Friday, December 19, 2014

Just Finished 'The Hunger Games'

There was something about the latest film, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1," that piqued my interest more than usual. (The problem of totalitarianism really came out, especially at the conclusion.)

I took my kid to see it on the opening weekend. Impressed, I came home and picked up my older son's copy of the first volume in the series, "The Hunger Games."

A great gift item for Christmas, at Amazon, "The Hunger Games Box Set: Foil Edition."

Hunger Games photo photo39_zps587c3e91.jpg

America's Craven Capitulation to Terror

I'm posting this one FWIW, considering the significant doubts on the origins of the Sony hack.

From David Keyes, at the Daily Beast, "The Sony Hack and America’s Craven Capitulation to Terror":
Americans are giving in to North Korean blackmail — and it will only get worse.

If the noble experiment of American democracy is to mean anything, it is fidelity to the principle of freedom. It is to champion the idea that all men and women are endowed with certain unalienable rights—free to think our thoughts, speak our minds, associate with whom we want and express our feelings without fear that a tyrant will silence us. Slavery is not only the physical restraining of the body. It is also the imprisonment of the mind—the instinct to quiet one’s thoughts in the face of terror.

This is a degrading and shameful state which no man or woman should be forced to endure.

Yesterday, Americans not only endured it—they enabled it. Anonymous hackers, possibly associated with the North Korean regime, made unspecified threats to conduct a 9/11-style attack on theaters that showed “The Interview,” a feature comedy film which pokes fun at Kim Jong Un. Major theaters announced they would not show the movie and Sony pulled it.

On Christmas weekend, a North Korean tyrant has decided what American teenagers will see on the silver screen. Some sympathize with the theaters. Who can blame them? Why would any business expose their customers to potential terror?

This is wrong, dangerous and shameful.

By giving an artistic veto to a madman, we submit to the mindset of a slave. We are no longer sovereigns of our thoughts, comedy and art. If anything is worth fighting for, it is this...
Heh, a little dramatic (although not necessarily disagreeable).

More, at the New Republic (safe link), "Why Aren't We Retaliating Right Now for the Sony Cyberattack?"

More Questions on Who's Behind the Sony Hack?

The dissenting voices on NoKo's complicity are extremely compelling.

Recall Wired's piece from yesterday, "Who's Behind the Sony Hack Attack?"

Now here's Marc Rogers (via Dana Loesch), "Why the Sony hack is unlikely to be the work of North Korea":
Whoever did this is in it for revenge. The info and access they had could have easily been used to cash out, yet, instead, they are making every effort to burn Sony down. Just think what they could have done with passwords to all of Sony’s financial accounts? With the competitive intelligence in their business documents? From simple theft, to the sale of intellectual property, or even extortion – the attackers had many ways to become rich. Yet, instead, they chose to dump the data, rendering it useless. Likewise, I find it hard to believe that a “Nation State” which lives by propaganda would be so willing to just throw away such an unprecedented level of access to the beating heart of Hollywood itself....

Finally, blaming North Korea is the easy way out for a number of folks, including the security vendors and Sony management who are under the microscope for this. Let’s face it – most of today’s so-called “cutting edge” security defenses are either so specific, or so brittle, that they really don’t offer much meaningful protection against a sophisticated attacker or group of attackers. That doesn’t mean that we should let them off and give up every time someone plays the “APT” or “Sophisticated Attacker” card though. This is a significant area of weakness in the security industry – the truth is we are TERRIBLE at protecting against bespoke, unique attacks, let alone true zero days. There is some promising technology out there, but it’s clear that it just isn’t ready yet.

While we are on the subject, and ignoring the inability of traditional AntiVirus to detect bespoke malware, just how did whatever Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution that Sony uses miss terabytes of data flying out of their network? How did their sophisticated on-premise perimeter security appliances miss such huge anomalies in network traffic, machine usage or host relationships? How did they miss Sony’s own edge being hijacked and used as public bittorrent servers aiding the exfiltration of their data? ....

The reality is, as things stand, Sony has little choice but to burn everything down and start again. Every password, every key, every certificate is tainted now and that’s a terrifying place for an organization to find itself. This hack should be used as the definitive lesson in why security matters and just how bad things can get if you don’t take it seriously.
Keep reading.

New 'American Sniper' Movie Trailer

The film's out on Christmas Day.



Plus, an interview with Bradley Cooper, at CBS This Morning, "Bradley Cooper's transformation: New roles on stage and screen." (A really good interview. Cooper reports that Chris Kyle's wife thought she was watching her husband on screen. Amazing.)

FBI Accuses North Korean Government in Cyberattack on Sony Pictures

I guess this is the authoritative determination, despite the extant doubts that Pyongyang is behind the hack.

At NYT, "Obama Vows U.S. Response to North Korea Cyberattack on Sony":
In describing the United States’ evidence against North Korea, the F.B.I. said that there were significant “similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks” to previous attacks by the North Koreans. It also said that there were classified elements of the evidence against the North that it could not reveal.

“The F.B.I. also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyberactivity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea,” the bureau said. “For example, the F.B.I. discovered that several Internet protocol addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with I.P. addresses that were hard-coded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.”

The F.B.I. said that some of the methods employed in the Sony attack were similar to ones that were used by the North Koreans against South Korean banks and news media outlets in 2013.

“We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there,” the F.B.I. said.

It added: “Though the F.B.I. has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyberintrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart. North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.”

The F.B.I.'s announcement was carefully coordinated with the White House and reflected the intensity of the investigation; just a week ago a senior F.B.I. official said he could not say whether North Korea was responsible. But it also puts new pressure on President Obama on how to respond. Administration officials note that the White House has now described the action against Sony as an “attack,” as opposed to mere theft of intellectual property, and that suggests that Mr. Obama is now looking for a government response, rather than a corporate one.
Also, at the FBI's homepage, "Update on Sony Investigation."

George Clooney on Hollywood's Epic Cowardice

Clooney's a leftist.

But he's at least got a pair. Jeez.

George Clooney photo George_Clooney-4_The_Men_Who_Stare_at_Goats_TIFF09_28cropped29_zpsf0e60df2.jpg
DEADLINE: How could this have happened, that terrorists achieved their aim of cancelling a major studio film? We watched it unfold, but how many people realized that Sony legitimately was under attack?

GEORGE CLOONEY: A good portion of the press abdicated its real duty. They played the fiddle while Rome burned. There was a real story going on. With just a little bit of work, you could have found out that it wasn’t just probably North Korea; it was North Korea. The Guardians of Peace is a phrase that Nixon used when he visited China. When asked why he was helping South Korea, he said it was because we are the Guardians of Peace. Here, we’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have. This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That’s the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down. Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.

We have a new paradigm, a new reality, and we’re going to have to come to real terms with it all the way down the line. This was a dumb comedy that was about to come out. With the First Amendment, you’re never protecting Jefferson; it’s usually protecting some guy who’s burning a flag or doing something stupid. This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this. That’s not just Sony, but all of us, including my good friends in the press who have the responsibility to be asking themselves: What was important? What was the important story to be covering here? The hacking is terrible because of the damage they did to all those people. Their medical records, that is a horrible thing, their Social Security numbers. Then, to turn around and threaten to blow people up and kill people, and just by that threat alone we change what we do for a living, that’s the actual definition of terrorism...
Keep reading. No one, not a single soul in Hollywood, would sign Clooney's petition in support of Sony. Cowards, the whole lot of them. Pathetic left-wing cowards, kowtowing to tyranny.

PHOTO CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons.

Obama Blames Sony After Failing to Defend Free Speech When it Mattered

Pathetic:





'Lights Out'

From Tuesday's drive time, when I had to tie up some end-of-semester loose ends on campus.

From UFO, via the Sound L.A.:


Locomotive Breath
Jethro Tull
11:37 AM

Back On the Chain Gang
Pretenders
11:34 AM

Us and Them
Pink Floyd
11:26 AM

Love the One You're With
Stephen Stills
11:23 AM

Runnin' with the Devil
Van Halen
11:20 AM

You're My Best Friend
Queen
11:10 AM

Renegade
Styx
11:06 AM

Rhiannon
Fleetwood Mac
11:01 AM

Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights) [Live]
Pat Travers Band
10:52 AM

Twilight Zone
Golden Earring
10:44 AM

Paradise By the Dashboard Light
Meat Loaf
10:36 AM

Lights Out
UFO
10:31 AM

Blinded By the Light
Manfred Mann's Earth Band
10:24 AM

City of Blinding Lights
U2
10:18 AM

Limelight
Rush
10:13 AM

Long As I Can See the Light
Creedence Clearwater Revival
10:10 AM

Light My Fire
The Doors
10:03 AM

'Long-Term English Learners'

The Hispanic demographic at my college is over 50 percent of student enrollment. Needless to say, for many, language issues create a major barrier to successful advancement through the curriculum.

At LAT, "California schools step up efforts to help 'long-term English learners'":
After more than 11 years in Los Angeles public schools, Dasha Cifuentes still isn't speaking or writing English at grade level. The U.S. native, whose parents are Mexican immigrants, was raised in a Spanish-speaking household and she acknowledges that the two languages get confused in her mind.

"I should be more confident in English because I was born here, but I'm embarrassed that I haven't improved myself," said Dasha, a junior at Fairfax High.

Now, however, she and other students like her are receiving more attention under a new state law and initiatives by L.A. Unified and other school districts. The law requires the state to define and identify a "long-term English learner," the first effort in the nation to do so.

In its inaugural data released Wednesday, the state has identified nearly 350,000 students in grades six through 12 who have attended California schools for seven years or more and are still not fluent in English. They make up three-fourths of all secondary school students still learning English.

Among them, nearly 90,000 are classified as long-term English learners because they also have failed to progress on the state's English proficiency exam for two consecutive years and score below grade level in English standardized tests.

"These kids need to be visible," said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman of Californians Together, a Long Beach-based nonprofit that promoted the legislation and released the state data. "In many instances, these students are sitting in mainstream classes and are not getting any specialized help."

A 2010 study by the nonprofit found that many students languished because schools failed to monitor their progress, provide appropriate curriculum or train teachers. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state for allegedly failing to provide legally required services for students learning English.

In addition, Fairfax Principal Carmina Nacorda said, more than 70% of her 125 long-term English learners have educational disabilities. And many educators say that students who achieve fluency in their first language more easily learn English, but that Proposition 227, the 1998 voter-approved state initiative that severely restricted bilingual education, has impeded them from doing so.

The new focus on such students comes amid a shift in California's long-running language wars. Since Proposition 227, a counter-movement has grown promoting the teaching of two languages in dual-immersion classes. State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has successfully placed a measure to repeal the proposition on the November 2016 ballot.
Shoot, we'll just have to require Spanish language proficiency for native Californians. That ought to level the playing field!

More.

London Pub's Offer to Feed the Homeless Christmas Dinner Goes Viral

So awesome.

A pub in north London has been overwhelmed by support after their offer to feed the homeless a Christmas dinner went viral.

The William IV pub, on Shepherdess Walk, Islington, tweeted earlier this week: “This Sunday. We are open to the homless and hungry. Proper xmas dinner. Please spread the word and love”.

The tweet was instantly picked up by social media users, who celebrated the pub’s staff and owner’s actions. It has since been retweeted almost seven thousand times.

Chef and manager Adam Hardiman will offer homeless individuals a full roast, including a carvery of turkey, beef and salmon – with all the trimings from 12 to 3pm this Sunday.
So beautiful.

And of course, this is the kind of warm-hearted charity that big-government nanny-staters can't stand. For example, see, "Don't let the Left ruin our crusade... writes food bank pioneer ROBIN AITKEN."

Guaranteed. If the good people of the private sector do good works, leftists will try to ruin it. One way or another, leftists will destroy basic decency and holiday cheer.

Christmas with Rosie Jones

Wouldn't that be lovely.

Via Zoo Today:



Kindergartner is Fourth to Die in Redondo Beach Crash

I saw this story breaking on Twitter in real time the other night, but there was no indication of the scale of death. This is a mind-boggling loss of life.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Crash outside Christmas concert: Kindergartner is 4th to die":
6-year-old boy is the fourth victim to die from his injuries after a crowd of people was struck by a car following a Christmas concert outside a church in Redondo Beach, coroner’s officials said Friday.

Samuel Gaza, a kindergartner who had suffered head trauma and a bruised lung, died overnight at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, said Lt. David Smith of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

His mother, Martha Gaza, 36, of Torrance, was also killed in Wednesday night’s crash outside St. James Catholic Church. His father remains hospitalized...
More.

The story made the front-page of the Times. See, "'Joyful evening' at Redondo Beach concert, and then a horrific crash."

And video at CBS News Los Angeles, "Community In Mourning Following Deadly Redondo Beach Crash."

Kate Upton: 'Sexiest Woman Alive'

She's still the "it" girl. Can't say she's not sexy, heh.

At People, "PEOPLE Magazine Awards: Kate Upton Wins PEOPLE's Sexiest Woman Award."


Kate Upton photo kate-upton-hot-terry-richardson-outtakes-photos-hot-758487545_zpse0d3f451.jpg

Rupert Friend of 'Homeland'

It's been a phenomenal season, I gotta say.

Mr. Friend is very humble as well, and articulate. Stay with this interview. It's good:



British Prime Minister David Cameron Rips Labor Party Leader Ed Miliband as a 'Complete Waste of Space'

Get a giggle out of this one, heh.



Drone Video of Synchronized Holiday Lights

Heh.

This is really cool.



Bill Whittle Rips the Democrat-Socialist Left for Welcoming — No, Enabling! — America as Number 2

A great "Firewall" segment from the master commentator, Bill Whittle:



Mark Levin Hilariously Slams 'Munchkin' Republican 'Backbenchers': Says He's 'One Inch' from Leaving the GOP

I started giggling at the "munchkin" line.

Levin gets on an angry roll here, at the Right Scoop, "Mark Levin to the GOP: I AM ONE INCH AWAY FROM LEAVING YOU!"

Peter Wehner takes issue, at Commentary, "Mark Levin Should Leave the Republican Party."

Actually, I'd bet Levin has Wehner in mind when he hammers the "dissembling" Republicans.

Me, I'll all "meh." I'm a neocon. I don't identify as a Republican. I'll vote for them, mainly to stop the Democrat-Socialists. But you gotta give it to Levin for really letting it rip here. Hopefully the idiot "munchkins" boosting rhinos like Jeb Bush will get the message. Sheesh.

Be sure to give it a listen.

Hack Leaves U.S. in Quandary on How to Deal with North Korea

Well first the administration needs to prove NoKo's behind the hack. I'd say that Wired piece was a pretty compelling.

But see LAT, "Sony hack leaves U.S. in quandary on how to deal with North Korea":
With U.S. intelligence analysts quietly pointing to North Korea as having a hand in the destructive hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment computers, Obama administration officials scrambled Thursday to consider what, if anything, they should do in response.

Options are limited, partly because the United States already imposes strict sanctions on North Korea's economy and because the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, relishes confrontation with the West. White House officials are wary of playing into an effort by nuclear-armed North Korea to provoke the U.S. into a direct confrontation.

"How do you sanction the world's most heavily sanctioned country?" asked John Park, a specialist on Northeast Asia at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Hackers caused tens of millions of dollars in damage last month to Sony Pictures' computers, destroyed valuable files, leaked five films, four of them  unreleased, and exposed private employment information including 47,000 Social Security numbers.

In response to the cyberattack and a threat against movie theaters, Sony canceled the Christmas Day release of "The Interview," a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco that depicts a fictional assassination of Kim.

The Obama administration has stopped short of saying openly that North Korea was involved in the intrusion. Such an allegation would probably bring about calls for a response, and with an unwillingness to lay out its evidence, lack of available economic punishments and little desire for acts of war, the White House so far appears reluctant to make a public accusation...
Well, yeah.

Obama wouldn't want to rush to war, or anything. The leftists might call for war crimes tribunals.

Oh wait. Wrong president.

Capital Punishment's Decline

Well, thanks to the "evolving standards of decency."

At LAT, "Capital punishment in U.S. continues its decline":
The death penalty continued its slow and steady two-decade decline this year, as fewer convicted murderers were sentenced to die and most executions were limited to just three states, according to a report to be released Thursday.

The number of new death sentences plummeted from 315 in 1996 to 72 as of Wednesday, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The number of executions carried out has fallen sharply as well. This year, 35 convicts were put to death, compared with 98 in 1999. And whereas 20 states were carrying out executions in the 1990s, only seven did so this year.

"The relevancy of the death penalty in our criminal justice system is seriously in question when 43 out of the 50 states do not apply the ultimate sanction," said Richard Dieter, the center's executive director.

Most of the executions took place in Texas (10), Missouri (10) and Florida (8). The other states to carry out executions were Oklahoma (3), Georgia (2), Arizona (1) and Ohio (1).

Even in Texas, the number of new death sentences has fallen sharply, from 48 per year in the late 1990s to fewer than a dozen per year recently.

Experts say the trend reflects a steep drop in violent crime, a growing use of "life without parole" sentences for convicted killers and a skepticism over the death penalty itself...
Well, we'll be just like the rest of the "civilized world" in no time!

More.

New Kelly Brook Bikini Pics!

Hey, an early Christmas present!

At Egotastic!, "Kelly Brook Bikini Shoot for New Look and Old Hard Happy Feelings."

Obama Uses 'Memos' in Place of Congressional Action

A creative dictator.

At USA Today:
WASHINGTON — The White House acknowledged Thursday that President Obama has used various forms of executive action when Congress has not acted, but it said the president was accurate when he said he has issued fewer executive orders than his predecessors.

It's true that Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any president in a century. But he's signed far more presidential memoranda, a lesser-known tool often used to initiate a change in federal regulations, than any other president.

"There's no doubt that the president has sought to use his executive authority to move this country forward within the confines of the law, oftentimes in the face of congressional inaction," spokesman Josh Earnest said. "I will readily concede that this president has used both executive orders and presidential memoranda to move this country forward as much as he possibly can."

Earnest responded to questions about Obama's use of presidential memoranda after USA TODAY reported Wednesday that he had signed more of those executive actions than any other president. Obama and his aides have said he issued fewer executive orders than any other president in 100 years but did not include presidential memoranda in that total.

Scholars call presidential memoranda "executive orders by another name." Earnest said there was "an important difference" between the two.

"Generally speaking, presidential memoranda are associated with more technical issues and are often directives that are related to a subset of agencies," Earnest said. "Executive orders, therefore, are more sweeping and therefore often more impactful."

That's not always the case, said Kenneth Mayer, author of With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power.

"There's no definitive answer. I imagine that if you stacked up all 200 of these memoranda, some of them would be of great significance, and some of them would be extremely trivial," said Mayer, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "So the upshot is just counting any particular instrument, or any particular type of instrument, doesn't really tell you the whole story."

This year, Obama has used executive orders to impose economic sanctions, establish a non-discrimination policy for gays and lesbians in the federal government and give federal workers the day after Christmas off. He's used presidential memoranda to overhaul enforcement of immigration laws and extend student loan relief, and this week, he declared Bristol Bay, Alaska, off-limits to oil and gas exploration...
More.

Patton Oswalt's Deleted Tweets

My god this is absolutely hilarious.

Via AoSHQ, "The Year in Outrage."



What Drives Leftist Ideological Hatred?

From Spengler, at Pajamas, "Why Liberals Really, Really Hate Us":
They really, really hate us. George Orwell wrote a morning “Two Minutes Hate” session into the daily life of his dystopia in 1984. One blogger notes that 2,000 of Rachel Maddow’s facebook fans wished that Ted Cruz would fall into an open elevator shaft. What would he have made of the hyperventilating hatred that liberals display against conservatives? Over at National Review, Katherine Timpf reports on a hate manifesto published by the chair of University of Michigan’s Department of Communications. Republicans “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.” wrote Prof. Susan Douglas. “So now we hate them back,” she explains. “And with good reason.”

In fact, they have their reasons to hate us. They are being silly. We know they are being silly, and they know we know, and they can’t stand it. It isn’t quite how we repudiate the idea that the opposing party has any legitimacy at all. But we can’t stop giggling.

“Reductio ad absurdum” does not begin to characterize the utter silliness of liberals, whose governing dogma holds that everyone has a right to invent their own identity. God is dead and everything is permitted, Zarathustra warned; he should have added that everything is silly. When we abhor tradition, we become ridiculous, because we lack the qualifications to replace what generation upon generation of our ancestors built on a belief in revelation and centuries of trial and error. Conservatives know better. G.K. Chesterton said it well: “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

The antics of the “small and arrogant oligarchy” that controls the temples of liberal orthodoxy have turned into comic material that Monty Python couldn’t have dreamed up a generation ago. There are now dozens of prospective genders, at least according to the gender studies departments at elite universities. What do the feminists of Wellesley College do, for example, when its women become men? The problem is that no-one quite knows what they have become, as a recent New York Times Magazine feature complained:
Some two dozen other matriculating students at Wellesley don’t identify as women. Of those, a half-dozen or so were trans men, people born female who identified as men, some of whom had begun taking testosterone to change their bodies. The rest said they were transgender or genderqueer, rejecting the idea of gender entirely or identifying somewhere between female and male; many, like Timothy, called themselves transmasculine.
Use the wrong terminology and you’re burned for a bigot. There used to be jokes such as: “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, and it’s not funny.” You can’t tell that sort of joke about  Wellesley because the LGBTs never will agree on the lightbulb’s gender. There are rare cases of babies born with ambiguous genitalia, to be sure. There also are a few individuals obsessed from early childhood with the idea that they were born in the wrong body. They have difficult lives and deserve sympathy (but not public mandates for sex-change operations). Gender ambiguity in its morphological infinitude as a field of personal self-development, though, has become the laboratory for cutting-edge liberal thinking, the ultimate expression of self-invention. LGTB Studies (or “Queer Studies”) departments have or soon will be established at most of America’s top universities, classifying, advocating and defending an ever-expanding number of newly-categorized gender identities...
Yep. It's out of control.

Funny, too, how I just blogged about the transgender movement taking over women's colleges --- because if you don't capitulate you're a hater!

BONUS: "Marquette Suspends Professor John McAdams for Exposing Leftist Totalitarian Faculty."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

'The Interview' Billboards Come Down

And along with them, America's pride.

At ABC-7 Los Angeles:



Cuban-Americans Voice Disgust Over Obama's Communist Normalization (VIDEO)

At CNN:



Obama's Cuba Normalization is a Victory for Communism!

Well, it's like I've been saying all along.

But of course it takes an unreconstructed '60s-era New Left Marxist to actually spill the beans.

From former SDS-er and pro-Hanoi stooge Tom Hayden, at the Nation, "Why the US-Cuba Deal Really Is a Victory for the Cuban Revolution":
For those actually supportive of participatory democracy in Cuba, as opposed to those who support regime change by secret programs, the way to greater openness on the island lies in a relaxation of the external threat.

Despite the US embargo and relentless US subversion, Cuba remains in the upper tier of the United Nations Human Development Index because of its educational and healthcare achievements. Cuba even leads the international community in the dispatch of medical workers to fight Ebola. Cuba is celebrated globally because of its military contribution to the defeat of colonialism and apartheid in Angola and southern Africa. Now a new generation of Cuban leaders who fought in Angola is coming to power in the Havana and its diplomatic corps. For example, Rodolfo Reyes RodrĂ­guez, Cuba’s representative to the United Nations, today walks on an artificial limb as a result of his combat in Angola.

When few thought it possible, Cuba has achieved the return of all five prisoners held for spying on right-wing Cubans who trained at Florida bases and flew harassment missions through Cuban air space. The last three to be released served hard time in American prisons, and are being welcomed as triumphant heroes on the streets of Havana. Three of the Cuban Five served in Angola as well.

Tens of thousands of Americans, from the veterans of the cane-cutting Venceremos Brigades to the steady flow of tourists insisting on their right to travel, deserve credit for steady years of educational and solidarity work and for pushing a hardy congressional bloc towards normalization.

President Obama has kept his word, despite relentless skepticism from both the left and the mainstream media. He is confounding the mainstream assumption that the Cuban right has a permanent lock on American foreign policy, especially after the Republican sweep in the November elections.

In this case, Obama’s extreme emphasis on diplomatic secrecy worked to his advantage. For over a year, leaders in both countries have conducted regular private debates and consultations, which resulted in the detailed normalization plan released in both capitals today. No one was more important on the American congressional team than Senator Patrick Leahy. Their tight discipline held until the final moment.

It is known that the private US-Cuba conversations about Alan Gross and the Cuban Five were the most difficult. The United States has never acknowledged that Gross was a de facto spy of a certain type, having traveled five times to Havana to secretly distribute advanced communications technology to persons in Havana’s small Jewish community before he was arrested in 2009. Also problematic for American officials immersed in decades of Cold War thinking was the task of wrapping their minds around the idea that the Cuban Five were political prisoners and not terrorist threats...
Criminy!

He's a bald-faced liar! No one --- and I mean no one, not even the far-left New York Times --- has suggested that Gross was a spy. He was, in fact, a pawn in Obama's Manchurian campaign to give Cuban Communism the ultimate bailout.

And that's why Hayden's praising Obama to high heaven. Barack Hussein's striking a blow for the international Marxist proletariat!

Here's Discover the Networks on Hayden's pro-Communist agitation:
During the Vietnam War, Hayden traveled many times to North Vietnam, Czechoslovakia, and Paris to strategize with Communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong leaders on how to defeat America's anti-Communist efforts. He came back from Hanoi proclaiming he had seen "rice roots democracy at work." According to people who were present at the time, including Sol Stern, later an aide to Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein, Hayden offered advice on conducting psychological warfare against the U.S. He arranged trips to Hanoi for Americans perceived as friendly to the Communists and blocked entry to those seen as unfriendly, like the sociologist Christopher Jencks. He attacked as "propaganda," reports of the torture of American soldiers, and labeled American POWs returning home "liars" when they described the brutal treatment they had received in Communist prisons.

On the domestic front, Hayden advocated urban rebellions and called for the creation of "guerrilla focos" to resist police and other law-enforcement agencies. For awhile he led a Berkeley commune called the "Red Family," whose "Minister of Defense" trained commune members at firing ranges and instructed high-school students in the use of explosives. Hayden was also an outspoken supporter of the Black Panther Party, calling that organization "our Vietcong." In 1968 Hayden was arrested as a member of the "Chicago Seven" for inciting a riot at the Democratic National Convention.
You know, it's not clandestine any longer. Obama and the Obama Democrats are finally --- literally --- out in the open with their hardline support for Communism.

It's just out there for everyone to see:



Sony Pictures Has No Further Plans to Release 'The Interview'

This is no temporary cancellation. Sounds like Sony's going to deep six the film.

At LAT, "Sony Pictures has 'no further release plans' for 'The Interview,' studio says"
Sony Pictures Entertainment has canceled the Christmas Day release of "The Interview" after the nation's major theater chains said they would not screen the film.

The action came as U.S. intelligence officials confirmed widespread speculation that the North Korean government was behind the devastating cyber attack, which has hobbled Sony Pictures and spread fear throughout the entertainment industry. "The Interview" depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Federal investigators began briefing some legislators that the rogue state gave the order to pilfer Sony's computer system, leading to a massive leak of sensitive data, including emails, financial documents and even the salaries of Sony's top stars.

The studio said it has no plans to release the controversial movie in the future, either in theaters or via home video on-demand. "Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film," a studio spokesman said on Wednesday...
More.

VIDEO: Montage of Barack Obama Apologizing for America

I caught this segment last night on Hannity's:



Marquette Suspends Professor John McAdams for Exposing Leftist Totalitarian Faculty

This is just wow.

Professor McAdams is a political scientist and the publisher of the Marquette Warrior blog.

At Truth Revolt, "Marquette Suspends Conservative Professor for Exposing Totalitarian Leftist Faculty."

This part's the killer:
Once McAdam's blog post went viral, [Teaching Assistant Cheryl] Abbate and several professors signed a petition to have McAdams disciplined for his public dissent. Shortly thereafter, McAdams received the following letter of suspension from Marquette Dean Richard Holz...
Here's the offending blog post: "Marquette Philosophy Instructor: 'Gay Rights' Can't Be Discussed in Class Since Any Disagreement Would Offend Gay Students." And see, "Reprisal: Marquette Warrior Under 'Investigation' by University."

More: From Inside Higher Ed, "Ethics Lesson."

Added: At Instapundit, "HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Professor Suspended for Blogging."

Transgender Movement Upends Feminism at America's Women's Colleges

Well, women's colleges were established as bastions of women's empowerment in a sea of patriarchal oppression. But with "gender fluidity" all the rage, some feminists on women's campuses are getting brushed aside as the newest social victims --- the "transgendered" --- gain credibility and power across the country.

What a trip.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Women's colleges lead push to redefine gender rules":
At a women's college, gender should be the easiest qualification for entry.

That's no longer the case. Women's colleges across the country are reconsidering their admission policies to adapt to a changing world in which gender norms are being challenged and more transgender students are seeking to enroll. It's a complicated calculus for many colleges, prompting concerns that these new considerations could affect the nature of single-gender schools.

Pressured by proactive student groups, some of the nation's 40-plus women's colleges are debating enrollment changes but also how to accommodate students who identify as men, such linguistics questions as the use of feminine pronouns, and whether school mission statements should be rewritten.

Mills College in Oakland last summer became the first in the nation to adopt a written policy on admitting transgender students, setting off a wave of self-examinations at many colleges. The latest to deal with the issue was Scripps College in Claremont.

Trustees there approved a new policy this month to admit applicants identified as female on their birth certificates. The school also will admit those who self-identify as women, which could include those born male who identify as female. The policy is effective for students applying for fall 2016.

College officials said the changes mostly reflect current practice and that the campus has graduated transgender students in the past, including some who transitioned while in school. Scripps, they insist, still will be a women's college.

"Colleges and universities have always led the way in policy discussions about social justice and expanding access," said Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga. "It's not a surprise that students who we charge with thinking critically about institutions in general would be having these conversations at women's colleges right now. We're laying the foundation for a broader discussion about what it means to be a women's college in the 21st century."

Many alumnae agree but are troubled by the implications.

In a letter to the trustees, more than 100 alumnae raised several concerns, chiefly that these changes are part of a "systematic erasure of the female identity from women's colleges."

"Trans students argue that gender neutral language should be used to encompass their presence," the letter said. "But are we not, by erasing feminized language from our documents and rhetoric, erasing the female identities from a women's college? What could be more ironic?"
Yes, what could be? Indeed, the student body president at Mills is a transgendered male, Skylar Crownover, who transitioned after taking a course in "introduction to queer studies."

As the Times' piece point out:
Women's colleges began as a counter to a patriarchal social structure that excluded women from higher education. In the 1960s, these campuses became symbols of women's empowerment, graduating future judges, senators, business tycoons and astronauts.

The threat, argue some critics, is that the presence of trans men — and their potential to adopt the trappings of male privilege — may once again relegate the voices of women to the back of the classroom. Trans men have taken leadership roles at women's colleges, including the current student body president at Mills.

The alumnae coalition at Scripps unsuccessfully asked trustees to allow more time for those opposed to make their case. The group had advocated a more restrictive policy to admit only students who identify as female at the time of application.

"For many alumnae, the approval of the new admissions policy at Scripps is not just disappointing. It is heartbreaking," said Kelsey Phipps, a Washington, D.C. attorney and advocate in the LGBTQ community who graduated from Scripps in 2001. "With its decision to admit male-identified students, many alumnae who believe deeply in women's education feel abandoned by the college.... In the end, no argument, logic or passion could derail that hurtling train. We were steamrolled."
"Heartbreaking."

Well, I'm just all shaken up over here.

Who's Behind the Sony Hack Attack?

Here's a great piece from Wired, "The Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy":
Nation-state attacks aren’t generally as noisy, or announce themselves with an image of a blazing skeleton posted to infected computers, as occurred in the Sony hack. Nor do they use a catchy nom-de-hack like Guardians of Peace to identify themselves. Nation-state attackers also generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security, as purported members of GOP have done in media interviews. Nor do such attacks involve posts of stolen data to Pastebin—the unofficial cloud repository of hackers—where sensitive company files belonging to Sony have been leaked. These are all hallmarks of hacktivists—groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, who thrive on targeting large corporations for ideological reasons or just the lulz, or by hackers sympathetic to a political cause.
More.

Also, at Twitchy, "MSM reporting that North Korea is behind the Sony hack. But where’s the evidence?":


Obama's Cuba Deal: A Victory for Tyranny and Oppression

From Senator Marco Rubio, at the Wall Street Journal, "A Victory for Oppression: President Obama’s policy is bad news for the Cuban people living under a dictatorship, and it sends a dangerous message to the world":


The announcement by President Obama on Wednesday giving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.

Since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations in 1961, the Castro family has controlled the country and the economy with an iron fist that punishes Cubans who speak out in opposition and demand a better future. Under the Castros, Cuba has also been a central figure in terrorism, narco-trafficking and all manner of misery and mayhem in our hemisphere.

As a result, it has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is possible—but only once the Cuban government stops jailing political opponents, protects free speech, and allows independent political parties to be formed and to participate in free and fair elections.

The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama’s concessions, the regime in Cuba won’t have to change...
A victory for tyranny. That's the Obama way.

But keep reading.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Charles Krauthammer: 'Is There No Tyrant In the World Obama Will Not Appease...?'

For nothing.

Obama got nothing from Cuba. No concessions. Not on rights. Not on speech. Not on economic liberalization. Nothing.

Here's the inimitable Dr. K:


The Sony Hack Attack is Cyberwarfare

From Abe Greenwald, at Commentary, "This Is Cyberwar, Not Tabloid Fodder":
The Sony hacking story has largely been treated as a juicy showbiz gossip scandal. We’re probably going to regret that.

If North Korea is behind the computer hacks and threats to terrorize theaters showing The Interview, it confirms a new era of rogue-state terrorism, one for which there’s no counterterrorism blueprint. According to the New York Times, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema has killed its scheduled New York premier of the anti-Kim Jong-un comedy. The Hollywood Reporter says that the country’s top five theater chains have pulled out of showing the film. Time says the movie’s stars, James Franco and Seth Rogen, have called off their publicity tour. A spate of film executives are backpedaling for their lives as their emails are picked through and published to viral derision. The Times’s Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes write that the theater threat “opens a new range of worry for Hollywood.”

But the danger is larger and graver than that.

In February, hackers laid digital waste to Sheldon Adelson’s Sands casino, forcing the Sands to temporarily disconnect from the Internet. It was a massive undertaking that wiped out or compromised millions of files. Bloomberg reports that “recovering data and building new systems could cost the company $40 million or more” (a figure coincidently close to the $44 million Sony sunk into The Interview). Why did hackers target Adelson? The cyberterrorists who hit him call themselves the “Anti-WMD Team.” They are based in Iran, and claim retaliation for Adelson’s hawkish remarks about the Islamic Republic. Here’s the rub, via Bloomberg:
The security team couldn’t determine if Iran’s government played a role, but it’s unlikely that any hackers inside the country could pull off an attack of that scope without its knowledge, given the close scrutiny of Internet use within its borders. “This isn’t the kind of business you can get into in Iran without the government knowing,” says James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
So, if the evidence is pointing in the right direction, dictatorships are tanking our enterprise, holding us hostage, and essentially turning us into their offshore subjects.

This isn’t a gossip story or an industry problem. It’s war. Moreover, it’s a war we don’t know how to fight...
More.

Christmas Countdown

Hey, Amazon's got "12 Days of Deals" --- so if you're doing any Christmas shopping, it's much appreciated when you click through at AmPow's Amazon links!



Kim Jong-un Assassination Scene from 'The Interview'

At iOTW REPORT, "Kim Jong Un Assassination Scene."

And a full video clip, at the Verge, "Watch the Kim Jong-un assassination that was too gory for Sony to approve."

PREVIOUSLY: "Theater Chains Pull 'The Interview', Press Appearances Canceled Amid Threats (VIDEO)."

Val Prieto on Obama's Cuba Normalization Debacle

At BabalĂș:
This is a major setback for the opposition and dissident movements in Cuba. The Obama administration, by making this "deal", has confirmed that they are OK with the repression, brutality, incarceration, and murder the Castro regime foists upon the opposition. And I will once again say what I have been saying since day one of this farce of a presidential administration, for the record: faced with the fact that he is, by far, the worst President this nation has ever seen, and with no true positive legacy, Obama is relying on the low hanging fruit of the Cuban embargo to placate the left. Look for President Executive Action to undermine codified US Cuba policy.
Continue.

PREVIOUSLY: "Communist Obama Normalizes Relations with Communist Cuba."

Communist Obama Normalizes Relations with Communist Cuba

He's such an asshole.

At the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Moves to Normalize Cuba Relations as American Is Released: Alan Gross, Held in Cuba for 5 Years, Headed to U.S. on Government Plane."

It's a bad deal that rewards tyranny and terror. And of course it's our terror-enabling president who clinched this disastrous double-dealing debacle.

More at Memeorandum.

Obama Crypto-Marxist photo Obama_Worlds_Communist_24-1.jpg

Terror in Sydney: ISIS Has Called for 'Lone-Wolf' Islamist Attacks Around the World

At WSJ:
The long reach of Islamist terror hit another Western city on Monday with a siege in downtown Sydney, and we should expect more like it as Islamic State (ISIS) tries to mobilize adherents across the world.

Iranian-born Man Haron Monis, a self-styled sheikh with a long criminal history, held dozens of hostages in a cafe while claiming to have bombs on the premises. Police stormed the restaurant and killed Monis after negotiations failed; two hostages died and four were injured.

News reports say Monis targeted the Lindt Chocolate Cafe days after he lost the appeal of his conviction for harassing families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He also had more than 40 charges pending for sexually assaulting women while posing as a “spiritual healer,” and as an accessory to the murder last year of his ex-wife, who was stabbed and burned.

The cafe Monis attacked is part of Martin Place, a pedestrian mall near local government offices, the U.S. Consulate and major commercial towers. In September police arrested ISIS sympathizers said to be planning a public beheading there as a “demonstration killing.” Monis initially forced hostages to hold an Islamist black flag in the cafe window, then demanded that police provide him with a flag of ISIS, according to Australian media reports.

Monis’s apparent affection for ISIS is shared by a disturbing number of other Australians. Some 70 have had their passports confiscated recently for fear they may travel overseas to fight for ISIS. One such sympathizer stabbed two Melbourne police officers in September and was shot dead. Days before, an ISIS spokesman had called for “lone-wolf” attacks world-wide, including in Australia, and authorities in Canberra raised the country’s threat level to high from medium. This summer an estimated 150 Australians joined ISIS in the Middle East, including a former Sydney resident who posted photographs of his 7-year-old son holding a severed head.

Jihadists haven’t mounted a catastrophic attack in Australia, though not for lack of trying. In the past decade authorities Down Under have uncovered plots against military facilities, a sports arena and the electric grid. Terrorists have had more success targeting Aussies overseas, killing nearly 100 in attacks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali and Jakarta’s Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. Eleven Indonesians died in a 2009 car bombing at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Australia has been America’s staunchest ally in fighting terrorism, deploying troops to Afghanistan, Iraq and now Iraq again. As a liberal democracy with large immigrant communities and Indonesia’s population of 250 million on its doorstep, Australia understands the stakes of the West’s long war against Islamist extremism.

The threat from ISIS in particular needs to be understood as extending far beyond the territory it controls, because ISIS successes in the Middle East could motivate radicals everywhere...
More.

PREVIOUSLY: "Sydney Hostage Siege."

Islamophobia!

Via iOTW REPORT:

 photo islamophobia_zps8dcaf389.jpg

Theater Chains Pull 'The Interview', Press Appearances Canceled Amid Threats (VIDEO)

At BuzzFeed.

More at Mediagazer.



Britney's Back!

She's so sweet.

At Women's Health, "Britney Spears' SICK Abs Cover The Latest Issue of Women's Health: See Pics!":
She's workin' our first issue of the new year like only the Queen of Pop can.

Britney's Back! photo 1501-britney-cover_zps6070bb64.jpgAlso at

TMZ, "Britney Spears -- My Women's Health Cover is the Real Deal ... Here's Proof - VIDEO!"