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[VIDEO] Are Some Cultures Better than Others?

Are some cultures better than others? Or are all cultures and their values equal? Bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza, who was born in India and moved to America, explains.

Source: PragerU

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ESPN To Lay Off About 100 Employees Including On-Air Personalities And Writers

No one has been identified yet. These disclosures likely will trickle out once the people affected are told.

“A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” ESPN President John Skipper says in a memo to staffers.

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Changes in ESPN content must “go further, faster…and as always, must be efficient and nimble,” he says.

That means “we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands. We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.”

ESPN said in March that the layoffs announced today were a possibility.

So far this year sports viewing on Disney networks is down about 4%, Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser noted this week. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] WOKE: Dave Rubin’s Political Awakening

The host of The Rubin Report discusses the ‘regressive left,’ his thoughts on Islam, and breaking with progressives.

Edited by Alex Manning. Cameras by Zach Weissmueller and Austin Bragg.


[VIDEO] Fighting Breaks Out in South Africa’s Parliament 

A mass brawl in South Africa’s Parliament halted the State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday.

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CHEERS! How Booze Is Becoming the New Popcorn at Movie Theaters 

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More theater chains are installing bars to pad profits as states relax liquor laws.

Pamela McClintock reports: The drinking song “99 Bottles of Beer” has nothing on Dan Aykroyd‘s Crystal Head Vodka — at least at AMC Theatres. By Aykroyd’s count, the cinema chain has sold 110,000 special Ghostbusters cocktails since last summer using the vodka, movie_drinks-h_2017_0part of a campaign by AMC to boost earnings by hundreds of millions of dollars with increased alcohol sales. “It’s been amazing,” says Aykroyd. “Overall, they’ve bought 7,200 bottles from us.”

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

Forget popcorn and Milk Duds. Booze is the next step in cinemas’ fight against flagging attendance. For decades, local and state laws prevented movie chains from offering alcoholic beverages in regular auditoriums. Only dine-in theaters could offer booze by securing a restaurant liquor license, while some high-end cinemas — including the Landmark and ArcLight in L.A. — offered beer and wine in designated 21-and-over auditoriums. During the past two years, 32 states have relaxed their laws, allowing theaters to serve alcohol in any auditorium.

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“It is the fastest-growing amenity in our industry,” says George Patterson, senior vp food and beverage at AMC. Read the rest of this entry »


In Era of Journalism Cutbacks, a Chinese ‘Robot Reporter’ 

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More Chinese newsrooms are starting to use so-called “robot reporters,” but developers say their capabilities remain limited.

Te-Ping Chen reports: China has found itself in the midst of a full-blown robot obsession in recent years, with everything from robot monks to robot waiters grabbing headlines.

Now, the robots are writing the actual headlines, too — in certain newsrooms, anyway.

Last week, the Southern Metropolis Daily published its first-ever report written by what the newspaper describes as a “robot reporter.” The story, clocking in at just over 300 words, summarizes what train tickets are most in demand bn-rt602_robot_cv_20170124041448over the Lunar New Year holiday, during which millions of Chinese workers travel home to see their families. It discusses which routes are selling out fast and advises travelers to buy tickets soon, cautioning that for certain routes, all seats are sold out.

“You’ll have to stand the whole way, the route will be more exhausting,” it advises. The Southern Metropolis Daily story is bylined “Xiao Nan Robot,” or ‘Little South’ robot and accompanied with a picture of a white, rotund robot riding atop a thick black pen.

So far, though, the scope of robot reporters is limited, says Wan Xiaojun, a computer-science professor at Peking University who worked to develop the newspaper’s program.

Mr. Wan explains that Xiao Nan is currently programmed only to analyze train-ticket sales, which accounts for the somewhat monotonous nature of its reporting. “There Are Still High-Speed Rail Tickets From Guangzhou to Numerous Destinations for Lunar New Year’s Eve,” ran one robot-produced headline today. “Hard-Seat Tickets on the 26th From Guangzhou to Zhengzhou Are Still Available,” ran another yesterday.

[Read the full story here, at China Real Time Report – WSJ]

Sports are another fertile area for robot coverage: another robot-reporter program Mr. Wan worked on was used by news publisher Toutiao during the Rio Olympics last year, producing more than 400 news briefs, he said. Those briefs were built off published game statistics or summarized the transcribed narration of sports broadcasters, seeking out keywords such as “goal,” “red card” and more. Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Taps Vax Alarmist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Launch Review of Vaccines

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Vaccination skeptic alarmist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said he will oversee a presidential panel to review vaccine safety and science at the request of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, in a move likely to reignite debate over now-debunked research that tied childhood immunizations to autism.

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“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policy, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy, who has raised questions about the safety of vaccines, told reporters following a meeting with Trump in New York on Tuesday. “He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. I said I would.”

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Vaccine experts decried the appointment of a vocal vaccine skeptic to explore the safety of vaccines and their purported link with autism, an association raised by a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 that vaxxclaimed to find a connection between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

That paper has been debunked, and The Lancet withdrew the study. Since then, numerous studies have affirmed the safety of the vaccine, most recently including a study of 100,000 children considered at high risk of developing autism.

“The concerns of public health officials and pediatricians and family doctors regarding the Trump administration and its attitude toward vaccines have just been reinforced,” said Dr. William Schaffner an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who advises the federal panel that sets U.S. vaccine policy.

Schaffner said Kennedy has “raised issues that have been settled securely and completely by good science, and 80,0000 pediatricians, many family doctors and the World Health Organization all reinforce the current recommended childhood immunization schedule. They are safe and they are effective.” Read the rest of this entry »


From Morocco to Cuba: Documenting the World’s Endangered Cinemas

When I go to the cinema lately, I’ll admit, it does feel nostalgic, almost as if I’m doing something like they did “in the old days”– and my local cinema isn’t even a charming independent one. Should we blame it on Netflix? From our smartphones to internet-abled TV, today we have more entertainment options at our fingertips all the time, than ever before. Netflix has over 85 million members and operates in more than 190 countries worldwide. You’d like to think that cinemas will never disappear, but are you sure they really won’t?

If it did happen, at least German-born photographer Stephan Zaubitzer will have documented most of what we lost. In an ongoing archive of photographs, Stephan has been taking pictures of cinemas in city centers around the world, endlessly fascinated by their dark interiors and outlandish architecture that always stands out from their urban surroundings.

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It all started in Morocco in 2003 when his flight was delayed in Burkina Faso and so he went out into the city to explore and began photographing the city’s movie theatres. The rest is history– and a lot of its fascinating old cinemas….(read more)


Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] How Can Capitalism Help End Poverty? Here’s How

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Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, Nigeria‘s former finance chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy Hernando de Soto join us at Fortune-Time Global Forum.


Castro, Chavez, and ‘Bad Luck’

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Castro and his ilk showed us that under socialism, the powerful grow rich — and everyone else grows poor.

Robert Heinlein once wrote:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.em

This is known as “bad luck.”

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Glenn Reynolds writes: I thought about this statement this weekend, reading two news stories. The first was about the tide of Venezuelans taking to boats to escape Venezuela’s economic collapse. As The New York Times reported, “Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.”

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“Although many among Western political and entertainment elites still think of Fidel Castro fondly, such people are, at best, what Lenin called ‘useful idiots.'”

“But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.”

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

Now, in their absence, things have gotten worse, and it’s poorer Venezuelans — the very ones that Chavez’s revolution was allegedly intended to help — who are starving. Many are even taking to boats, echoing, as the Times notes, “an image so symbolic of the perilous journeys to escape Cuba or Haiti — but not oil-rich Venezuela.”

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Well, Venezuela was once rich. But mismanagement and kleptocracy can make any country poor and Venezuela — as is typical with countries whose leaders promise to soak the rich for the benefit of the poor — has had plenty of both.  Read the rest of this entry »


From Hiroko to Susie: The Untold Stories of Japanese War Brides

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Who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

Kathryn Tolbert writes: I thought she was beautiful, although I never understood why she plucked her eyebrows off and penciled them on every morning an inch higher. She had been captain of her high school basketball team in Japan, and she ran circles around us kids on a dirt court in our small town in Upstate New York. I can still see this Japanese woman dribbling madly about, yelling “Kyash! Kyash!” That’s how she said Kath, or Kathy.

[Above: Hiroko and Bill with Kathy, left, Sam and Susan. The video is the trailer to a short documentary film, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” which features Hiroko and two other war brides.]

She married my American GI father barely knowing him. She moved from Tokyo to a small poultry farm just outside Elmira, N.Y., and from there she delivered eggs all over the county and into Pennsylvania. My sister describes her as having a “core of steel.” She raised us as determinedly as any mother could, and yet, looking back, I barely knew her.

Some people think the film I co-directed, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” is a paean to loving Japanese mothers. When one interviewer suggested as much to me and fellow director Karen Kasmauski, we exchanged a look that said, “Shall we tell him the truth?” The film, titled after a Japanese proverb, is about strong women, for sure. Warm and loving mothers? No.

So who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

They are sisters and daughters of the ferocious enemy that attacked Pearl Harbor in the “day of infamy,” an enemy that surrendered four years later after waves of firebombing on Japanese cities and the dropping of atomic bombs. They married men who occupied their country and came to the United States. And then? They disappeared into America. There were tens of thousands of them, yet they vanished from public awareness — Japanese women who were barely a blip in immigration history, who married into families of North Dakota farmers, Wisconsin loggers, Rhode Island general store owners.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

They either tried, or were pressured, to give up their Japanese identities to become more fully American. A first step was often adopting the American nicknames given them when their Japanese names were deemed too hard to pronounce or remember. Chikako became Peggy; Kiyoko became Barbara. Not too much thought went into those choices, names sometimes imposed in an instant by a U.S. officer organizing his pool of typists. My mother, Hiroko Furukawa, became Susie.

How did it feel to be renamed for someone in the man’s past, a distant relative or former girlfriend? My mother said she didn’t mind, and others said it made their lives easier to have an American name.

The brides, as many as 45,000, landed in the home towns of their husbands, places where Japanese people had been visible only on World War II propaganda posters. Was their skin really yellow? One war bride in South Carolina was asked to pull up her sleeve since no yellow was visible on her hands and wrists.

Hiroko Furukawa Tolbert, 85, mother of Kathryn Tolbert, arrived in Elmira, N.Y., in 1952. Her in-laws called her Susie. (Karen Kasmauski for The Washington Post)

My mother, once a daughter of privilege, came to her in-laws’ chicken farm. She has lived in the same two square miles of countryside ever since. It has been 64 years.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

I read and reread the transcripts from interviews I had recorded with my mother when I was pregnant with my own daughter more than 20 years ago, when I realized I didn’t have even a timeline of her life. Six hours of tapes and they didn’t tell me what I now wanted to know. So I went back to her recently to try to understand what she could possibly have been thinking when she made the choice to marry an American soldier she barely knew. “I wasn’t thinking. I just had to get out,” was one of her succinct responses.

I didn’t know other women like her, although I had two journalist friends who were also daughters of Japanese war brides. When they proposed making a film about our mothers, I readily agreed because I had always wanted to tell her story. And she’s such an excellent raconteur that, sitting beside her in the film as her interviewer, I’m almost an unnecessary prop.

Read the rest of this entry »


BEHOLD Hillary Clinton’s Spectacular Feat of Superhuman Strength! 

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Take that, you conspiracy mongering kooks!

The tables turned on her detractors after it was revealed she was maintaining a grueling work schedule while battling pneumonia.

Peter Daou, with a straight face, apparently, reports:

September 11 was a wild day in campaign 2016. After Hillary Clinton overheated and became weak at a 9/11 ceremony, an ugly feeding frenzy ensued that capped weeks of increasingly shrill conspiracy-mongering about her health...(read more) Read the rest of this entry »


African Movie Posters from the 1980s and 1990s

[See more here]

Source: vintage everyday


[VIDEO] OH YES HE DOES: Does Donald Trump Take Every Side of Every Issue? 

At NRODavid French writes:

…One of the more frustrating and fruitless conversations in modern politics is with a Trump supporter who just insists that Trump can be trusted. But trusted to do what? If you want boots on the ground in the Middle East, Trump’s your guy. If you want America to stop sending its soldiers to die on foreign soil, Trump’s your guy. If you want higher taxes, Trump’s your guy. If you want lower taxes, Trump’s your guy. The list goes on…

Read more at NRO.

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Source: National Review


Unconditional Surrender: US Agency Endorses Plan to Cede Internet Oversight

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The plan will not affect how users interact online, but will turn over the technical supervision of the online address system to ICANN itself, with a system of checks and balances so no single entity can exert control over the Internet, according to officials involved in the process.

San Francisco (AFP) – The US administration on Thursday endorsed a plan to cede its oversight of the gatekeeper of Internet addresses to the broader online community.

Commerce Department assistant secretary for communications and information Lawrence Strickling told AFP that the proposal from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meets the criteria set by the US administration.

The plan aims to maintain Internet governance under a “multi-stakeholder” model which avoids control of the online ecosystem by any single governmental body.

“The Internet’s multi-stakeholder community has risen to the challenge we gave them to develop a transition proposal that would ensure the Internet’s domain name system will continue to operate as seamlessly as it currently does,” Strickling said.

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US oversight of ICANN had “irritated” some governments, which used what was Strickling depicted as a mainly clerical responsibility to vie for greater control of the Internet.

The plan comes in response to the US government’s March 2014 announcement that it would transition “stewardship” of online domain name system technical functions from the Commerce Department to a body that would fairly represent all parties with interests in a vibrant and healthy Internet.

Motivation behind the transition is to “preserve a free and open Internet,” according to Strickling. Read the rest of this entry »


‘The Greatest’: Muhammad Ali Dead at 74

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Acclaimed for his quick, dancing style as a fighter, Ali also blended a unique mix of political activism and personal conviction that won him international recognition outside of the ring.

Three-time heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, who charmed millions with his wit and confidence in the ring and inspired many more with his commitment to humanitarian causes has died, according to the family spokesman. He was 74.

Ali had been hospitalized for a respiratory issue June 2. At the time, a rep said he was in fair condition.

One of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing, Ali retired in 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick in his 61st career bout.

Soon thereafter, Ali — who doctors said had begun showing signs of sluggishness and neurological damage in the 1970s — began receiving treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

Ali, who called himself “The Greatest,” was married four times and had nine children, including daughter Laila, who also became a professional boxer. Ali and his fourth wife, Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams, had been married since 1986.

Born Cassius Clay on Jan. 17, 1942, Ali first stepped in the ring at age 12 in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., after his bicycle was stolen and a police officer suggested he learn how to box. Ali went on to become one of the most successful athletes and revered public figures in history.

Acclaimed for his quick, dancing style as a fighter, Ali also blended a unique mix of political activism and personal conviction that won him international recognition outside of the ring.

After winning 100 of 108 amateur fights, Ali took home an Olympic gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He later allegedly chucked the medal into a river after a waitress at a soda fountain in Louisville refused to serve him because he was black.

Weeks after the Olympics, Ali signed a lucrative contract and won his first pro bout on Oct. 29, 1960, against Tunney Hunsaker. Ali quickly ingratiated himself with the media with his boastful claims and fresh, stylish way of speaking. He told Sports Illustrated in 1961: “Most of them [other boxers] … can fight almost as good as I can. I’m just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody.”

The brash, underdog Ali promised boxing fans he’d “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” against Sonny Liston.

At age 22, he stunned the larger Liston, beating the champ in seven rounds in Miami to win his first heavyweight title. In their next match in 1965, Ali floored Liston with a hard, quick blow minutes into the bout and retained his crown when the referee stopped the fight. Read the rest of this entry »


Domestic Dogs Originate from Southern China, say Chinese Scientists

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New research conducted by Chinese scientists suggests that domestic dogs originate from southern China, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

The theory was put forward in a report by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), published in the US-based scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) recently.

Previous research has generally attributed the domestication of dog to areas including East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and Middle East. But according to Wang Guodong, researcher at the CAS’s Kunming Institute of Zoology and lead author of the report, their study on domestic dogs in southern China suggests the dogs in in this part of the world have the “smallest linkage disequilibrium distance” between their genes, which indicates that they come from a time when the domestic dog population was possibly at its smallest and gave rise to all the different types of domestic dogs that exist today. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Common-Sense Gun Control’

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Burundi’s President Tells His Citizens to Give Up Their Guns – Or Else.

Kayla Ruble reports: After weeks of assassinations, murders, and clashes with police in Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza has issued an ultimatum to the country’s citizens: Give up your guns by Saturday, or else you will “be dealt with as enemies of the nation.”

“This call could be a recipe for disaster. The concern is that he’s going to use this call to try and disarm the opposition to maintain the monopoly of use of force in the country.”

Nkurunziza made the announcement in a national speech on Monday, the same day that authorities said police killed eight people during a shootout with an alleged group of criminals near the capital Bujumbura. People who turn over their weapons by the November 7 deadline will also be “trained on patriotic education.”

“Those who will not do so… will be taken as criminals and be prosecuted according to the anti-terrorism law and be dealt with as enemies of the nation. This is the last call we make.”

— President Pierre Nkurunziza

At the same time, the leader ordered Burundi’s police force to restore security in the country by December. “You are allowed to use all the necessary means and authorized rules and regulations in security matters,” he told the country’s cops.

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“The successful re-election campaign sparked clashes in the streets of Bujumbura between Nkurunziza’s opponents and supporters, with violent crackdowns against demonstrators carried out by a police force that was largely loyal to the president.”

Assassins have targeted supporters of Burundi’s government, military officials, journalists, opposition members, and human rights workers since Nkurunziza won a controversial third term in office in July. Reports of dead bodies in the streets of the capital have regularly surfaced on social media, and security raids on alleged rebel groups have also occurred.

[Read the full story here, at VICE News]

According to the United Nations, more than 200 Burundians have been killed in unrest since Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, announced in April that he would seek a third term in office.

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Critics argued the move was illegal due to the two-term limit outlined in the country’s constitution, which was established in 2005 after a decade-long civil war. The nation’s high court ultimately cleared Nkruniziza to run again, determining that it was legal because he had been appointed to his first term rather than democratically elected. Read the rest of this entry »


Euro-Chaos: Swedish Foreign Minister Claims they ‘Face Collapse’ Over Refugee Influx 

A large group of migrants walk down a a highway in Denmark, headed for the Swedish border. The Swedish Foreign Minister has claimed her country is facing collapse due to the mass influx of refugees

A large group of migrants walk down a a highway in Denmark, headed for the Swedish border. The Swedish Foreign Minister has claimed her country is facing collapse due to the mass influx of refugees

Jennifer Newton reports: The Swedish Foreign Minister has claimed her country is facing collapse due to the mass influx of refugees as the migrant crisis deepens.

Margot Wallstrom has said that Sweden cannot cope with taking in refugees at its current level, without it affecting services.

She says that Stockholm will now have to pressure the European Union in a bid to force other member states to share the burden of those coming from the Middle East, mainly Syria.

Margot Wallstrom, pictured, has said that Sweden cannot cope with taking in refugees at its current level, without it affecting services

Margot Wallstrom, pictured, has said that Sweden cannot cope with taking in refugees at its current level, without it affecting services

It is expected that Sweden will take in around 190,000 migrants by the end of 2015. In the first nine months of the year, more than 73,000 people applied for asylum in Sweden. Read the rest of this entry »


National Review Cover: Uber and Goliath

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In the August issue, Kevin D. Williamson writes:

“…Uber’s ability and willingness to serve underserved communities and to provide a technology end-around for some of New York City’s most charged social problems — unlike the situation when you’re hailing a cab at 96th and Lexington, on the Internet nobody knows you’re black — have made it more difficult for the so-called progressives to dress up their cartel-servicing as consumer protection. Even the nation’s oldest consumer-advocacy organization thinks Uber et al. serve the public better than the highly regulated cartels. ‘Government has a really important role in protecting consumers,’ says Joe Colangelo of Consumers’ Research, ‘and that applies to Uber. But it applies to protecting the public’s safety and well-being, not to preventing new technology from entering the market. The landscape that these regulations were crafted for no longer exists.’ New York, he points out, developed its taxi regulations in the inter-war era, and they were designed to address inconsistencies in service and costs. Uber solves those problems in a trans-regulatory way: Fares are advertised in advance, before the pick-up is even scheduled, and customer ratings mean that inspections effectively happen during every trip rather than once a year.

[Kevin D. Williamson’s book  “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome”  is available at Amazon.com]

That’s not lost on the young people who are accustomed to having services such as Uber, Seamless, and Open Table acting as their own personal 24-hour concierge.”

Read more at: National Review 

UPDATE: On newstands today:

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Obama Electrocutes Kenyan Youth With a Speech From the Heart

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Aryn Baker reports: Despite longstanding family ties to Kenya, U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Nairobi—the first by a serving U.S. President—has been largely an official affair, defined by bilateral meetings and entrepreneurship conferences.

That all changed on Sunday, when he addressed Kenyan youth at a sports stadium and spoke from the heart. As his convoy turned into Nairobi’s SafariCom Arena, he finally received the exuberant welcome that security precautions had all but denied him since his arrival two nights prior.

Crowds of men, women and children, some waving flags and banners welcoming him back to his father’s homeland, thronged the highway. Inside the arena, some 4,500 students, government officials and civil society leaders jumped to their feet as Obama’s half sister, Auma Obama, introduced a man who really had no need for introduction. By the time Obama took the podium, the crowd was ecstatic. “I love you!” shouted a member of the audience. “I love you too,” Obama said to the crowd.

Part state address, part commencement speech, Obama’s 40-minute talk started with a personal reminiscence of his first trip to Kenya in 1998, when he was a young law student seeking to learn more about his roots.

On that trip, he said, the airline lost his bags. “That doesn’t happen on Air Force One,” he joked. Read the rest of this entry »


Monarchies of Europe, 2015

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Most of the monarchies in Europe are constitutional monarchies, which means that the monarch does not influence the politics of the state: either the monarch is legally prohibited from doing so, or the monarch does not utilize the political powers vested in the office by convention.

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THE DOLEZALAGEDDON: Identity Politics Superstar Rachel Dolenzal Triggers Thermonuclear Media Meltdown

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Busted by Her Own Mother, Washington State NAACP Leader Who Falsely Claimed to be Black Becomes Global Internet Phenomenon

Controversy erupted around a local NAACP leader in Washington state Thursday after family members told a local newspaper that she had misrepresented herself as black.

Rachel Dolezal is the head of the NAACP’s chapter in Spokane and is also a part-time professor in the Africana Studies Program at Eastern Washington UniversityThe Spokane Spokesman-Review says that Dolezal described her ethnicity as white, black, and American Indian in an application to be the volunteer chairwoman of the city’s Police Ombudsman Commission, a position to which she was duly appointed.

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“It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself. Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.”

— Rachel’s mom Ruthanne Dolezal

But Dolezal’s mother, Ruthanne, told the paper that the family’s actual ancestry is Czech, Swedish, and German, along with some “faint traces” of Native American heritage.

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“It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. “Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.”

“Kurt Neumaier also told the paper that he was suspicious of several racially motivated incidents reported by Dolezal while she was in Coeur d’Alene. One specific incident he cited was the discovery of a swastika on the Human Rights Education Institute’s door on a day when the organization’s security cameras had been ‘mysteriously turned off’. ‘None of them passed the smell test,’ Neumaier said.”

Ruthanne Dolezal said that her daughter began to “disguise herself” in the mid-2000s, after the family had adopted four African-American children.

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Rachel Dolezal did not immediately respond to her mother’s claim when contacted by the Spokesman-Review, first saying “I feel like I owe [the NAACP] executive committee conversation” about what she called a “multi-layered issue.”

After being contacted again, Dolezal said, “That question is not as easy as it seems. There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.” Later, she said, “We’re all from the African continent,” an apparent reference to scientific studies tracing the origin of human life to east Africa. Read the rest of this entry »


Clothing-Optional ‘Adults-Only’ Class: Air Aviv ‘Taking the Pleasure of Flying to a New Level’

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Air Aviv, branded as “The World’s Sexiest Airline,” flies to over 40 destinations across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas

 reports: Tel Aviv – For the first time in aviation history, Tel Aviv-based carrier Air Aviv will offer a restricted, clothing-optional “Adults-Only Class” on selected trans-Mediterranean routes.

“Air Aviv, branded as ‘The World’s Sexiest Airline’… is known for its risqué marketing campaigns, rainbow plane liveries, scantily clad flight attendants, top-notch vegan cuisine and delectable in-flight hash brownies.”

The separate section – to be located at the rear of each aircraft – will offer five rows of business class-quality seats, each with widescreen flat screen with over 10,000 free adult films, retractable privacy shutters, complimentary lubricant, hand towel and one disposable sex toy per passenger.

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“With our adults-only class, we are taking the pleasure of flying to a new level.”

— Air Aviv CEO Dana Dagdani

Exclusive double and triple pods will also be available, and an inflight “Sky Spa” will offer an assortment of massage and beauty therapies.

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“With our adults-only class, we are taking the pleasure of flying to a new level,” said Air Aviv CEO Dana Dagdani. “Just wait till we launch entire adults-only flights to selected destinations – themed, chartered and perfect for bachelor or bachelorette parties, Gay Pride convoys and groups of kinky Arabian princes.” Read the rest of this entry »


Journalists Prevented from Covering PEN Event on Press Freedom

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 reports: As part of the PEN World Voices Festival, the international press freedom organization scheduled an event this afternoon titled, “Finding Security in Unsafe Passages: United Nations Event about Protecting Journalists’ Safety and Rights.” The panel, according to PEN’s website, will “delve into the wide range of risks journalists face every day. Experts will offer safety tips, share advice for protecting sources and copyrights in all types of media and address cybersecurity risks.”

“The press is no longer able to attend this event. There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.”

— Festival spokeswoman Kyla McMillan, by email

But on the morning of the event, a spokeswoman for the festival, Kyla McMillan, notified the Observer that we had been denied entry. “The press is no longer able to attend this event,” said Ms. McMillan by email. “There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.” Read the rest of this entry »


Footloose and Falun Gong: Can Dance Bring Down the Chinese Communist Party?

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Isaac Stone Fish writes: On a cool evening in late April, I watched a performance of Shen Yun, the two and a half hour variety show organized by the religious sect Falun Gong. Artistically, it was pleasant: The dancers are professionals, emotive and lithe. The emcees — one American, one Chinese — who introduce the acts and offer a bit of historical commentary, banter amicably if a bit awkwardly. Unsurprisingly for a performance held at Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and at flagship theaters around the world, the show and the orchestra are technically superb.

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But Shen Yun, which ended its annual run at the Kennedy Center on April 26 and has performed in dozens of cities across the world since its founding in 2006, is not about the arts. It’s not about “reviving 5,000 years of civilization,” as the show’s ubiquitous fliers proclaim; nor is it a Chinese version of the wildly popular Canadian circus company Cirque du Soleil, as the older gentleman sitting next to me at the performance expected.

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Rather, Shen Yun exists to transmit a message: that heavenly forces will destroy modern-day China, obliterating the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has ruled the country since 1949.

[Read the full text here, at Foreign Policy]

Falun Gong was founded in China in 1992 by qigong (energy cultivation) practitioner and former grain clerk Li Hongzhi. Emphasizing the three principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance — values seen as lacking in modern China — the organization quickly grew in popularity. At its peak in the late 1990s, it had millions of practitioners across the country.

“An unknown but presumably very small number of people continue to practice Falun Gong inside mainland China.”

Practitioners perform breathing and movement exercises thought to improve health and extend one’s life. More serious members may subscribe to some of the organization’s religious beliefs, 41PDcJ31JuL._SL250_which borrow from the Buddhist notion of the cycles of rise, flourishing, decline, and death, says Benjamin Penny, author of the 2012 book The Religion of Falun Gong.

[Check out Benjamin Penny’s book “The Religion of Falun Gong” at Amazon.com]

“They’ve always had this notion that there was this physical end point coming, and that practitioners, or those that cultivate good to a certain level, will survive to the next cycle,” notes Penny, who’s also the deputy director of the Australian Centre on China in the World. Read the rest of this entry »


The Joke Obama Can’t Stop Telling

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Hunter Schwarz writes: If there’s one thing we can count on from President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner every year, it’s him making jokes about being Muslim, foreign-born and socialist.

On Saturday, he joked about how busy he is, dealing with immigration, vetoes and Iran — all while finding time to pray five times a day…

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He got lots of laughs, but if you look back at all of his other routines, you’ll notice he has made similar jokes before. Not just once. Not just twice. Every. Single. Year. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right? Here’s a look back at Obama joking about being a socialist Muslim born in Kenya:

2014

“An American won the Boston Marathon for the first time in 30 years, which was inspiring and only fair, since a Kenyan has been president for the last six.”

“Let’s face it, Fox, you’ll miss me when I’m gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.”

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2013

“These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.”

2012

“My name is Barack Obama. My mother was born in Kansas. My father was born in Kenya. And I was born, of course, in Hawaii.” Read the rest of this entry »


Toni Morrison: ‘This is the Conversation’

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This unarmed white teen was killed by a black officer by means of self defense.

This black women got gang-raped by 4 white men. they all got life sentences. This sentence was given out 6 years before the civil rights movement. 

It’s finally over. Racism is over. You have nothing else to complain about now. Racism doesn’t exist anymore…


Polls: Americans’ Opposition to Mass Immigration Spikes to All-Time High

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American opposition to the Obama administration and GOP establishment’s extremist immigration policies is boiling at an all-time high, a broad survey of polls shows.

Katie McHugh reports: Sixty percent of Americans are displeased with the current levels of immigration, according to Gallup—a decline from 72 percent in 2008, when the country plunged into a recession, but an increase of six percent from 2014. The majority of adults Gallup polled, 39 percent in a plurality, said they wanted to see immigration levels decrease. Gallup presents these numbers through a partisan filter as “fodder” for Republicans, discomforted as they are by the results.

According to Pew Research Center, 69 percent of Americans want to “restrict and control” immigration rates. That’s 72 percent of whites, 66 percent of blacks, and 59 percent of Hispanics. Pew frames its questions to suggest that minorities are being somehow oppressed in America, so the results are not only indicative of support for immigration control but also a rejection of the leftist narrative that the U.S. selfishly hoards its goodies from the world. (DREAMers are just breaking into the country for a better, more exciting life of murder and mayhem, you see.)

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A nervous Reuters report, published before the historic 2014 midterm elections, found that support for reduced rates of immigration crushed support for an increase by a three-to-one margin, 45 percent to 17.

With reports revealing that foreign-born workers seized all newly-created jobs from 2000 to 2014, Americans sense that while low-skilled immigrants steal opportunities from Americans looking to enter the job market, highly-skilled immigrants imported on the cheap by businesses threaten to turn middle class professionals into commoditiesSixty-one percent of respondents polled by Princeton Survey Research Associates in June 2013 said we must restrict the number of highly-skilled foreign workers coming into the country, the same summer the Senate struggled to pass the Gang of Eight immigration bill to open the floodgates. Read the rest of this entry »


ISIS Released a Video Threatening Christians and Executing by Gunshot and Beheading Ethiopian Christians in Libya

via SITE Intel Group


BREAKING: Hundreds of Mediterranean Migrants Feared Dead After Boat Capsizes

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Hundreds of people are feared to have drowned after a boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea

A major rescue operation is under way after the vessel carrying “between 500 and 700 migrants” capsized at midnight local time, south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

So far 28 people have been rescued.

Earlier this week, four hundred people are feared to have drowned when their vessel capsized north of Libya.

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Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that many people were feared dead.

Italian ships, the Maltese Navy and commercial vessels are all involved in the rescue operation in Libyan waters.

The Times of Malta newspaper reported that the migrants fell overboard when they rushed to draw the attention of a passing merchant ship.

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New migrants emergency – 28 rescued, many corpses found as boat with 700 capsizes

Twenty-eight migrants have been rescued but hundreds are feared dead after a boat carrying as many as 700 migrants capsized last night.

The incident happened in an area just off Libyan waters, 120 miles south of Lampedusa.

The emergency was declared at about midnight when the migrants are believed to have moved to one side of the boat, capsizing it, when a merchant ship approached.  

The incident bears similarities to another case last week when some 400 migrants are believed to have perished. Only some 150 were rescued. 

A number of bodies were washed ashore in Libya. 

Mark Micallef, a journalist with the paper, told the BBC such incidents were “not at all uncommon”.

“We have seen this sort of scenario happen all over again, where a boat gets capsized right at the moment of rescue. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Fresh Protests Sweep Across Brazil as Hundreds of Thousands Seek President Rousseff’s Impeachment

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SAO PAULO –  Nationwide demonstrations calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff swept Brazil for the second day in less than a month, though turnout at Sunday’s protests appeared down, prompting questions about the future of the movement.

“I was on the avenue on March 15 and without a doubt, today’s demonstration was much smaller. I will keep coming back to demonstrations like this one — big or small — because it is the best way for us to make our voices heard and demand an end to the Dilma government and the PT and end to corruption. The country cannot go on like this.”

— Antonio Guglielmi, a 61-year-old sales representative for construction materials company

A poll published over the weekend suggested the majority of Brazilians support opening impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, whose second term in office has been buffeted by a corruption scandal at Brazil’s largest company, oil giant Petrobras, as well as a stalled economy, a sliding currency and political infighting. Only 13 percent of survey respondents evaluated Rousseff’s administration positively.

“Sunday’s protests, which took place in cities from Belem, in the northern Amazonian rainforest region, to Curitiba in the south, were organized mostly via social media by an assortment of groups. Most were calling for Rousseff’s impeachment, but others’ demands ranged for urging looser gun control laws to a military coup.”

While last month’s protests drew substantial crowds in several large cities, Sunday’s turnout was lackluster.

In Rio, several thousand people marched along the golden sands of Copacabana beach, many dressed in the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag. The March 15 protest, by contrast, drew tens of thousands. Read the rest of this entry »


When Islamic State Starts Hitting Ships

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Radical Islamists may soon gain a foothold on the Mediterranean. The U.S. Navy must be ready

Mr. Cropsey, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, served as a naval officer and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Seth Cropsey writes: The slaughter of 21 Egyptian Christians by Islamic State militants on Feb. 15 took place on the Libyan shore of the Mediterranean. Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan recently told the Times of London that unless order is restored in his country, ISIS will secure territory on Libya’s Mediterranean coast within two months. This would increase its potential for attacks in Italy, Greece and elsewhere in Europe. An October ISIS publication pictured St. Peter’s Square under a black flag, and ISIS’s sentiments about Christians are clear.

Greater ISIS access to the Mediterranean would be deeply troubling to the region and a large strategic advance for the terrorist group. ISIS’s prospects for significant naval power are remote. But small boats, fishing vessels, smugglers, and merchant craft that carry concealed weapons could hijack, sink, or rake commercial shipping including cruise liners in the central Mediterranean. This would divide the eastern part of the inland sea from its west and expose Europe’s southern littoral to attacks and kidnappings.

[read the full text here, at WSJ]

Tehran today wields considerable power over two landlocked capitals of the region, Baghdad and Damascus. Its sea control is more expansive. Besides Iran’s border on the Persian Gulf it is now the major power in Beirut on the Mediterranean and San’a, the capital of Yemen, on the Bab El-Mandeb, the narrow strait that sits astride the southern gateway to and from the Suez Canal.

Turkish naval combatants’ current incursion in the Eastern Mediterranean—to escort a natural gas exploration vessel operating without permission in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone—has ended the stability that existed in the region since the Cold War standoff between U.S. and Soviet naval forces. And in 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to establish a permanent squadron in the Mediterranean. Read the rest of this entry »


Anti-GMO Activist’s Stunning Reversal

While Golden Rice was developed over ten years at the miniscule total cost of $2.6 million, in an extraordinary public-private partnership using funds donated by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Swiss Federation, the National Science Foundation, and the European Union, Greenpeace International alone annually spends about $270 million annually, and upwards of $7 million each year specifically dedicated to burying Golden Rice and any other food or crop developed using biotechnology.

While Golden Rice was developed over ten years at the miniscule total cost of $2.6 million, in an extraordinary public-private partnership using funds donated by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Swiss Federation, the National Science Foundation, and the European Union, Greenpeace International alone annually spends about $270 million annually, and upwards of $7 million each year specifically dedicated to burying Golden Rice and any other food or crop developed using biotechnology.annually, and upwards of $7 million each year specifically dedicated to burying Golden Rice and any other food or crop developed using biotechnology.

Julie Gunlock writes:

Mark Lynas gets right to the point:

“I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.”

Lynas uttered that stunningly frank apology last week during a lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference.  It’s a big deal. A big reversal.

Here’s why.

Golden Rice grain being held by Dr Parminder Virk in screenhouse of Golden Rice plants.

Golden Rice grain being held by Dr Parminder Virk in screenhouse of Golden Rice plants.

Mark Lynas, a journalist and environmental activists, is one of the founders of the anti-GMO movement. As Slate reports, as recently as 2008, Lynas blamed corporate greed for threatening world health. In fact, the anti-GMO hysteria we see today (which was on full display on the Women for Food Freedom Facebook page when my Policy Focus on GM food was published) can, to some degree, be blamed on the writing and political activisim of Mark Lynas.

Editor’s note: In a typical example of anti-GMO alarmism, revealing breathtaking scientific ignorance, one punditfromanotherplanet reader complains about possible food allergies, “gastrointestinal problems” (in the first world, of course) and actually boasts about promoting what he believes is a more beneficial approach to global hunger: giving half a box of boutique, “community supported” produce to local food banks (as if this addresses global starvation risks for millions of people who are the victims of ignorant, pro-death anti-GMO activists:

“I would say number of people that we know are affected by GMOs? Very unclear. ‘Food allergies’ and gastrointestinal problems in the US are hugely on the rise. Inserting a gene for a pesticide into a plant that we eat is very very different from selecting the best tomato or crossing two plants. Making seeds that grow plants that cannot reproduce risks endangering our food supply. I have been buying a community supported agriculture box from a local farmer for the last 10 years: five different farms, in fact. This year I will buy the large box and give half to the food bank. I have time this year too for a garden and I will grow some food.

Then, drkottaway adds this little masterpiece of unintended comedy, drawing a comparison between the alleged risks of GMO crops, and the health hazards of smoking tobacco.

“…shoot, look at how long it took to prove that smoking harmed people and how hard the companies fought that and how they hid information. I can afford to avoid GMOs and help another hungry person avoid GMOs.”

True, and here in the reality-based community, we can make an honest, realistic effort to help alleviate life-threatening micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries, and join the global fight to shut down VAD. What is VAD? Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is responsible for 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and up to 2 million deaths each year. Giving food to food banks is laudable, of course. But let’s not pretend it’s a substitute for serious intervention in preventable deaths. Shoot, I wouldn’t want to be among the pro-death alarmists who participate in promoting ignorance, hunger, starvation, and blindness, would you?

It is therefore remarkable that he has made this reversal. And he’s not being shy about it.  I encourage anyone interested in this subject to read his whole speech, but here’s just a sample of how he discovered many of his assumptions about GMOs were wrong:

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Journalist and political activist Mark Lynas

I’d assumed that it would increase the use of chemicals. It turned out that pest-resistant cotton and maize needed less insecticide.

I’d assumed that GM benefited only the big companies. It turned out that billions of dollars of benefits were accruing to farmers needing fewer inputs.

I’d assumed that Terminator Technology was robbing farmers of the right to save seed. It turned out that hybrids did that long ago, and that Terminator never happened.

I’d assumed that no-one wanted GM. Actually what happened was that Bt cotton was pirated into India and roundup ready soya into Brazil because farmers were so eager to use them.

I’d assumed that GM was dangerous. It turned out that it was safer and more precise than conventional breeding using mutagenesis for example; GM just moves a couple of genes, whereas conventional breeding mucks about with the entire genome in a trial and error way.

But what about mixing genes between unrelated species? The fish and the tomato? Turns out viruses do that all the time, as do plants and insects and even us – it’s called gene flow.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Girl’s Gotta Have It, and Have It Now: Denied Sex, Woman Pulled Gun On Boyfriend

FEBRUARY 16–After having her “sexual advances” rejected by her live-in boyfriend, a South Carolina woman allegedly threatened to shoot her beau, cops allege.

Ryan Rucker, 33, was sleeping early yesterday when Michelle Smart,by her own admission, “attempted to make some sexual advances michellesmarttoward” him, according to a police report detailing the 2 AM incident.

Rucker told cops that he pushed the 30-year-old Smart off of him, which prompted an argument during which Smart “told him she would shoot him because she has the gun.” Smart told officers that after Rucker “rejected her and pushed her off of him,” he punched and kicked her multiple times.

Cops noted that Smart “continually was changing her story throughout the investigation,” adding that, “For these reasons, Ms. Smart’s account became less believable.”

Smart, judged the “primary aggressor” by cops, was arrested for domestic violence since Rucker “feared for his safety when Ms. Smart pulled the gun out and threatened to use it.” Cops seized a Ruger handgun and six bullets, which were placed into evidence.

Seen in the above mug shot, Smart spent about eight hours in custody before bonding out of jail Sunday afternoon on the misdemeanor charge….(read more)

The Smoking Gun


The Spreading Menace of Boko Haram

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The jihadist group in Nigeria killed 11,245 people last year. Now their rampage seems ready to escalate in 2015

Emad Mostaque writes: The new year began with terror attacks in Paris inspired or orchestrated by al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and ISIS and then reports of up to 2,000 residents killed by Boko Haram in a days-long massacre in Baga, Nigeria. While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria. This weekend the group captured the town of Monguno and its military barracks while simultaneously attacking the state capital, Maiduguri.

“While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria.”

A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be “true” believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death. High-profile attacks aim to polarize societies and create animus against mainstream Muslims, creating more potential recruits for the radical Islamists.

A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be ‘true’ believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death.”

ISIS has intensified its bloodletting over the last year, using social media to amplify its mass beheadings and other fearsome deeds—and thus the group’s power and threat—in line with the recommendations outlined in jihad theoretician Abu Bakr Naji ’s 2006 text “The Management of Savagery.” However, ISIS has reached the limits of unopposed and easy expansion in Iraq as it now faces well-armed forces in non-Sunni areas, bolstered by coalition airstrikes. ISIS gains in Syria continue, but the group appears more contained, having failed to take Kobani from its Kurdish defenders. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Young Eritrean Woman on the Triumph Silent Scout B. 1934

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Newbie Jihadist FAIL: Muslim Convert Reveals Location of ISIS Safe Houses

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New-Zealand English teacher-turned-terrorist Mark Taylor, who shot into the public eye last year after publicly burning his Kiwi passport and then asking for a new one has blundered again by apparently forgetting to turn off geo-location services on his smartphone while tweeting from Islamic State safe houses in Syria.

“Taylor’s numerous failures demonstrate the opportunities that can be gained through monitoring and tracking extremists via social media and telecommunications. Given his need for attention I’m sure this will not be the last we hear from Kiwi Jihadi. With luck he will fail to read the manual on his next shiny new phone”.

The terrorist, who changed his name to the more appropriate-sounding ‘Abu Abdul-Rahman’ uploaded a series of tweets during his travels across the Islamic State, updating his twitter following on his progress with ISIS. The Daily Mail reports a Canadian jihad-monitoring group recorded 45 of these tweets containing geo-location data and passed the information on to intelligence agencies.

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Describing the blunder, Canadian monitoring group IBRABO said: “It’s a rookie social media mistake and one that intelligence and law enforcement agencies pray for when tracking criminals. This week one of New Zealand’s well known jihadists, Mark Taylor removed 45 tweets after he discovered that he was broadcasting his twitter location to every intelligence agency… Unfortunately for him we captured all of them prior to him removing the tweets”. Read the rest of this entry »


Rich Lowry: ‘Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade’

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Rich Lowry writes: …His surprise unilateral change in the U.S. posture toward the Castro dictatorship came without even the pretense of serious promises by the Cubans to reform their kleptocratic, totalitarian rule.

The trade of Alan Gross, the American aid worker jailed in Cuba for the offense of trying to help Jewish Cubans get on the Internet, for three Cuban spies is understandable (we also got back one of our spies, and Cuba released several dozen political prisoners as a sweetener).

“If tourism were the key to empowering and eventually liberating the Cuban people, the country would be a robust democracy by now. About a million Canadian tourists go to Cuba every year. In total, more than 2 million tourists visit annually, and yet the Castro regime is still standing.”

The rest of Obama’s sweeping revisions — diplomatic relations and the loosening of every economic sanction he can plausibly change on his own — are freely granted, no questions asked. It is quid with no pro quo. Even if you oppose the isolation of Cuba, this is not a good trade.

After waiting out 10 other U.S. presidents, the Castro regime finally hit the jackpot in Obama, whose beliefs about our Cuba policy probably don’t differ much from those of the average black-turtleneck-clad graduate student in Latin American studies.

“The Cuba embargo is condemned as a relic of the Cold War. But the root of the matter is the Cuban regime that is itself a relic, an inhuman jackboot left over from the era when people actually professed to believe in workers’ paradises.”

Every dictator around the world must be waiting anxiously for a call or a postcard from Obama. The leader of the free world comes bearing gifts and understanding. He is willing to overlook human-rights abuses. And his idea of burnishing his legacy is to clinch deals with his country’s enemies. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Is an Ebola Flight Ban a Good Idea? Nate Silver Doesn’t Think So

editor-commen-deskIt’s exceedingly rare that I agree with an Obama administration decision (though the decision is infirm, and could be weaseled any way the wind blows over the next several weeks) but the increasing calls to impose an Africa travel ban strike me as reflexive, not founded on proven disease strategy. Unlike a lot of bellyaching conservatives, and a handful of election-panicked Democrats, I’m not convinced that declining to respond to pressure to impose a travel ban is a bad thing. And I don’t think it’s motivated purely by narrow political or economic interests. That said, I don’t claim to be informed enough to have a clear opinion either way. So this morning I saw this, and thought it might be useful reading.

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Nate Silver writes:

On Sept. 19, Thomas Eric Duncan boarded a flight in Monrovia, Liberia, possibly after having lied on a screening questionnaire about his contact with persons carrying the Ebola virus. The next day, Duncan arrived in Dallas to visit his fiancée and son. Initially complaining of a fever, Duncan would soon become the first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola. Before dying of the disease on Oct. 8, Duncan would transmit it to two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who treated him at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital.

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Duncan’s case has sparked calls to ban flights to the United States from the countries hardest hit by the recent Ebola outbreak — Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — possibly along with others in West Africa. While some of these APPROVED-non-stop-panicarguments have been measured, others seem to convey the impression there are thousands of passengers arriving in cities like Dallas each day from flights originating in these countries.

There aren’t. We searched on Kayak.comExpertFlyer.com and airline websites for direct flights from West African nations (as the United Nations defines the region) to destinations outside the African continent. Specifically, we looked for flights available for the week from Jan. 2 to Jan. 8, 2015, a time period far enough in advance that such flights are unlikely to have sold out.

There are no regularly scheduled direct flights to the U.S. from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone — and very few from other countries in West Africa. There are far more flights from West Africa to Western Europe instead. Duncan’s case was typical. Before arriving in the United States, he connected through Brussels.

Here are all the routes we identified:

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Our search may be missing a few flights here and there, but it ought to be reasonably comprehensive, especially for travel to and from the United States. Read the rest of this entry »