Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Cruising the Web

It's been a terrible week for victims of terrorists around the world. And these attacks have revealed the growing reach of ISIS.While we kill ISIS soldiers in the Middle East, suicide terrorists are killing civilians all over the world.
Suicide bombers suspected of links to the Islamic State struck for the fourth time in less than a week Monday, targeting three locations in Saudi Arabia in an extension of what appeared to be a coordinated campaign of worldwide bombings coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Initial reports suggested that there were relatively few casualties in the attacks at a U.S. Consulate, a mosque frequented by Shiite worshippers and a security center in one of Islam’s holiest sites, the historic city of Medina. The Saudi Interior Ministry told the state-run television station that four security guards died in the Medina attack and five were injured.

The attacks nonetheless offered further evidence that in the two years since it declared the existence of its so-called caliphate, the Islamic State has developed the capacity to strike at will in diverse locations around the world...

The militant group, as it has in each of the three years since it announced its existence, had urged its followers to carry out attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, abstention and prayer that will conclude Wednesday with a holiday of feasting and family visits.

This has turned into the most blood-soaked Ramadan yet in the Islamic State’s campaign. At least 290 people have been killed in attacks claimed by or linked to the Islamic State — at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, at a restaurant frequented by foreigners in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, and in Baghdad. The vast majority of them, 222 people, died in the Baghdad blast, which targeted a shopping street packed with people celebrating the end of the day’s fast and shopping for the approaching holiday.
Note how they're targeting other Muslims celebrating the religion's holy month.


538 presents the statistics
on what percentage of a nation's population were born abroad to determine which nations have the highest percentage of immigration among their populations. For example, the U.S. ranks 68th out of 232 places with 14.3% immigrant population. What I want to know is who are the people immigrating to North Korea? It's not even the nation with the lowest percentage of immigrant population. In case that comes up on Jeopardy, the answer is Cuba.

The Clinton camp is so inept sometimes. In a long, favorable New York Times piece on what a Clinton presidency would look like, amidst the blather on how she would work together with Republicans to end gridlock and hire women and gays, there is this little bit:
Having women make up half of her cabinet would be historic (in recent years, a quarter to a third of cabinet positions have been held by women), and Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say she may decide to retain Ms. Lynch, the nation’s first black woman to be attorney general, who took office in April 2015.
The whole piece reads like a press release from the Clinton campaign about how different a Hillary Clinton presidency would be from the crazed accusations of her opponents. So why feed cries of a "corrupt bargain" promising a job to the woman who will have the real final say about whether or not to indict Hillary?

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ABC is running an excerpt from Kimberley Strassel's excellent and extensively reported new book, The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech. This excerpt deals with how the IRS targeted conservative groups. We've heard a lot of this before, but Strassel brings in a lot of details to complete the picture of what was going on in the IRS. Democrats pretended to be shocked, shocked to learn that this targeting was going on, but soon they were brushing it all off as just a minor mistake and not part of a concerted policy.
This early slant would nonetheless prove remarkably effective. Millions of Americans would come to believe the following: that the United States has confusing tax-exempt laws (not true); that a flood of social-welfare and charitable applications overwhelmed that system (not true); that “low-level” and “rogue” agents had stepped out of bounds (not true); and that even liberal groups had been swept up in the harassment (definitely not true). It would take Jordan and other congressional investigators close to two years to unravel what had really happened. By then, not a lot of Americans were paying attention anymore.
Strassel goes on in her book to detail other examples of how Democrats have been using government power to silence conservatives such as targeting corporations that gave money to ALEC, a pro-business group focused on state legislatures and which had committed the sin of sponsoring Stand Your Ground laws.

Noah Rothman compares Donald Trump's assertion that products that will cost more as a result of his protectionist policies to Walter Mondale's promise in 1984 to raise taxes.
“Let’s tell the truth,” Walter Mondale famously declared in his speech accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1984. “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.” What was radical about this admission was that Mondale really meant it. He wasn’t just talking about the comfortable upper-middle-class Americans, who Democrats lump in with the “super rich” vragi naroda. He was referring to nearly all taxpaying Americans....

Last week, Donald Trump made the Mondale mistake in its most elemental form. He told the truth. In a speech to his supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday, Trump confirmed that the results of his protectionist and antagonistic anti-global free trade policies would be two-fold. The first, he claimed, will be more, better jobs for Americans. The second, however, will be that the costs of consumer goods, for which all Americans pay on a regular basis, will go up.

“We’re better off paying a little bit more and having jobs,” Trumps said. “It was a much better system the way it used to be.”

“We’re better off if they’re not quite as cheap,” Trump said of consumer products imported from places like Asia. He added that domestically produced consumer products—ranging from high-end electronics to mass-produced consumables and commodities—would be of higher quality.
I can't see a promise that his policies will raise the prices of consumer goods for everyone is going to be one that will resonate with any voters except those who blame foreigners for the loss of their jobs. But such voters are just a small percentage of the whole of all consumers.
While this promise may appeal to a minority of those who perceive themselves to be underemployed—particularly those drawn to blue-collar fields—it will fall flat with the rest of the nation for whom higher priced consumer goods mean having to make difficult tradeoffs. A blockbuster survey released in the summer of 2013 found that over three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The promise of paying more for daily household items and luxury goods is an immediate threat. The offsets for those sacrifices, the promise of new domestic manufacturing jobs in which Americans will produce flat screen televisions and kitchenware, are written on an IOU. For a majority, the cost/benefit analysis of a Trump presidency doesn’t make sense.


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The Olympics are bringing disaster to Brazilians.
IT’S official: The Olympic Games in Rio are an unnatural disaster.

On June 17, fewer than 50 days before the start of the Games, the state of Rio de Janeiro declared a “state of public calamity.” A financial crisis is preventing the state from honoring its commitments to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the governor said. That crisis is so severe, he said, it could eventually bring about “a total collapse in public security, health, education, mobility and environmental management.” The authorities are now authorized to ration essential public services and the state is eligible for emergency funds from the federal government.

Measures like these are usually taken for an earthquake or a flood. But the Olympics are a man-made, foreseeable, preventable catastrophe.
Construction on Olympics venues seems to be proceeding at a lackadaisical pace with no one having any confidence that structures will be completed by the start. And those that have been completed don't provide any confidence that they are of the necessary quality.
In April, a newly built bike path along Rio’s seashore collapsed, killing two people.

Work on the beach volleyball arena at Copacabana stalled because the organizers failed to get the proper environmental licenses. Then the structure was damaged by waves. Workers erected a six-foot-high sand barrier to protect the site. It also protects thugs; tourists are being mugged behind it. A construction worker told me he’d seen a man stabbed there, and warned me to stay away. The robbers were so comfortable that they had left their backpacks and a beach chair nearby on the sand.
With warnings about drug trafficking and muggings in addition to worry about the Zika virus, why would tourists want to travel to Rio?
Frequent shootouts near the Olympic arenas and on routes to them are also a concern: 76 people have been hit by stray bullets in Rio so far this year; 21 of them have died. On June 19, more than 20 men carrying assault rifles and hand grenades stormed the city’s largest public hospital to free an alleged drug kingpin in police custody, leaving one person dead and two hurt.

And the 500,000 people expected to visit for the Games should be worried about how easily they could wander into dangerous areas: There’s a dearth of signs and tourist information on the streets and on public transportation. A native Brazilian, I spent half an hour at the central train station just trying to figure out where to catch a bus to the Olympic Park — and I’d looked it up beforehand. The information booth inside the station was empty. Outside, few of the bus stops displayed information about which lines went where. I resorted to asking popcorn vendors and passers-by for directions. I’m glad I speak Portuguese.
The government as declared a "health system emergency," while closing hospitals as money has run out for equipment and salaries. The state is out of money. Add in the political turmoil of having the president being impeached. Some people will make money off of the Olympics - those who owned land and businesses used in the construction of facilities. The average Brazilian citizen - not so much.

When one door may be shutting, many other doors appear to be opening.
Australia, Canada, South Korea, India and Mexico are all understood to be keen to get around the negotiating table as soon as possible and American politicians are also eager to strike a deal.

US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan is calling for urgent talks on new trade agreements to ensure “a smooth” relationship after Brexit, despite the warnings from President Barack Obama that Britain would go the back of the queue in the event of a leave vote.

Mr Ryan, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate and one of the party’s most senior politicians, said: “Obviously it takes time to do something like this but I think it is something we should be working on.


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One way to get ahead for Palestinian families is to have a family member murder Israeli citizens since the Palestinian government has an incentive plan to reward such murderers. There have been 250 attacks by Palestinians on Israelis since October and the families of the terrorist attackers are paid of by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Palestinian authority. Incentives for murder are much higher than the average salaries of most Palestinians.
The PA has for years paid above-market salaries to the perpetrators of anti-Israel terror attacks. The salaries range from 2,400 to 12,000 shekels a month and are paid for the duration of the perpetrator’s jail sentence in Israel (people killed while committing attacks get other benefits). The lower figure is roughly equivalent to the average–not minimum–wage for people who actually hold jobs in the West Bank, and about 40 percent higher than the average wage in Gaza; figures at the higher end of the range are the kind of salaries most Palestinians can’t even dream of. In short, the PA has made terror far more lucrative than productive work.

No less repulsive is the fact that the size of the monthly salary is tied to the length of the jail sentence. The highest payments go to those serving life sentences, meaning those who managed to murder at least one Israeli, while the lowest go to those serving the shortest sentences–i.e. failed terrorists who didn’t manage to kill or wound anyone. Thus, not only does the PA incentivize committing terror over getting a job, but it also incentivizes mass murder over minor offenses.
And outside organizations who give money to the PA are funding this support of murder.
After discovering this in 2011, the organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) began hounding the PA’s Western donors over whether they really wanted to be spending taxpayers’ money to pay salaries to suicide bombers. The answer, it turned out, was yes: Virtually without exception, Western governments refused to cut donations to the PA over this issue. But under pressure from a few lawmakers and journalists who found this reprehensible, they eventually decided they needed a face-saving way to pretend their aid wasn’t being used to pay killers. So the PA obligingly provided one. In 2014, it announced that it would no longer pay these salaries; instead, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would do it. And since Western donors give money to the PA, not the PLO, they would no longer be involved.

This was always a transparent fiction. Both organizations are headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and controlled by his Fatah faction, and money flows freely between them. But the indefatigable PMW soon provided hard evidence of this. In January 2015, for instance, the PA Finance Ministry announced that its annual budget included money for these salaries. Moreover, when Israel halted tax transfers to the PA in early 2015 over an unrelated dispute, the PA announced that due to its cash shortage, prisoners’ salaries would be cut. That would not have been unnecessary had the PLO actually been paying those salaries out of its own funds since the PLO doesn’t get any money from Israel to begin with.

None of this bothered Western governments. They continued pretending that the PA really had stopped paying these salaries, and the Obama Administration was no exception. But it did bother U.S. lawmakers.
Congress is working to pass a law to cut funding to the Palestinians by the amount being given to provide for the families of terrorists. We'll see if they can get the bill through Congress and whether Obama will sign it. It is time to realize that money is fungible and we should not be giving any money to the PA while they're rewarding the families of murderers of Jewish children.
After discovering this in 2011, the organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) began hounding the PA’s Western donors over whether they really wanted to be spending taxpayers’ money to pay salaries to suicide bombers. The answer, it turned out, was yes: Virtually without exception, Western governments refused to cut donations to the PA over this issue. But under pressure from a few lawmakers and journalists who found this reprehensible, they eventually decided they needed a face-saving way to pretend their aid wasn’t being used to pay killers. So the PA obligingly provided one. In 2014, it announced that it would no longer pay these salaries; instead, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would do it. And since Western donors give money to the PA, not the PLO, they would no longer be involved.

This was always a transparent fiction. Both organizations are headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and controlled by his Fatah faction, and money flows freely between them. But the indefatigable PMW soon provided hard evidence of this. In January 2015, for instance, the PA Finance Ministry announced that its annual budget included money for these salaries. Moreover, when Israel halted tax transfers to the PA in early 2015 over an unrelated dispute, the PA announced that due to its cash shortage, prisoners’ salaries would be cut. That would not have been unnecessary had the PLO actually been paying those salaries out of its own funds since the PLO doesn’t get any money from Israel to begin with.

None of this bothered Western governments. They continued pretending that the PA really had stopped paying these salaries, and the Obama Administration was no exception. But it did bother U.S. lawmakers.
Israel will also start deducting from the money they give to the Palestinian Authority to cover the amount being given to the families of such terrorists. Did you know that Israel helps to fund the PA? Talk about giving your enemies the rope to hang you with.




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Of course, this is what we need to be teaching elementary school students.
An elite Manhattan school is teaching white students as young as 6 that they’re born racist and should feel guilty benefiting from “white privilege,” while heaping praise and cupcakes on their black peers.

Administrators at the Bank Street School for Children on the Upper West Side claim it’s a novel approach to fighting discrimination, and that several other private New York schools are doing it, but even liberal parents aren’t buying it.

They complain the K-8 school of 430 kids is separating whites in classes where they’re made to feel awful about their “whiteness,” and all the “kids of color” in other rooms where they’re taught to feel proud about their race and are rewarded with treats and other privileges.
AS Rodgers and Hammerstein told us in South Pacific, "You've got to be carefully taught to hate and fear/ You've got to be taught/ From year to year, It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear." So propagandists need to start young.

Schools have come to a sorry pass when so many universities don't require history majors to take even one class in U.S. history.
A new report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit group that advocates for accountability at schools, found that just 23 of the institutions among the 76 deemed to be the “best” by U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 rankings require history majors to take at least one U.S. history course.

Many elite schools, including Rice University and Johns Hopkins University, may require students to take courses about events from before 1750, or on East Asian and sub-Saharan African politics, without also demanding that they study the creation of the U.S. Constitution or the civil-rights movement.

The association said in its report that the absence of mandates that history majors take U.S. history classes with chronological and thematic breadth is “a truly breathtaking abandonment of intellectual standards and professional judgment.”
However, history majors can take courses in sports history or entertainment history to fulfill their major's requirements. There is something seriously skewed in these university's standards.

I remember that when I went to get certified to teach, my adviser looked over my transcripts from undergraduate and graduate school and noted that I hadn't taken any math courses in college. He sneered, "You must have gone to school in the 1970s." Apparently, such permissiveness to allow someone to get an undergraduate degree in history without taking math was a hallmark of the laxness of the 1970s. So I had to trot off to take a summer class in pre-calculus in order to be certified to teach History and French. Nowadays, I can imagine someone looking over the transcripts of a history major who has "Baseball in U.S. History" on a transcript, but not any other class in American history and being able to guess, "You must have gone to school in the 21st century."

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