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Fractured Nation

Illegal Immigrants, Palestinian Refugees, and Their Liberal Cheerleaders: The Startling Similarities

July 5th 2018

Stop the Raids immigration protest

The Democrat, left-wing media, and progressive activists’ current freak-out over what is at least a decade-long crisis on our southern border is not just hypocritical.  Yes, these same individuals taking to the streets in ugly mobs and threatening Trump administration officials and their families were silent when children entering the country illegally were detained under Obama.  In fact, in 2014, after visiting a detention center housing migrant children, Nancy Pelosi asserted that the issue should not be politicized, clearly fearing the poor optics.

But the progressive reaction to the migrant issue reflects much more than liberal hypocrisy.  It mirrors the liberal response to, and furthering of, inflammatory and intentionally misleading narratives regarding Palestinian refugees.  Both crises represent the politicization of cultural and ethnic tragedies that seek to blame a strong horse for the wrongs of the true perpetrators of crimes against humanity. And both crises serve as winning strategies for leftist political operatives seeking absolute power.


The North Korean Threat

The USA-North Korea-Iran Strategic Interconnection

June 7th 2018


The geo-strategic ripple effects of the 2018 US nuclear negotiation with North Korea and the 1994 US nuclear agreement with Pyongyang have been closely scrutinized by Iran’s Ayatollahs. Similarly, North Korea has studied the geo-strategic consequences of the 2015 US-led nuclear accord with the Ayatollahs (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

The track record of the nuclear negotiations with the Ayatollahs and North Korea verifies a clear and direct interconnection between the two processes. 

Significant Lives

Remembering Leslie Rudd (1941-2018) Co-Founder, Covenant Winery

May 17th 2018


A lot has already been written about the passing of my friend, business partner and Covenant Winery co-founder Leslie Rudd. He died on May 3 at the age of 76 following a courageous battle with cancer. I’d like to share a few personal thoughts about this most exceptional individual.

If you didn’t know Leslie, I’m sorry you’ll never have that opportunity. He was complex, caring, cutthroat, creative and inspiring. He was also one hell of a mensch, the guy who could bring people together and light up the room—then disappear and let those same people build something unique and outstanding together. Les built community wherever he went.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Leslie was the consummate businessman. As a young man, he transformed his small, family-owned liquor distributorship into the largest in the state. Then, he forged a second empire based on astute real estate and restaurant investments.

An interest in wine and history led him first to France and then to Napa Valley, where he built his impressive eponymous winery—Rudd Estate—in 1996. Many people don’t realize that Leslie also owned some 30 other wineries and wine brands through Vintage Wine Estates, which he founded with his friend and partner (and my former boss at Dean & Deluca 18 years ago) Pat Roney. Read more ..

The Trump Era

A New Law Is Needed to Protect Lawyer-Client Communications

April 15th 2018

File Folders

The raid on President Trump's lawyer dramatically demonstrates the need for new legislation to assure that no FBI agents or US attorneys ever get to read privileged communications between a lawyer and a client, a doctor and a patient, a priest and penitent, or a husband and a wife.

Under current law, confidential material is read or listened to by a taint team comprised of FBI agents and prosecutors. The taint team then sends over to prosecutors all non-privileged material. But a number of FBI agents and prosecutors have already read and listened to the privileged material. They must be trusted not to leak it or misuse it in any way. Even if they don't, the very fact that government agents have been given access to the most confidential and sacred materials should trouble every American, because the government does have the right to seize material that is not privileged, and such material may be comingled with privileged material.

There is a better and safer way to deal with this issue than the current approach of using prosecutors and FBI agents to do the sifting. A law should be enacted under which anytime the government is seeking to search an office or home that may contain confidential and privileged information, the search team must be accompanied by a judicial officer – a judge, a magistrate or someone appointed to fulfill that function.


Facebook on Edge

‘Unsafe to the Community’: Facebook Takes on pro-Trump Diamond and Silk

April 8th 2018

Online dating keyboard

The hilarious duo of Diamond and Silk is a danger to society.

That’s according to Facebook.

The pro-Trump pair posted on the embattled social media platform on Friday night, saying after months of correspondence, they were deemed to be “unsafe to the community.”“Diamond And Silk have been corresponding since September 7, 2017, with Facebook (owned by Mark Zuckerberg), about their bias censorship and discrimination against D&S brand page,” they wrote.

“Finally after several emails, chats, phone calls, appeals, beating around the bush, lies, and giving us the run around, Facebook gave us another bogus reason why Millions of people who have liked and/or followed our page no longer receives notification and why our page, post and video reach was reduced by a very large percentage,” echoing the complaints of many conservative and pro-Trump pages. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Electric Vehicles Are Now The Equivalent Of Driving An 80 MPG Car

April 5th 2018

Better Place

There are lots of reasons to buy an electric vehicle these days, starting with their cost. A recent analysis found that running an EV is, on average, 2.3 times cheaper than operating a traditional gas vehicle. There’s always been some concern that, despite the environmental cred not pumping gas gives, EV buyers weren’t doing as much for the environment as they thought: if the electricity powering your car comes from coal, you’re still polluting, just from a power plant, not your tailpipe.

But EVs continue to get more efficient and the electricity they use is becoming cleaner. Because the U.S. grid is switching away from coal-fired power to natural gas and renewables, the footprint of the electricity grid, and therefore your EV, is getting smaller all the time.


UNWRA on Edge

Use UNRWA’s Financial Crisis to End its Shameful Apartheid System

March 29th 2018

UNRWA Protest

UNRWA, the United Nations agency tasked with caring for Palestinian refugees and their descendants in perpetuity, is facing what it terms its worst financial crisis ever. “Crisis” is an exaggeration, but the agency undoubtedly has less money than it wants. Given Gaza’s multiple woes (which UNRWA’s aid ostensibly alleviates) and Israeli fears that these woes could spark another Hamas-Israel war, this may sound like bad news. In fact, it’s good news for anyone who cares about either Palestinians or Israelis.

Obviously, no one wants a humanitarian crisis, but UNRWA’s budget shortfall won’t cause one. True, the agency is nearly $350 million short of its $1.2 billion budget, despite obtaining $100 million in new pledges at an emergency conference in mid-March, mainly because the Trump administration cut America’s contribution to just $60 million this year, down from $364 million last year.


Inside American Jewry

AIPAC Leadership Losing the Plot

March 12th 2018


The American Jewish leadership’s downward spiral has accelerated. This can be traced back to its cowardly silence when then-President Barack Obama began treating Israel as a rogue state and applied moral equivalence to Israelis defending themselves and Palestinian terrorists.

The leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements and the Anti-Defamation League have effectively become adjuncts of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Many have become so obsessed with hatred of President Donald Trump that their bitterness supersedes their support for Israel.

The chaos was reflected in recent weeks by the bizarre Qatari-sponsored visits of leading American Jewish personalities, designed to curry favor with the U.S. The Qataris, however, did not terminate their massive financial support of Hamas and remain closely allied with Iran and Hezbollah. These and similar misguided actions by Jewish leaders reflect a lack of leadership that will be accelerated with the retirement of Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Read more ..

Human Rights on Edge

The Politics of Social Justice

March 6th 2018

boycott Israel t-shirt

On October of 1967, Martin Luther King underscored that "when people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism!" This bold and unapologetic statement is something that you would not hear today from the membership of Black Lives Matter (BLM).

In today's age of technology, we see more rapid use of social media and soft power by pro-Palestinian groups hijacking the narrative of peace, justice and human rights, while in reality they yearn for Israel's destruction.

The term "social justice" is nothing new in today's world but may represent new ways of thinking among many who advocate for full equality in our society. Among many African Americans, the mere notion of social justice can be a constant reminder that institutionalized forms of racism still exist across all sectors of our society.


Islam on Edge

The Left and Islam--A Historical Delve

March 4th 2018

Muslims pray on a rug

Feminists are far from the only so-called left-wing or liberal group to betray their own basic principles out of a bizarre admiration for Islam, whether its history, its values, or its self-proclaimed victimization. Real liberals believe in human rights, women's rights, racial equality, free speech, and more, rejecting extremism on both the right and left. However, the left in the UK and elsewhere seems to have abandoned those principles and betrayed the very people they had previously supported.[1]

This willingness to indulge even the most anti-liberal beliefs and behaviour finds many of its roots in the general disdain that many so-called left-wingers and liberals seem to feel for Western democracy, human rights and individual freedom. This disdain, however, does not explain why so many people -- often decent people -- are drawn to defend Islam, Islamic patriarchy, Islamic discrimination against women, or violence in the name of Islam, especially when such defence is obviously anti-liberal in the extreme. Examples are not hard to find, for instance feminists who urge Muslim women to submit to the veil and abandon their rights as free women in favour of Muslim men and their power over them.


America on Edge

The Russians Are Not Coming! But...

February 20th 2018

Russian soldiers Red Square

Much too much is being made of the naming of Russian agents operating in the U.S. and their ostensible efforts to thwart our electoral process. There is a suspicion that part of the hullabaloo is an attempt to draw attention away from more important scandalous matters, including the lagging effort of the U.S. to rearm as the overwhelming force dedicated t peace and stability in the world.

Looking at Washington's description of these Russian operatives indicates we are a long way from the expertise of the Soviet KGB and its predecessors tracing back to Vladimir Lenin and his theories of dictatorship of the proletariat. It was in effect an increasingly bureaucratic Russian regime that reached its apotheosis with Josef Stalin's totalitarian dictatorship. For one thing, and the most obvious, Moscow no longer commands the loyalty and services of either ideological cynics or well-meaning idealists abroad in national Communist parties forming a vast espionage network run out of the Comintern. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

The Complicity of German Chemical Companies in Syria

February 10th 2018

Angela Merkel seeking inspiration

Chemical weapons have been outlawed since the Hague Declaration in 1899 because the world had generally agreed that they are uniquely hideous and terrifying. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles and the 1925 Geneva Protocol were reiterations of what had been one of the world’s few consensus points. German use of chemicals in the Nazi Holocaust was so profoundly loathsome that to this day Nazis are prosecuted and punished. In 2016, Reinhold Hanning, A 94-year-old former Auschwitz death camp guard was convicted as an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people. In 2017, 96-year-old Oskar Groening, a former Nazi guard and SS officer, was deemed fit to serve jail time for his crimes.

On January 22 and February 1, 2018, the Syrian government with at least the tacit support of its allies Russia and Iran, subjected the rebel controlled Syrian city of Douma to chemical attacks – it wasn’t the first time, but this time there are side stories from Germany and Iran.


The Edge of Cyber

Source Code Sharing is a Terrible Idea

February 3rd 2018


Many heads of state use insecure iPhones​

Source codes are the instructions written by a computer programmer that powers its software. It contains all the secret instructions in a program that, if discovered, would enable the software source to be stolen. Any software, from your games to America’s military systems. For decades, therefore, the U.S. government export control system refused to allow software source code to be shared.

Those days are over. Some of America’s top tech companies – including McAfee, Symantec and Hewlett Packard – anxious to make money in foreign markets, have been sharing source code with rival powers including Russia and China. McAfee and Symantec shared anti-virus software, making our armed forces, our strategic systems, our critical infrastructure, and our government even more vulnerable to foreign hacking and penetration. The Pentagon said in a letter to Capitol Hill that source code reviews by Russia and China “may aid such countries in discovering vulnerabilities in those products.” Read more ..

Palestinians on Edge

How Aid To Palestinians Hurts - Not Helps - The Peace Process

January 24th 2018

Bethelem Protestors

Last week, the US announced its intention to delay a $65 million payment to UNRWA, the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency. UNRWA is a UN agency specifically dedicated to providing Palestinians with aid. The Trump Administration will be withholding $65 million out of the US's total annual contribution of over $360 million.

The responses to the US decision have been predictable. The Washington Post immediately sought out the Gazan on the street, who warned that "Any reduction of aid would be a death sentence for refugees in Gaza. The work is almost nonexistent. There are not enough jobs. Those who work for the Palestinian Authority receive only a stipend, and Hamas employees get a quarter of their salary."

And J Street called the mere threat of a funding freeze "incredibly dangerous, counterproductive and vindictive."


UN on Edge

The U.N. Agency That Keeps Palestinians From Prospering

January 12th 2018


Frustrated by Palestinian intransigence, the Trump administration has reportedly frozen $125 million of the American contribution to the internationally funded welfare agency for Palestinian "refugees," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Mr. Trump had expressed his irritation with the agency, known by the acronym Unrwa, in a characteristic tweet, noting that the U.S. provides "HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year" and gets "no appreciation or respect" from Palestinians. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., echoed the sentiment, saying the U.S. would use funding as leverage "until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiation table." Read more ..

Media on Edge

Lie by Omission at the NYT

January 10th 2018

New York Times Bldg

It’s a lie by omission. The New York Times published a compelling article on the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela. It focused on mass starvation – particularly among infants and children — in spite of the nation sitting on the world’s largest known oil reserves.  Food and medicine are nearly unobtainable.  Scavenging in trash dumps for anything to eat is commonplace.

This article repudiated glowing praise the paper lavished on the socialist dictatorship just five years ago.  That praise was founded on the same key point the Times never mentioned in its recent 48-hundred word article.  The humanitarian disaster is the direct result of Venezuela’s socialist policies.  In 2012, according to the New York Times, Venezuela’s socialist policies created a paradise.  Today, those socialist polices got no mention. Read more ..

The Edge of Disability

Stopping Sexual Assault Of People With Disabilities

January 8th 2018

Holding Hands

AZlmost every day we learn about another powerful person who is a sexual predator and/or abuser. Some of them, like Harvey Weinstein and Dustin Hoffman, are Jewish. We have also heard of Rabbis and teachers from our community who are also perpetrators of abuse.

It’s important to remember that mensches and heroes still exist in the world. Many men are trying to do the right thing, but frankly some don’t even know what they don’t know about how to address the issues. Matt Damon, the father of four girls, made an attempt that backfired, and is hurting his career.

The best role model I know is Jewish. He is Scott Berkowitz, the CEO of RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. Read more ..

The Trump Era

Nagging Questions for the Special Counselors

January 5th 2018


1) If the FISA Court orders to explore the purported Trump-Russian collusion were predicated on phony Steele/Fusion GPS documents and suppositions that prove largely untrue (Comey himself testified under oath that he could not verify their contents), then are subsequent transcripts of court-approved surveilled conversations somewhat poisoned? And, if so, not permissible to be used in collation with later sworn FBI statements to prove inconsistencies, lying, or obstructing? Would someone like Flynn eventually have grounds to appeal his confession?
2) Given the overwhelming progressive consensus by summer 2016 that Trump was not going to be president and that his likely post facto blame for his defeat would fall on deaf ears (Obama before the election had both predicted that Trump would not win and that he would have no grounds to complain of outside interference in the results), why did the amateurish Clinton-created Fusion GPS dossier win such a shelf life, to be peddled around the FBI, discussed by the Obama White House, bandied about by the intelligence agencies, and worked on by the spouse of a DOJ high official?

The Iranian Threat

Counter Iran's aggression By Changing the Map of the Middle East

January 2nd 2018

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

The Trump Administration's just released National Security Strategy properly identifies Iran as among the important challengers to U.S. security interests but does not offer a concrete strategy on how to counter its growing regional hegemony. Indeed, Iran's geopolitical ascent is the most significant, and dangerous, development in the Middle East this century. President Trump should follow Ronald Reagan's example and take the offensive, supporting indigenous forces that oppose, and seek independence from, Iranian domination. This requires eschewing convention and recognizing Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen for what they are: failed, artificial constructs whose capitals now serve as Iranian satrapies. Read more ..

Iran on Edge

The End of the Islamic Republic?

January 1st 2018

Iranian clerics

There is no way to tell now what will be the outcome of the massive protests that are sweeping Iran, but that they are undeniably momentous, despite the cavalier treatment they have received from the establishment media in the West. They have already led to the Tehran Police announcing that they will no longer enforce the dress codes for women that were imposed after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and more could be coming, including the downfall of the Islamic regime itself – although the mullahs are mobilizing their military, and will not go down without a fight.

Whatever happens next, what has already happened is extraordinary. Unlike the 2009 Green Movement protests, which featured protesters shouting “Allahu akbar,” signaling that all they wanted was reform of the Islamic regime, not the end of the regime itself, the protesters over the last few days have been clear, chanting: “We don’t want an Islamic Republic!” “Clerics shame on you, let go of our country!” Some have even chanted: “Reza Shah, bless your soul!” Read more ..

Refugees on Edge

Trump Should Crack Down on UNRWA, Finally End Fiction of Palestinian ‘Refugees’

December 28th 2017

Palestinian Rock Attackers

As the UN General Assembly voted to reject America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, US Ambassador Nikki Haley issued a stern warning: We’ll remember this the next time you come calling for more hard-earned American taxpayer dollars. Most nation-states called her bluff, leaving many to wonder what comes next.

If President Trump wants to use his financial leverage at the United Nations to strike at the heart of the anti-America, anti-Israel institutional infrastructure, he should look no further than the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

By most definitions, refugees are those forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. Nearly every refugee in the world is cared for by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, whose ultimate goal is repatriation, resettlement and integration. The exception? Palestinian refugees. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Islamic Governments Cede West Jerusalem to Israel

December 20th 2017

Israeli flag and clouds

Last week in Istanbul, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. They made the announcement with a barrage of angry rhetoric, of course. Israel is a “racist” state, and the Trump administration’s recognition earlier this month of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is "an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus to extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security."

Look past the bombast at the main point. By recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, the OIC is effectively ceding West Jerusalem to the Israelis and implicitly recognizing it as Israel’s capital.

The vast majority of media organizations around the world that don’t specialize in the Middle East didn’t report this, but it’s important. The OIC includes 57 member states and extends far beyond the Middle East, from Sub-Saharan Africa through South Asia and all the way to Indonesia. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

On Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem

December 14th 2017

Wailing Wall 1967

When President Donald Trump announced that the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Muslim world reacted with outrage and threats. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of “dangerous consequences.” The spokesman for Turkish president Erdogan warned that the move was a “grave mistake” because “Jerusalem is our red line.” Bekir Bozdag, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the move would plunge the world “into a fire with no end in sight.” And Saudi Arabia’s King Salman warned that the move “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims all over the world.”

The leaders of the Western world reacted in similar fashion. Pope Francis, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron all criticized Trump’s announcement. Meanwhile, the patriarchs and heads of the local churches in Jerusalem sent a letter to President Trump warning that the transfer of the embassy “will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence, and suffering in Jerusalem.”

But there is an obvious contradiction here. As Jihad Watch editor Robert Spencer points out in a recent column, these leaders have a record of defending Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, which is being perverted by only a handful of extremists. Pope Francis, for example, has said that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” On another occasion he drew a moral equivalence between Islam and Catholicism, saying, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.” For over a decade now, various Church leaders and secular leaders have assured us that violence has nothing to do with Islam.

But if that’s what they really believe, why should they worry that moving an embassy would create – to quote from the letter of the church leaders in Jerusalem – “hatred, conflict, violence, and suffering.” Read more ..

Israel on Edge

A Down Payment for Peace

December 7th 2017


It’s starting to sound like a plan.

Since the beginning of the Oslo “peace process,” it has been assumed that Israel has more to give than the Palestinians. After all, the story went, Israel is wealthy, recognized, democratic, and stable. The Palestinians are refugees with nothing. Right? So Israel was told not to build houses for Jews in areas that might become a Palestinian state -- lest the Palestinians end up with a country that has Jews in it. Israel has, further, been pressed to “make life better” for the Palestinians in terms of jobs, electricity, water, medical care, and agriculture. The Arab states and the EU -- as well as the U.S. -- provide funds for, well, for everything including Palestinian leaders’ mansions and bank accounts. The deeper others waded into the “process” over the past two-plus decades, the more the Palestinians could be excused for believing that they didn’t have to do anything, but could wait for people to squeeze more out of Israel on their behalf under threat of a) discontinuing the process and/or b) more violence. Read more ..

Campus on Edge

Time to Tax University Endowments

November 28th 2017


Why are taxpayers supporting multi-billion dollar outfits that pay no taxes without a murmur of complaint from the usual Progressives who chant the “redistribution of wealth” theme whenever they smell the possibility of taking down the white-privileged-upper-class? You know why? Because the wealthiest, most protected “businesses” in this country are our universities with their huge endowment funds which are tax free. College endowment funds are the tax free savings accounts that are gifted by supporters. Let’s look at some figures for the money making engines of some top schools in the country: Harvard–$30 billion, Princeton–$21 billion, Yale–$24 billion, University of Michigan–$8 billion, Stanford–$17 billion. And so on and so on. These institutions are basically hedge funds with a university attached to it. They hoard billions of bucks in their bank accounts and pay no taxes on the gifts nor on the interest accumulated. Read more ..

Inside America

The Paradox of Abundance

November 24th 2017


Life is funny.  As suckling babes, the most luxurious thing we could ever imagine is the nurturing warmth of our mothers.  But as we age, a whole host of desires and ambitions begin to take shape in our minds. For the most part, whether we want to admit it or not, those ambitions generally center around wealth and social status.  These things replace the womb as the object of our desires, and give rise to an almost insatiable desire for more.  As we sit down with our families this thanksgiving, perhaps it is time for us to put things into greater perspective.

I can remember clearly when I started out in business, I merely wanted to save fifty thousand dollars.  As a spiritual wealthy and poor financial, righteous government staffer with conservative leanings, I thought that princely sum would remove all fear of my lack of financial resources and want. I could upgrade my car from an old jalopy to a used Ford truck. I could furnish my small 201 Mass apartment on Capitol Hill. I could travel and live a little. Fifty grand is all it would take.

              And so I got to work. I poured all of my heart and ambition into building a business marketing nutritional supplements. I became very good at it. By the time I sold my business I had my fifty grand and then some.  But that was not the end of the story.  By that time I had become known around town as somewhat of an entrepreneur. Back then, D.C. didn’t have many of those. In fact, business was frowned upon, as the name of the game in Washington was respect, power and then money. In that order. Read more ..

Oil Addiction

Don't Blame Just the Gas Tax for California's Pump Prices — Refineries $3 Billion more Annually Than They Should

November 23rd 2017

Oil Refinery

On Feb. 18, 2015, an explosion ripped through Exxon Mobil’s vast refinery in Torrance, forcing a shutdown that took 10% of the state’s overall gasoline production capacity offline.

Prices immediately spiked at the pump, rising by about 70 cents per gallon relative to the rest of the country. That wasn’t unexpected, given the resulting constraints in statewide gasoline supplies. What sets the Torrance outage apart from the effect of other outages, however, is what happened afterward.

Estimates of the mysterious premium being collected by the state’s refineries range from at least 20 cents per gallon — as calculated by UC Berkeley energy economist Severin Borenstein — to more than 30 cents, as reckoned by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. (Neither figure includes the Nov. 1 tax increase.) The lower estimate would take about $3 billion a year out of California drivers’ pockets, or about $300 a year for an average family of four; the higher estimate, $4.5 billion. Where is the money going? To refineries, whose margins increased after the explosion and have stayed high. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorists

The Criminal Merah brothers: How France Failed its Citizens

November 17th 2017

Paratroopers at Eiffel

Earlier this month, Abdelkader Merah was sentenced to 20 years in jail by a French court. He was found guilty of criminal terrorist conspiracy. Abdelkader had had much influence on his murderous brother, Mohammed Merah. Analyzing the background of the Merah family provides major insights into the problems of uncontrolled immigration of Muslims into Europe as well as other issues that go far beyond the crimes of the Merah brothers.

First the facts. In March 2012, Mohammed Merah, a French-born Muslim of Algerian parents, killed a Jewish teacher and three children in front of the Jewish school Otzar HaTorah in Toulouse. Several days earlier he had murdered three French soldiers. A few days after the murders at the school, Merah was killed in a shootout with French police. It was found that he had been a visitor to an al-Qaida stronghold in Pakistan.

Mohammed Merah claimed that he was motivated to murder Jews out of solidarity with Palestinian children. Thereafter then Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad distanced himself from Merah. He stated that Palestinian children should not be used to legitimize terrorism. Fayyad failed to mention that the Palestinians routinely glorify their own terrorist murderers of Israeli civilians in many ways.

According to the French daily Le Monde, the father of the Merahs said that to defend the Palestinians he was willing to become a suicide bomber. Souad Merah, the eldest sister of Mohammed, was quoted as saying that she wanted to turn into a suicide bomber together with her children, “It is not innocents which one is killing, but unbelievers.” Upon learning about the murders Mohammed committed, Merah’s mother Zoulikha said, “My son has brought France to its knees.” The current whereabouts of Souad Merah are unknown. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

The U.S. Pro-Islamist Neighbor to the North

November 15th 2017

Montreal skyline

Shortly after taking office in November 2015, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau   on CBC's "1 on 1" argued the importance of working with "the Muslim community to demonstrate that Islam is not incompatible with free and open Western societies." Thus, reiterating the oxymoron that was introduced by the Muslim Brotherhood and has since been used by their many affiliated Muslim organizations to dupe the West.
So when on October 18, 2017, the province of Quebec passed a new law banning the wearing of niqab or burqa "when riding public transit or receiving government services" for security reasons- Trudeau made it known he wasn't happy with the new provincial law, law. "As a federal government, we are going to take our responsibility seriously and look carefully at what the implications are" even though the federal government, cannot challenge the new law, implying others could.

The Book Business

From Amazon, a Change That Hurts Authors

November 11th 2017

Amazon box

Last March, Amazon quietly changed the way it sells books. An obscure and seemingly harmless modification to its website has opened the door for some third-party sellers to deceive Amazon’s customers by selling books as “new” that may not come straight from a publisher or its wholesaler, thus depriving authors of royalties they should have earned from the sale of a new book.

Amazon decided to allow third-party sellers to be featured atop the primary purchase button for new books, a spot previously reserved for Amazon’s own inventory, which comes directly from the publishers. Approved third-party sellers “win” this placement through a secret algorithm that considers, among other things, price, availability, seller’s rating and shipping time. In doing so, Amazon abdicates its role as the prime retailer on its own website. The main requirement is that the books offered by the third-party seller must be “new.”

So when you, the customer, hit that main buy button, you should always expect to get a brand-new book, right?


The Digital Age

NSA Eavesdropping and Section 702

November 10th 2017

NSA facility

Congress is poised to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  If you travel abroad it could affect you. Section 702 allows NSA to eavesdrop on foreigners overseas without a warrant.  This is what spy agencies do.

Concerns arise over the incidental collection of communications inside the U.S. or of a U.S. person abroad.  Americans don’t lose their constitutional rights at home when they travel to another country.

According to the Director of National Intelligence’s transparency report, there were more than 106,000 targets the NSA collected against last year under 702.  Nearly 4,000 were U.S. persons. Read more ..

Financing the Flames

Interview Tries to Purify the New Israel Fund

October 30th 2017


Last Shabbat, the CEO of the New Israel Fund (NIF), Mickey Gitzin, was interviewed by the Israeli Yediot Ahronot newspaper. Four pages of prime location in the weekend supplement were allotted by the paper’s editor to journalist Nevo Ziv in order to try to rehabilitate the public standing of the NIF. The determined writer did not even try to hide or mask his flattery with questions that would make things difficult for Gitzin. Instead, Ziv presented his readers with four pages of flattery and softball questions.

A hypothetical parallel to Ziv’s pampering interview with Gitzin would be an interview with extreme right wing activists Itamar ben Gvir or Baruch Marzel, something that no right wing media agency would think of doing, and rightly so. The nature of the interview was determined by an editorial decision with a clear significance – in the current confrontation between the Israeli public and the NIF, Yediot Ahronot chose the Fund. Read more ..

Media On Edge

Standing up for Sinclair

October 27th 2017

Armstrong Williams Headshot

The recent hit piece issued against Sinclair Broadcasting group published by Bloomberg and many main stream media outlets represent a confusing and largely irrelevant hodge-podge of alarmist prevarication and silly partisan sniping. It is almost as if by signaling the decades-long development and recent successes of Sinclair’s television business, the liberal media feels as if it is being denied its sole right to control the perspective of the news content received by everyday Americans.

Among the pettier accusations is that as a political pundit who appeared on the Sinclair Network in 2005 – more than a decade ago – I was also a paid consultant for the Bush Administration who did not disclose that fact for viewers.  I was appropriately punished for that transgression and have since that time moved on from punditry to forming a company, Howard Stirk Holdings, which owns several broadcast stations in various local markets, some of which have business relationships with Sinclair Broadcasting Group.  In its zeal to dig up dirt on Sinclair, the mainstream media this ignores more recent developments and thus misrepresents the reality of the situation.

This is an increasingly common occurrence these days – as the media have in essence abandoned their role as reporters and chroniclers of current events, to becoming drivers of public opinion. And it is in fact that very failure on the part of media organizations that has created the opportunity that is before both HSH and Sinclair Broadcasting Group. Namely, it is the opportunity to grow a business at scale that offers local news and serves the public interest.

The media ownership rules currently in place date back to the Radio Act of 1927, almost a hundred years ago, when the media landscape was far different than it is today.  Read more ..

Kurdistan Rising

The Kurds Continued Abandonment

October 23rd 2017

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

The State Department is in a serious and weaken agency with the same Obama Administration team players in charge of policy, so there is a continuing growing gap between the White House policy on Iran and where State should be.


The events over the past 10 days are an ongoing devastating blow to the Kurds, and to the reputation of the United States. 


The Kurds have been a faithful, unwavering ally since 1991-92 when we first arrived in Northern Iraq.  They were instrumental in crafting the Iraqi constitution and getting it passed by the parliament in 2004. They are exercising their rights to self determination. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Trump's Critics on Iran Are Wrong

October 17th 2017

Iranian clerics

On Friday, President Trump announced he will not certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal signed by his predecessor. I'm sure most of us spent the weekend inundated with thought pieces declaring this a major misstep or some kind of politically motivated gambit that plays fast and loose with global security. But they're all wrong. With this bold action, we're finally on the path toward a safer Middle East.

Iran remains an immense threat to the United States and our allies, and decertification is a serious first step towards mitigating the harm Tehran is causing around the globe. Today's less covered announcement by the Treasury Department that it would apply further sanctions to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is an important second step.


Media on Edge

Jeff Bezos and Workers at The Washington Post.

October 13th 2017

Amazon box

Like most of the industry titans in the world of big tech, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is no fan of labor unions. Since 1994, he’s fended away every effort by Amazon warehouse workers to unionize.
But when Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013, he inherited more than 1,200 workers unionized with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. That union now claims that Bezos and Washington Post management are trying to gut protections and benefits for workers in the latest contract negotiations.
“Under the Bezos ownership, we fear a fundamental transformation is under way at the Post — one that is occurring in many other workplaces around the country, leading to economic insecurity for working people as though we are disposable or interchangeable elements in a machine,” the union bargaining committee wrote in a memo sent to Post employees on Oct. 6.

Historians on Edge

Michael Marrus Race Comment-- Do Not Dismiss the Painful Pattern of Microaggressions

October 11th 2017

U of Toronto Massey College

The resignation of University of Toronto emeritus history professor Michael Marrus from a senior fellowship at Massey College has provoked discussion far beyond the college. In an exchange covered elsewhere, Mr. Marrus made a slavery-related remark to a black junior fellow, in reference to the approach of the college's head or "Master," that concerned the graduate student and others nearby.

Globe editorial: Globe editorial: Massey professor showed terrible judgment, but the response was worse

As word of the incident spread, petitions demanding action from the college attracted hundreds of signatures. The upshot to date, in addition to Mr. Marrus's resignation, has been an official apology from Massey College and the suspension of the use of the title "Master" for the head of the college, among other commitments.


Islam on Edge

Is Austria's Burqa Ban an Example for America?

October 10th 2017

Egyptian hijabi

With the number of jihadist terrorists in Europe rising, and a concurrent increase in the number of women involved in Islamist terrorism and recruiting, Austria's centrist government passed a bill in May to prohibit all face coverings in the public sphere. The measure, which carries a fine of €150, includes a ban on clown makeup, ski masks, and even hospital masks worn on city streets; but it is clearly the face-covering garments of Muslim women – the niqab and burqa – that are the law's real targets. The so-called "burqa ban," which went into effect Oct. 1, makes Austria the fifth European country to outlaw the wearing of face-coverings in public, and the fifth to do so on the basis of national security concerns related to Islamic dress. France, Belgium, Latvia, and Bulgaria already have such laws in place, and partial bans are in effect in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

Now other countries are starting to consider instituting comparable laws, despite ongoing protests from Muslim and many rights groups. Read more ..

Historians on Edge

Michael Marrus Race Comment and The Importance of Forgiveness

October 9th 2017

U of Toronto Massey College

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” These days, Charles Dickens’ words might apply to Toronto’s Massey College. While its alumna Julie Payette was installed as Canada’s Governor General, distinguished senior member Professor Emeritus Michael Marrus was being pushed out the college door.

As a graduate student in computer engineering, Payette entered Massey College in 1988 with sparkling eyes, remarkable energy, and delightful eagerness to serve on the social committee and to converse with everyone around the dining room table. She lent her clear soprano voice to college events and quietly advanced academically in ways that would prepare her to later soar into space in 1999.  

Before Payette arrived at Massey, Marrus was already a Senior Fellow and had recently published a book with Oxford University Press titled The Unwanted: European Refugees in the Twentieth Century.


Jewry on Edge

Understanding the Unlikely Radical Alliances Spreading Antisemitism Today

October 5th 2017

Western/Wailing Wall

Radical Muslims are focused on destroying and delegitimizing Israel – the historic homeland of the Jewish People — and they fan the flames of antisemitism wherever they can.

Vicious antisemitism has long been present on the radical Right. It has been growing also on the radical Left. And it’s a cornerstone of radical Muslim movements. Although these three sources of antisemitism in our world today come from very different traditions, they are increasingly sharing ideas and tactics, reinforcing a wave of hate, bigotry, and racism.

In recent years, North America has joined Europe to witness a growing alliance between radical Muslims and radical leftists. Radical Muslims stone women, execute gays, trample on minority and human rights and abhor feminism. On paper, the far Left should be appalled by this ideology, but these unlikely allies happily cast aside their differences because they share a common hatred for Western influence in the world, pluralistic nationalism, freedom of speech, tolerance, and vile antisemitism.


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