“Now, every time the governor is asked about this, he doesn’t say any, he say, he goes up with a whole lot of verbiage, but when he gets pressed, he says, no, he would not do anything different then we are doing now. Are they proposing putting American troops on the ground, putting American aircraft in their airspace? Is that what they’re proposing? If they do, they should speak up and say so. But that’s not what they’re saying”
TEL AVIV—Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that entered its airspace over the Golan Heights, the first such strike in nearly 29 years amid heightened fighting between the regime and rebels for control along the sensitive border.
“The Syrian plane, identified by the Israeli military as a Sukhoi Su-24 Russian-made aircraft, penetrated about a half-mile into Israeli airspace and had turned to return to Syrian-controlled territory when it was shot down.”
The intercept is the latest sign of instability along the Golan Heights frontier due to the Syrian war, though former Israeli air force officers said they believed that the Syrian jet crossed into Israeli controlled airspace by accident. The aircraft downing came just hours after the U.S. and Arab allies launched an expansive air offensive against Islamic State fighters and strongholds in Syria, though Israeli experts said there appeared to be no connection. Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone in Washington has a P.R. machine, or at minimum, an agenda. That’s certainly the case with Lois Lerner, the former IRS executive whose division targeted conservative nonprofit applicants with delays and harassment.
“Lerner is willing to testify only in the news media, where the whole truth is not required and irrelevant information can be shared to make her seem less unsympathetic.”
Lerner’s division of the IRS systematically obstructed and denied status to Tea Party groups while subjecting many of the smallest ones — those most vulnerable and least likely to be lawyered up — to inappropriate demands for information that was not legally required. In one case, this included the content of the opening prayer recited in meetings, and in others, this IRS Inquisition demanded that leaders of certain groups pledge never to run for office.
Lerner is out of that business now, and on to a new campaign. This campaign, in which she has enlisted friends and former colleagues, aims to tell the side of the story that she has refused to give Congress under oath.
The resulting Politico piece includes — this is no joke — the revelations that she once baked brownies for colleagues and that she loves dogs. How delightful for her and the dogs! But so what? Lerner cited the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions about her involvement in this scandal. The reason for doing that is that she believes her answers could facilitate a criminal prosecution against her. The mysterious destruction of evidence in this case strongly suggests she is right to worry about that. So does her concerned email inquiry to government IT workers as to whether her instant messages with colleagues could ever be obtained by congressional investigators. Read the rest of this entry »
U.S. Expands Campaign Into Country That Has Been a Haven for Islamic State Militants
The Syrian government and opposition said Tuesday they were told by the U.S. of its plan to carry out airstrikes against Islamic State targets on Syrian territory, as the Obama administration opened up a new front in an expanding Middle East war.
“This is a joint coalition effort of which the Syrian opposition is a full-fledged member.”
– Oubai Shahbander, an adviser to the opposition coalition
The disclosure that both the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to oust it were given prior notification of the attacks came hours after the U.S. and five Middle Eastern allies carried out airstrikes on extremist fighters in the country, where a civil war has been raging for more than three years.
The Syrian government said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter Monday to the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, informing him of the impending strikes against Islamic State bases on Syrian soil.
“But Islamic State prepared for the airstrikes, too, moving their top leadership and most sophisticated weapons from Raqqa, according to residents of the city, the de facto capital of Islamic State.”
The letter was relayed to Damascus by Iraq’s foreign minister, a statement issued by Syria’s foreign ministry said. Syria’s envoy to the United Nations was also notified about the airstrikes “hours before their start,” it said. Read the rest of this entry »
Originally posted on TIME:
More explicit photos were posted on the website 4chan Saturday, this time purportedly showing Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, Hayden Panettiere, Kaley Cuoco, Hope Solo and an underage Disney star, among other female celebrities.
Previously unseen photos purportedly showing Jennifer Lawrence, who became the face of the last major celebrity photo hack, were posted, too. The photos quickly spread from 4chan to Reddit, following the same pattern as the previous hack, which leaked private photos of Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande and almost 100 other female celebrities.
Here’s what we do and don’t know about the latest nude celebrity photo hack:
Are the photos real?
At least two of the hack’s victims have confirmed their leaked photos are, in fact, real.
Actress Gabrielle Union told TMZ on Saturday that her photos were intended for only her husband’s eyes, and slammed the hackers’ insensitivity. “It has come to our attention…
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The National Women’s Soccer League’s Domestic Violence Problem: Hope Solo Arrested, Jailed, in Family Abuse ScandalPosted: September 22, 2014
Soccer superstar Hope Solo was arrested early Saturday for allegedly striking her sister and her nephew at a Kirkland home. U.S. Soccer released a statement: “We are aware of the situation. At this point, we don’t have any further comments.”
Jennifer Sullivan reports: Just before 1 a.m., Kirkland police responded to a 911 call about a disturbance in the 10600 block of 124th Ave N.E. The male caller had reported that a woman at the residence was hitting people and no one could get her to stop or leave the house, according to an account of the incident released Saturday by police.
“There was a big party going on at her house. It was an out-of-control situation.”
– Kirkland Police Lt. Mike Murray
Officers arrived and immediately heard the disturbance inside. They entered the house and contacted several people, including Seattle Reign goalie Hope Amelia Stevens (Solo), who officers said appeared intoxicated and upset.
“There was a big party going on at her house. It was an out-of-control situation,” Kirkland Police Lt. Mike Murray said Saturday.
“Solo, 32, was arrested and booked into the South King County detention facility. She is being held without bail on two counts of investigation of fourth-degree domestic-violence assault.”
Officers reported that they could see injuries on Solo’s 17-year-old nephew and Solo’s sister. After hearing statements from those involved, officers said they determined Solo was the primary aggressor and appeared to have instigated the assault.
The Reign released a terse statement Saturday on the late-night arrest: “We are aware of the situation regarding Hope Solo and are currently gathering information. We have no further comments at this time.”
Solo, 32, was arrested and booked into the South King County detention facility. She is being held without bail on two counts of investigation of fourth-degree domestic-violence assault. She will have a mandatory court appearance Monday at Kirkland Municipal Court.
“Hope is not guilty of any crime,” attorney Todd Maybrown said in an email. “In fact, our investigation reveals that Hope was assaulted and injured during this unfortunate incident. We look forward to the opportunity to present the true facts in court and to having this matter behind Hope very soon.” Read the rest of this entry »
She must battle these forces alone, trying desperately to save her marriage — faced with blackmail, a killer, and unknown terror. How could one little French girl get into so much trouble?
— NASA (@NASA) September 20, 2014
Washington’s foolish approaches to the Islamic State will not destroy them or discourage others from following in their footsteps. Angelo Codevilla’s advice: Get Your Heads Out of
Your Ass The Sand
“As in Bush’s war, as is the custom in Washington nowadays, our ruling class’s several sectors decide what actions they feel comfortable undertaking about any given problem, while avoiding reasonable judgment about whether these actions will actually fix the problem.”
Angelo Codevilla writes: The American people’s reaction to Muslim thugs of the “Islamic State” ritually knifing off the heads of people who look like you and me boils down to “let’s destroy these bastards”—which is common sense. But our ruling class, from President Obama on the Left to The Wall Street Journal on the Right, take the public’s pressure to do this as another occasion for further indulging their longtime preferences, prejudices, and proclivities for half-measures in foreign affairs—the very things that have invited people from all over the planet to join hunting season on Americans.
“We need to crush ISIS and not work on arming more Islamic radicals. Just what would arming these people accomplish?”
– Representative Duncan Hunter, a Marine veteran
This indulgence so overwhelms our ruling class’s perception of reality that the recipes put forth by its several wings, little different from one another, are identical in the one essential respect: none of them involve any plans which, if carried out, would destroy the Islamic State, kill large numbers of the cut-throats, and discourage others from following in their footsteps. Hence, like the George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and for the same reasons, this exercise of our ruling class’s wisdom in foreign affairs will decrease respect for us while invigorating our enemies.
[Check out Angelo Codevilla's book "To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and with All Nations" at Amazon.com]
The WSJ’s recommendations, like the Obama administration’s projected activities, are all about discrete measures—some air strikes, some arming of local forces, etc. But they abstract from the fundamental reality of any and all activities: He who wills any end must will the means to achieve it. As in Bush’s war, as is the custom in Washington nowadays, our ruling class’s several sectors decide what actions they feel comfortable undertaking about any given problem, while avoiding reasonable judgment about whether these actions will actually fix the problem. This is the very definition of irresponsibility. But they call it “strategy.”
Irresponsibly Avoiding Debate
Our Constitution prescribes that war happens subsequent to votes by elected representatives. By debate and vote, presumably they reconcile the war’s ends with the means to be employed. But to reconcile ends and means is to banish illusions and pretenses. Read the rest of this entry »
Joy Morsi, 39, who allegedly had sex with two teenage boys who attended Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, missed a court appearance because she was being tested for psychiatric disorder, her attorney said. She is due back in court Oct. 6.
The Queens gym teacher accused of bedding two 16-year-old students is having her head tested, it was revealed Monday.
“My client has been hospitalized”
Joy Morsi, 39, was a no-show at a routine court appearance because she’s being treated for an unspecified “psychiatric disorder,” her lawyer Paul Molina told the judge.
She allegedly hooked up with a student in June, days after a relationship with another teen collapsed when she became jealous of him inviting a girl to the prom, authorities have said.
The former teacher at Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood is facing multiple counts of statutory rape and criminal sexual act for extracurricular activities with boys under the age of 17. Read the rest of this entry »
Originally posted on TIME:
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says the United States should not have completely pulled troops out of Iraq in 2011.
In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Panetta, who was defense secretary under President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2013 after being director of the CIA from 2009 to 2011, said he disagreed with the U.S. strategy of withdrawing soldiers from Iraq.
“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq,” Panetta said.
Panetta also said the U.S. should have provided weapons to Syrians who opposed Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, a view opposed to that of President Obama and many high-level security officials.
“I think the President’s concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn’t know where those weapons would wind up,” Panetta said. “My view was, you have to begin somewhere.”
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SHACHE COUNTY, China – The month of Ramadan should have been a time of fasting, charity and prayer in China’s Muslim west. But here, in many of the towns and villages of southern Xinjiang, it was a time of fear, repression, and violence.
“Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs…”
China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.
“…women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say.”
Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.
The religious repression has bred resentment, and, at times, deadly protests. Reports have emerged of police firing on angry crowds in recent weeks in the towns of Elishku, and Alaqagha; since then, Chinese authorities have imposed a complete blackout on reporting from both locations, even more intense than that already in place across most of Xinjiang.
“Chinese police have cracked down on the wearing of beards and veils, in observance of Ramadan, in Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.”
A Washington Post team was turned away at the one of several checkpoints around Elishku, as army trucks rumbled past, and was subsequently detained for several hours by informers, police and Communist Party officials for reporting from villages in the surrounding district of Shache county; the following day, the team was again detained in Alaqagha in Kuqa county, and ultimately deported from the region from the nearest airport. Read the rest of this entry »
The chef-turned-television host on the world’s cuisine, the ‘absurd’ foodie culture and why he has left restaurants behind
If you’ve read “Kitchen Confidential“, you’ll know you can’t think of restaurant food quite the same way. Bourdain’s hipster wise-ass writing style is actually funnier and more memorable than his tv travel show narration style, I think, but the sensibility is the same. Best night to eat out, according to Anthony? Tuesday, his book says. I dined once at Le Halles in New York, where he was (and perhaps still is) executive chef, and even though it wasn’t a Tuesday, the food was great. The book that made Anthony Bourdain a household name remains a favorite of mine, I’ve probably given away more than one copy. Here’s at taste of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal profile of Bourdain, go here to read the whole thing.
“Are you here to see the chef?” whispers a waiter at Sant Ambroeus restaurant in Southampton, N.Y. He’s not referring to the restaurant’s actual chef but to chef-turned-television host Anthony Bourdain, who is sitting outside on the patio.
[Check out Anthony's book "Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" at Amazon]
Although Mr. Bourdain now focuses his career on showcasing world cuisine rather than creating his own dishes, to the waiters and busboys eagerly refilling his coffee cup, at least, he’s still “Chef.”
“Bourdain once described Vladimir Putin’s face as being as taut as a Real Housewife’s.”
He earned his title: He spent nearly 30 years as a cook and a chef before writing his best-selling book “Kitchen Confidential” in 2000. That led to a series of television shows. His current show, “Parts Unknown” on CNN, which has won three Emmy Awards, provides a look at the culture and cuisine of different cities world-wide; its fourth season begins on Sept. 28. (Watch a promo for “Parts Unknown: Russia.”)
He still remembers his days in the kitchen well. “Most of my life I’ve been a pretty pessimistic guy, and I’ve had a pretty dark view of human nature,” he says, referring to how he used to see the world from the kitchen. It’s taken touring around the globe to turn him into a reluctant optimist.
“I assumed humans were basically bad people and if you stumbled…you would be devoured. I don’t believe that anymore.”
He likes going to controversial locales, and he doesn’t hesitate to criticize world leaders, if only in jest. (Mr. Bourdain once described Vladimir Putin‘s face as being as taut as a Real Housewife’s.) He hopes that his shows offer a new perspective on foreign locations. Read the rest of this entry »
Our In-House Photo Rock Star Deb Fong, interviewed. They beat me to it! Happy to see we didn’t even have to assign an interviewer, we had nothing to do with it, honest! We only wish there were an audio version of this, Deb is known for a uniquely high-velocity verbal style. Thanks to bluebalu, a favorite HK site of ours, too.
Originally posted on bluebalu: Living in Hong Kong:
It’s Monday morning… and I’m hungry again. Why’s that? It’s because I’ve been looking at Deb’s hongkongfong way too long and now want to go and eat at one of the many places Deb recommended in her ‘one year in’ post and book at table on the small boot at the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter!
What I love about her blog is the mix of different topics – news places to try, old regulars to revisit, markets and temples Deb visited (with some amazing photography), as well as travel experiences she collected. It is a great mix of different impressions, and it is easy to navigate, as you just pick what you are most interested in – anything from eating out to cultures and festivals as well as travel locations are featured on her blog.
So without much further ado, let me introduce Deb and her blog hongkongfong in…
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Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee offered eight ways that the Obama administration is “blocking information” at a recent joint meeting of news editors.
1) As the United States ramps up its fight against Islamic militants, the public can’t see any of it. News organizations can’t shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off — there are no embeds. In fact, the administration won’t even say what country the S. bombers fly from.
2) The White House once fought to get cameramen, photographers and reporters into meetings the president had with foreign leaders overseas. That access has become much rarer. Think about the message that sends other nations about how the world’s leading democracy deals with the media: Keep them out and let them use handout photos.
3) Guantanamo: The big important 9/11 trial is finally coming up. But we aren’t allowed to see most court filings in real time — even of nonclassified material. So at hearings, we can’t follow what’s happening. We don’t know what prosecutors are asking for, or what defense attorneys are arguing.
4) Information about Guantanamo that was routinely released under President George W. Bush is now kept secret. The military won’t release the number of prisoners on hunger strike or the number of assaults on guards. Photo and video coverage is virtually nonexistent.
5) Day-to-day intimidation of sources is chilling. AP’s transportation reporter’s sources say that if they are caught talking to her, they will be fired. Even if they just give her facts, about safety, for example. Government press officials say their orders are to squelch anything controversial or that makes the administration look bad.
Buzbee also criticized the current administration for making Freedom of Information Act requests “slow and expensive.” Journalists are then forced to sue the government to force officials to respond, she said. Read the rest of this entry »
Weakness Invites Aggression. Putin’s Only Responding to Passive U.S. Leadership, Happily Accepting the Invitation
Update 5:50 P.M.: This story has been updated to include developing information about the Russian incursion off the coast of Alaska
Bill Gertz reports: Russian strategic nuclear bombers carried out air defense zone incursions near Alaska and across Northern Europe this week in the latest nuclear saber rattling by Moscow.
“They are having a very aggressive nuclear readiness exercise now as a show of force. Whereas the U.S. has been on a path of nuclear zero which they think is ridiculous.”
Six Russian aircraft, including two Bear H nuclear bombers, two MiG-31 fighter jets and two IL-78 refueling tankers were intercepted by F-22 fighters on Wednesday west and north of Alaska in air defense identification zones, said Navy Capt. Jeff A. Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. Two other Bears were intercepted by Canadian jets on Thursday.
Russia, under Putin, is engaged in a large-scale nuclear buildup that includes new missiles, submarines, and a new bomber.
A day later two more Bear bombers were intercepted by Canadian CF-18 jets in the western area of the Canadian air defense identification zone near the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
A reminder to iPhone owners cheering Apple’s latest privacy win: Just because Apple will no longer help police to turn your smartphone inside out doesn’t mean it can prevent the cops from vivisecting the device on their own.
“I am quite impressed, Mr. Cook! That took courage. But it does not mean that your data is beyond law enforcement’s reach.”
– iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski
On Wednesday evening Apple made news with a strongly-worded statement about how it protects users’ data from government requests. And the page noted at least one serious change in that privacy stance: No longer will Apple aid law enforcement or intelligence agencies in cracking its users’ passcodes to access their email, photos, or other mobile data. That’s a 180-degree flip from its previous offer to cops, which demanded only that they provide the device to Apple with a warrantto have its secrets extracted.
In fact, Apple claims that the new scheme now makes Apple not only unwilling, but unable to open users’ locked phones for law enforcement. “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access [your personal] data,” reads the new policy. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
“I can do it. I’m sure the guys in suits in the governments can do it. And I’m sure that there are at least three or four commercial tools that can still do this, too.”
But as the media and privacy activists congratulated Apple on that new resistance to government snooping, iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski offered a word of caution for the millions of users clamoring to pre-order the iPhone 6 and upgrade to iOS 8. In many cases, he points out, the cops can still grab and offload sensitive data from your locked iPhone without Apple’s help, even in iOS 8. All they need, he says, is your powered-on phone and access to a computer you’ve previously used to move data onto and off of it. Read the rest of this entry »
The fact that ISIS focuses on beheadings rather than elaborate plots makes them that much harder to foil
Jonah Goldberg writes: On Thursday, Australian authorities claimed they thwarted a plot by supporters of the Islamic State to grab random people off the street and then behead the captured citizens on videotape. Australia’s attorney general said that the massive raid, the largest counterterrorism operation in the nation’s history, involving more than 800 police officers and raids of at least twelve properties, was necessary because, “If the . . . police had not acted today, there is a likelihood that this would have happened.”
“Al-Qaeda always had an odd obsession with destroying aircraft and committing dramatic acts of murder. This fixation had an advantage: Such elaborate plots were easier to be foiled by law enforcement and intelligence agencies…“
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott confirmed that the raids were prompted by intercepted phone calls, from an Australian of Afghan descent believed to be Mohammad Ali Baryalei. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that he is suspected to be the “most senior Australian member of the terrorist group Islamic State, having traveled to Syria in April last year.” A proselytizer for the “Street Dawah Movement,” Barylei “was outspoken and wouldn’t shy from speaking the truth regardless,” a former fellow Dawah member told Fairfax Media. “He wasn’t pleased with living in Australian society and wanted to live in an Islamic society away from open alcoholism, homosexuality, fornication, drugs, and capitalism.”
“The Islamic State has discovered that beheadings — which are cheap and relatively easy to conduct — have a huge impact in the West…It takes homework to build an IED. Beheadings require very little instruction.”
Baryalei is credited with recruiting at least two fellow Australians to the cause. One, Khaled Sharrouf, infamously tweeted pictures of himself executing prisoners in Iraq and images of his seven-year-old son holding a severed head in Syria. Another fellow Australian, Mohamed Elomar, has also released images of himself holding the decapitated heads of his “enemies.” Read the rest of this entry »
That’s Show Business: Harry’s Cynical plot to keep the Senate
Everything you’ll see from the Senate in the next few weeks will be complete bullshit. POLITICO grinds out the story on the Senate leaders’ familiar playbook. Here’s the money quote:
Reid has scheduled votes on a politically populist agenda devised by Schumer aimed at forcing Republicans to block bills aimed at wooing students, women, seniors and the middle class. Democrats have repeatedly put forth bills that have little chance of passing — like on increasing the minimum wage, gender pay equity, contraception access and student loan assistance. And even when there are efforts they actually support — such as Obama’s executive action on immigration — Democratic leaders have lobbied the White House to punt on the issue to avoid hurting their vulnerable incumbents and candidates in red states. Read the rest of this entry »
As they get set for next week’s arrival of the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship and a Soyuz spacecraft carrying three new crew members, Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst closed out the International Space Station’s workweek Friday with eye exams, cargo management and preparations for a pair of U.S. spacewalks in October.
The fourth SpaceX commercial resupply services mission remains on track for a launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday at 2:14 a.m. EDT. The SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle is poised to deliver 2.5 tons of station supplies, including around 1,650 pounds of science. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 1 a.m. Saturday.
[UPDATE: See this -- Boeing Isn’t Getting More NASA Money Because It’s Doing a Better Job than SpaceX]
There is a 50% probability of favorable weather for Saturday’s launch. If the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity will be early Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »