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), one of the law’s chief architects, recently admitted that ObamaCare is starting to resemble a “huge train wreck.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fully agreed and asked for additional funding to implement the unpopular law. Remember, this is the same law that the Government Accountability Office recently stated would add $6.2 trillion to the long-term deficit, assuming that some unpopular cost-containing measures are phased out after 2019. According to Senator Reid, this law apparently needs even more money in order to function even somewhat adequately.

Why would Senators Baucus and Reid feel so pessimistic for ObamaCare? If you ask progressive Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, he’ll tell you that the problem is (of course) Republicans. In summary, he argues that if only Republicans would keep shoveling money into the admittedly “unwieldy” law, then it wouldn’t have all of these problems! Mr. Klein, why would conservatives who oppose deficit spending and ObamaCare agree to increase the size of both? Was this really the Democratic plan all along? Why would you ever think that that would work?

By the way, Senators Baucus and Reid aren’t the only Democrats worried now that they’re seeing ObamaCare in action. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) recently acknowledged during a House subcommittee hearing that the Affordable Care Act “does not address [cost containment].” Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) criticized the Obama administration for “raiding the Public Health and Prevention Fund” in order to advertise for ObamaCare. For his part, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) is worried that the law is causing insurance companies to hike premiums, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) fears that businesses still do not know how to comply with the complex law and that some will cut employees’ hours to reduce compliance costs. Failed South Carolina Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, summed up all of these complains when she labeled the law “extremely problematic.”

In 2010, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanded that Congress pass ObamaCare despite intense opposition. She infamously argued that, “…We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” More than three years later, we now know all too well what is in ObamaCare: disaster. Unfortunately, that is the “big picture” for ObamaCare.


          Kasich Pitches Obamacare Surrender as Pragmatism   

Ohio Governor John Kasich announced his surrender to Washington spending gimmicks on February 4, calling for the expansion of Medicaid eligibility as part of his biennial budget proposal. Kasich, a Republican elected in 2010 and known as a fiscal hawk from his time in Congress, seeks to sell a key component of Obamacare as the pragmatic choice for Ohio.

In a February 6 RedState post defending his embrace of a law he has long spoken against, Kasich wrote, "Now I’ve proposed extending Medicaid health coverage to low-income and working poor Ohioans, in part, to limit further damage from Obamacare."

Obamacare was designed to push millions of Americans into one of the nation's most expensive and least effective entitlement programs, coercing states into compliance by making all federal Medicaid funding contingent on expanded eligibility. The Supreme Court's June 2012 ruling on the bill forbade Washington from cutting off existing funding to states that refuse to expand Medicaid, but Governor Kasich now aims to grow the program anyway.

"Without this move Obamacare is likely to increase health insurance premiums even higher in Ohio," Kasich continued. "Worse, it takes $13 billion of Ohioans’ federal tax dollars out of our state and gives it to other states—where it will go to work helping to rev up some other state’s economy instead of Ohio’s."

In short, Governor Kasich is promoting Medicaid expansion using the language and logic of socialized medicine advocates, treating bureaucratic cost-shifting as actual savings. Kasich even suggested Ohio must claim its "fair share" of Obamacare spending, demonstrating no regard for the fact that DC has run annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion each year since President Obama took office.

Prior to Kasich's February 4th announcement, conservative think tanks Opportunity Ohio and The Buckeye Institute both published critiques of a joint Health Policy Institute of Ohio / Urban Institute study which framed federal spending as free money. Kasich and his staff have cited the study as proof Ohio would come out ahead by expanding Medicaid eligibility.

Not only has the governor failed to address any of conservatives' substantive concerns - instead waving off disagreement as unreasonable ideology - he actually worked with the far-left Universal Health Care Action Network to develop talking points for Medicaid expansion.

In no way does Kasich's current rhetoric square with his past protestations against deficit spending.

"Instead of letting states develop innovative solutions to their respective challenges, new federal mandates will require more Medicaid spending and stick states with large and unsustainable costs," Governor Kasich wrote on March 22, 2010.

"Government shouldn’t be making promises it can’t keep – especially when it’s more than $14.5 trillion in the hole," Kasich said in his August 20, 2011 Weekly Republican Address.

Nearly $2 trillion in national debt later, Ohio's governor has allied himself with lobbyists for socialized medicine, the ultimate promise the government cannot keep. Kasich's abdication of his former fiscal hawk role will make it more difficult for conservative leaders to make a consistent case against entitlement spending and for market-based reforms.

Should the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly choose to support Kasich's Medicaid proposal, the state would "save" money by taking billions in federal funds to cover 100 percent of the expansion for several years. Though federal funding would quickly drop to 90 percent of Ohio's new costs even assuming Congress can borrow forever, care providers are pushing for the change because of numerous perverse incentives built into Obamacare.

Governor Kasich is widely expected to run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, but first faces reelection in 2014 in a state that went for President Obama last fall. However politically expedient it may be in the near term to help expand the entitlement state, history tells us how difficult it is to unring that bell.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jasonahart


           Sinn Fein chief downplays chance of N. Ireland power-sharing    
Adams has complained that Britain's Conservative government has abandoned its position of neutrality toward Northern Ireland's rival political forces by entering into a loose alliance with the Protestant-backed Democratic Unionist Party.
          Maine online newspaper hiring entry-level reporter   
TheMaineWire.com, a conservative-leaning online news service based in Portland, Maine, is hiring a full-time reporter.

Must be able to produce stories under pressure on a daily basis. Must be familiar with Maine state politics and government. Opportunity for advancement, very good pay. Experience preferred, but will consider hard-working candidates with good writing skills. Familiarity with social media a plus. While reporters are being laid off every day, we are the only Maine media outlet that is hiring full-time reporters for long-term employment!

Email resume, cover letter, writing samples to Lance Dutson at lance@mainepolicy.org. No phone calls.
          Trump tweets for full repeal of health law    
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Donald 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 the end of the July recess.
          Comment on "Trump Administration: Making America Great Again by Simply Not Rushing to Implement the Late Obama Age Collapse" by Steve Sailer   
She's an assistant secretary - a political appointee - she's not on the GS scale at all. Someone on the Trump transition team put her in that job. She seems to be of a more libertarian stripe rather than a movement conservative, at least lately. Apparently libertarians now think it is the job of the...
          Scott Walker - As Milwaukee County executive, Scott Walker didn't hold line on property taxes as much as he says   
The Truth-o-Meter says: Mostly False | As Milwaukee County executive, Scott Walker didn't hold line on property taxes as much as he says

Wisconsin Democrats such as U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan say they believe Republican Gov. Scott Walker will run again for president, even though his 2016 candidacy was short lived. And Walker, eying a run for a third term as governor in 2018, continues to stake out positions that draw praise from conservatives around the country, such as aiming to make Wisconsin the first state to drug test Medicaid recipients. Walker even touts his record as Milwaukee County executive, the job he held previously. He did so in a June 5, 2017 interview with Jerry ...

>> More
          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
By now, we can probably say that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The word "probably" is apt because nothing is certain about the plans of this or any other Supreme Court justice when it comes to ending his or her service on the nation's highest court. But this week, the court wrapped up the current term, and Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, seems to have decided to stay on the job — at least for the coming term. There could be a variety of reasons. As an institutional matter, he could well have concluded that there had been enough uncertainty and drama on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the vacancy that lasted for well over a year with Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama's nominee. Kennedy may also have thought it best to ensure that there is a full complement of nine justices for at least a year. He could even have been put off by President Trump's tweets about the judiciary. But it is unlikely that
          Maine governor orders partial shutdown with budget in limbo   
(Reuters) - A budget impasse between Maine Governor Paul LePage and Democratic lawmakers triggered a shutdown of nonessential state services on Saturday, after the conservative Republican threatened to veto a bipartisan compromise reached by lawmakers.

          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 ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repealThe Hill
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
NBCNews.com -ABC News -NPR -Fox News
all 5,984 news articles »

          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 ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repealThe Hill
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
NBCNews.com -ABC News -NPR -Fox News
all 5,984 news articles »

          Conservative GOP senators buck truck fee   
Five Republican state senators said Friday they oppose an Assembly Republican idea to tax heavy trucks for miles driven in Wisconsin, causing Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to say the idea likely is doomed.
          Comment on Nina Turner: It Is Not Our Job to Fit Into the Democratic Establishment by Curtis Carpenter   
I certainly agree with your assessment Mr. Anderson. Well stated. Sanders and Our Revolution are playing an important role, but it&apos;s time to focus on the dirty reality of regaining power for a progressive view that counters the "every man for himself" ideology of the American right. No time Toulouse, or precious little before irreparable damage is done by our self-styled "conservatives." Many that object to the "democratic establishment" do so on the grounds that it has been co-opted by the corporate state under the neoliberal banner. That&apos;s understandable, but is a serious person like Ms. Turner thinking about what it would take to _align_ those corporate/neoliberal interests with a progressive agenda? Such an alignment is certainly possible. Take the health care issue. Most corporations I follow would prefer NOT to be in the health insurance business. Some -- I think a majority -- could be persuaded that it is in their own best interest to see a truly national health insurance program. They recognize that at 17% of GDP, the costs of the present health care system are making them non-competitive in a (not-going-away-like-it-or-not) economy.
          The evolution of different maternal investment strategies in two closely related desert vertebrates   

We compared egg size phenotypes and tested several predictions from the optimal egg size (OES) and bet-hedging theories in two North American desert-dwelling sister tortoise taxa, Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai, that inhabit different climate spaces: relatively unpredictable and more predictable climate spaces, respectively. Observed patterns in both species differed from the predictions of OES in several ways. Mean egg size increased with maternal body size in both species. Mean egg size was inversely related to clutch order in G. agassizii, a strategy more consistent with the within-generation hypothesis arising out of bet-hedging theory or a constraint in egg investment due to resource availability, and contrary to theories of density dependence, which posit that increasing hatchling competition from later season clutches should drive selection for larger eggs. We provide empirical evidence that one species, G. agassizii, employs a bet-hedging strategy that is a combination of two different bet-hedging hypotheses. Additionally, we found some evidence for G. morafkai employing a conservative bet-hedging strategy. (e.g., lack of intra- and interclutch variation in egg size relative to body size). Our novel adaptive hypothesis suggests the possibility that natural selection favors smaller offspring in late-season clutches because they experience a more benign environment or less energetically challenging environmental conditions (i.e., winter) than early clutch progeny, that emerge under harsher and more energetically challenging environmental conditions (i.e., summer). We also discuss alternative hypotheses of sexually antagonistic selection, which arise from the trade-offs of son versus daughter production that might have different optima depending on clutch order and variation in temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) among clutches. Resolution of these hypotheses will require long-term data on fitness of sons versus daughters as a function of incubation environment, data as yet unavailable for any species with TSD.


          Internet Cop   

Robert McDowell becomes effusive when talking about the World Wide Web. “The beauty of the Internet is that it has been somewhat lawless,” says the Republican, one of five appointees who run the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The lack of government mandates, McDowell says, has made the Net “the greatest deregulatory success story of all time,” a “sort of libertarian heaven.”

Is that heaven about to crash down to earth? Julius Genachowski, the man hand-picked by President Barack Obama to chair the FCC, insists not. “I’ve been clear repeatedly that we’re not going to regulate the Internet,” he told The Wall Street Journal in February 2010. But his actions suggest otherwise. Since taking office in June 2009, Genachowski, a tech entrepreneur and former FCC counsel, has led the commission on an unprecedented quest for power over the Web’s network infrastructure, sparking a thunderous, confusing lobbying battle over who gets to control the Net. 

“If the government starts to get involved with regulation of Internet network management,” McDowell warns, “you’ll start to see the politicization of decisions in that realm.” At this point, there’s no if about it: From his first major speech to a hurried and secretive rulemaking procedure in the final weeks of 2010, Genachowski has made it his mission to plant the seeds of government control within the core of the Internet—all under the guise of “preserving Internet freedom.”

They Call It Net Neutrality

Like so many political slogans, Internet freedom sounds great. But what does it mean in practice? For Genachowski and the rest of the Obama administration, “Internet freedom” is a feel-good euphemism for the techie idea known as “net neutrality.”

At its most basic, net neutrality is the belief that all bits and bytes that travel over the Internet should be treated equally: no discrimination, no paid prioritization, just first-come-first-served access for everyone all the time. As an egalitarian approach to the Web, it is more a pre-technical philosophy than a clear guide to managing network infrastructure. The applied theory of net neutrality is that routers—the traffic management devices that send packets of information from one computer or server to the next—should treat each piece of information like every other piece, be it an email message, a video, a game, or 3D porn. This is not a bad idea; indeed, it is largely how the Internet works already. But net neutrality advocates warn that without federal intervention, corporate giants won’t leave it this way for long; they will begin setting up pricey, priority-traffic toll roads across the Web.

The neutrality concept is a direct descendant of “common carrier” regulation of phone companies. When wire-based phone networks ruled the earth, they were treated as public utilities. The feds forced them to share their infrastructure with their competitors at regulated rates, a restriction on their property rights that was enforced under the pleasant-sounding banner of “equal access.”

It didn’t take long for politicians to start fretting about equal access on the Web. In a 1994 speech, Vice President Al Gore pondered this loaded question: “How can government ensure that the [emerging Internet] will permit everyone to be able to compete with everyone else for the opportunity to provide any service to all willing customers? Next, how can we ensure that this new marketplace reaches the entire nation?” Access, opportunity, competition—how would these goals ever be achieved without the government’s involvement?

Answer: easily. Internet access exploded throughout the late 1990s and the following decade—no federal broadband regulation required. By 1999 more than 30 million people could dial in from their homes. The Net’s success in the absence of regulation was so apparent that even Democratic bureaucrats preached the gospel of nonintervention: In 1999 FCC Chairman William Kennard declared in a speech that “if we’ve learned anything about the Internet in government over the last 15 years, it’s that it thrived quite nicely without the intervention of government.” In the same speech, Kennard made the case for what he called a “high-tech Hippocratic Oath” for regulators: First, do no harm.

It worked. During the following decade, online activity exploded. Between 2001 and 2008, online commercial activity—which for all practical purposes did not exist the decade before—became big business, rising from about $8 billion a year to about $42 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Simultaneously, broadband Internet access rapidly blazed a path from high-tech luxury service to mass-market must-have. In 2000 just 3 percent of homes had broadband access. By 2010 the figure had climbed to 66 percent, according to a report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

But the net’s success only made activists more vehement that it must be “preserved” through regulation. That’s where net neutrality came in. In 2005, under the leadership of Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC adopted four “policy statements” outlining the principles that should govern Internet use and operation. Users, the commission asserted, are entitled to access their choice of lawful content, to use applications and services as they wish, to connect legal devices to the network provided they do no harm, and to enjoy the effects of competition among providers and networks. But these statements of principle were not regulations, and thus of dubious enforceability.  

At first, the push for net neutrality was targeted at wire-line carriers—cable companies, DSL providers, and others who delivered Internet connections to fixed locations using expensive-to-install conduits. But by 2007, calls for net neutrality expanded to the growing wireless Internet, bringing mobile data networks like those operated by AT&T and Verizon into the crosshairs. Net neutrality gave online Democratic activists—the “netroots”—an issue in which “equality” was on one side and discriminatory corporations on the other. The sin of these corporate villains? Denying network access to those unwilling to pay for it.

“Network giants believe they should be able to charge Web site operators, application providers and device manufacturers for the right to use the network,” the progressive media activists at Free Press warned in their online guide to the issue. “Those who don’t make a deal and pay up will experience discrimination: Their sites won’t load as quickly, and their applications and devices won’t work as well.”

The issue never really caught on with the broader public, but it did become a partisan rallying cry. In 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama made net neutrality a campaign promise, vowing to achieve it through the FCC. The promise was politically smart. Although regulating Internet traffic was barely raising eyebrows among average voters—most of whom were busy enjoying easy access to the Internet—the idea was much loved by two groups important to Obama: the digitally savvy army of online activists whose fund raising and organizing helped put the president in office, and a collection of high-flying, Democrat-supporting Silicon Valley companies. Netroots powerhouses such as Moveon.org got an issue to motivate and deliver their progressive base, while content-delivery behemoths such as Google (whose CEO, Eric Schmidt, took a week off to campaign for Obama) got a policy wedge against the Net’s infrastructure gatekeepers. Both camps expected a payoff in exchange for their support.

Obama’s Basketball Buddy

After Obama was elected, it fell to Julius Genachowski to make good on the campaign promise. The president didn’t just assure supporters that his administration would pursue net neutrality through the FCC; he named a close personal friend and a net neutrality true believer as the commission’s chairman to get the job done right. (Genachowski’s office declined a request for an interview.)

Genachowski has been friends with Obama for decades. The two were classmates at Harvard Law School, where they worked together on the Harvard Law Review and, according to The New York Times, were “basketball buddies.” Genachowski, who has spent much of his professional career zig-zagging through Silicon Valley, served Obama’s campaign as chairman of the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Policy Working Group.

The two men have remained tight since Obama took office: Between January 31 and August 31, 2009, official records show that Genachowski visited the White House 47 times, more than any other agency head. (Sixteen of those visits came before Genachowski had even assumed office.) The next most frequent visitor among agency chiefs was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who dropped by just five times during the same period.

The FCC chairman’s private-sector background includes stints at the sort of content companies that tend to favor neutrality rules. Genachowski helped launch Rock Creek Ventures, which funds and consults for “digital media and commerce companies,” and he has served as a director for a number of large Web portals, including Web.com and Beliefnet. According to his fellow FCC commissioner, Meredith Baker, “The chairman’s starting point is at the edge, application side of the [Internet] ecosystem. I don’t think that’s to the exclusion of the networks and their important role, but he starts in Silicon Valley.”

The outline of Genachowski’s ideas for neutrality regulation was unveiled at his first major address as the nation’s top communication regulator, a September 2009 speech at the center-left Brookings Institution. Genachowski reiterated at nine separate points the Obama administration’s promise to ensure that the Web would remain “free and open.” The phrase even appeared in the title of his talk: “Preserving a Free and Open Internet: A Platform for Innovation, Opportunity, Prosperity.”

The chairman’s speech didn’t answer the obvious question that has long nagged net neutrality skeptics: preserving it from what? But his remarks did address the question of how: The FCC, Genachowski said, must be “a smart cop on the [Internet] beat.” To fulfill that role, the commission would both beef up its authority and grant itself wide discretion in how to use it. “I will propose that the FCC evaluate alleged violations of the non-discrimination principle as they arise, on a case-by-case basis,” the chairman promised. Clear and straightforward rules were out. Regulators’ whims were in.

Genachowski proposed taking his predecessor Kevin Martin’s four principles—access to legal content, unrestricted use of services, device interoperability, and provider competition—and codifying them into law. He also wanted to add two more.

The first, and more controversial, of his additions would prohibit broadband providers from discriminating against “particular Internet content or applications.” In theory, the nondiscrimination provision would mean that the FCC could prohibit service providers from, say, blocking access to certain websites, or prioritizing the traffic to a particular company’s service (for instance, giving priority to videos from corporate partners over those from competing services). But the case-by-case standard would provide the agency with considerable leeway to decide when to step in.

The second new principle would require ISPs to be “transparent about their network management practices.” Basically, if service providers selectively slowed traffic for a particular application—say, the peer-to-peer service BitTorrent, which is frequently used to share movies, TV shows, and other large files—or capped a user’s total bandwidth for a given pay period, they’d have to notify consumers in plain English. Genachowski also hoped to extend the rules to wireless data networks such as those used by iPhones and Blackberries.

Genachowski’s speech was couched in the rhetoric of choice, innovation, and openness. But in framing his proposal as an attempt to preserve the Internet’s existing virtues, he masked the fact that it would represent an unprecedented expansion of federal control over the nation’s information infrastructure. And although no one knew it at the time, his plan presaged a sweeping attempt to subject broadband providers to an entirely different, and far more restrictive, regulatory classification.

A Solution in Search of a Problem

Genachowski’s speech targeted discriminatory practices by ISPs. But it did not cite any specific examples of such behavior, perhaps because neither Genachowski nor any other net neutrality supporter has ever identified more than a handful of instances in which the Internet’s openness has actually been violated. Indeed, it is hard to get a handle on what, exactly, strict neutrality rules are intended to prevent.

In October 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a list of 10 alleged net neutrality violations. But as horror shows go, it wasn’t very scary. For starters, the list included two actions taken by ISPs in Canada, which suggests how far advocates have had to stretch to find real-world examples. It also included AT&T’s 2007 decision to excise Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder’s attacks on President George W. Bush during a live stream of a concert. But that decision wasn’t made by AT&T in its role as a network provider; it was made at the broadcast level by the team in charge of running the show, in the same way that an MTV video crew might bleep a curse word from a live awards ceremony. Also on the list: an allegation that BellSouth censored MySpace by denying access to some users—despite the fact BellSouth says the event was merely a glitch, an explanation no evidence has yet contradicted.

The ACLU also listed Verizon’s 2007 refusal to send a mass text message from the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America. Verizon maintained that it had the right to block “controversial” content of any kind—essentially, that it needed to be sensitive to bulk messages that it agreed to send over its network. Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute (and former reason staffer), describes it as “a case where the company is partnering with the provider in a way that goes beyond carriage, because they’re also effectively acting as a payment processor. That means they’ll have an interest in vetting partners in a way you wouldn’t expect a mere carrier to vet every content provider on the network.” Regardless, after a loud public outcry, Verizon reversed the decision within one day.

Consumer agitation also played a role in resolving the most notorious net neutrality violation. In 2007, the press began to report that Comcast was secretly slowing some users’ access to BitTorrent. The company said it was merely attempting to prevent network congestion—and thus keep overall access and user speeds up—by slowing applications that were suspected of hogging bandwidth. By spring 2008, Comcast, under intense customer pressure, adjusted its network management practices so that specific applications such as BitTorrent would not be targeted. Consumer agitation had solved the problem, but the Bush FCC later censured the company anyway.

The punishment was largely symbolic, but was intended to send the message that the FCC would take official action to ensure net neutrality. “We are saying that network operators can’t block people from getting access to any content and any applications,” then-chairman Kevin Martin told The New York Times in August 2008. Comcast challenged the decision in court.

This lack of clearly defined violations has never stopped net neutrality advocates from using Comcast and other big broadband providers as convenient corporate villains. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama warned that without net neutrality, “mom and pop sites” could suffer at the hands of greedy network behemoths.

But the net neutrality debate doesn’t really pit the Goliaths against the Davids. It’s a battle between the edge of the Internet and the center, with application and content providers (the edge) fighting for control against infrastructure owners (the center). Large business interests dominate both sides of the debate. Google, for example, has long favored some form of net neutrality, as have Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and a smattering of other big content providers, who prefer a Web in which the network acts essentially as a “dumb pipe” to carry their content. Mom-and-pop sites aren’t the issue.

Google makes its support sound as simple and earnest as its corporate motto of “don’t be evil.” Much like Genachowski, it defines net neutrality as “the concept that the Internet should remain free and open to all comers.” But the freedom and openness that Google claims to prize bear a distinct resemblance to regulatory protection. An Internet in which ISPs can freely discriminate between services, prioritizing some data in order to offer enhanced services to more customers, is an Internet in which content providers may have to pay more to reach their customers. Under Google and Genachowski’s net neutrality regime, ISPs may own the network, but the FCC will have a say in how those networks are run, with a bias toward restrictions that favor content providers.

Battle Lines

Yet for many of net neutrality’s most vocal supporters, Genachowski’s proposal didn’t go far enough. In November 2009, Columbia law professor Timothy Wu, who popularized the term net neutrality in a 2002 paper, co-signed a letter with other left-leaning academics warning that an early draft of the FCC plan was too vague and might not sufficiently restrict ISP behavior. Building on that letter, the “media reform” group Free Press warned that the ambiguity “would undermine the future of Internet freedom.”

Free Press serves as the nexus for the netroots’ net neutrality efforts. Founded by Josh Silver, who’d previously helped run a state-based campaign for publicly funded elections, and the leftist media theorist Robert McChesney, the group touts a radical, anti-corporate vision of government control over the media. In 2002, the year Free Press was founded, McChesney co-wrote a book, Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, which declared “the need to promote an understanding of the urgency to assert public control over the media.” 

Despite its relative newness and its radical ideas, Free Press has had an outsized influence on the net neutrality debate. It has a former staffer in the FCC chairman’s office: In June 2009, Jen Howard left her job as press director for Free Press to become Genachowski’s press secretary. The group also benefited from its longstanding alliance with MoveOn.org, a netroots giant with massive influence on progressive politics.

Free Press has used its influence to push the FCC toward the strictest regulations possible. By opposing Genachowski’s initial rule proposal as too lax, the coalition made it clear that only the heaviest regulatory burden would do. And Free Press hasn’t been afraid to turn its fire on the chairman. In July the group created a mocked-up “Wanted” poster using a photo of Genachowski’s face and encouraged activists to post it “all over Chicago” during an FCC meeting there. FCC insiders say the group’s influence is strongly felt. According to Commissioner Baker, the chairman “is under tremendous pressure from the netroots base not to compromise on net neutrality.”

While Free Press was busy trying to save the Internet from vaguely defined ISP threats, opposition to Internet interference began to coalesce. In September 2009, the free market telecommunication scholars Adam Thierer and Berin Szoka, then employed by the Progress & Freedom Foundation, wrote in Forbes that “the presumption of online liberty is giving way to a presumption of regulation.” They warned that despite efforts to make the net neutrality proposal seem harmless, it would inevitably lead to a massive increase in federal regulation of the nation’s information infrastructure. “Real Internet Freedom,” they wrote, “is about to start dying a death by a thousand regulatory cuts.”

Broadband providers, naturally, worried too. “In the ’90s,” says Hank Hultquist, a vice president in AT&T’s federal regulatory division, “the FCC decided that it was not going to regulate the Internet in the way that we regulate phone service.” But despite an initial bipartisan consensus against regulating the Net, there was always dissent. As the Web matured, that dissent grew, and when the Obama administration took power, it gave dissenters the keys to the regulatory command post.

Following Genachowski’s Brookings Institution speech, Commissioners Baker and McDowell went public with their skepticism about the regulatory push. Nevertheless, in the months immediately afterward, Genachowski began the lengthy process of writing and reviewing his rule proposal. The plan that emerged closely resembled the structure that Genachowski had proposed in his speech. At the end of October, when the commission voted on the proposal and published it, both Baker and McDowell dissented from the “factual and legal predicates” underlying the report. But they were in the minority.

‘An Unbridled, Roving Commission’

Yet the FCC still did not have clearly enforceable rules governing net neutrality. Martin’s principles were the only clear statements on the books. And even as the bureaucratic process rolled forward, the agency’s authority to oversee broadband traffic—and thus to regulate net neutrality—was being challenged in federal court as a result of the 2008 BitTorrent decision.

Comcast owned up to slowing some users’ connections when they were using BitTorrent. But it maintained that the agency’s philosophical statements about Internet openness, which the FCC had relied on for its censure, were merely guidelines and therefore legally unenforceable. The FCC responded that it could enforce them under the doctrine of “ancillary jurisdiction,” a legal concept under which an agency claims the authority to issue regulations necessary to meet its statutory responsibilities. To uphold its net neutrality policy statements, the FCC argued, it needed to oversee broadband traffic management practices such as Comcast’s treatment of BitTorrent.

Because the policy statements weren’t codified, the FCC had a tough time convincing D.C. Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph that it had a statutory responsibility to uphold them. In January 2010, Randolph signaled during oral arguments that he might take Comcast’s side. “You have yet to identify a specific statute” that gives the FCC clear authority to regulate, he told the agency’s lawyers. He seemed exasperated, saying vague statements of principle are no replacement for concrete rules. “You can’t get an unbridled, roving commission to go about doing good,” he said.

In April, Randolph laid down the law: “Policy statements are just that—statements of policy,” he wrote. “They are not delegations of regulatory authority.” The decision wreaked havoc with the net neutrality rulemaking process. Codifying the policy statements into new rules would do little to ensure the FCC’s authority to regulate because those rules would still lack a statutory basis. Congress had never given the agency a clear directive to enforce neutrality. Without statutory authority to regulate broadband data management, what could the FCC do?

A few options quickly became apparent. First, the agency could drop its pursuit of net neutrality. But given the fact that the policy was an explicit campaign promise, and given the political pressure from groups like Free Press, that seemed unlikely. Second, the FCC could wait for Congress to give it explicit statutory authority. But with the health care battle recently ended, and with Democrats headed for what promised to be a sizable loss in the November elections, there was little appetite for a controversial new regulatory initiative—especially one that would make congressional supporters vulnerable to accusations that they wanted to control the Internet. 

The Trouble With Title II

And then there was the most extreme option. Instead of pursuing net neutrality through ancillary jurisdiction, as it had already attempted, the commission could move broadband service into the same regulatory category as telephone lines. Rather than regulating broadband providers under Title I of the Communications Act, as information services, it could regulate them under Title II, as telecommunication services. After Randolph’s decision, Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps immediately signaled that he favored this route.

It sounds like a small change, but in fact it would be enormous. Title II was designed for legacy phone networks and was written before broadband existed. If the FCC could pull off this shift, it would have far greater power than before. The Net’s core would effectively be transformed into a public utility subject to the whims of regulators.

But this approach was sure to provoke a drawn-out legal battle. As an executive branch agency, the FCC does not have the power to define its own governing statutes. That’s Congress’ job. And nowhere in the commission’s governing statutes did Congress bestow upon it the power to reclassify broadband providers as telecommunication services. If the FCC pursued the Title II strategy, several ISPs warned in a joint statement in February 2010, the industry would be wracked by “years of litigation and regulatory chaos.” That wasn’t just a prediction; it was a threat. 

The legal complexities of reclassifying broadband service were only part of the problem. Broadband providers warned repeatedly that strict net neutrality rules would derail capital investment, an argument seconded by telecommunication labor unions. In July the Communications Workers of America released a statement declaring that “the ‘reclassification path’ will lead to years of litigation and regulatory uncertainty that will reduce broadband investment and jobs.” That promised to put the policy in conflict with one of the agency’s other top priorities. 

At the same time the FCC has been pursuing net neutrality, it has been putting together a National Broadband Plan meant to spark broadband investment and deployment in underserved regions, a plan the Obama administration has persisted with despite surveys showing that most Americans don’t want the government involved in promoting broadband. The FCC’s own estimates put the cost of this plan at $350 billion, the bulk of which is presumed to come from investment within the industry. Rules that make such investment less lucrative make the broadband plan tougher to implement.

It was enough to make even the most determined regulator anxious. Which may be why, in May 2010, Genachowski announced that the FCC would take a step toward reclassifying broadband—but only a tentative one. Rather than release rules, the agency would issue a notice of inquiry asking for input about the possibility of switching broadband to Title II—the bureaucratic equivalent of winking at your friend and asking, “Hypothetically, what if we were to do this?” In a further sign of Genachowski’s anxiety, the FCC’s notice did not propose applying the full regulatory power of Title II to broadband providers. Instead, it suggested what Genachowski called the “Third Way,” under which the agency would give up some of its potential Title II authority in the hope of erecting “meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach.”

But the few boundaries to regulation the FCC proposed were not very meaningful. Larry Downes, a fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society, argues that regulating broadband providers like old-style telephone services could have a host of unintended effects, such as adding new consumer fees, giving local governments greater authority to impose a patchwork of confusing and contradictory regulations, and even giving the federal government greater leeway to wiretap electronic communications. 

The difference, Downes says, is plain to see when you compare the evolution of Title I broadband service to the evolution of Title II phone carriers. “Under Title I, we’ve had the Internet revolution,” he wrote on his eponymous website in March. By contrast, under Title II, “we’ve had the decline and fall of basic wireline phone service…and the continued corruption of local licensing authorities.”

Even advocates of the switch seemed to admit that the move would open up the regulatory floodgates: According to a January 2010 FCC filing by Public Knowledge, one of the most active pro-neutrality groups, “Reclassification would…expand the range of opportunities for more aggressive regulatory steps.”

The idea also faced opposition from Congress, particularly in the House, where a majority of members—including 72 Democrats—expressed disapproval of the plan in letters sent last May. And behind the scenes, sources say, the White House economic team expressed concern that the FCC’s pursuit of strict, investment-killing net neutrality rules was a distraction that would be bad for growth in the telecommunications sector.

Fear of Compromise

Free Press was having none of it. The group mounted a months-long campaign pushing Genachowski to formally declare his intention to proceed with a Title II reclassification. In November Free Press urged its members to sign and email the chairman a prewritten letter urging him to reclassify broadband so that the FCC “can keep the Internet open and free of corporate gatekeepers.” By the end of November, Genachowski looked stuck.

Free Press has declared that only the strictest approach to Internet regulation is acceptable. Yet the voting public appears unmoved by the neutrality agenda. Every single one of the 95 congressional candidates who signed a petition pledging to support neutrality lost in the 2010 elections. Meanwhile, Congress wasn’t being supportive, and industry players on both sides of the issue were increasingly seeking compromise. In August, for example, Google and Verizon proposed a joint policy framework—essentially a loosely defined model regulatory structure—that would impose some restrictions on wire-line providers but would leave wireless data networks, widely believed to be the future of the Net, largely untouched.

A similar proposal made its way into legislative form at the end of September, when Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a short proposal subjecting wire-line providers to basic nondiscrimination rules but strictly forbidding the FCC from pursuing any form of Title II reclassification. The legislation appeared right before Congress was scheduled to end its session, and Republicans, citing the short time frame, declined to support it. But AT&T, which has long opposed any sort of neutrality regulations, was enthusiastic, and conservative activist groups quietly urged their members and contacts to push Republicans to vote for the proposal. Republicans clearly wanted to wait until after the November elections to act, but the interest from both industry and conservative activists suggests that something like the Waxman bill could eventually garner bipartisan support.

As 2010 progressed, Genachowski faced the unpleasant choice of either risking the wrath of MoveOn.org or giving in to Free Press’ demands, despite their mounting unpopularity and the years-long legal battle that would result from trying to satisfy them. Initially, he opted to wait. 

In September, Genachowski decided the FCC would delay any Title II decision until after the elections, implicitly acknowledging the messy politics of the situation. The day after the elections, he announced that neutrality would not be on the agenda for the commission’s November 30 meeting, buying him time to take the temperature of the new Congress and see what might be done during the upcoming lame-duck session.

At the beginning of December, Genachowski finally made his move, announcing that the FCC would vote on a net neutrality proposal within a few weeks. The proposal would be based roughly on the Waxman bill and anchored firmly under Title I, broadband’s current regulatory category. Never mind that a court had already declared the FCC’s previous justifications for Internet regulation insufficient, making a legal challenge inevitable. When the lawsuit arrived, the FCC would come up with a new justification, ancillary to some currently untapped statutory provision. Conveniently, says Larry Downes, “the D.C. Circuit opinion left some wiggle room, suggesting that even though the commission had failed to find a provision in the law that its adjudication was ‘ancillary’ to, there might be some that weren’t advanced.”

Meanwhile, the time for comments on the neutrality proposal was limited to less than three weeks—far shorter than the comment period granted for the initial rule and the Notice of Inquiry. Normally the short comment period would have been the biggest cause of commotion surrounding the proceedings. But in this case, there was very little of substance for anyone to get excited about. In a highly unusual move, Genachowski decided to keep the text of the proposal secret until after it passed. The gist, though, was made plain enough by Genachowski’s remarks at vote: The FCC would finally have a rule prohibiting “unreasonable discrimination” on the major wired networks.  And who would be in charge of determining what sort of network management practices were “unreasonable?” Why, none other than the FCC. 

 The remnants of a once firmly held bipartisan consensus that the Internet operates best when the government leaves it alone were strong enough to block the most radical elements of the Left’s net neutrality wish list, at least temporarily. And the rules will be challenged in court as well as Congress, where congressional Republicans were already threatening to use their new found oversight powers to make Genachowski’s life difficult.

But Genachowski has finally managed to plant regulatory roots within the Net. On December 21, 2010, the agency voted 3-2 to pass a major regulatory order that no one outside the FCC had been allowed to see. Genachowski’s power grab had been accomplished in haste and secrecy as a lame-duck Congress prepared for Christmas, but he had successfully fulfilled the president’s promise and asserted federal control over the sprawling core of the Net. Commissioner McDowell’s “greatest deregulatory success story of all time” has given way to empowered regulators. The Internet, after luxuriating in lawless freedom, finally has its own cop. 

Peter Suderman is an associate editor at reason. This column first appeared at Reason.com.


          "It was very moving and extremely needed, ... We are a conservative campus where this is not talked about." - Carol Miller   
"It was very moving and extremely needed, ... We are a conservative campus where this is not talked about." - Carol Miller
          Albert, we hardly knew ye   
Find out what campus conservatives can still learn from Einstein in the latest issue of Accuracy in Academia’s monthly Campus Report newsletter.
          UCLA Terminated Contract of Conservative Professor after Intra-Department Conflict   
A conservative professor was terminated from UCLA, even after receiving high teaching scores from student evaluations.
          NEWS TO PONDER, SHARE AND WONDER   
Top World News Now                 
February 21, 2013

COURTESY SOCHA FAAL

 Heads up from AntiMullah. Separate vacations and Obambi brings Reggie Love back with  him. If you do  not know what this is, you need to visit/view AntiMullah.com more often to keep up with latest developments.

Tone and content reflects information not normally provided by Lame Stream Media's love fest with Obambi. And worldwide events that discredit his claims and motives for anti-American, pro-Moslem Brotherhood policies and actions.
 
Read and become knowledgeable and stop believing the incredible lies Obama feeds us at every opportunity. Lies his own Democrats increasingly have a problem swallowing and are intentionally leading our nation into certain fiscal and political destruction.


United States
GOP Resists Obama's Push for Tax Rise to Head Off Cuts
Obama Fleshes Out Plans for Infrastructure Projects
Obama considers urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage
White House announces online espionage response policy
US issues final word on essential benefits under "Obamacare"
Anonymous thrown into China-US cyberwar scandal
Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilian workers
In wake of Benghazi, rapid response Marine unit heading to Europe
US issues worldwide caution to its citizens of terror threats
Body found in restaurant rubble after Kansas City explosion
Why Americans Might Be Better Off If Their Burgers Were Made Of Horsemeat
Sex-Change Surgery Available Through Many US Colleges
Majority of US citizens say illegal immigrants should be deported
Hundreds of thousands march in Puerto Rico against gay rights
 
 

Russia
Putin Invites G20 Leaders to St. Petersburg Summit
Migrant workers call on Putin for amnesty
Lavrov: Time to end the war in Syria
Moscow: N. Korea sanctions can only impact nuclear program
IMF warns of higher inflation, slower GDP growth in Russia
Russia's missing billions revealed
Russia Tries To Remove Images of New Drone From the Internet
Russian Military to Develop Anti-Meteorite Defenses
Russia investigates 25 cases of Defense Ministry fraud - Prosecutor General
MP resigns after bloggers disclose his Florida property
Russia escalating attacks on free expression a year on from Pussy Riot protest
‘Ample Evidence’ Linking Ukraine Ex-President to Journalist Murder
French Specialists Resume Work at Chernobyl Disaster Site
Ukraine: Embezzlement At State Orphanages
Belarus Phases Out Russian Warplanes, Radars
 
 

China
Xi Jinping's campaign to purge Communist Party 'won't be easy'
Incumbent cabinet holds final meeting
China's central banker skips retirement bar to stay on
Manila to tackle sea row 'with or without China' at UN
Attacks originating from US rank 1st among overseas hackings in China
Photos show new activity at N Korea nuclear site
Spy agencies scrounge for details on North Korean nuclear test
North Korea: A nuclear 7-Eleven?
N Korean propaganda video shows Obama in flames
US Envoy Opposes S Korean Nuclear Armament
Rise in online fan clubs extolling China's party leaders
After China's multibillion-dollar cleanup, water still unfit to drink
Smog in Pearl River Delta 'worse than in Beijing'
Maoists Block Deal to Break Nepal's Long Political Deadlock
 
 

Cameron to pay respects to victims of Amritsar massacre
Cameron's India trip hits wobble with concern over helicopter deal
Sars-like virus death reported in UK
New coronavirus can infect human lungs as easily as cold virus
Magdalene laundries: Ireland to apologise to survivors
Iranian torture guard refused UK citizenship
Britain expands "bigger than burgers" horsemeat tests
Regulator warns Britain 'on the brink' of energy crisis
Scotland 'faces EU funding cut'
Tanker drivers in Scotland vote to strike
Belfast Orange Order warns members over flag protests
One in four Africans attacked in Ireland
 
 

Berlusconi accused of trying to buy votes days before election
After Bulgarian Protests, Prime Minister Resigns
Greek police fire tear gas on anti-austerity protesters
Greece welcomes Hollande with ‘news blackout’
Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution a disaster
Thieves in Belgium pull off most spectacular and dramatic diamond heist in years
Iceland considers dropping its currency
Lawmakers Threaten to Veto Tightened Budget
EU reinforces sanctions against DPRK
To Revive Honey Bees, Europe Proposes a Pesticide Ban
Anti-austerity strike to bring Greece to a standstill
Italy politicians make final drive for votes before poll
 
 

Berlusconi's possible comeback a nightmare for Angela Merkel
Merkel's Rainbow Problem: On Gay Rights, Chancellor Still a Conservative
German Officials Signal Berlusconi Isn't Their Man
Germany Sends Troops to Mali
German police raid firms over Ponzi scheme
Germany: Court Backs Adoption by Same-Sex Couples
Net activists slam Germany's open data portal
NSU victims' families want more than sympathy
Security staff at Hamburg airport to strike Wednesday in pay dispute
Swiss mayoral candidate 'pro-Hamas, pro-Iran'
Outgoing chairman of Switzerland's Novartis foregoes $78 million golden parachute deal
Norway is Afraid of Foreign Spies
 
 

Hollande: French soldier killed in northern Mali
Hollande confirms seven kidnapped in Cameroon
Hollande urges investment in Greece, growth in Europe
Hollande: France will miss 2013 growth target
French Kidnapped in Cameroon Were Taken Into Nigeria
France saw 58 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks in 2012
Man arrested for serial attacks on Paris Chinese
France to unfreeze development aid to Mali
France Charges 11 In Alleged Kurdish Extortion Ring
 
 
War For Global Energy Supremacy-World War III
Syrian rebels threaten Hezbollah with 48-hour deadline
Syrian military reportedly shoots down Israel drone
US direct military support to Mali likely to continue after elections
Mortars Explode Near Assad Palace in Damascus
Missile kills more than 30 in Syria
Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria
Foreign Arms Supplies to Syrian Rebels Expanding
Pro-Assad militia now key to Syrian government’s war strategy
Russia's double dealing on arms to Assad regime leaves UK isolated over Syria
Syrian Rebels Threaten to Attack Lebanon Over Border Dispute
 
Insight Into Today’s News
Billionaires Continue To Dump Stocks
G20 issues empty declaration against currency wars
Norway Enters The Currency Wars
The Second-Mortgage Shell Game
The Last Liberal Branch of Government
US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan unraveling
Goodbye? We’ve Lost Who We Are?
US Schools Go Into Full Prison Mode
Hornady Addresses Ammo Shortage: We’re working 24/7
US Media Yet Again Conceals Newsworthy Government Secrets
 

Former foreign minister Livni joins Netanyahu coalition
Prisoner X: Benjamin Netanyahu adds to mystery
Secretary Kerry to skip Israel in first trip
Turkey, Israel Cut 1st Defense Deal Since Freezing Ties
Israel Seeks to Curb Weapons Flow to Gaza
West Bank protesters rally for release of deteriorating prisoners
Palestinian Prisoner's Hunger Strike Reaches 211th Day
Fatah Official Warns of Violence if Prisoners Aren't Freed
'Iron Dome' may be instrumental in peace process
Head of Israeli IVF unit arrested in Romania
 
 

 
 

Security deteriorating in Egypt due to political instability
Opposition Sets Conditions For Dialogue With Morsi
Morsi's advisory team less diverse after months of walkouts
Morsi Issues Presidential Decree to Appoint New Mufti
Strike, Protests Hit Egypt's Port Said for 3rd Day
Egyptians protest at Libyan border over new visa rules
Egypt ministry appeals against order to block YouTube
Egypt files new charges against Mubarak's last premier
2 Sunni groups halt roles in Bahrain crisis talks
A Palace Rift in Bahrain Bedevils Key US Navy Base
 

Iran to Conduct Military Drills Over 3 Days
Reformists Meet Khamenei To Improve 'Internal Climate'
Rivals Forced to Apologize to Supreme Leader
Ahmadinejad threat to cancel Iranian poll
Iran Pushes Nuclear-Free Mideast Plans
Syrian Prime Minister Claims Iran is Now “Occupying” Syria
MPs say sovereignty over three Persian Gulf islands is non-negotiable
Iran protests Berlin film award for banned Jafar Panahi
Fatwa Issued Against 3G Internet Operator in Iran
Iran FM Spurns Western 'Gold Trade' Offer
Stung by 'Argo,' Iran Backs Conference Denouncing 'Hollywoodism'
 
 

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The sophisticated underground rocket launcher system in Gaza has been exposed by the terrorist organization in a video it released Saturday.






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In Burma, he called the country by what the generals used to call it, he badly mauled and miss-pronounced the name of leader of their democracy movement. Add to that, he kissed this single woman, which in their culture is an insult.....He gave credit to himself for the democracy movement there (the credit should go to the Bush administration and Laura Bush in particular ) and some are praising him, and fawning over this trip ! Oh , please...






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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.
Like a Diamond in the Sky
Image Credit & Copyright: Alex Cherney (Terrastro, TWAN)
Explanation: A dark Sun hung over Queensland, Australia on Wednesday morning during a much anticipated total solar eclipse. Storm clouds threatened to spoil the view along the northern coast, but minutes before totality the clouds parted. Streaming past the Moon's edge, the last direct rays of sunlight produced a gorgeous diamond ring effect in this scene from Ellis Beach between Cairns and Port Douglas. Winking out in a moment, the diamond didn't last forever though. The area was plunged into darkness for nearly 2 minutes as the Moon's shadow swept off shore toward Australia's Great Barrier Reef and out into the southern Pacific. Ranging from 1/4000 to 1/15 seconds long, five separate exposures were blended in the image to create a presentation similar to the breathtaking visual experience of the eclipse.
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How dumb do they think you are?

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A picture you will never see…


Found on the IDF Twitter feed, the video below depicts life in southern Israel under fire of the rockets that have rained down from Gaza: “Over the past 12 years, the residents of southern Israel have suffered over 12,000 rockets fired at them from the Gaza Strip. This is what their life has looked like over the years.” I think it’s safe to say you won’t be seeing this brief video compilation on the BCC or CNN either.
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Iran must be President Obama’s immediate priority

By Henry A. Kissinger, Published: November 16

Henry A. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977.
In the aftermath of an exhausting reelection campaign, the most urgent decision facing the president is how to stop Iran from pursuing a military nuclear program. Presidents of both parties have long declared that “no option is off the table” in securing this goal. In the third presidential debate, the candidates agreed that this was a matter of the American national interest, even as they described the objective alternately as preventing an Iranian “nuclear weapon” or “breakout capacity” (President Obama), or a “nuclear-capable Iran” (Mitt Romney). As Iran continues to elaborate its enrichment capacity and move it underground, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a spring deadline for counteraction. In this fraught environment, what operational meaning should be given to America’s declared objectives?

The United States and Iran are apparently conducting bilateral negotiations through official or semiofficial emissaries — a departure from the previous procedure of multilateral talks. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program do not have an encouraging record. For more than a decade, Iran has stalled, first with the “EU-3” (France, Germany and Britain) and then with the “P5+1” (the members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany). It has alternated hints of flexibility with periods of intransigence, all while expanding, concealing and dispersing its nuclear facilities. If no limit is placed on this process, Iran’s tech­no­logical progress will dominate events. But at what stage, and in what manner, should Iran be deprived of a military nuclear capability? This has been the essence of the argument over “red lines.”

Three stages are involved in the evolution of a military nuclear capability: a delivery system, a capacity to enrich uranium and the production of nuclear warheads. Iran has been augmenting the range and number of its missile systems since at least 2006. Its enrichment capacity — long underreported to the International Atomic Energy Agency — has been expanded to thousands of centrifuges (the instruments that enrich uranium to bomb-grade material). The level exceeds any reasonable definition of peaceful uses authorized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The inevitable culmination is a nuclear weapon.

To draw the line at proscribing an Iranian nuclear weapon — as some argue — would prove unmanageable. Once the requisite amount of fissile material has been produced, constructing and equipping a warhead is a relatively short and technologically straightforward process, almost certainly impossible to detect in a timely fashion.

If so ineffectual a red line were to emerge from a decade of diplomacy by the permanent members of the Security Council, the result would be an essentially uncontrollable military nuclear proliferation throughout a region roiled by revolution and sectarian blood-feuds. Iran would thereby achieve the status of North Korea, with a military nuclear program at the very edge of going operational. Each nation that has a nuclear option would compete to minimize the time to its own full military nuclear capability. 

Meanwhile, countries within the reach of Iran’s military but lacking a nuclear option would be driven to reorient their political alignment toward Tehran. The reformist tendencies in the Arab Spring — already under severe pressure — would be submerged by this process. The president’s vision of progress toward a global reduction of nuclear weapons would suffer a blow, perhaps a fatal one.
Some have argued that even in the worst-case scenario, a nuclear Iran could be deterred. Yet this ignores the immensely costly, complex and tension-ridden realities of Cold War-era deterrence, the apocalyptic strain in the Iranian theocracy and the near-certainty that several regional powers will go nuclear if Iran does. Once nuclear balances are forged in conditions where tensions are no longer purely bilateral, as in the Cold War, and in still-developing countries whose technology to prevent accidents is rudimentary, the likelihood of some nuclear exchange will mount dramatically.

This is why the United States has insisted on limits on Iranian enrichment — that is, curtailing access to a weapon’s precursor elements. Abandoning the original demand to ban all enrichment, the P5+1 has explored what levels of production of fissile material are compatible with the peaceful uses authorized by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The higher the level of enrichment, the shorter the time needed to bring about militarily applicable results. Conventional wisdom holds that the highest practically enforceable limit is 5 percent enrichment, and then only if all fissile material beyond an agreed amount is safeguarded outside Iran.

The time available for a diplomatic outcome shrinks in direct proportion as the Iranian enrichment capacity grows and a military nuclear capacity approaches. The diplomatic process must therefore be brought to a point of decision. The P5+1 or the United States unilaterally must put forward a precise program to curtail Iranian enrichment with specific time limits.

This does not imply a red line authorizing any country to go to war. However respectfully the views of friends are considered, the ultimate decision over peace or war must remain in the hands of the president. Why negotiate with a country of such demonstrated hostility and evasiveness? Precisely because the situation is so fraught. Diplomacy may reach an acceptable agreed outcome. Or its failure will mobilize the American people and the world. It will clarify either the causes of an escalating crisis, up to the level of military pressure, or ultimate acquiescence in an Iranian nuclear program. Either outcome will require a willingness to see it through to its ultimate implications. We cannot afford another strategic disaster.

To the extent that Iran shows willingness to conduct itself as a nation-state, rather than a revolutionary religious cause, and accepts enforceable verification, elements of Iranian security concerns should be taken seriously, including gradual easing of sanctions as strict limits on enrichment are implemented and enforced. But time will be urgent. Tehran must be made to understand that the alternative to an agreement is not simply a further period of negotiation and that using negotiations to gain time will have grave consequences. A creative diplomacy, allied to a determined strategy, may still be able to prevent a crisis provided the United States plays a decisive role in defining permissible outcomes.

2012 Tribune Media Services

More on this topic: A video interview with Henry Kissinger Henry A. Kissinger: Meshing realism and idealism in the Middle East David Ignatius: An interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Charles Krauthammer: Collapse of the Cairo Doctrine




American media yawns, and some of our own friends fawn over him about his insulting kiss.....







Insult: A photograph in June 2011 shows Broadwell watching as Petraeus and his wife Holly arrive for a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Petraeus' nomination to be director of the CIA




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60 Second Refutation of Socialism, While Sitting at the Beach

Last week, there were several comments in Carnival of the Capitalists that people would like to see more articles highlighting the benefits of capitalism. This got me thinking about a conversation I had years ago at the beach:
Hanging out at the beach one day with a distant family member, we got into a discussion about capitalism and socialism. In particular, we were arguing about whether brute labor, as socialism teaches, is the source of all wealth (which, socialism further argues, is in turn stolen by the capitalist masters). The young woman, as were most people her age, was taught mainly by the socialists who dominate college academia nowadays. I was trying to find a way to connect with her, to get her to question her assumptions, but was struggling because she really had not been taught many of the fundamental building blocks of either philosophy or economics, but rather a mish-mash of politically correct points of view that seem to substitute nowadays for both.
One of the reasons I took up writing a blog is that I have never been as snappy or witty in real-time discussions as I would like to be, and I generally think of the perfect comeback or argument minutes or hours too late. I have always done better with writing, where I have time to think. However, on this day, I had inspiration from a half-remembered story I had heard before. I am sure I stole the following argument from someone, but to this day I still can't remember from whom.
I picked up a handful of sand, and said "this is almost pure silicon, virtually identical to what powers a computer. Take as much labor as you want, and build me a computer with it -- the only limitation is you can only have true manual laborers - no engineers or managers or other capitalist lackeys".
Yeah, I know what you're thinking - beach sand is not pure silicon - it is actually silicon dioxide, SiO2, but if she didn't take any economics she certainly didn't take any chemistry or geology.
She replied that my request was BS, that it took a lot of money to build an electronics plant, and her group of laborers didn't have any and bankers would never lend them any.
All too many defenders of capitalism would have stopped here, and said aha! So you admit you need more than labor - you need capital too. But Marx would not have disagreed - he would have said it was the separation of labor and capital that was bad - only when laborers owned the capital, rather than being slaves to the ruling class that now controls the capital, would the world reach nirvana. So I offered her just that:
I told her - assume for our discussion that I have tons of money, and I will give you and your laborers as much as you need. The only restriction I put on it is that you may only buy raw materials - steel, land, silicon - in their crudest forms. It is up to you to assemble these raw materials, with your laborers, to build the factory and make me my computer.
She thought for a few seconds, and responded "but I can't - I don't know how. I need someone to tell me how to do it"
And that is the heart of socialism's failure. For the true source of wealth is not brute labor, or even what you might call brute capital, but the mind. The mind creates new technologies, new products, new business models, new productivity enhancements, in short, everything that creates wealth. Labor or capital without a mind behind it is useless.


Since 1700, the GDP per capita in places like the US has risen, in real terms, over 40 fold. This is a real increase in total wealth - it is not money stolen or looted or exploited. Wealthy nations like the US didn't "take" the wealth from somewhere else - it never even existed before. It was created by the minds of human beings.
How? What changed? Historians who really study this stuff would probably point to a jillion things, but in my mind two are important:
  1. There was a philosophical and intellectual change where questioning established beliefs and social patterns went from being heresy and unthinkable to being acceptable, and even in vogue. In other words, men, at first just the elite but soon everyone, were urged to use their mind rather than just relying on established beliefs
  2. There were social and political changes that greatly increased the number of people capable of entrepreneurship. Before this time, the vast vast majority of people were locked into social positions that allowed them no flexibility to act on a good idea, even if they had one. By starting to create a large and free middle class, first in the Netherlands and England and then in the US, more people had the ability to use their mind to create new wealth. Whereas before, perhaps 1% or less of any population really had the freedom to truly act on their ideas, after 1700 many more people began to have this freedom.
So today's wealth, and everything that goes with it (from shorter work hours to longer life spans) is the result of more people using their minds more freely.
Look around the world - for any country, ask yourself if the average person in that country has the open intellectual climate that encourages people to think for themselves, and the open political and economic climate that allows people to act on the insights their minds provide and to keep the fruits of their effort. Where you can answer yes to both, you will find wealth and growth. Where you answer no to both, you will find poverty and misery.
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It says it in the Bible:
It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana being legalized on the same day!

Leviticus 20:13 - "if a man lays with another man, he should be stoned."

We've just been interpreting it wrong all these years!!!

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Ugly uniform of the Steelers ! WASPS?
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Ross Mirkarimi Dresses Like General Eisenhower



rsz_sheriffs_in_uniform_by_luke_thomas.jpg
Luke Thomas
A sharp-dressed man...
Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and District Attorney George Gascón aren't exactly seeing eye to eye these days. But if a common bond could be forged, perhaps the first step to take would be uniting the warring city officials over their shared sartorial senses.

As police chief, Gascón was far more likely than not to wander into police headquarters dressed like a lawyer. Gascón is a lawyer, and Mirkarimi is not -- but, in the limited amount of time the sheriff has been permitted to do the job he was elected to do, he's often outfitted like one.

So, it was a bit jarring to see Mirkarimi clothed in full sheriff's dress regalia during the weekend's Veteran's Day March. Decked out in a forest green uniform complete with gold-starred epaulets and gold bands on an Eisenhower jacket, the progressive sheriff looks like he ought to be leaping off a Jeep and warning us about the perils of the Military-Industrial Complex.

Yet while this uniform might be a head-turner, it's actually something of a California template.

Sheriff's department spokeswoman Susan Fahey said the "Class A uniform" -- worn to inaugurations, funerals, and other high-level events -- is essentially "standardized" throughout the state.

Even the longest-serving sheriffs couldn't remember wearing anything much different, other than a sea change in 1999 or 2000 when the department pulled the trigger and made the shift from British green to forest green. Those were heady times.

Calls to the California State Sheriffs' Association querying why sheriffs' duds look like a cross between military officers and park rangers have not yet been answered.

A quick glance at the association's board of directors, however, reveals that Fahey is right -- there is a fairly standard template of sheriff's dress uniforms.

More when we know more about this most pressing situation.
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Puke !!!

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Another Puke ! ! !
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          ONE SLIM HOPE STILL THERE FROM NETTY NEWS   

‘One Last Chance’: How Obama Can Still Be Stopped Through The Electoral College http://patdollard.com/2012/11/how-obama-can-still-be-stopped-through-the-electoral-college/ Last Ditch Effort 4 Electoral College 2 Save USA or Pledge 2 NEVER VOTE Again!




King: presidential election was ‘Santa Claus versus personal responsibility’ http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/18/king-presidential-election-was-santa-claus-versus-personal-responsibility/



Michael Savage: They’re Not Liberals! They’re Bolsheviks! http://www.westernjournalism.com/michael-savage-theyre-not-liberals-theyre-bolsheviks/







          UANI INFORMATIVE IRAN UPDATE    
Top Stories

Reuters:
"A Chinese firm has stopped verifying safety and environmental standards for Iranian ships, becoming the last top certification provider to end marine work there as the trade noose on Tehran tightens. The China Classification Society (CCS) is the last of the world's top 13 such companies, all members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), to confirm it has ended Iran-related certification work, key to insurance and ports access for ships... A letter seen by Reuters dated November 15 showed Beijing-headquartered CCS had not provided certification services to Iranian ships since June 28. It had been urged to pull out by U.S. pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and clarify its position. 'Currently there is not any ship flying an Iranian flag or owned by an Iranian ship owner in our fleet, and we have not conducted any statutory survey for any Iranian ship,' CCS chairman and president Sun Licheng said in the letter to UANI dated November 15... A targeted campaign by UANI, which includes former U.S. ambassadors as well as former CIA and British intelligence chiefs on its board and is funded by private donations, has already led to other top classification societies exiting Iran. Without certification from classification societies, vessels are unable to secure insurance cover or call at most international ports. UANI's Wallace on Wednesday welcomed the move by CCS, but sought harsher measures being imposed on Iran's fleet. 'All of the world's major shipping certifiers have now ended their certification of Iranian vessels,' said Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. 'We call for even tougher sanctions: any vessel that docks in Iran or transports Iranian cargo should be barred from accessing ports in the U.S., EU, or elsewhere.'" http://t.uani.com/TYz2UP

Reuters: "Hong Kong has deregistered five Iranian cargo ships and a further 14 are likely to follow after their classification society quit Iran due to sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States over its nuclear programme... Hong Kong's marine department has asked the owners of 19 dry bulk carriers, managed by an Iranian firm, to register their ships elsewhere after the Korean Register of Shipping said earlier this year it would not provide the ships safety auditing... Hong Kong had been urged by U.S. pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) to deflag the 19 dry bulk ships, which the group said were owned, managed or operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) and its associated companies. In a reply to UANI dated November 9 Wong said it was of paramount importance to Hong Kong's marine department in safeguarding the quality of Hong Kong ships." http://t.uani.com/V0CToV

Reuters: "Six world powers agreed on Wednesday to seek renewed talks with Iran as fast as possible, reflecting a heightened sense of urgency to resolve a long rift over Tehran's disputed nuclear activity and avert the threat of war. Their call coincided with growing evidence of Iran expanding nuclear capacity in an underground bunker virtually impervious to attack and follows the November 6 re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, which has cleared the way for new contacts. Senior diplomats from the six countries - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - met in Brussels on Wednesday to consider new negotiating tactics despite abiding skepticism that a deal with Tehran can be reached. It was not clear after the meeting what options, if any, were agreed. But the six said 'necessary contact' with the Iranians would be made 'in the coming days'. 'The (six powers) are committed to having another round of talks with Iran as soon as possible,' said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the six countries in dealings with Iran." http://t.uani.com/V0FX4m

MTN Banner
Nuclear Program

Reuters: "Iran has been hauling dirt to a military site U.N. nuclear inspectors want to visit, Western diplomats said on Wednesday, saying the findings were based on satellite images and they reinforced suspicions of a clean-up. They said the pictures, presented during a closed-door briefing for member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested Iran was continuing to try to hide incriminating traces of any illicit nuclear-related activity. The allegations come a few days after the IAEA said in a report on Iran that 'extensive activities' undertaken at the Parchin site since early this year would seriously undermine its inquiry, if and when inspectors were allowed access. Iran has so far denied the agency's request for a visit. The U.N. agency believes Iran may have conducted explosives tests that could help develop nuclear weapons at Parchin and wants immediate access to investigate the facility. Iran denies this, saying Parchin is a conventional military complex." http://t.uani.com/RYeCM6

NYT: "The conflict that ended, for now, in a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel seemed like the latest episode in a periodic showdown. But there was a second, strategic agenda unfolding, according to American and Israeli officials: The exchange was something of a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new antimissile systems to counter them. It is Iran, of course, that most preoccupies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama. While disagreeing on tactics, both have made it clear that time is short, probably measured in months, to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. And one key to their war-gaming has been cutting off Iran's ability to slip next-generation missiles into the Gaza Strip or Lebanon, where they could be launched by Iran's surrogates, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, during any crisis over sanctions or an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Michael B. Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States and a military historian, likened the insertion of Iranian missiles into Gaza to the Cuban missile crisis. 'In the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. was not confronting Cuba, but rather the Soviet Union,' Mr. Oren said Wednesday, as the cease-fire was declared. 'In Operation Pillar of Defense,' the name the Israel Defense Force gave the Gaza operation, 'Israel was not confronting Gaza, but Iran.'" http://t.uani.com/WnopuC

Reuters: "Israel has a 'childish' desire to attack Iran and Tehran is capable of defending itself, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday. 'They wish to hurt the Iranian nation. They are waiting for the chance. They known that Iran does not attack anybody and they know that Iran knows how to defend itself,' he told a news conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. 'We don't accept the hegemony of Israel. They wish to attack Iran but it is like a childish desire.' He was speaking after attending a summit of developing nations." http://t.uani.com/QyB8hw

Sanctions

In Auto News:
"After giant international automaker left Iran due to the sanctions on the nuclear programme, the country now relies on Peugeot to revive the auto industry here. Iran currently has to deal with increasing production costs and lack of technology on how to manufacture vehicles, after the world's most important automakers, such as Toyota, GM, Fiat, Hyundai and PSA Peugeot Citroen, were forced to leave the country due to the disputed nuclear programme. In September auto production in Iran dropped 66% from September 2011, and during the first half of the Iranian solar year, which began on March 19th, auto production fell 42%... On November 18th, the Iranian Industry Committee announced that Peugeot might return to the Iranian market, which would mean an increase in the country's car input. Although Peugeot has not yet officially confirmed this plan, its situation in Europe might force the automaker to make this step, also taking into consideration that Iran was its second major market." http://t.uani.com/10nu5tD

Platts: "China's imports of crude oil from Iran in October fell 23.2% year on year to 1.94 million mt (458,716 b/d), but were up 23.3% on month, according to data from the General Administration of Customs received by Platts late Thursday. Iran remained China's fifth largest supplier of crude in October, similar to September. That is down from being the third largest supplier in August. In the first 10 months of the year, total Iranian crude imports were 17.73 million mt, down 22.2% from the same period a year ago. On June 28, China received a US exemption from sanctions levied against countries who trade with Iran for 180 days, with Washington saying China had significantly reduced its crude purchases from Iran. A renewal of the waiver is due December 25 and the US State Department said previously it would be dependent on further significant reductions of crude imports from Iran. China's total crude oil imports in October rose 13.8% year on year to 23.68 million mt (5.6 million b/d), the third highest level this year on a b/d basis, following the record 6.02 million b/d seen in May and 5.98 million b/d in February." http://t.uani.com/XJVhUI

WashPost: "Iran is facing a possible crisis in its health-care system as a result of economic sanctions and alleged government mismanagement of diminishing state funds, according to officials here. The lack of money is already being felt in hospitals throughout Iran, where medical staffs have been told that they are working in 'war-time conditions' and should prescribe drugs sparingly - or in many cases, not all - in an effort to save resources... The scarcity derives from a complicated set of circumstances that includes both a heavy dose of Western sanctions, which are aimed at forcing Iran's leaders to halt their uranium-enrichment program, as well as what critics here say are missteps by the government. While some of the anger over the shortages has been directed at the United States and other global powers, there has also been an internal backlash. Hosseinali Shahriari, the head of parliament's health committee, said this month that 'the government is playing with our people's health and is not assigning the approved finances.'" http://t.uani.com/R3Z4JH

AFP: "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday vowed to complete a mutli-billion dollar gas pipeline to Pakistan on time, downplaying financial woes and US pressure on Islamabad to scrap the project. Pakistan and Iran signed a deal in 2010 under which Tehran would supply gas to its eastern neighbour from 2014, with sales to reach up to one billion cubic feet (28 million cubic metres) per day by mid-2015. The project envisaged a pipeline, 900 kilometres (560 miles) in length built from Assaluyeh in southern Iran to the border with Pakistan. Another 800 kilometres pipeline was also needed inside Pakistan to receive gas from Iran's South Pars field in the Gulf. 'We want to complete this project by 2014,' Ahmadinejad told a press conference in Islamabad." http://t.uani.com/QdXQKj

The Nation (Pakistan): "Pakistan Credit Rating Agency (PACRA) and the Securities and Exchange Organization (SEO) - Iran entered into MoU in Tehran on Thursday wherein PACRA will provide technical assistance in establishing a credit rating regime in Iran. Under the MoU, PACRA shall prepare regulatory framework for regulating the credit rating business in Iran and in establishing rating agencies in Iran. PACRA is one of the two Pakistani CRAs that provides credit rating services in various countries. In order to enhance cooperation and assistance to each other in the areas of interest, SECP and SEO-Iran had constituted a Liaison Committee that is entrusted with the task of exploring areas of assistance to each other. During a meeting in October 2011, SECP arranged a meeting of both the domestic CRAs with an Iranian delegation visiting Pakistan and the Iranian delegation desired to seek assistance of SECP for the development of regulatory framework for regulating the credit rating business in Iran." http://t.uani.com/WEnuLg

Terrorism

NYT: "Above the bustling Niayesh highway in the western part of the Iranian capital, a huge billboard hangs on an overpass to remind drivers of Iran's missile abilities. Cars zip underneath the image of a green missile on a launcher and text in Persian saying 'Destination Tel Aviv.' Few here take note of the sign, as average Iranians are too busy trying to cope with rising prices and occasional shortages brought about by a faltering economy. But Iran's missiles and weapons technology are getting plenty of attention hundreds of miles away in Gaza, giving the country's ruling clerics a rare bit of good news in what has otherwise been a long, dismal year... Throughout the battle, Iranian-designed missiles, the Fajr-3 and the Fajr-5 that allowed Hamas and another Gaza-based movement, Islamic Jihad, to hit Israel's heartland, sent Israelis fleeing to bomb shelters. While political support and money helps, Palestinian leaders said, Iran's weapons technology is a far greater help." http://t.uani.com/Tir2R9

AFP: "Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said on Wednesday that Israel had 'failed in all its goals' after a Gaza truce deal came into effect, while thanking Egypt and Iran for their support during the conflict. 'After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance,' Meshaal said. 'Israel has failed in all its goals,' he told reporters in a Cairo hotel. Meshaal also thanked ceasefire mediator Egypt, as well as Iran, which he said 'had a role in arming' his Islamist movement during the conflict." http://t.uani.com/Ui2SWR

AFP: "Israel and the United States have agreed to work together to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday. 'Israel cannot sit idly by as its enemies strengthen themselves with weapons of terror so I agreed with President (Barack) Obama that we will work together -- Israel and the United States -- against the smuggling of weapons to terror organisations, most of which comes from Iran,' he said in a televised address." http://t.uani.com/UNE2dt

LAT: "Iran for years has supplied Hamas with weapons as part of its own struggle against Israel, but the conflict in the Gaza Strip reveals a shift in regional dynamics that may diminish Tehran's influence with Palestinian militant groups and strengthen the hand of Egypt. The longer-range missiles fired by Hamas over the last week - believed to be modifications of Iran's Fajr 5 missiles - startled Israel by landing near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A front-page story in Iran's conservative daily, Kayhan, boasted: 'The missiles of resistance worked.' Tehran would not confirm the weapons' origin, except to say it sent rocket 'technology' to Hamas... But the Gaza fighting erupted during a new era in the Middle East brought about by the rise of Islamist governments, notably in Egypt, that have replaced pro-Western autocrats. The political catharsis has spurred anti-Americanism, which Iran relishes, but it also has upset Tehran's regional designs." http://t.uani.com/R43cZW

Reuters: "Iran reacted angrily to assertions by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and accused him of not understanding the realities in the region after the diplomat accused Tehran of being responsible for the Gaza conflict. On Wednesday Fabius accused Iran of negative intentions in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza and that it bore a 'heavy responsibility' for the fighting for providing long-range weapons." http://t.uani.com/WEqNSw

NYT: "Eighteen years have passed since a suicide bomber drove a Renault van loaded with explosives into the headquarters of the Jewish community center here, killing 85 people. Since then, investigations have meandered. Interpol arrest warrants have led nowhere. Aging suspects connected to the attack have begun to die. But in the elusive quest for justice in the bombing, which ranks among the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks anywhere since World War II, few developments have riled Argentina's Jewish leaders as much as the government's move in recent weeks to improve relations with Iran, the nation shielding in the high echelons of its political establishment various people accused by Argentine prosecutors of having authorized the attack... 'We cannot comprehend this,' said Guillermo Borger, the president of the Argentine Mutual Aid Association, the center that was bombed in 1994. 'The world is shutting its doors to Iran, and we're giving Iran a chance to say that Argentina is somehow now its friend. The Iranians have not budged in their assertion that their people are innocent, so why should Argentina be in dialogue with them?'" http://t.uani.com/TjvVZj

Human Rights

Guardian: "The mother of an Iranian blogger who died in custody has accused the authorities of killing her son and launching an intimidation campaign against her family. Sattar Beheshti was a 35-year-old blogger from the city of Robat-Karim who lost his life while being interrogated by Iran's cyberpolice, accused of acting against the national security because of what he had posted on Facebook. Iran's opposition activists have accused the regime of torturing Beheshti to death. In jail, Beheshti had no access to his family nor to a lawyer. Beheshti's mother, who has not been named but is pictured with him in one of the only images available of him online, has for the first time spoken out against the state pressure on her family not to speak to the press. 'I have no fears. I can't accept that my son has died by natural causes,' she told Sahamnews, a news website close to an Iranian opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi, who is under house arrest. 'My son has been killed. He went to jail standing on his own legs and they gave us his dead body.'" http://t.uani.com/TfnT1g

Reuters: "Iran said on Thursday a blogger who died while in police custody may have lost his life as a result of a form of shock, the official IRNA news agency reported, adding that investigations were not yet concluded. In a case that has sparked international outrage, 35-year-old Sattar Beheshti who wrote a blog critical of the government was arrested on October 30 after receiving death threats and died some days later, having complained of being tortured. Under increasing pressure at home and abroad for an investigation, Iran's parliament said it had formed a committee to examine the case and the judiciary said it would deal 'quickly and decisively' with those responsible. 'In its latest report, the seven-member medical committee says ... it is not possible to determine the exact cause of death,' IRNA quoted Tehran prosecutor's office as saying in a statement. 'But the most likely cause leading to death may be shock,' the statement said, adding that excessive psychological stress could have caused the shock." http://t.uani.com/Ui0LSM

AP: "In his last blog entry, activist Sattar Beheshti wrote that Iranian authorities had given him an ultimatum: Either stop posting his 'big mouth' attacks against the ruling system or tell his mother that she will soon be in mourning. 'We will tear down your cruel cage,' Beheshti typed on Oct. 29 before signing off... But while the specific circumstances of Beheshti's death may be given a public reckoning, the more far-reaching aspect of the case - Iran's rapidly growing corps of Web watchers - may remain in the shadows, as well as their motives in targeting an obscure blogger whose site was actively followed by more than a few dozen viewers. The 35-year-old Beheshti apparently fell under the custody of Iran's cyber police, created last year with a wide mandate to crush Web dissent. The powers displayed in the case - including questioning Beheshti outside the regular justice system - suggests a level of autonomy and authority that could bring far more aggressive measures against Web activists." http://t.uani.com/TSyqOt

Opinion & Analysis

Kristen McTighe in IHT: "Houshang Asadi was a Communist journalist thrown into the cold confines of Moshtarek prison in Iran when he found an unlikely friend in the tall, slender Muslim cleric who greeted him with a smile. Imprisoned together in 1974, under the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, they found common ground in their passion for literature. They shared jokes, spoke of where they came from, their families and falling in love. Mr. Asadi, who did not smoke, would give cigarettes to his cellmate who, uncharacteristic of a cleric, did. On days when Mr. Asadi felt broken, he said, the cleric would invite him to take a walk in their cell to brighten his spirits. So, when his release came six months later and the cleric stood cold and trembling, Mr. Asadi gave him his jacket. 'At first he refused it, but I told him I was going to be released,' Mr. Asadi recalled. 'Then we hugged each other and he had tears coming down his face. He whispered in my ear, Houshang, when Islam comes to power, not a single tear will be shed from an innocent person.' What Mr. Asadi found unimaginable was that the cleric would become president of the Islamic Republic that later imprisoned him again, sentenced him to death and brutally tortured him for six years in the same prison. Today that same cleric is the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Asadi's account of torture and imprisonment has offered a rare glimpse into what activists say was a decade of grave human rights violations in Iran. And at a time when international attention has shifted to the nuclear issue and sanctions, they say a campaign to bring justice and accountability through a symbolic tribunal has helped unite a once fractured opposition. 'I never expected he would get power, never,' said Mr. Asadi in an interview in Paris, where he lives in exile. Mr. Asadi, a 63-year-old writer, journalist and former member of the Tudeh party, was routinely arrested and tortured under the shah. He had supported the revolution, so when he was arrested again in 1982 and accused of being a spy for the Russians and the British, he was convinced that it was a mistake. In a plea for help, his wife wrote to Mr. Khamenei, who had risen to power as president after the Islamic revolution, but two weeks later the letter was returned with a note in the margin saying only that he had been aware of the journalist's political beliefs. Mr. Asadi's death sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison. During his time in prison, he again developed a relationship with the only person he had contact with - as he had done with Mr. Khamenei. This time it was with his torturer, a man he knew only as 'Brother Hamid.' 'He is your torturer and he thinks he is your god, he thinks he is religious, he is pure, and you are evil, you are the enemy,' Mr. Asadi said. 'So he can do anything to you.' Mr. Asadi said he was called a 'useless wimp' and hung by a chain attached to his arms twisted behind his back while the soles of his feet were whipped until he was unable to walk. Brother Hamid forced him to bark like a dog to speak or when the pain was too much and he was ready to make confessions. His ears were hit and his teeth were broken. Mr. Asadi said he had even been forced to eat his own excrement and the excrement of fellow prisoners. Beyond physical pain, he endured psychological torture. He was shown coffins and told his comrades had been killed. He would hear screams and was made to believe his wife was being tortured in the cell next to him... The torture continued daily for six years, until he was abruptly pulled out of his cell in 1988 when the supreme leader at the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered the mass killing of thousands of political prisoners. Prisoners were asked three questions concerning their religious faith and loyalty to the regime. 'If you answered no to any question, they killed you,' Mr. Asadi said. 'I lied to save my life.'" http://t.uani.com/Y8dLgB


          Controversial conservative says stalker won’t stop trying to ‘save his life’   
A conservative activist known for his undercover video stings is being stalked by a Brooklyn woman who floods him with dozens of messages and hang-up calls per hour, according to court papers. James O’Keefe III, who recently made news after his Project Veritas caught CNN anchor Van Jones on tape referring to the Russia scandal...
          Correction: Congress-Health Overhaul-The Latest story   

WASHINGTON — In a story June 30 about health care, The Associated Press incorrectly quoted what Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said at an event Friday night in Kentucky. He said, "It's not easy making America great again, is it?" and not, "It's not easy making American great again."

A corrected version of the story is below:

The Latest: McConnell says he'll stick with his health bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected President Donald Trump's advice to first repeal President Barack Obama's health care law and then replace it later with something else

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Senate GOP health care bill (all times EDT):

8:20 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected President Donald Trump's advice to first repeal President Barack Obama's health care law and then replace it later with something else.

McConnell says the current health care bill remains challenging but "we are going to stick with that path."

Trump tweeted earlier Friday that if Republicans could not reach a consensus on the current bill, they "should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!" Several Republican senators signed on to Trump's plan.

But McConnell is showing no interest in that strategy. He told a gathering of Republicans in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, that "failure has to be possible or you can't have success."

McConnell says, "It's not easy making America great again, is it?"

___

3:15 p.m.

The White House says 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 says President Donald Trump "hasn't changed his thinking at all" about the struggling health care bill.

Trump tweeted earlier Friday that if Republican senators are unable to pass the Senate bill, "they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!"

Republican senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ben Sasse of Nebraska have called for that approach.

Sanders says the White House is focused on the "end product" which she says is repealing and replacing the health care law.

___

10:40 a.m.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is declining to comment on the president's suggestion that the Senate vote now to repeal the Obama health care law, and vote later to replace it. But that idea was rejected months ago by GOP leaders in the House and Senate.

They considered it politically unwise, since it could draw accusations that Republicans are simply tossing people off coverage without helping them get medical care.

President Donald Trump's suggestion came in an early-morning tweet, which said, "If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!"

The idea isn't without supporters in the Senate. They include Republicans Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Kentucky's Rand Paul.

___

6:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump has tweeted about the sputtering Senate health care bill.

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

That's an approach advocated by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who's said he opposes the bill, which would do both at once. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote on the bill Tuesday because of opposition from conservatives and moderates. He's trying to nail down changes by this weekend to assure the bill's passage after the July 4 recess.

___

3:35 p.m.

Top Senate Republicans hoping to rescue their push to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul may try doing it by preserving one of his tax boosts on the rich.

It's a break from dogma by a party that has long reviled tax boosts, and most things achieved by Obama. But it could help attract votes from moderate Republican senators.

And it underscores Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's feverish effort to yank one of his and President Donald Trump's foremost priorities from the brink of defeat.

The money would instead be used to bolster their proposed health care subsidies for lower-income people.

In a bid for conservative support, Senate leaders are also considering an amendment to let insurers offer plans with low premiums and scant benefits.

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President Donald Trump speaks during an energy roundtable with tribal, state, and local leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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President Donald Trump speaks at the Department of Energy in Washington, Thursday, June 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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President Donald Trump, center, speaks as he meets with Republican senators on health care in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, left, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, right, listen (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

d5c4661c018949f88a76d0a1b53789cd.jpg

Amelie Hahn of Jackson, waves a message sign on behalf of her daughter. noting the importance of Medicaid for her continued health care, as she and other social service activists, Medicaid recipients and their supporters stage a protest outside the building that houses the offices of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Thursday, June 29, 2017, in Jackson, Miss. About 35 participants began the morning with a protest at Cochran's office, while sending some representatives to meet with his staff. By mid afternoon, the same group continued their outdoor protest at the federal courthouse where U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., maintains offices. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, and Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas speak with the media after they and other Senate Republicans had a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

c937c6eebca84d02b2893860a455d51e.jpg

Protesters block a street during a protest against the Republican bill in the U.S. Senate to replace President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Salt Lake City. Demonstrators with Utah's Disabled Rights Action Committee chanted and carried signs while blocking State Street Tuesday afternoon. Utah protesters criticized Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch for supporting the bill and say it will cut life-saving Medicaid services and other health protections. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

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FILE - In this June 22, 2017 file photo, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine speaks amid a crush of reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Somewhere along the way, the Republican crusade to repeal "Obamacare" also turned into an effort to limit the future growth of Medicaid. That bit of mission creep is complicating prospects for the GOP, and could lead to deadlock. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Source: 
AP

          Correction: Congress-Health Overhaul story   

WASHINGTON — In a story June 30 about health care, The Associated Press incorrectly quoted what Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said at an event Friday night in Kentucky. He said, "It's not easy making America great again, is it?" and not, "It's not easy making American great again."

A corrected version of the story is below:

Trump suggests just repeal Obamacare, then try to replace it

President Donald Trump says that if Senate Republicans can't make a deal on legislation to repeal and replace 'Obamacare,' they should go ahead and repeal the whole law immediately and replace it later on

By ERICA WERNER and ALAN FRAM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.

Trump's tweet revives an approach that GOP leaders and the president himself considered but dismissed months ago as impractical and politically unwise. And it's likely to further complicate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's task as he struggles to bridge the divide between GOP moderates and conservatives as senators leave Washington for the Fourth of July break without having voted on a health care bill as planned.

"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 wrote.

The president sent his early-morning tweet shortly after Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse appeared on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" to talk about a letter he had sent to Trump making that exact suggestion: a vote on repealing former President Barack Obama's health law followed by a new effort at a working out a replacement.

Trump is a known "Fox & Friends" viewer, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also claimed credit for recommending the tactic to the president in a conversation earlier in the week.

"Senator Rand Paul suggested this very idea to the president," said Paul spokesman Sergio Gor. "The senator fully agrees that we must immediately repeal Obamacare and then work on replacing it right away."

Either way, Trump's suggestion has the potential to harden divisions within the GOP as conservatives like Paul and Sasse complain that McConnell's bill does not go far enough in repealing Obama's health care law while moderates criticize it as overly harsh in kicking people off insurance roles, shrinking the Medicaid safety net and increasing premiums for older Americans.

McConnell told reporters after an event Friday in his home state of Kentucky that the health care bill remains challenging but "we are going to stick with that path."

"It's not easy making America great again, is it?" McConnell said.

McConnell, R-Ky., has been trying to strike deals with members of both factions in order to finalize a rewritten bill lawmakers can vote on when they return to the Capitol the second week of July. Even before Trump weighed in, though, it wasn't clear how far he was getting, and Trump's tweet did not appear to suggest a lot of White House confidence in the outcome.

"McConnell's trying to achieve a 50-vote Venn diagram between some very competing factions," said Rodney Whitlock, a veteran health policy expert who worked as a Senate GOP aide during passage of the Democrats' Affordable Care Act. "So what the president tweeted takes one side of that Venn diagram and pushes it further away, and actually puts on the table an option that will probably drive that group away from seeking compromise with the other side of the Venn diagram."

Even before Trump was inaugurated in January, Republicans had debated and ultimately discarded the idea of repealing Obamacare before replacing it, concluding that both must happen simultaneously. Doing otherwise would invite accusations that Republicans were simply tossing people off coverage and would roil insurance markets by raising the question of whether, when and how Congress might replace Obama's law once it was gone.

The idea also would leave unresolved the quandary lawmakers are struggling with now, about how to replace Obama's system of online insurance markets, tax subsidies and an expanded Medicaid with something that could get enough Republican votes to pass Congress. House Republicans barely passed their version of an Obamacare replacement bill in May, and the task is proving even tougher in the Senate, where McConnell has almost no margin for error.

Moderates were spooked as the week began with a Congressional Budget Office finding that McConnell's draft bill would result in 22 million people losing insurance over the next decade, only 1 million fewer than under the House-passed legislation which Trump privately told senators was "mean." But conservatives continue to insist that the bill must go further than just repealing some of the mandates and taxes in Obama's law.

"It's distressing to see so many Republicans who've lied about their commitment to repeal," Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a conference call on Friday.

Underscoring the fissures within the GOP, conservative group leaders on the conference call 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. At the same time, a key House Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, rejected Trump's suggestion, contending that it "doesn't achieve what President Trump set out to do."

"I really think the Senate's approach — certainly in the House — of not simply repealing but to start to put into place the elements that can make health care affordable, that's what the president set out to do," Brady said in an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program.

Author(s): 

Articles

Blog Posts

95eade3b51434d3d80e1eea75ff64a13.jpg

President Donald Trump speaks during an energy roundtable with tribal, state, and local leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

14243c6692914a7187982036304fedbb.jpg

President Donald Trump speaks at the Department of Energy in Washington, Thursday, June 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

d36aa350789b4a2eb80d7d0fe49c7066.jpg

President Donald Trump, center, speaks as he meets with Republican senators on health care in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, left, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, right, listen (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

d5c4661c018949f88a76d0a1b53789cd.jpg

Amelie Hahn of Jackson, waves a message sign on behalf of her daughter. noting the importance of Medicaid for her continued health care, as she and other social service activists, Medicaid recipients and their supporters stage a protest outside the building that houses the offices of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Thursday, June 29, 2017, in Jackson, Miss. About 35 participants began the morning with a protest at Cochran's office, while sending some representatives to meet with his staff. By mid afternoon, the same group continued their outdoor protest at the federal courthouse where U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., maintains offices. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

3ed868f1d03e448289cc17a1a899084e.jpg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, and Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas speak with the media after they and other Senate Republicans had a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

c937c6eebca84d02b2893860a455d51e.jpg

Protesters block a street during a protest against the Republican bill in the U.S. Senate to replace President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday, June 27, 2017, in Salt Lake City. Demonstrators with Utah's Disabled Rights Action Committee chanted and carried signs while blocking State Street Tuesday afternoon. Utah protesters criticized Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch for supporting the bill and say it will cut life-saving Medicaid services and other health protections. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

99b23584e4824e879215111d4077d9fa.jpg

FILE - In this June 22, 2017 file photo, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine speaks amid a crush of reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Somewhere along the way, the Republican crusade to repeal "Obamacare" also turned into an effort to limit the future growth of Medicaid. That bit of mission creep is complicating prospects for the GOP, and could lead to deadlock. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Source: 
AP
Insert Body: 

          Pope Francis Ousts Powerful Conservative Cardinal...   

Pope Francis Ousts Powerful Conservative Cardinal...


(Second column, 14th story, link)



          Sasse Sends Plan B to Trump: If No Agreement Next Week, Repeal First and Spend August on Replace   

Washington, D.C. - This morning, Senator Sasse urged President Trump to adopt a two-step strategy of repealing and then replacing ObamaCare – if an agreement is not reached by the day members return from the July 4th state work period. Sasse suggests that Trump call on Republicans to repeal ObamaCare through reconciliation upon return, and then to spend August crafting a replacement bill for a vote on Labor Day.

The full text of the Senator’s letter is found below:

Mr. President:

The Senate will next be in legislative session on Monday, July 10. If we don’t get to agreement on a combined, comprehensive ObamaCare repeal and replace plan by that day, I humbly suggest that you publicly call on the Congress to do two things: (1) to immediately repeal as much of ObamaCare as is possible under Congressional budget reconciliation rules, and then (2) to cancel the scheduled August state work period and instead to spend that month working through regular order, six days per week, writing a health reform package with a vote to be scheduled on Labor Day.

You campaigned and won on the repeal of ObamaCare.  So did every Republican senator. We should keep our word.  Also like you, almost every Republican senator believes that health reform was needed before Democrats passed ObamaCare in 2010, and fundamental reform is still needed today. While we strongly disagree with Democrats that health coverage and premiums would be improved by more federal intrusion into health finance and delivery markets – and the nation’s tragic experience with ObamaCare’s broken promises supports our view – true reform was nonetheless needed then and is still needed now.

On the current path, it looks like Republicans will either fail to pass any meaningful bill at all, or will instead pass a bill that attempts to prop up much of the crumbling ObamaCare structures. We can and must do better than either of these – both because the American people deserve better, and because we promised better.

Therefore, I write to ask that you call on us to do two things:  First, hold all Republicans accountable to our promise to repeal ObamaCare. With only one exception, every member of this Senate majority – moderate and conservative – has explicitly endorsed and/or already voted to repeal ObamaCare, most recently on December 3, 2015. And our newest colleagues, Senators Kennedy and Strange, who were not here at the time of that vote, have also campaigned on promises to repeal this disastrous law. We must keep our word.

Therefore, on July 10, if we don’t have agreement on a combined repeal and replace plan, we should immediately vote again on H.R. 3762, the December 2015 ObamaCare repeal legislation that the Congress passed but President Obama vetoed.  We should include a year-long implementation delay to give comfort to Americans currently on ObamaCare that a replacement plan will be enacted before expiration.

Second, please call on Congress to cancel the August state work period to instead work around the clock exclusively on a health replacement plan on which we can vote this Labor Day. After we gave our word to repeal and replace ObamaCare’s monstrosity, we should not go back to our states during August as the American people struggle under fewer choices and skyrocketing costs.  We should remain in DC at work.

This two-step plan to keep our two promises – both repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with a system that provides affordable and portable health insurance – seems like a no-brainer to this gym rat.  I’m hopeful that you will agree.

Thank you for your consideration,

Ben Sasse
United States Senator


          Weekly Commentary: The Road to Normalization   
The past week provided important support for the “peak monetary stimulus” thesis. There is mounting evidence that global central bankers are monitoring inflating asset prices with heightened concern. The intense focus on CPI is beginning to blur. They would prefer to be on a cautious path toward policy normalization.

June 25 – Financial Times (Claire Jones): “Global financial stability will be in jeopardy if low inflation lulls central banks into not raising interest rates when needed, the Bank for International Settlements has warned. The message about the dangers of sticking too closely to inflation targets comes as central banks in some of the world’s largest economies are considering how to end years of ultra-loose monetary policy after the global financial crisis… ‘Keeping interest rates too low for long could raise financial stability and macroeconomic risks further down the road, as debt continues to pile up and risk-taking in financial markets gathers steam,’ the bank said in its annual report. The BIS acknowledged that raising rates too quickly could cause a panic in markets that have grown used to cheap central bank cash. However, delaying action would mean rates would need to rise further and faster to prevent the next crisis. ‘The most fundamental question for central banks in the next few years is going to be what to do if the economy is chugging along well, but inflation is not going up,’ said Claudio Borio, the head of the BIS’s monetary and economics department… ‘Central banks may have to tolerate longer periods when inflation is below target, and tighten monetary policy if demand is strong — even if inflation is weak — so as not to fall behind the curve with respect to the financial cycle.’ …Mr Borio said many of the factors influencing wage growth were global and would be long-lasting. ‘If, as we think, the forces of globalisation and technology are relevant [in keeping wages low] and have not fully run their course, this will continue to put downward pressure on inflation,’ he said.”

While global markets easily ignored ramifications from the BIS’s (the central bank to central banks) annual report, the same could not be said for less than super dovish comments from Mario Draghi, my nominee for “the world’s most important central banker.”

June 27 – Financial Times (Katie Martin): “What’s that, you say? The ‘R-word’? Judging from the markets, Mario Draghi’s emphasis on reflation changes everything, and highlights the communications challenge lying ahead of the president of the European Central Bank. The ECB’s crisis-fighter-in-chief threw investors into a fit of the vapours on Tuesday when he said he was growing increasingly confident in the currency bloc’s economic recovery, and that ‘deflationary forces have been replaced by reflationary ones’.”

June 27 – Bloomberg (Annie Massa and Elizabeth Dexheimer): “Mario Draghi hinted at how he may sell a gradual unwinding of European Central Bank stimulus. The ECB president repeated his mantra that the Governing Council needs to be patient in letting inflation pressures build in the euro area and prudent in withdrawing support. At the same time, there’s room to tweak existing measures. ‘As the economy continues to recover, a constant policy stance will become more accommodative, and the central bank can accompany the recovery by adjusting the parameters of its policy instruments -- not in order to tighten the policy stance, but to keep it broadly unchanged.’ The comments echo an argument first made by Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann… With his nod to a frequent critic of quantitative easing who has been calling for an end of the 2.3 trillion-euro ($2.6 trillion) program, Draghi may have set the stage for a discussion in the coming months on phasing out asset purchases.”

When the ECB chose not to offer any policy clarification coming out of its June 8th meeting, wishful markets had Draghi holding out until September. The timeline was moved up, with the ECB president using the bank’s annual meeting, held this year in Sintra Portugal, to offer initial thoughts on how the ECB might remove accommodation. Market reaction was swift.

German 10-year bund yields surged 13 bps Tuesday and almost doubled this week to 47bps. French yield jumped 14 bps Tuesday – and 21 bps for the week - to 82 bps. European periphery bonds were under pressure. Italian 10-year yields rose 16 bps Tuesday and 24 bps for the week to 2.16%. Portuguese yields rose 14 bps Tuesday, ending the week at 3.03%. Draghi’s comments rattled bond markets around the globe. Ten-year Treasury yields rose seven bps to 2.21% (up 16 bps for the week), Canadian bonds 11 bps to 1.57% and Australian bonds 10 bps to 2.46%. Emerging market bonds also came under heavy selling pressure, with Eastern European bonds taking a pounding.

June 28 – Bloomberg (Robert Brand): “This is what it sounds like when doves screech. Less than 24 hours Mario Draghi jolted financial markets by saying ‘deflationary forces’ have been replaced by reflationary ones, European Central Bank officials reversed the script, saying markets had misinterpreted the central banker’s comments. What was perceived as hawkish was really meant to strike a balance between recognizing the currency bloc’s economic strength and warning that monetary support is still needed, three Eurosystem officials familiar with policymakers’ thinking said. Their dovish interpretation sparked a rapid unwinding of moves in assets from the euro to stocks and sovereign bonds.”

I don’t see it as the markets misinterpreting Draghi. Understandably, inflated Bubble markets have turned hyper-sensitive to the course of ECB policymaking. The ECB’s massive purchase program inflated a historic Bubble throughout European debt markets, a speculative Bubble that I believe unleashed a surge of global liquidity that has underpinned increasingly speculative securities markets.

If not for massive QE operations from the ECB and BOJ, I believe the 2016 global reversal in bond yields would have likely ushered in a major de-risking/deleveraging episode throughout global markets. Instead, powerful liquidity injections sustained speculative Bubbles throughout global fixed income, in the process spurring blow-off excess throughout global equities and risk assets more generally. Recalling the summer of 2007, everyone is determined to see the dance party rave indefinitely.

First-half QE has been estimated (by Bank of America) at (an incredible) $1.5 TN. Bubbling markets should come as no stunning surprise. At May highs, most European equities indices were sporting double-digit year-to-date gains. The S&P500 returned (price + dividends) almost 10% for the first half, with the more speculative areas of U.S. equities outperforming. The Nasdaq Composite gained 14.1% in the first-half, with the large company Nasdaq 100 (NDX) rising 16.1%. Despite this week’s declines, the Morgan Stanley High Tech index rose 20.3%, and the Semiconductors (SOX) jumped 14.2% y-t-d. The Biotechs (BTK) surged 9.7% during Q2, boosting y-t-d gains to 25.6%. The NYSE Healthcare Index gained 7.7% for the quarter and 15.3% y-t-d. The Nasdaq Transports jumped 9.7% during Q2, with the DJ Transports up 5.3%. The Nasdaq Other Financials rose 7.9% in the quarter.

Central banks have closely collaborated since the financial crisis. While always justifying policy stimulus on domestic grounds, it’s now been almost a decade of central bankers coordinating stimulus measures to address global system fragilities. I doubt the Fed would have further ballooned its balance sheet starting in late-2012 if not for the “European” financial crisis. In early-2016, the ECB and BOJ would not have so aggressively expanded QE programs – and the Fed not postponed “normalization” – if not for global ramifications of a faltering Chinese Bubble. All the talk of downside inflation risk was convenient cover for global crisis worries.

As Mario Draghi stated, the European economy is now on a reflationary footing. At least for now, Beijing has somewhat stabilized the Chinese Bubble. Powered by booming securities markets, global Credit continues to expand briskly. Even in Europe, the employment backdrop has improved markedly. It’s just become difficult for central bankers to fixate on tame consumer price indices with asset prices running wild.

Global market liquidity has become fully fungible, a product of multinational financial institutions, securities lending/finance and derivatives markets. The ECB and BOJ’s ultra-loose policy stances have worked to counteract the Fed’s cautious normalization strategy. Determined to delay the inevitable, Draghi now faces the scheduled year-end expiration of the ECB’s latest QE program, along with an impending shortage of German bunds available for purchase. Behind the scenes and otherwise, Germany is surely losing patience with open-ended “money” printing. This week’s annual ECB gathering provided an opportunity for Draghi to finally get the so-called normalization ball rolling. Despite his cautious approach, markets immediately feared being run over.

June 28 – Bloomberg (Alessandro Speciale): “Mario Draghi just got evidence that his call for ‘prudence’ in withdrawing European Central Bank stimulus applies to his words too. The euro and bond yields surged on Tuesday after the ECB president said the reflation of the euro-area economy creates room to pull back unconventional measures without tightening the stance. Policy makers noted the jolt that showed how hypersensitive investors are to statements that can be read as even mildly hawkish… Draghi’s speech at the ECB Forum in Sintra, Portugal, was intended to strike a balance between recognizing the currency bloc’s economic strength and warning that monetary support is still needed, said the officials…”

June 28 – Bloomberg (James Hertling, Alessandro Speciale, and Piotr Skolimowski): “Global central bankers are coalescing around the message that the cost of money is headed higher -- and markets had better get used to it. Just a week after signaling near-zero interest rates were appropriate, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney suggested on Wednesday that the time is nearing for an increase. His U.S. counterpart, Janet Yellen, said her policy tightening is on track and Canada’s Stephen Poloz reiterated he may be considering a rate hike. The challenge of following though after a decade of easy money was highlighted by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s attempt to thread the needle. Financial markets whipsawed as Eurosystem officials walked back comments Draghi made Tuesday that investors had interpreted as signaling an imminent change in monetary policy. ‘The market is very sensitive to the idea that a number of central banks are appropriately and belatedly reassessing the need for emergency policy accommodation,’ said Alan Ruskin, co-head of foreign exchange research at Deutsche Bank AG.”

Draghi and the ECB are hoping to duplicate the Fed blueprint – quite gingerly removing accommodation while exerting minimal impact on bond yields and risk markets more generally: Normalization without a meaningful tightening of financial conditions. This is unrealistic.

Current complacency notwithstanding, turning down the ECB QE spigot will dramatically effect global liquidity dynamics. Keep in mind that the removal of Fed accommodation has so far coincided with enormous counteracting market liquidity injections courtesy of the other major central banks. The ECB will not enjoy a similar luxury. Moreover, global asset prices have inflated significantly over the past 18 months, fueled at least in part by a major increase in speculative leverage.

There are three primary facets to QE dynamics worth pondering as central banks initiate normalization. The first is the size and scope of previous QE operations. The second is the primary target of liquidity-induced market flows. And third, to what extent have central bank measures and associated market flows spurred self-reinforcing speculative leveraging and market distortions. Inarguably, ECB and BOJ-induced flows over recent quarters have been massive. It is also reasonably clear that market flows gravitated primarily to equities and corporate Credit, asset classes demonstrating the most enticing inflationary biases. And there are as well ample anecdotes supporting the view that major speculative leveraging has been integral to myriad Bubbles throughout global risk markets. The now deeply ingrained view that the cadre of global central banks will not tolerate market declines is one of history’s most consequential market distortions.

And while the timing of the removal of ECB and BOJ liquidity stimulus remains uncertain, markets must now at least contemplate an approaching backdrop with less accommodation from the ECB and central banks more generally. With this in mind, Draghi’s comments this week could mark an important juncture for speculative leveraging. Increasingly unstable currency markets are consistent with this thesis. The days of shorting yen and euros and using proceeds for easy profits in higher-yielding currencies appear to have run their course. I suspect de-leveraging dynamics have commenced, though market impact has thus far been muted by ongoing ECB and BOJ liquidity operations.

June 27 – Reuters (William Schomberg, Marc Jones, Jason Lange and Lindsay Dunsmuir): “U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that she does not believe that there will be another financial crisis for at least as long as she lives, thanks largely to reforms of the banking system since the 2007-09 crash. ‘Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis?’ Yellen said… ‘You know probably that would be going too far but I do think we're much safer and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don't believe it will be,’ she said.”

While headlines somewhat paraphrased Yellen’s actual comment, “We Will not see Another Crisis in Our Lifetime” is reminiscent of Irving Fisher’s “permanent plateau” just weeks before the great crash of 1929. While on the subject, I never bought into the popular comparison between 2008 and 1929 – and the related notion of 2008 as “the 100-year flood”. The 2008/09 crisis was for the most part a private debt crisis associated with the bursting of a Bubble in mortgage Credit – not dissimilar to previous serial global crises, only larger and somewhat more systemic. It was not, however, a deeply systemic debt crisis akin to the aftermath of 1929, which was characterized by a crisis of confidence in the banking system, the markets and finance more generally, along with a loss of faith in government policy and institutions. But after a decade of unprecedented expansion of government debt and central bank Credit, the stage has now been set for a more systemic 1929-like financial dislocation.

As such, it’s ironic that the Fed has branded the banking system cured and so well capitalized that bankers can now boost dividends, buybacks and, presumably, risk-taking. As conventional central bank thinking goes, a well-capitalized banking system provides a powerful buffer for thwarting the winds of financial crisis. Chair Yellen, apparently, surveys current bank capital levels and extrapolates to systemic stability. Yet the next crisis lurks not with the banks but within the securities and derivatives markets: too much leverage and too much “money” employed in trend-following trading strategies. Too much hedging, speculating and leveraging in derivatives. Market misperceptions and distortions on an epic scale.

Compared to 2008, the leveraged speculating community and the ETF complex are significantly larger and potentially perilous. The derivatives markets are these days acutely more vulnerable to liquidity issues and dislocation. Never have global markets been so dominated by trend-following strategies. It’s a serious issue that asset market performance – stocks, bond, corporate Credit, EM, real estate, etc. – have all become so tightly correlated. There are huge vulnerabilities associated with various markets having become so highly synchronized on a global basis. And in the grand scheme of grossly inflated global securities, asset and derivatives markets, the scope of available bank capital is trivial.

I realize that, at this late stage of the great bull market, such a question sounds hopelessly disconnected. Yet, when markets reverse sharply lower and The Crowd suddenly moves to de-risk, who is left to take the other side of what has become One Gargantuan “Trade”? We’re all familiar with the pat response: “Central banks. They’ll have no choice.” Okay, but I’m more interested in the timing and circumstances.

Central bankers are now signaling their desire to proceed with normalization, along with noting concerns for elevated asset prices. As such, I suspect they will be somewhat more circumspect going forward when it comes to backstopping the markets - than, say, back in 2013 with Bernanke’s “flash crash” or with the China scare of early-2016. Perhaps this might help to explain why the VIX spiked above 15 during Thursday afternoon trading. Even corporate debt markets showed a flash of vulnerability this week.


For the Week:

The S&P500 dipped 0.6% (up 8.2% y-t-d), and the Dow slipped 0.2% (up 8.0%). The Utilities fell 2.5% (up 6.2%). The Banks surged 4.4% (up 4.2%), and the Broker/Dealers jumped 2.6% (up 9.8%). The Transports rose 1.9% (up 5.7%). The S&P 400 Midcaps added 0.2% (up 5.2%), while the small cap Russell 2000 was unchanged (up 4.3%). The Nasdaq100 dropped 2.7% (up 16.1%), and the Morgan Stanley High Tech index sank 3.0% (up 20.3%). The Semiconductors were hit 4.9% (up 14.2%). The Biotechs dropped 3.9% (up 25.5%). With bullion dropping $15, the HUI gold index sank 4.5% (up 1.9%).

Three-month Treasury bill rates ended the week at 100 bps. Two-year government yields gained four bps to 1.38% (up 19bps y-t-d). Five-year T-note yields rose 13 bps to 1.89% (down 4bps). Ten-year Treasury yields jumped 16 bps to 2.30% (down 14bps). Long bond yields increased 12 bps to 2.84% (down 23bps).

Greek 10-year yields were little changed at 5.36% (down 166bps y-t-d). Ten-year Portuguese yields rose 10 bps to 3.03% (down 72bps). Italian 10-year yields surged 24 bps to 2.16% (up 35bps). Spain's 10-year yields jumped 16 bps to 1.54% (up 16bps). German bund yields surged 21 bps to 0.47% (up 26bps). French yields rose 21 bps to 0.82% (up 14bps). The French to German 10-year bond spread was unchanged at 35 bps. U.K. 10-year gilt yields jumped 23 bps to 1.26% (up 2bps). U.K.'s FTSE equities index fell 1.5% (up 11.2%).

Japan's Nikkei 225 equities index declined 0.5% (up 4.8% y-t-d). Japanese 10-year "JGB" yields gained three bps to 0.09% (up 5bps). France's CAC40 sank 2.8% (up 5.3%). The German DAX equities index was hit 3.2% (up 7.4%). Spain's IBEX 35 equities index fell 1.8% (up 11.7%). Italy's FTSE MIB index declined 1.2% (up 7.0%). EM equities were mostly higher. Brazil's Bovespa index rallied 3.0% (up 4.4%), and Mexico's Bolsa gained 1.8% (up 9.2%). South Korea's Kospi increased 0.6% (up 18%). India’s Sensex equities index declined 0.7% (up 16.1%). China’s Shanghai Exchange rose 1.1% (up 2.9%). Turkey's Borsa Istanbul National 100 index added 0.8% (up 28.5%). Russia's MICEX equities index gained 0.6% (down 15.8%).

Junk bond mutual funds saw outflows of $1.735 billion (from Lipper).

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rates dipped two bps to 3.88% (up 40bps y-o-y). Fifteen-year rates were unchanged at 3.17% (up 39bps). The five-year hybrid ARM rate gained three bps to 3.17% (up 47bps). Bankrate's survey of jumbo mortgage borrowing costs had 30-yr fixed rates up a basis point to 4.01% (up 34bps).

Federal Reserve Credit last week added $0.8bn to $4.431 TN. Over the past year, Fed Credit declined $5.0bn. Fed Credit inflated $1.620 TN, or 58%, over the past 242 weeks. Elsewhere, Fed holdings for foreign owners of Treasury, Agency Debt jumped another $17.9bn last week to $3.310 TN. "Custody holdings" were up $83bn y-o-y, 2.6%.

M2 (narrow) "money" supply last week slipped $4.3bn to $13.510 TN. "Narrow money" expanded $686bn, or 5.4%, over the past year. For the week, Currency increased $2.7bn. Total Checkable Deposits fell $12.7bn, while Savings Deposits gained $6.9bn. Small Time Deposits were little changed. Retail Money Funds fell $4.1bn.

Total money market fund assets added $4.2bn to $2.621 TN. Money Funds fell $96bn y-o-y (3.5%).

Total Commercial Paper declined $5.4bn to $973.6bn. CP declined $77bn y-o-y, or 7.4%.

Currency Watch:

The U.S. dollar index fell 1.7% to 95.628 (down 6.6% y-t-d). For the week on the upside, the Swedish krona increased 3.4%, the British pound 2.4%, the Canadian dollar 2.3%, the euro 2.1%, the Australian dollar 1.6%, the Norwegian krone 1.3%, the Swiss franc 1.2%, the Brazilian real 1.1%, the Singapore dollar 0.8% and the New Zealand dollar 0.7%. For the week on the downside, the South African rand declined 1.6%, the Japanese yen 1.0%, the Mexican peso 0.6% and the South Korean won 0.4%. The Chinese renminbi gained 0.82% versus the dollar this week (up 2.42% y-t-d).

Commodities Watch:

The Goldman Sachs Commodities Index surged 5.3% (down 6.5% y-t-d). Spot Gold declined 1.2% to $1,242 (up 7.7%). Silver slipped 0.5% to $16.627 (up 4.0%). Crude rallied $3.03 to $46.04 (down 15%). Gasoline jumped 5.6% (down 9%), and Natural Gas rose 3.6% (down 19%). Copper gained 2.9% (up 8%). Wheat surged 11.1% (up 29%). Corn jumped 4.2% (up 8%).

Trump Administration Watch:

June 27 – Bloomberg (Steven T. Dennis and Laura Litvan): “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to delay a vote on health-care legislation came as a relief to some Republican holdouts, but it sets off what will be a furious few weeks of talks to deliver on the GOP’s seven-year promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans went to the White House Tuesday afternoon to meet with President Donald Trump, who also promised his political supporters he would do away with Obamacare. ‘We’re going to solve the problem,’ the president told senators. But Trump also conceded the possibility that the health bill wouldn’t pass. ‘If we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like,’ he said… ‘And that’s OK, and I understand that very well.’”

June 29 – Reuters: “Congress will need to raise the nation's debt limit and avoid defaulting on loan payments by ‘early to mid-October,’ the Congressional Budget Office said in a report… Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has encouraged Congress to raise the limit before the legislative body leaves for their August recess. But it remains unclear if a bipartisan agreement has been struck to allow the limit to be raised, as both chambers continue to be weighed down by health care and tax reform and trying to find an agreement to fund the government after the September 30 deadline.”

June 30 – CNBC (Fred Imbert): “President Donald Trump's White House is ‘hell-bent’ on imposing tariffs on steel and other imports, Axios reported Friday. The plan — which was pushed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and was supported by National Trade Council Peter Navarro, and policy adviser Stephen Miller — would potentially impose tariffs in the 20% range… During a ‘tense’ meeting Monday, the president made it clear he favors tariffs, yet the plan was met with heavy opposition by most officials in the room, with one telling Axios about 22 were against it and only three in favor, including Trump.”

June 29 – Financial Times (Stefan Wagstyl): “Angela Merkel threw down the gauntlet to Donald Trump as Germany’s chancellor pledged to fight at next week’s G20 summit for free trade, international co-operation and the Paris climate change accord. In a combative speech on Thursday in the German parliament, Ms Merkel also promised to focus on reinforcing the EU, in close co-operation with France, despite the pressing issue of Brexit. But in a sign that it may be difficult to maintain European unity around a tough approach to Mr Trump, Ms Merkel later softened her tone, as she prepares to host G20 leaders in Hamburg next Friday.”

June 27 – Bloomberg (Joe Light): “Two U.S. senators working on a bipartisan overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are seriously considering a plan that would break up the mortgage-finance giants, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The proposal by Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner would attempt to foster competition in the secondary mortgage market… Corker and Warner’s push to develop a plan marks Congress’ latest attempt to figure out what to do with Fannie and Freddie, an issue that has vexed lawmakers ever since the government took control of the companies in 2008 as the housing market cratered. The lawmakers’ plan is still being developed, and a Senate aide who asked not to be named cautioned that no decisions had been made on any issues.”

China Bubble Watch:

June 25 – Financial Times (Minxin Pei): “The Chinese government has just launched an apparent crackdown on a small number of large conglomerates known in the west chiefly for their aggressive dealmaking. The list includes Dalian Wanda, Anbang, Fosun and HNA Group. The news that Chinese banking regulators have asked lenders to examine their exposure to these companies has sent the stocks of groups wholly or partly owned by these conglomerates tumbling in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Obviously, the market was caught by surprise. But it should not be… The immediate trigger is Beijing’s growing alarm over the risks in China’s financial sector and attempt to cut capital outflows. In late April, President Xi Jinping convened a politburo meeting specifically focused on stability in the financial system. Foreshadowing the crackdown, he ordered that those ‘financial crocodiles’ that destabilise China’s financial system must be punished.”

June 26 – Wall Street Journal (Anjani Trivedi): “As Beijing looks to rein in companies that have splurged on overseas deals, it is talking up the systemic risks to its financial system. But just how serious is the problem? After all, for years Beijing has urged leading companies to ‘go global,’ and encouraged banks to support them with lending. Its words were taken to heart: Companies like sprawling conglomerate HNA Group and insurer Anbang pushed the country’s outbound acquisitions to more than $200 billion last year… Now… regulators are investigating leverage and risks at banks associated with China Inc.’s bulging overseas deals. It’s clear that Chinese banks are already heavily exposed to China’s big deal makers through basic lending. Chinese lenders had extended more than 500 billion yuan ($73.14bn) of loans to HNA alone as of last year…”

June 26 – Bloomberg: “China may finally be ready to cut the cord when it comes to the country’s troubled local government financing vehicles. Beijing’s deleveraging drive has seen rules impacting LGFV debt refinancing tightened, spurring a slump in issuance by the vehicles, which owe about 5.6 trillion yuan ($818bn) to bondholders and are seen by some as the poster children for China’s post-financial crisis debt woes. Signs the authorities may be taking a less sympathetic view of the sector has ratings companies flagging the possibility that 2017 could see the first ever default by a local financing vehicle.”

June 29 – Reuters (Yawen Chen and Thomas Peter): “The struggles of China's small and medium-sized firms have grown so acute that many are expected to become unprofitable or even go belly-up this year, boding ill for an economy running short on strong growth drivers. The companies - which account for over 60% of China's $11 trillion gross domestic product - have entered the most challenging funding environment in years as Beijing cracks down on easy credit to contain a dangerous debt build-up. Many of the firms - mostly in the industrial, transport, wholesale, retail, catering and accommodation sectors - are already grappling with soaring costs, fierce competition and thinning profits. The strains faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are expected to grow more visible as Beijing deflates a real estate bubble and eases infrastructure spending to dial back its fiscal stimulus.”

June 29 – Reuters (Leika Kihara and Stanley White): “One of Chinese banks’ favorite tools for increasing leverage has staged a remarkable but worrisome comeback just two months after a regulatory crackdown on leveraged investment… Chinese banks’ issuance of negotiable certificates of deposit in June nearly hit the high recorded in March… NCDs, a type of short-term loan, have become extremely popular in recent years with Chinese banks, especially smaller lenders due to their weaker ability to attract deposits. During a clampdown on runaway debt in April, Chinese regulators warned banks against abusing the tool for speculative, leveraged bets in capital markets. But after a deep but brief drop, NCD issuance has risen again as regulatory attention appeared to ease in recent weeks, hitting 1.96 trillion yuan ($287.73bn) this month, up sharply from 1.23 trillion yuan in May and just a touch below March’s record 2.02 trillion yuan."

June 28 – Financial Times (Gabriel Wildau): “Capital flight disguised as overseas tourism spending has artificially cut China’s reported trade surplus while masking the extent of investment outflows, according to research by the US Federal Reserve. A significant share of overseas spending classified in official data as travel-related shopping, entertainment and hospitality may over a 12-month period have instead been used for investment in financial assets and real estate, the Fed paper argued… Disguised capital outflows in the year to September may have amounted to $190bn, or 1.7% of gross domestic product… Chinese households have in recent years looked at ways to skirt government-imposed limitations on foreign investment as its economy slowed and the renminbi depreciated.”

June 28 – Bloomberg (Joe Ryan): “As Elon Musk races to finish building the world’s biggest battery factory in the Nevada desert, China is poised to leave him in the dust. Chinese companies have plans for additional factories with the capacity to pump out more than 120 gigawatt-hours a year by 2021, according to a report… by Bloomberg Intelligence. That’s enough to supply batteries for around 1.5 million Tesla Model S vehicles or 13.7 million Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids per year… By comparison, when completed in 2018, Tesla Inc.’s Gigafactory will crank out up to 35 gigawatt-hours of battery cells annually.”

June 28 – CNBC (Geoff Cutmore): “China's economic growth will accelerate because the country will finally get leaders who aren't scared, a former advisor to China's central bank said Wednesday. ‘The most important reason is that there is a new group of officials being appointed ... (who will emerge) around the 19th Party Congress which will be in mid to late October,’ said Li Daokui, who is now Dean of the Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing. …Li said the Chinese economy will grow 6.9 to 7 percent by 2018 from 6.7 percent in 2017. China posted 6.7% GDP growth in 2016, the slowest in 26 years. ‘These (new) officials have been carefully, carefully scrutinized before they are appointed so they are clean. They are not worried about becoming targets of anti-corruption investigations,’ he added.”

Europe Watch:

June 26 – Bloomberg (Sonia Sirletti and Alexander Weber): Italy orchestrated its biggest bank rescue on record, committing as much as 17 billion euros ($19bn) to clean up two failed banks in one of its wealthiest regions, a deal that raises questions about the consistency of Europe’s bank regulations. The intervention at Banca Popolare di Vicenza SpA and Veneto Banca SpA includes state support for Intesa Sanpaolo SpA to acquire their good assets for a token amount… Milan-based Intesa can initially tap about 5.2 billion euros to take on some assets without hurting capital ratios, Padoan said. The European Commission approved the plan.”

June 28 – Reuters (Gernot Heller and Joseph Nasr): “Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble… underscored Germany's concerns about what he called a regulatory loophole after the EU cleared Italy to wind up two failed banks at a hefty cost to local taxpayers. Schaeuble told reporters that Europe should abide by rules enacted after the 2008 collapse of U.S. financial services firm Lehman Brothers that were meant to protect taxpayers. Existing European Union guidelines for restructuring banks aimed to ensure ‘what all political groups wanted: that taxpayers will never again carry the risks of banks,’ he said. Italy is transferring the good assets of the two Veneto lenders to the nation's biggest retail bank, Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI), as part of a transaction that could cost the state up to 17 billion euros ($19 billion).”

June 25 – Reuters (Balazs Koranyi and Erik Kirschbaum): “The time may be nearing for the European Central Bank to start discussing the end of unprecedented stimulus as growth and inflation are both moving in the right direction, Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. Weidmann, who sits on the ECB's rate-setting Governing Council, also said that the bank should not make any further changes to the key parameters of its bond purchase scheme, comments that signal opposition to an extension of asset buys since the ECB will soon hit its German bond purchase limits. Hoping to revive growth and inflation, the ECB is buying 2.3 trillion euros worth of bonds…, a scheme known as quantitative easing and long opposed by Germany… The purchases are set to run until December and the ECB will decide this fall whether to extend it… ‘As far as a possible extension of the bonds-buying program goes, this hasn't yet been discussed in the ECB Council,’ Weidmann told the newspaper…”

June 26 – Bloomberg (Carolynn Look): “It seems the sky is the limit for Germany’s economy. Business confidence -- logging its fifth consecutive increase -- jumped to the highest since 1991 this month, underpinning optimism by the Bundesbank that the upswing in Europe’s largest economy is set to continue. With domestic demand supported by a buoyant labor market, risks to growth stem almost exclusively from global forces. ‘Sentiment among German businesses is jubilant,’ Ifo President Clemens Fuest said… ‘Germany’s economy is performing very strongly.’”

June 29 – Reuters (Pete Schroeder and David Henry): “German inflation probably accelerated in June, regional data suggested on Thursday, suggesting a solid upswing in the economy is pushing up price pressures as euro zone inflation moves closer to the European Central Bank's target. The data comes only days after ECB head Mario Draghi hinted that the bank's asset-purchase program would become less accommodative going into 2018 as regional growth gains pace and inflation trends return following a period of falling prices. In another sign of rising price pressures in the 19-member single currency bloc, Spanish consumer prices rose more than expected in June… In the German state of Hesse, annual inflation rose to 1.9% in June from 1.7% in May…”

June 28 – Reuters (Gavin Jones and Steve Scherer): “He is an 80-year-old convicted criminal whose last government ended with Italy on the brink of bankruptcy - and he may well be kingmaker at the next election within a year. Mayoral elections on Sunday showed four-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia party remains a force to be reckoned with... ‘Berlusconi sees this as the last challenge of his career,’ said Renato Brunetta, a close ally for over 20 years and Forza Italia's lower house leader. ‘He feels he has suffered many injustices and deserves one last shot. Who can deny him that?’ Matteo Renzi, leader of the ruling Democratic Party (PD), and Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement have dominated the national scene in recent years, relegating Forza Italia to a distant third or fourth in the polls. Yet in the mayoral ballots, Forza Italia and its anti-immigrant Northern League allies trounced the PD and 5-Star in cities all over the country, suggesting they have momentum behind them just as the national vote comes into view.”

Central Bank Watch:

June 27 – Wall Street Journal (Tom Fairless): “The euro soared to its biggest one-day gain against the dollar in a year and eurozone bond prices slumped after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hinted the ECB might start winding down its stimulus in response to accelerating growth in Europe. Any move by the ECB toward reducing bond purchases would put it on a similar policy path as the Federal Reserve, which first signaled an intent to taper its own stimulus program in 2013. But the ECB is likely to remain far behind: The Fed has been raising interest rates gradually since December 2015, while the ECB’s key rate has been negative since June 2014. Mr. Draghi’s comments, made Tuesday at the ECB’s annual economic policy conference in Portugal, were laced with caution and caveats. But investors interpreted them as a cue to buy euros and sell eurozone bonds, a reversal of a long-term trade that has benefited from the central bank’s €60 billion ($67.15bn) of bond purchases each month. ‘All the signs now point to a strengthening and broadening recovery in the euro area,’ Mr. Draghi said.”

June 28 – Financial Times (Dan McCrum and Chris Giles in London and Claire Jones): “Bond and currency markets whipsawed on Wednesday as Europe’s two most influential central bankers struggled to communicate to investors how they would exit from years of crisis-era economic stimulus policies. The euro surged to a 52-week high against the dollar after investors characterised remarks by Mario Draghi as a signal he was preparing to taper the European Central Bank’s bond-buying scheme — only to drop almost a full cent after senior ECB figures made clear he had been misinterpreted. Similarly, the British pound jumped 1.2% to $1.2972 after Mark Carney, Bank of England governor, said he was prepared to raise interest rates if UK business activity increased — just a week after saying ‘now is not yet the time’ for an increase. The sharp moves and sudden reversals over two days of heavy trading highlight the acute sensitivity of financial markets to any suggestion of a withdrawal of stimulus measures after a prolonged period of monetary accommodation.”

June 25 – Reuters (Marc Jones): “Major central banks should press ahead with interest rate increases, the Bank for International Settlements said…, while recognizing that some turbulence in financial markets will have to be negotiated along the way. The BIS, an umbrella body for leading central banks, said in one of its most upbeat annual reports for years that global growth could soon be back at long-term average levels after a sharp improvement in sentiment over the past year. Though pockets of risk remain because of high debt levels, low productivity growth and dwindling policy firepower, the BIS said policymakers should take advantage of the improving economic outlook and its surprisingly negligible effect on inflation to accelerate the ‘great unwinding’ of quantitative easing programs and record low interest rates.”

Brexit Watch:

June 27 – Reuters (Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton): “Prime Minister Theresa May struck a deal on Monday to prop up her minority government by agreeing to at least 1 billion pounds ($1.3bn) in extra funding for Northern Ireland in return for the support of the province's biggest Protestant party. After over two weeks of talks and turmoil sparked by May's failure to win a majority in a June 8 snap election, she now has the parliamentary numbers to pass a budget and a better chance of passing laws to take Britain out of the European Union.”

Global Bubble Watch:

June 28 – Wall Street Journal (Richard Barley): “Sometimes financial markets are surprisingly bad at connecting the dots—until they can’t ignore the picture forming before their eyes. The screeching U-turn in bond markets is a good example. The world’s central banks are sending out a message that loose monetary policy can’t last forever. The shift is mainly rhetorical, and action may yet be some way off. But expectations matter, as they did when the Federal Reserve indicated in 2013 that its quantitative-easing program could be wound down. That caused global bond yields to surge, led by the U.S., and sparked extended turmoil in emerging markets. This time, the bond reversal has been centered on Europe. Ten-year German bund yields started Tuesday just below 0.25%, but by Wednesday afternoon stood at 0.37%. That helped lift bond yields elsewhere, since low German yields have been acting as an anchor. The selloff in the bund Tuesday was the worst in 22 months…”

June 28 – Reuters (Sujata Rao): “Global debt levels have climbed $500 billion in the past year to a record $217 trillion, a new study shows, just as major central banks prepare to end years of super-cheap credit policies. World markets were jarred this week by a chorus of central bankers warning about overpriced assets, excessive consumer borrowing and the need to begin the process of normalizing world interest rates from the extraordinarily low levels introduced to offset the fallout of the 2009 credit crash. This week, U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen has warned of expensive asset price valuations, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has tightened controls on bank credit and European Central Bank head Mario Draghi has opened the door to cutting back stimulus, possibly as soon as September. Years of cheap central bank cash has delivered a sugar rush to world equity markets, pushing them to successive record highs. But another side effect has been explosive credit growth as households, companies and governments rushed to take advantage of rock-bottom borrowing costs. Global debt, as a result, now amounts to 327% of the world's annual economic output, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said in a report…”

June 26 – Bloomberg (Garfield Clinton Reynolds and Adam Haigh): “Greed seems to be running the show in global markets. Fear has fled, and that may be the biggest risk of all. Currency volatility just hit a 20-month low, Treasury yields are in their narrowest half-year trading range since the 1970s and the U.S. equities fear gauge, the VIX, is stuck near a two-decade nadir. While markets have signaled complacency in the face of Middle East tensions, the withdrawal of Federal Reserve stimulus and President Donald Trump’s tweetstorms, the Bank for International Settlements flagged on Sunday that low volatility can spur risk-taking with the potential to unwind quickly.”

June 27 – Bloomberg (Annie Massa and Elizabeth Dexheimer): “The growing market for exchange-traded funds hasn’t been fully put to the test, according to one of the top U.S. speed trading firms. Ari Rubenstein, chief executive officer and co-founder of Global Trading Systems LLC, told lawmakers… that while investment dollars have flooded the U.S. ETF market, the new order has not endured an extreme period of stress. Volatility, a measure of market uncertainty, has remained low. ‘In some ways the markets are a bit untested,’ Rubenstein said… ‘It’s definitely something we should talk about to make sure industry participants are prepared in those instruments.’”

June 29 – Financial Times (Javier Espinoza): “Private equity buyouts have enjoyed the strongest start to a year since before the financial crisis as fund managers have come under intense pressure from investors to deploy some of the record amount of capital they hold. The volume of deals involving private equity firms climbed 29% to $143.7bn in the first half of the year, the highest level since 2007, according to… Thomson Reuters.”

June 27 – Bloomberg (Enda Curran and Stephen Engle): “Investors aren’t sufficiently pricing in a growing threat to economic and financial market stability from geopolitical risks, and the latest global cyberattack is an example of the damage that can be wreaked on trade, Cornell University Professor Eswar Prasad said. His remarks came as a virus similar to WannaCry reached Asia after spreading from Europe to the U.S. overnight, hitting businesses, port operators and government systems.”

Fixed Income Bubble Watch:

June 27 – CNBC (Ann Saphir): “Bond investors may soon pay a hefty price for being too pessimistic about the economy, according to portfolio manager Joe Zidle. Zidle, who is with Richard Bernstein Advisors, believes the vast amount of money flowing into long-duration bonds is signaling a costly mistake. ‘Last week alone, there is a 20-year plus treasury bond ETF that in one week got more inflows than all domestic equity mutual funds, and all domestic equity ETFs combined year-to-date,’ he said… He added: ‘I think investors are going to be in a real painful trade.’”

June 26 – Bloomberg (Mary Williams Walsh): “The United States Virgin Islands is best known for its powdery beaches and turquoise bays, a constant draw for the tourists who frequent this tiny American territory. Yet away from the beaches the mood is ominous, as government officials scramble to stave off the same kind of fiscal collapse that has already engulfed its neighbor Puerto Rico. The public debts of the Virgin Islands are much smaller than those of Puerto Rico, which effectively declared bankruptcy in May. But so is its population, and therefore its ability to pay. This tropical territory of roughly 100,000 people owes some $6.5 billion to pensioners and creditors.”

Federal Reserve Watch:

June 28 – Bloomberg (Jill Ward, Lucy Meakin, and Christopher Condon): “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave no indication her plans for continued monetary policy tightening had shifted while acknowledging that some asset prices had become ‘somewhat rich.’ ‘We’ve made very clear that we think it will be appropriate to the attainment of our goals to raise interest rates very gradually,’ she said… In her first public remarks since the U.S. central bank hiked rates on June 14, Yellen said that asset valuations, by some measures ‘look high, but there’s no certainty about that.’ ‘Asset valuations are somewhat rich if you use some traditional metrics like price earnings ratios, but I wouldn’t try to comment on appropriate valuations, and those ratios ought to depend on long-term interest rates,” she said.”

June 27 – Bloomberg (Christopher Condon): “Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer pointed to higher asset prices as well as increased vulnerabilities for both household and corporate borrowers in warning against complacency when gauging the safety of the global financial system. ‘There is no doubt the soundness and resilience of our financial system has improved since the 2007-09 crisis,’ Fischer said… ‘However, it would be foolish to think we have eliminated all risks.’”

June 28 – Bloomberg (Luke Kawa): “When a trio of Federal Reserve officials delivered remarks on Tuesday, the state of U.S. financial markets came in for a little bit of criticism. When all was said and done, U.S. equities sank the most in six weeks, yields on 10-year Treasuries rose and the dollar weakened to the lowest level versus the euro in 10 months. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that asset valuations, by some measures ‘look high, but there’s no certainty about that.’ Earlier, San Francisco Fed President John Williams said the stock market ‘seems to be running very much on fumes’ and that he was ‘somewhat concerned about the complacency in the market.’ Fed Vice-Chair Stanley Fischer suggested that there had been a ‘notable uptick’ in risk appetite that propelled valuation ratios to very elevated levels.”

June 27 – Reuters (Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton): “With the U.S. economy at full employment and inflation set to hit the Federal Reserve's 2% target next year, the U.S. central bank needs to keep raising rates gradually to keep the economy on an even keel, a Fed policymaker said… ‘If we delay too long, the economy will eventually overheat, causing inflation or some other problem,’ San Francisco Fed President John Williams said… ‘Gradually raising interest rates to bring monetary policy back to normal helps us keep the economy growing at a rate that can be sustained for a longer time.’”

June 29 – Financial Times (Alistair Gray and Barney Jopson): “Regulators have given US banks the go-ahead to pay out almost all their earnings to shareholders this year in a signal of their confidence in the health of the financial system. The Federal Reserve has given the green light to a record level of post-crisis distributions, including an estimated total of almost $100bn from the six largest banks. All 34 institutions passed the second part of its annual stress test, although the Fed did call out weaknesses in capital planning at Capital One… The big six US banks — Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — are set to return to shareholders between $95bn and $97bn over the next four quarters, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Gerard Cassidy. That is about 50% more than they were able to hand out after last year’s exam.”

U.S. Bubble Watch:

June 27 – Wall Street Journal (Shibani Mahtani and Douglas Belkin): “This is what happens when a major American state lets its bills stack up for two years. Hospitals, doctors and dentists don’t get paid for hundreds of millions of dollars of patient care. Social-service agencies help fewer people. Public universities and the towns that surround them suffer. The state’s bond rating falls to near junk status. People move out. A standoff in Illinois between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan over spending and term limits has left Illinois without a budget for two years. State workers and some others are still getting paid because of court orders and other stopgap measures, but bills for many others are piling up. The unpaid backlog is now $14.6 billion and growing.”

June 28 – Bloomberg Business Week (Elizabeth Campbell and John McCormick): “Two years ago, Illinois’s budget impasse meant that the state’s lottery winners had to wait for months to get their winnings. Now, with $15 billion in unpaid bills, Illinois is on the brink of being unable to even sell Powerball tickets. For the third year in a row, the state is poised to begin its fiscal year on July 1 with no state budget and billions of dollars in the red. If that happens, S&P Global Ratings says Illinois will probably lose its ­investment-grade status and become the first U.S. state on record to have its general obligation debt rated as junk. Illinois is already the worst-rated state at BBB-, S&P’s lowest investment-grade rating. The state owes at least $800 million in interest and late fees on its unpaid bills.”

June 26 – Wall Street Journal (Lev Borodovsky): “Commercial real estate prices are starting to roll over after reaching record highs, capping a long postcrisis rally. While there is no sign that a decline would mean imminent danger for the economy, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren recently warned that valuations represent a risk he ‘will continue to watch carefully.’ So far, prices have proven resilient, reflecting in part the unexpected 2017 decline of interest rates and the rising capital flows from diverse sources such as U.S. pensions and overseas investors.”

June 28 – Wall Street Journal (Chris Dieterich): “Booming demand for passive investments is making exchange-traded funds an increasingly crucial driver of share prices, helping to extend the long U.S. stock rally even as valuations become richer and other big buyers pare back. ETFs bought $98 billion in U.S. stocks during the first three months of this year, on pace to surpass their total purchases for 2015 and 2016 combined… These funds owned nearly 6% of the U.S. stock market in the first quarter—their highest level on record—according to an analysis of Fed data by Goldman Sachs… Surging demand for ETFs this year has to an unprecedented extent helped fuel the latest leg higher for the eight-year stock-market rally.”

June 27 – Reuters (Kimberly Chin): “U.S. single-family home prices rose in April due to tight inventory of houses on the market and low mortgage rates… and economists see no imminent change in the trend. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller composite index of 20metropolitan areas rose 5.7% in April on a year-over-year basis after a 5.9% gain in March, which matched the fastest pace in nearly three years.”

June 27 – Bloomberg (Andrew Mayeda): “The International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for the U.S. economy, removing assumptions of President Donald Trump’s plans to cut taxes and boost infrastructure spending to spur growth. The IMF reduced its forecast for U.S. growth this year to 2.1%, from 2.3% in the fund’s April update to its world economic outlook. The… fund also cut its projection for U.S. growth next year to 2.1%, from 2.5% in April.”

Japan Watch:

June 29 – Reuters (Leika Kihara and Stanley White): “Japan's industrial output fell faster in May than at any time since the devastating earthquake of March 2011 while inventories hit their highest in almost a year, suggesting a nascent economic recovery may stall before it gets properly started. Household spending also fell in May, leaving the Bank of Japan's 2% target seemingly out of reach.”

EM Watch:

June 28 – Reuters (Brad Brooks and Silvio Cascione): “President Michel Temer called a corruption charge filed against him by Brazil's top prosecutor a ‘fiction’ on Tuesday, as the nation's political crisis deepened under the second president faced with possible removal from office in just over a year. Temer, who was charged Monday night with arranging to receive millions of dollars in bribes, said the move would hurt Brazil's economic recovery and possibly paralyze efforts at reform. The conservative leader said executives of the world's biggest meatpacker, JBS SA , who accused him in plea-bargain testimony of arranging to take 38 million reais ($11.47 million) in bribes in the coming months, did so only to escape jail for their own crimes.”

Geopolitical Watch:

June 29 – New York Times (Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger): “Twice in the past month, National Security Agency cyberweapons stolen from its arsenal have been turned against two very different partners of the United States — Britain and Ukraine. The N.S.A. has kept quiet, not acknowledging its role in developing the weapons. White House officials have deflected many questions, and responded to others by arguing that the focus should be on the attackers themselves, not the manufacturer of their weapons. But the silence is wearing thin for victims of the assaults, as a series of escalating attacks using N.S.A. cyberweapons have hit hospitals, a nuclear site and American businesses. Now there is growing concern that United States intelligence agencies have rushed to create digital weapons that they cannot keep safe from adversaries or disable once they fall into the wrong hands.”

June 28 – New York Times (Sheera Frenkel, Mark Scott and Paul Mozur): “As governments and organizations around the world grappled… with the impact of a cyberattack that froze computers and demanded a ransom for their release, victims received a clear warning from security experts not to pay a dime in the hopes of getting back their data. The hackers’ email address was shut down and they had lost the ability to communicate with their victims, and by extension, to restore access to computers. If the hackers had wanted to collect ransom money, said cybersecurity experts, their attack was an utter failure. That is, if that was actually their goal. Increasingly sophisticated ransomware assaults now have cybersecurity experts questioning what the attackers are truly after. Is it money? Mayhem? Delivering a political message?”

June 25 – Reuters: “Qatar is reviewing a list of demands presented by four Arab states imposing a boycott on the wealthy Gulf country, but said on Saturday the list was not reasonable or actionable. ‘We are reviewing these demands out of respect for ... regional security and there will be an official response from our ministry of foreign affairs,’ Sheikh Saif al-Thani, the director of Qatar's government communications office, said… Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which imposed a boycott on Qatar, issued an ultimatum to Doha to close Al Jazeera, curb ties with Iran, shut a Turkish military base and pay reparations among other demands.”

June 27 – Reuters (Foo Yun Chee): “EU antitrust regulators hit Alphabet unit Google with a record 2.42-billion-euro ($2.7bn) fine on Tuesday, taking a tough line in the first of three investigations into the company's dominance in searches and smartphones. It is the biggest fine the EU has ever imposed on a single company in an antitrust case, exceeding a 1.06-billion-euro sanction handed down to U.S. chipmaker Intel in 2009. The European Commission said the world's most popular internet search engine has 90 days to stop favoring its own shopping service or face a further penalty per day of up to 5% of Alphabet's average daily global turnover.”
          New world order conspiracy theory has been narrowed to be conservative agenda against Liberal progressive agendas. Keep the big picture.   
The big picture is people vying for power. Who-ever they may be. Are some members of the NWO conservative.

- Poster: Heir (UID 12277157) - Views 80 - Replies 0

          7/1/2017: GET OVER IT, CANADA: Brain drain   

It was faster than any jet in its class. It was armed with nuclear missiles. It was intended to defend us from Soviet attacks. It was going to make Canada great. But on Feb. 20, 1959, John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative Party government dashed...
          7/1/2017: FEATURES: LONdON TIMES CRYPTIC CROSSWORd   

Across 1 Strikers on the line striving for a goal? (9) 6 It’s full of conservative jerks (4) 9 A chopper base fool whirls around (3) 10 Choice of local wanting change at the top (11) 11 I’m precious and work with a Liberal (4) 12 What a shoplifter...
          FreedomWorks' Member of the Month for July 2017: Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.)   

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) is FreedomWorks’ Member of the Month for July. This decision is based on Rep. Palmer’s unwavering dedication to fully repeal ObamaCare, and his consistently conservative voting record, maintaining a 92 percent lifetime score with us.

As an experienced policy expert before his election to Congress in 2014, Rep. Palmer served as president of the Alabama Policy Institute, was a founding board director of the State Policy Network, and served on four state commissions on behalf of three different governors.

Rep. Palmer currently serves on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and is the chairman of the Intergovernmental Affairs subcommittee. He has committed himself to focusing on core issues of economic freedom by cutting spending, reforming regulations, and voting to repeal ObamaCare.

Rep. Palmer has been a trailblazer on reining back the monumental growth of the federal government. Along with that growth, the tentacles of the federal government have spread to what has been referred to as “the fourth branch of government”; over 450 federal departments, agencies, and sub-agencies.

These agencies shouldn’t have the authority to make law, which is tasked to Congress under Article I of the Constitution and were not elected by the people, yet they make concerning regulatory decisions on existing law. Rep. Palmer reintroduced H.R.850 this year which would provide more oversight and transparency over these agencies and the funding they take in. Limiting the control the agencies have over altering legislation would increase accountability regarding regulatory decision making.

As a member of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Palmer was a key player to amending the more conservative version of the House Repeal bill, by authoring an amendment that would drive down the cost of insurance and provide more state control over Medicaid through block grants.

Rep. Palmer said, “The amendment that I authored on invisible risk sharing will drive down the cost of health insurance premiums and helps ensure that those with preexisting conditions have affordable coverage. The option for states to choose to receive Medicaid funding as a per-capita cap or a block grant will provide states with more flexibility to meet the needs of their Medicaid eligible people and will reduce the waste of billions of Medicaid dollars to fraud, inefficiencies and mismanagement. The AHCA also gives states the option to establish work requirements for able-bodied adults without small children. Together, these additions to the AHCA are the most substantial entitlement reform in 50 years.”

As a champion on fighting for economic freedom and fiscal responsibility FreedomWorks is pleased to recognize Rep. Palmer as Member of the Month for July. We are proud to name a ember of Congress each month who diligently fights to preserve economic freedom and individual liberty.


          Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian   
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller was ousted as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Saturday. Days earlier another top official left to face charges of sexual abuse.
          A stellar choice for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity   
(Paul Mirengoff) President Trump has appointed our friend Hans von Spakovsky to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. As with Eric Dreiband, Trump’s excellent pick to head the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the liberal media is already attacking von Spakovsky. For example, this Washington Post story begins: “President Trump on Thursday appointed a divisive conservative voting rights expert to spearhead the White House’s search into allegations of widespread fraud in the
          Controversial New NRA Recruitment Video Asks Americans To Join To Eliminate Liberal Enemies   

The NRA release new recruitment video telling Americans to defeat enemy liberals.

The NRA has just released a controversial new video in which Americans are asked by conservative radio host Dana Loesch to join the National Rifle Association so that they can help to defeat and eliminate the real enemies of the country: liberals. In the new NRA video, there is no rhetoric about making sure that the American citizen’s right to bear arms is upheld.

In fact, the Second Amendment of the Constitution isn’t brought up at all. Instead, Americans are told that the biggest threat to the country and those that pose the most danger are liberals, and for this reason Americans need to join the NRA as quickly as they possibly can.

Click here to continue and read more...


          Magenta Presents Neil Simon Comedy "Barefoot in the Park" Opening June 13   

Magenta Theater presents Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, directed by Julie Harrison June 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m.; and June 21 and 28  at 2 p.m.


Barefoot in the Park tells the hilarious story of newlyweds Paul and Corie, who couldn’t be more opposite. He’s a conservative, ambitious young lawyer; she’s a romantic, flighty, free-spirit. 

When Corie’s widowed mother, Ethel comes to visit their new apartment, Corie plays matchmaker and sets up her fussy mother with the eccentric upstairs neighbor, Mr. Velasco, on a blind date. 


Even with the disastrous evening’s antics, everyone learns that love can conquer all. 

Publicity photo provided.


Magenta is the last remaining resident theater company in Vancouver, Wash. 

Please support their quality productions.

          What does the future hold for businesses post-election?   

Businesses up and down the UK are attempting to assess what the results of the 2017 snap general election will mean for them, as the electorate returns a Conservative minority… Read more…

The post What does the future hold for businesses post-election? appeared first on Accountants Worcester | Nicklin LLP.


          By: Warren   
The Republican's Best is disowned by his own party. The Ron Paul movement, based on social liberalism and fiscal conservatism (Libertarianism?), has steadily grown as the other dimwitted Republican clowns have made fools of themselves. Does the Republican party have the guts to ditch the social conservative crazies and embrace it's real rising star? —W—
          Comment on Paul Little on Labour’s interns by Psycho Milt   
Paul Little is a "leftie liberal" to the same extent that Jackie Blue is a "right-wing conservative" - ie, only to the delusional.
          Another Pep Talk. This One To A Conservative   
In reply to my recent “Pep Talk” piece, a local conservative wrote in with a bunch of really depressing things to say. Here is my attempt to help him out: 1. My post was not a “statement of despair.” Quite the opposite. The Resistance to Tr-mpism is strong. Your post, though, is full of despair. […]
          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 ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repealThe Hill
Here's How the Wealthy Gain From GOP Health Care BillNBCNews.com
HuffPost -Bloomberg -Slate Magazine -Washington Examiner
all 6,027 news articles »

          Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian - NPR   

NPR

Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian
NPR
For the second time in three days, there's been a high-profile exit from the Vatican administration. On Saturday, Pope Francis replaced Catholic Church's top theologian, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller. Müller, who was the head of the Congregation for ...
Pope removes German cardinal as sex abuse crisis catches upWashington Post

all 233 news articles »

          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 ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repealThe Hill
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
NBCNews.com -Los Angeles Times -HuffPost -Bloomberg
all 6,105 news articles »

          Comment on ‘Last Man Standing’: 20th Century Fox TV Will Seek New Home for Tim Allen Comedy (EXCLUSIVE) by Jenny Gladden   
I love the show Last Man Standing....I AM NOT A CONSERVATIVE ...I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN...But I do love to laugh, and Tim Allen makes me laugh.The show is well written, and well acted...IT IS FUNNY The show makes fun of both liberals and conservatives all the time......Geeze people...lighten up ! Politics shouldn't come in to play on whether a comedy TV show stays on the air or not, If you are so insecure that you can't laugh at yourself and each other then you are in sad shape people... If ABC doesn't want to keep LMS then it is their loss....CMT should pick it up and if not CMT then somebody PLEASE keep this show on the air.
          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...
          Offer - Boston Dental - 617-307-7677 - Sake   
Boston Dental is a dental care service provider situated in Boston devoted to the highly effective treatment and diagnosis of dental injuries and illnesses. Our main goal is to restore and improve the natural splendor of your smile by means of state-of-the-art and conservative procedures that aren't only safe but facilitate the development of wonderful and healthy smiles.
          Comment on Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™ by yetanotherjohn   
Hitler was a national socialist. As in Nazi being a contraction for national socialist (in German). Both Hitler and Mussolini came from the socialist side of the spectrum (aka the left, you know like Bernie Sanders). The right comes from the capitalism side of the spectrum. Conservatives aren't always on the right, liberals aren't always on the left. Trump is a capitalist (for some values of capitalism), but he is hardly a conservative in his political philosophy. In fact, if the left had just stroked his ego a bit, they probably could have turned him to the dark side.
          Comment on Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™ by yetanotherjohn   
From the left they may look conservative, but not from the right. On the other hand, I would take any of them over a leftist replacement player.
          Comment on Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™ by yetanotherjohn   
No conservatives were filmed in the making of this photo.
          Comment on Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™ by Rodney G. Graves   
No Conservatives, pictured above.
          Indonesian Muslim leader: Boycott Starbucks over LGBT stand   
(Reuters) A leader of Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization has called for a boycott of Starbucks, saying that the international coffee chain’s pro-gay stand risks ruining the “religious and cultured” core of the Southeast Asian nation. With the exception of the ultra-conservative Aceh province, homosexuality is legal in Indonesia. But police raids on the lesbian, gay, [...]
          Washington’s ‘Chemical Weapon’ House of Cards Demolished by Ex-Weapons Inspector   
Scott Ritter The American Conservative On the night of June 26, the White House Press Secretary released a statement, via …

Continue reading


          Sean Hannity And Ann Coulter Are Having A Very Public Feud   

Hanity_Coulter_062217.png

Grab the popcorn! Two of America’s most prominent conservative hate mongers, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, have broken up. And they’re airing their dirty laundry in public.


          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
By now, we can probably say that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The word "probably" is apt because nothing is certain about the plans of this or any other Supreme Court justice when it comes to ending his or her service on the nation's highest court. But this week, the court wrapped up the current term, and Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, seems to have decided to stay on the job — at least for the coming term. There could be a variety of reasons. As an institutional matter, he could well have concluded that there had been enough uncertainty and drama on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the vacancy that lasted for well over a year with Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama's nominee. Kennedy may also have thought it best to ensure that there is a full complement of nine justices for at least a year. He could even have been put off by President Trump's tweets about the judiciary. But it is unlikely that
          Germany legalizes same-sex marriage after Merkel U-turn   

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.


          Show 1857 Audiobook part 1 of 4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism   

Show 1857 Audiobook part 1 of 4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism by Kevin D Williamson chapters 1-4

 Listen to the entire audiobook on YouTube at-

https://youtu.be/KsuPOy0H-RA?list=PLNzu8bIwdN5GjRwvxu17CJF9zuvMO_C-d

Publication date of this book is 2011 hence the dated references.

 Overview of the book-

Stalin’s gulag, impoverished North Korea, collapsing Cuba...it’s hard to name a dogma that has failed as spectacularly as socialism. And yet leaders around the world continue to subject millions of people to this dysfunctional, violence-prone ideology.

In The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Socialism, Kevin Williamson reveals the fatal flaw of socialism—that efficient, complex economies simply can’t be centrally planned. But even in America, that hasn’t stopped politicians and bureaucrats from planning, to various extents, the most vital sectors of our economy: public education, energy, and the most arrogant central–planning effort of them all, Obama’s healthcare plan.

In this provocative book, Williamson unfolds the grim history of socialism, showing how the ideology has spawned crushing poverty, devastating famines, and horrific wars. Lumbering from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of economic devastation and environmental catastrophe, socialism has wreaked more havoc, caused more deaths, and impoverished more people than any other ideology in history—especially when you include the victims of fascism, which Williamson notes is simply a variant of socialism.

Williamson further demonstrates:

Why, contrary to popular belief, socialism in theory is no better than socialism in practice

Why socialism can’t exist without capitalism

How the energy powerhouse of Venezuela, under socialism, has become an economic basket case subject to rationing and blackouts

How socialism, not British colonialism, plunged the bountiful economy of India into stagnation and dysfunction—and how capitalism is rescuing it

Why socialism is inextricably linked to communism

If you thought socialism went into the dustbin of history with the collapse of the Soviet Union, think again. Socialism is alive and kicking, and it’s already spread further than you know.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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          Show 1856 Audiobook part 2 of 4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism   

Show 1856 Audiobook part 2 of 4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism

by Kevin D Williamson

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism chapters Chap 5-9

 Listen to the entire audiobook on YouTube at-

https://youtu.be/KsuPOy0H-RA?list=PLNzu8bIwdN5GjRwvxu17CJF9zuvMO_C-d

Publication date of this book is 2011 hence the dated references.

 

Overview of the book-

Stalin’s gulag, impoverished North Korea, collapsing Cuba...it’s hard to name a dogma that has failed as spectacularly as socialism. And yet leaders around the world continue to subject millions of people to this dysfunctional, violence-prone ideology.

 In The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Socialism, Kevin Williamson reveals the fatal flaw of socialism—that efficient, complex economies simply can’t be centrally planned. But even in America, that hasn’t stopped politicians and bureaucrats from planning, to various extents, the most vital sectors of our economy: public education, energy, and the most arrogant central–planning effort of them all, Obama’s healthcare plan.

 In this provocative book, Williamson unfolds the grim history of socialism, showing how the ideology has spawned crushing poverty, devastating famines, and horrific wars. Lumbering from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of economic devastation and environmental catastrophe, socialism has wreaked more havoc, caused more deaths, and impoverished more people than any other ideology in history—especially when you include the victims of fascism, which Williamson notes is simply a variant of socialism.

 Williamson further demonstrates:

 Why, contrary to popular belief, socialism in theory is no better than socialism in practice

Why socialism can’t exist without capitalism

How the energy powerhouse of Venezuela, under socialism, has become an economic basket case subject to rationing and blackouts

How socialism, not British colonialism, plunged the bountiful economy of India into stagnation and dysfunction—and how capitalism is rescuing it

Why socialism is inextricably linked to communism

If you thought socialism went into the dustbin of history with the collapse of the Soviet Union, think again. Socialism is alive and kicking, and it’s already spread further than you know.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

HELP US SPREAD THE WORD!

Please send to friends, post on Facebook, twitter, etc…

Over 1,700 commercial free archived shows are available on our podcast site here.  

 

Ways to subscribe to the American Conservative University Podcast

Click here to subscribe via iTunes

Click here to subscribe via RSS

You can also subscribe via Stitcher

You can also subscribe via SoundCloud

If you like this episode head on over to iTunes and kindly leave us a rating, a review and subscribe! People find us through our good reviews.

 

FEEDBACK + PROMOTION

You can ask your questions, make comments, submit ideas for shows and lots more. Let your voice be heard.

Download our FREE iOS App.

Download our FREE Android App.

Email us at americanconservativeuniversity@americanconservativeuniversity.com


          Show 1855 Audiobook part 3 of 4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism   

Show 1855 Audiobook part 3 of 4. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism by Kevin D Williamson Chap 10-13

 Listen to the entire audiobook on YouTube at-

https://youtu.be/KsuPOy0H-RA?list=PLNzu8bIwdN5GjRwvxu17CJF9zuvMO_C-d

Publication date of this book is 2011 hence the dated references.

 

Overview of the book-

Stalin’s gulag, impoverished North Korea, collapsing Cuba...it’s hard to name a dogma that has failed as spectacularly as socialism. And yet leaders around the world continue to subject millions of people to this dysfunctional, violence-prone ideology.

 In The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Socialism, Kevin Williamson reveals the fatal flaw of socialism—that efficient, complex economies simply can’t be centrally planned. But even in America, that hasn’t stopped politicians and bureaucrats from planning, to various extents, the most vital sectors of our economy: public education, energy, and the most arrogant central–planning effort of them all, Obama’s healthcare plan.

 In this provocative book, Williamson unfolds the grim history of socialism, showing how the ideology has spawned crushing poverty, devastating famines, and horrific wars. Lumbering from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of economic devastation and environmental catastrophe, socialism has wreaked more havoc, caused more deaths, and impoverished more people than any other ideology in history—especially when you include the victims of fascism, which Williamson notes is simply a variant of socialism.

 Williamson further demonstrates:

 Why, contrary to popular belief, socialism in theory is no better than socialism in practice

Why socialism can’t exist without capitalism

How the energy powerhouse of Venezuela, under socialism, has become an economic basket case subject to rationing and blackouts

How socialism, not British colonialism, plunged the bountiful economy of India into stagnation and dysfunction—and how capitalism is rescuing it

Why socialism is inextricably linked to communism

If you thought socialism went into the dustbin of history with the collapse of the Soviet Union, think again. Socialism is alive and kicking, and it’s already spread further than you know.

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          Show 1854 Audiobook part 4 of 4 The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism   

Show 1854 Audiobook part 4 of 4   The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism by Kevin D Williamson chap 14- Epilogue.

 Listen to the entire audiobook on YouTube at-

https://youtu.be/KsuPOy0H-RA?list=PLNzu8bIwdN5GjRwvxu17CJF9zuvMO_C-d

Publication date of this book is 2011 hence the dated references.

 

Overview of the book-

Stalin’s gulag, impoverished North Korea, collapsing Cuba...it’s hard to name a dogma that has failed as spectacularly as socialism. And yet leaders around the world continue to subject millions of people to this dysfunctional, violence-prone ideology.

 In The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Socialism, Kevin Williamson reveals the fatal flaw of socialism—that efficient, complex economies simply can’t be centrally planned. But even in America, that hasn’t stopped politicians and bureaucrats from planning, to various extents, the most vital sectors of our economy: public education, energy, and the most arrogant central–planning effort of them all, Obama’s healthcare plan.

 In this provocative book, Williamson unfolds the grim history of socialism, showing how the ideology has spawned crushing poverty, devastating famines, and horrific wars. Lumbering from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of economic devastation and environmental catastrophe, socialism has wreaked more havoc, caused more deaths, and impoverished more people than any other ideology in history—especially when you include the victims of fascism, which Williamson notes is simply a variant of socialism.

 Williamson further demonstrates:

 Why, contrary to popular belief, socialism in theory is no better than socialism in practice

Why socialism can’t exist without capitalism

How the energy powerhouse of Venezuela, under socialism, has become an economic basket case subject to rationing and blackouts

How socialism, not British colonialism, plunged the bountiful economy of India into stagnation and dysfunction—and how capitalism is rescuing it

Why socialism is inextricably linked to communism

If you thought socialism went into the dustbin of history with the collapse of the Soviet Union, think again. Socialism is alive and kicking, and it’s already spread further than you know.

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          Show 1853 Audiobook part 1 of 2. Struggle for Vicksburg: The Battles and Siege that Decided the Civil War.   

Show 1853 Audiobook part 1 of 2. Struggle for Vicksburg: The Battles and Siege that Decided the Civil War.

From the audio book Americans at War by Stephen E. Ambrose.  This book is a collection of fifteen essays. In this essay Ambrose explores the Civil War Struggle for Vicksburg- The Battles and Siege that Decided the Civil War.

This show was originally published as ACU show 149 and is republished here.

This excerpt serves as an introduction to the book.

To purchase this book visit Amazon or Audible.

Podcast rating is a 4 out of 10. 16MB 71minutes.

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          Show 1852 Audiobook part 2 of 2. Struggle for Vicksburg: The Battles and Siege that Decided the Civil War.   

Show 1852 Audiobook part 2 of 2. Struggle for Vicksburg: The Battles and Siege that Decided the Civil War.

From the audio book Americans at War by Stephen E. Ambrose.  This book is a collection of fifteen essays. In this essay Ambrose explores the Civil War Struggle for Vicksburg- The Battles and Siege that Decided the Civil War.

This show was originally published as ACU show 150 and is republished here.

This excerpt serves as an introduction to the book.

To purchase this book visit Amazon or Audible.

Podcast rating is a 4 out of 10. 16MB 71minutes.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

HELP US SPREAD THE WORD!

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          Is My Retirement Goal Attainable? Under Current Assumptions, We Fall Short Unless We Invest More in LendingClub Peer-to-Peer Notes.    
The banner on my website clearly states a goal of mine to retire in 2025 with passive income in the amount of $125k per year.  Since 2004, this goal has shifted from retiring at 47 years of age to 51 years old.  I made this shift on my banner around 2010.  My earlier aggressive goal was likely based on a confidence in the real estate market in 2004.  That confidence in real estate remains, but now to a smaller extent.

To retire at 51 years of age, I assume that I serve 29 yrs in the military and retire as an O6.  This is a big assumption in that this would require a promotion from O5 and my wife to tolerate another 12 and a half years of my service.  I believe the is not that much of a stretch since we are getting to the point where she will homestead and most of my follow on assignments are likely possible in the DC beltway (where wife wants to homestead until I retire).

Assuming I make it to 29 yrs of service and retire as an O6, I should net $64,109 per year after taxes and survivor benefit premium payments.

The wife is civil service and if she homesteads after our next assignment and stays in her current line of work, we're looking at an additional $7,023 per year for her pension after taxes and survivor benefit premium.

We have three investment properties now, two of which are paid off and another one that will be paid off within the next 20 months.  In 20 months, these properties will be bringing in a net of $15,463 a year after taxes, insurance, maintenance and management fees.

Totaling these three items gives us a net of $86,595

$64,109     29 yr military pension
 $7,023      17 yr civil service pension
$15,463     Investment Property Income
$86,595     Projected Net Income in Retirement

Now, this leaves a passive income shortfall of $38,405.

A retirement at 51 yrs of age does not permit including distributions from 401Ks and IRAs.  We do not save a lot into these investment vehicles because we have been focusing on paying off real estate and generating free cash flow.  At the age of 51, we should have about $290k or more in these retirement investment vehicles assuming a conservative 4% annual return rate.  

Now, what other assumptions are we making and where do we think we'll end up in meeting our goal of $125k in passive income?

We are saving $600/month in our dividend reinvestment plans.  Assuming a 8.4% annual return, we are projected to accrue $233,387.  Assuming our current portfolio dividend rate of 2.6% remains the same, this would bring in about $5,158 per year after taxes.

We are also projected to invest $4k this year and $2k in each subsequent year in LendingClub peer-2-peer notes.  Over the past four years, we have netted a 45.85% return before taxes at LendingClub.  In our first year, we netted 7.7%.  In 2012, we netted 10.98%.  Assuming an optimistic 12% annual return, we should end up with about $103,637 in this account.  In 2025, this should give us about $8,208 per year after taxes.

Between our dividend reinvestment plans and LendingClub, our projected net income in retirement grows to:

$86,595     Income from Pensions and Investment Property
 $5,158      Dividend Reinvestment Plan Income
 $8,208      LendingClub Note Income
$99,961     Projected Net Income from Pensions, Investment Property, DRIPs and LendingClub

This leaves a shortfall of $25,039 per year.  We project that we'll have the ability to accrue an additional $529,227 in savings by May 2025.  Assuming we spend $400k on a condo in Northern Virginia and later convert it to an investment property, this should net us about $12k per year in income after management, home ownership association fees and taxes.

$99,961     Projected Net Income from Pensions, Existing Rental Property, DRIPs and LendingClub
$12,000     Income from additional investment property
$111,961  

This leaves about $129,227 left over in accrued cash that can be invested.  Looking at three different courses of action:

1.) Investing in stocks at 2.6% brings our retirement income to:  $114,817

2.) Investing in real estate at 6% rental yield (current yield on our three properties) brings our retirement income to:  $117,544

3.) Investing in more LendingClub notes at 11% note yield brings our retirement income to:  $122,195

If we retire in May 2025, we will fall short of our goal, somewhere between $2,800 to $10,813 per year.

How will we make up this goal?  

If we execute course of action #3 and work an additional four months investing those earnings in additional LendingClub notes, we could meet our goal and retire in September 2025.

If we execute course of action #1, it would take an additional three years of work to accrue a 2.6% dividend paying portfolio large enough to fill the income gap.  I'm only assured an additional year of service since O6s are required to retire at 30 years of service.

If we execute course of action #2, we could likely attain our goal but it would require us to retire one year later in 2026 and roll all subsequent earnings into a combination of LendingClub notes and stocks. 

          Justice Neil Gorsuch Votes 100 Percent Of The Time With Most Conservative Colleague   
By now, we can probably say that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The word "probably" is apt because nothing is certain about the plans of this or any other Supreme Court justice when it comes to ending his or her service on the nation's highest court. But this week, the court wrapped up the current term, and Kennedy, who turns 81 in July, seems to have decided to stay on the job — at least for the coming term. There could be a variety of reasons. As an institutional matter, he could well have concluded that there had been enough uncertainty and drama on the court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the vacancy that lasted for well over a year with Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama's nominee. Kennedy may also have thought it best to ensure that there is a full complement of nine justices for at least a year. He could even have been put off by President Trump's tweets about the judiciary. But it is unlikely that
          Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian - NPR   

NPR

Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian
NPR
For the second time in three days, there's been a high-profile exit from the Vatican administration. On Saturday, Pope Francis replaced Catholic Church's top theologian, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller. Müller, who was the head of the Congregation for ...
Pope pushes out German hard-liner, chooses new doctrine chiefThe Boston Globe
Cardinal's sex abuse charges raise questions about pope's recordUSA TODAY
Pope shakes up Vatican by replacing conservative doctrinal chiefThe Star Online
New York Times -The Australian -Daily Mail -9news.com.au
all 233 news articles »

          Lesson 10: Podcasting   
Adam Graham talks about conservative podcasting.
          Interview with David Oatney   
Adam Graham interviews David Oatney about blogging in East Tennessee and why conservatives ought to blog.
          Will one more heave be enough to get Jeremy Corbyn to Number 10?   
An argument begins within Labour’s ranks about what the party needs to do to win the next election

After the thrill of hearing his name turned into an anthem at Glastonbury – “Oh, Jer-e-my Cor-byn” the crowd serenaded his act on the Pyramid Stage – the Labour leader had a chat with Michael Eavis, the founder of the festival. Mr Eavis asked the other man when he would become prime minister and says he got the reply “in six months”.

That response would once have had even Mr Corbyn’s most devoted admirers wondering whether he had overindulged on some hallucinogenic substances. Before 10pm on 8 June, his inner circle thought the post-election challenge would be to prop him up for long enough to try to secure the succession for a younger torch bearer from the left of the party. That assumption, like so many others, has been smashed by what the voters did. “He has changed since the election,” says one Labour MP who specialises in Corbyn-watching. “Jeremy has morphed into someone who wants to be prime minister.” Tories who once laughed at that notion now take it seriously. The spectre of prime minister Corbyn haunts the corridors of Conservative minds. An important reason why they are flinching from dispatching their failed leader is the fear of precipitating another election which could propel Mr Corbyn into Number 10.

Continue reading...
          America is not as divided as you might think — here's the proof - Business Insider   

Business Insider

America is not as divided as you might think — here's the proof
Business Insider
It was 13 years ago that a young senator from Illinois stood in front of the country and declared that "there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America." Since that 2004 speech at the Democratic National ...


          McConnell on Obamacare repeal: 'Not easy making America great again' - Politico   

Politico

McConnell on Obamacare repeal: 'Not easy making America great again'
Politico
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is sticking to his current plan of trying to simultaneously repeal and replace Obamacare, despite a call from President Donald Trump and some conservative members of his conference to separate the two tasks.

and more »

          TG View: Dissecting the British Tamil vote - UK General Election 2017   

The British General Election of 2017 has thrown up some surprising results.

When the election was first called, few could have predicted the outcome. The ruling Conservative Party lost their majority in parliament and the Labour Party clawed back a massive deficit in the polls. The pundits were amiss with their predictions and many, including Prime Minister Theresa May, were left wrong footed by the results.

Analysts from across the political spectrum have begun examining the vote and revisiting their engagement with the electorate, with questions being asked of how the Conservatives lost such a comfortable majority. Amongst the key demographics whose voting intentions will be closely scrutinised in the weeks to come, will be Britain’s ethnic minority groups. With many constituencies across the country having been heavily contested and hanging in the balance between the country's major parties, their role was crucial. British Tamils, who have a considerable presence in many of these constituencies, particularly in London, are one such influential group.


          Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian - NPR   

NPR

Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian
NPR
For the second time in three days, there's been a high-profile exit from the Vatican administration. On Saturday, Pope Francis replaced Catholic Church's top theologian, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller. Müller, who was the head of the Congregation for ...
Pope Francis Ousts Powerful Conservative CardinalNew York Times
Cardinal's sex abuse charges raise questions about pope's recordUSA TODAY
Cardinal Muller departs the CDF: What does it mean?National Catholic Reporter (blog)
HuffPost -TIME -U.S. News & World Report -BBC News
all 233 news articles »

          #TrumpTrain riders, #Hillbots and the waaahhhmbulance   
Jay Sekulow, constitutional law hack
A Twitter friend (for now) who should know better, and who I thought DID know better, but doesn't, is whining about the Guardian's piece about Trump lawyer friend Jay Sekolow's "Christian" fueled alleged grifting — and possibly grafting, if the IRS chooses to further investigate his brother's work claims.

Said person first said it was a hit job because the MSM wasn't writing similar about David Brock. He then claimed it was digging up 17-year-old material.

I had multiple responses to that.

First, while the Guardian's look went back 17 years, it didn't stop there. It said the financial shenanigans are running up to today. So, no, not "digging up old material."

Second, re David Brock, lemme know how many relatives he's paying.

Third, somewhat parallel, USA Today DID report that Bernie Sanders hired relatives for his 2012 Senate re-election campaign.

Fourth, as I know said person knows, the No. 1 story, on most Google searches, about Frank Giustra and the Clinton Foundation was by the New York Times.

Sixth, said person has retweeted Prison Planet at least once. And done the same with Zero Hedge. (That also said, I plan on unfriending more "liberal" friends who retweet either one, if they've done it before. And I refuse to use the actual names of either one.)

Sixth, per my opening paragraph, I think the Christianity façade is as much the story on Sekulow as the Trump connection. Let me know when David Brock invokes Jesus for his fiscal shakedowns. It really looks no different than, say, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker to this pair of eyeballs.

Seventh, per me posting that link in response to said person posting Sekulow's wondering, or rather, rhetorical "wondering," why no special counsel is investigating Barack Obama?

The alleged constitutional law scholar (side-slap to Actual Flatticus while I'm here) knows why: We don't have special counsels for cases against private citizens. It's also a lie. Obama didn't "do nothing," and it's been publicly stated he talked directly to Vladimir Putin.

Eighth, said Twitterer has seen, since we've been friends, that I've said that I'm sure Trump didn't collude with Russia.

Ninth, said Twitterer knows that Sekulow is actually under investigation at the state level for his alleged shenanigans. Therefore, the Guardian piece, and others, aren't a "media hit job."

Oh, and Trump Train and fellow traveler snowflakes? One of the states investigating Sekulow is North Carolina, hardly a hotbed of liberalism.

Seriously, you Trump Train riders — and Owl Doctor, if you're not one, I'm personally labeling you a "fellow traveler" — you're as much thin-skinned titty-baby special snowflakes as Hillbots. So, both of you groups, get on the waaahhhmbulance!
          7/1/2017: World: 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 in to pressure to pay for...
          Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian   
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller was ousted as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Saturday. Days earlier another top official left to face charges of sexual abuse.
          States' Decisions Not to Comply With Vote Panel Request Rile Trump   
President Donald Trump is upset that all states aren't fully cooperating with his voting commission's request for detailed information about every voter in the United States. Some of the most populous ones, including California and New York, are refusing to comply. But even some conservative states that voted for Trump, such as Texas, say they can provide only partial responses based on what is allowed under state law. In a tweet Saturday, Trump wondered whether the states not...
          House Republicans aim to repeal Obama-era policy on transgender troops   
A House Republican has withdrawn, for now, an amendment to repeal President Obama’s lifting of a ban on transgender troops but warned Defense Secretary James Mattis that he must act to restore the longtime exclusion or face a legislative revolt. The amendment did provide conservatives on the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday night a […]
          Germany’s schizophrenia   

Germany’s parliament has voted to legalise gay marriage after Chancellor Angela Merkel did an about-face that freed members of conservative party to vote their “conscience” rather than follow party lines. Norbert Lammert, president of the parliament, said 393 lawmakers voted to approve the amendment, while 226 voted against and four abstained. German Chancellor Angela Merkel […]

The post Germany’s schizophrenia appeared first on Whale Oil Beef Hooked | Whaleoil Media.


          Pope Francis Replaces Conservative Top Theologian   
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller was ousted as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Saturday. Days earlier another top official left to face charges of sexual abuse.
          By: Neil Goforth   
I dont know about all conservatives being scared of Hillary. I have met a couple that WANT her to run. Cynically they think that america just wont vote a woman in as president, especailly after the gop smear machine is done with her. I hate to say it, but I agree. I would vote for her but I am not sure she would make it.
          Design a Logo by FastG   
Looking for a logo concept. Some ideas: Company is like a fast tank, strong, powerful and good armor, but fast, flexible and nimble. Crush the competition. Represents upbeat, can-do attitude, while look stays conservative and classic. Trademark name: "Easy Eight Inc". Can play on words with "E8", or "Easy 8", and/or simplified tank (https://www.super-hobby.com/zdjecia/3/0/4/5310_rn.jpg) Details: Deliver a 300x300 image (transfer full ownership rights etc). Each image will be shown to a control group, which will rank the images. In future, we might work with the winner to produce more items. (Prize: 10)
          Maine governor orders partial shutdown with budget in limbo   
A budget impasse between Maine Governor Paul LePage and Democratic lawmakers triggered a shutdown of nonessential state services on Saturday, after the conservative Republican threatened to veto a bipartisan compromise reached by lawmakers. LePage has insisted on a budget with deeper spending cuts than those contemplated by lawmakers and has promised to veto any spending plan that raises taxes. “This is about the future of Maine. The Maine people are taxed enough. I will not tax them anymore and in my budget overall taxes were decreased,” LePage said in a statement announcing the partial shutdown, the first in the state since 1991. The governor’s order for a partial closure of state government went into effect at 12:01 a.m. local time after negotiations stalled over a $7.055 billion, two-year budget. A six-member bipartisan budget committee with lawmakers from the House and Senate had reached a deal on a proposed budget late on Thursday night, but LePage ...

Source: Odd Onion

http://www.oddonion.com/2017/07/01/maine-governor-orders-partial-shutdown-with-budget-in-limbo/


          Conservative to Fund Republicans Who Back Climate Change Action   
The spending comes as Republican leaders have questioned or denied the established science of human-caused climate change.
          Alt-Left Insanity: OMG! Conservatives Have Religious Freedom!   
Liberals don’t like the founding documents — especially the Constitution. (It’s sooooo old!!!!) It’s not that they don’t like to read. Toss them a page-turner about intersectionality and they are all over
          The Papers: PM faces 'chorus of Tory demands'   
The prime minister is facing demands from senior Conservatives to overhaul state funding, according to several papers.
          University to remove cross and Bibles from campus chapel   
Via Cousin John

 Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel, on the campus of East Central University.

East Central University said they will remove crosses, Bibles and other religious symbols from a campus chapel to appease a bunch of out-of-town agitators.

It’s unclear when the Oklahoma school will commence with the Christian cleansing of the Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel. The chapel opened in 1957.

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“We will continue to use the building as we always have, for all faiths,” ECU President Katricia Pierson said in a statement to the Ada News. “We do not want to presume to embrace one faith over another. We support all cultures and attempt to make them comfortable when they are here.”

The university’s president went on to say they are “looking at the feasibility of removing the cross on the steeple, but need to respond to the request for removal of religious icons from the chapel.”

More @ Fox

          Joe Scarborough’s Beef With Trump Takes Bizarre Turn Over ‘Some Fish’   

Joe Scarborough says Donald Trump once threatened to cancel a planned lunch and invite Sean Hannity instead, after the MSNBC host criticized one of Trump’s aides on live TV.

Scarborough told the New York Times how a phone call with the president in January turned into a screaming match after Scarborough and his “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski mocked Trump’s aide Stephen Miller for his head-scratching on-air proclamation that the president should “not be questioned.”

“It went back and forth for 20 or 30 minutes and it was a very ugly call,” Scarborough said. “He was screaming at me saying, ‘Why are you being so tough on this kid — I invited you to lunch at the White House, and you know I could have invited Sean Hannity.'”

Scarborough’s response: “Well, invite Sean Hannity — we’re not going to be schmoozed because you gave us some fish.”

Meanwhile, Hannity took to some light pot-stirring Saturday with a veiled threat: “I’m am very very close to going “there” with Joe and Mika. Sick of their BS,” the Fox News host tweeted, along with a link to a conservative blog post bashing Scarborough and Brzezinski.

It’s unclear what the “there” in Hannity’s tweet means. But, as Mediaite noted, back in January, the Fox host took a shot at Scarborough on Twitter claiming that the MSNBC host shouldn’t mock him because Scarborough had “many skeletons” in his “closet (& office).”

Hannity was likely referencing a conspiracy theory that had been floating around involving a dead intern found in Scarborough’s district office when he was still a Congressman in 2001.

“While there is absolutely no evidence Scarborough had anything to do with the office worker’s death, as it was found that she died from heart problems and hitting her head on a desk, conspiracy theories were tossed around claiming Joe was responsible and that’s why he resigned from Congress,” Mediaite wrote earlier this year.

This is just the latest round in the Trump v. cable TV war. On Saturday, Trump attacked Scarborough and “dumb as a rock” Mika Brzezinski for their “low rated show.”

“Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses,” Trump tweeted. “Too bad!”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Watch 'Morning Joe' Scarborough Discuss His Love Song About Mika Brzezinski (Video)

'Morning Joe': Mika Brzezinski Rips Trump's Mental Health, Joe Scarborough Wants None of It (Video)

Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough Beef on Twitter: 'You Obsess Over Me Endlessly'


          Al-Jazeera, insurgent TV station that divides the Arab world, faces closure   
The network has raised political awareness across the Middle East. No wonder Qatar’s conservative enemies want it shut down

On Monday a bold and controversial experiment in Middle Eastern media and politics may be abruptly brought to an end. Al-Jazeera – once heralded as the beacon of free Arab media that broke the hegemony of the western networks and reversed the flow of information from east to west for the first time since the middle ages – faces closing its doors for good.

On 23 June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt subjected Qatar to unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions, followed by an aggressive blockade and threats of further action if Qatar fails to meet a list of 13 demands, one of which is to shut down the al-Jazeera network.

Continue reading...
          What's wrong with Gillian McKeith   
For years, 'Dr' Gillian McKeith has used her title to sell TV shows, diet books and herbal sex pills. Now the Advertising Standards Authority has stepped in. Yet the real problem is not what she calls herself, but the mumbo-jumbo she dresses up as scientific fact, says Ben Goldacre

Call her the Awful Poo Lady, call her Dr Gillian McKeith PhD: she is an empire, a multi-millionaire, a phenomenon, a prime-time TV celebrity, a bestselling author. She has her own range of foods and mysterious powders, she has pills to give you an erection, and her face is in every health food store in the country. Scottish Conservative politicians want her to advise the government. The Soil Association gave her a prize for educating the public. And yet, to anyone who knows the slightest bit about science, this woman is a bad joke.

One of those angry nerds took her down this week. A regular from my website badscience.net - I can barely contain my pride - took McKeith to the Advertising Standards Authority, complaining about her using the title "doctor" on the basis of a qualification gained by correspondence course from a non-accredited American college. He won. She may have sidestepped the publication of a damning ASA draft adjudication at the last minute by accepting - "voluntarily" - not to call herself "doctor" in her advertising any more. But would you know it, a copy of that draft adjudication has fallen into our laps, and it concludes that "the claim 'Dr' was likely to mislead". The advert allegedly breached two clauses of the Committee of Advertising Practice code: "substantiation" and "truthfulness".

Continue reading...
          Jeff Teague gives Timberwolves a renewed point of attack   
Minnesota Timberwolves coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden took a conservative approach to free agency in their first days running the team last year, and it essentially backfired on them. Their signings of Brandon Rush, Jordan Hill and Cole Aldrich were duds, and
          Constructive Feedback University: "Rev" Jesse Lee Peterson Vs Chidike Okeem - "Black POLITICAL Conservatism" Is Just As Blind, Corrupt And 'Bound To The FAKE RELIGION Of 'Black American Politics' As Those In The Larger Black Faced Progressive Nationalist Sect Of The Religion   

COMEDY SHOW!!

THE RELIGION OF 'AMERICAN POLITICS' IS SUPERIOR TO ONE'S WILL TO DEFINE THE INTEGRITY OF:

  • THEIR RACIAL "ORGANIC COMPETENCY DEVELOPMENT INTERESTS
  • THEIR IDEOLOGY SENSE OF MORALITY
  • THEIR VALUATION FOR 'HUMAN LIFE' AS THEY INSTEAD PROTECT 'CHOSEN IDOLS'
My contempt for "Black POLITICAL Conservatives" rings just as strong as the larger and more prevalent 'Black Faced Progressive Nationalists".


DO YOU NOT SEE THAT - for ALL 'BLACK POLITICAL OPERATIVES IN AMERICA' - if there is not UNITY IN FIGHTING THE WHITE RIGHT WING ENEMY - they will degrade into EGOTISTICAL FIGHTING FACTIONS?

You must therefore admit the BRILLIANCE in the WHITE MAN'S decision to "DIVIDE HIMSELF" (into Progressive And Right Wing camps) in order to PACK THE "AMERICANIZED NEGRO" into ONE CONTAINER:  AMERICAN POLITICS - through which they invest their BLACK VALUABLES to be HARVESTED!!!



8 QUESTIONS FOR CHIDIKE OKEEM

1) Why do you use a Black person's views on TRAYVON MARTIN as an inference to his 'BLACKNESS'?
IN FIVE YEARS SINCE TRAYVON MARTIN'S UNTIMELY DEATH AT THE HANDS OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN:


  • More Than 30,000 Black People Have Been Murdered In The United States
  • A Black Municipal District Attorney Who Was 'Down For The Cause' Now Sits In Jail

  • Every Black Man In This Picture Is SEVERAL MILLION DOLLARS RICHER And Has Moved On, Signing New Contracts With Different NBA Teams

  • And Though The CORRUPT PULPIT Occupier Of "DR KING'S Church" Deceived His Congregation To ALL WEAR HOODIES On "Hoodie Sunday" - NOT ONE DAMN MURDERED BLACK Since That Time IN METRO ATLANTA Triggered Any Similar THEATRICS.
How The HELL Do You Logically Use THIS As Your 'Black Litmus Test - ESPECIALLY Since You Were Born In NIGERIA ?



2) Why Is A FRIEND Of A WHITE POLITICAL ENEMY Hated By Black Progressive Evidence Of A RACIST ----But THESE PEOPLE Are Welcomed By The Black's On Stage? Popular Blacks Who Have Murdered Or Been Directly Associated With A Murder (ie: Refused To SNITCH TO BRING JUSTICE To The MURDER VICTIM'S FAMILY, Yet Been Welcomed Back Into The Black Community IN GOOD STANDING)


3) Why Did You Say: "The goal of the BLACK CONSERVATIVE is to make Black people BELIEVE IN CONSERVATISM"?  ....BUT YOU SAID YOU WERE A 'BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN' - yet in this debate YOU NEVER separated your CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP from your EARTHLY POLITICAL EFFORTS to make Black people believe in "CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT OF MAN"


4) Why Is Jesse Lee Peterson's IGNORANT Comments About "A Slave Ship Being Akin To A Crowded Airplane" Was MORE OFFENSIVE Than "AFRICANS TO-DAMNED-DAY Being Packed In FLIMSY BOATS Hoping To Exit Africa For WHITE HEAVEN ON EARTH - Europe"?



5)  Cell
6) Cell
7) Cell
8) Cell

8 QUESTIONS FOR JESSE LEE PETERSON
1)  What Would You NOT DO In The Realm Of Political Opportunism Because Your "Christian Religious Calling Prohibits You From Doing So?"
Cell
2)  Why Did You Dismiss Chidike Okeem From Being A 'Conservative Republican' And A "Born Again Christian' Based Upon.........
  1. His Criticism Of "White Conservative Republicans" Who You Are Friends With
  2. The Fact That His MOTHER AS A FEMALE Was Ordained Into A Pastor?

ARE THERE ANY OTHER SUBSTANTIVE VIOLATIONS That Define The Membership In Your Party And Your RELIGION?
3) Why Did You Keep Using The Word "Black Conservative" and "Black Republican" Interchangeably?  Jesse Jackson Sr does the exact same thing with "Blacks" and "Black Democrats".  How are you any different than him?
4) As A BLACK MAN - Why Do You "AFRICA" As A NEGATIVE TAUNT For BlACK PEOPLE I have said this about FRAUDULENT PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS  and I will repeat for FRAUDULENT CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS:

Does it seem strange go you that the DOMAIN OF YOUR "RELIGIOUS PRAYER CIRCLE" is perfectly aligned with MAN MADE POLITICAL BOUNDARIES within which YOU FIGHT YOUR RELIGIOUS CRUSADES - mostly against FELLOW "CHRISTIANS" whose primary distinction is their POLITICAL IDEOLOGY?


5) What About Your "Christianity" Makes You So NATIONALISTIC Over "Humanitarian"? 

6) Cell
7) Cell
8) Cell

          The Mad Chase For Russia-gate Prey   

Authored by Daniel Lazare via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

 

June turned out to be the cruelest month for the Russia-gate industry.

The pain began on June 8 when ex-FBI Director James Comey testified that a sensational New York Times article declaring that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials” was “in the main … not true.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Then came Republican Karen Handel’s June 20 victory in a special election in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, sparking bitter recriminations among Democrats who had hoped to ride to victory on a Russia-gate-propelled wave of resistance to Trump.

More evidence that the strategy was not working came a day later when the Harris Poll and Harvard’s Center for American Political Studies produced a devastating survey showing that 62 percent of voters see no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, while 54 percent believe the “Deep State” is trying to unseat the President by leaking classified information. The poll even showed a small bounce in Trump’s popularity, with 45 percent viewing him favorably as opposed to only 39 percent for his defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The mainstream news media also came in for some lumps. On June 23, CNN retracted a story that had claimed that Congress was looking into reports that the Trump transition team met secretly with a Russian investment fund under sanction from the U.S. government. Three days later, CNN announced that three staffers responsible for the blooper – reporter and Pulitzer Prize-nominee Thomas Frank; Pulitzer-winner Eric Lichtblau, late of the New York Times; and Lex Haris, executive editor in charge of investigations – had resigned.

Adding to CNN’s embarrassment, Project Veritas, the brainchild of rightwing provocateur James O’Keefe, released an undercover video in which a CNN producer named John Bonifield explained that the network can’t stop talking about Russia because it boosts ratings and then went on to say about Russia-gate:

Could be bullshit, I mean it’s mostly bullshit right now.  Like, we don’t have any big giant proof. But … the leaks keep leaking, and there are so many great leaks, and it’s amazing, and I just refuse to believe that if they had something really good like that, that wouldn’t leak because we’ve been getting all these other leaks. So I just feel like they don’t really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the president is probably right to say, like, look, you’re witch-hunting me, like, you have no smoking gun, you have no real proof.

Project Veritas also released an undercover video interview with CNN contributor Van Jones calling the long-running probe into possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia a “nothing-burger,” a position similar to the skepticism that Jones has displayed in his on-air comments.

True, the Bonifield video was only a medical reporter sounding off about a story that he’s not even covering and doing so to a dirty-trickster who has received financing from Trump and who, after another undercover film stunt, was ordered in 2013 to apologize and pay $100,000 to an anti-poverty worker whose privacy he had invaded.

Good for Ratings

But, still, Bonifield’s “president-is-probably-right” comment is hard to shake. Ditto Van Jones’ “nothing-burger.” Unless both quotes are completely doctored, it appears that the scuttlebutt among CNNers is that Russia-gate is a lot of hot air but no one cares because it’s sending viewership through the roof.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow

And if that’s what CNN thinks, then it may be what MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow thinks as she also plays the Russia card for all it’s worthIt may also be what The Washington Post has in the back of its mind even while hyperventilating about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy.”

The New York Times also got caught up in its enthusiasm to hype the Russia-gate case on June 25 when it ran a story slamming Trump for “refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks [on Democratic emails], and did it to help get him elected.”

The “17-intelligence-agency” canard has been a favorite go-to assertion for both Democrats and the mainstream news media, although it was repudiated in May by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan.

So, on June 29, the Times apparently found itself with no choice but to issue a correction stating: “The [Russia-hacking] assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

This point is important because, as Consortiumnews.com and other non-mainstream news outlets have argued for more than a month, it is much easier to manipulate a finding by hand-picking analysts from a small number of intelligence agencies than by seeking the judgments and dissents from all 17.

Despite the correction, the Times soon returned to its pattern of shading the truth regarding the U.S. intelligence assessment. On June 30, a Times article reported: “Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the unanimous conclusion of United States intelligence agencies that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 race.”

The Times’ phrase “unanimous conclusion” conveys the false impression that all 17 agencies were onboard without specifically saying so, although we now know that the Times’ editors are aware that only selected analysts from three agencies plus the DNI’s office were involved.

In other words, the Times cited a “unanimous conclusion of United States intelligence agencies” to mislead its readers without specifically repeating the “all-17-agencies” falsehood. This behavior suggests that the Times is so blinded by its anti-Trump animus that it wants to conceal from its readers how shaky the whole tale is.

Holes from the Start

But the problems with Russia-gate date back to the beginning. Where Watergate was about a real burglary, this one began with a cyber break-in that may or may not have occurred. In his June 8 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey conceded that the FBI never checked the DNC’s servers to confirm that they had truly been hacked.

Former FBI Director James Comey

COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RICHARD BURR: Did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked?  Or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data that they had collected?

 

COMEY: In the case of the DNC, and, I believe, the DCCC [i.e. the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], but I’m sure the DNC, we did not have access to the devices themselves.  We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity, that had done the work.  But we didn’t get direct access.

 

BURR: But no content?

 

COMEY: Correct.

 

BURR: Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?

 

COMEY: It is, although what was briefed to me by my folks — the people who were my folks at the time – is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

The FBI apparently was confident that it could rely on such “a high-class entity” as CrowdStrike to tell it what it needed to know. Yet neither the Democratic National Committee nor CrowdStrike, the Irvine, California, cyber-security firm the DNC hired, was remotely objective.

Hillary Clinton was on record calling Putin a “bully” whose goal was “to stymie, to confront, to undermine American power” while Dmitri Aperovitch, CrowdStrike’s chief technical officer, is a Russian émigré who is both anti-Putin personally and an associate of the Atlantic Council, a pro-Clinton/anti-Russian think tank that is funded by the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and the Ukrainian World Congress. The Atlantic Council is one of the most anti-Russian voices in Washington.

So, an anti-Putin DNC hired an anti-Putin security specialist, who, to absolutely no one’s surprise, “immediately” determined that the break-in was the work of hackers “closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.”

Comey’s trust in CrowdStrike was akin to cops trusting a private eye not only to investigate a murder, but to determine if it even occurred. Yet the mainstream media’s pack journalists saw no reason to question the FBI because doing so would not accord with an anti-Trump bias so pronounced that even journalism profs have begun to notice.

Doubts about CrowdStrike

Since CrowdStrike issued its findings, it has come under wide-ranging criticism. Cyber experts have called its analysis inconsistent because while praising the alleged hackers to the skies (“our team considers them some of the best adversaries out of all the numerous nation-state, criminal and hacktivist/terrorist groups we encounter on a daily basis”), CrowdStrike says it was able to uncover their identity because they made kindergarten-level mistakes, most notably uploading documents in a Russian-language format under the name “Felix Edmundovich,” a reference to Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police.

Couple walking along the Kremlin, Dec. 7, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

“Raise your hand if you think that a GRU or FSB officer would add Iron Felix’s name to the metadata of a stolen document before he released it to the world while pretending to be a Romanian hacker,” wisecracked cyber-skeptic Jeffrey Carr.

Others noted how easy it is for even novice hackers to leave a false trail. In Seattle, cyber-sleuths Mark Maunder and Rob McMahon of Wordfence, makers of a popular computer-security program, discovered that “malware” found in the DNC was an early version of a publicly available program developed in the Ukraine – which was strange, they said, because one would expect Russian intelligence to develop its own tools or use ones that were more up to date.

But even if the malware was Russian, experts pointed out that its use in this instance no more implicates Russian intelligence than the use of an Uzi in a bank robbery implicates Mossad.

Other loose threads appeared. In January, Carr poured cold water on a subsequent CrowdStrike report charging that pro-Russian separatists had used similar malware to zero in on pro-government artillery units in the eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian ministry of defense and the London think tank from which CrowdStrike obtained much of its data agreed that the company didn’t know what it was talking about. But if CrowdStrike was wrong about the Ukraine case, how could everyone be sure it was right about the DNC?

In March, Wikileaks went public with its “Vault 7” findings showing, among other things, that the CIA has developed sophisticated software in order to scatter false clues – which inevitably led to dark mutterings that maybe the agency had hacked the DNC itself in order to blame it on the Russians.

Finally, although Wikileaks policy is never to comment on its sources, Julian Assange, the group’s founder, decided to make an exception.

“The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything,” he told journalist John Pilger in November. “Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That’s false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source.”

Craig Murray, an ex-British diplomat who is a Wikileaks adviser, disclosed that he personally flew to Washington to meet with a person who was either the original source or an associate of the source. Murray said the motive for the leak was “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.”

Conceivably, such contacts could have been cutouts to conceal from WikiLeaks the actual sources. Still, Wikileaks’ record of veracity should be enough to give anyone pause. Yet the press either ignored the WikiLeaks comments or, in the case of The Washington Post, struggled to prove that WikiLeaks was lying.

Unstable Foundation

The stories that have been built upon this unstable foundation have proved shaky, too. In March, the Times published a front-page exposé asserting that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort “had regular communications with his longtime associate – a former Russian military translator in Kiev who has been investigated in Ukraine on suspicion of being a Russian intelligence agent.”  But if the man was merely a suspected spy as opposed to a convicted one, then what’s the problem?