The Way We Are
|William B. Scott||August 15th 2014|
In an excellent July 19, 2013, Wall Street Journal essay entitled "Rise of the Warrior Cop,"author-journalist Radley Balko described the alarming militarization of police forces across America. He cited myriad cases of innocent citizens being killed by over-zealous police officers, particularly Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams serving warrants for alleged, often petty, offenses.
The WSJ essay, which is based on Balko's newly released book, "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces," details several egregious cases, where gunned-up, overzealous SWAT forces executed citizens in the name of enforcing gambling laws and mere regulations. "In 2006," the author writes, "38-year-old optometrist Sal Culosi was shot and killed by a Fairfax County, VA, SWAT officer," after an undercover detective overheard Culosi betting on college football games. "The department sent a SWAT team after Mr. Culosi, who had no prior criminal record or any history of violence. As the SWAT team descended, one officer fired a single bullet that pierced Mr. Culosi's heart. The police say that the shot was an accident." Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Rachel Ehrenfeld||August 14th 2014|
Estimates of the cost to rebuild Gaza, range from $455 million to $2 billion to $6 billion, depending on who's estimating. The highest figure comes, not surprisingly, from the Gaza-Hamas government. The lowest, surprisingly, from the UN. The United Arab Emirates has pledged $41 million for reconstruction of homes through an arrangement the Emirates Red Crescent organization.
However, The Emirates and the Red Crescent have for decades supported the PLO, Palestinian terror groups and Hamas in particular. On July 27, 2005, the Palestinian Information Center carried a public Hamas statement thanking the UAE for it's "unstinting support." The statement said: "We highly appreciate his highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan (UAE president) in particular and the UAE people and government in general for their limitless support...that contributed more to consolidating our people's resoluteness in the face of the Israeli occupation". The Hamas statement continued: "the sisterly UAE had... never hesitated in providing aid for our Mujahid people pertaining to rebuilding their houses demolished by the IOF... The UAE also spared no effort to offer financial and material aids to the Palestinian charitable societies." Read more ..
|Juan Williams||August 13th 2014|
In modern politics, Congressâ€™ August recess is the starting line for a 90-day drive to midterm elections. The coming contests will feature one key race and three intriguing trends to watch.
The key race is the Senate election in Louisiana between incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R).
A third candidate â€” Rob Maness, favored by some Tea Party supporters â€” is a relatively minor figure who could have a major impact. The electoral system in Louisiana requires a candidate to get over 50 percent of the vote before being declared the winner. Polls have the Landrieu-Cassidy contest so close that a runoff is likely. We may not know whether the GOP netted the seats it needs for a Senate majority until December.
The New York Timesâ€™ â€œUpshotâ€ blog currently gives Republicans â€œabout a 54 percent chance of gaining a majorityâ€ in the Senate. Nate Silver, chief prognosticator of FiveThirtyEight.com, said last week the GOP is â€œslightly favoredâ€ to win back the Senate. That makes the Louisiana race the number one political race to watch.
But every Senate race this year is operating under the power of a never-before-seen, mystery factor.
For the first time, a Washington Post poll has found that a majority of Americans disapprove of their own representative in the House. Congress is at an historic high for disapproval, nearly 80 percent of Americans say they are â€œdissatisfiedâ€ with the political system, according to the Wall Street Journal, and all polls put the Republican brand in Congress at an unprecedented low. This is the first intriguing trend to watch this election cycle. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Alan M. Dershowitz||August 12th 2014|
It's a mystery why so many in the media accept as gospel Hamas-supplied figures on the number of civilians killed in the recent war. Hamas claims that of the more than 1800 Palestinians killed close to 90% were civilians. Israel, on the other hand, says that close to half of them were combatants. The objective facts support a number much closer to Israel's than to Hamas'.
Even human rights group antagonistic to Israel acknowledge, according to a New York Times report, that Hamas probably counts among the "civilians killed by Israel" the following groups: Palestinians killed by Hamas as collaborators; Palestinians killed through domestic violence; Palestinians killed by errant Hamas rockets or mortars; and Palestinians who died naturally during the conflict. I wonder if Hamas also included the reported 162 children who died while performing child slave labor in building their terror tunnels. Hamas also defines combatants to include only armed fighters who were killed while fighting Israelis. They exclude Hamas supporters who build tunnels, who allow their homes to be used to store and fire rockets, Hamas policemen, members of the Hamas political wing and others who work hand in hand with the armed terrorists. Read more ..
Iraq on Edge
|Danielle Pletka||August 11th 2014|
As the sun set on yet another peaceful summer weekend, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki appeared to be contemplating a political coup. Military forces loyal to the embattled Iraqi leader surrounded key sites in Baghdad, and in an impromptu television address, he suggested that the new Iraqi President Fuad Mahsoum had violated the constitution by failing to ask him to form a government.
To suggest this is the last thing Iraq needs is something of an understatement: terrorist forces of the Islamic State/ISIS have made enormous territorial gains in Iraq, defeating what were assumed to be competent Kurdish Peshmerga forces in addition to less coherent Iraqi national forces. Even the terribly reticent Barack Obama seemed to recognize the gravity of the situation, and the United States has begun to provide air interdiction to Kurdish forces, and is reportedly also now directly arming Kurdish fighters.
Iâ€™ve not been a fan of the efforts to oust Maliki, in large part because I believed them to be a pretext to distance the United States from any involvement in Iraq. After all, until very recently, Maliki was the darling of the Obama administration who could do no wrong. His consolidation of power excited no condemnations from Washington until Sunni groups began siding with terrorists against the central Iraqi government. Simply put, the trouble with the battle for leadership inside Iraq is that it has always pitted wannabe Saddams against other wannabe Saddams. These are no Jeffersonian political squabbles, nor do they pit latter day Lincolns against tyrants. And in that regard, there seemed little point to overturn the legitimate results of this yearâ€™s Iraqi elections in order to find a new sweetheart who would start doing the wrong thing as soon as Barack and co stopped paying attention. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Jonah Goldberg||August 10th 2014|
In the summer of 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama was asked if he was worried that his proposed withdrawal from Iraq would result in ethnic cleansing or even genocide. He scoffed at the premise.
â€œBy that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now â€” where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife â€” which we havenâ€™t done,â€ he told The Associated Press. â€œWe would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we havenâ€™t done. Those of us who care about Darfur donâ€™t think it would be a good idea.â€
Obama glossed over a crucial distinction. The slaughter in Congo wasnâ€™t caused by our actions. The assumption behind the APâ€™s question â€” backed by countless experts â€” was that a withdrawal from Iraq at the time would almost certainly lead to slaughter. Obamaâ€™s remarkable answer was that even if you accepted the premise that leaving would ignite mass slaughter, it would still be right to bug out of Iraq. Read more ..
The US and Israel
|John R. Bolton and Nathan Deal||August 9th 2014|
As an embattled Israel struggles to protect itself against Hamas rocket attacks and terrorist tunnels from the Gaza Strip, political ties between Washington and Jerusalem have reached an all-time low. President Obama has put Israel under unrelenting pressure to accept a nuclear Iran, to make dangerous concessions to Palestinian negotiators, and now to stop Operation Protective Edge before it can cripple the Hamas terrorist threat.
Moreover, many among Americaâ€™s media, university and even religious elites increasingly condemn Israelâ€™s effort to protect its growing population, calling for sanctions, boycotts and divestitures against U.S. firms doing business with Israel. This â€œBDS movementâ€ does not merely criticize specific Israeli policies, such as Protective Edge, but instead attacks the very legitimacy of Israel itself. It often masks an ill-concealed anti-Semitism, a stain we had hoped was long ago erased from American political discourse. It is reminiscent of former President Jimmy Carterâ€™s view of Israel as an â€œapartheid state.â€
Fortunately, however, while the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship sputters and even deteriorates further at the national level, our states, local institutions and businesses are actually forging ever-closer relations with key Israeli institutions. These rapidly expanding linkages, despite political disagreements between capitals, are mutually beneficial and represent strong testaments to the common sense of both the American and Israeli people. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Caroline B. Glick||August 9th 2014|
President Barack Obama has a plan.
He wants to use the cease-fire talks in Cairo to strengthen Fatah.
In remarks Wednesday, Obama said, â€œI have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for some of the work that has been done in cooperation with Israel and the international community by the Palestinian Authority. And theyâ€™ve shown themselves to be responsible. They have recognized Israel. They are prepared to move forward to arrive at a two-state solution. I think [PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, a.k.a.] Abu Mazen is sincere in his desire for peace.â€
Obamaâ€™s plans for the cease-fire were spelled out in detail the day before in a column by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. There Ignatius claimed that Secretary of State John Kerry has abandoned his previous position on the cease-fire. That position was harshly criticized by Israeli leaders and US media heavyweights, including Ignatius himself, for its clear bias in favor of Hamas. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
An editorial in I24 asserts: Israel must find a way to live side by side in peace with the Palestinians if it wants to maintain its democratic and civic traditions, US President Barack Obama said in an interview with Thomas Friedman published in the New York Times on Friday.
"[B]ecause Israel is so capable militarily, I donâ€™t worry about Israelâ€™s survival. ... I think the question really is how does Israel survive," Obama said in the video interview, the full version of which will be published this weekend.
"You have to recognize that [the Palestinians] have legitimate claims, and this is their land and neighborhood as well," he added.
When asked whether he intended on taking a more assertive role in pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to a land-for-peace deal, Obama said the way forward rested solely in the leaders' hands. Read more ..
Venezuela after Chavez
|Luis Fleischman||August 8th 2014|
It has been two months since the House of Representatives version of the Venezuela sanctions bill was passed. Avery similar bill titled the â€˜â€˜Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014â€ now awaits passage in the Senate, after having been voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The bill itself is limited in scope but would have a significant impact in Venezuela, especially on those individuals responsible for the brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors that took place last February. It imposes â€œtargeted sanctions on persons responsible for violations of human rights of antigovernment protesters in Venezuela, to strengthen civil society in Venezuela and for other purposesâ€.â€™, calls â€œto support the people of Venezuela in their aspiration to live under conditions of peaceâ€; â€œto work in concert with the other member states within the Organization of American States, as well as the countries of the European Union, to ensure the peaceful resolution of the current situation in Venezuelaâ€; and â€œto hold accountable government and security officials in Venezuela responsible for or complicit in the use of force in relation to the antigovernment protests that began on February 12, 2014, and similar future acts of violenceâ€; andâ€ to continue to support the development of democratic political processes and independent civil society in Venezuelaâ€. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Danielle Pletka||August 8th 2014|
Yesterdayâ€™s announcement by the president regarding air strikes in Iraq had a feeling of inevitability about it. After all, the situation has become so dangerous, the threat so grave, that the Islamic State (IS) terrorists must have awoken even as somnolent and detached a president as Barack Obama. Now, thatâ€™s not to say that reality intrudes often for the man; nearly 200,000 dead in Syria have failed to move him beyond pale rhetoric. Still, the air strikes the administration authorized â€” only in northern Iraq, mind you â€” will not be enough to turn the tide against IS. Recall where this began, in Syria. There was no IS back in 2011. It is wholly an outgrowth of the conflict in Syria, and the failure of Western powers to intervene in the face of growing Qatari (and other) support for al Qaeda. Now, three years later, IS dominates an increasingly large and strategically important area of both Syria and Iraq.
What could Barack Obama have done, his few apologists and their libertarian cohort ask. This is not our problem, they insist. We know these isolationists and know-nothings â€” theyâ€™re the ones who said it didnâ€™t matter that Afghanistan was taken over by Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. But, they retort, none of this would be a problem if Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak and Bashar al Assad were still firmly seated on their thrones. But of course, those thrones were teetering thanks to the oppressed people of the Middle East, who have noticed that the only parties now talking liberation are the Islamist Shiites and Sunnis from Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda et al. Read more ..
The Islamic State
|Martin Barillas||August 7th 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Between August 7 and 11, 1933, the Iraqi Army and Kurdish and Arab irregulars conducted a massacre of 3,000 Assyrian men, women and children in the town of Simmele and its surroundings. A detailed account of the massacre was given by Colonel R.S. Stafford of the British Army in his 1935 book, The Tragedy of the Assyrians.
Because of the Simmele Massacre, August 7 was later chosen by Assyrian Christians as the official Assyrian Martyrs Day, a day to remember Assyrians killed not only in that massacre, but all massacres and genocides against the Assyrian nation, including the Turkish Genocide of Assyrians in World War 1, which claimed 75% of the Assyrian population, including 750,000 Assyrians, as well as 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Pontic Greeks.
In much the same way, Iraq's millenial Jewish community was scoured from the country and ejected by Nazi sympathizers during World War 2 in what became known as the 'farhud.' Later, in 1948, any remaining Jews were deported after having been violently dispossessed of their property. Many were killed.
The term 'genocide' was coined by Raphael Lemkin, who was directly influenced by the story of the Assyrian Massacre and the Armenian Genocide. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Avi Jorisch||August 7th 2014|
South China Morning Post
As the recent hostilities in Gaza demonstrate, Israel stands at the forefront of a new kind of warfare. Israel is not alone in the need to confront radical forces that include terrorist organizations and oppressive regimes who deliberately seek civilian casualties on all sides as the core element of their military strategy; this is a long-term battle that other liberal societies will ultimately have to fight. Sooner or later most free democracies will face the same challenge that Israel is struggling with today: how to defend themselves from ruthless, barbaric enemies who deliberately place civilians in harms way, without undermining the basic values upon which open societies are based.
Hamas' strategy is to force Israel into a lose/lose situation by rejecting the basic norms of warfare, which seeks to protect civilian populations. By indiscriminately firing rockets from heavily populated areas in Gaza into Israel's major cities, Hamas confronts Israel with a terrible choice: either allow rocket fire to continue and putting its civilians at risk, or attack Hamas' weapon depots which are deliberately placed in and around civilians. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|James Carville ||August 7th 2014|
Democrats, myself included, tend to respect and value expertise, and find that people who have established a record of accuracy and developed a model thatâ€™s proven to be beneficial over time should be people accorded great deference when they opine on a topic that they have demonstrated past mastery over.
You donâ€™t hear complaints about skewered polls, global cooling, tax cuts paying for themselves, people riding dinosaurs and other silly crap like that from Democrats. So that is why itâ€™s disturbing news that David Wasserman, from The Cook Political Report, who is a smart personâ€™s idea of what a smart person sounds like, recently changed his House ratingâ€™s model toward favoring Republicans. Read more ..
The Bear is Back
Foreign Policy Magazine
World War I was not only one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts in history, but arguably the most seminal. The war was a catalyst for the Great Depression, the rise of the brutal ideologies of Nazism, Communism, and Fascism, numerous regional wars over scraps of bygone empires, and, of course, World War II. How Europe's leaders stumbled into the disastrous war remains one of the great unresolved puzzles in modern history. Mountains of books and articles have tried to explain how an assassin's bullet fired in Sarajevo ignited the great catastrophe of the 20th century.
The answers never seem satisfactory. Crude explanations designed to establish German guilt, popular until the 1990s, have gradually been replaced with a more nuanced picture, where the other belligerents, including Britain and France, share the burden of responsibility more equally for launching a war that killed more than 10 million people. But the focus on what happened in London, Paris, and Berlin has masked the importance of the events in the East. Russia, too, shares responsibility for the catastrophe in Europe. As the world remembers the start of the war 100 years ago this week, understanding Russia's strategic calculus at the time can help decode Moscow's recent behavior in Ukraine.
Russia's role in the prewar period is commonly believed to have been in providing imperial backbone to her little Slavic sister, Serbia, in the wake of a diplomatic onslaught by Vienna and Berlin following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But as Russia's archives gradually open to scholars after a century of censorship, it has become clear that protecting Serbia was not Russia's main objective. There was much more at stake for Russia than a small ally in the Balkans. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Alan M. Dershowitz ||August 5th 2014|
|Beach on Gaza's Mediterranean shore|
How many times have you heard on television or read in the media that the Gaza Strip is "the most densely populated area in the world"? Repeating this statement, however, does not make it true. There are dense parts of Gaza, especially Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and Khan Younis, but there are far less dense areas in Gaza between these cities. Just look at Google Earth, or this population density map.
The fact that these sparsely populated areas exist in the Gaza Strip raise several important moral questions: First, why don't the media show the relatively open areas of the Gaza Strip? Why do they only show the densely populated cities?
There are several possible reasons. There is no fighting going on in the sparsely populated areas, so showing them would be boring.
But that's precisely the pointâ€”to show areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to. Or perhaps the reason the media doesn't show these areas is that Hamas won't let them. That too would be a story worth reporting. Read more ..
|Michael Barone||August 4th 2014|
Earlier this week, I was thinking of writing a column about the lying and duplicity of Obamacare backers who argued that the difference between provisions providing subsidies in states with state-run health exchanges and providing no subsidies in states with federal exchanges resulted from inadvertence or a typographical error.
Typical among them was MIT health care expert Jonathan Gruber. The folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute found video of him in 2012 arguing that all or most states would create their own exchanges because they wouldnâ€™t get subsidies if they let the federal government run their exchanges. That was just a â€œspeakoâ€ (the oral equivalent of a typo), Gruber replied.
And Phil Kerpen of American Commitment published New Republic health care maven Jonathan Cohn writing in 2010 that â€œa state could opt out of the exchangesâ€ but added that itâ€™s â€œnot something Iâ€™ve looked into that closely.â€ Read more ..
France on Edge
|Edward P. Joseph and Michael O'Hanlon||August 3rd 2014|
Fast forward to November 1st of this year, just four days before US mid-term elections. The top news story begins, â€œJust weeks after crash investigators determined that the Malaysian Airliner was shot down in Ukraine by a missile supplied by Russia, France has today delivered an advanced warship that will markedly increase Russiaâ€™s ability to threaten Ukraine, Georgia and other vulnerable countries.â€
Unfortunately, such an incredible scenario looks increasingly likely to materialize. Cash-strapped France appears determined to go forward with its contracted sale of two Mistral class amphibious war ships to Russia. If France delivers the first vessel, scheduled for just four months from now, this could mark a colossal foreign policy failure for the West. Even if the other economic sanctions bite, the simple act of a key NATO country conducting military business as usual with Russia will likely make a mockery of the attempt to fundamentally change Putin's decision calculus. Read more ..
The Way We Are
Two wars â€“ one in Gaza the other in eastern Ukraine â€“ are unfolding simultaneously. They have nothing in common except this: both should be being seen as unambiguous in terms of which side is right and which wrong. And second, both are likely to end in a strategic (i.e. long-term) defeat for the right side because of the attitudes that shape the approach of Western leaders to both wars.
The facts are not in dispute. In Ukraine, the legitimate government in Kiev is trying to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over its territory, in practical terms seized by Russia in a proxy war using professional special troops, intelligence officers and mercenaries (kontraktniki) to train assorted thugs known collectively as "rebels" or "separatists" who are being armed and supplied by Russia.
In Gaza, Israel is battling a fundamentalist terrorist organization dedicated to killing Jews, Christians and gays and oppressing women. As in Ukraine, they attacked first, by firing hundreds missiles at Israeli cities and towns. Read more ..
|Walid Phares||August 1st 2014|
Cutting Edge Terrorism Analyst
By now, all Christians living in the second largest city of Iraq, Mosul, have been removed, their belongings stolen, their houses seized, their churches burned or transformed into Mosques by an army brandishing black flags with Koranic inscriptions on them. Christians fleeing north for their lives were told by the fighters identifying themselves as the army of the Islamic state that they had four choices: Convert to Islam, pay a Jizya tax and live under the protection of the Islamic state, leave the city, or die.
This is happening in 2014, in the post-American-occupation of Iraq, after several legislative elections across the country, and at during the age of YouTube and Instagram.
Ironically, though, this barbaric wave of jihadists identifying themselves as the â€œIslamic stateâ€ claim they are at the core of a new caliphate, one that â€” according to the declarations of ISIS â€” will bring back the glory of the early conquering caliphs. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|George Friedman||August 1st 2014|
We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas' rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel's Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Khaled Abu Toameh||July 31st 2014|
There is growing concern in Ramallah, Cairo, Riyadh and Dubai that the U.S. Administration is working to prevent the collapse of Hamas.
"The Americans mistakenly think that moderate political Islam, which is represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, will be able to combat radical Islam. The Americans are trying to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to the region." â€” Palestinian official, Ramallah.
The Iranians, with whom the U.S. is now negotiating on nuclear weapons -- amid fears in the Middle East that the U.S. will capitulate to Tehran's demands if it has not effectively capitulated to them already -- have now joined Qatar and Turkey in opposing any attempt to confiscate Hamas's weapons. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Gerald Steinberg||July 30th 2014|
Political advocacy NGOs that claim a medical mandate, as well as affiliated individuals, have been active in publicly and falsely condemning Israelâ€™s self-defense measures in Gaza during July 2014.
These NGOs and activists: 1) demonize Israel and use hate speech under the guise of medical expertise and scientific fact; 2) deny Israel's obligation to defend its citizens; 3) present political analysis, legal declarations, and speculations regarding Israelâ€™s military operations and weaponry, far beyond the scope of any medical expertise they might possess; and 4) promote distorted and false narratives.
In addition, they completely ignore Hamas' use of hospitals and ambulances for military purposes, as well as its systematic exploitation of civilians in Gaza as human shields. Statements also fail to acknowledge (and indeed claim otherwise) that despite persistent rocket fire and terrorist activity, Israel operates a humanitarian field hospital in Gaza, and the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings have remained open to supply humanitarian aid and essential supplies, including food and fuel, to Gaza. Read more ..
The Way We Are
Someday, weâ€™ll look back on two federal prohibitions â€” on same-sex marriage and marijuana â€” and ask ourselves: â€œHow were we ever so dumb? Whatâ€™s the big deal?â€
Indeed, more and more people are asking that question every day. Even before the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, several states moved to recognize same-sex marriage. Massachusetts was the first, in May 2004. Today, either by legislation or court order, marriage equality is the law in 19 states, plus the District of Columbia. Courts in 14 other states, most recently Virginia, have ruled to strike down bans on same-sex marriage. While those decisions remain on appeal, itâ€™s clearly only a matter of time before all 50 states accept the fact that every American, gay or straight, should be free to marry the one he or she loves.
Efforts to end the ban on marijuana have not advanced nearly as fast, but theyâ€™re moving inexorably in that direction. Only two states so far, Colorado and Washington, have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Oregon and Alaska will vote this year whether to join them. But 34 states and the District of Columbia have moved to reform their laws, including the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and 17 states and the District have decriminalized marijuana, treating possession of small amounts of pot like a traffic ticket. Again, itâ€™s only a matter of time before smoking a joint is considered no differently than popping a beer. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Asaf Romirowsky||July 28th 2014|
Even with its historic links with terrorists, UNRWA continues to speak out on Israel 'violations'
Operation Protective Edge has put a significant spotlight on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) after munitions were found in one of the agencyâ€™s schools.
Following the discovery, UNRWA came out, â€œstrongly condemn[ing] the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. Such an infiltration is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law. The discovery, which is the first of its kind in Gaza, endangered civilians including staff and put at risk UNRWAâ€™s vital mission to assist and protect Palestinian refugees in Gaza.â€ Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Edwin Black||July 28th 2014|
Cutting Edge editor
Recent events have propelled Christians United for Israel (CUFI) to the front row of pro-Israel organizations.
The group advertised last week's Washington D.C. Summit, held July 21, as a more compact two-day program. Last yearâ€™s conclave offered a three-day affair. But if anyone thought the faith-based pro-Israel organization was becoming less relevant, they would think otherwise after attending the latest confab.
At the very moment when the Jewish State was under a crushing vise of global criticism for its involvement in Operation Protective Edge, CUFI (pronounced koo-PHI and not koo-FEE) roused its American heartland membership in loud, rollicking support of Israel. It did so in the pivotal capitol of Washington D.C. at a pivotal time.
Led by firebrand evangelist Pastor John Hagee, some 4,800 foot stomping, shofar-blowing Christian delegates traveled from across the nation and some from overseas to attend the non-stop cavalcade of podium grandiloquence, towering video effects, mesmerizing Israeli music, and special informational sessions. Part tent revival and part political salvo, CUFI's Washington Summit is patterned after the mega-gatherings staged by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the same hall. CUFI speakers brought clarity and context to its attendees in the midst of the latest fog of the latest Arab-Israeli war.
Indeed, at the very hour CUFI's convention gaveled open, the Jewish State was fiercely fighting moment-to-moment terrorist threats scampering over the Gaza border fence, paddling in from the sea, streaking in from the sky, and tunneling beneath the ground. Moreover, Jerusalem was contending with a well-financed highly-politicized adverse humanitarian political machinesupported by American tax-deductible 501(c)(3) donations. So every round of CUFI applause and utterance of support was considered a precious gesture to beleaguered Israelis who right now need a friend. Read more ..
|Michael Barone||July 28th 2014|
â€œPare down the parasitic fringeâ€ of government. â€œFavor a gospel of workâ€ instead of aristocratic entitlement. â€œRationalize financeâ€ and â€œreverse the Parkinsonâ€™s law of bureaucracy.â€
All that sounds like rhetoric from the Tea Party or reform conservatives who assail what they call crony capitalism.
Reform conservatives and Tea Partiers are moving...on the path toward clearing away impediments to growth.
But it's not a contemporary criticism. Those are phrases from a long essay, written more than half a century ago, by the British historian H. R. Trevor-Roper, entitled â€œThe General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century.â€
In his plummy prose, Trevor-Roper sought to explain why revolutions or revolts of varying sorts broke out in the British Isles, France, Spain, Italy and Germany in the years between 1640 and 1660. He was especially eager to refute Marxist historiansâ€™ claims that these were the necessary predicate to what their master proclaimed would be the inevitable and beneficent communist revolutions that unaccountably had not yet occurred. Read more ..
The UN Edge
|Jonah Goldberg||July 27th 2014|
As legend has it, Groucho Marx sent the Friars Club a telegram that read, â€œPlease accept my resignation. I donâ€™t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.â€ At least the Friars Club had standards. What to make of the United Nations? It has a single criterion for membership: existence.
Admittedly, this is an unattainable standard for such fictional realms as Westeros, Erewhon, Kreplakistan, and numerous locales from the TV series MacGyver (Gnubia, Kabulstan, et al.). But if youâ€™re a nation-state that actually exists, youâ€™re a shoo-in, like Kate Upton trying to get into a nightclub or a Kennedy applying to Harvard.
There are other, more exclusive organizations around the globe. Many are important, but most of them have fairly uninspiring membership requirements, too. The most common are regional outfits based on geography, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the African Union, or the European Union. And there are plenty of economic clubs, such as OPEC and the G-8. Although the G-8 is essentially back to being the G-7 these days because Russia was kicked out, at least temporarily, for general evilness. Read more ..
|Barak Ravid||July 27th 2014|
The press conference U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry convened together with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry was one of Kerry's most embarrassing incidents since taking office. And there were quite a few in the last year and a half. A few hours before the press conference began, the Israeli security cabinet ministers unanimously rejected Kerry's cease-fire plan draft. Kerry, as is his wont, seemed and sounded as if he came from a parallel universe. He claimed to have never presented Israel with a formal offer for a cease-fire, slammed the Israeli media's "mischievous reports" and promised that Netanyahu's office will issue a clarification.
As if that wasn't enough, Kerry claimed he made significant progress in the cease-fire talks and said, deadpan, that the disagreements with Israel are purely on matters of terminology. Reality, of course, was completely different. If anything happened on Friday it was another deep crisis in trust between Israeli senior cabinet members and the American secretary of state. Read more ..
The Bear is Back
|Sol W. Sanders||July 26th 2014|
There is presently about as much confusion as when the U.S. entered The Cold War against the Soviet Union in the late 1940s. But there are fundamental defining differences to what is likely to be an equally long and complex new struggle between the U.S., its allies and Moscow.
The two engagements do share one commonality: American leadership now as then has been slow to face up to the task before it. Itâ€™s far too easy now to forget just how many times Josef Stalin signaled his forthcoming unrelenting war on The West before democratic statesmen understood what they faced and mobilized to meet it. [And here,
mea culpa. I admit shamefacedly as a young, idealistic, naÃ¯ve student I wrote a U of Mo Jay School classroom harangue [alas! printed in the
Columbia Missourian] denouncing Winston Churchillâ€™s March 1946 â€œSinews of Peaceâ€ speech, at nearby Westminster College. Back from our victorious however bloody war in Europe and Asia, I was sure like most that a new era of relations among nations had begun, that the old balance of power collisions were now a thing of the past. It was then, of course, the British statesmen who whatever his numerous strategic mistakes this time with great clarity defined the issues and coined the term â€œiron curtainâ€.] Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Daniel S. Mariaschin||July 25th 2014|
Yet again, the European Union has demonstrated a lack of will in defending a sister democracy under attack from an organization that it has included on its own terrorism list.
One day after the EUâ€™s foreign ministers adopted a statement which called for both the disarming of Hamas and endorsed Israelâ€™s â€œlegitimate right to defend itself,â€ nine European countries abstained on a one-sided United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution harshly critical of Israel.
On July 22nd, the European Union foreign ministers, in a move uncharacteristic of their traditional voting patterns on issues relating to Israel and the Palestinians, adopted language that seemed to express a real understanding of the immense challenges Israel faces in fighting the terrorist organization in Gaza. It went so far as to call out Hamasâ€™ use of civilians as human shields, a point Israel makes several times daily, to the mostly-closed ears of international media and a large portion of the diplomatic world. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Lanny J. Davis||July 25th 2014|
I am writing this column on Monday night. I am sick to my stomach after seeing a network TV newscast of a young Palestinian girl lying paralyzed in a hospital in Gaza, the victim of Israeli bombs. I see other children in the hospital. My eyes are tearful. I feel pain in my chest. I finally have to turn away from watching.
I have long believed in the rights of Palestinians to have their own independent, sovereign state, ever since I was a young boy. My father and I stopped discussing the subject because he was so adamant in distrusting the Palestinians and could not imagine they would honor any peace agreement.
I mention this so that what I am about to write is not put through the prism of those who assume that all pro-Israel Jewish Americans are insensitive to the plight of the Palestinians and the suffering of the children during this terrible tragedy of the Gaza crisis. Read more ..
Jewry on Edge
|Alan Dershowitz||July 24th 2014|
J Street has whined about being excluded from the mainstream Jewish community, but it is J Street that has excluded itself from joining in community activities such as a solidarity rally for Israel.
Any pretense that J Street is a pro-Israel organization has been destroyed by that organizationâ€™s refusal to participate in a solidarity rally for Israel during the recent crisis in Gaza.
The Boston Jewish Federation worked hard to create a rally that included all elements of its diverse community. Its goal was to send a single and simple message: at a time when so many in the world are united against Israelâ€™s efforts at defending itself from Hamas rockets and terrorist tunnels, the Boston Jewish community stands in solidarity with the nation state of the Jewish people. In order to assure that this message of unity was sent, no signs were permitted except for the unity message that was intended to be sent. That message was: Stand With Israel. Simple and straight forward. Read more ..
The Race for Alt Energy
|Thomas Kail||July 23rd 2014|
Wearable applications including smart watches, sport watches, fitness bands and more are growing in popularity, and so, too, is the demand for intelligent sensors to use in them. If analyst predictions are correct, the market is going nowhere but up in the coming years.
So what are the keys to making wearables ubiquitous for daily life?
Significant features and functionality are a given, but equally critical is battery management. The more plentiful the features, the more power the wearable technology needs. Let's face it, nobody will be happy with wearables with short battery lives.
Wearables manufacturers have several options for increasing battery life. The first involves reducing the power consumption of each individual block to a minimum. Another is using higher capacitance batteries â€“ although in most cases this will also lead to larger battery size. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Shoshana Bryen||July 22nd 2014|
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." â€” Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." â€” Dr. FranÃ§oise Hampton, University of Essex, UK. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Nadia Hilou||July 21st 2014|
Though a few years have passed since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, I still cannot forget the sight of Arab families and children in the various towns in the north of Israel, standing frightened and helpless as warning sirens wailed, not knowing where to go. After all, most villages do not have public bomb shelters and most homes do not have bomb-proof rooms, either.
I found myself going from a funeral to a condolence call to visiting the wounded, with one question echoing in my head, one which I hear from most of the Israeli Arab population, as well: why donâ€™t we have shelters? Why donâ€™t they care to protect us?
During that war, dozens of rockets were fired on the north of Israel, killing 44 civilians, 19 of them Arabs. Different reports by the State Comptrollerâ€™s Office that investigated the home frontâ€™s readiness after the war revealed that most of the northern towns were not sufficiently prepared for the rocket threat and that the situation in the Arabic towns was especially bad. The Comptroller found that more than 70% of Arabic residents in the north had no shelter and accused the government and local authorities of negligence. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Karni Eldad||July 21st 2014|
Toronto, Caracas, Paris, London, Norway, Peru, Turkey. Processions and demonstrations against Israel and the operation in Gaza, of varying degrees of violence, are currently held all over the world. At these demonstrations, they call upon us to "end the siege", "end the horrors", "end the operation", "end the occupation".
The protestors are a mixed bunch. Some of them are Arabs, some of them are radical leftists. The Arabsâ€™ interest is obvious: they want to destroy us because we are not Muslims. The current operation in Gaza, which will postpone the current attempt to destroy the Zionist Entity, disrupts the master plan of a heretic-free zone. Any hit sustained by the terror organizations which are trying to murder us, kidnap us, and frighten us is a setback to their dream. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Katherine Zimmerman||July 19th 2014|
President Obama says the United States is looking to its Yemen policy as a model for what to do in Iraq and Syria. But what the president labels the "Yemen model" has not been as successful as the White House claims; indeed, it is in danger of collapse. Attempting to replicate it in much more challenging conditions in Iraq and Syria will almost certainly fail.
A little background: The United States partners with the government of Yemen against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which remains the most imminent direct al-Qaeda threat to the U.S. homeland. AQAP's top leadership includes Osama bin Laden's former secretary, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, now reportedly al-Qaeda's general manager; former Guantanamo detainee Ibrahim al Rubaish; and its innovative bombmaker,Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who continues to target the United States and U.S. airlines. Read more ..
|Robert E. Litan||July 18th 2014|
Suddenly, the hottest tax arbitrage game is the â€œtax inversion,â€ where U.S. companies seek to lower its tax rate by buying a foreign rival. The latest deal came Friday when U.S. drug maker AbbieVie announced it would buy Dublin-based Shire. The $54 billion deal follows Mylanâ€™s move to buy assets from Abbott Laboratories earlier this week in a deal that will create a new Netherlands-based holding company. In May, U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer tried to relocate in the U.K., but a deal to buy AstraZeneca fell through.
One of the best cries of outrage appeared in Allan Sloanâ€™s piece in Fortune earlier this month. The patriotism angle I get, but then again, why blame corporate chiefs for taking advantage of tax games that are perfectly legal, especially in a rapidly globalizing economy The big mystery is why it took some companies so long to do this, and why many others have held back, at least so far? Read more ..
|Frederick M. Hess||July 17th 2014|
In May, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his new $120 million gift to San Francisco Bay Area public schools. The timing was ironic, coming on the heels of Dale Russakoff's devastating portrayal in The New Yorker of the aftermath of Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to Newark, N.J. In that earlier effort, Zuckerberg helped fuel a concerted effort by then-Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to transform embattled schools that had languished under state control for two decades.
It might have been wise for Zuckerberg to have first dwelled a bit more on the results of his 2010 gift before blasting another cash barrage. For one thing, his Newark gift has not delivered the hoped-for reforms and results, despite the $100 million in matching funds raised by Mr. Booker, the steadfast support of the governor, and the best efforts of hard-charging Superintendent Cami Anderson. In fact, it is a pretty good example of why money alone is not an answer, but can be part of the problem. Read more ..
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