August 24, 2015

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Millions A Year Behind On Student Loans.

Nearly 7 million Americans have gone at least a year without making a payment on their federal student loans, a high level of default that suggests a widening swath of households are unable or unwilling to pay back their school debt. As of July, 6.9 million Americans with student loans hadn’t sent a payment to the government in at least 360 days, quarterly data from the Education Department showed this past week. That was up 6%, or 400,000 borrowers, from a year earlier.

That translates into about 17% of all borrowers with federal loans being severely delinquent, a share that would be even higher if borrowers currently in school who aren’t yet required to repay were excluded. Millions of other borrowers are months behind but haven’t hit the 360-day threshold that the government defines as a default.

Severe delinquencies are rising despite the sharp drop in unemployment over the past year and a big push by the Obama administration to enroll borrowers in programs that lower their monthly payments.

Plus: “The education mess is a lot like the health care mess: the combination of federally mandated costs and controls, runaway cost inflation driven by insiders who keep jacking up the price, perverse market incentives in a warped marketplace, dysfunctional mandates, guild controls and crony regulations, all have produced a system in which costs are increasingly out of line with true value—and with society’s ability to pay.”

Who could have seen this coming?

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS FOR HUNTERS: DEALING WITH ANTI-HUNTING, DOE-EYED, TREE-HUMPERS: “Everyone else is ‘proud’ nowadays. Why shouldn’t you be? As a hunter/conservationist you have just cause to walk with your head held high.”

HOPEY CHANGEY: U.S. Housing Costs: Up, Up, Up, Up. “The rising cost of shelter has been attributed to low vacancy rates, meaning supply is low relative to demand. This is also affecting Americans’ ability to buy homes—as high rents make it hard for Americans to save up for a down payment. Homeownership is currently at a 48-year low. As my colleague Gillian White wrote, high rent isn’t just bad for the economy, it hurts those who can least afford it the most.”

But Obama’s Wall Street buddies are profiting. How convenient.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: “Fear is contagious. So is courage.”

CHEER UP: MARKETS ARE TANKING AND THE WORLD IS ON FIRE, BUT WE’VE STILL GOT THIS: Gap is promising you cuter clothes by spring.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Who Could Have Seen This Coming? “The Education Department has grown into one of the biggest money lenders in the country, overseeing a $1.2 trillion portfolio of student debt rivaling the entire loan business of JPMorgan Chase with a staff roughly the size of the National Weather Service. But instead of fulfilling a presidential mission of remaking and simplifying a confusing and corrupt system that enriched financial firms at the expense of taxpayers — and ultimately the nation’s college students — serious problems have emerged.”



HOLLYWOOD IS SO SEXIST: MSNBC weeps for poor Jennifer Lawrence, who only made $52 million last year.

Let’s all take a moment to shed a tear for poor, poor Jennifer Lawrence — the Hollywood actress only pulled in $52 million over the past 12 months.

Forget that Lawrence is the top-paid female actress in the world. Forget that she is the second-highest-paid actor overall. Forget that she makes approximately 2000 times the median U.S. salary.

No, MSNBC wants us all to focus on the travesty that she made $30 million less than the highest-paid actor in the world: Robert Downey Jr.

In the past 12 months (I’m actually going back further to include all of 2014), Lawrence has starred in three movies: “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Serena” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.” Downey has starred in three as well: “Chef,” “The Judge” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

If you want evidence that feminism is about the concerns of upper-class women, well. . . .

VDH ON ABSURD—AND NOT-SO ABSURD—IMMIGRATION: “Elites have branded Trump immigration proposals as absurd, especially the inflated rhetoric about a wall, and good and bad people,” Victor Davis Hanson writes. “His idea of mass deportations en masse is unworkable, but not an argument against weeding out criminals and those without work histories in the United States.”

Read the whole thing.

WAR ON WOMEN: Fiorina supporters slam ‘ludicrous’ CNN debate methodology.

Carly Fiorina supporters are criticizing CNN’s debate criteria that could prevent the former Hewlett-Packard CEO from grabbing a spot on the main stage at the second debate despite her surging poll numbers.

They say that CNN’s decision to include polls from before the first presidential debate will work against Fiorina, who didn’t make the main stage at the Aug. 6 Fox News debate in Cleveland but surged after a strong performance during the undercard debate.

“Ludicrous,” was how Katie Hughes, communications director for CARLY for America super-PAC supporting Fiorina’s campaign, termed it.

“The political class is *still* trying to keep her off the main debate stage, if you can believe that,” argued Sarah Isgur Flores, Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager, in a fundraising email to supporters on Friday.

A CNN spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

A cynic might conclude that this is CNN protecting Hillary. Hillary’s only claim to fame, after all, is that she has a vagina. To admit that there’s another woman in the race would undercut her.

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN: Roger Simon’s Amsterdam Diary continues with a look at how the New Yorker deigns to cover The Donald: “He refers to Trump as if it were indisputable that Donald was a racist and a sexist.  Oh, to live in the comfortable environs of political correctness.  You never have to look below the surface of anything. In fact, if you did, your audience would be offended.  You’d probably lose your column.”

Perhaps the New Yorker is simply trying to make amends with its rather parochial hometown audience after its highly problematic coverage of the 2008 campaign.

SOMEHOW, THIS HEADLINE PUT ME IN MIND OF WORMTONGUE: Left whispers to Warren: It’s not too late to run.

Liberal activists and strategists argue Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) would be beating Hillary Clinton in the polls by now if she had opted to run for president as a champion of Wall Street reform.

At a time when nervous Democrats are eyeing 72-year-old Vice President Biden and former Vice President Al Gore — who left office 15 years ago — as potential alternatives, some liberals say it’s not too late for Warren to jump in.

Related: Jerry Brown: I ‘don’t know’ if Hillary is nominee.

Come on, Jerry, jump in! There’s always room for another septuagenarian of pallor in today’s Democratic Party!

PAUL MIRENGOFF: Federal appeals court rips DOJ for misconduct in police prosecution.

After Louisiana prosecutors botched the case against the seven officers, producing a mistrial, the Holder Justice Department took over and obtained convictions. However, the Justice Department engaged in conduct so egregiously unethical that the district court overturned the convictions. And this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed that ruling in stinging opinion condemning the DOJ prosecutors. . . .

What was the nature of the federal prosecutors’ misconduct? It began with a campaign to inflame potential jurors through the local media, including blogs.

Sal Perricone, a high-ranking prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, using a fake name, posted commentary on, the website of the Times-Picayune, that (in the words of the Court of Appeals) “castigated the defendants and their lawyers and repeatedly chastised the New Orleans Police Department as a fish ‘rotten from the head down.’”

Perricone was joined in this outrageous misconduct by Jan Mann, the first assistant to the U.S. attorney.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Karla Dobinski, a veteran of Holder’s Civil Rights Division, also posted inflammatory commentary under at least one assumed name. Ironically — appallingly — Dobinsky was part of the DOJ “taint team” in this case. As such, she was assigned to protect the civil rights of the indicted defendants.

The cover-up, we are often told, is usually worse than the crime. In this case, the cover-up gave the offense a good run for its money.

Fortunately, they’re Democrats, so the national media need pay no special attention.

CRAZY LIKE A VISIONARY: Elon Musk’s remarkable career reminds us that individuals matter, Roger Kimball writes at City Journal.

A little crony socialism doesn’t hurt, either.

GOOD: “Denver’s city attorney has directed the police and sheriff’s department to stop arresting people passing out jury nullification literature in front of the courthouse. The order was revealed Friday in U.S. District Court during a hearing involving a lawsuit against the city and Denver police chief Robert White. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month on behalf of activists who want to distribute jury nullification information outside the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. They sued after two others who were handing out pamphlets were charged with seven counts of jury tampering by District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. The lawsuit argues that the arrests are a violation of free speech rights and asks for a federal injunction against further arrests.”

I wrote a column about this case a couple of weeks ago.


Never let it be said that media and leftists don’t use their own dog-whistles.  Check out the photographic and linguistic dog-whistles in the WaPo coverage of Trump’s Alabama speech.  I’m not a Trump supporter, but the press is doing it’s best to make me far more sympathetic than I was a month ago.

Trump pulls in a crowd around 40,000.  Wa-Po features a photo of two people in the stands.

Since we’re into the age of offense, Wa-Po uses an image of a flag-clothed man with a prosthetic limb to represent Trump’s supporters.  Isn’t this a dog-whistle to able-ism and anti-patriot bigots?

The article features references to a neo-Confederate activist, Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts, and the Daytona 500, all symbolic of leftist loathing of Southerners and the middle class.  The references to flash, showmanship, and celebrity were never seen on coverage of Obama.

Tell me again why we’re supposed to take WaPo seriously?

Note that the byline on the article is both Robert Costa and Dave Weigel, two young journalists who each kick-started their careers by posing as conservatives, before their worldviews “evolved,” in order to match the rest of their colleagues at the Post.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Smart DNA nanobots mount a deadly attack on cancer cells, First human trial this year. Faster, please.

IT’S NOT THE RESULTS, IT’S THE SMUG:Burning Down The Field in Order to Save It.  And You Cheered.

August 23, 2015

LIFE IN THE 21st CENTURY: Man who had penis ripped off as a child now has 8 inch bionic replacement thanks to pioneering surgery.

SALENA ZITO: Who in GOP Field Will Seize Trump’s Populist Mantle?

At first the media dismissed Trump, which only made angry voters support him more. That led to a ratings bonanza for national media outlets; they decided to legitimize — and to exploit — his run.

In short, they still don’t get Main Street’s anger and frustration, but they are more than willing to cash in on it with Trump. Everyone — Trump and the media elite — is riding the populist wave to the bank. Everyone except Trump’s supporters.

Those people are still angry, still tired of all things establishment, still appalled at government incompetency, still weary of party labels, and still tired of no one listening to them.

Neither party’s elites represent the majority’s views on an issue such as immigration; Trump does.

So maybe it’ll be Trump who seizes Trump’s populist mantle.

OUT: Dow 36,000.

IN: Dow 5,000.

IT ALWAYS IS: “So now it’s Instapundit’s fault?”

YA THINK? Howard Dean: Hillary email answers too ‘lawyerly.’

HMM: Why Donald Trump Won’t Fold: Polls and People Speak.

A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that Mr. Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.

In poll after poll of Republicans, Mr. Trump leads among women, despite having used terms like “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” to denigrate some of them. He leads among evangelical Christians, despite saying he had never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters. He leads among the most frequent, likely voters, even though his appeal is greatest among those with little history of voting. . . .

His support is not tethered to a single issue or sentiment: immigration, economic anxiety or an anti-establishment mood. Those factors may have created conditions for his candidacy to thrive, but his personality, celebrity and boldness, not merely his populism and policy stances, have let him take advantage of them.

Tellingly, when asked to explain support for Mr. Trump in their own words, voters of varying backgrounds used much the same language, calling him “ballsy” and saying they admired that he “tells it like it is” and relished how he “isn’t politically correct.”

Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology.

The candidate he most resembles, actually, is Barack Obama, circa 2007.

THIS ISN’T THE 21st CENTURY I WAS PROMISED: Satan worshipers drown women with milk in Planned Parenthood counter-protest.

IN THE COMMENTS TO THE COOKING-FOR-ONE POST, there’s a lot of discussion regarding the InstantPot. Anybody out there have experience? I’d buy one and try it, but I can’t buy any more kitchen gadgets unless I either throw some away or buy a house with more counter space.

DRIP, DRIP: Email timeline suggests second server may exist.

THE GHOST OF GEORGE WALLACE looms over Politico. “By the way, I counted 5 out of 243 Politico staffers with a picture as being black.”

Plus: “Aside from the obvious smear, and the standard use of ‘many’ to reflect the writer’s leftist view, I am also amused by the sheer incompetence of the writing and proofreading.” Forget it Patrick, it’s Politicotown.

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A PACK, NOT A HERD! My USA Today column is on the French Train story: See something? DO something! We are a pack of wolves, not a herd of sheep. Courage is contagious when intended victims thwart would-be terrorists.

Bureaucracies have their place, but they don’t deal well with diffuse threats like terrorism. By the time “first responders” get there, it’s usually too late. But there’s one group of “responders” who don’t have to go anywhere, and that’s the group that’s already on the scene. In conventional analysis, and in the terrorists’ hopes, those people are called “victims.” But as the three Americans on that French train demonstrated, victimhood isn’t the only response.

And there’s more. The purpose of terror is to terrorize. But responding appropriately has the opposite effect. The response of British businessman Chris Norman, who helped subdue the attacker, illustrates this: “Norman said his first reaction was to hide, but after he saw the Americans fighting the attacker, he said he went to help them.”

But the response is always to funnel more money to the bureaucracies that fail.


UNDER OBAMA, EVERY AGENCY GETS WEAPONIZED: Is this woman the new Lois Lerner?

As some at the Federal Election Commission seek to broaden the power of the agency, critics are arguing that it’s beginning to look increasingly like the Internal Revenue Service under Lois Lerner, who has been accused of using her office for partisan purposes.

They take special aim at the commission’s Democratic chairwoman, Ann Ravel, who also served as chairwoman of California’s equivalent to the FEC, the Fair Political Practices Commission, before coming to Washington in 2013. Ravel has lambasted the commission as “dysfunctional” because votes on enforcement issues have often resulted in ties, and she has said the commission should go beyond its role of enforcing election laws by doing more to get women and minorities elected to political office. She has complained that super PACs are “95 percent run by white men,” and that as a result, “the people who get the money are generally also white men.”

To remedy those problems, Ravel sponsored a forum at the FEC in June to talk about getting more women involved in the political process. She has also proposed broadening disclosure laws to diminish the role of outside spending, and suggested that the FEC should claim authority to regulate political content on the Web. She’s also voiced support for eliminating one member of the commission in order to create a partisan majority that doesn’t have tie votes, saying in an interview with Roll Call, “I think it would help.”

Hans von Spakovsky, who served on the FEC from 2006-2008, takes issue with Ravel’s effort to go beyond the traditional purview of the commission’s functions. “The FEC has one duty, and one duty only — to enforce the existing campaign finance laws. It has no business trying to ‘encourage’ or ‘discourage’ folks to get involved in politics, no matter who they are, minority or otherwise,” Spakovsky told the Washington Examiner.

Spakovsky also said it would be contrary to the function of the FEC to limit the number of commissioners. “The fact that any action by the FEC requires the votes of four commissioners, and thus bipartisan agreement, ensures that its investigations are based on enforcing the law evenly, without regard to the party a particular candidate is a member of. Ravel wants to end that, which would allow the FEC to be used for partisan political witch hunts,” Spakovsky said.

Partisan witch hunts are the whole point.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Rich Markey, A Million Laughs: The Funny History of American Comedy.

LESSON FROM EUROPE: EMPOWER (ARM) PASSENGERS. WHAT WE’LL DO INSTEAD: MORE POINTLESS SECURITY THEATER. Train Attack in Europe Puts Focus on Vulnerability of U.S. Rail. “Unlike airports, which are guarded with multiple layers of security — including airport police and Transportation Security Administration personnel operating metal detectors and full-body scanners — most railroad stations have minimal scrutiny for those boarding trains.”

TSA’s airport security has never caught a terrorist and misses 95% of weapons and explosives in tests.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: 10 Tips On Cooking For One.

THIS ISN’T THE 21st CENTURY I HAD HOPED FOR: Planned Parenthood Blasts Music That ‘Sounds Like It Came From Hell’ at Peaceful Protesters.

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21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Observations on Relationships in a Grocery Store. “I often think men’s contributions to families and society are overlooked these days or taken for granted. It’s no wonder so many men feel that it is better to flip through women on Tinder than it is to get into a long term relationship. A smile from a woman you don’t know might be better at times than a smirk of irritation from the one you do.”

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Why Millennial Women Are Dating Older Men:

The recent Vanity Fair article detailing the more lurid underbelly of online dating—the barrage of dick pics, the endless swiping, the death of romance—was grim, if not horrific. Dating, Vanity Fair would have you believe, is evolving into an elaborate charade of deception: Everybody is petrified of giving someone the “wrong idea.” Men are impolite to the point of viciousness to ensure that the women they just hooked up with understand they don’t want a relationship. Women “self-objectify” in profile pictures to get men interested, renouncing the “wrong idea” that they might want something more than a one-night stand. No matter which way you spin it, landing yourself in a committed relationship seems to be, by millennial standards, “the wrong idea.”

I want to believe that Vanity Fair selected only their most salacious interviewees to quote, but I know that’s not true. I’ve received my fair share of lewd attention during my online dating tenure to verify: It really is that bad. But I’ve noticed a new strategy among my set of female friends—lovely, intelligent, independent women—to combat the grime of the online dating world: date up.

I don’t mean status, I mean age. More and more women I know are dating men twice, yes twice, their age.

Well, Pajama Boy isn’t exactly the guy to set your loins a-tingle now, is he?

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): Well, you won’t do that with consequences like this: Former NFL Cheerleader Pled Guilty To Raping Boy, Gets No Jail Time. Would any man get off this lightly?

The parents to Delaware Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley: “Any adult who rapes a child deserves to be in prison. Please hold her accountable.” He disagreed.

SCOPING OUT POTENTIAL RIVALS: Biden meets with Warren in Washington. Joe Biden is ramping up his overt exploration of taking on Hillary Clinton for the Democrats’ presidential nomination. He met with the Godfather Sen. Elizabeth Warren yesterday at the VP’s mansion in DC:

Warren and Biden discussed economic policy during a meeting that lasted about two hours, a person familiar with the discussion told CNN, adding that the presidential campaign or Biden’s future was not a particular focus of the discussion.

The meeting, confirmed by two people familiar with the session, is the biggest indication yet that Biden is feeling out influential Democrats before announcing his intentions.

Beloved by liberal Democrats, Warren decided to sit out a campaign of her own, but she has yet to formally endorse a candidate. In an interview on Friday, she told WBZ in Boston: “I don’t think anyone has been anointed.”

Other than kissing Warren’s ring, I’m sure Biden wants to make sure Fauxcahontas isn’t pondering throwing her own bow and arrow into the ring. I kind of like the idea of a scintillating Sanders-Chafee ticket once Hillary is indicted.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 836.

“SMART DIPLOMACY” UPDATE: Beijing: What Pivot?

Washington harbors doubts about China’s June 30 announcement that it had completed its land reclamation projects in the Spratly Islands, according to the WSJ. The article also makes clear that the Pentagon thinks China is still on track to militarize the artificial atolls (not excluding the suspiciously airfield-shaped one, notably). What’s more, the report highlights how Beijing has persisted in its strategy of expanding its territory incrementally. According to the Pentagon, as of May China had reclaimed 2,000 acres, and by June it was up another 900.

It looks like Beijing isn’t too worried that any U.S. pivot is going to get in the way of its regional ambitions. As we’ve said before, however, China may be gravely mistaken if it assumes that the U.S. won’t ever take more drastic measures to oppose its aggression. In the meantime, President Xi’s visit with President Obama in Washington next month may be rather tense.

Well, it won’t be tense if Obama doesn’t care. Related: Scary Signs From The Korean Peninsula. Obama’s interested in consolidating power at home, and doesn’t much care what happens to American interests abroad. The Chinese, and the North Koreans, know that.

JUSTICE: Inspector Gotcha: New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman has zealously used his office to pursue cases favored by left-wing activists. A political operative wielding the power of the state.

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TRADITIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE, HOWEVER, WAS LESS THAN MASSIVE: Massive Planned Parenthood protests across US. “Despite the massive turnout, several people said there was little to no media presence at the events.”

The point of journalism, in today’s America, is to make sure that Americans don’t know things that might cause them to vote Republican.

INSIDE: ONE OF HILLARY’S EMAILS. World’s oldest message in a bottle ever found finally washes up after 108 years.

IMMIGRATION: Terror Attack On Train Puts Spotlight On Schengen.

The ease with which the terror suspect in the failed train attack moved around Europe has put the spotlight on the passport-free Schengen Area.

Calls for tighter border security within Europe are expected to increase after it emerged that the gunman overpowered by passengers in France on Friday was known to anti-terror authorities in France, Belgium and Spain.

Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, called for urgent talks with France, Germany and the Netherlands on increasing security on cross-border trains.

However, the European Commission said the Schengen treaty on freedom of movement was “non-negotiable” and there were no plans to change it. But it said increased security controls could be compatible with Schengen “if they do not have an effect equivalent to border checks”.

The train originated in the Netherlands, passing Belgium before entering France — three of the 26 Schengen countries where people travel without the need for passports and security checks. Passport and luggage checks are, however, carried out on Eurostar services that run to Britain, which is outside the Schengen Area.

I predict that more countries will choose to be outside the Schengen Area if this keeps up. Even the Germans are talking about it:

The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, on Saturday called the train episode “a terrorist attack” and proposed “an urgent meeting of transport and interior ministers from Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands to reinforce antiterrorist measures, notably identity and baggage controls,” his office said.

Attacks like this one, combined with Europe’s difficulties this summer with a surge of migrants and asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Libya and other countries, have made some officials question the open borders under the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement without border controls across much of the European Union. Even the German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, has suggested a new examination of that agreement because of the large flow of migrants to Germany and other northern countries from entry points in Greece, Italy and Hungary.

Borders exist for a reason.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE! Student charged over false sexual assault accusation.

A University of Arkansas student who claimed she was sexually assaulted will face felony charges for her false report, according to the Arkansas Traveler.

Police are charging junior Lindsey Sweetin with filing a false police report. Sweetin claimed she was groped by a stranger in a parking garage on Feb. 26. But witness testimony and video surveillance cast doubt on Sweetin’s claim and she eventually admitted to lying.

“Individuals need to be held accountable for their actions,” Capt. Gary Crain of the UA police department told the Traveler. “In this case, what was reported to the police did not happen, and therefore, just like anyone else who commits a crime, they have to be held responsible.”

This was the second false report of sexual assault at the university in the past year. Previously, Julia Garcia, another student, had claimed she was raped in a different UA parking garage. Again, video surveillance proved she was lying.

I’m glad they’re punishing these women, and reporting their names.

THE HILL: Poll: Most black people prefer ‘all lives matter.’

Two out of three black people prefer the term “all lives matter” to “black lives matter,” according to a Rasmussen poll released Thursday.

Only 31 percent of black people surveyed said that the statement “black lives matter” most closely comports to their own beliefs, compared to 64 percent who chose “all lives matter.”

Seventy-eight percent of total respondents also chose “all lives matter,” including 81 percent of white and 76 percent of minority respondents, according to the poll.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley drew criticism for telling a group of Black Lives Matter protestors that “all lives matter” at an event in New Hampshire last month.

O’Malley has since apologized for the claim.

“That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect,” O’Malley said. “I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”

GOP primary front-runner Donald Trump called O’Malley a “little, weak, pathetic baby” for apologizing.

Yeah, pretty much.

INSOMNIA THEATRE RETURNS! “IS THE FEAR OF BEING OFFENSIVE KILLING FREE SPEECH?” — I had the pleasure of sitting down with spiked! editor-at-large and self-proclaimed propagandist Mick Hume while I was in the U.K. in July. We talked about all-things free speech, from the growing tendency in the U.K. to ban offensive speech to European blasphemy laws to his new book, Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?. If Mick’s name looks familiar, it may be because of his great piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, “Even Speech We Hate Should Be Free.” Check out the video, the op-ed, and his new book!


WHEN FEMINIST BULLIES ATTACK: Can Canada understand Free Speech?

August 22, 2015

IMMIGRATION BACKLASH: Sweden’s nationalists lead polls for first time.

More people support Jimmie Åkesson’s Sweden Democrats than any other political group in Sweden, according to a new poll which puts the nationalists in the lead for the first time in history.

The Sweden Democrat party has been gradually rising in popularity since it scored 12.9 percent in the country’s last general election in September 2014.

But a survey by pollsters YouGov published in Sweden’s Metro newspaper on Thursday suggested that 25.2 percent of those questioned would now vote for the nationalists, who are calling for dramatic cuts in immigration to Sweden.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s Social Democrat party – which remains in favour of helping large numbers of refugees from war torn nations – scored 23.4 percent in the poll. The centre-right Moderates, led by Anna Kinberg Batra who took over from the country’s former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt earlier this year, saw their share cut to just 21.0, having previously scored higher than their ruling rivals in recent surveys.

The Sweden Democrats, with roots in the country’s most radical extreme right, entered parliament in 2010 with the ambition of curbing Sweden’s immigration and refugee policy.

If the establishment won’t give the people what they want, then “radical extreme” people will arise to do so.

THERE SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF THIS GOING AROUND, LATELY: Bartender Foils Robbery at 14th Street NW Restaurant. “He announced his intentions as soon as he got to the bar and I just clocked him in the jaw.”

Related: Metairie bar hostage standoff ends when patron overpowers gunman. “As the SWAT team members arrived, a woman ran out of the bar shouting ‘they got him!’ Deputies entered from the back of the bar, and learned that one patron had jumped on Schlumbrecht and overpowered him and took away the AK-47. Several other customers helped hold the gunman down, according to the release.”

WELL, THAT’S A RELIEF: Forecasts of the decline of capitalism are premature.

If you define capitalism as the interaction of individuals with a market economy, the system is advancing, not retreating. New-economy websites such as Airbnb and Etsy allow people to earn money in new ways—renting out their homes while they are on holiday, or selling arts and crafts. In the past, homeowners might have struggled to find renters and hobbyists to find buyers; aggregator websites make the task much easier.

It is true that some of these new websites undermine existing business models, just as file-sharing wrecked music-publishing companies. But investors expect most of these companies to be profitable eventually, judging by the valuations they attract. Google started as a free internet-search business but has found a way to monetise its reach. The move from an economy based on physical goods to one based on software and intellectual property seems to be allowing higher returns on capital than before. The internet has been in wide use for 20 years or so, and corporate profits are close to a post-war high as a proportion of American GDP.

By reducing the cost of information, the internet kills some business models. But not all. New models will appear and people will always be willing to pay for products that convey status, whether luxury watches or fast cars or branded clothing. They can stream music for nothing, but people will spend vast sums to hear rock bands play live.

Another new-economy effect is that the old idea of lifetime employment is fading. More people will follow “portfolio careers”, switching from one employer, or even industry, to another as the economy changes. This will require them not just to learn new skills as they age, but to monitor the economy for new opportunities.

Many more people are likely to be self-employed, offering services to a wide range of customers. In a sense, they will be artisans, not employees. Activities such as sales, marketing and accounting—matters that salaried employees leave in the hands of specialist colleagues—will become the responsibility of the individual. Such workers will have to be more, not less, sensitive to the market economy than the typical office drone.

And then there are pensions. Two decades ago, many workers could rely on a paternalistic system under which companies provided a retirement income linked to their final salary. New private-sector workers merely build up a savings pot, which they must use to see them through their retirement years as best they can.

Lefties hate the sharing economy, and self-employment, because both tend to turn people into capitalists.

THAT SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT: Yelp Is Now Rating The IRS: 2.5 Stars. Actually, on the few occasions we’ve dealt with the IRS, they’ve been helpful and polite. But then, we never dealt with Lois Lerner. . . .

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TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): DA: Malvern Prep counselor promised teen Harvard admission for sex.

A guidance counselor at a prestigious private school in Chester County is accused of pursuing a teen student for sex, even promising him admission to Harvard University in an effort to coerce him.

Emily Feeney, 40, of Wayne, Pa., was a swim coach and Director of College Counseling at Malvern Prep for two years. She has since been fired, District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

“The defendant was extraordinarily predatory in the way she attacked this 16-year-old boy, going after him again and again and again,” said Hogan. . . .

“When it’s happening between a 40-year-old adult and a 16-year-old child – with that difference in power and authority – that is the sort of sexual abuse that we worry about,” said Hogan.

Investigators said hundreds of emails were recovered after a search warrant. They say Feeney was sending messages from her Malvern Prep work email account.

Should’ve used her own private server.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Looking At Living Cells Down To Individual Molecules.

WHEN THE STORY FITS THE NARRATIVE TOO WELL, BE VERY SUSPICIOUS: Alice Goffman’s Implausible Ethnography: ‘On the Run’ reveals the flaws in how sociology is sometimes produced, evaluated, and rewarded. “If science is bitterly competitive, and it isn’t set up to catch liars, and there are great rewards for liars who don’t get caught, then one doesn’t need a Ph.D. in social science to realize that this system will produce a whole lot of lying, and that a lot of that lying won’t ever be discovered. . . . Goffman’s book confirmed the suspicions of many readers that not only police misconduct but also standard policing practices, and indeed the very structure of the criminal-justice system, play key roles in maintaining the oppressive and dysfunctional status quo in America’s inner cities. In retrospect, the widespread failure to notice On the Run’s contradictions, incongruities, and improbabilities can be explained, in part, by the same factors that led Science to publish Michael LaCour’s fraudulent study, which told a story many readers wanted to hear about how to overcome opposition to gay marriage.”

Plus: “In the case of On the Run, groupthink and confirmation bias provide only part of the answer to the question of how this at best unreliable book achieved mainstream acclaim. Something more invidious than negligence and wish fulfillment is at work here. . . . Alice Goffman is a product of system that uncritically rewards the kind of things she was doing, even when those things may have included engaging in serious crimes, or serious academic misconduct.”

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GREENFAIL: LED Lights Add To Pollution.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) — which are touted for their energy-saving properties — are actually making light pollution worse. And the change is so intense that ISS crew members can see it from space. . . .

Cities around the world have been replacing energy-guzzling streetlights with brighter and whiter energy-saving LEDs. In fact, New York City is retrofitting all of its 250,000 street lights with LEDs in what the city is calling the biggest project of its type in the country.

But energy savings does not necessarily translate to happy city dwellers. In a piece in The New York Times, Brooklyn residents complained about the glaring white light creeping into their homes and eyes, causing many restless nights.

LEDs worsen light pollution by giving off more blue and green light than the high-pressure sodium lights they normally replace. And this artificial light pollution washes out the night sky and is linked to many negative consequences. Disrupted night and day cycles can confuse nocturnal animals and alter their hunting interactions, migratory patterns, and internal physiology.

It can also mess with our internal clocks.

Unintended consequences.

A PACK, NOT A HERD: Packing heat in Detroit: Motown residents answer police chief’s call to arms.

In a city plagued by chronic unemployment and crime and guarded by a dwindling police force, residents of Detroit are increasingly taking protection of themselves, their families and property into their own hands. Those who do so responsibly have the blessing and backing of Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

“When you look at the city of Detroit, we’re kind of leading the way in terms of urban areas with law-abiding citizens carrying guns,” Craig said recently.

The chief’s call to arms, which first came in December, 2013, has been answered by thousands of men and women tired of being victims and eager to reclaim their beleaguered city.

A glimpse of our future?



I’m on board with that! Though as far as I’m concerned, all meat is guilt-free meat.

And here’s a followup.


Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 9.46.59 AM

A TALE OF TWO MEDIA SOURCES: Donald Trump’s last minute decision to change the venue of a political rally in Mobile, Alabama has caused some outlets in the mainstream media to fully reveal their inability to report simple facts without mind-numbing spin. CNN, to their credit, seems to have (mostly) resisted the urge with “30,000 turn out for Trump’s Alabama pep rally“:

The event was previously planned to be held at the nearby Civic Center but was moved to the 43,000-seat Ladd-Peebles Stadium — a venue normally home to high school football games — to accommodate the crowd. The City of Mobile confirmed late Friday that 30,000 people attended.

At least CNN accurately reported the 30,000 attendance. But they failed to mention that Trump’s campaign team altered the venue late Thursday from Mobile’s approximately 2,000 seat Civic Center to the 40,000 Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Notice also that the CNN reporter couldn’t help but snark that the stadium was “a venue normally home to high school games.” While the stadium does host some of the bigger local high school football playoff games (and high school football is very big in Alabama), it is actually principally a college football venue, being the home stadium of the University of South Alabama football team and the GoDaddy Bowl.

The New York Times, as usual, couldn’t resist spinning and twisting the facts in its effort to make Trump (as with all things GOP) look as bad as possible, its headline reading “Donald Trump Fails to Fill Alabama Stadium, But Fans’ Zeal is Undiminished”:

Before Donald J. Trump arrived at a college football stadium here on Friday evening, the colorful guessing games that often accompany his campaign were very much in the air.

Would Mr. Trump actually fill all of the tens of thousands of seats at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, the home field for the University of South Alabama Jaguars? How would one of the largest cities in one of the country’s most conservative states respond to a candidate whose bombast and brashness can sometimes seem limitless? Would Mr. Trump wear a “Make America Great Again” baseball hat, perhaps to conceal the effects of the wilting Gulf Coast heat and humidity on his much-remarked-upon mane?

As usual, the answers — no, loudly and yes — came amid the trademark gusto of both Mr. Trump’s personality and his evolving campaign for the presidency.

“Now I know how the great Billy Graham felt, because this is the same feeling,” Mr. Trump, referring to the celebrated evangelist, thundered from a stage built for the night’s rally, where the vast stretches of empty seats indicated that attendance had fallen short of the more than 30,000 people he had predicted.

Aside from the fact that the New York Times reporter, Alan Blinder (apt name), didn’t realize that his piece had asked three questions but proceeded to answer only two “no, loudly and yes,” he answered his initial, irrelevant question about filling the stadium “no.” Mr. Blinder felt the need to go even further and “report” that there were “vast stretches of empty seats” and that “attendance had fallen short of the more than 30,000 people he had predicted.”

The title of the  New York Times’ piece and its failure to mention the last-minute venue change leaves the reader with the distinct impression that Trump had planned a rally in a large stadium all along, and had miserably and embarrassingly failed to fill it. This, of course, is 180 degrees from the actual truth. Can you imagine how the Times would have slobbered all over itself if Hillary Clinton had scheduled a rally in a 2,000 seat venue and, due to overwhelming interest, had changed the venue at the last minute to a 40,000 seat stadium, filling 30,000 of the seats? The Times would have been so excited it would have wet itself.

Look, whether you’re a fan of Trump or not isn’t the point here. The point is that, love him or hate him, the man is drawing unexpectedly large crowds, which is something no other Democrat or GOP candidate is doing. When reporters can’t seem to report this simple fact accurately, we all realize (once again) that we are being treated like little children who need to be “protected” by those who think they know better.

TURNS OUT THEY WEREN’T MARINES, AS ORIGINALLY REPORTED, BUT THEY WERE STILL AMERICAN BADASSES: 3 American friends tackle and hogtie gunman aboard European train.

French President François Hollande plans to meet three Americans who foiled a suspected terrorist attack on a packed high-speed train running from Amsterdam to Paris.

Friday’s dramatic incident — in which a heavily armed man emerged from a train bathroom with an automatic rifle and started shooting — was being investigated by French counterterrorism authorities. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel described the incident as a terrorist attack.

The three men were friends from middle school and two of them were members of the armed services, according to their family members.

One of the Americans, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, was stabbed and remained in the hospital Saturday, said the parents of his two friends. The Pentagon said his wounds were not life-threatening.

Stone, who is stationed at Lajes Air Base in the Azores, was traveling with Spc. Alek Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guardsman, and a civilian friend, according to the Pentagon. Anthony Sadler, a student at Sacramento State University, is their civilian companion, according to their families.

So it’s not just Marines you shouldn’t tangle with.

NO ESCAPE, EVEN WHILE ON VACATION: I’ll be back blogging next week; I’m just wrapping up a vacation in the Midwest. And even there, the man of the hour is everywhere, including Chicago:


IN THE MAIL: From Glenn Beck, It IS About Islam: Exposing the Truth About ISIS, Al Qaeda, Iran, and the Caliphate.

Plus, today only at Amazon: Stealth Cam G42 No-Glo Trail Game Camera. I’ve thought of setting one of these up in my back yard to see what’s passing through, but I’m kind of afraid of what I might learn. . . .

And, also today only: AmazonBasics On-Ear Headphones, $11.99.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 835.

CATHY YOUNG: To the new culture cops, everything is appropriation: Their protests ignore history, chill artistic expression and hurt diversity.

A few months ago, I read “The Orphan’s Tales” by Catherynne Valente. The fantasy novel draws on myths and folklore from many cultures, including, to my delight, fairy tales from my Russian childhood. Curious about the author, I looked her up online and was startled to find several social-media discussions bashing her for “cultural appropriation.”

There was a post sneering at “how she totally gets a pass to write about Slavic cultures because her husband is Russian,” with a response noting that her spouse isn’t even a proper Russian, because he has lived in the United States since age 10. In another thread, Valente was denounced for her Japanese-style LiveJournal username, yuki-onna, adopted while she lived in Japan as a military wife. In response to such criticism, a browbeaten Valente eventually dropped the “problematic” moniker.

Welcome to the new war on cultural appropriation. At one time, such critiques were leveled against truly offensive art — work that trafficked in demeaning caricatures, such as blackface, 19th-century minstrel shows or ethnological expositions, which literally put indigenous people on display, often in cages. But these accusations have become a common attack against any artist or artwork that incorporates ideas from another culture, no matter how thoughtfully or positively. A work can reinvent the material or even serve as a tribute, but no matter. If artists dabble outside their own cultural experiences, they’ve committed a creative sin.

Hint: The more people talk about “cultural appropriation,” they less they’ve contributed to a culture worth appropriating.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Of Nationalists And Cosmopolitans.

Among the many deplorable consequences of European elites’ failure to resolve their ongoing migrant crisis is the upsurge of nasty right-wing nationalism across the Continent. . . .

Nationalism is not unproblematic; German history tells us all we need to know on that score. And it is clear that the peace of Europe in the 21st century requires some kind of multinational form of political organization. But when European (or American for that matter) technocrats ignore the importance and validity of the social bonds, and miss the importance of the coherence that national identity gives to political institutions, then equally destructive problems can arise. Soviet history should show us what can happen when technocrats obsessed with ideological designs seek to remake societies without respect for the cultural and social values and traditions that have helped those societies cohere.

Today, in both Europe and the United States, the technocrats and the cosmopolitans have leaned too far ahead over their skis. One of the consequences is the revival of the ugly side of nationalist politics. The answer isn’t to crush the nationalists and the traditionalists with ever more rigid policies of cosmopolitan integration and massive doses of immigration beyond what the body politic is ready for. That is not a way to fight ugly proto-fascist nationalist revivals; it is a way to stoke and empower them.

Yes, but doubling-down on coercion is how these people think.

CHARLIE MARTIN: Hillary’s Air Gap Problem:

There is no (legitimate) way that a computer system could be connected to TS//SI//TK//NOFORN data and to the outside world.

What can happen is that someone copies information, onto a piece of paper or a thumb drive (actually systems that can handle TS shouldn’t have thumb drives either, but it’s too easy to sneak one in or out) and then copied into an email in an uncontrolled system – a cell phone or a laptop or an iPad. The person doing it has to know that it’s coming from a secure system, has to know how sensitive the data really is; they go through lots of training, repeated reminders, and come and go to the office through a freaking vault door that would do credit to a bank.

It has to be done on purpose, and it has to be done knowingly. There has to have been conscious intent to do it.

That, folks, is a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information, for which the prescribed punishment is to be “fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.” Which applies both to the sender, and to the recipient.

Well, the sender may do time, but the recipient is Hillary, and she’s above the law.

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ROGER SIMON: Looking At The Iran Deal From Anne Frank’s House.

LIFE IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Should the Government Decide Which Political Positions Disqualify One from Dispensing Chicken?

Again, to be clear: What we have here is a government entity discussing who should and should not be allowed to sell their wares based entirely on whether or not the politicians who make up the entity like their politics.

On the one hand, I’d like to say that this is a compelling reason to privatize airports entirely: The First Amendment implications of such efforts are glaring and, setting aside little things like free speech, it’s altogether idiotic that our elected leaders consider themselves qualified to judge which businesses should be allowed to hawk their wares.

On the other, though, it has become distressingly common for people to politicize every realm of life. Taking the decision making process out of the hands of glorified government bureaucrats and putting it in the hands of private businessmen is no guarantee that people rushing between concourses in Denver would be allowed to enjoy delicious, delicious chicken. Outrage mobs gonna outrage. As I noted at the Washington Post this week, we’d all be happier if we agreed to a form of culture war detente and refrained from attempting to deprive people of their livelihood for daring to disagree with your politics.

That’ll only happen when this sort of attack becomes unacceptably painful, on a personal level. So make ‘em regret it. Demonize, personalize, go after their jobs and their position in the community. You know, act like lefties.

CUSTOMER SERVICE: “I was a Yankee raised to be terrified of The South. But I love its friendliness and charm. And also the fact that black and white people know each other as people. For another thing, you can get grits for breakfast in the South. In the Deep South, I was happily surprised to find that you get grits whether you order them or not. And what has surprised YOU, friends, good and bad, in the realm of customer service?”

WENDELL COX: California: “Land of Poverty:”

For decades, California’s housing costs have been racing ahead of incomes, as counties and local governments have imposed restrictive land-use regulations that drove up the price of land and dwellings. This has been documented by both Dartmouth economist William A Fischel and the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Middle income households have been forced to accept lower standards of living while less fortunate have been driven into poverty by the high cost of housing.Housing costs have risen in some markets compared to others that the federal government now publishes alternative poverty estimates (the Supplemental Poverty Measure), because the official poverty measure used for decades does not capture the resulting differentials. The latest figures, for 2013, show California’s housing cost adjusted poverty rate to be 23.4 percent, nearly half again as high as the national average of 15.9 percent.

Back in the years when the nation had a “California Dream,” it would have been inconceivable for things to have gotten so bad — particularly amidst what is widely hailed as a spectacular recovery. The 2013 data shows California to have the worst housing cost adjusted poverty rate among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. But it gets worse. California’s poverty rate is now more than 50 percent higher than Mississippi, which long has set the standard for extreme poverty in the United States (Figure 1).

Well, that was before Mississippi was taken over by Republicans, and California was taken over by Democrats.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Steven Spielberg And The Temple of Obama: Building the Barack Obama post-presidency, one liberal billionaire at a time.

The closest I’ve ever come to glimpsing hell was on Monday, when I read an article in the New York Times headlined, “With High-Profile Help, Obama Plots Life After Presidency.”

Reporters Michael D. Shear and Gardiner Harris reveal the “methodical effort taking place inside and outside the White House as the president, first lady, and a cadre of top aides map out a post-presidential infrastructure and endowment they estimate could cost as much as $1 billion,” or about as much as Obama fundraised for the 2012 campaign.

This effort began in November 2012, shortly after his reelection, when the president hosted filmmaker Steven Spielberg at the White House for a screening of Lincoln. President Obama was “spellbound,” the Times reports, as Spielberg held forth “about the use of technology to tell stories.”

Such technology, Spielberg went on, could also be used to tell Obama’s story—to somehow convince future Americans, against all evidence to the contrary, that his presidency was an experience they would like to repeat. “Ideally, one adviser said, a person in Kenya could put on a pair of virtual reality goggles and be transported to Mr. Obama’s 2008 speech on race in Philadelphia.” I’m sure they’ll be banging on the door to get into that exhibit.

The president has raised, to date, “just over $5.4 million from 12 donors,” which puts him $994.6 million from his goal. Those donors include “technology entrepreneur” Jim Symons, whose co-CEO Robert Mercer, a Republican, was described by the Times the very next day as a “hedge-fund magnate.” These two billionaires are business partners—can’t they both be magnates? Or are some technology entrepreneurs more equal than others?

More remarkable than the Times‘s bias, however, is the fact that Obama’s team, led by a former Washington Post reporter, has been unable to come up with a unifying idea—or even a single location—for his post-presidency.

Can’t we just wake up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette and discover it was all a crazy dream?

August 21, 2015

PROOF IN THE PUDDING: Hillary’s Air Gap Problem. The very fact that TOP SECRET information made it to Hillary’s email shows a crime was committed.

YEAH, HE’D BE A STEP UP: Inspector Clouseau was unavailable.

MOSTLY, I NOTICE HOW SKINNY BILL LOOKS IN THAT PICTURE. It’s like he has Al Sharpton Wasting Syndrome. Little Kid Heckles Bill Clinton During His Birthday Golf Outing.

NO, THIS ISN’T MY KNOXVILLE NEIGHBORHOOD, but the drone video promotion seems like a smart idea.

FOR STARTERS, DON’T STAY UP LATE BLOGGING. UH OH. How not to get bags under your eyes.

SERENDIPITY IS REAL: Forgetful scientists accidentally quadruple lithium-ion battery lifespan.

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LONG-TERM TEST: 2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon. Back in the early days of InstaPundit I had a VW Passat wagon. It was a great car, though it had reliability problems after 50,000 miles. I think wagons deserve more attention as an alternative to sport utes.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Judge Denies Glory Johnson’s Request for $20,000 in Spousal Support from Brittney Griner. “Glory Johnson’s request for $20,000 a month in temporary spousal support from Brittney Griner was denied in an Arizona court on Thursday. Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court commissioner Jacki Ireland stated that Griner, after only a 28 day marriage to Johnson, is not responsible for any financial support after the annulment. This decision comes on the heels of Johnson announcing earlier this week that she is pregnant with twins. Griner and Johnson were married on May 9, but a month later, and a day after Johnson announced she was pregnant, Griner filed for an annulment. Griner stated that the marriage was a mistake. Johnson was not only seeking $20,000 a month in spousal support, but she was also requesting her attorney fees to be paid, as well as car payments. . . . Also the court stated that Johnson could seek child support after the twins are born, even though Griner alleges that she was unaware that Johnson’s in vitro was successful or that she had undergone treatments.”

Lesbian divorce with child support issues and perhaps even a paternity maternity? dispute. Should be interesting.

WELL, THEY’RE MARINES AFTER ALL: Unarmed US Marines avert high-speed train massacre by ‘taking down’ Kalashnikov-wielding gunman who injured three ‘including one Briton’ onboard service between Amsterdam and Paris. “A crazed gunman, who opened fire with an assault rifle onboard a high-speed train was detained by a group of US Marines who were travelling on the service. The man is understood to have been overheard loading the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle in the toilet by the un-armed Marines. Three people were injured when the man, believed to be a 26-year-old Moroccan, opened fire. As well as an assault rifle, he had at least six magazines with almost 200 rounds of ammunition. He was also carrying a knife.” Yeah, but they were Marines, so it still wasn’t really fair.

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