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The Moscow-Tehran Axis vs the Caliphate vs Us

August 11th, 2014 - 9:43 am

If it isn’t a real axis yet, it will be soon:

Vladimir Putin has agreed a $20bn (£11.8bn) trade deal with Iran that will see Russia sidestep Western sanctions on its energy sector.

Under the terms of a five-year accord, Russia will help Iran organise oil sales as well as “cooperate in the oil-gas industry, construction of power plants, grids, supply of machinery, consumer goods and agriculture products”, according to a statement by the Energy Ministry in Moscow.

The Russian government issued a new statement on Wednesday after mysteriously withdrawing a similar release on Tuesday.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday that his government will help Iran bring its oil to market. In return, Iran wants to imort power and pump equipment, steel products such as pipes, machinery for its leather and textile industries, wood, wheat, pulses, oilseeds and meat.

Sanctions? What sanctions?

This deal is more bitter fruit resulting from Obama’s insistence on putting rapprochement with Iran over almost any other consideration in the Middle East. In the absence of a Plan B from the White House, Moscow and Iran are free to do pretty much whatever they want — except of course where the IS/Caliphate’s writ runs.

Speaking of whom

A Saudi suicide bomber killed in a raid by Lebanese security forces was part of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group, according to a statement published on Friday that Lebanese security officials said they were taking seriously.

Three members of the security forces were wounded when they stormed Beirut’s Duroy Hotel on Wednesday and the Saudi suspect detonated his explosives, killing himself and wounding an accomplice.

It was the third bomb blast in five days in Lebanon, which has been hit by violence linked to conflict in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, both fighting rebels who have seized territory straddling their disintegrating border.

“Two lions of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who infiltrated the city of Beirut at the Duroy Hotel, engaged a group from the General Security service loyal to the Party of Satan,” the statement said in a derogatory reference to Hezbollah.

While our attention is focused belatedly on Kurdistan and Iraq, IS/Caliphate is opening a third front in Lebanon. Of course, Lebanon is hardly stable in the best of times, which might make it a juicy piece of low-hanging fruit for the budding Islamic State.

For the Caliph, winning control of Lebanon, if such a thing is even possible, is far less important than smashing Hezbollah. Without Hezbollah, Iran’s reach becomes more limited and Assad’s position in the Syrian Civil War becomes less tenable. If IS/Caliphate wants to land a body blow on its two main rivals, Lebanon is the best place to do it.

So, again, we find ourselves fortifying Iran’s position while simultaneously trying to talk them out of their nuclear program. The cognitive dissonance in the White House and at Foggy Bottom is turned up to 11. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is simply doing what it’s told, even though by all accounts nobody there believes what they’re being told to do is remotely close to enough to accomplish the Administration’s stated goals.

What then are the Administration’s unstated goals?

Kurds Retake Two Towns

August 11th, 2014 - 8:18 am

Lots of fighting near Erbil:

The US airstrikes, carried out by drones and fighter jets, were intended to support the Kurdish forces fighting to defend Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, according to a statement by the US Central Command. They destroyed three military vehicles being used by the militant group, the Islamic State, and damaged others, the statement said, adding that the warplanes also destroyed a mortar position.

The wreckage of three heavily armed trucks lay twisted and scorched in Gwer, one of the recaptured towns, a few hours after the strikes, and body parts from at least three militants were scattered nearby. Kurdish militiamen, known as peshmerga, confirmed seeing the airstrikes, and celebrated Sunday afternoon near the still-smoldering wrecks.

The US air support encouraged the Kurdish militiamen to reverse the momentum of the recent fighting and retake Gwer and the other town, Mahmour, both within a half-hour’s drive of Erbil, according to General Helgurd Hikmet, head of the peshmerga’s media office. Hikmet said some peshmerga fighters had pushed on beyond the two towns, which lie on the frontier between the Arab and Kurdish areas of Iraq.

Now let’s get those folks all the ammo they need.

Required Reading

August 11th, 2014 - 7:31 am

Stephen Carter explains the role of strategic ambiguity:

To this day, we don’t know for sure whether Kennedy was really willing to push the button [during the Cuban Missile Crisis]. Despite the hours of tapes, the pages of transcripts, and the volumes of memoirs that the crisis has produced, the fact remains that we cannot get into Kennedy’s head. He successfully hid his hand.

Russian President Vladimir Putin understands this strategic tool. At the moment, for example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other Western observers are wondering whether the massing of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine signals imminent invasion. The West is exactly where Putin wants it: trying to guess his intentions.

The Obama administration, by contrast, has developed the maddening habit of publicly ruling out options in advance.

What Obama thinks he’s doing is publicly ruling out doing anything stupid. What he’s actually doing is signaling to our adversaries which approach to use to get exactly what they want, while denying Obama what he wants.

Obama’s approach doesn’t quite rise to the level of amateur.

Suppose They Threw a Coup But Nobody Came?

August 11th, 2014 - 6:14 am

The latest report I can find is almost 12 hours old:

The United States said it “fully supports” Iraq’s new president, just hours after embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused him of violating the constitution.

The U.S. rejects any effort to use coercion or manipulation in the process of choosing a new Iraqi leader, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, adding that the U.S. supports “building a national consensus and governing in an inclusive manner.”

Al-Maliki accused Fouad Massoum, who was named president last month, of neglecting to name a prime minister from the country’s largest parliamentary faction by Sunday’s deadline.

By the time IS/Caliphate finishes surrounding Baghdad, there might not be anyone left defending it.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 11th, 2014 - 5:16 am

♡bamaCare!!! “fails the sick,” according to Peter J. Pitts:

It turns out ObamaCare didn’t solve the problem of “pre-existing conditions” after all. It made premiums more affordable for people with chronic health conditions that are expensive to treat — but at the price of sticking them with unaffordable co-payments for their medications.

The nonprofit AIDS Institute is suing four Florida health insurers for discriminating against HIV/AIDS patients. The complaint says these patients now face prohibitive out-of-pocket drug costs. Sadly, most of the plans sold via ObamaCare all across the country have similar problems — leaving those with chronic diseases without affordable access to the specialty drugs they need.

Yet another big difference between “coverage” and “treatment.”

Friday Night Videos

August 8th, 2014 - 10:07 pm

The defining ’80s crime movie has yet to be made, even though the perfect treatment for one has been slinking around our stereos for over 30 years.

Outside the stadium

Special delivery

For Hoops McCann

Brut and charisma

Poured from the shadow where he stood

Looking good

He’s a crowd pleasing man

“Glamour Profession” is a Los Angeles crime saga, but it can’t seem derivative of “Heat.” It needs to bridge the end of the ’70s with the birth of the ’80s, without verging into self-parody like “Scarface.” The director needs to be slick like Tony Scott but smart like Ridley Scott. The script must be subtle but occasionally absurd — think of a Coen Brothers treatment, minus most of their wonderful tics and mannerisms. “Deep Cover” with “Miller’s Crossing” as the chaser.

One on one

He’s schoolyard Superman
Crashing the backboard

He’s Jungle Jim, again

When it’s all over

We’ll make some calls from my car

We’re a star

The lead must be of his time, but relatable to ours, like Dennis Farina in “Crime Story.” Our crew is smart and ambitious. They’ll use up-to-the-minute technology — for 1980 — but never in a way that the audience is given permission to laugh or sneer at their ancient tech. What the first half of “Goodfellas” did for the mob — make it look fun — “Glamour Profession” will do for the LA drug scene.

It’s a glamour profession

The L.A. concession

Local boys will spend a quarter

Just to shine the silver bowl

Living hard will take its toll

Illegal fun

Under the sun, boys

The sets, cold. The characters, cool. The pacing, studied. The violence, sudden. The sex, languid and bittersweet. Everything “Miami Vice” should have been but couldn’t have been on ’80s broadcast TV.

All aboard

The Carib Cannibal

Off to Barbados

Just for the ride

Jack with his radar

Stalking the dread moray eel

At the wheel

With his Eurasian bride
It’s a glamour profession

The boss and his trusted young lieutenant are poised to take over all of LA’s narcotics trade -— until the inevitable love triangle.

On the town

We dress for action

Celluloid bikers

Is Friday’s theme

I drove the Chrysler

Watched from the darkness while they danced

I’m the one
It’s a glamour profession

It might not even be a love triangle — it might all be in his head. If she’s interested in the young lieutenant, the song doesn’t say so.


I know your middle name

Who inspires your fabled fools

That’s my claim to fame

The locations must bring to mind the Los Angeles we’ve forgotten, but would love to remember — even if those memories are mostly a myth. Equal parts slick and gritty.

Jive Miguel

He’s in from Bogota

Meet me at midnight

At Mr. Chow’s

Szechuan dumplings

Now that the deal has been done

I’m the one
It’s a glamour profession

I’m the one

How does it all end? Ideally, with all the ambiguity and beguilement of a Steely Dan lyric.

This might all seem like a cheap pastiche of other, better movies — and that’s likely the way it would turn out. But in my mind, certain things happen just right. Steely Dan maestros Walter Becker and Donald Fagen keep enough power as supervising producers to keep it real. The big name director is a fan of the band and of the time. The script is smart — smarter than the guy pitching this movie to you right now. The actors are all willing to play it LA cool and close to the vest. And perhaps most of all, the score weaves that sleek Glamour Profession hook through and through, to tie everything together.

The defining ’80s crime flick was outlined by Becker & Fagen before the ’80s had hardly begun. Here we are almost 35 years later — who will finally get the deal done?

Wolf Blitzer, Beaten With a Cluestick

August 8th, 2014 - 2:28 pm

Watch it if you dare. If not, transcript and writeup are here.

Sign “O” the Times

August 8th, 2014 - 1:10 pm

A smaller percentage of Americans trust their government than when President Nixon was forced from office in disgrace 40 years ago:

Just 13% of Americans say the government can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time, with just over three-quarters saying only some of the time and one in 10 saying they never trust the government, according to the poll.

“The number who trust the government all or most of the time has sunk so low that it is hard to remember that there was ever a time when Americans routinely trusted the government,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

The decline in trust since then might be due in part because Nixon was forced from office in disgrace, while the current occupant doesn’t have enough honor to recognize his dishonor.

News You Can Use

August 8th, 2014 - 12:14 pm


So this is a thing happening in Britain:

Dirty Bird, a mainstay at music festivals and events across Wales, ruffled feathers with its new logo design, which appalled locals described as “completely inappropriate.”

“I was queueing up with my two young sons when I looked at the logo and realised what it represents,” unhappy Abigail Griffiths told Wales Online. “It is not the sort of thing that should be on display around children.”

“The food was finger-licking good, but when I saw the logo I was a bit shocked,” added Denise Leyshon, yet another unsatisfied customer. “It’s not really what you want to think about when you’re tucking into your meal.”

Dirty Bird’s boss Neil Young has defended the design, saying he won’t bow to public pressure to alter it. He also claimed he didn’t see any resemblance to the male anatomy.

Sounds to me like the company’s critics are just being crotchety.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

August 8th, 2014 - 11:42 am


A key ObamaCare official involved in the rocky rollout of likely deleted some of her emails that are now being sought as part of an investigation into the problems by a House committee, Fox News confirmed Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services informed House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa in a letter Thursday that some of the emails belonging to Marilyn Tavenner, who leads the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, may not be “retrievable.”

The missing emails belonging to Tavenner, whose agency runs the ObamaCare exchanges, were first reported by

It’s almost as though there’s a culture of corruption surrounding this entire administration.

Thought for the Day

August 8th, 2014 - 10:28 am

(Nearly) Driving the Cadillac Volt

August 8th, 2014 - 10:18 am

Chris Ziegler’s first question upon taking temporary delivery of an $82,000, tarted-up Chevy hybrid was, “Has GM lost its mind?” Before answering that, let’s see what you get for $82,000:

I won’t dwell on Cue because it’s essentially the same as the system that Cadillac has been using for the past couple years, but it needs a lot of work. It’s slow — I’d even argue that it’s dangerously slow. Operations that should be instantaneous (switching between radio and navigation controls, for instance) often took multiple seconds, distracting me and taking my eyes off the road for far longer than would be considered reasonable. Animations on the moving map — changing zoom level, showing upcoming turns, so on — never exceeded 6 or 8 fps, visibly stuttering the entire time. The processors used in cars aren’t bound to the same power-sipping requirements that phones are, yet Google Maps on my Nexus 5 consistently ran circles around Cue. It doesn’t make sense. GM needs to throw considerably more processing power at this system, but ultimately, it might simply come down to technologies like CarPlay and Android Auto taking over and putting these proprietary systems to shame.

$82,000 and the radio doesn’t work right.

There He Goes Again

August 8th, 2014 - 9:34 am

Jacob Siegel on the “killer flaw” in Professor Ditherton Wiggleroom’s Iraq strategy:

A former Special Forces officer in Iraq who maintains extensive contacts among the Kurdish forces points out another factor affecting their performance. “The Kurds’ biggest weakness is the size of the border they have to protect from ISIS and the imperative they are under to yield nothing,” he said. “ISIS can give up territory, but the Kurds cannot.”

Air strikes against ISIS targets can weaken the group, buy time, and prevent it from massing on Kurdish forces, but according to military and CIA veterans, air power alone will not be decisive.

It’s less than that, actually. Here’s what Wiggleroom said last night:

Today I authorized two operations in Iraq — targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death.

Maybe I’m parsing this too closely, but Obama seems to be saying our bombing is targeted at threats against our people in Iraq (which is fine), but not at IS/Caliphate threats against the Peshmerga or Iraqi forces (which make them operationally useless).

In other words, Wiggleroom is remaining true to form. He’ll show enough resolve to put our prestige on the line, but not enough to actually accomplish anything.

This would be a bigger problem if we had any prestige left.

Midterm Blues

August 8th, 2014 - 8:40 am


Stuart Rothenberg:

Obama’s problems certainly are not identical to those of President George W. Bush in 2006, when opposition to the Iraq War mobilized Democrats and independents against the White House, sinking the GOP and turning both chambers of Congress to the Democrats. And yet, it’s difficult to miss parallels between the two men and their situations.

Bush had some serious domestic challenges that also contributed to his weakness going into the 2006 midterms, including a dramatic slide in his job approval numbers following his politically deaf dealings with fallout from Hurricane Katrina.

But Obama has had his share of domestic challenges too. A majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the economy and a plurality remain unhappy with the Affordable Care Act, even after the Administration has spent years trying to sell it. Now the president has a crisis at the border. And of course, there is the inevitable fatigue voters feel after six years of any presidency.

As uncomfortable as it will make Democrats, Obama heads into the final three months of the campaign not looking all that different from his predecessor, President Bush.

The difference between 2006 and 2014 is that Democrats are much more serious about their politics.

Parts Unknown

August 8th, 2014 - 7:33 am

Anthony Bourdain took his CNN show, after many years of trying, to Iran:

Our crew explored Tehran and Isfahan, eating some spectacularly delicious and sophisticated food. We were welcomed with open arms at every restaurant we visited. (The proprietors of our hotel in downtown Tehran must have found out from our visas that it was my producer’s birthday, because they invited us all down to the office, where they surprised us with a cake.) It was at one of these long lunches where I met The Washington Post’s correspondent, Jason Rezaian, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi. They were well-known and liked in Tehran and were referred by mutual friends who knew that experienced English-speakers — with a unique perspective from straddling both worlds — would be helpful to our production.

A few weeks later, they were mysteriously arrested and detained. Based on what they told me, I cannot possibly understand why.

I’m a fan of Tony’s. Over the last ten or 11 years I’ve read his books, watched his shows, and made some amazing dinners from his Les Halles cookbook. I know he’s too travelled, too experienced, for him to have a failure of understanding regarding a regime like Iran’s.

But you’ll still want to read the whole thing.

Required Reading

August 8th, 2014 - 6:08 am

Cara Ellison adds her two cents to Wednesday’s post about prosecutorial misconduct and the death penalty:

The most chilling execution of a probably innocent man is the case of Carlos Deluna, a Corpus Christi man who was executed for the murder of a convenience store clerk, a murder that another person almost certainly committed. The case will chill you to the bone – both the details of the murder and the sickening arrest, investigation, prosecution, and execution. How could Texas law justice be so sloppy, especially when the stakes were so high? It seemed like almost willful ignorance. They just refused to acknowledge the possibility that they were wrong at any point in the process, and indeed, like in Willingham’s case, the prosecutors made certain that any serious challenges to their case were put down quickly.

Read the whole thing — especially Cara’s reminder that “If you are prosecuted and taken to trial, you have a 6% chance of winning.”

No agent or agency of any government is right 94% of the time.

Sharing Is Caring Or Is It?

August 8th, 2014 - 5:06 am

Tragically, today’s Trifecta segment is not another Brony exposé.

Or perhaps whatever is the opposite of “tragically.”

Revolving Door Injustice

August 7th, 2014 - 2:46 pm

Startling news from what was once our southern border:

Two illegal immigrants from Mexico who were charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent in front of his family in Texas have been arrested and deported numerous times, police sources told

One suspect has been arrested no fewer than four times for entering the U.S. illegally, according to federal court records. The other has been deported twice after entering the U.S. illegally, sources said.

Gustavo Tijerina, 30, and Ismael Hernandez, 40, were arraigned Tuesday afternoon inside the Willacy County jail library. They were ordered held without bail after being charged with capital murder of a peace officer, attempted murder, and a variety of lesser charges.

I’ve run out of clever ways to condemn the stumble-drunk incompetence of the Wiggleroom Administration. Hope you’ll forgive me.

Choose Your Friends… Wisely

August 7th, 2014 - 1:14 pm


Two stories, first from the Wall Street Journal:

Israel and Egypt quietly agreed to work in concert to squeeze Hamas after Egypt’s military coup in 2013, a strategy that proved effective but which some Israeli and U.S. officials now believe stoked tensions that helped spur open warfare in Gaza.

We now have “U.S. officials” excuse-mongering for Hamas, blaming Israeli-Egyptian cooperation against terrorists for terrorists acting like terrorists. The telling detail however is three grafs down:

The U.S. encouraged Israel and Egypt to forge a close security partnership. What Washington never anticipated was that the two countries would come to trust each other more than the Americans, who would watch events in Gaza unfold largely from the sidelines as the Israelis and the Egyptians planned out their next steps.

This begs the question: Why would the Egyptians and Israelis trust each other more than the Americans? Maybe it’s because the White House suspended aid to Cairo after the military deposed the Muslim Brotherhood’s creeping Islamist coup. Having the Obama Administration openly siding with Islamists probably, I’m really just guessing here, didn’t do much for our relationship with Jerusalem, either. Or maybe it’s because the Israelis figured John Kerry could be counted on to do something like this:

All across the Middle East, the traditional allies of the United States, just like the Israeli Left, feel that Obama has betrayed them. Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians, Emiratis, and Turks, despite the very real differences among them, nurture grievances similar in kind to those expressed on the pages of Haaretz. Ravid’s question—“What was Kerry thinking?”—deserves to be recast. It would get closer to the heart of the matter to ask what the president was thinking.

That’s from our second story, courtesy of Michael Doran for Mosaic. In the very next graf however he answers Ravid’s question:

The answer is as simple as it is surprising: the president is dreaming of an historical accommodation with Iran. The pursuit of that accommodation is the great white whale of Obama’s Middle East strategy, and capturing it is all that matters; everything else is insignificant by comparison. The goal looms so large as to influence every other facet of American policy, even so seemingly unrelated a matter as a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Obama’s Iran obsession has helped to set the entire region aflame, while taking away our tools for cooling things off.

And since it seems almost certain Iran will get the bomb anyway, you can chalk up every single thing this President has done in the Middle East as one big, bloody failure.

Caliphs Gotta Caliphate

August 7th, 2014 - 12:20 pm


Excuse the rough Google translation, but this story needs more exposure:

We start getting better (or rather unsavory) to get how the caliphate of ISIS will look like in the coming years precise picture. Entire populations must submit to the radical ideology of the club terrorists, religious minorities are persecuted, forced to convert to Islam and / or massacred, and so on. It is a nightmare for people who had, until recently, relatively well organized.

Yet blijkbar can then be assumed until now. Worse Arab media reports namely ISIS now a slave market created where women from religious minorities are traded. A spokesman for the Red Crescent (the Islamic version of the Red Cross) let know. Apparently, Shia, Christian and yazidische women kidnapped, only to be traded. “The organization put dozens of families stuck at the airport of Tal Afar.” The women were separated from the men, and the latter were murdered in cold blood … and the women were taken away.

War on women, indeed.

Feel Like a Refugee

August 7th, 2014 - 11:45 am


While Washington and Baghdad managed an airdrop of relief supplies to the refugees trapped above Sinjar, the fighting between IS/Caliphate forces and Shi’ite militias has expanded elsewhere in Iraq:

As artillery shells landed in the village of Qara Qosh, which is largely Christian, and plumes of smoke from the explosions drifted across the dry Nineveh plain just 25 miles from the Kurdish capital, Erbil, panicked residents fled in cars and pickups piled with their belongings, creating long lines at checkpoints guarded by the Kurdish pesh merga.

“We heard the sound of artillery,” said Ahmed, a father of three. “It was very close to us; the windows were shaking, and when I looked at my family’s faces, I had to leave.”

He said he had fled a village near Sinjar, where there was fighting over the weekend, for Qara Qosh, but now was forced to flee again. “Everyone in my family was afraid to stay,” said Ahmed, who declined to give his last name.

The Caliphate has paused in its efforts to take Baghdad, in order to secure more oil fields and the massive dam at Mosul. Ownership of the dam would allow them to hold much of the rest of Iraq hostage to severe flooding.

UPDATE: IS/Caliphate now holds the Mosul Dam.

How to Make Two Buck Chuck

August 7th, 2014 - 10:39 am


Chris Knox reports on the wee tiny corners Fred Franzia may cut from time to time to keep his Charles Shaw Wine so cheap:

A few things to keep in mind about his vineyards: one is that they are located in what is known as the Central Valley in the California wine world which is notoriously flat and quite hot producing massive yields of overripe grapes. The other thing is that Fred Franzia is no dummy – he planted those vineyards in such a way as the rows run north-south, giving the vines maximum sun exposure and he made the rows as long as he possibly could, minimizing the number of turns his tractors would need to make. And third, these aren’t hand-picked vineyards…they are all machine harvested. And that means these large tractors with huge claws go down the rows of vineyards grabbing the grapes and depositing them in its huge receptacle. And it not only grabs ripe grapes, but unripe and down right rotten ones as well and throws them all together. Add to that leaves, stems and any rodents, birds, or insects that may have made those vines their home – they all get thrown into the bin as well. And guess what? You think there’s going to be any sorting when that truck arrives at the winery (or should I say processing facility)? Nope. Everything, and I do mean everything (including all those unripe grapes, rotten grapes, leaves, stems, birds, rodents, and insects) gets tossed into the crusher and transferred to large tanks to ferment. So think about all the animal blood and parts that may have made their way into your wine next time you crack open that bottle of Two Buck Chuck! Hardly even seems worth the $2 does it?

If you were to taste that wine right after it was made, I guarantee you it would be undrinkable. They will then manipulate the finished wine in whatever way necessary, including adding sugar or unfermented grape juice if needed to make the wine palatable.

I need a drink.

The End of MacIntel?

August 7th, 2014 - 9:28 am


None other than Jean-Louis Gassée says Apple may indeed switch Macs from Intel CPUs to Cupertino’s own homegrown A-series chips:

It looks like I misspoke when I said an An chip couldn’t power a high-end Mac. True, the A7 is optimized for mobile devices: Battery-optimization, small memory footprint, smaller screen graphics than an iMac or a MacBook Pro with a Retina display. But having shown its muscle in designing a processor for the tight constraints of mobile devices, why would we think that the team that created the most advanced smartphone/tablet processor couldn’t now design a 3GHz A10 machine optimized for “desktop-class” (a term used by Apple’s Phil Schiller when introducing the A7) applications?

If we follow this line of reasoning, the advantages of ARM-based processors vs. x86 devices become even more compelling: lower cost, better power dissipation, natural integration with the rest of the machine. For years, Intel has argued that its superior semiconductor design and manufacturing technology would eventually overcome the complexity downsides of the x86 architecture. But that “eventually” is getting a bit stale. Other than a few showcase design wins that have never amounted to much in the real world, x86 devices continue to lose to ARM-derived SoC (System On a Chip) designs.

Apple briefly forked the An line with the introduction of the first Retina Display iPads. The A5 which drove the iPhone 4S wasn’t powerful enough to drive a 3,000,000-pixel iPad screen, so the company added a second GPU to the SOC and dubbed the result the A5X. Six months later, when Apple dropped the iPhone 5 and the second-gen retina iPad, they sported the A6 and A6X, respectively.

Last year’s 64-bit A7, however, is powerful enough that there is no beefed-up “X” model for the iPad. The same chip runs the latest iPhone and both flavors of iPad. The A8 is expected to debut inside the iPhone 6, and the new iPad Air and Mini next month. That will make five generations of ARM SOCs Apple has designed in-house, and each model has been the best-designed ARM chip of its time — or very close to it. As of yet there’s nothing else as good as the A7, and nobody is going to even match it before the A8 comes out.

So the question in my mind isn’t if Apple can design something powerful enough to run a desktop-class computer, or even a workstation. The question instead might be how soon Apple decides to pull the trigger, and how bumpy the transition period would be.

News You Can Use

August 7th, 2014 - 8:23 am


Now this is what I call a party school:

Police arrested Lorie Hill after two Wagoner High School teachers found her intoxicated and without pants in an empty classroom she was claiming to be her own, KOKI-TV reports. Recently hired by Wagoner Public Schools, Hill was reporting for her first day on the job as all teachers were also returning for teachers’ first day back in school from summer break.

“They didn’t know who she was, she was apparently new and was supposed to start yesterday,” Wagoner Police Chief Bob Haley told KOKI.

Florida Woman could not be reached for comment.

Religion of Peace Update

August 7th, 2014 - 7:13 am

In a followup to yesterday’s post, eyewitnesses have more on the situation in Kurdistan:

It is a tragic situation, nobody can imagine how terrible it is, as much as I write to you and send you reports it will not be enough to describe the suffering of people.

For Zummar and Sinjar: they are under Da’esh control, thousands of Yazidis died in the last two days, they are facing a real genocide. Till yesterday (45) children died of thirst. Some families throw their children from the top of Sinjar mountain in order not to see them die from hunger or thirst, or not to be taken by the terrorists. (1500) men were killed in front of their wives and families, (50) old men died also from thirst and illness. More than (70) girl and women (including Christians) were taken, raped and being captured and sold. More than (100) families are captured in Tel afar airport.

There is about (50) Christian families in Sinjar. The terrorists were able to control the Syriac church there and cover the Cross with their black banner. Till now we do not know anything about those Christian families.

This is the war our President “ended.”

Impeachment, Imagined and Real

August 7th, 2014 - 6:36 am

Thought for the Day

August 7th, 2014 - 5:23 am

Would You Like Fired with That?

August 6th, 2014 - 3:11 pm


Microsoft wants to ease some layoff pains:

Microsoft is hoping to appease Chinese workers who are unhappy about its massive layoff plans by offering them a free smartphone. Up to 300 employees can claim a free device every day, but only if they agree to resign.

Microsoft recently announced plans to cut 4,700 Nokia employees from its workforce, leaving only 300 at its handset manufacturing facility and research and development center in Beijing. Understandably, lots of workers are extremely unhappy about the move, and many began protesting it earlier this week.

But Microsoft believes it can silence those affected and ease the pain of unemployment by giving them a free Nokia Lumia 630, MarketWatch reports.

A Windows Phone with your pink slip? Talk about adding insult to injury…

Mesopotamia’s Heart of Darkness

August 6th, 2014 - 2:04 pm


George Packer’s report on the fate of an Iraqi friend is a chilling must-read:

“I don’t know,” Karim said. “My situation is O.K.” “No, it’s not O.K.!” his friend said. “Sinjar is under the control of ISIS.”

Karim had not yet heard this calamitous news. “I’ll call some friends and get back to you,” he said.

But the cell network was jammed, so Karim walked to his father’s house. His father told him that thousands of people from Sinjar were headed their way, fleeing north through the mountains to get out of Iraq and into Kurdistan. It suddenly became clear that Karim would have to abandon his home and escape with his family.

ISIS had launched its attack on Sinjar during the night. Peshmerga militiamen were outgunned—their assault rifles against the extremists’ captured fifty-caliber guns, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons, and armored vehicles. The Kurds began to run out of ammunition, and those who could retreated north toward Kurdistan. By dawn, the extremists were pouring into town. Later, ISIS posted triumphant photos on Twitter: bullet-riddled corpses of peshmerga in the streets and dirt fields; an ISIS fighter aiming his pistol at the heads of five men lying face down on the ground; Arab locals who stayed in Sinjar jubilantly greeting the new occupiers.

Karim had time to do just one thing: burn all the documents that connected him to America—photos of him posing with Army officers, a CD from the medical charity—in case he was stopped on the road by militants or his house was searched.

Once upon a time, being a friend of America meant we had your back.

Those days are long gone, aren’t they?

UNRWA School Bombing Was Staged

August 6th, 2014 - 1:01 pm

Jim Hoft has more.