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Yeah, About Those ‘Muslim Human Chains’ Around Synagogues and Other Staged Photo Ops

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

People are wetting themselves over on Twitter right now after Muslims formed a human chain around a synagogue in Oslo, Norway, yesterday following the terror attack this week at a synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Here’s some of the reaction, beginning with GOP pollster Frank Luntz:

Now I’m not going to get into the motives of those involved today, but color me skeptical of these types of events for several reasons.

First, if you contact the international media to cover your event, forgive me if I question your sincerity. Your staged “Ring of Peace” photo op is really a “Ring of Propaganda.” Matthew 6:1-4 and all that.

Secondly, when you use actual victims (Jews) to try to make yourselves (Muslims) the victims by leading your chants with “No to anti-Semitism,” and then smuggling in your “Islamophobia” narrative, I’m calling BS.

As Reuters reported, this is what happened:

More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

When you fail to leave your own agenda at home, this isn’t about protecting victims, it’s about you grinding your “Islamophobia” narrative.

Thirdly, these Muslim “human chain” photo ops are never around when you actually need them.

To emphasize that last point, let me tell you two stories.

The first begins in July 2013 in Sohag, Egypt. After Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed following the largest protests in recorded human history, the Muslim Brotherhood staged a “human chain” photo op in Sohag saying they were going to protect the St. George Church as a show of interfaith solidarity, notwithstanding those filthy infidel Coptic Christians backing General (now President) Sisi for removing Morsi.

The MB’s “human chain” event in front of St. George Church also made international news, with this picture being widely circulated as evidence of interfaith cooperation:

Sohag1

It should be noted that the picture itself is watermarked by the pro-Brotherhood Rassd.com online news portal.

Alas, that’s not where the story ends. Several weeks after their “human chain” photo op, the Muslim Brotherhood torched the very same St. George Church in Sohag following the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood protests in Rabaa Square in Cairo.

Here’s a picture of the attack on the Mar Girgis church tweeted out by ABC News foreign editor Jon Williams:

And even AlJazeera reported on the looting and torching of St. George’s:

The second story takes place just weeks after the sacking of the church in Sohag.

On September 22, 2013, two suicide bombers killed 127 worshipers at the All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan. Nearly a month after the attack, Muslims staged yet another “human chain” to protest the Peshawar church bombing. Just as today in Oslo, the international media was there pushing all of the predictable progressive “interfaith” tropes:

Just one problem. Ignore the fact that this is nearly a month after the bombings. The Muslim “human chain” protest occurred in Lahore — 250 miles away from the church that was bombed in Peshawar — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed:

So before we start declaring ISIS defeated after the staged event this weekend in Oslo, let me suggest that, as was the case in Sohag, when you burn the church down a couple of weeks after you stage your “Muslim human chain” you somewhat negate your message. Just saying.

And until we see these “Muslim human chains” form somewhere and at a time when it actually makes a difference (e.g. in Copenhagen where the synagogue was attacked, not in Oslo 300 miles away), please spare me your interfaith back-patting narratives. I’ll be more impressed if your human chain shows up when it matters.

UPDATE: So apparently Frank Luntz took umbrage at my calling him out on Twitter.

It’s not clear to me what Luntz is questioning. Both the human chain event and the sacking of the church in Sohag were both widely publicized. Here’s video of the torching of Mar Girgis in Sohag (the same site as the human chain):


And here’s video from the Sohag church’s Youtube channel showing the destruction and directly placing blame on the Muslim Brotherhood:

YouTube Preview Image

As I told Luntz, my 3-part series on my trip to Egypt, including touring the burned-out churches, monasteries and Coptic orphanages in Upper Egypt, will be published here at PJ Media shortly.

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The State Department’s New Logo to Battle Violent Extremism vs. American World War 2 Posters

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

2015_0220_cve_graphic

 

On Friday the U.S. Department of State’s blog unveiled a new graphic that came out of this week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.

The multi-colored logo looks like it was recycled from a 1970s public housing project, but it probably came out of one of those ubiquitous conference brainstorming sessions attended by artistic types who were swilling Starbucks and drawing on their MacBook Pros. It boldly declares that “The Solution to Violent Extremism Begins in Your Community.”

The blog post highlighted Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement from the summit about ”the defining fight of our generation” and his declaration that battling “radical extremism” is a task for everyone, including civil society, the faith community, foundations and philanthropists, and the private sector.

While there’s nothing terribly wrong with the logo, it is noteworthy for its failure to communicate any useful information or deliver any action items. Its flaccid, half-hearted effort to motivate communities to fight terrorism with a Gandhian slogan is lost amid the boring visual appeal of the graphic design.

It’s interesting to compare the new counterterrorism logo with government-produced posters during World War II, which were used for many purposes, including warning the nation about the enemy and calling for unity during a time of war.

Here’s a 1942 recruiting poster for the United States Navy. It takes a fraction of a second to discern the main point of the message of this sign — it’s clear, concise, and leaves no room for ambiguity.

man_the_guns

 

This 1942 poster was created by the Government Printing Office and warned about the dangers of the enemy. Note that there was no hesitation to name the enemy and to portray the Nazis as evil. Lidice was a Czech village that was obliterated by the Nazis in a 10-hour massacre. The attack became a symbol for Nazi brutality during World War II.

nazi_brutality (1)

 

Instead of clarity about the nature of our enemies and the real threat to freedom and peace worldwide, the Obama State Department is saying we need jobs for jihadis. Our government is wasting valuable time and resources during a time of crisis on psychobabble about perceived grievances that lead to a culture of terror and on producing innocuous logos that allow a group of tongue-clicking elites at a White House summit to check a “did something that feels good” box.

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CNN: Islamic State Luring Girls by Posting Pictures of Cats…and Nutella

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

Jihadis around the world are ridiculing CNN for their contention that Islamic State is luring young women by posting pictures of cats and tweeting of a blissful life where they can eat Nutella just like at home.

The bizarre report appeared on the network last Wednesday, and since then, terrorists and their supporters have been posting some surprisingly inventive — and because it’s at the expense of CNN — humorous pictures of terrorists holding cats and jars of Nutella.

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This is the graphic that set off the social media storm:

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Politifact felt compelled to weigh in on the silliness:

As fact-checkers, we felt beckoned to sort out the confusion. Was CNN’s segment just plain weird or onto something?

CNN did not return emails and calls for comment. We went to experts who track jihadist groups, including ISIS, on social media.

“The way that the CNN story was framed was kind of funny and eyeroll-inducing,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, “but it’s largely correct.”

The online prowess of the Islamic State is a well-documented strength of the movement. From videos to online forums to journals to various social media websites, supporters disseminate propaganda messages (90,000 a day) that are more slickly produced and reach wider audiences than efforts from other terrorist groups (think of al-Qaida home videos showing Osama bin Laden speaking into the camera with little other detail).

ISIS even has plans for a 24-hour propaganda network, said Daniel Cohen, a research fellow and coordinator of the cyber security program at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.

[...]

And yes, the group’s supporters also speak in emojis, tweet pictures of themselves unwinding with Nutella and run Twitter accounts like @ISILCats showing jihadists cuddling with kittens and kittens cuddling with firearms. It’s all part of an effort to speak the same cultural language as potential recruits so that they don’t think life with the Islamic State is all beheadings and burnings, Cohen said.

“Most of the people sharing this content on social media came from Western culture,” Cohen said.

It makes them seem relatable and charismatic, said Gartenstein-Ross, adding that it’s nothing new for ISIS.

Richard Brennan, a Middle East expert at the RAND Institute, said the ISIS campaign “is much more sophisticated” than what was portrayed on CNN.

“It’s targeting the young men and women who want to be part of something greater than themselves to accept this movement for the validity that they believe the Koran is teaching,” he said.

It says something profoundly sad about the American media that a network like CNN would actually advance this theory seriously.  They obviously have no understanding of the terrorists or what motivates them. How can they critique or analyze the president’s policies if they’re that ignorant?

 

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The Greek Left’s Fantasies Destroyed by Reality

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

There is something childlike in the Greek government’s view of the bailout that saved their country from utter ruin. The Marxist who plays at being the finance minister of a supposedly capitalistic country is especially endearing. Yanis Varoufakis has declared “victory” after the EU finance ministers forced Greece to do what Syriza promised the voters they’d never do; deal with the hated “troika (ECB, IMF, and EC) and extend the bailout.

EU finance ministers extended the Greek bailout under the condition that Greece continue to abide by the austerity measures that were imposed as a result of the loans Athens received to keep their country afloat. All the grandiose spending plans of Greek’s far left Prime Minister Alex Tsipras are now dead — at least as far as the EU is concerned. If Greece wants to spend profligately, European taxpayers won’t subsidize it any more.

But it still has a hard time sinking in, as Tsipras showed in his statement following the deal:

“We won a battle, not the war,” Mr Tspiras said on Saturday.

The deal is widely regarded as a major climb down for the PM, who won power vowing to reverse budget cuts.

He hailed the agreement as a “decisive step” that “achieved much” towards ending austerity, but added: “We have a long and difficult road ahead.”

The Greeks continue to cling to the fantasy that they control their own destiny:

The new left-wing government effectively crumpled Friday under pressure from the rest of the currency union and accepted it had to complete the reforms demanded of it two and a half years ago in return for continued access to the only financial lifeline it has. It also promised to honor all its debts and not to reverse any of the reforms undertaken so far under the 2010 and 2012 bailout programs, backing down from its most important pre-election promises.

In return, the creditors agreed to extend by four months the existing deal, meaning that Athens will still get some €3.6 billion from the Eurozone and European Central Bank, and a bit more from the International Monetary Fund this year. They also all but guaranteed to loosen the country’s budget targets, and to keep available nearly €11 billion earmarked for recapitalizing Greek banks if they get into trouble.

The best that Athens can say about the deal is that it gives the new government the opportunity to substitute some reforms of their own for the ones that they most dislike in the existing program. With energy and imagination, the Greeks could yet draft an alternative agenda that it could claim to co-own.

“We are no longer going to be following a script that was given to us by external agencies,” Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said at a press conference after a mercifully short meeting. The old program, he added, is “in abeyance.”

And Greece is by no means out of the woods. They must come up with a list of reforms by Monday and those reforms must be approved by EU finance ministers for the bailout to continue.

In the meantime, the Greek government is being kept on a very short leash. It only has until close of business Monday to present its list of alternative proposals to the same hated ‘Troika’ of technocrats–from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund–that it promised to abolish. They only have until April to hammer out the finer points. As an indication of how much trust Greece has lost in the last month, the bank recapitalization money will be moved back from Athens to be kept safely under lock and key in Luxembourg, in case the government gets the urge to use it to fund the government’s deficit in the meantime. At the same time, the ECB will keep Greek banks on hunger rations, not restoring their former privileges until the Troika–sorry, ‘the Institutions’–say it’s safe to.

First reports out of Athens on the list of reforms don’t sound like the Tsipras government has grasped the idea of “reform.”

Greece’s list of reforms to be submitted to the euro zone on Monday comprises pledges on structural issues such as tax evasion and corruption over the next four months without specific targets, a government official said on Saturday.

Athens clinched a last-minute deal late on Friday to avoid a banking collapse by accepting a conditional extension of its bailout program. The accord requires Greece to submit by Monday a letter to the Eurogroup listing all the policy measures it plans to take during the remainder of the bailout period.

If the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are satisfied, the Eurogroup is likely to endorse the list in a teleconference without the need for a formal meeting. Then euro zone member states will need to ratify the extension, where necessary through their parliaments.

Greek officials have been working on the reform list since Saturday morning and plan to submit a short list of pledges on areas such as tax evasion, corruption and public administration, the Greek official said.

There will not be specific figures or targets to be achieved tied to the goals, the official said, adding that the two sides had not yet discussed how Greece would be evaluated on the reforms.

Despite a climbdown from promises to end the bailout and stop dealing with the hated “troika” of EU, ECB and IMF, Athens has tried to stress that Greeks are now shaping their own destiny rather than having reforms imposed from abroad. The official said that what counted was that Greece had “ownership” of the program.

However, Athens has already promised not to take any action that could burden Greece’s fiscal targets.

Meanwhile, capital is fleeing the country — more than $1 billion on Thursday and Friday alone. If there is trouble on Monday with the EU finance ministers adopting the Greek “plan,” Athens may be forced to impose capital controls to avoid disaster.

European paymaster Germany comes out the big winner in all of this. Their firm stand probably saved the eurozone. If Greece had been allowed to make its fantasy a reality, the likelihood is that other bailout nations like Spain, Portugal, and Ireland would also demand “adjustments” to their repayment plans, thus throwing the entire bailout regime into crisis.

The question of whether the Tsipras government can survive this massive betrayal of its campaign promises may come down to how the people of Greece perceive the Tsipras surrender. If they see it as a pragmatic move to save the nation’s finances, they may reluctantly support it.

But Tsipras may have to pull a rabbit out of a hat if the EU finance ministers reject his plan. Time is running out and the potential of a Grexit only grows the longer the bailout extension is up in the air.

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The Truth About the Crusades

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by J. Christian Adams

When President Obama cited the Crusades as an example of Christian bad behavior toward Islam, he wasn’t speaking with historical accuracy.  But you’d never know that if you only know the conventional wisdom about the Crusades.

Instead of condemning ISIS barbarism as barbarism directed at Christians, Obama has sought to divorce the barbarism from theology. There are many reason for this, reasons covered by many others here at PJ Media and elsewhere.  Among them is the fact that Obama and his movement see the world through such thick secular lenses that they are incapable of understanding the vast majority of the world (and the United States) that still sees the world through theological lenses.

Obama and his followers are a radical secular minority attempting to manage a theological world.

One person who hasn’t been afraid to name the nature of the ISIS barbarism is Pope Francis.  Francis gave a homily this past week that spoke of “our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian.”

It wasn’t because of a lack of jobs in Libya.

Francis spoke with the moral clarity we used to associate with presidents.

When President Obama cited the Crusades as an example of Christian bad behavior, he echoed the anti-Western, anti-Christian narrative popular among ISIS and American academics.

In this week’s issue of the Arlington Catholic Herald, we find another instance of moral and historic clarity, this time about the Crusades.  It’s worth a read to shatter the conventional wisdom about the Crusades.

How did we get to this point?  As Father William Saunders writes in the Catholic Herald:

Given the circumstances in which we live and with so many politicians referring to Islam as a “peaceful religion,” the subject of the Crusades is used not only to ameliorate the atrocities of Islamic extremists but also to discredit Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church. Also, too many people only have knowledge of the Crusades through a superficial and selective presentation of events as presented on the History Channel or by the politically correct intelligentsia.

What circumstances gave rise to the Crusades?  Again, Saunders:

When Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade, there was just cause. We must know the facts. Muslims believe Muhammad (570-632) had visions beginning in 610; in these visions, Allah literally dictated the Koran.  By 622, Mecca converted to Islam. Then, the warfare began, and Islam spread by the sword, i.e. jihad. Muhammad’s message was, “He who dies spreading the faith enters paradise.” Islam itself means “submission,” submission of everyone to Allah, Muhammad and the Koran.

Conversion alone wasn’t adequate.  Conquest followed.

The Muslims then waged war beyond their borders: Damascus fell in 635, Jerusalem in 638 and Alexandria in 641. By 652, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Persia had fallen to Islam. By 730, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Pakistan and Spain had fallen. The Muslims would have taken France, but Charles Martel stopped them at the Battle of Tours in 732. Remember: These were all Christian lands that were unjustly attacked. However, the Koran justified these acts: “True believers fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil. Fight, then, against the friends of Satan” (Sura 4:76).

Christians and Jews in conquered lands were persecuted.  Churches were destroyed or seized.  Christians were forced to wear 10 pound crosses and Jews forced to carry a calf’s head made of wood.

Fr. William Saunders

Fr. William Saunders

How did the Christian West respond?  Saunders:

Finally, Christians realized action had to be taken. Righteous war had to be waged against jihad. The Christians had just cause. Byzantine Emperor Alexius (1080-1118) appealed to Pope Urban II for aid. On Nov. 18, 1095, at the Council of Clermont, the Holy Father said, “An accursed race … has violently invaded Christian lands and depopulated them by pillage and fire. … They have either destroyed God’s churches or taken them for the rites of their own religion.” So, as a last resort, the legitimate leaders with good intention declared a Crusade for just cause. Therefore, the declaration of a Crusade was an act of just war.

Imagine if Rudy Giuliani talked like this.

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How Bad are Things in Afghanistan? This Bad

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

The closer the date approaches when the last US soldier leaves Afghanistan, the more unstable the country becomes.

Evidence of that was displayed by some employees at a branch of Afghanistan’s central bank. One afternoon, a senior official at the bank, along with his son and brother-in-law — also employees of the bank — cleaned out the vault, stole the closed circuit camera recording their deed, and walked out with $1.4 million. The branch was located near the border with Pakistan and it’s believed that’s where the crooks went.

Reuters:

“Yesterday we could only open one of the treasury’s doors. We hope to open the next one today,” the central bank director for Afghanistan’s southwestern region, Fazel Ahmad Azimi, said.

Weak regulation undermines confidence in Afghanistan’s fragile banking system, which has yet to fully recover from a 2010 scandal over a bank that collapsed triggering a financial crisis.

An international financial watchdog last year threatened to place Afghanistan on a blacklist and has since warned it needs to do more to enforce laws to regulate its banking sector.

The Kandahar raid is believed to have been carried out by a senior official at the bank, an employee of nine years, with the help of his son and brother-in-law who were also on staff, according to Azimi.

The robbery at the branch in Spin Boldak near the border with Pakistan was discovered on Thursday and investigators believed the group has escaped to Pakistan.

The group had removed CCTV recordings before fleeing to Pakistan, Azimi said, but investigators were hopeful that footage might be recovered from the memory chip of the security cameras.

They don’t sound very hopeful, do they? In a way, you wonder why this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often in countries as screwed up as Afghanistan. These crooks proved how easy it is. Authorities apparently didn’t discover the theft for more than 24 hours.

It appears now that the Taliban — the “good” Taliban, mind you — may be willing to open negotiations with the Afghan government for the purpose of accepting their surrender.

Of course, no one is saying that. But does anyone believe any “power sharing” arrangement with the current Afghanistan government would not result in a complete takeover by the Taliban — perhaps in a matter of months?

Reuters:

Senior Pakistani army, Afghan and diplomatic officials said on Thursday the Afghan Taliban had signalled they were willing to open peace talks with Kabul.

The reports raised hopes for a breakthrough in peace efforts following the withdrawal of most U.S.-led troops last year, and of a boost for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The renewed push for negotiations appeared to be driven by evolving relationships between Afghanistan, Pakistan and China, which recently offered to help broker talks.

On Thursday, a senior Pakistani military official said Pakistan’s army chief, General Raheel Sharif, told Ghani during a visit this week the Taliban were willing to begin negotiations as early as March.

“They have expressed their willingness and there will be progress in March. But these things are not so quick and easy,” the official, who is close to the army chief, told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“But there are very clear signals … and we have communicated it to the Afghans. Now many things are with the Afghans and they are serious.”

Taliban representatives including official spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid cast doubt on the possibility of talks, saying they still opposed negotiations. The group has repeatedly said it will talk to the United States but not the Kabul government.

A senior member of the Afghan Taliban said by telephone from Qatar their negotiators would hold a first round of talks with U.S. officials in Qatar on Thursday.

But U.S. officials in Washington denied the United States was holding talks, direct or indirect, with the Taliban. A White House spokeswoman said the United States remained supportive of an Afghan-led reconciliation process in which the Taliban and the Afghan government engaged in talks.

New Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter says the US may extend our deployment beyond the 2016 deadline. If so, the Obama administration may be waking up to the fact that the Afghan army is incapable of ensuring security without help from the Americans. The Taliban we may or may not be talking to in Qatar are not the Taliban that is committing atrocities in Afghanistan. Until we can identify just who it is we should be talking with in the Taliban, any negotiations will be fruitless.

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Senators, Soldiers Aghast at Revelations About Spring Mosul Operation

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by Rick Moran

An anonymous officer working at US Central Command headquarters briefed several reporters on an upcoming military operation to retake the Islamic State-held city of Mosul on Thursday and several Senators want to know who the briefer was and whether he was acting under orders from the Obama administration.

Since no one can figure out a military motive for the leak, there is a concern that the Obama administration is playing politics by hinting that more decisive action in the war against ISIS is coming.

Such a detailed briefing on the numbers of soldiers who will take part in the offensive, as well as their makeup, has raised eyebrows not only on Capitol Hill, but also among active and retired military.

Fox News:

Top Republican senators Friday demanded answers after a military official revealed “detailed operational information” about a looming Iraqi mission to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, saying the disclosure has put the mission at risk.

“Never in our memory can we recall an instance in which our military has knowingly briefed our own war plans to our enemies,” Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a letter to President Obama.

“These disclosures not only risk the success of our mission, but could also cost the lives of U.S., Iraqi, and coalition forces.”

The senators asked who was responsible for the briefing, conducted Thursday by a military official, and whether they had White House approval. “Those responsible have jeopardized our national security interests and must be held accountable,” they wrote.

The letter follows criticism in other corners that the military may have revealed too much detail in previewing the operation.

On Thursday, the U.S. military official outlined plans to retake Mosul and said the “shaping” for the battle is currently underway. He said the Iraqi military hopes to begin operations in the “April, May timeframe” with the goal of retaking Mosul before Ramadan begins on June 17.

The official then went a step further and leaked that five Iraqi Army brigades will be used in the fight, as well as several smaller brigades, composing a total force of up to 25,000 Iraqi troops. Three brigades of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters will participate as well.

But the details, disclosed at the close of a White House summit on combating violent extremism, raised some concerns.

“That is pretty amazing that that information’s out there,” retired Gen. Jack Keane, former Army vice chief of staff and a Fox News military analyst, said Friday.

A current and former military intelligence officer also told Fox News that the decision to publicly announce the plan was counterintuitive because it “telegraphs” the timing and number of units involved. The officers said it would allow Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or ISIL, to prepare for the battle by laying improvised explosive devices.

Both officers questioned whether political considerations on the part of the Obama administration factored into the decision to announce the offensive.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government and military doubts its soldiers will be ready for such a complex operation by the Spring:

Questions persist about whether the struggling Iraqi military will be ready for the operation to retake the country’s second largest city from ISIS militants in just a few months.

Iraqi officials continue to insist they haven’t gotten the advanced weapons they need for the operation in the northern city of Mosul, and some question whether they will be ready for a spring offensive. But the Pentagon insists the U.S. has sent tens of thousands of weapons and ammunition and more is in the pipeline.

Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the security and defense committee in the Iraqi parliament, told The Associated Press Friday that “any operation would be fruitless” unless the brigades are properly prepared and have the weapons they need.

“I think if these weapons are not made available soon, the military assault might wait beyond spring,” he said. “The Americans might have their own calculations and estimations, but we as Iraqis have our own opinion. We are fighting and moving on the ground, so we have better vision and April might be too soon.”

Senior officers at the Pentagon were caught off guard by the leak, and say the plan is unworkable anyway:

Less than 24 hours after U.S. military officials publicly detailed their plans for a spring offensive on ISIS-held Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, many within the Pentagon privately questioned whether that timetable was plausible. They said that they were dubious that their partners in the Iraqi military—the troops supposed to lead the offensive—would be capable of conducting such a campaign by then.

“I really doubt it is going to happen that soon,” said one military officer who, like several others, served in Iraq between 2003-2011 and spoke on condition of anonymity. “And if it does, it will take months.”

The largely Shiite troops of the Iraqi army are unlikely to risk their lives to win back a Sunni dominated city, several U.S. military officers told The Daily Beast Friday. Indeed, when ISIS stormed the city last June, Iraqi forces walked away, leading the U.S. and 60 other nations to form a coalition against the terror group.

Even if the Iraqi troops do stand up and fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State, having a Shiite force move in and potentially ravage a major Sunni city in a bid to save it could have adverse affects on the Sunnis in Iraq and broader Sunni Arab world. Sectarian tensions, particularly in Iraq, run that deep.

“I cannot believe that Shiites would fight for Mosul,” one officer who served in the restive Sunni province of Anbar during the Iraq War told The Daily Beast.

It looks more and more like this leak was an attempt at disinformation — perhaps to pull ISIS forces from elsewhere into Mosul to resist any attempt to retake it. You have to believe it’s something like that because otherwise, it’s a monumental blunder. I can’t believe that officers at CENTCOM revealed this information on their own, which makes it likely that either the White House is behind the leak or top command at CENTCOM. If it was the White House, the incompetents should be fired. If it was CENTCOM top command, there is obviously some kind of psychological advantage they believe they’re getting.

Either way, the Iraqis aren’t ready and won’t be anytime soon.

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$50 Million Down the Tubes: How Conservative PACs Go Wrong

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by John Hawkins

This is how I imagine it all starts.

You have an activist busting his behind to help conservatives and he thinks, “Wow, just think of what I could accomplish if I were able to do this full time!” Then, he manages to break the shackles of his day job and becomes a full-time activist running his own PAC. He’s living the dream! However, at that moment, he starts to realize that activism is now a job and his house payment, groceries and kids’ education all depend on it. Suddenly, his priorities start to change as an activist. It’s not just what’s best for the cause anymore; it is what’s the best thing he can do for the cause that gets him paid. It’s a subtle shift, a very defensible shift, but it sets the table for what comes next.

Soon, he starts to realize that beyond the FEC ensuring that he’s sticking to the letter of the law, no one is checking behind him. People on his side of the aisle are very reluctant to write stories that make conservative PACs look bad and if a liberal puts out a story that makes him look awful, he can always say, “What do you expect? Do you think he’d tell you I’m doing a great job?” Then he hears about other people in the movement, the type of money they’re making and some of the things they’re getting away with. That makes it easy to rationalize. He tells himself, “Everybody does it,” and how can people get mad at him for engaging in something that’s standard operating procedure in the business?

Next thing you know, an activist who started out with the best of intentions has begun looking at activism as just another job instead of a calling. As he becomes more cynical and jaded, maybe he raises money for candidates or events and never gives them any of it. Maybe his PAC makes millions and fills his pockets, but almost none of the money he raises goes to help conservative candidates and causes. Maybe he comes to look at activism as nothing more than another for-profit business.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s how you explain the sort of numbers that you’ll see in an article Right Wing News released earlier this week called “50 Million Down The Tubes: How 17 Conservative PACs Are Spending Their Money.”

How bad were the numbers for the 10 conservative PACs on the bottom?

FEED ME!!!!

The goal of our piece wasn’t to show that all conservative PACs are bad because we certainly don’t believe that. We just wanted to give people a chance to see how much of the money they were giving to these PACs was being spent on campaigns via independent expenditures and direct contributions. After all, when people give money to a conservative PAC, they’re typically doing it because they believe it will be used to help put more candidates they agree with into office. Electing candidates is also primarily what these PACs brag about. Yet, here are the numbers for the bottom 10 PACs researched in our report.

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Rooting through the finances of PACs is about two steps below quantum physics on the “complicated scale.” It means digging through complex reports, dealing with filing errors, and navigating grey areas in the law. That means smart and well-meaning people can sometimes disagree about how much of the money that a PAC collects should be eaten up in overhead. However, we should all be able to agree that any PAC spending a dime or less out of every dollar on its primary mission, which is electing Republican candidates, simply isn’t getting the job done.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “scam PACs” or that everybody that works there is a bad person. What it does mean is that conservatives shouldn’t send any PAC their money just because it happens to endorse candidates we like or takes positions we agree with. There is a myriad of conservative radio hosts and websites that do the exact same thing and they’re not asking for any money in return. For PACs to distinguish themselves, they need to make serious financial investments into getting candidates elected. If they’re not willing or able to do that, then they typically bring very little to the table for the donors that trust them with their money.

Until those of us on the Right stop turning a blind eye to PACs that are being just as irresponsible with donor money as the government is with our tax dollars, then conservatives will continue to be stuck fighting crucial political battles with one hand tied behind our backs.

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What’s with Kim Jong-Un’s Hair?

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

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Who would have thunk it? North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un a fashion maven?

Say it ain’t so, Kimmy.

“Quirky” is an understatement. It looks like a cross between a 1950s “rocket” haircut and a bad afro from the 1980s.

And check out those “emoticon” eyebrows. Does Kim plan to star in an anime porn film?

Kim Jong Un’s latest hack job created another international incident.

North Korea watchers combing through the supreme leader’s appearance at a politburo meeting Wednesday were struck by Kim’s new look.

Kim was photographed with shrunken eyebrows the size of emoticons and cartoonishly high hair.

“Kim Jong Un unveils sculpted eyebrow work and defined hair at Politburo meeting today,” NK News.org’s Frank Feinstein tweeted.

Adding to the accentuated features, the supreme leader’s face appears pudgier than a year ago when a report claimed that North Korean men were told to change their hairstyle to match Kim’s.

Here’s a before and after pic. He also appears to have put on some weight.

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It’s a frightening concept to think that every man in North Korea — who wants to stay out of jail — has to wear their hair like the Dear Leader’s. What’s a barber to do? No doubt the barbers will be doing land office business over the next few weeks as men scramble to adopt the new hairstyle.

Hopefully, altering their eyebrows is optional.

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Senators Fuming Over CENTCOM Revealing Mosul Offensive Strategy to Reporters

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told President Obama that the amount of information revealed about upcoming operations against ISIS is both unprecedented and dangerous.

In an extensive briefing Thursday with reporters, an official with U.S. Central Command said the planning to attempt to take Mosul from ISIS continues.

“The equipping that’s associated with those training sites is — is not free of challenges, but it is generally working on pace. As an example, it is our estimate that the amount of equipment that we have put between coalition contributions and U.S. contributions, in excess of about six brigades’ worth of equipment. And so it is generally keeping pace with those training sites and the effort to get ready for Mosul,” the official said.

The CENTCOM official said they’re shooting for an “April-May timeframe” for a Mosul offensive.

“There are still a lot of things that need to come together. And as we dialogue with our Iraqi counterparts, we want them to go in that timeframe, because as you get into Ramadan and the summer and the heat, it becomes problematic if it goes much later than that. But by the same token, if they’re not ready, if the conditions are not set, if all the equipment that they need is not physically there and they are trained to a degree in which they will be successful, we have not closed the door on continuing to slide that to the right.”

The official went further into detail about the forces expected to be involved. “What we know as of right now is there — in the attack force, there will be five Iraqi army brigades, there will be three smaller brigades that will comprise a reserve force, there will be three Pesh brigades that will help contain from the north and isolate from the west, and then there will be what we’re calling a Mosul fighting force, which will be compromised of largely police and tribal that are being put together right now of mostly former Mosul police, and then finally, a brigade equivalent of CTS forces.”

The official also went into detail about the training schedules for five brigades to take part in the attack, yet estimated “it’s going to take about 12 brigade equivalents to execute the Mosul operation, and we still kind of stand to that.”

McCain and Graham wrote a letter to Obama today calling it “deeply disturbing” that the CENTOM briefing “provided detailed operational information regarding coalition plans to retake Mosul from ISIL.”

“Never in our memory can we recall an instance in which our military has knowingly briefed our own war plans to our enemies,” added McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Graham, a member of the panel.

“These disclosures not only risk the success of our mission, but could also cost the lives of U.S., Iraqi, and coalition forces,” they continued. “Given the serious impact of these disclosures, we want to know who at U.S. Central Command was responsible for this briefing, and whether they had prior approval from the White House to divulge this information. Those responsible have jeopardized our national security interests and must be held accountable.”

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BREAKING: State Dept. Blog: ‘The Solution To Violent Extremism Begins in Your Community’

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by David Steinberg

The left takes the same approach to every problem, be it bullying or beheading: an expensive conference promoted by the same Benetton-ish graphic design the left has used since Live Aid, and the already-agreed-upon solution that the answer lies in greater “dialogue.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a current screen shot of the U.S. State Department’s “Official Blog”:

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Imagine, for a moment, you are a Yazidi refugee who was rescued from a monstrous death at the hands of ISIS, though you’ve witnessed your children murdered. The U.S. State Department has just published a graphic claiming they stand ready to offer “SUPPORT” to combat this extremism with a little heart on a lavender house.

Other solutions for halting the rise of the Fourth Reich:

“MENTOR”

“PARTNER”

“COMMUNICATE”

“EDUCATE”

“ENGAGE”

Jihadi John, who currently has as much blood on his outsides as his insides, gets a mentor and a partner.

Recall the State Department did backtrack on Marie Harf’s “jobs” comments, insisting that the current policy is to kill ISIS and not save them. Obviously this was false and Harf spoke the truth.

It’s the 1930s all over again, brought to you by people on record trying to reassure us with “Never Again.”

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Marie Harf’s College Thesis: Right-Wing Support for Israel ‘Complicates’ Foreign Policy

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by David Steinberg

Reports Patrick Howley at the Daily Caller:

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf wrote her college honors thesis on “how conservative evangelical support for Israel complicates U.S. foreign policy,” according to Indiana University records.

This doesn’t appear to be a stretch of the source material by any means. Howley precisely quotes the article “College ‘Luminary’ Marie Harf followed father to IU, political science” which was published on November 10 last year on an Indiana University website:

She credits her IU professors — and especially her undergraduate honors advisors, political science professors Mike McGinnis and Marjorie Hershey, and English and Jewish studies professor Alvin Rosenfeld — for much of her career achievement.

“Those people, when I was 19 or 20, took an interest in me and encouraged me,” she said. “They really pushed me and made me think I could do big things.”

McGinnis had been a student of her father’s at Ohio State.

“You know you have been teaching a long time when a student introduces herself as the daughter of the professor who taught the first course you took in your chosen field,” he said.

McGinnis said he still remembers a paper he wrote for Jim Harf, an analysis of the neutron bomb then under consideration by the Carter administration, and the honors thesis Marie later wrote at IU on how conservative evangelical support for Israel complicates U.S. foreign policy.

The thesis was titled “The Religious Right in American Support for Israel.”

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World’s Smallest Violin Plays for Obamacare…

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

… as the New York Times stamps its tiny feet in anger:

Republicans hate activist judges — those black-robed elites who are willing to upset the lives of millions of people just to further a political cause. Ditto trial lawyers trolling for clients, the ambulance-chasing, “Better Call Saul” guys. They hate them, until they need them.

And in the raw power play that is behind the attempt to kick millions of people off health care gained through the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are attempting one of the most brazen manipulations of the legal system in modern times. To pull it off, they’re relying on a toxically politicized judiciary to make law, and to make a mockery of everything that conservative legal scholars profess to believe.

What’s the rumpus, you ask? Merely the dreaded King v. Burwell case heading for arguments in the Supreme Court. Because the illegal law was passed via subterfuge and procedural trickeration, it’s only karmic that it was also poorly drafted, which is the hub of the matter:

And so it comes down to this: a legal challenge based on a technicality — specifically, four words. Should subsidies be available only to exchanges “established by the states”? Or were they designed to cover the entire nation, as is obvious in the intent of the law?

The Supreme Court case, to be decided by June, grew out of a gathering in 2010 of far-right attorneys looking for a way to destroy Obamacare.

“This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene,” said Michael S. Greve, a former chairman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, during a panel discussion. “I don’t care how this is done, whether it’s dismembered, whether we drive a stake through its heart, whether we tar and feather it and drive it out of town, whether we strangle it.”

And your problem with that is…?

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The Idiocy of ‘Leaning In’ and Thinking You’ll Win Because You’re a Woman

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Laugh as the New Yorker attempts to trumpet the struggles of professional women through the story of an academic who grounded her negotiating skills in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In:

This spring, an aspiring professor—W, as she’s chosen to call herself in a blog post about the experience—attempted to negotiate her tenure-track job offer with the Nazareth College philosophy department. She wanted a slightly higher salary than the starting offer, paid maternity leave for one semester, a pre-tenure sabbatical, a cap on the number of new classes that she would teach each semester, and a deferred starting date. “I know that some of these might be easier to grant than others,” she acknowledged in her e-mail. “Let me know what you think.”

Nazareth didn’t hesitate to do just that: W wrote that the college promptly let her know that she was no longer welcome. “The institution has decided to withdraw its offer of employment to you,” the terse reply concluded. “We wish you the best in finding a suitable position.”

What a dope.

Head over to Nazareth College’s website and you’ll learn rather quickly via their faculty manual that most of the items she attempted to “negotiate” are already set in stone, most likely via union negotiation and past practice. Regarding her “paid maternity leave” request, Nazareth’s policy is generous to say the least. Fully paid disability period, ability to apply paid time off towards FMLA, and the ability to request up to 2 semesters of leave without pay, “but with paid employee basic health insurance and major medical insurance only to which the faculty member would otherwise be entitled”. That’s one heck of a good faith investment put forth on behalf of the college for new parents (moms and dads) to stay at home for up to a year.

As far as a “pre-tenure sabbatical” goes, this woman apparently hasn’t worked a day in academia in her life. She’s applying for a tenure-track position. Time worked is what allows you to accrue tenure. A sabbatical doesn’t count towards time worked, so essentially she just asked them to delay her own job advancement so she could have paid time off to wander the libraries of the world. Combine that with the class cap request and ask how either measure, both of which illustrate a total lack of work ethic, would possibly work to her advantage?

Higher salary within reason? Sure. Lean in all you want. Deferred start date? Depends on the circumstances. But before you decide to negotiate a first job based on the musings of a high-level executive, try reading about the job for which you’re actually negotiating. Or, just whine to the world that your demands were rejected because you’re a woman. That’s much more empowering.

 

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800K Healthcare.gov Users Got Wrong Tax Info from the Government

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by The Tatler

The Obama administration announced on Friday that somewhere in the ballpark of 800,ooo healthcare.gov users were sent the wrong tax information for their 2014 tax filings. The government is asking those who got the erroneous information to delay filing their taxes.

It’s not just the feds. “California, which is running its own insurance market, on Thursday announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state.”

The mistake will delay the tax refunds of about 1M people and it may also affect the size of the refunds. Some 50,000 people who have already submitted their tax returns will have to resubmit them.

CBS News is reporting,  “The errors disclosed Friday are in new forms that HealthCare.gov sent to millions of consumers receiving coverage through the federal insurance market that serves most states. Those forms, called 1095-As, are like a W-2 for health care. They provided a month-by-month accounting of the subsidies consumers received to help pay their premiums. That information is then used to make sure everybody got the right amount, not too much, or too little.”

Apparently the administration is still looking for the “root cause” of the mishap.

Andy Slavitt, a top administration official overseeing federal health insurance programs, said the administration is still investigating the root cause of the problem. Slavitt said it had to do with erroneous calculations of a “benchmark” premium that is used to help determine the amount of subsidies that individuals receive.

Some consumers may have gotten too large of a subsidy and some may have gotten too little.

“We’re not doing any victory laps,” HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan told reporters.

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Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
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Once things escalate to the drawing stage in firearms combat, the first rule is: do not hesitate to shoot first:

Wednesday morning February 18, 2015 an armed masked man entered the “Good Pharmacy” in Pinch, W.Va. and pulled a gun on three employees behind the counter. Pharmacist Don Radcliff responded to the gunman using his concealed carry firearm to engage and neutralize the threat. The masked gunman was identified as 25 year old Terry Gillenwater. The attacker was rushed to the hospital before being pronounced dead due to his injuries.

 

 

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About That Koch Brothers Strategy…

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea after all:

Democratic officials are second-guessing the party’s obsession with attacking the Koch brothers, saying it bears some of the blame for last year’s devastating election losses as the focus on the conservative billionaires diluted a party message already struggling for clarity. Doubts about the relentless attacks on the Koch brothers surfaced as the Democratic National Committee held its annual meeting Thursday in Washington, where state party officials from across the country mulled what went wrong in 2014.

Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said campaign finances issues were “inside baseball.” “Americans are focused on bread and butter issues and could care less about who is funding the campaigns,” he said. Mr. Martin, who leads the campaign finance reform committee for the Association of State Democratic Chairs, said that the effect of money in politics was an important issue but “people don’t care.”

Sharon Stroschein, national committee woman for South Dakota, defended the attacks on the Koch brothers but acknowledged that the party’s message, such as touting the success of Obamacare, was “getting lost in the shuffle.”

Now there’s a great idea — touting the success of Obamacare. Please, Democrats, run on that in 2016. Thank you.

 

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Obama Administration Finally Finds ‘Terrorists’ It Can Hate — You

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Right on schedule; in the fantasy world inhabited by Democrats, we have met the real enemy and he is us:

They’re carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, have threatened attacks on government buildings and reject government authority.

A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists, and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism.

Never heard of the “sovereign citizens” movement? No problem! That’s because they just invented it! But don’t worry — you’ll be hearing plenty once the Democrat-Media Complex fog machine cranks up.

Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to — and in some cases greater than — the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention.​

The DHS report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks around the U.S. since 2010.

Pretty scary, huh kids? Um… not so much. Upon closer inspection, these deadly terrorists are just your basic idiots who don’t like getting stopped by cops:

The government says these are extremists who believe they can ignore laws and that their individual rights are under attack in routine daily instances such as a traffic stop or being required to obey a court order.

They’ve lashed out against authority in incidents such as one in 2012, in which a father and son allegedly engaged in a shootout with police in Louisiana, in a confrontation that began with an officer pulling them over for a traffic violation. Two officers were killed and several others wounded in the confrontation. The men were sovereign citizen extremists who claimed police had no authority over them.

Among the findings from the DHS intelligence assessment: “[Sovereign citizen] violence during 2015 will occur most frequently during routine law enforcement encounters at a suspect’s home, during enforcement stops and at government offices.”

If this is the best the useless Department of Homeland Security can come up with, we’re in even more trouble than we know. Especially when you read down into the story, looking for, you know, the usual suspects behind this sort of nonsense… and there they are! The Southern Poverty Law Center! (Yes, the same folks who just took Dr. Ben Carson off their “extremist” list.)

Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said by some estimates there are as many as 300,000 people involved in some way with sovereign citizen extremism. Perhaps 100,000 people form a core of the movement, he said. The federal government’s focus on the domestic groups waxes and wanes, Potok said, in part because the threat from foreign groups like al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Potok says sovereign citizen groups have attracted support because of poor economic conditions. Some groups travel the country pitching their ideology as a way to help homeowners escape foreclosure or get out of debt, by simply ignoring the courts and bankruptcy law.

You may now officially disregard the DHS report. That is all.

 

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With Only a Few Months Left to Live, What Would You Do?

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
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The great neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, is now facing just such a scenario:

A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

Few if any of us have lived the kind of productive life Dr. Sacks has. A best-selling author, he’s seen his book, Awakenings, turned into an Oscar-nominated movie with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, and had another book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, turned into an opera by composer Michael Nyman.

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished…

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming. This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

Read the whole beautifully written thing and then ask yourself — what would you do?

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

 

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The Government Issues Yet Another Set of Dietary ‘Guidelines’

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Yesterday, a government advisory panel released new dietary guidelines giving the green light to several previously “forbidden” foods and encouraging a diet high in vegetables and low in sugar.

Why anyone would trust the government on dietary matters is beyond me, as they just recently reversed their position on eggs after scaring the public about cholesterol. (By the way, saying when you eat foods with cholesterol, the cholesterol goes directly to your arteries, is like saying if you eat broccoli, your arteries will be clogged with broccoli. What we ingest is broken down into other elements. )  And they’ve modified their recommendations on coffee as well. “But the panel would reverse previous guidance on limiting dietary cholesterol. And it says the caffeine in a few cups of coffee could actually be good for you.”

Egg Recall Cooking at Home

The food police are also walking back claims about sodium but still says sugar consumption ought to be limited. “The committee, which is made up of doctors and nutritionists, also is backing off stricter limits on salt, though it says Americans still get much too much. It’s recommending the first real limits on added sugar, saying that’s especially a problem for young people.”

Here’s a news flash for these scientists. If you remove fat from food, and the government has scared people to death about eating fat, you are left with protein or carbs. Protein is expensive but you know what’s a cheap carb that makes food taste good? SUGAR, or more accurately government subsidized sugar and its mutant cousin high fructose corn syrup. So yes, people eat lots of sugar, it’s in almost all processed foods in one form or another.

sugar

The guidelines will affect all kinds of things like what advice your doctor gives you to subsidized school lunches.  Hooray.

 

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Top French Rabbi Hits Obama for ‘Random’ Market Massacre Remarks

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by The Tatler

On Thursday, the top rabbi in France stated that he was personally pained when President Obama described the Islamist terror attack on a kosher market as just “randomly” blowing away Jews.

France Attacks Courage Carnage

“It really hurts me to hear the president say that, because a random act would mean that the attackers weren’t going after Jewish people,” Rabbi Haim Korsia said at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue.

France Attacks

“They could have been going after anyone. But these attacks were focused on Jewish people.’’

The White House clarified the remarks saying that although the attack was “motivated by antisemitism” the victims were not singled out by name.

 

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Maduro Continues Purge of Opponents While Psaki Swears U.S. Totally Anti-Coup

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Venezuelan intelligence officials stormed the office of Caracas mayor and opposition leader Antonio Ledezma today, a dramatic turn of events capped off by the State Department swearing that it wasn’t planning a coup against President Nicolas Maduro.

After 4 p.m. Eastern time, Ledezma tweeted that his office was being raided by regime forces. It was a day after the one-year anniversary of the arrest of former Chacao mayor and opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Two hours after Ledezma reported the raid, his wife Mitzy started tweeting from his account. “He was beaten and detained without a court order,” she stated. “I hold Maduro responsible for the life of my husband.”

She issued tweets demanding to know the whereabouts of her husband and noted he was being persecuted for “speaking the truth and fight for democracy” — an all-caps DEMOCRACIA.

“Mitzy, we’re with you!” tweeted Lilian Tintori, Lopez’s wife. “All Venezuelans are united with Antonio before this new attack on freedom!”

Maduro alleged that Ledezma, whom he calls “The Vampire,” was involved in a plot with the United States to stage a coup. He ominously said the mayor “must be processed by Venezuelan justice to answer for all the crimes committed against the country’s peace, security, constitution.”

He recently alleged that Joe Biden was out to get him and warned Venezuelans to “be on the maximum alert level.”

The State Department flipped out at the coup accusation, with press secretary Jen Psaki issuing a statement calling Maduro’s claims “baseless and false.”

“The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Consistent with the principles enshrined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the United States reaffirms the region’s commitment that changes in governments must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and in accordance with the rule of law,” Psaki said.

“The United States is not promoting unrest in Venezuela nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government,” she continued. “We remain Venezuela’s largest trading partner. Venezuela’s economic and political problems are the result of the policies of the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan government should stop attempting to distract attention from the country’s economic and political problems and focus on finding real solutions through democratic dialogue among Venezuelans. The government should also consider the statements by 36 individuals and entities, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Committee Against Torture, Amnesty International, the OAS, and European Parliament, calling for the release of Leopoldo Lopez, who now is entering his second year in prison, and others held for participating in peaceful protests in 2014.”

The statement mentioned nothing about Ledezma.

“We regret that the Venezuelan government continues to blame the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela,” Psaki continued. “The Venezuelan government needs to deal with the grave situation it faces. Despite the difficulties in our official relationship, the United States remains committed to maintaining our strong and lasting ties with the people of Venezuela.”

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Sanders: Wal-Mart Being Cheapskates with New Raises

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the raise announced across the board to Wal-Mart employees isn’t nearly big enough because the Waltons are way richer than that.

Wal-Mart was told in a letter from CEO Doug McMillon that the entry wage will be hiked “to at least $9 an hour in April, and, by February of next year, all current associates will earn at least $10 an hour.”

“I’m also excited about an innovative program we’re launching for future associates that will allow you to join Wal-Mart at $9 an hour or more next year, receive skills-based training for six months, and then be guaranteed at least $10 an hour upon successful completion of that program,” McMillon wrote. “We’re also strengthening our department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of these positions to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.”

The company is also making improvements to flexible scheduling and benefits.

Sanders pointed out that the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, “is the wealthiest family in America and it is absurd that thousands of their low-wage workers are forced to use programs like food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing.”

“Wal-Mart should not be paying starvation wages,” he said. “While this is a step forward and a response to grassroots activism across the country, this is nowhere near enough. Wal-Mart should raise their minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour now and move it to $15 over the next several years”

“Struggling working families should not have to subsidize the wealthiest family in the country. Wal-Mart also should end its vehemently anti-union activities.”

Sanders, who’s flirting with the idea of a presidential run, is in Iowa to propose cutting college costs in half through an $18 billion boost in federal aid for higher education to be matched by states.

The senator would get that money by pulling half of the extra money requested for the military in President Obama’s budget.

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Log Cabin Republicans ‘Actively Being Prohibited from Sponsoring CPAC,’ Says Director

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

As in past years, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference is being preceded by fresh controversy over the American Conservative Union’s acceptance of gay organizations at the event.

Log Cabin Republicans National Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement today that his group began negotiating with the ACU’s new leadership team in July about participation in the conference.

He said Log Cabin was first told that wouldn’t be possible because “Republican” was in the group’s name instead of “conservative,” and when they pointed out other GOP-branded organizations participate he says they were told Log Cabin isn’t “conservative enough.” The group then sent the ACU a list of their conservative policy positions, Angelo said, including Obamacare repeal and support for Second Amendment rights.

Angelo also noted that Log Cabin defended the free-speech rights of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, who is being honored with an award at CPAC this year. “If anyone should be honored with a Freedom of Speech Award at this year’s CPAC, it should be Log Cabin Republicans,” he said, stressing they “are just as conservative as anyone else at CPAC — I dare say even more conservative than many; the only difference is that we are gay.”

ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp, who took the reins from Al Cardenas in June, told Metro Weekly that Log Cabin never formally applied for a sponsorship. “We do not bar any groups or individuals based on sexual orientation. Our standards for any group are the strength of their conservative principles,” Schlapp said. “All conservatives, including gay conservatives, are welcome to be at CPAC.”

“If the Log Cabin Republicans want to take a leadership role in the conservative movement, they need to start advocating for conservative policy solutions and siding with conservative candidates in primaries, even when it means taking on moderate Republicans,” he said. “We encourage them to do just that.”

GOProud tried to attain sponsor status for multiple years at CPAC, but was told they could only attend. In 2013, the Competitive Enterprise Institute used its sponsor status to invite gay conservatives to participate in a panel on the status of gay rights in the GOP.

Metro Weekly cited a December email from Angelo to ACU leaders asking to sponsor the event; he said he received no reply.

“The American Conservative Union has the right to invite or not invite whoever they want to the Conservative Political Action Conference, but they should be honest about the reasons why,” Angelo said in a statement today. “The ACU is fond of hiding behind a fig leaf stating gay people are welcome as guests, but the ability to buy a ticket to CPAC was never what our debate was about; indeed, I will be attending CPAC, as will hundreds of other Log Cabin Republicans members and supporters. Make no mistake: LCR is actively being prohibited from sponsoring CPAC.”

“For our organization, this has always been about contributing to CPAC as sponsors or in some recognized capacity. Time and again, when we showed the ACU that we met their criteria for sponsorship, the reasons for our exclusion changed,” he continued. “The only conclusion that can be made is that the organizers of CPAC do not feel gay people can be conservative—a position opposed by the thousands of Millennial CPAC attendees who have been asking Log Cabin Republicans for months if we would be participating at this year’s event. We owed it to them to explain why we are not.”

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Qatar, GCC Angry After Egypt Says Doha ‘Supportive of Terrorism’

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Qatar yanked its ambassador from Egypt after Cairo accused the state of supporting terrorism — and Egyptians aren’t exactly broken up by Doha’s departure.

The Gulf Cooperation Council is siding with Qatar, though, with secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani saying in a statement that he “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism.”

The accusations are “unfounded, contradict reality, and ignore the sincere efforts by Qatar as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states in combating terrorism and extremism at all levels,” he said, according to Al-Arabiya.

It all started at Wednesday’s Arab League session when Qatar criticized Egypt for its strikes against ISIS forces in Libya, upset that “unilateral” action was taken after the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians without consulting other Arab nations first.

Tarek Adel, Egypt’s representative at the Arab League, replied, according to the Middle East News Agency, “According to our reading in Egypt of the Qatari reservation, it is evident that Qatar is revealing its position that it is supportive of terrorism.”

Qatar’s news agency released a statement from their foreign ministry claiming Adel’s “tense statement… confuses the need to combat terrorism and the brutal killing and burning of civilians.”

Ousted former President Mohamed Morsi is currently on trial, accused of leaking state secrets to Muslim Brotherhood-supporter Qatar. Morsi could receive the death penalty if convicted.

Nasser Bin Hamad M. Al-Khalifa, the former Qatari ambassador to Washington, tweeted that his country objected to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s “behavior as it was violation of UN charter and international law resulting in killing and burning of innocent ppl!”

“After Sisi committed his crimes against Libyan children men and women in Derna, he tried to force Arab states to back him up after the fact,” Al-Khalifa wrote.

 

 

 

 

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Think ‘Defensive Gun Use’ Is a Myth? Think Again

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

No matter how times you try to explain to a liberal ninny why more guns = less crime, and that good guys with guns are just the fellas bad guys with guns never want to encounter, some lefties just won’t learn:

It’s deja vu all over again. In a recent Politico Magazine article, Evan DeFillipis and Devin Hughes resuscitate criticisms of a survey on defensive gun use that I conducted with my colleague Marc Gertz way back in 1993—the National Self-Defense Survey (NSDS). The authors repeat, item for item, speculative criticisms floated by a man named David Hemenway in 1997 and repeated endlessly since. The conclusion these critics drew is that our survey grossly overestimated the frequency of defensive gun use (DGU), a situation in which a crime victim uses a gun to threaten or attack the offender in self-defense. But what DeFillipis and Hughes carefully withheld from readers is the fact that I and my colleague have refuted every one of Hemenway’s dubious claims, and those by other critics of the NSDS, first in 1997, and again, even more extensively, in 1998 and 2001…

So what does research on the flaws in surveys of crime-related behaviors tell us? It consistently indicates that survey respondents underreport (1) crime victimization experiences, (2) gun ownership and (3) their own illegal behavior. While it is true that a few respondents overstate their crime-related experiences, they are greatly outnumbered by those who understate them, i.e. those who falsely deny having the experience when in fact they did. In sum, research tells us that surveys underestimate the frequency of crime victimizations, gun possession and self-reported illegal behavior.

In other words, almost nobody willingly reports they used a firearm to stop the commission of a crime unless it really happened.

 

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France’s Muslim Problem — and Europe’s

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

The scales are beginning to fall from some Leftist eyes. First came the Atlantic‘s long takeout on ISIS; now the New York Review of Books enters the fray with “France on Fire”:

Immediately after the [Charlie Hebdo] murders the French press focused almost exclusively on the killers and their milieu: the poor neighborhoods, the radical preachers, imprisoned terrorists, and the international jihadist network that furnished arms, training, and indoctrination. While disturbing, none of this news was surprising (though the French had greatly underestimated the effect of the prisons, where young men who commit petty crimes fall under the spell of radical fundamentalists with terrorist connections). Western countries have had enough experience with Islamist terrorism to know how it breeds.

What genuinely shocked the public, and the political and intellectual classes that claim to speak for it, was the news that a noticeable number of students in what are euphemistically called here les quartiers (meaning poor and heavily Muslim neighborhoods) refused to recognize the moment of silence President Hollande had called for. And not only that. Some told their teachers that the victims got what they deserved because no one should be allowed to mock the Prophet; others celebrated the killers on social media, and circulated rumors that the entire crisis was manufactured by the government and/or Zionist agents.

France, alone among European nations, prides itself on laicity — secularism. That’s one of the reasons the French thought they could absorb millions of aliens who, they thought, would drop their allegiance to their “faith” and get with the multi-culti program. Mais non!

It is the multiculturalist [view] that seems the least in touch with social and political reality today. Not because the French don’t need to learn to accommodate more differences, but because it refuses to recognize the very disturbing developments in the Islamic world today (which are anything but accommodating to differences) and how they have already affected French life. The current mantra, which President Hollande felt obliged to repeat, is that Islamic terrorism has “nothing to do with Islam” and that the most important thing is not to “make an amalgam” of all Muslims. (The Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, went even further, declaring the terrorists to be “without faith”—in other words, infidels.) But this attitude only reinforces an institutional and intellectual omertà that makes it difficult even to discuss what is really going on in the schools.

When belief in something, no matter how evil, meets belief in nothing, no matter how secular, something always wins. Read the whole thing.

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Dem Senator ‘Understands Criticism Leveled at President’ Over Islam Semantics, But ‘They Missed the Point’

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs Subcommittee accused Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of trying to score “cheap partisan political points” off of the administration’s refusal to describe ISIS as Islamic.

On Fox last night, Cruz called the semantics battle and the State Department’s assertion that job opportunities will dissuade jihadists “idiocy.”

“This bizarre, politically correct, double speak is simply not befitting a commander-in-chief whose first obligation should be to protect the United States of America,” Cruz said. “…What undermines the global effort is for the President of the United States to be an apologist for radical Islamic terrorists, to analogize it to the Crusades from 700 years ago.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told CNN today that he’s “upset” with Cruz for taking on President Obama’s “simple but powerful point.”

“I don’t think this is very hard to understand or very complicated. ISIS is trying to characterize the United States and our allies as being at war with Islam, and ISIS is trying to characterize themselves as being the legitimate heirs of the prophet of Mohammed,” Coons said. “…What our president is saying is we’re not at war with Islam, we’re at war with people who have perverted Islam and who are claiming to be Islamic extremist, Islamic jihadists, in order to advance their own legitimacy.”

“I understand the criticisms that are being leveled at the president, but they missed the broader point. 20,000 foreign fighters, folks from the United States, from Great Britain, Germany, France are flooding into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS’ fight. We should not help ISIS by strengthening the perception that this is a war of Christianity against Islam. It’s not. It’s a war of the modern world against a group of medieval radical extremists who happen to be Muslims and are misclaiming a Muslim heritage and religious authority.”

Coons, who tweeted Monday that he was “horrified by the video of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS terrorists, unspeakable hatred and unthinkable extremism,” said he thinks “we are dedicating far too much time to splitting hairs on this point.”

“They are Islamic, they are extremists,” the senator said. “They are Islamic, they are extremists. Our president is trying to be careful about not claiming that this is a war between Christianity and Islam. Does that make sense? It’s a simple, powerful point.”

Coons, though, stressed that he thought it was important to point out the faith of the Egyptian victims. In its original statement on the massacre, the White House called the Copts “Egyptian citizens.”

“I commend the president for convening a global summit on fighting extremism in all forms, but I do think it’s important to emphasize at times when ISIS’ victims are Christians, I called that out,” he said.

“And I point to the fact that it was Coptic Christians who were murdered in Libya. When they murdered the Yazidis in Iraq, which is another religious minority and Christians, I pointed out the fact that they were massacring religious minorities including Christians. It is important to emphasize that they claim to be legitimate Muslim jihadists, but their legitimacy has been rejected by every respected leader of the Muslim world.”

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You Knew This Was Coming

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Because, revenge:

The Justice Department is preparing to bring a lawsuit against the Ferguson, Missouri, police department over a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics used by officers, if the police department does not agree to make changes on its own, sources tell CNN. Attorney General Eric Holder said this week he expects to announce the results of the department’s investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown and a broader probe of the Ferguson Police Department before he leaves office in the coming weeks.

Brown’s shooting death at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson has thrust Ferguson into the center of a nationwide debate over police tactics and race relations. The Justice Department is expected to announce it won’t charge Wilson for the shooting, but it’s also expected to outline findings that allege a pattern of discriminatory tactics used by the Ferguson police. If they don’t agree to review and revise those tactics, sources say, the Justice Department would sue to force changes in the department.

They can always get you for something. Behold the first post-racial president and his post-racial administration: they never stop, they never sleep, they never quit.

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India’s Prime Minister Promises to Protect Religious Minorities

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally broken his silence on attacks by Hindu militants against Christians and other religious minorities. He made a promise to protect these minorities at an event honoring two new Catholic saints from India.

“I condemn all incidents of violence where religious minorities were targeted,” Modi told an event organized by the Christian community to celebrate the beatification of two Indians by Pope Francis late last year.

“No religious group can incite violence … my government will ensure there is complete freedom of faith.”

Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, rarely attends events organized by minority communities.

His decision to appear among Christians followed a drubbing for his party in elections to the Delhi local assembly last week, where it won just three of 70 seats, raising concerns that it could face setbacks in other state elections on the horizon.

The poll took place against the backdrop of a clash between police and priests, nuns and parishioners who were protesting over a series of vandalism and arson attacks on churches.

In a nation with a large Hindu majority – nearly 80% of Indians identify as practicing Hinduism – Modi’s remarks represent a shift toward protection of those who practice other faiths, and it’s a welcome change to critics of the Modi administration.

In January, Christian leaders criticized Modi for his previous silence on the attacks on churches in Delhi. The series of incidents in the region led Christian leaders to believe there was pattern in the attacks on Christian churches, motivated by religious radicals in the country.

“These are not isolated events. It is the fourth attack on a church in Delhi archdiocese since December 1,” Father [Savarimuthu] Shankar said in January, according to UCA News.

Christian leaders previously stated that Modi’s denouncement of the attacks will help strengthen the relationship and ease tensions between Christians and Hindus.

“The prime minister owes an answer to all. … In fact his silence is eloquent and disturbing,” opposition Congress Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said to UCA News.

Militants have targeted converts from Hinduism to other religions in particular, but Modi vows that his administration will not tolerate such violence.

Religious conversions have become a sensitive issue in recent months after hardliners with links to the BJP said Hinduism was under threat and started a campaign to convince Christians and Muslims to change their faith.

“My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly,” Modi said.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock /Nisarg Lakhmani

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Sen. Grassley Presses Loretta Lynch on DOJ Attorney Misconduct

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by J. Christian Adams

PJ Media has been reporting on the gross misconduct of various Department of Justice lawyers and officials – including lawyers who participated in sock-puppet blogging campaigns during the trial of New Orleans police officers.  Others who committed perjury in internal Department of Justice Inspector General investigations.  Senator Grassley wants to know why these individuals are still on the DOJ payroll.

In written questions to Loretta Lynch, Grassley wants answers. You decide whether or not he got them. From Grassley’s written questions:

55. Department of Justice attorneys have a great deal of power and discretion but I am concerned that without proper oversight, this power and authority can be abused without consequences. For example, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General (IG) does not have the ability to investigate attorney misconduct. Rather, attorney misconduct is currently investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility but this office does not have the same strong statutory independence as the IG. Currently, there are at least three examples of attorneys who remain employed by the Department despite evidence that these attorneys committed serious misconduct.

a. A Federal judge found that Karla Dobinski, a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division, engaged in a “wanton reckless course of action” when she posted commentsto Nola.com news stories under a pseudonym about a trial where she provided  evidence as a disinterested expert witness.  If confirmed, what steps will you take to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken in this case, and will you pledge to provide updates to this committee about the status?

Loretta Lynch’s response:

Consistent with the positions taken by previous Attorneys General, across Administrations, I support the role of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in investigating attorney misconduct. OPR has been recognized consistently as a strong, independent entity within the Department that has a long and distinguished history of investigating allegations of attorney misconduct and recommending appropriate punishment. I understand that OPR is unique in that it has a singular focus on investigating attorney misconduct. If confirmed, I will commit to ensuring that the Department holds accountable any employees who are found to have committed misconduct.

We’ll report on whether Dobinski still has a $160,000 per year job a few months after Lynch is confirmed, if she is confirmed.

Dobinski

DOJ Lawyer Karla Dobinski

Grassley also asks why Voting Section staff who committed perjury in an internal investigation and mocked the State of Mississippi are still employed:

b. Stephanie Celandine Gyamfi, an attorney with the Department’s Voting Rights section, was found to have engaged in perjury during a 2013 DOJ IG investigation. In addition, Ms. Gyamfi posted comments regarding an ongoing matter at the Voting Rights section suggesting that the State of Mississippi should change its motto to “disgusting and shameful.” If confirmed, what steps will you take to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken in this case, and will you pledge to provide updates to this committee about the status?

Lynch’s response:

As the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, I am not familiar with the details of this matter, so I am not in a position to know what personnel actions have taken place to date or whether they were appropriate. If I am confirmed as Attorney General, I will commit to ensuring that the Department holds accountable any employees who are found to have committed misconduct.

Stay tuned.

 

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Obama: People Who ‘Spew Hatred’ Toward Muslims, Immigrants Feed ‘Terrorist Narratives’

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama told a gathering of international dignitaries today that “all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam, because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorists’ narrative.”

He also called on Muslim clerics and organizations to “push back not just on twisted interpretations of Islam” but “on the lie that we are somehow engaged in a clash of civilizations.”

“Obviously, there is a complicated history between the Middle East, the West, and none of us I think should be immune from criticism in terms of specific policies, but the notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie. And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it,” the president said.

“At the same time, former extremists have the opportunity to speak out — speak the truth about terrorist groups. And oftentimes, they can be powerful messengers in debunking these terrorist ideologies. One said, ‘This wasn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.’ Those voices have to be amplified.”

Among other components of his anti-extremism plan already outlined, including jobs and good governance, Obama stressed ensuring “that our diverse societies truly welcome and respect people of all faiths and backgrounds, and leaders set the tone on this issue.”

He noted “acts of anti-Semitism” in Europe, “or in some cases, anti-Muslim sentiment or anti-immigrant sentiment.”

“When people spew hatred towards others because of their faith or because they are immigrants, it feeds into terrorist narratives. If entire communities feel they can never become a full part of the society in which they reside, it feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a sense of injustice upon which extremists prey,” Obama continued. “And we can’t allow cycles of suspicions to tear at the fabric of our countries.”

“So we all recognize the need for more dialogues across countries and cultures. Those efforts are indeed important. But what’s most needed today, perhaps, are more dialogues within countries, not just across faiths, but also within faiths. Violent extremists and terrorists thrive when people of different religions or sects pull away from each other and are able to isolate each other, label them as ‘they,’ as opposed to us, something separate and apart.”

So, Obama said, “let’s share the truth of our faiths with each other.”

He announced a program named after murder U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens “to connect 1 million young people from America and the Middle East and North Africa for dialogue.”

“In some of our countries, including the United States, Muslim communities are still small and, you know, relative to the entire population. And as a result, many people in our countries don’t always know personally somebody who is Muslim. So the image they get of Muslims or Islam is in the news. And given the existing news cycle, that can give a very distorted impression,” he said. “A lot of the bad, like terrorists who claim to speak for Islam, that’s absorbed by the general population; not enough of the good — the more than 1 billion people around the world who do represent Islam, and are doctors and lawyers and teachers and neighbors and friends.”

“So we have to remember these Muslim men and women, the young Palestinian working to build understanding and trust with Israelis, but also trying to give voice to her people’s aspirations; the Muslim clerics working for peace with Christian pastors and priests in Nigeria and the Central African Republic to put an end to the cycle of hate; the civil society leaders in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies; parliamentarians in Tunisia working to build one of the world’s newest democracies; business leaders in India with one of the world’s largest Muslim populations; entrepreneurs unleashing new innovations in places like Malaysia, health workers fighting to save lives from polio and from Ebola in West Africa and volunteers who go to disaster zones after a tsunami or after an earthquake to ease suffering and help families rebuild, Muslims who have risked their lives as human shields to protect Coptic churches in Egypt and to protect Christians attending mass in Pakistan and who try to protect synagogues in Syria.”

Obama reminded all that a Muslim police officer was killed in the Charlie Hebdo massacre and a Muslim employee saved Jews at the kosher grocery store.

“It’s not a question of Jews or Christians or Muslims,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat, and we have to help each other to get out of this crisis.”

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Rudy: Barry Hates America

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

I know. Big shocker, right? Mr. “Fundamental Transformation” himself, not that into America:

Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

This being a private, off-the-record event, the former mayor’s remarks immediately found their way into print, which is something Republicans are just going to have to get used to. Nothing that is said, anywhere, at any time, is off the record. Especially when a snarky Politico writer can note in the very next paragraph:

With Walker sitting just a few seats away, Giuliani continued by saying that “with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out.”

And you just know Walker was lovin’ it! Speaking of whom, he sure is sounding more and more like a candidate every day:

“The big thing I thought Mitt Romney’s campaign missed more than anything was we already knew the narrative that the economy was failing, and that there was a compelling case to get rid of the president,” Walker told the crowd of business leaders, academics, GOP honchos and members of the media at the posh 21 Club.

“What we never heard — or at least didn’t hear very clearly — was why Mitt Romney would be a better alternative,” Walker said.

Something tells me Walker won’t be making that mistake should he run.

 

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Psaki Leaving State Department to Head White House Communications Team

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The Associated Press is reporting that President Obama is plucking Jen Psaki from the State Department to run his communications team at the White House.

She’ll replace Jennifer Palmieri on April 1. Palmieri is leaving to work on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Psaki, who was Obama’s traveling press secretary during his re-election campaign, began conducting the daily briefing as the State Department’s press secretary in May 2013.

It required lots of on-the-job training. Psaki was picked by then-new Secretary of State John Kerry to be his press secretary, replacing Victoria Nuland, in mid-February 2013, and began undergoing intensive training within the State Department on global affairs.

Psaki came to the job with no foreign policy experience and regularly faced grillings from reporters around the world.

Nuland, on the other hand, was a former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the George W. Bush administration and a former foreign policy adviser to Dick Cheney.

Kerry knows Psaki from her work on his 2004 presidential campaign, but unlike the messaging she shaped for Obama’s and Kerry’s campaigns the State Department is expressly a nonpartisan agency.

There’s also a press shake-up at the Pentagon, where new Defense Secretary Ash Carter will replace press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby with a civilian.

Kirby told reporters yesterday that he didn’t know when his last briefing will be.

“We’ll just have to see how the schedule plays out,” he said. “You know, we try to do two a week, and then we’ll just see.”

The last civilian press secretary, George Little, stepped down in October 2013, days after Carter stepped down after Chuck Hagel’s tenure began.

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VIDEO: Saudi Cleric Says Earth Can’t be Rotating Because This Cup

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
YouTube Preview Image

Thanks to Al-Arabiya for circulating this gem on the same week of Galileo’s birth:

Answering a student question on whether the Earth is stationary or moving, Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari replied: “stationary and does not move.”

He then attempted to support his argument by quoting some clerics and selected religious statements. But his most controversial method to debunk the rotation theory was a “logical” deduction in which he used a visual.

“First of all, where are we now? we go to Sharjah airport to travel to China by plane, clear?! focus with me, this is Earth;” he said, holding a sealed water cup.

He argued that if a plane stops still in air “China would be coming towards it” in case the Earth rotates on one direction. It the Earth rotates on opposite direction, the plane would never reach China, because “China is also rotating.”

The sheikh also said the moon landings were a hoax, which actually just puts him the company of a bunch of American conspiracy theorists.

Twitter is huge in Saudi Arabia, so the mocking came swiftly after his Sunday science lesson.

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