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The Urban Edge

Household Water, Sewer Bills Trebly Outpace Inflation

June 27th 2017

Water Supply

Residential water and wastewater bills have steadily increased by 5.7% annually over the past five years, outpacing average annual income growth (5%) and inflation (1.9%) and magnifying the financial challenges facing municipal water utilities. Analysis of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. show combined monthly water and wastewater bills averaging US$91.06, based on standard household consumption by geography, according to a new U.S. Municipal Water and Wastewater Utility Bill Index from Bluefield Research.

With so much focus on water, the impact of sewer charges on household budgets is often overlooked. In 2017, wastewater represented 58% of the total average utility bill for U.S. households. However, the disparity across cities is extreme, with monthly sewer bills ranging from $14.04 in Memphis to a high of $135.57 in Seattle. Similarly, monthly water bills for customers in Memphis averaged $15.96 compared to a high of $92.62 for customers in San Francisco. Read more ..


The Economy on Edge

The Revealed Victims of Seattle's $15 minimum Wage Hike

June 27th 2017

Fast Food Burger

According to a report prepared for the city council of Seattle, the minimum wage hike to $15 per hour has hit the poor of that city hardest. In 2014, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed a measure into law that embraced the $15 minimum wage, which is double the federal minimum of $7.25. The ordinance calls for achieving that level by 2017 for all major employers and by 2019 for small businesses. While the new base rate has satisfied labor organizations such as the Service Employees International Union, the take-home pay of workers has suffered even before the hike has been completed.

University of Washington research shows that take-home pay for low-income workers fell dramatically when the city moved to the $13 mark in 2015. Businesses responded by reducing the number of hours employees work, in order to pay for the increased labor costs. "The lost income associated with the hours reductions exceeds the gain [in hourly rates]," the report says. "The average low-wage employee was paid $1,897 per month. The reduction in hours would cost the average employee $179 per month, while the wage increase would recoup only $54 of this loss, leaving a net loss of $125 per month (6.6%), which is sizable for a low-wage worker." Read more ..


Campus Hate

Prof Durden Complains of 'Public Lynching' for Suspension after Race Rant on TV

June 22nd 2017

Television Array

Following a heated discussion with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, former Essex County College professor Lisa Durden was suspended from the institution. Two days after the June 6 interview on Carlson’s eponymous Fox News channel show, Durden was told to cancel her classes and report to the human resources department of the New Jersey institution. She received an indefinite suspension.

see the video
https://youtu.be/O52jggCZV54

In response, the leftist Durden told the Newark Star-Ledger, “They did this to humiliate me. Essex County College publicly lynched me in front of my students.” 
 
On Carlson’s show, Durden sought to defend a Memorial Day celebration for blacks only that was organized by Black Lives Matter movement. She dodged Carlson when he asked whether it is appropriate to exclude people based on race. Carlson said, “I thought the whole point of Black Lives Matter, or one of the points, would be to speak out against singling people out on the basis of their race and punishing them for that because you can’t control what your race is, and yet they seem to be doing that, explain that to me.” Read more ..


Campus Hate

San Francisco State University Accused of Pervasive Anti-Semitism in Groundbreaking Federal Lawsuit

June 20th 2017

boycott Israel t-shirt

A group of San Francisco State University students and members of the local Jewish community today filed a lawsuit alleging that SFSU has a long and extensive history of cultivating anti-Semitism and overt discrimination against Jewish students. According to the suit, "SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this discrimination and hostile environment, which has been marked by violent threats to the safety of Jewish students on campus." The plaintiffs are represented by a team of attorneys from The Lawfare Project and the global law firm Winston & Strawn LLP.
 
A copy of the complaint can be found here.
 
The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and also names as defendants the Board of Trustees of the California State University System, SFSU President Leslie Wong and several other University officials and employees, alleges that "Jewish students at SFSU have been so intimidated and ostracized that they are afraid to wear Stars of David or yarmulkes on campus." 
Read more ..

Qatar on Edge

The Other Reason To Isolate Qatar: Its Appalling Human-Rights Record

June 16th 2017

Qatari Skyline

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations of fuelling extremism and terrorism.

It’s true the government in Doha has a long history of supporting various radical Islamist groups and movements across the Middle East. Senior Muslim Brotherhood members, Hamas leaders, and Al Qaeda fixers reside in the country. The Taliban even has an unofficial "embassy" in the capital. Doha has also bankrolled with hundreds of millions radical Islamist opposition groups in Libya and Syria, which has angered its neighbors.

And to Qatar's critics, the billion-dollar hostage deal between the emirate, Iranian security officials and Al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel groups was further evidence of its role in sponsoring extremists. Read more ..


The Race for Autonomous Cars

Automobile Software Can Now be Updated While Driving

June 15th 2017

Traffic Jam

With the amount of software in today’s cars in the dimension of millions of lines of code, updating vehicle software today is a cumbersome business. Now Continental has created the necessary technology and infrastructure to enable secure software updates over the air, doing away with the need to visit the garage for every update.

With significance for software for the user experience of car buyers updates having dramatically increased over the past decade or so, automotive manufacturers are feverishly working on solutions to establish similar mechanisms for their vehicles. So far, only Tesla dares to update the software of its cars automatically. All others look jealously over the fence, frightened by the prospect of a terrible glitch or, even worse, a cyber attack against the transmission path. Also, updating a vehicle’s software is somewhat more complex than updating a smartphone’s operating system: Up to 100 computers are involved, and since they are all connected, the activities of most of them can have side effects on others. Plus, the number of possible variants and options in a car is much bigger than in a smartphone. And last but not least, no one can afford a failed software update – in a car such a situation would have far more serious consequences than with a smartphone.

Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Proposed Solar Paneled Wall for US-Mexico Border May Become a Reality

June 11th 2017

Sunrise or Sunset

At a recent White House meeting, President Trump told congressional Republicans that his suggestion in terms of construction of the US-Mexico border wall would be to seriously explore the solar paneled option.

The WSJ reported that two lawmakers who attended the meeting told them that Trump said the solar panels could offset the exorbitant costs in erecting such a border wall. This can be effectuated by collecting revenue from the sale of solar power that the panels would generate. Those funds could be earmarked to assist in offsetting the projected multi-billion dollar cost in construction.

The WSJ has also reported that Trump’s idea for the use of solar panels to build a wall separating the US and Mexico came after the Department of Homeland Security issued a solicitation of proposals a few months ago from engineering firms and other construction companies  for their blueprints. Read more ..


The Digital Age

Fingerprint Sensors Mass-produced for Smartcards

June 3rd 2017

credit cards

Taiwanese card manufacturer Jinco Universal Co., Ltd, the fingerprint sensor IC design house Elan Microelectronics Corporation, and the Korean biometric authentication technology company KSID have joined forces to supply what they believe will be the world first biometric fingerprint bank card to Korean Worri Bank.

This bank card has integrated EMV dual interface chip, capacitive fingerprint sensor, and a rechargeable battery.  This card can last for more than 300 usages on a single full charge.

Jinco Universal is a world leader in the powered smart card industry. A year ago the company has entered into a contract agreement with the bank to supply 3 million cards over a 3-year period but mass production has only started recently and half a million biometric fingerprint bank cards could be delivered this year. Read more ..


Germany on Edge

Europe: Muslim Atrocities against Women? So What!

May 24th 2017

Turkish Flags

It happened again last week. Two Turkish nationals in Schwerin, Germany were arrested for raping a 13-year-old girl after forcing themselves into her home.

Recently, a judge in Germany acquitted a Turkish drug dealer of raping one of his customers last August. He had forced himself on her for four hours and left her incapacitated for weeks. He told the judge that in the culture from where he came, what she "had experienced as rape" might be considered merely "wild sex."

What "culture" is this?

According to the Turkish women's rights organization "We Will Stop the Murders of Women," which publishes monthly reports, in March of this year alone, 35 women were killed; 14 others were exposed to sexual violence, and 63 children were molested. Many children, the report said, had been sexually abused for years, and often attempted suicide. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Israel Is Still at War

May 10th 2017

6 day war

After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The defection of Egypt from the anti-Israel Arab alliance largely neutralized the option of a large-scale conventional attack on Israel, improving Israel's overall strategic position.

Yet Cairo refrained from developing normal relations with the Jewish state. A "cold peace" evolved, underscoring the countries' common strategic interests but also the reluctance of Egypt to participate in reconciling the two peoples.

Jordan followed suit in 1994, largely emulating the Egyptian precedent. Jordan's peace treaty with Israel also reflected common strategic interests – but was commonly referred to by Jordanians as the "King's peace," indicating a disinclination for people-to-people interactions with the Jews west of the Jordan River. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Toughest anti-Sanctuary Sanction Signed into Law

May 9th 2017

Border Patrol

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed on Sunday Senate Bill 4, which will ban sanctuary cities in the Lone Star state. Abbott signed the bill, unheralded, during a Facebook Live video. The law allows law enforcement officers, on the one hand, to ask persons they stop or detain about their immigration status, while on the other hand, the law may mean jail time for police, sheriffs, and constables who refuse to comply with detainer requests from federal immigration officials. 
 
Some local law enforcement officials have announced they will comply, while others say the law will be problematic. "SB 4 is bad for public safety," San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Friday. "It will not make our streets safer." He and Sheriff Javier Salazar of Bexar County contend that the law will comprise public trust in law enforcement among illegal aliens. "They feel they can't come to me, their Bexar County sheriff, because they're more terrified of being deported," Salazar said.
Read more ..

Autism on Edge

Autism and Disappointing Drug Therapies

May 4th 2017

Black infant

Connor was diagnosed with autism early — when he was just 18 months old. His condition was already obvious by then. “He was lining things up, switching lights on and off, on and off,” says his mother, Melissa. He was bright, but he didn’t speak much until age 3, and he was easily frustrated. Once he started school, he couldn’t sit still in class, called out answers without raising his hand and got visibly upset when he couldn’t master a math concept or a handwriting task quickly enough. “One time, he rolled himself up into the carpet like a burrito and wouldn’t come out until I got there,” Melissa recalls. (All families in this story are identified by first name only, to protect their privacy.)

Connor was prescribed his first psychiatric drug, methylphenidate (Ritalin), at age 6. That didn’t last long, but when he was 7, his parents tried again. A psychiatrist suggested a low dose of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall), a stimulant commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The drug seemed to improve his time at school: He was able to sit still for longer periods of time and focus on what his teachers were saying. His chicken-scratch handwriting became legible. Then, it became neat. Then perfect. And then it became something Connor began to obsess over. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Texas To Pass 'Sanctuary' Ban That Could Jail Police, SheriffsPolitics

April 29th 2017

Border Patrol

The House of Representatives of Texas passed by a 93-54 vote on Thursday a measure that would ban so-called “sanctuary” cities which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the state. It would also empower law enforcement agencies to require anyone detained to reveal their immigration status — whether or not they are arrested or ever charged with a crime. Immigration status could thus be asked for persons stopped for jaywalking or other such offenses.
 
SB 4 would compel local jurisdictions to comply with immigrant detainer requests issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. In Texas and elsewhere in the country, there are local jurisdictions that have refused to reveal the immigration status of persons in their custody and have failed to keep persons in detention when asked by ICE. The Texas Senate approved a similar measure in February. 
Read more ..

Media on Edge

Palestinian Intimidation of Journalists

April 28th 2017

Palestinian Authority police

Seven Palestinian journalists are the latest victims of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) continued crackdown on the media.

The repressive measures are aimed at silencing critical voices among the journalists and deterring others from reporting stories that reflect negatively on the Palestinian leadership in particular and Palestinians in general.

In the view of President Mahmoud Abbas and his PA, Palestinian journalists exist to write stories slamming Israel or praising PA leaders. Media, for them, is defined as a mouthpiece for Abbas, the PA leadership and the Palestinian cause.

Any journalist who dares to think outside this checkpoint is subject to severe punishment. Under Abbas and the PA, there is no room for an independent media. The three major Palestinian newspapers -- Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda -- are controlled, directly and indirectly, by the PA.

Read more ..

Broken Borders

Judge who Ruled against Trump on Sanctuary Cities is an Obama Cash Bundler

April 26th 2017

Stop the Raids immigration protest

According to PublicCitizen, a nonprofit website that tracks political donations, Federal Judge William Orrick III bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars for Barack Obama’s electoral campaign. It was Orrick who issued an injunction in the Northern District of California against the Trump administration when San Francisco, and Santa Clara County, sued over President Trump’s plan to withhold federal funding from jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities and harbor illegal immigrants. 
 
Orrick’s ruling contends that Trump's executive order order targeted broad categories of federal funding for sanctuary governments, and that the plaintiffs would probably succeed in proving it unconstitutional.  The federal lawsuit will continue to work its way through the courts. The Department of Justice has threatened to cut off eight so-called “sanctuary” cities, including San Francisco.
Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Electromobility: The Big Leap has Yet to Come

April 14th 2017

Electric car Israel

The annual Electromobility Index from consultancy Roland Berger and the fka automotive technology research institute (Aachen, Germany) certifies Germany and France the leading positions in terms of technology. Though the market shows growth in all regions, the market share for electric vehicles is still very low.

The Electromobility Index periodically compares the competitive positions of the seven most important automotive geographies China, France, Germany Italy, Japan South Korea and USA in terms of technology, industrialization and market.

According to the study, Germany currently holds the technology pole position in the race about electromobility – a little bit surprising, given the success of Tesla in the US and the relatively high market penetration of electric vehicles in France. Wolfgang Bernhardt, Roland Berger Partner and expert for automobile markets, explains why.

Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Breaking: Israelites Flee Egypt

April 10th 2017

Edwin Black

 

A

 

pproximately two million Children of Israel are now encamped in the Sinai following their extraordinary exodus from Egypt yesterday. Just days ago, they were slaves to Pharaoh. Today, they are free men and women, destined for self-determination in a land of their own. Only now are the details of their fantastic experience coming to light.

 

The dramatic sequence of events began some weeks ago with the unexpected return of exiled prince Moses, who previously fled Pharaoh’s wrath after slaying a taskmaster. In his daring appearance at the Palace, the inarticulate Moses, speaking through his brother Aaron, declared himself to be the personal emissary of a powerful new “God,” previously unknown to the Royal Court. Moreover, Moses asserted that his God was the protector of the Children of Israel, who have been in bondage for more than four centuries in Egypt.

 

The entire Royal Court was aghast as Moses demanded that the Children of Israel be permitted to travel three days into the desert for an unprecedented “feast and sacrifice” to their God. Making clear that he was not asking a Court indulgence, Moses looked straight at Pharaoh, stamped his roughhewn staff and issued the ultimatum that would be his rallying call during the coming days: “Let my people go.”

 

Laughter echoed throughout the hall as Pharaoh sneered, “Who is your ‘God?’  I know him not. Nor will I let Israel go!” Read more ..


The Trump Era

Trump’s Payment Plan: Like It Or Not, Mexicans Will Buy U.S. A Security Wall

April 9th 2017

Truncated border fence

President Donald Trump faces problems in the building of a security barrier or “border wall” between the United States and Mexico. But thanks to some GOP lawmakers, including Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers, who is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, and serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, there is a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives that will help in achieving this important security barrier. Part of Trump’s border security plan is the use of surveillance drones to alert Border Patrol agents.

Congressman Mike Rogers introduced HR 1813, the Border Wall Funding Act of 2017. This bill, which is supported and endorsed by FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, would impose a 2% fee on all remittances headed south of the US border. Remittances, or wire transfers, are commonly used by illegal immigrants to move money from the US to their home countries. In 2014, Mexico alone received over $24 billion in remittances sent from the US, while other South and Central American countries received over 15% of their GDPs in the form of remittances. Read more ..


China on Edge

Asia's Dilemma: China's Butter, or America's Guns?

April 7th 2017

The East is Red

Flying into Singapore's Changi Airport, one is struck by the fleet of ships lined up off shore, the tendrils of a global trade network squeezing through the narrow Malacca Strait. Singapore is the hub, the connector between the Indian Ocean, South China Sea and Pacific. Since the late 1970s, with little exception, trade has amounted to some 300 percent of Singapore's total gross domestic product, with exports making up between 150 and 230 percent of GDP. Singapore is the product of global trade, and the thriving multiethnic city-state can trace its trade role back centuries.

Having arrived in Singapore from Auckland, the contrast was stunning. It's not that New Zealand isn't heavily integrated into global trade networks — some 50 percent of its GDP is based on trade, and since its early days as a British colony it has been heavily dependent on distant trade partners. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

The Muslim Brotherhood, Fountain of Islamist Violence

April 4th 2017

Muslim Brotherhood Marching

What to make of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)? During the Obama years, it became commonplace for the U.S. administration and its Western acolytes to portray the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate option to "more radical" Muslim groups. Thus, for example, U.S. director of National Intelligence James Clapper incredibly described the organization as "largely secular"[1] while John Esposito of Georgetown University claimed that "Muslim Brotherhood affiliated movements and parties have been a force for democratization and stability in the Middle East."[2]

On the other hand, in 2014, the United Arab Emirates formally designated[3] the Muslim Brotherhood and its local and international affiliates, including the U.S. based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR),[4] as inter-national terrorist groups. Read more ..


Iran on Edge

In Iran's Women's Prisons, Injustice and Atrocity

March 24th 2017

Iranian clerics

On a warm day last April, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe dressed her toddler Gabrielle, kissed her parents goodbye, and set off to catch her flight back home to London.

She never made it.

Instead, Islamic Revolutionary Guards apprehended the then-37-year-old at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport and transported her to Iran's infamous Evin prison, where prisoners are routinely tortured and women subjected regularly to sexual abuse and rape.

In September, the dual British-Iranian citizen, who had been visiting her parents in Tehran before being apprehended, was sentenced to five years imprisonment on vague "national security charges." Read more ..


The Trump Era

Will Trump’s Border Wall Be a Self-Sufficient Solar-Paneled Energy Producer?

March 22nd 2017

Solar panels

Read more ..

The Calipgate

Who Will Dominate Iraq and Syria after ISIS?

March 16th 2017

ISIS

On the surface, the wars in Syria and Iraq are continuing at full intensity. The fight between Iraqi government forces and Islamic State in western Mosul is proving a slow, hard slog.

This week, government forces captured the police directorate and the courts complex in the city, moving toward the denser warren of the Old City. The jihadists are fighting for every inch of ground.

Further west, the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) succeeded in cutting the last road from the Islamic State capital of Raqqa to its stronghold in Deir al-Zor.

In the fight between the Assad regime and the Sunni Arab rebellion against it, a rebel attempt at a counterattack in the city of Deraa has led to renewed bloodshed. The regime is continuing its attacks on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta east of Damascus, despite a new Russian-brokered cease-fire. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Truth in Wine: The Politics of Wine in Israel

March 14th 2017

Golan Heights

On Sunday, March 26, I will have the honor of leading a seminar discussion and wine tasting at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. The seminar is called “The Politics of Wine in Israel.” I will be joined by Israeli winemakers Yaacov Berg (Psagot Winery) and Nir Pelter (Pelter/Matar Winery). Also with us will be wine importer Jay Buchsbaum, from Royal Wines, the largest importer of Israeli wine in the U.S.

In a recent blog, I wrote about Israel’s wine renaissance. It truly is a rekindling of a distant time when Israeli wine was considered to be among the best in the world, circa 2,500 years ago! Our own California winery, Covenant, has invested in Israel since 2013, when we began making wine there as well.

The current crop of modern-day Israeli wineries is a testament to Jewish winemaking heritage and tradition. In the last 20 years, we have seen a rise in wine quality as well as the number of Israeli wineries, which number well over 300 today. Yet Israel’s wine culture remains besieged by a foreign amalgam of meddlers. Read more ..


The Anthropological Edge

Australia was Colonized by a Single Group 50,000 Years Ago

March 9th 2017

Neanderthal man

There are two central mysteries about human history in Australia. First, when did people arrive on the world's southernmost inhabitable continent? And second, how did they colonize it? A paper in Nature offers new answers, based on an extensive analysis of decades-old DNA.


The Edge of Film

The Oscars Reflect Talent, but also Money and Politics

February 10th 2017

Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep

The 89th Academy Awards are upon us, and critics and Hollywood insiders are placing bets on which nominees will go home with the coveted statuette. The idea of the Academy is to judge films on their artistic merit, but as always, political considerations and even current events can have an impact on who wins an Oscar.

Damien Chazelle’s nostalgic musical La La Land may be the big winner this year. The film offers a tribute to Hollywood musicals, has great cinematography, good music and a tear-jerking story; but, some critics question if the film really deserves all of its 14 nominations. That number has been equaled by only two other movies throughout Hollywood history: the 1950s drama All About Eve starring Bette Davis, and James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic.

Ads, money influence Oscars

Giovanna Chesler, director of the Film and Video Studies program at George Mason University in Virginia, says that as in any other campaign, robust advertising and a large amount of money can have as much influence as artistic merit in securing a film’s road to the Oscars.

She says that in some categories, such as the Documentary category, filmmakers have to submit a $50,000 fee just to be considered for a nomination. She says such fees guarantee screenings of the prospective nominees’ films in core markets during the Oscar season.

A filmmaker herself, Chesler says she has renewed faith in the Oscars because, as she puts it, “in this year’s nominees you see more talent reflected, not just the marketing ability of the industry.”

Oscars less white

There are more nominations for minority films and actors. She points to art films like Moonlight, a coming-of-age drama about an African-American boy growing up in a drug-infested community, and Denzel Washington’s movie adaptation of the play Fences, about a struggling husband and father who, despite his personal flaws, is working hard to make his mark in the world. Read more ..


The Edge of Nature

How Plants Evolved into Carnivores

February 7th 2017

Amazon rainforest

Any insect unlucky enough to land on the mouth-like leaves of an Australian pitcher plant will meet a grisly end. The plant's prey is drawn into a vessel-like ‘pitcher’ organ where a specialized cocktail of enzymes digests the victim.

Now, by studying the pitcher plant's genome—and comparing its insect-eating fluids to those of other carnivorous plants—researchers have found that meat-eating plants the world over have hit on the same deadly molecular recipe, even though they are separated by millions of years of evolution.

“We’re really looking at a classic case of convergent evolution,” says Victor Albert, a plant-genome scientist at the University of Buffalo, New York, who co-led the study. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Obama Gave Unwritten Consent to Iran on anti-Israel Missiles

February 4th 2017

Iranian Qiam missile launch

On January 30, 2017, U.S. sources announced that Iran had conducted a failed test of a new ballistic missile,the Khorramshahr. According to reports, the missile exploded after a 965-km flight.[1] Both Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif (on January 31) and Defense Minister Dehghan (on February 1) stressed that Iran "asks permission from no one in the matter of its defense program."[2]

It should be emphasized that contrary to statements by Iranian regime spokesmen who say that Iran's missile program is defensive, missiles with a 2,000-km range are strictly offensive and strategic. This is why Iran has faced constant demands to stop developing them. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Dissidents Train Federal Bureaucrats how to Disobey Trump's Policies

February 2nd 2017

Truman Bldg/State Dept HQ

According to a report by the Washington Post, some 180 federal employees have registered for training on the February 4-5 weekend in both the rights of workers and in civil disobedience. The report said that dozens of federal bureaucrats attended a support group that foments opposition to the Trump administration, less than two weeks after the inauguration President Donald Trump. 
 
While the Post report pointed out the obvious public protests that have emerged since the beginning of the Trump administration, “there’s another level of resistance to the new president that is less visible and potentially more troublesome,” it said. This “growing wave of opposition,” the report said, is from within the federal government and federal employees who are supposed to implement the new president’s policies to the administration: a growing wave of opposition from the federal workers charged with implementing any new president’s agenda.
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

My Journey Out of Radical Islam

January 28th 2017

ISIS Group with Flags

I grew up in Rawalpindi, a city in the Punjab province of Pakistan, in a family who had links with the Deoband school of thought (A sub-sect of Sunni Islam in the sub-continent) and Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist Party in the sub-continent. I was inspired by the influential Islamist scholar of the 20th century, the founder of Jamaat -e-Islami, Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi.

Maududi thought that a state could either be religious or irreligious. Therefore, he did not agree with the view that secularism is just the separation of religion from a state's affairs. In fact, he strongly argued that secularism would give rise to atheism, or a lack of belief, in society. He saw religion as the ultimate source of morality, therefore, when people become un-Islamic, society would also become unethical. Read more ..


The War Against Christianity

One Million Christians Reportedly Martyred in Ten Years

January 20th 2017

Coptic Girl

Nearly 1 million Christians have been murdered for their faith over the last decade, according to research conducted by a think tank affiliated with the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Additionally, the annual report by Gordon-Conwell's Center for the Study of Global Christianity found that as many as 90,000 Christians were martyred in the last year, or approximately 900,000 or more.
 
The finding that one Christian every six minutes were killed in 2016 was leaked by Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne in a December 2016 interview. The report on the leak received considerable media attention before the actual release of the annual report. The center asserts that an average of 90,000 Christians have died each year on average from 2005 to 2015.
 
An email from the organization to supporters read, "In the last week, several news organizations reported on the persecution of Christians around the world and cited our figure of 90,000 Christian martyrs in 2016." 
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

U.S. Refusing to Intervene as Ex-CIA Agent Faces Extradition, Prison, in Italy

January 14th 2017

Prison bars

Time continues to tick away for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, who faces extradition from Portugal to Italy Tuesday to face a four-year jail sentence for her involvement in the highly classified Bush era extraordinary rendition of a radical Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) has been aggressively advocating on her behalf.

An Italian court convicted de Sousa in absentia in 2009 for allegedly planning the operation. None of the defendants were informed of the charges against them by their Italian court-appointed lawyers. She never was informed of the charges against her before the trial.

"The trial was a prosecutor's dream. You have a court where you have no American defendants," de Sousa said. Read more ..


The Edge of Science

Scientific Breakthroughs in 2017 May "Blow Your Mind"

January 11th 2017

Research and Development Chemistry

The Pentagon’s research and development division, DARPA—the creative force behind the internet and GPS—retooled itself three years ago to create a new office dedicated to unraveling biology’s engineering secrets. The new Biological Technologies Office (BTO) has a mission to “harness the power of biological systems” and design new defense technology. Over the past year, with a budget of about $296 million, it has been exploring challenges including memory improvement, human–machine symbiosis and speeding up disease detection and response.

DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is hoping for some big returns. The director of its BTO, neuroprosthetic researcher Justin Sanchez, recently spoke with Scientific American about what to expect from his office in 2017, including work on neural implants to aid healthy people in their everyday lives and other advances that he says will “change the game” in medicine. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Assange: Russian government not the source of WikiLeaks emails

January 4th 2017

Hilary Clinton

Hannity sat down with Assange in London's Ecuadorian embassy, where the Australian native has been holed up for five years battling extradition to Sweden on unrelated charges. Part I of the interview is set to air Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on Fox News Channel's "Hannity." 

see http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/03/assange-russian-government-not-source-wikileaks-emails.html

In excerpts released prior to airing, Assange is adamant that the hacked emails his organization released of Clinton official John Podesta did not come from Russia, as the Obama administration has claimed.

“We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said.

More than 50,000 emails were released during the 2016 presidential campaign, exposing dubious practices at the Clinton Foundation, top journalists working closely with the Clinton campaign, key Clinton aides speaking derisively of Catholics and a top Democratic National Committee official providing debate questions to Clinton in advance.

Hannity told Fox News' Bill Hemmer "I believe everything (Assange) said," and praised the Internet activist for his commitment to government transparency. Read more ..


Obama and Israel

Obama, Kerry and Netanyahu Go Visceral

December 30th 2016

Western/Wailing Wall

How to explain the recent uproar in U.S.-Israel relations? I refer to President Barack Obama's decision to abstain at the U.N. Security Council, precisely contradicting his own views of just a few years earlier; Secretary of State John Kerry's 75-minute rant against Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu; and Netanyahu's intemperate responses, such as warning the New Zealand government that its support for the UNSC resolution amounts to a "declaration of war."

High politics of this sort is usually viewed through the lens of ideas and principles. But at times, it's better to leave all that behind and look at psychology - in other words, the basic human emotions and relations we all experience.

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The Race for Alternative Fuels

Recapping My Decade of Using and Experimenting With Alternative Fuels

December 19th 2016

Sugar Cane

I first learned about the potential of alternative engine fuels in the late 1970's while doing some unrelated marketing research in the giant New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. I came across a book that described turning corn and other farm crops into ethanol and methanol.

For a guy who grew up primarily in Brooklyn and Queens, farming was as alien to me as the dark side of the moon. Nevertheless, the story was riveting because it presented economic possibilities that made my head spin: replacing foreign petroleum oil fuels with domestically produced fuels from crops...WOW!

With the 1970's oil crisis still very much on my mind (and on the minds of most Americans), it was a thrilling discovery. But as I was busy trying to build an advertising agency the last thing I could focus on was where to build silos in NYC to house all the harvested crops needed to produce biofuels. Read more ..


Vote 2016

Three States Find Dource of Election Day Hacks

December 17th 2016

Voting Booth

According to WSB-TV Atlanta, three state election agencies are confirming that their systems were subjected to cyber attacks linked to Department of Homeland Security IP addresses. The report says that Georgia, Kentucky, and West Virginia have reported attacks. Aaron Diamant of WSB-TV posted on Twitter, “Documents we just got show WV & KY elections agencies link suspected cyber atracks [sic] to same DHS IP address as GA incident.”
 
In an interview with Diamant, the Secretary of State of Georgia, Brian Kemp, said that his agency has endured cyber attacks since February. All of the intrusions have been traced back to internet provider addresses for the federal Department of Homeland Security. "We're being told something that they think they have it figured out, yet nobody's really showed us how this happened,” Kemp said. "We need to know." Kemp has informed President-elect Donald Trump of the developments and has demanded an investigation.
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The Trump Era

Trump’s Border Wall--A Deeper Look

December 15th 2016

Deer at US Mexico border

One of the main issues that propelled Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to victory was the promise of a wall being built at the United States border with Mexico. The response by the news media, their favorite Democratic politicians and illegal-immigration advocates was astounding, with newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet awash in comments that Trump was a racist, a bigot, and a xenophobic bully.

But the truth — noticeably avoided by the media — is that the U.S. Congress passed a bill and it was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006 ordering a wall to be built at the U.S.-Mexican border and more Border Patrol agents should be hired for the Southern border.

“The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, required DHS to complete construction by December 31, 2008, of either 370 miles or other mileage determined by the Secretary, of reinforced fencing along the southwest border wherever the Secretary determines it would be most practical and effective in deterring smugglers and aliens attempting illegal entry,” according to Global Security. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Dr. Ben Carson: Another Chapter in a Remarkable Life

December 8th 2016

Armstrong_Williams

In recent days the media has been abuzz with speculation over cabinet appointments within the incoming President-elect Donald Trump administration.  Specifically, much talk has focused on Dr. Ben Carson and his announcement that he was not interested in serving in a cabinet post.

Observers have tried to read the tea leaves and read into some underlying story as to how Dr. Carson arrived at this decision and what it signals. However, they are missing the point.

I have known Dr. Carson and his family for 25 years. This is a man who possesses remarkable vision.  He imagined possibilities in his chosen field of medicine and then made them a reality.   

He was the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the United States at the age of 33 when appointed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1984. He has served on the boards of major companies like Costco and Kellogg, received more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees, numerous national merit citations, and was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. And yet, arguably the most important thing that makes Dr. Benjamin Carson a fantastic appointee for the cabinet position of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is his compassion.

Dr. Carson believes that whenever there is a concentration of people with a lot of poverty, it doesn’t matter what their race is. A multitude of conflict and the types of trouble we have seen over the past decade will continue if we aren’t able to carry out the mission of HUD. HUD's mission to create "strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all… improving the quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.” Read more ..


Democrats in Disarray

In Private Fundraiser, Ellison Blasted Israeli Influence Over U.S. Policy

November 30th 2016

boycott Israel t-shirt

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's announcement earlier this month that he wants to be the Democratic National Committee's next chairman drew quick support from several key lawmakers, including Jewish senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders.

Ellison backers also have defended him against claims he may hold anti-Semitic views in addition to being anti-Israel. A column in Israel's liberal daily Haaretz quotes two rabbis praising Ellison, D-Minn., as "the best of our constitutional democracy and the best of America" and "an extraordinary leader. Anyone who would associate him with any kind of hatred hasn't met him and certainly hasn't worked with him."

A 2010 audio of Ellison speaking at a private fundraiser obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism calls such praise into question. In a fairly intimate setting, Ellison lashed out at what he sees as Israel's disproportionate influence in American foreign policy. That will change, he promised, as more Muslims gained political influence: Read more ..



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