Monday, September 30, 2013

Harry Reid Rejects 11th Hour Compromise With Republicans – #BlameHarryReid

At the Hill, "Reid rejects House GOP offer to appoint funding conferees":
Senate Democratic leaders shortly before midnight rejected a House Republican request to appoint conferees to negotiate a short-term government-funding bill.

The move makes it all but certain there will be a government shutdown after midnight.
And the GOP press conference earlier:

Also, at Legal Insurrection, "The culmination of Democratic dysfunction – #BlameHarryReid."

Added: The latest at the New York Times, "Senate Rejects House Demands to Curb Health Care Law."

British 'White Widow' Drenched Her Face in Blood to Elude Security in #Westgate Massacre

Witnesses reported seeing a "white woman" firing on shoppers during the attack.

And considering this woman's background as a terror widow and jihad mastermind, smearing herself in blood may have been planned all along.

At the Belfast Telegraph, "White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite 'smeared face in blood to flee Nairobi terror mall'":

White Wideo photo 411961-samantha-lewthwaite-westgate-nairobi_zps6981b7d3.jpg
Samantha Lewthwaite, the Northern Ireland-born woman dubbed the 'White Widow', slipped out of the Kenyan shopping mall after smearing blood over her face, security sources in the country have said.

They also revealed how Lewthwaite, who was born in Co Down, rented a unit at the Westgate Shopping mall months ago in preparation for last week's terror killing spree.

She hung up newspapers around the shop unit to conceal what was going on inside, pretending to be stocking up on goods.

Staff have told police in Nairobi they helped a woman fitting the description of Samantha Lewthwaite lift boxes into the shop unit.

Witness accounts reveal a woman closely resembling the 29-year-old mother of three was seen being led away among panicked survivors, her face and upper clothes splashed with blood.

Interpol has issued a "red flag" international arrest warrant for Lewthwaite, based on intelligence that she led the attack and escaped.

Shocking stories about the brutalities inflicted by the terror gang are beginning to emerge. Children were among those deliberately killed and there are reports that an infant was decapitated and the head thrown at Kenyan soldiers during the four-day siege.

It is now believed Lewthwaite was the leader of the 13 to 17 terrorists who carried out the attack, but slipped away while the others were cornered by Kenyan soldiers.

The reports strongly contradict some of the impressions given last week that Lewthwaite was merely a book-keeper or finance raiser for the al-Qaeda-affiliated Somali group, Al Shabaab.

Kenyan police have been searching for Lewthwaite since it emerged she took up residence there in 2011 after spending three years living under false identities in South Africa. They believe she had already established links with the Somali terror group Al Shabaab and married one of its senior figures. Her second husband was shot dead in a police raid in Mombasa last October, according to sources.

The Kenyan police believe Lewthwaite, who was born in Banbridge, but was brought up in Buckinghamshire where she converted to Islam in her teens, was the prime mover behind the Westgate Shopping Mall attack, a key target for the Islamist terrorists because it is Israeli-owned.

The police named Lewthwaite as an Al-Shabaab member last June after arresting another British-born member of the group, Germaine Grant. They believe Grant was the terror group's financier working under Lewthwaite. The police believe Lewthwaite was behind an attempt to spring Grant from prison in Mombasa where he is currently on trial for terrorist offences.

The Kenyan police believe Lewthwaite may have married another Londoner, Habib Ghani, who also joined the terror group in Somalia.

Ghani and an another US-born member of the group, Omar Hammami, were both shot dead during internal feuding at the start of the month.

In June this year Lewthwaite was named by Kenyan police in connection with a grenade and gun attack on the Jericho Beer Garden in Mombas, while customers were watching a Euro 2012 quarter-final match, killing three and injuring 30.
More at that top link.

Hat Tip: Blazing Cat Fur.

Shutdown Looms as Lawmakers Dig In

President Obumbler parrots DNC talking points to attack "ransom note" politics (at 9:30 minutes). He sounds like a bleedin' idiot.

At WSJ, "Congress Struggles to Avoid Shutdown as Conservatives Target Health Law: Obama Decries 'Ransom'; House Advances Last-Ditch Proposal":

WASHINGTON—Congress struggled to resolve bitter divisions over spending and the health-care law late Monday as the U.S. government teetered on the brink of the first partial government shutdown in 17 years.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) on Monday afternoon advanced a last-ditch proposal—the third of its kind in less than a week—to curb the 2010 health-care law as a condition of funding the government.

Mr. Boehner's move resulted from pressure applied by his party's most-combative conservatives and made it harder than ever to see how Congress could come to agreement on a plan to fund federal agencies before a deadline of midnight Monday. Senate Democrats have rejected every effort by the House GOP to link new funding for federal agencies with efforts to limit the health law.

A House proposal headed for a vote Monday night would delay for one year the Affordable Care Act requirement that most individuals carry health insurance or pay a penalty. It also would limit government subsidies for lawmakers' own health-care premiums and those of their staffs.

President Barack Obama urged Republicans to back away from their plan, asking them to meet with him at another time to negotiate budget differences. "We should avoid this constant brinkmanship,'' Mr. Obama said at the White House.

Mr. Obama said it was a basic function of Congress to fund the government each year. "You don't extract a ransom for doing your job,'' he said.

A White House official said that Mr. Obama placed separate calls Monday evening to Mr. Boehner, as well as to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The showdown has laid bare the elements of the political system that have done much to alienate voters, highlighting the continual air of crisis that has come to surround the most routine tasks of governing. The convoluted jockeying on Capitol Hill has been over a seemingly simple budget measure—a short extension of money for agencies at their current funding levels.

Republican lawmakers decided to pursue their new funding proposal in a 90-minute meeting of the House GOP on Monday afternoon. Afterward, Mr. Boehner began moving toward a vote Monday night, just a few hours before the government was to run out of money at 12:01 a.m. EDT, the start of the new fiscal year.

But many GOP lawmakers emerged from the meeting saying it was unclear that the measure would pass the House. Some Republicans said it didn't do enough to curb the health law; others were concerned about the provision limiting government contributions to health-care costs for lawmakers, aides and some White House officials.

Some also had reservations about the strategy of risking a government shutdown to demand changes in the health-care law that Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats were sure to reject.
More at that top link, and at Memeorandum.

#Feminism and the Dilemma of Pubic Hair Humiliation

Robert Stacy McCain blogged about this recently, "The Vagina as Commodity: What Does the Pubic Depilation Phenomenon Mean?"

But now here's this, from Dina Rickman, at Telegraph UK, "Like it or not, we need to break the pubic hair taboo" (via Instapundit):
The personal is political. And there are few things more personal than your pubic hair. Whether you shave, trim, wax (ouch), epilate (while breathing deeply and after two glasses of wine) or go au naturel, it's a decision. And for young women like me in our twenties, it is one which provokes gut-wrenching anxiety, writes Dina Rickman.

It’s no wonder - we’re living in an era when leaving your pubic hair untamed is so unusual that ‘hairy’ has become a form of niche pornography. One male friend of mine recently boasted that he had never seen a woman with a full bush. Another, 24-year-old Adam, finds pubes so alien that he was unable to perform sexually the last time he was confronted with a hairy woman. “We just ended up cuddling,” he explains.

For him, part of the problem is porn. Adam believes it has “heightened expectations” of how a woman should look. “One of my friends once said 'I 100 per cent need to sleep with a girl before I go out with her. What if she's got a hairy bush?’ It's incredibly off putting. It doesn't take much effort to tame it. I manage to, so I don't think it's a lot to ask."

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Sophie Bennett, campaigns officer at the women’s rights group, Object, also believes pornography has changed the landscape - and not for the better. “Because young men often learn about sex and women’s bodies in this way, many feel uncomfortable with women’s bodies as they naturally are”, she says. The result? Low self-esteem, anxiety, and confusion.

Sporting a full bush is considered so subversive that few raised an eyebrow last year when Cameron Diaz told the BBC's Graham Norton Show how she and two accomplices had pinned an anonymous friend to the ground and removed her pubic hair.

But there are the refuseniks, like Rachel, 26. It took her 12 years, two vajazzles and more waxes than it’s polite to mention before she decided she’d had enough. For her, it was about avoiding the hassle of hair removal as well as feminism. “Now, my pubes stick out of the sides of my swimming costume in the leisure centre, but I'd rather look like that than anything else.” As for how men react? “I think most guys are so delighted that they're about to get laid they wouldn't notice if you had a full-on Zach Galifianakis-style beard down there. But there are some men who are probably a little bit more picky and prefer the bald look.”...
Oh brother.

More at the link.

But then again, don't miss Robert's commentary. It's hard out there for a refusenik.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Boehner Attacks Senate 'Arrogance' as Deadline Approaches — #MakeDCListen

WASHINGTON–House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) issued a statement blasting Democrats for not reconvening the Senate sooner, in the latest round of recriminations over a rapidly approaching government shutdown.

If the Senate reconvenes as planned Monday afternoon, Democrats will be engaging in an act of “breathtaking arrogance,” Mr. Boehner said in a written statement early Sunday afternoon.
Keep reading.

Also, "Shutdown Nears After House Vote."

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Norah O'Donnell Interview with Bill O'Reilly

At CBS News, "Bill O'Reilly talks about 'Killing Jesus' on '60 Minutes'."

Ima try and watch it. We're on Pacific time, so it's still not for a few hours.

Jason Morgan, Ph.D. Student at University of Wisconsin, Rejects Diversity Indoctrination After Being Attacked as 'Racist'

Actually, he's rejecting further diversity indoctrination. All grad students are subjected to diversity training as part of the student-teacher orientation.


Morgan has responded with a letter to Professor Stephen Kantrowitz (I think), which is published at the piece:
Dear Graduate Director Prof. Kantrowitz,

Please forgive this sudden e-mail. I am writing to you today about the “diversity” training that new teaching assistants (TAs) are required to undergo. In keeping with the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, I am also blind-copying on this e-mail several journalistic outlets and state government officials, because the taxpayers who support this university deserve to know how their money is being spent.
Continue reading.

Hat Tip: Althouse.

Sunday Cartoons

At Flopping Aces, "Sunday Funnies."

Branco Cartoons photo Behind-Cruz-590-LI_zpsfd5278b8.jpg

More at Randy's Roundtable, "Friday Night Funnies." And from Reaganite Republican, "Reaganite's SUNDAY FUNNIES."

Also at Theo Spark's.

Cartoon Credit: Legal Insurrection, "Branco Cartoon – Got Your Back, Ted."

At the New York Times, Perilous Task of Innovation in a Digital Age

From Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, at the New York Times:
CRUISES. Conferences. New forms of advertising. Fancy multimedia storytelling.

The Gray Lady, as The New York Times has long been known, isn’t as sedate as she used to be. The company is innovating like a house afire. Or let’s turn the metaphor around: With the house of print burning down, The Times is quickly building something new, hoping to have a permanent place to live in the digital age.

The innovation is necessary. After all, print advertising — the lifeblood of The Times — has long been in decline. Last year, in a major milestone, consumer revenue (mostly from print and digital subscriptions) surpassed advertising revenue, both digital and print. In the old days, print advertising alone brought in about 80 percent of all Times revenue.

The old business model is fading, and the new one hasn’t quite arrived. The Times is journalistically strong and is profitable, but its future is far from certain. As necessary as innovation is, it comes with risks — ethical risks, journalistic risks and, if those should be compromised, business risks.

Here is a look at what is happening, and some of the implications.
Continue reading.

I have no interest in going on an "Old Gray Lady Cruise" with Charles Blow or Thomas Friedman --- no matter how vehemently Ms. Sullivan pitches these as "ethically sound."

Other than that, all this "innovation" is about finding new advertising revenue (IMHO). I don't know, but I'd bet the Times might want to think about tightening up its paywall. This is the one newspaper I'd subscribe to if I couldn't navigate past the subscription barrier. But since the newspaper allows reading to access the site through Google and social media (like Twitter), I simply cut and paste articles into the Safari browser until articles load. I will continue to do that as long as it's an option. The Wall Street Journal also allows Google access to article behind the paywall. The tradeoff for publishers is to allow readers to access the papers through search and social sharing. But no doubt tighter paywalls would force people to pay to click. Other papers, like the Independent and Telegraph in the U.K., limit page views and then lock you out after you've maxed out. But I won't pay for those newspapers. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times also slams the door once you've reached your monthly limit. Google is no help, but I'm a print subscriber so I'm able to read unlimited articles.

If a newspaper is good people will pay to read it. And as the markets continue to consolidate there will be a winnowing of the main sources of news that people will pay to read. This is the demographic that the New York Times needs to attract --- those who will pay. So, start by thinking about who's paying for the product. Increase those revenues along with advertising and I expect the model will be sustainable over the long term.

Lucy Pinder for Sunday #Rule5

Here's your Sunday roundup.

Some video, "Lucy Pinder, Nuts Mag, 6 Aug. 2013," and "Lucy Pinder, Nuts Mag, (part 2) 6 Aug. 2013."

And she's on Twitter here.

Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire

And around the horn with Pirate's Cove, "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup," and "If All You See……is a wonderful jungle that will be wiped from the face of the map because someone used hair spray, you might just be a Warmist."

Also at Proof Positive, "Friday Night Babe: Kirsten Haglund!" And see "Best of the Web Linkaround."

At Daley Gator, "Rule 5 Link Fest."

Plus, at Bob Belvedere's, "Rule 5 Saturday: Satinee Capona."

More from Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, "Friday Pinup."

Dana Pico has "Blondes with Bullets."

And check 90 Miles From Tyranny, "Hot Pick of the Late Night," and "Girls with Guns."

At Knuckledraggin', "Your Good Morning Girl," and "Camel Toe!!!"

A View From the Beach, "Rule 5 Saturday - Let's Have Another Brazilian, Fernanda Tavares."

At Randy's Roundtable, "Thursday Nite Tart: Nichole Boerner."

More from Cousin Odie, "Alligator Shoes ~OR~ Rule 5 Woodsterman Style."

Also from Double Trouble Two, "Sexy Reds .... ;-)." And from Angry Mike's 'Hood, "The Young And Hot...…………"

Still more from EBL, "Oktoberfest München 2013."

Check out Good Stuff's as well, "HOT! GOODSTUFF'S BLOGGING MAGAZINE (116th Issue)."

And from Subject to Change, "Guns/Girls."

Postal Dogs has, "Joanna Krupa isn't fooling me." And Soylent has, "Auburn Awesome: Shaun Tia."


Yet more from Blackmailers Don't Shoot, "This Stupid Week, No Rest for the Wicked Edition."

Check Wine, Women, and Politics as well, "Sunday Babes."

Laughing Conservative has "Adrianne Pulacki."

At Animal Magnetism, "Rule Five Bikini Friday News."

And finally, at the Last Tradition, "Rule 5 Sunday – Elizabeth Taylor."


Blue Cross Dumps Mad Jewess Woman

Nationwide, no doubt 100s of thousands are receiving these cancellation notices.

See, "The Mad Jewess Has Been Discontinued From Her Insurance/Heath Care. Thanks Obama."

And from earlier this week, "The #ObamaCare Death Toll Rises."

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#USC Fires Lane Kiffin

It was only a matter of time, as I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

At LAT, "USC fires Lane Kiffin as football coach":

Lane Kiffin, who has coached USC’s football team since 2010, has been relieved of his duties, Athletic Director Pat Haden announced early Sunday.

Kiffin was fired hours after the Trojans lost to Arizona State, 62-41, at Tempe, Ariz. The loss dropped the Trojans’ record to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-12 Conference.

Kiffin, who succeeded Pete Carroll as coach, had been under fire since the end of last season, when the Trojans fell from being ranked No. 1 to finishing with a 7-6 record. USC has lost seven of its last 11 games dating to last season.

Kiffin, 38, compiled a 28-15 record at USC. His best season came in 2011, when the Trojans finished 10-2.

The NCAA hit USC with some of the most severe penalties in college football history months after Kiffin was hired. The penalties were related to former Trojans running back Reggie Bush and included a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years.

Haden recently appealed to the NCAA to restore some of the scholarships. The request was denied.

In a four-paragraph news release announcing the move, USC said Haden would hold a news conference Sunday afternoon. It was not known what time.
More at that top link.

And see, "It's a horror show in Devils' lair as USC falls to Arizona St., 62-41."

Also at Daley Gator, "USC fires noted douche bag."

How Blackberry Failed to Adapt

At Toronto's Globe and Mail, "Inside the fall of BlackBerry: How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt":
Late last year, Research In Motion Ltd. chief executive officer Thorsten Heins sat down with the board of directors at the company’s Waterloo, Ont., headquarters to review plans for the launch of a new phone designed to turn around the company’s fortunes.

His weapon was the BlackBerry Z10, a slim device with the kind of glass touchscreen that had made Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. the dominant names in the global smartphone market.

But one of RIM’s directors was frustrated by what he saw, and spoke out, according to one person who was in the room. There is a cultural problem at RIM, he told the group, and the Z10 was a glaring manifestation of it.

The speaker was none other than Michael Lazaridis, the genius behind the BlackBerry, the company’s co-founder and its former co-CEO. Minutes earlier, he said, he had spoken with Mr. Heins’s newest executive recruits, chief marketing officer Frank Boulben and chief operating officer Kristian Tear.

Mr. Boulben and Mr. Tear had dismissively told Mr. Lazaridis that the market for keyboard-equipped mobile phones – RIM’s signature offering – was dead.

In the board meeting, Mr. Lazaridis pointed to a BlackBerry with a keyboard. “I get this,” he said. “It’s clearly differentiated.” Then he pointed to a touchscreen phone. “I don’t get this.”

To turn away from a product that had always done well with corporate customers, and focus on selling yet another all-touch smartphone in a market crowded with them, was a huge mistake, Mr. Lazaridis warned his fellow directors. Some of them agreed.

The boardroom confrontation was a telling moment in the downfall of Research In Motion.

Once the giant of the smartphone business, RIM, which was renamed BlackBerry Ltd. in the summer, is now on its knees. The company reported a $965-million (U.S.) fiscal second-quarter loss Friday, primarily because of a massive writedown of Z10 phones that sit, unsold and unwanted, about eight months after they first hit the market. The company is cutting 4,500 jobs, 40 per cent of its work force, in a desperate bid to bring costs in line with plummeting revenue.

Investors, who have lived through the destruction of more than $75-billion of the company’s market value over the past five years, are still wondering how BlackBerry managed to blow its runaway lead and became a bit player in the smartphone market it invented.

An investigation by The Globe and Mail, which included interviews with two dozen past and present company insiders, exposes a series of deep rifts at the executive and boardroom levels.

Those divisions hurt the company’s ability to develop products just as it faced its greatest challenge from more nimble and creative rivals – and contributed to the downfall of Canada’s biggest technology company...
Lazaridis' cultural disconnect seems simply unreal.

More at the link.

RELATED: At the New York Times, "Quick, Hide the BlackBerry, It's Too Uncool," and "BlackBerry's Future in Doubt, Keyboard Lovers Bemoan Their Own."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

'(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66...'

So my mom's visiting and she's wearing a "Route 66" shirt: "Get your kicks..."

And I'm tryin' to find a Chuck Berry live clip, but it's a dearth.

In any case, here's some Nat King Cole, who was the first to record the Bobby Troup song, in a fine video clip. This takes you way back:

A Chuck Berry recording is here.

And some Rolling Stones here.

More blogging later...

House #GOP Seeks Health-Law Delay as Shutdown Looms

Shut it down, I say.

Screw the Democrats. They'd rather negotiate with Iranian terror-sponsors than our own democratically-elected Members of the House of Representatives.

The Wall Street Journal reports, "House GOP Seeks Health-Law Delay: Condition For Funding Brings Federal Government to Brink of Shutdown Tuesday."

And at Lonely Con, "Harry Reid Says Senate Will Reject New House Bill Funding Government":

House Republicans are (surprisingly) not backing down on the Obamacare/continuing resolution fight. Unfortunately, neither is Harry Reid. The House has a new bill funding government and delaying the implementation of Obamacare for one year. They also have a bill that will fund the military in the event of a shut down. Reid says the Senate will reject the bill.
Yes, because "tea party anarchists."

Screw 'em. Prepare for the shutdown.

Hey, BuzzFeed Gets Its India Reynolds Fix On!

Well, the uber viral website catching up to American Power on India Reynolds blogging.

Quick Saturday #Rule5

Linking a few fellow babe bloggers.

At Daley Gator, "DaleyGator DaleyBabe Tatiana Jaye," and Blackmailers Don't Shoot, "Pretty Girls on a Thursday, Snow Bunnies Edition."

Drunken Stepfather photo stepLINKS-sept-20_zpsc66c9fde.jpg

More at 90 Miles from Tyranny, "Girls With Guns."

And at Knuckledraggin', "Your Good Morning Girl."

More at Pirate's Cove, "If All You See……is a horrible waste of chocolate, the same chocolate that will be destroyed by someone turning trees into cabinets, you might just be a Warmist."

Plus lots more babe blogging at the Other McCain, "Rule 5 Monday."

I'll have more later...

"Only those who share the partisan Democrat views of James Fallows, in other words, are avoiding the 'failure of journalism.' Fallows would have us believe that 'what is going on' is not a routine exercise in budget brinksmanship — something to which we have become accustomed as a ritual of divided government — but rather an 'internal crisis' exclusive to the Republican Party..."

From Robert Stacy McCain, "James Fallows, Eminent Fool, and the Surprising Vindication of John C. Calhoun":

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The current phony crisis, in which Sen. Harry Reid has declared that the House must approve the Senate’s spending bill or else the government will shut down, has inspired The Atlantic‘s James Fallows to an extravagant exercise in rhetorical excess:
In case the point is not clear yet: there is no post-Civil War precedent for what the House GOP is doing now. It is radical, and dangerous for the economy and our process of government, and its departure from past political disagreements can’t be buffed away or ignored. If someone can think of a precedent after the era of John C. Calhoun . . . let me know.
This is as absurd and inappropriate as it is ignorant. To find a recent precedent, we need only go back to the 1990s, when the budget impasse between the new Republican majority in Congress and President Clinton led to a (partial) government shutdown. Or, really, we might consider the extraordinary process by which Reid and Nancy Pelosi shoved ObamaCare through the legislative grinder — “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it,” as Pelosi infamously said — as more truly “radical, and dangerous for the economy and our process of government” than anything Republicans in Congress are doing now.

Having deliberately ignored the made-for-TV dramatics, I am not the least alarmed by this phony crisis, which is neither particularly new nor remotely frightening. Democrats and their comrades in the media (Fallows was a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter) are dishonestly characterizing opposition to ObamaCare as “extremist,” per se.

This is the exact opposite of truth: It is ObamaCare itself that is truly “extremist,” a measure that could only be rammed through Congress with late-night arm-twisting sessions. Were the 34 House Democrats who voted against ObamaCare in March 2010 “extremists”? Or were the millions of voters who elected a Republican House majority in the 2010 mid-term landslide “extremists”?

James Fallows is a partisan Democrat who evidently does not even read conservatives, and who declares illegitimate any reporting that takes seriously the claims of the president’s Republican opponents...
Fallows is a bald-faced liar (and a Democrat-partisan hack, but I repeat myself).

Continue reading.

IMAGE CREDIT: "Do Not Challenge the Emperor," via Erick Brockway on Twitter.

Rick Perry at CPAC St. Louis 2013

Via Nice Deb, "Video: Rick Perry Rocks the House at #CPACSTL."

Why Academics Hate Diana West

I'm getting a kick out of this.

Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov have a long essay on Diana West's American Betrayal at Big Government, "WHY ACADEMICS HATE DIANA WEST."

Recall that when I met Diana at the book signing in Los Angeles, I mentioned to her that I'd be especially interested to see the response to her research from professional historians. I suggested that her thesis was "bold" and that academic historians would react strongly. Little did I know how strongly, especially in the case of nutjob Ron Radosh. Diana got a kick out of recalling our exchange this morning on Twitter.

If you haven't read it, visit Amazon to pick up your copy, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character.

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Hot Shots Calendar Film Shoot

The lovely Hot Shots ladies.

Bruce Schneier on NSA and Snowden Documents

See, "NSA Spying Is Making Us Less Safe" (via Instapundit).

More at Schneier blog, "Senator Feinstein Admits the NSA Taps the Internet Backbone."

(I'm sure readers will recall my personal position on all of this. I think Snowden's a traitor, although that doesn't mean I'm unconcerned with the never ending growth of the Orwellian state. Security vs. liberty. There's a right balance. Getting there requires citizen participation, not treason, to beat back government secrecy.)

N.S.A. Examines Social Networks of U.S. Citizens

Big Brother keeps getting bigger.

At NYT, "N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens":

WASHINGTON — Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a “contact chain” tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the N.S.A.’s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the agency’s operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation’s intelligence court or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of the potential for the “misuse” of such information without adequate safeguards.
Continue reading.

Victoria Arlen Not Paralyzed Enough

At the New York Times, "Swimmer Is Fighting a Ruling: She Is Not Disabled Enough":

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EXETER, N.H. — Racked by sudden spasms in her shoulders, back and hands — the things she most relies upon to offset her paralyzed legs — the American swimmer Victoria Arlen failed to qualify for the final in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Paralympics last summer. But she persevered in the freestyle, going on to become one of the competition’s breakout stars. When Arlen returned home to New Hampshire with four medals and a world record, Exeter threw her a parade.

But Arlen’s glittering Paralympic career is now in jeopardy. This summer, she became enmeshed in a dispute with the International Paralympic Committee over an issue fundamental to her identity and to the complicated, often ambiguous science behind Paralympic competition: whether she is disabled enough even to qualify as a competitor.

Days before she was due to swim in the world championships in Montreal in August, she was ruled ineligible because, the committee declared, she had “failed to provide conclusive evidence of a permanent eligible impairment.”

Arlen, 19, spent three years in a vegetative state because of an autoimmune disorder and woke in 2010 with paralyzed legs and other symptoms of the neurological condition transverse myelitis. She said she was being punished because of her doctor’s belief that there was a chance that her condition might improve.

“Being penalized for maybe having a glimmer of hope of one day being able to walk again is beyond sad,” Arlen said in an interview at home. In a follow-up e-mail, she said: “To have trained so hard this past year and come so far only to be humiliated and targeted by the I.P.C. for reasons unknown baffles me.”

For its part, the committee says it had no choice. “According to the rules, athletes have to provide evidence of permanent impairment to compete in the Paralympics, and we do not have satisfactory confirmation of that,” said Peter Van de Vliet, the committee’s medical and scientific director.

A Difficult Task

Classifying disabled athletes — sorting them into classes according to the type and severity of their disabilities — is immensely complex, often subjective and among the toughest tasks the Paralympic committee faces. Some cases, likes those involving congenital limb deformity, are straightforward. But others, like neurological illnesses with fluctuating multiple symptoms like the one afflicting Arlen, are not.

“If you’re classifying an amputee, either they’ve got a leg or they haven’t, and in 12 months, they still won’t have a leg,” Van de Vliet said. “But when you get to these types of wheelchair athletes, it gets tricky.”

Officials are not suggesting that Arlen is lying, but the Paralympics is becoming increasingly competitive, and there are many cases of athletes exaggerating or faking disabilities. The committee is still haunted by the saga of Monique van der Vorst of the Netherlands, who won two silver medals in handcycling at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. She was paralyzed when she competed, apparently having muscular dystrophy. But two years later, after 13 years in a wheelchair, she walked again. She was given a new diagnosis: conversion disorder, a psychiatric condition in which patients suffer inexplicable neurological symptoms.

The committee allowed van der Vorst to keep her medals, ruling that she had not deliberately misled them. But later it emerged that perhaps she had. Reports surfaced in which even van der Vorst said there had been times when she could stand and walk while competing as a Paralympian.

“What would be the reaction of competitors who had raced Victoria if, in a few years, she was able to walk?” Van de Vliet said.

The committee often reclassifies athletes and places them into different competition classes, depending on the severity of their impairments. It has declared athletes ineligible before, including some who have simply misinterpreted the rules. Recently, Van de Vliet said, a Jamaican competitor showed up at a competition with a note from his optician saying “this man has a visual impairment, but when he wears his glasses, everything’s fine.”

The committee sent him home. Van de Vliet said, “It was a particularly sad case.”

Arlen’s situation is different, in part because she is such a high-profile athlete. After the International Paralympic Committee ruled her ineligible, her case became a cause célèbre, with sympathetic reports on “Good Morning America” and other outlets. New Hampshire’s governor and two senators publicly criticized the committee’s ruling.

Photogenic, poised, articulate, bitterly disappointed, a television natural (she also models and works as a motivational speaker), Arlen makes a formidable opponent for the Paralympic committee. It is impossible to hear her story — about being a star child athlete who suddenly grew weaker and weaker and sicker and sicker until she became incapacitated; about her years in a vegetative state and her family’s search for medical answers; about how she woke and had to relearn to talk, read and eat; about how she resolved to be a Paralympic swimmer; about her triumph last summer — without feeling sympathetic.

“She was brought into the Paralympic movement by people who knew about it and told her she could be good at it, and she trained and did everything she was asked to do,” Arlen’s coach, John Ogden, said in an interview. “She has been emotionally scarred and traumatized by this. I am so disappointed in the Paralympic movement right now, I can’t even tell you.”

But it is hard to ignore the committee’s arguments that the matter is far from simple.
A bureaucratic clusterf-k.

Let the lady compete, for crying out loud. She aint' fakin'.

More at the link.

Single Head Shot Takes Out Two Syrian Rebels

At Blazing Cat Fur, "Not for the Squeamish."

'The Tide of War is Receding' — Well, Not So Much, Actually

A must-read leader, at the Economist, "The new face of terror":

 photo 20130928_cna400_zps898d077c.jpg
A FEW months ago Barack Obama declared that al-Qaeda was “on the path to defeat”. Its surviving members, he said, were more concerned for their own safety than with plotting attacks on the West. Terrorist attacks of the future, he claimed, would resemble those of the 1990s—local rather than transnational and focused on “soft targets”. His overall message was that it was time to start winding down George Bush’s war against global terrorism.

Mr Obama might argue that the assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi by al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, the Shabab, was just the kind of thing he was talking about: lethal, shocking, but a long way from the United States. Yet the inconvenient truth is that, in the past 18 months, despite the relentless pummelling it has received and the defeats it has suffered, al-Qaeda and its jihadist allies have staged an extraordinary comeback. The terrorist network now holds sway over more territory and is recruiting more fighters than at any time in its 25-year history (see article). Mr Obama must reconsider.

Back from the dead

It all looked different two years ago. Even before the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, al-Qaeda’s central leadership, holed up near the Afghan border in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, was on the ropes, hollowed out by drone attacks and able to communicate with the rest of the network only with difficulty and at great risk. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), its most capable franchise as far as mounting attacks on the West is concerned, was being hit hard by drone strikes and harried by Yemeni troops. The Shabab was under similar pressure in Somalia, as Western-backed African Union forces chased them out of the main cities. Above all, the Arab spring had derailed al-Qaeda’s central claim that corrupt regimes supported by the West could be overthrown only through violence.

All those gains are now in question. The Shabab is recruiting more foreign fighters than ever (some of whom appear to have been involved in the attack on the Westgate). AQAP was responsible for the panic that led to the closure of 19 American embassies across the region and a global travel alert in early August. Meanwhile al-Qaeda’s core, anticipating the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan after 2014, is already moving back into the country’s wild east.

Above all, the poisoning of the Arab spring has given al-Qaeda and its allies an unprecedented opening. The coup against a supposedly moderate Islamist elected government in Egypt has helped restore al-Qaeda’s ideological power. Weapons have flooded out of Libya and across the region, and the civil war in Syria has revived one of the network’s most violent and unruly offshoots, al-Qaeda in Iraq, now grandly renamed the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

The struggle to depose the Assad regime has acted as a magnet for thousands of would-be jihadists from all over the Muslim world and from Muslim communities in Europe and North America. The once largely moderate and secular Syrian Free Army has been progressively displaced by better-organised and better-funded jihadist groups that have direct links with al-Qaeda. Western intelligence estimates reckon such groups now represent as much as 80% of the effective rebel fighting force. Even if they fail to advance much from the territory they now hold in the north and east of the country, they might end up controlling a vast area that borders an ever more fragile-looking Iraq, where al-Qaeda is currently murdering up to 1,000 civilians a month. That is a terrifying prospect.

No more wishful thinking

How much should Western complacency be blamed for this stunning revival? Quite a bit. Mr Obama was too eager to cut and run from Iraq. He is at risk of repeating the mistake in Afghanistan. America has been over-reliant on drone strikes to “decapitate” al-Qaeda groups: the previous defence secretary, Leon Panetta, even foolishly talked of defeating the network by killing just 10-20 leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The general perception of America’s waning appetite for engagement in the Middle East, underlined by Mr Obama’s reluctance to support the moderate Syrian opposition in any useful way has been damaging as well.

A second question is how much of a threat a resurgent al-Qaeda now poses to the West. The recently popular notion that, give or take the odd home-grown “lone wolf”, today’s violent jihadists are really interested only in fighting local battles now looks mistaken. Some of the foreign fighters in Syria will be killed. Others will be happy to return to a quieter life in Europe or America. But a significant proportion will take their training, experience and contacts home, keen to use all three when the call comes, as it surely will. There is little doubt too that Westerners working or living in regions where jihadism is strong will be doing so at greater risk than ever. The final question is whether anything can be done to reverse the tide once again.
Continue reading.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hacked and Pilfered iPads Expose Epic Folly of LAUSD's $1 Billion Technology Program

I didn't think too much of this at first, but as details of this epic idiocy emerge, it's increasingly difficult to comprehend.

So neat in theory, giving students iPads for their work ---- no doubt many of whom whose families would be unable to afford such devices. By now though, students have hacked the security features to facilitate personal browsing and 71 iPads from the pilot program have been stolen. This could be the biggest taxpayer boondoggle in the history of urban education in the U.S.

See, "71 iPads issued to students have gone missing, LAUSD says," and "LAUSD halts home use of iPads for students after devices hacked."

I found this comment on the policy while trolling the Times' website yesterday:
This iPad project clearly doesn't stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. And so far, it's only the slightest scrutiny that's taken place.

But the question now is how can we trust these buffoons who've spent two years developing this plan?  They're committing $1 billion of taxpayers' money for technology that will probably need to be replaced in five years.  Nobody at LAUSD has been able to say what happens at that point.  When these devices need to be upgraded, how will the district pay for that?

In the Phase I iPad rollout, several different forms were sent to parents, the spanish version of which was labeled "incomprehensible" at yesterday's ad hoc committee meeting.  Nobody at LAUSD knew for sure whether parents would assume financial liability for devices beyond Apple's 5% warranty.

What kind of people decide to spend $1 billion while failing to work out even the most basic details of this plan?  If I as a teacher performed my job this amateurishly, how long do you think I'd be allowed to teach?  Supt. Deasy; his bureaucratic henchmen; board members Galatzan, Garcia, and Zimmer, all of whom have publicly backed this deal; and UTLA, which for the umpteenth time has seen fit to stand on the sidelines watching the parade of incompetence pass by - all of them should be held accountable.

We deserve better.

Lobo Gris at 11:58 AM September 26, 2013
More, "Letters: In LAUSD, iPads become toys."

Russian Media Protests Detention of Journalists With Greenpeace Activists

Screw Greenpeace.

At the New York Times, "Russian News Sites Protest Detention of Journalists With Greenpeace Activists":

A Russian court on Thursday ordered that 22 members of the Greenpeace team that protested Arctic drilling by trying to scale a state-run oil rig may spend up to two months in detention in a Murmansk jail, while investigators decide whether to charge them with committing an act of piracy.

Among the activists were two journalists: Kieron Bryan, a British videographer who formerly worked for The Times of London, and Denis Sinyakov, a well-known Moscow-based freelance photographer, whom their colleagues and international organizations say have been jailed for merely doing their jobs. Mr. Sinyakov is a former Reuters photojournalist who has been granted behind-the-scenes access by protest groups including Pussy Riot and Femen.

Reporters Without Borders called on the Russian government to release both photojournalists. And more than a dozen independent Russian media sites responded to the detention of Mr. Sinyakov with a literal blackout: covering all the images on their sites with black squares on Friday as a sign of protest.
More at the link.

But like I said. They're enviro-terrorists. Screw 'em.

#ObamaCare: 'Working the Way It's Supposed to...'

Yes, working to destroy the American healthcare system.

From Reason TV, "5 Reasons Obamacare Won't Save You."

Yeah, it's all f-ked up. At the Hill, "DC Delays Key Pieces of Obamacare Exchange."

Also at Reuters, "Computer Snags Delay Parts of Obamacare In Some U.S. States," and Politico, "Obamacare Faces New Delay In Small-Business Enrollment."

Yep, failing the way it's supposed to!

PREVIOUSLY: "#ObamaCare's Uphill Battle in Colorado."

Katherine Webb for Carls Jr.

Via Theo Spark.

Paul McCartney on Jimmy Kimmel Live

McCartney played live on Jimmy Kimmel's Monday night --- a big deal in music-land, to say the least.

The live stream recording is on Kimmel's MySpace page. Tight set. Totally freakin' rockin'. It's beautiful. McCartney's in full health and vigor. It makes me happy to watch and listen. It makes the world happy. As one commenter writes, "Paul has found the fountain of youth through his music!"

Here's the studio interview:

Also see Part II and Part III.

And at the Los Angeles Times, "Paul McCartney shuts down Hollywood Blvd. for Kimmel concert":
Paul McCartney doesn't really need the publicity, but when he desires it he sure can make a dent. On Monday he and his band shut down a stretch of Hollywood Boulevard to perform a handful of songs for a lucky few thousand as part of "Jimmy Kimmel Live." Many in the crowd had been waiting much of the day for a chance to catch the ex-Beatle in action.

Flanked by the El Capitan and Dolby theaters, McCartney was pushing his forthcoming album "New" by doing a few songs for TV, but stuck around for a set that included older songs we wanted to hear.

His list was full of big-ticket songs. He and his touring band tore through Beatles classics "Hey Jude," "Let It Be," "Back in the USSR," "Magical Mystery Tour," "Birthday," "Lady Madonna" and more, and peppered in solo and Wings songs such as "Band on the Run," "Another Day," "Jet" and three new works, including the excellent title track.
Keep reading.

More at LAist, "Photos, Video: Paul McCartney Shuts Down Hollywood Blvd. to Rock 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' With Old and 'New' Tunes."

Senate Approves Stopgap Spending Bill Restoring #ObamaCare Funding

At the New York Times, "Budget Clash Nears as Senate Restores Funds Cut by House."

And at the Washington Post, "Senate passes spending bill; showdown with House looms":
The Senate passed a short-term spending bill Friday after voting to restore funding for President Obama’s health-care law, sending the measure back to a fractured House just four days before a threatened federal government shutdown.

The vote on final passage was 54 to 44. The measure is intended to keep the government operating through Nov. 15.

The fate of the bill remained uncertain in the House, where the Republican Party’s rebellious right wing is blocking a strategy by Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) for navigating a series of deadlines to keep the government funded and avoid the nation’s first default.

Senators began holding a series of votes starting after midday to move the bill forward. They voted 79 to 19 to invoke cloture on the House-passed bill, formally ending debate on it so that it could be amended to delete House Republican provisions to defund the health-care law. The cloture motion required 60 votes for passage.

The Senate subsequently voted 54 to 44 to restore funding for the health-care law. Minutes later, the body approved the overall bill by the same numbers.

They were straight party-line votes that highlighted the core disagreement between the two parties and the two chambers on how to proceed with funding the federal government.

All members of the Senate Democratic caucus voted to restore the funding and to pass the bill, while all Republicans present voted no. Two Republican senators, Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), were absent Friday and did not vote.

House Republicans are vowing to reject the restoration of funding for the law commonly known as Obamacare, and may opt to send the bill back to the Senate again with more changes. But with the government shutdown hanging in the balance, House leaders had not yet signaled early Friday how they will proceed.
And on it goes.

I'll have more later.

Meanwhile, check Memeorandum for updates.

Cue Apocalypse: Metallica Rocks 'Through the Never'

At LAT, "'Larger than life' proves too small for Metallica":

SAN DIEGO — Singer and guitarist James Hetfield wore a familiar trickster grin and a pair of 3D glasses as he bobbed his head to the thundering riffs of "Enter Sandman," but it was a different sort of arena that was playing host to the world's bestselling hard-rock band.

Metallica had come to Comic-Con International in July to premiere the trailer for its movie "Metallica Through the Never," and the charismatic frontman had turned his chair to watch the clip unspool along with the 6,500 fans in the San Diego Convention Center's main hall. Towering likenesses of the musicians strode across a massive stage outfitted with electric charges, laser lights and fire pots, while a young roadie encountered an angry mob led by a mysterious figure on horseback known as the Death Dealer.

"It's our 'Apocalypse Now,'" drummer Lars Ulrich said.
Continue reading.

Also, "Review: 'Metallica Through the Never' an intriguing but weird beast."

James Delingpole Slams IPCC's 'Junk Science'

At Telegraph UK, "95 per cent of intelligent people know the new IPCC report is utter drivel," and "Global warming believers are feeling the heat":

At the heart of the problem lie the computer models which, for 25 years, have formed the basis for the IPCC’s scaremongering: they predicted runaway global warming, when the real rise in temperatures has been much more modest. So modest, indeed, that it has fallen outside the lowest parameters of the IPCC’s prediction range. The computer models, in short, are bunk.

To a few distinguished scientists, this will hardly come as news. For years they have insisted that “sensitivity” – the degree to which the climate responds to increases in atmospheric CO₂ – is far lower than the computer models imagined. In the past, their voices have been suppressed by the bluster and skulduggery we saw exposed in the Climategate emails. From grant-hungry science institutions and environmentalist pressure groups to carbon traders, EU commissars, and big businesses with their snouts in the subsidies trough, many vested interests have much to lose should the global warming gravy train be derailed.

This is why the latest Assessment Report is proving such a headache to the IPCC. It’s the first in its history to admit what its critics have said for years: global warming did “pause” unexpectedly in 1998 and shows no sign of resuming. And, other than an ad hoc new theory about the missing heat having been absorbed by the deep ocean, it cannot come up with a convincing explanation why. Coming from a sceptical blog none of this would be surprising. But from the IPCC, it’s dynamite: the equivalent of the Soviet politburo announcing that command economies may not after all be the most efficient way of allocating resources.

Which leaves the IPCC in a dilemma: does it ’fess up and effectively put itself out of business? Or does it brazen it out for a few more years, in the hope that a compliant media and an eco-brainwashed populace will be too stupid to notice? So far, it looks as if it prefers the second option – a high-risk strategy. Gone are the days when all anybody read of its Assessment Reports were the sexed-up “Summary for Policymakers”. Today, thanks to the internet, sceptical inquirers such as Donna Laframboise (who revealed that some 40 per cent of the IPCC’s papers came not from peer-reviewed journals but from Greenpeace and WWF propaganda) will be going through every chapter with a fine toothcomb.
Also at IBT, "James Delingpole Leads Climate Change Sceptics in Trashing IPCC's 'Sexed-up' Report."

Stacey Dash on Hannity LIve

I caught this last night.

She's a sweet lady --- and she's got a book forthcoming as well.

At Twitchy, "‘It’s personal’: Stacey Dash calls Eric Holder’s war on school vouchers immoral."

Gory, Horrific Details of Kenya Mall Massacre — #Westgate


Simple, Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire
'Eyes gouged out, bodies hanging from hooks, and fingers removed with pliers': Horrific claims of torture emerge as soldiers reveal gory Kenyan mall massacre details Kenyan soldiers claim to find scenes of torture by mall terrorists They say children found dead in food fridges with knives still in bodies Men were said to have been castrated and had fingers removed...
Also at BCF.

And at My Pet Jawa, "al-Shabaab's Savagery Detailed."

Liverpool Model Punches FEMEN Protesters at Paris Fashion Week

At Independent UK, "Model 'punches' Femen protesters who storm catwalk during Paris fashion week."

And at Canada's National Post, "Model Hollie-May Saker furious after topless protesters ‘ruin’ Paris Fashion Week show."

And at WWTDD, "Crazy Topless Feminists Also Hate Fashion."

Muslims Need to Confront Muslim Evil

From Dennis Prager, at Town Hall:
With this weekend's massacre by Muslim terrorists at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and Muslim terrorists killing about 80 Christians at a Christian church in Pakistan, most people wonder what, if anything in addition to a continuing war on terror, can be done to minimize the scourge of Islamic terror.

The answer lies with Muslims themselves. Specifically, it means that Muslim religious leaders around the world must announce that any Muslim who deliberately targets non-combatants for death goes to hell....

Muslim leaders -- specifically, every imam in the world who is not a supporter of terror, the leaders of the most important Sunni institutions, such as the Al-Azhar Mosque and University in Cairo, and religious leaders in Saudi Arabia and the in Gulf states -- must announce that any Muslim who participates in any deliberate attack on civilians goes to hell.

This must be announced as clearly and as repeatedly as, for example, Muslim condemnations of Israel.

Just as the promise of immediate entrance into paradise animates many Muslim terrorists, the promise of immediate hell would dissuade many Muslims from committing acts of terrorism. Just as the promise of 72 virgins animates many Muslim terrorists, the promise of hell would dissuade many Muslims from terrorism.

Whenever non-Muslims ask Muslim organizations about Muslim terrorism, these organizations trot out the various anti-terrorism statements they have issued. But these are largely useless because: a) they are usually issued by Western Muslim organizations; b) even when they are issued by Middle Eastern Muslims, they almost always include condemnation of "state terrorism," which is Muslim-speak for condemnation of any use of force by Israel; and c) these statements usually also condemn non-Muslim terror, as if Christian or Jewish or Buddhist terrorism is as great a threat to humanity as is Muslim terrorism.

Therefore the statements that need to be made by every Muslim teacher, school, mosque and organization that does not support Muslim terror must be unequivocal. They need to state that any Muslim who targets any civilian for death -- whether that civilian is Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or of no religion -- goes to hell.

In addition, there need to be large Muslim demonstrations against Muslim terrorism. I understand that Muslim clerics who would organize such demonstrations in the Muslim world might be risking their lives. But what about Muslims in America and Europe?

There have been huge Muslim demonstrations against cartoons depicting Muhammad and any other perceived "insult" against Islam. But I am unaware of a single demonstration of Muslims against Muslim terror directed at non-Muslims.

And if morality doesn't persuade Muslim leaders to issue such a statement and organize such demonstrations, perhaps self-interest will. To just about everyone in the world outside of academia and the media, Islam is not looking good. Muslim leaders should be aware that with Muslims burning Christian churches and Christian bodies in Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Egypt and elsewhere, and the regular massacring of innocents by Muslim terror groups, the protestations by Muslim spokesmen that "Islam is religion of peace" are beginning to wear thin. For a religion that seeks converts, this is not a positive development.

On the other hand, perhaps not that many Muslim religious leaders do believe that Muslim terrorists are going to hell.
Don't stop there.

Any regressive leftist who does not denounce the killing should go to hell.

Some India Reynolds for Friday #Rule5

She's lovely.

India Reynolds photo BUq8ZWVCcAALjUM_zps0b65d67e.jpg

Via Twitter.

Previous India Reynolds blogging here.

#ObamaCare's Uphill Battle in Colorado

At USA Today, "Colorado: Microcosm of confusion on health law":

#ObamaCare in Colorado photo photo-32_zps325c0505.jpg
DENVER — President Obama's legacy just might be in the hands of people such as Matt Wright.

The 31-year-old real estate agent worries less about his lack of health insurance coverage than he does about the costs of buying it when the Affordable Care Act mandates kick in, on top of all the expenses of providing for his 4-year-old daughter. "I have an open mind with a bunch of 'if's,'" he says.

In Colorado and across the country, the insurance marketplaces known as exchanges are scheduled to open Tuesday, and the success or failure of Obama's signature legislative achievement is at stake. Passing the health care overhaul defined much of his first term in the White House, and defending it from Republican assault has defined much of his second — including in the current budget showdown.

Americans who don't have insurance, or who have been buying individual policies, or who work for some small businesses, are urged to go online to shop for plans and to determine if they're eligible for federal tax credits to help cover the cost. Whether the system is easy to navigate and the plans judged a good value are likely to set attitudes toward a law that at the moment remains unpopular — shaping Obama's legacy.

USA TODAY decided to explore the issue in Colorado, one of the nation's most critical swing states and the place where Barack Obama was nominated for president in 2008 with a pledge to overhaul the nation's health care system. The news organization sponsored a statewide poll this month and convened a focus group of 10 Denver-area residents who don't have health insurance.

What we found underscored the uphill battle for "Obamacare" three years after it was signed into law. Confusion about the law is widespread, including among those who are supposed to benefit from it, and opposition as fierce as ever.

By 52%-33%, Colorado residents disapprove of the Affordable Care Act. More than two-thirds say they don't understand it very well, and a majority predict the overall effect of the law on the country in coming years is going to be mostly negative.
Continue reading.

It's failing. Barack Hussein's signature legislative "accomplishment" is failing, badly.

No matter. Idiot leftists are still blindly touting their healthcare utopia, despite overwhelming evidence of the inevitable crackup. Damn losers. So sad.

Oracle Team USA Rallies for Historic America's Cup Win

At LAT, "Team USA rides a comeback wave to America's Cup victory":

SAN FRANCISCO — The end came with a burst of speed and a charge across San Francisco Bay.

As the sleek, massive American catamaran sprinted upwind, tactician Ben Ainslie called to his crew mates.

"This is it," he hollered. "This is it."

Defending champion Oracle Team USA easily beat challenger Emirates Team New Zealand on a bright Wednesday afternoon to complete one of the greatest comebacks in sports history and win the 34th America's Cup.

Down eight races to one and facing elimination for the better part of a week, Oracle managed a string of victories to reach a winner-take-all finale and prevail, 9-8, in the longest, closest series in 162 years of Cup history.

"We faced the barrel of the gun at 8-1," Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said of his 11-man crew. "What did these guys do? They didn't even flinch."

For Emirates, the final day was a disheartening end to nearly three weeks of racing that saw wild momentum swings and the rival boats crisscrossing and bumping at up to 50 mph as if they were stock cars.

"The Oracle boys just found another couple of gears through the regatta," Emirates tactician Ray Davies said. "Hats off to them."

Only twice before in the Cup's history had the competition come down to a deciding race. British sailing historian Bob Fisher could not recall such nip-and-tuck battles throughout a series.

"There were lead changes," he said. "We haven't seen lead changes at the America's Cup for years and years."

Emirates took an early lead when Oracle wobbled at the first mark, its twin bows plunging into the water, sending up plumes of spray. "Thought we'd keep it exciting for you guys," Spithill later quipped.

The American boat soon made up the difference, showing impressive acceleration on the upwind stretch that had once proved so frustrating.

The race was decided on that third leg, Oracle opening a lead it would never relinquish, crossing the finish line 44 seconds ahead.
More video, "America's Cup 2013: New Zealand defeat is 'very hard to swallow'."

Heroes of Kenya Siege

A couple of stories.

At Britain's ITN, "Incredible footage: Hero policeman saves terrified family in Kenya mall siege (VIDEO)."

And at the Telegraph, "Revealed: American family rescued by Muslim hero of attack on Kenya's Westgate mall."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Obama Adviser Dan Pfeiffer: We're Not for Negotiating With People With a 'Bomb Strapped to Their Chest'

Profiles in Democrat civility.

At Twitchy, "Adviser Dan Pfeiffer likens GOP to ‘people with a bomb strapped to their chest’."

Instead of negotiating with the democratically-elected opposition, the Democrats attack Republicans and terrorists and hostage-takers.

Seriously, people who aren't normally affected by such childish rhetoric are taking exception. Infantile ideological games. You have to roll your eyes after a while. The adults will be back in charge in due time.

U.S. Sees Direct Threat in Attack at Kenya Mall


And I thought we had "decimated" al Qaeda.

Hardly, according to the New York Times:
NAIROBI, Kenya — Viewing the deadly siege at a shopping mall in Kenya as a direct threat to its security, the United States is deploying dozens of F.B.I. agents to investigate the wreckage, hoping to glean every piece of information possible to help prevent such a devastating attack from happening again, possibly even on American soil.

For years, the F.B.I. has been closely watching the Shabab, the Somali Islamist group that has claimed responsibility for the Nairobi massacre and recruited numerous Americans to fight and die — sometimes as suicide bombers — for its cause.

The Shabab has already attacked most of the major actors trying to end the chaos in Somalia — the United Nations, Uganda, aid groups, the Somali government and now Kenya. The United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars bankrolling anti-Shabab operations for years, and there is growing fear that the group could turn its sights on American interests more directly, one of the reasons the Obama administration is committing so many resources to the investigation in Kenya.

“We are in this fight together,” said Robert F. Godec, the American ambassador to Kenya. “The more we know about the planning that went into this, the way it was conducted, what was used, the people involved, the better we can protect America, too.”

Less than a day after the bloody standoff ended, more than 20 F.B.I. agents wearing flak jackets and helmets were combing through the wreckage strewn across the steps of the mall. Dozens more agents will be headed to Nairobi, American officials say. Some of them are members of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force squad that investigates extremist groups operating in the Horn of Africa, a law enforcement official said.

Over the next few days, agents, including a full Evidence Response Team, will be collecting D.N.A., fingerprints and other biometric information, poring through surveillance footage and examining guns, laptops, cameras and computers — anything to gain insights into how the attack was carried out and the hierarchy, planning and structures behind the group, especially if they have any ties back to the United States.

American officials are mindful that Kenya, one of its closest allies in Africa, has become a precarious buffer zone between the United States and Islamist militants who have declared foreigners legitimate targets in their war.
More at the link.

And also, "A Shaken Kenya Is Hit by 2 More Deadly Attacks by Militants."

No surprise. These murderers are doing exactly as they've promised. At the Times of Israel, "Al-Shabab vow to continue attacks on Kenya."

The #ObamaCare Death Toll Rises

From Michelle Malkin, "Obama Lied, My Health Plan Died":

 photo BVCzOF7CAAERD0g_zpsf05f8d2c.jpg
Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for my family directly on the individual market. We have a high-deductible PPO plan that allows us to choose from a wide range of doctors.

Or rather, we had such a plan.

Last week, our family received notice from Anthem BlueCross BlueShield of Colorado that we can no longer keep the plan we like because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA).” The letter informed us that “(t)o meet the requirements of the new laws, your current plan can no longer be continued beyond your 2014 renewal date.”

In short: Obama lied. My health plan died...
Continue reading.

And ICYMI, "'You Can Keep Your Plan' — The Left's #ObamaCare Lies."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After 20-Plus Hours, Senator Ted Cruz Still Going Strong Against #ObamaCare

I wasn't expecting this.

But I've already dropped my kid off at school, and after a long night, Senator Cruz is still speaking as this blog entry goes live.

See the Washington Post, "After 20-plus hours, Sen. Cruz still talking in an effort to defeat Obamacare":
By 5 a.m., the length of Cruz’s marathon discourse — he is not allowed to leave the Senate floor, even for a bathroom break — had surpassed lengthy filibusters by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in March and the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) in 1964. He earned a lead spot on all three network morning news shows, acknowledging that he was “a little bit” tired but still looking remarkably fresh. The television anchors dubbed Cruz’s effort a “talk-a-thon,” even as they explained to viewers that his effort would not derail the legislative process.

Just before 9 a.m., Cruz told the near-empty chamber — and C-Span II viewers — that he had been reviewing a bit of the libertarian writer Ayn Rand’s literature overnight. He then started reading from “Atlas Shrugged.”

The Cruz talk-a-thon was the latest example of the increasingly stark division among Republicans, both on Capitol Hill and nationally. The Texas newcomer, just 42 and nine months into his first term in office, is carrying the banner for conservatives who urge a take-no-prisoners approach in confronting the president, even if it means shuttering the government.

But the move angered senior Republicans, who complained that Cruz and the other junior senators pushing this strategy did not understand the wounds the GOP suffered during the mid-1990s shutdown battles with President Bill Clinton. Back then, the party controlled both the House and Senate, a luxury compared with its tenuous majority in the House today.
He's still talking, via C-SPAN, "Sen. Cruz Continues Floor Speech; Senate Procedural Vote on CR Later Today."

Also at Free Beacon, "Ted Cruz Talks ‘Star Wars’ On The Senate Floor." And see Memeorandum.

Confessions of Pop's Wildest Child

There's a method to her madness.


Since twerking the VMAs it's been Miley 24/7.

At Rolling Stone, "Miley Cyrus: She knows what you think about her – and she totally doesn't care."

Also at the Other McCain, "Obligatory ‘Miley Cyrus Topless’ Post."

Al Qaeda's Minnesota Recruiting Blows Lid Off Obama's 'Tide of War is Receding' Propaganda

From Katherine Zimmerman, at the Wall Street Journal, "Al Qaeda's African Surge Threatens the U.S." (via Google):
On Tuesday, after a four-day siege by terrorists who murdered at least 67 people, the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, still appeared not to have been secured by government forces. The attack by more than a dozen heavily armed members of the Somalia-based al Shabaabterrorist group—including reportedly several Americans—was a thoroughly planned operation. Teams of the al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists entered the mall's first and second floors in a two-pronged attack. The terrorists lined up hostages, separated Muslims from Christians and others, then tested the self-proclaimed Muslims on their knowledge of Arabic and Islam. Those who failed were shot, children included. The militants then settled in with the surviving hostages to repulse attempts to extract them.

Who are these terrorists? Al Shabaab—in Arabic, "the youth"—traces its roots to the militant wing of the Islamic Courts Union, an Islamist political movement that rose to power in Somalia in 2006. A U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in December 2006 toppled the ICU, whose leaders fled. But al Shabaab remained and rapidly consolidated power as the dominant insurgent force. When less capable African Union peacekeepers replaced Ethiopian troops, al Shabaab recaptured much of southern and central Somalia by 2009.

There they might have remained if not for a United States- and United Nations-backed effort to beef up the African Union force. A far more robust and battle-tested Amisom (the African Union Mission in Somalia) pushed back al Shabaab, and by September 2012 the group had lost the strategic town of Kismayo, and with it much of al Shabaab's revenue and reputation.

What followed is essential to understanding the resiliency of local Islamist extremist groups and the evolution of al Qaeda. As al Shabaab began losing ground in Somalia, a leadership battle ensued between those who wanted to be part of a global Islamist movement and others with more parochial aims. In 2012, al Shabaab declared itself part of al Qaeda, eliminating dissenters through assassination.

Al Shabaab's decision to relegate the fight for Somali territory to secondary status was a major change. A group that had espoused more limited aims was suddenly abandoning its desire for local power in favor of a more idealized global fight. It is this model that is propelling al Qaeda, allowing the Islamist network to spread in Syria, Sinai, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

Groups like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ansar al Shariah in Libya, Ansar Beit al Maqdis in the Sinai, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have metastasized from local to networked global al Qaeda groups. Al Shabaab is following al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which first hit Saudi targets and then moved on to the United States.

Yet the U.S. government insists on calling al Shabaab a local, Somali threat, playing down the potential threat to the U.S. The Obama administration has clung instead to the narrative that al Qaeda is on the "path to defeat" and its remnants are "lethal, but less capable," as President Obama put it in May.

A major tip-off in al Shabaab's transformation was its effort to recruit Americans. According to U.S. officials, 50 or so U.S. citizens have made their way to Somalia since 2007 to join al Shabaab. This includes members of the Somali diaspora and non-Somalis, such as Syrian-American Omar Hammami, who called himself Abu Mansur al Amriki, aka "the American," before he was killed earlier this month in Somalia, the victim of an internal dispute.

American Somalis began joining al Shabaab to fight the Ethiopians in 2007. Insight into its recruitment has come from the courtroom testimony of individuals who were arrested for providing material support to al Shabaab upon returning from Somalia: A local recruiter would promise vulnerable Muslim youths in the U.S. entry to paradise if they fought the Christian invaders. The youths would slip away for the trip to Somalia, often without the knowledge of their families....

Last month, al Shabaab released a video featuring what it called its "Minnesota Martyrs." Minnesota is home to the largest U.S. population of Somalis. The 40-minute video, the first in a promised series, featured three Americans. The video glorified the three young men, saying they had given their lives on what is now a global battlefield. Although some within the group may see Africa as their battleground, those who have cemented the relationship with al Qaeda understand that jihad stretches from Morocco to the Philippines, from Tanzania to Iraq. And as al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri has made clear, to the United States.

If reports now surfacing regarding Americans involved in the Nairobi attack—al Shabaab's response to the Kenyan military presence in Somalia—are confirmed, it will be difficult for the Obama administration to continue claiming that al Shabaab is purely local. The terror group has the means for a major attack, and al Qaeda's focus on the U.S. provides the motive...
RTWT at Google.

Also at CBS, "Kenya mall attack terrorists included "two or three" Americans, Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed says."

Related: At the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Slick video rekindles fears that Al-Shabab is recruiting Minnesotans."