Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cruising the Web

How ironic that Trump spoke out against the terrorism in Manchester while standing next to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas himself condemned the terrorism. Yeah, that's rich. Abbas's Fatah faction has its own terrorist wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and celebrates those who kill Israelis, including children. They reward the families of so-called martyrs who have conducted suicide terrorist attacks on Israel. So how is he someone with whom any peace with Israel can be negotiated?

Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu did not let Abbas's murderous hypocrisy go unremarked.
While the terrorist in Manchester was condemned by Abbas, Netanyahu said, the suicide bomber's family would have received money from the Palestinian Authority if the victims were Israelis.

"And as you said this morning, Mr. President, funding and rewarding terrorism must end," Netanyahu said. "Standing next to you, President Abbas condemned the horrific attack in Manchester. I hope this heralds a real change, because if the attacker had been Palestinian, and the victims had been Israeli children, the suicide bomber's family would have received a stipend from the Palestinian Authority. That's Palestinian law. That law must be changed."
These are the words of Mahmoud Abbas:
"We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah," Abbas said in September of 2015 on Palestinian television. "With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward."
As Andrew McCarthy writes, Abbas is not a worthy partner for peace.

Fareed Zakaria gave Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia what is, for Zakaria, the highest of praise.
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Monday praised President Trump's weekend speech in Saudi Arabia, saying former President Obama could have given it.

“It was nuanced. It was frankly the kind of speech that President Obama could have given. It had the kind of empathy and nuance that people look for," Zakaria said Monday on CNN, praising "both the symbolism and ... the substance."
Hmmm. I guess Zakaria has forgotten the speech that President Obama gave at a similar point in his presidency in Cairo. It was quite a different speech, as James Freeman points out. Obama spent a considerable part of his Cairo speech of criticizing the United States for our treatment of Muslims going back to colonial America through the Cold War and then after 9/11. He promised to close Gitmo and then blamed the US for our bad relations with Iran. But that wasn't all.
Even on issues of women’s rights, Mr. Obama didn’t want to give the U.S. much credit in comparison to the Muslim world. The latter is a world where women sometimes struggle just for the freedom to read books or drive automobiles. But Mr. Obama said that “the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.”
That's quite a different tone from Trump's speech. Unsurprisingly, Trump didn't spend any time in his speech critizing the United States or excusing our adversaries. Instead he spent the speech calling on Middle East nations to take on the responsiblity for rejecting terrorism. And his words for Iran were quite different from Obama's excuse-making.

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Rahm Emanuel has an interesting idea of how Chicago can get the money to pay for its school system. He wants to borrow money just to get to the end of the school year. This is being called a payday loan.
Aldermen will be told Friday that the Chicago Public Schools will get through the end of the school year and pay for teacher pensions by short-term borrowing against $467 million in late block grants owed by the state, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel had considered but ruled out a bridge loan from tax-increment financing districts amid concern it would endanger the city’s already shaky bond rating, City Hall sources said Thursday. He also decided against making a partial payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, concerned it would trigger a lawsuit and yet another drop in CPS’ bond rating.

Instead, CPS, which needs $596 million to finish the year, will go it alone on short-term borrowing that will allow it make the bulk of a $721 million teacher pension payment due June 30, minus $250 million from a dedicated property tax increase that will get deposited directly later in the summer, according to the sources.

They would not divulge the source of the borrowing, sure to resemble a payday loan, its exact amount or the interest rate expected to be paid by a district in which its credit card was believed to have been maxed out.
Think of that. Chicago owes so much money in pensions to teachers who have retired that they can't even get through their school year to the end of June. So he needs to borrow more money that they won't be able to pay back to keep the schools open. For years, Democratic politicians have given the teachers unions huge pensions in order to get their support to stay in power. And now the bills are coming due. They blame the Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, for the collapse that they engineered. But the state government doesn't have the money either to bail out the city because politicians in Springfield have done the same thing.
Illinois is as broke as Chicago. If this were a business, Rahm would be borrowing against his "accounts receivable" – also known as "factoring." That is a common practice among financially troubled businesses to keep the doors open. Rahm is trying to find a factor that will lend almost $400 mil against the promise of a broke state to come up with the cash.

The source of the borrowing has not yet been determined, nor has the interest rate. That must wait until the borrowing goes out to bid. The maximum interest rate allowed by state law is nine percent....

Chicago has already sold off major assets, including the right to collect money from parking meters. There are fewer and fewer sources of funds available.

The crash is coming. The Dems are just looking for opportunities to blame Republicans for the consequences of their bribes to unionized public employees.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a report on the numbers of people who overstayed their visas.
Nearly 740,000 foreigners who were supposed to leave the United States during a recent 12-month period overstayed their visas, the Homeland Security Department said Monday, detailing a crucial but often overlooked contributor to the number of people in the country illegally....

An estimated 40 percent of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally stayed past their visas.

There were 739,478 overstays from October 2015 through September 2016 among visitors who arrive by plane or ship - more than the population of Alaska.

The total number of overstays is much larger but has not been quantified because the statistic doesn't include how many people leave by land.
Those people who put all their hopes on building a wall for decreasing illegal immigration need to recognize that that would address only part of the problem. A wall would do nothing to limit people overstaying visas. The solution isn't to issue fewer visas since overstayers are only about 1.5% of the 50.4 million who visit the U.S. and arrive by plane or ship in the period from October 2014 to September 2015. Perhaps updating the computers at HHS might help.
Homeland Security's internal watchdog said earlier this month that immigration agents waste their time logging in and out of archaic computer systems while trying to track down foreigners suspected of overstaying their visas only to find out later that many visa holders have left the country.
I'm always amazed to learn how antiquated the computer systems are in the federal government. Isn't HHS one of federal departments that should absolutely have up-to-date computers?

Jazz Shaw responds to the HHS report.
Before we get too alarmed (though this is still alarming beyond a doubt) it’s worth noting that not all 700K of those people disappeared into the shadows. Those figures include people who stayed too long by as little as a single day. While to be discouraged, that could include people who simply got bumped from their flight or came down with the flu. But there were plenty more than enough who wound up staying for a very long time or, as DHS put it, never had any intention of leaving in the first place.

So where are they coming from? The largest numbers seem to be concentrated in the nations who take part in the Visa Waiver Program with us. The most common offenders there are listed as having come from the U.K., Germany, Italy and France. Those all sound benign until you realize that those countries have all experienced terror related issues from some of their own citizens who obtained training in causing mayhem and then unleashed it on their own countrymen. Gives you something to think about, eh?

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I don't really have strong feelings about the rash of removing Confederate monuments throughout the South. I just can't get excited about the Confederacy or Southern pride from the Civil War. Maybe it's because I grew up in the Land of Lincoln, Illinois. However, this is an absurd story.
A New Orleans school principal has been "removed from campus" after a photo emerged showing him standing at the Robert E. Lee statue in front of a Confederate flag.

Crescent Leadership Academy superintendent Tracy Bennett-Joseph confirmed Monday (May 22) that Principal Nicholas Dean was removed from campus. She said the school's management was investigating.

"With the recent events in the city it is important that this matter is thoroughly reviewed," she said.

Dean said he did go to the monument Thursday evening to take photos as rumors circulated of the statue's imminent removal. Mayor Mitch Landrieu had the statue of the Confederate general taken down Friday, the last of four Confederate monuments to go.

However, Dean said the fact that he was shown standing next to monument supporters was pure coincidence.

I didn't go to protest for either side. I went because I am a historian, educator and New Orleans resident who wanted to observe this monumental event," he said. "People who know me know that I am a crusader for children and I fight tirelessly on their behalf."

Crescent Leadership Academy educates some of the most struggling students in the city: It is a second-chance public school for those who have been expelled. They stay at Crescent anywhere from a semester to two years.

The school is also almost entirely African-American, whereas Dean is white. The photograph, particularly within that context, incensed some people on Facebook and led them to call for Dean's removal.
So there is a threat to firing a principal because of his appearance in a photo? It's ridiculous, but it's probable that, with this publicity, the guy's reputation is shot.
Daniel Payne outlines 13 fake news story since Trump was inaugurated that have spread through Twitter and major news outlets sometimes and just weren't true. If you aren't spending your day on Twitter observing out outrage spreads through the internet over supposed corruption and/or massive stupidity of anyone associated with Trump, you might have missed out on some of these outrages. No wonder that a whole lot of people are just exhausted at maintaining fire-hot levels of outrage. And it isn't confined to one side - just witness the way that some on the right manufactured and ran with the allegation that the murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the source of the Wikileaks publication of DNC files. This was all over Twitter and Sean Hannity and Fox News ran with it, but Fox is now acknowledging that it was wrong. Yeah, it is pretty shameful to jump all over a young man's murder in order to pump up your own conspiracies. Both sides need to just cool it and exercise the judgment that paid journalists are supposed to have, though that seems almost laughable to write these days.

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