Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Where's Waldo?

There are two ways to find one's bearings in maze of allegations over Russian collusion in the West. The first is to evaluate each piece of breaking news with respect to the tangled skeins of conspiracy that both sides and hundreds of pundits tirelessly launch. The second approach is to understand Russia's objectives from first principles and from them evaluate each piece of information in relation to the Kremlin's interests.

Unless there's some easy way to find Waldo it's easy to become a victim of disinformation. The quickest way to identify the character is to become familiar with his signature. The unfailing signature of a Putin stooge is he promotes the Kremlin's interests. What are those interests?

Common sense suggests Russia's three most immediate priorities are a) keeping its energy industry profitable; b) maintaining a military posture of intimidation in Europe; and c) keeping Assad in Syrian power and evicting the US, in cooperation with Iran from the region. It will be readily apparent that achieving these goals will serve the interests of Putin. Conversely their defeat or frustration is necessarily a setback for him. Find the man or men who back those goals and you've got Waldo.

It may be useful to examine the prospects of each of these Russian goals at the present time.

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Quote of the day

Women are becoming the men that they need. And men are becoming like the women they want. How telling, that the women are cashing in, making the big bucks, getting tattoos, a bad attitude….while the men are hitting the gym, watching what they eat, being nice and agreeable.


Long overdue crack-up

I’ve been predicting, most recently in a lecture last month at Arizona State University that I’ll post up as a podcast at some point soon, that universities would soon begin to divide into two entitiesthe STEM fields and related practical subjects (i.e., business and economics), and the social sciences and humanities, which would start to shrivel under the weight of the degradations the left has inflicted over the last 40 years. The number of students majoring in the humanities has declined by two-thirds since around 1980.

Here’s part of what I said at Arizona State:

I think we’re already seeing the beginnings of a de facto divorce of universities, in which the STEM fields and other "practical" disciplines essentially split off from the humanities and social sciences, not to mention the more politicized departments.

At this rate eventually many of our leading research universities will bifurcate into marginal fever swamps of radicalism whose majors will be unfit for employment at Starbucks, and a larger campus dedicated to science and technology education.

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Cultural appropriation

Cultural appropriation’ is an incredibly dubious concept. So I was dismayed to hear this week that the Cambridge Dictionary will now include this term and that it will define it in the same way that censorious campaigners do that is, as cultural theft.

This is the dictionary’s definition: cultural appropriation is ‘the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.’

There are so many things wrong with this that it is difficult to know where to start. First, there is actually no consensus around what cultural appropriation means. It is a highly contested political concept largely used by people who have an acutely racialised view of the world. There are many others who completely reject the notion that culture belongs to any one ethnicity or nationality.

This was demonstrated just this week when the US pop singer Bruno Mars was accused on Twitter of culturally appropriating African-American music. A huge debate broke out on social media. And many people defended him, questioning the whole idea that music can ever be ‘appropriated’. Why has the Cambridge Dictionary not acknowledged the other side in the debate about this term?

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Free speech under attack

It may not yet be "the end of free speech," but that particular fundamental right is probably a bad candidate for a new life-insurance policy.

We have an environment in which the president of the United States is dismissive of the free speech rights of his opponents, prominent constitutional scholars sniff at free speech unless it's used by the "right" people for their favored goals, and the country's leading civil liberties organization is suffering an internal revolt by staffers who oppose "rigid" support for free speech protections.

Last October, President Trump said "It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write." That came just hours after he tweeted, "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!" And even before Trump took the oath of office, he'd huffed that protesters who burn American flags should face loss of citizenship or jail.

So if you're an academic with expertise in constitutional law, and you have months to watch a populist politician who commands the power of the presidency fulminate about punishing those who criticize him, what do you do? If you're Georgetown Law's Louis Michael Seidman, you suggest that the president might be on to something.

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No where to go? Go to prison.

Every aging society faces distinct challenges. But Japan, with the world’s oldest population (27.3 percent of its citizens are 65 or older, almost twice the share in the U.S.), has been dealing with one it didn’t foresee: senior crime. Complaints and arrests involving elderly people, and women in particular, are taking place at rates above those of any other demographic group. Almost 1 in 5 women in Japanese prisons is a senior. Their crimes are usually minor9 in 10 senior women who’ve been convicted were found guilty of shoplifting.

Why have so many otherwise law-abiding elderly women resorted to petty theft? Caring for Japanese seniors once fell to families and communities, but that’s changing. From 1980 to 2015, the number of seniors living alone increased more than sixfold, to almost 6 million. And a 2017 survey by Tokyo’s government found that more than half of seniors caught shoplifting live alone; 40 percent either don’t have family or rarely speak with relatives. These people often say they have no one to turn to when they need help.

Even women with a place to go describe feeling invisible. "They may have a house. They may have a family. But that doesn’t mean they have a place they feel at home," says Yumi Muranaka, head warden of Iwakuni Women’s Prison, 30 miles outside Hiroshima. "They feel they are not understood. They feel they are only recognized as someone who gets the house chores done."

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Flag of California

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The strange case of Imran Awan

Soon after the House of Representatives found that Democratic IT aide Imran Awan and his family made "unauthorized access" to congressional data, Imran hurriedly vacated his house, renting it in February 2017 to a former Marine. Imran angrily told his new tenant, Andre Taggart, that he was homeless and to refuse any certified mail in Imran’s name, Taggart said.

A lawyer contacted Taggart about some items Imran left behind in the house and threatened to sue if he didn’t return them, saying he’d accuse Taggart of theft, Taggart said. The equipment included Blackberries and "hard drives they look like they tried to destroy," as well as laptops and "a lot of brand new expensive [printer] toner," he said. Based on his military training, they appeared to Taggart to be government equipment, and he called the police.

The Capitol Police and FBI arrived to collect the computer equipment, and Taggart moved out of the house in May, he said. In late August, Taggart felt that there was enough distance between Imran and his family that it was safe to tell his story publicly.

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The big picture

If you get your news from the mainstream media, and/or if you don't have the time to follow the battle between Trump and the Swamp, here's the Big Picture on the attempt to push Trump out of the presidency.

And if that has whetted your appetite, read this.

Keep in mind that none of this was supposed to come to light because Hillary was certain of being elected. Or so they thought


Was the Parkland shooting staged?

The Parkland, FL, school shooting was one more in a (seemingly endless) string of fabricated events that appear to be designed to instill fear into the public to make it more amenable to manipulation to promote a political agenda, which, as Dave Hodges of The Commonsense Show has observed, has three stages:

First, a massive assault on the 1st Amendment, covered by the use of private companies--namely, the Social Media Giants: Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter--to remove critics of "official accounts" from publicizing and sharing their research;

Second, a correlated attack on the 2nd Amendment, where the University of Hawaii's Democide project has shown there were 19 genocides during the 20th Century, each of which was preceded by gun confiscation, leaving the population helpless to resist; and,

Third, the extraction of dissidents--the critics, those who speak out against "fake news", propaganda and censorship--who must be removed because they pose a threat to the Deep State and can inspire others to stand up for their rights and transferred to American gulags, which we know as "FEMA camps".

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India v. Pakistan

Both India and Pakistan have between 120 and 140 nuclear warheads, according to estimates provided by the Arms Control Association. However a report produced in 2015 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center asserts that Pakistan may be outpacing India in terms of its nuclear stockpile, and may possess 350 nuclear warheads in the next five to ten years. A 2016 SIPRI report confirmed the assessment that Pakistan has more nuclear warheads than India.

However, what distinguishes the two neighbors’ nuclear-weapons programs from each other is not so much the pace of production or the size of the stockpiles, but their radically different nuclear doctrines.

The major difference between the two countries’ nuclear doctrines is that while India has renounced first use of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has refused to do so by reserving its right to use nuclear weapons in the face of India’s conventional superiority.

So far, uncertainty regarding Pakistan’s nuclear threshold is the principal factor preventing a major conflagration in South Asia. Pakistan’s refusal to disavow first use of nuclear weapons, and its emphasis on amassing tactical nuclear weapons and short-range missiles as a corollary of its nuclear doctrine, can be explained in light of its conventional-force inferiority vis-à-vis India. It is in fact a mirror image of the American nuclear doctrine as applied to central Europe during the Cold War. The United States refused to disavow first use of nuclear weapons, and deployed tactical nuclear weapons in central Europe on a large scale, because of NATO’s presumed inferiority in terms of conventional power vis-à-vis that deployed by the Warsaw Pact.

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Identity theft not being prosecuted

The Internal Revenue Service in 2011 through 2016 documented more than 1.3 million cases of identity theft perpetrated by illegal aliens whom the IRS had given Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), which are only given to people who are ineligible to work in the United States or receive Social Security Numbers, according to information published by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

However, in response to inquiries from, the IRS could not say if it had referred even one of these cases for criminal prosecution.

TIGTA, which is the inspector general responsible for overseeing the IRS, discovered another approximately 1.2 million cases in 2017 in which an illegal alien working in the United States had filed a tax return reporting wages that had been earned using a Social Security Number that belonged to someone else or was fabricated.

Yet the IRS also could not say whether it referred any of these cases for criminal prosecution.

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False rape charges

In the last two months, four British rape trials collapsed: the prosecution of Liam Allan failed when some 40,000 texts exchanged with his accuser and others proved she had asked him for sex before and after the alleged rape, fantasised about rough sex and was clear that "It wasn't against my will or anything." Isaac Itiary was discharged after the police released texts, withheld for months, showing that the accusing girl had repeatedly lied about her age leading to Itiary believing he was having sex with a 19-year-old, not a girl under 16, and Samuel Armstrong was found not guilty of two counts of rape and other offences because police withheld vital evidence so that the accuser would get "more leeway to hide certain aspects and mould what comes out." In the latest case, the Crown Prosecution Service "offered no evidence" in the trial of Samson Makele after an independent defence investigation found photos on his phone showed him cuddling in bed with his accuser at the time of the alleged offence in 2016.

Ostensibly, these failures occurred due to the mishandling of evidence. Many commentators argued that this was due to police incompetence, and some blamed recent funding cuts leading to police ineffectiveness. But the underlying reason is far more serious and damaging to justice.

In his 2016 review of the Metropolitan Police’s handling of investigations concerning alleged sexual offences and persons of public prominence, Sir Richard Henriques made it clear that "The policy of ‘believing victims’ strikes at the very core of the criminal justice process. It has and will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale." (Henriques, 2016, 1,30). He draws attention to the inherent danger in the College of Policing policy that "At the point when someone makes an allegation of crime, the police should believe the account given," (Ibid 1.21) and in 2014 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recommended that "The presumption that the victim should always be believed should be institutionalised." (Ibid, 1,21) And it has been.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Climate Dictionary

I see that there is some confusion over terminology in the climate field. In response, I’ve put together a list of common terms, along with what far too often they mean in climate science. So without further ado, here’s my climate dictionary.

an expected result of global warming "We predicted warming and got a heavy snowfall instead".

anthropogenic see "human fingerprint".

anthropogenic change "It’s warmer than usual".

anthropogenic climate change "Weather we don’t like".

autocorrelation "Say what? We don’t have to deal with that".

Bonferroni correction see "autocorrelation"

carbon dioxide "The secret knob that controls the climate".

cause "Greenhouse gases"

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White supremacist black woman

The Orlando Weekly’s Xander Peters frames the story this way: "Orange County middle school teacher has an incredibly racist Twitter account." According to Peters, this teacher "retweeted an anti-Muslim post by Identify [sic] Evropa, a white supremacist group that aims to create a white ethnostate."

Neither the Orlando Weekly nor the Orlando Sentinel, which also covered the story of this "racist" teacher, shows you a photo of the offender. That is probably because the accused "racist" and "white supremacist" teacher, Sundai Brown, is a black woman.

What race is she supposedly attacking? Jihad terror and Islamization. Islam, as any sane person knows, is not a race, and Muslims are not of a single race, but of all races. But the Orlando Weekly and Orlando Sentinel are out to destroy Sundai Brown’s career and livelihood, for the crime of opposing jihad violence and the spread of Sharia to non-Muslim countries. They have targeted her because she reportedly tweeted that "imans [sic] worldwide instruct muslims to invade western countries, outbreed them, overthrow governments, kill infidels and implement sharia law."

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Quote of the day

Weakening the Dodd-Frank Act

When 67 senators voted on Wednesday night to weaken the Dodd-Frank Act and ease rules across the banking industry, they also made it easier for banks to discriminate against black borrowers.

A provision in the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act would exempt the large majority of mortgage lenders from key disclosure requirements that help the government identify racial discrimination and enforce fair housing laws. The provision would facilitate redlining, allowing lenders to deny loans to black homebuyers, while also giving lenders carte blanche to overcharge black homebuyers or steer them into the same predatory loans that exploded during the financial crisis, pushing countless families into foreclosure.

Yet this bill, which would widen the already staggering racial wealth gap, won support from more than a dozen Democratic senators, including members such as Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill, and Doug Jones who rely on black and Hispanic voters to win elections. (The bill is also backed by one independent, Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats.)

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Gun facts

Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.

The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.

A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.

Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.

Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.

There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.

Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.

Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.

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Illegal suing for vindictive prosecution and collusion

Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, the illegal alien acquitted last year of murdering 32-year-old Kate Steinle in July 2015, has sued the federal government, demanding that it produce documents "pertaining to vindictive prosecution and collusion" with the state government in its prosecution against him.

In November, a San Francisco jury found Garcia-Zarate not guilty of murdering Steinle, agreeing that although he had the gun from which the fatal shot was fired, the discharge could have been accidental.

The jury did convict Garcia-Zarate of felony possession of a weapon. He had seven previous felony convictions and had been deported five times before finding "sanctuary" on the streets of San Francisco, a noted "sanctuary city."

The federal government immediately issued a warrant for Garcia-Zarate’s arrest for violating the terms of his 2015 federal prison release. It then charged him with federal crimes "for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and for being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition."

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Odds and ends

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska claims that Daniel Jones a former FBI investigator, Feinstein staffer and now a Fusion GPS operative told the Russian Oligarch’s lawyer in March, 2017 that Fusion GPS was funded by "a group of Silicon Valley billionaires and George Soros."

Nancy Pelosi...."My motivation is: one in five children in America lives in poverty. I can’t handle it. I just can’t handle it. So every day I eat nails for breakfast and don a suit of armor to go out there and fight for the kids, because that is about everything, that is about the future."

Bob Woodward....Some reporters are becoming emotionally unhinged covering Trump.

In the Middle East, whoever begs for peace, is perceived as a person who lost the battle… As a consequence, that person is begging to keep his head connected to his shoulders. This is how yearning for "PEACE" is viewed in the Arab world.

Golda Meir....We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.

September 2013....Obama said, "You can offer your family the security of health care for less than your cell phone bill."

Hillary...."White women voted for Trump because their husbands told them to."

Pelosi (2017).... Rex Tillerson is "too cozy" with Putin, he's a Russian puppet.

Pelosi (2018).... Rex Tillerson was fired because he stood up to Russia.

Rex Tillerson supported the Paris Climate Treaty; the President did not; Secretary Tillerson supported the Obama administration’s Iran deal; the President did not; Tillerson was more apologetic toward lax immigration policy; the President is not; and there were other visible departures visible surrounding the use of economic leverage to achieve national security advancements, specifically on the issue of China and North Korea policy.

Swiss financial centers, shunned by some British hedge fund managers for lacking culture and nightlife, are vying with London in a less celebrated ranking: cocaine consumption.

George Soros gave $30 million to Obama's campaign. Then he gave $27.1 million to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Lou Dobbs...."3 Bad Amigos...Comey, Clapper, Brennan."

The coldest temperature ever recorded by a thermometer in Antarctica was -89.2°C at Vostok station in 1983. (This is the same as -128.6°F.)

Four Republican senators are calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the Department of Justice and FBI’s actions in the Russia probe before Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over.

The four senators are Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa; South Carolina's Lindsey Graham; Texas' John Cornyn; and North Carolina's Thom Tillis.

MIT says it will take 400 years to transform to clean energy.

Climate blogger Tony Heller....I think most of the warming during the last century was due to data tampering by NOAA and NASA.

Angela Merkel...."Islam belongs to Germany."

Dennis Miller....Quite frankly, for Trump to receive a nice welcome in California he’d have to come in illegally.

The Obama administration ordered the removal of over 500,000 fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in late 2016, according to testimony from Acting FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich.

Paul Ryan’s Congressional Leadership SuperPAC actually campaigned for the Democrat, Conor Lamb, in the recent PA18 congressional race.

Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker said today that a highly anticipated report from the DOJ's Inspector General Michael Horowitz will contain "some pure TNT." (We've heard that before but nothing seems to change)

Widely reported Haspel CIA torture claim was fake news, retracted by ProPublica.

Lest you have sympathy for the fired Andy McCabe, remember that he had a meeting and told his subordinates, "Fuck Flynn and then we fuck Trump."

Through the first seven months of this fiscal year, Illinois spent $337.9 million on interest penalties on unpaid bills...

For 8 years, we took every opportunity to point out that under Barack Obama's administration, US debt was rising at a alarmingly rapid rate. It now appears that the trajectory of US debt under the Trump administration will be no different, and in fact based on Trump's ambitious fiscal spending visions, may rise even faster than it did under Obama.


From winning to losing

Germany lost World War I in a matter of months after near victory. The lessons from that defeat are still valuable today.

One hundred years ago this month, all hell broke loose in France. On March 21, 1918, the German army on the Western Front unleashed a series of massive attacks on the exhausted British and French armies.

German general Erich Ludendorff thought he could win World War I with one final blow. He planned to punch holes between the French and British armies. Then he would drive through their trenches to the English Channel, isolating and destroying the British army.

The Germans thought they had no choice but to gamble.

The British naval blockade of Germany after three years had reduced Germany to near famine. More than 200,000 American reinforcement troops were arriving each month in France. (Nearly 2 million would land altogether.) American farms and factories were sending over huge shipments of food and munitions to the Allies.

Yet for a brief moment, the war had suddenly swung in Germany’s favor by March 1918. The German army had just knocked Russia and its new Bolshevik government out of the war. The victory on the Eastern Front freed up nearly 1 million German and Austrian soldiers, who were transferred west.

More here

Mexican flags at pep rallies

Waving the flag of the country they'd do anything to avoid being sent back to, DREAMers were out in force as President Trump's plane touched down in San Diego. The Mexican flags flew, and the hate-Trump chants pounded from the left.

Don't expect the rest of the media to notice any of this. Or the chants of "¡sí se puede!" or the Che banners and t-shirts, the foul language, or the scads of ethnic Mexican clothing to demonstrate the absence of assimilation. Nope, most of the press did its level best to keep such images out of the news and present only the most sanitized versions of the anti-Trump protesters to the public.

Fortunately, since there were a lot of them covering the rallies, the details leaked out here and there. Two news agencies, Fox News 5, the local station in San Diego, and Breitbart News, in Beverly Hills, reported without filters, as did the San Diego Free Press, a radical left-wing news agency that actually likes the foul language and Mexican flag-waving. The New York Times did note the Che t-shirts even as it snidely called the pro-Trump rallies "pep rallies." (Would they have called a pro-Obama rally a "pep" rally?) But if you wanted to see what the rallies were really like, most of the local press by and large blacked out the flags from the coverage.

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You'd think they would have measured the tunnel

THE NSW Government has an embarrassing problem with $2 billion worth of new trains that are on order they’re too wide to go through the tunnels.

Whereas the current trains are 2.9m wide, the new models being built in South Korea are 20cm wider. That small difference could have a big impact.

It means the new trains could collide with the tunnel walls on their way up to the world famous Blue Mountains.

But Transport for NSW (TfNSW), the Government body that manages the state’s rail system, has come up with a cunning plan. It has proposed simply relaxing current safety standards. In addition, 10 tunnels built in the 1900s will be partially modified to allow the new trains to run.

State opposition leader Luke Foley has said the government needs to show how they will guarantee passenger safety when the new trains are introduced from 2019.

"It takes a special type of incompetence to buy trains that don’t fit through the tunnels," Mr Foley said.

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How Students from China get into U.S. colleges

I have often wondered about how many Chinese students, who seem to have only the slightest knowledge of English, get admitted to U.S. colleges and universities. Every year at about this time I am reminded of this as I volunteer helping graduate students with their income tax filings at a D.C.-area university. Many of these are F-1 foreign students.

A series of pleadings in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia offers a partial answer: Some of them cheat on their pre-admission language examinations.

It is a multi-step process. First, the would-be student obtains a legitimate passport from the Chinese government; second, the student (often through an intermediary) finds and pays a resident of China (of the right sex and about the right age) who speaks passable English; third, a photograph of the substitute is inserted into a phony Chinese passport, containing the substitute’s photo and the name of the would-be student.

Then, fourth, the substitute appears with the phony passport for the (in-China) Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL) and takes the test in the name of the would-be student; finally, that test score from the Educational Testing Service is passed on to the U.S. college, which then admits the would-be student.

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Hyperinflation in Venezuela

After backing off over the past month and a half, Venezuela's hyperinflation is surging again, making a new high of 7459% yr/yr.

The Grim Reaper has taken his scythe to the Venezuelan bolivar. The death of the bolivar is depicted in the following chart. On the black market (read: free market), a bolivar is worthless, and with its collapse, Venezuela is witnessing today the world’s worst inflation.

On January 29th, Venezuela announced that one of its two official exchange rates was being eliminated. So, now the bolivar "trades" at one rate, under new auction rules. The official rate is now B/USD = 24,968, for those lucky enough to obtain it. But, following the elimination of Venezuela's official multiple exchange-rate system on January 29th and Maduro's announcement that the Petro raised $735 million on its ICO in late February (02/20/2018), the hapless bolivar staged something of a rally. In consequence, the currency has come off its lows and Venezuela's hyperinflation has come off its highs.

Some have applauded Maduro's recent moves, claiming that they will stabilize the bolivar and eliminate inflation. This, of course, is nothing more than a pipe dream. While the bolivar has strengthened a bit and inflation has temporarily abated and stabilized, the bolivar bounce is nothing more than a classic dead cat bounce.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Ban on sanctuary cities upheld in Texas

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that most of Texas's law targeting so-called sanctuary cities can remain in effect, a win for Republicans in the state as well as for the Trump administration as it battles measures viewed as protecting immigrants in the country illegally.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals allows Texas to enforce measures outlined in Senate Bill 4, which lets local law enforcement officials ask the people they detain about their immigration status, according to the Associated Press.

The law also punishes local government officials who refuse to cooperate when federal immigration agents request that immigrants in custody be turned over to them.

The part of the law that the court said is still on hold concerns a provision that punishes local officials who "endorse" policies that restrain the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

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Preparing for war

The CIA World Factbook has finally updated its defense spending as a % of GDP stats. The CIA used to update it’s table regularly but then it just stopped for many years. In 2012, for example, the CIA informed us that it estimated that US defense spending in 2005 comprised 4.06% of GDP. Sharp work, guys.

The US as of fiscal year 2016 is down to 3.3% of GDP, less than half the 6.8% rate in the mid-1980s.

Russia was up to 5.4% in 2016, almost equal with Israel’s 5.6%. Saudi Arabia spends 9.9%.

Pakistan spends 3.6%, India 2.5%.

South Korea is only 2.3%. North Korea isn’t listed.

That’s pretty striking.

Others: Iran 2.7%, Estonia 2.2%, China 1.9%, Poland 2.0%, Turkey 1.7%, Ukraine 3.5%, Latvia 1.5%, Finland 1.3%. Georgia, which set off a war with Russia in 2008, is down to 2.2%.

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Nobel Prize for Obama was a mistake

Like many people, I was highly critical of the awarding of the Nobel Award to President Barack Obama in 2009 before he had done anything as president. Now the ex-Secretary for the Nobel Prize Geir Lundestad has admitted that Obama did not deserve the prize but rather they thought the award would strengthen Obama. It is a maddening admission that the committee bypassed a list of worthy candidates with proven contributions to humanity to give a boost to someone that the Committee simply liked. That would seem grossly unethical but Lundestad merely acknowledged that it did not seem to work.

As I discussed at the time, Obama beat out various more worthy candidates including Dr. Sima Samar who is an amazingly brave Afghan woman who has risked her life to fight for the rights of women and girls in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The chairwomen of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Samar was the first Hazara woman to obtain a medical degree from Kabul University. She has had to repeatedly flee for her life but has insisted on returning time and time again to treat the poor and fight for women’s rights in an area where feminists are routinely killed or sprayed with acid by extremists.

Samar also opposed the rise of Sharia law and religious radicals. Extremists forced her out as Deputy President and later Minister of Women’s Affairs.

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SJW Convergence

SJW convergence refers to the process whereby "social justice warrior" activists infiltrate a primarily American organization, with the end-result being a repurposed shell referred to as a skin suit. The purpose of the skin suit is then expanded to encompass the socialist agenda while simultaneously being stripped of its assets through inflated salaries to leftist employees and donations to "progressive" causes. Differing from a front group with goals set at creation, a successfully-"converged" skin suit previously had other objectives, such as producing a good or service, objectives it continues to accomplish (though invariably in a dwindling capacity as parasitism progresses).

The term "SJW convergence" was introduced by blogger "Vox Day" in the 2015 book SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police.

While top-down infiltration organizations has long been a hallmark of socialist encroachment going all the way back to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (e.g., the domination of many labor unions by communists, and the descent of the New York Times under the stewardship of Adolph Ochs into Soviet promotion), SJW convergence is a much more recent phenomena of the early 21st Century, and represents more of a bottom-up, Red Guards-style politically correct assault upon institutions rendered helpless by enforced compliance to Title VII mandated racial and gender hiring quotas. A business under assault will typically have a human resources department staffed by a closet-socialist head administrator who is "unfireable" due to their being necessary to maintain quota; in charge of hiring, the socialists in position will hire only more socialists who have been "vetted" through examination of their social media activities. Once a critical mass are employed, they will agitate for speech codes, then begin driving out politically incorrect employees upon implementation.

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Dismantling whiteness

The University of Minnesota has invited a professor dedicated to "dismantling whiteness" to speak next week on how whiteness is an "existential threat" to the United States.

"The Elephant in the Room: A ‘Grown Up’ Conversation about Whiteness" will be presented by Lisa Anderson-Levy, an Anthropology professor at Beloit College whose teaching philosophy is predicated on the belief that "teaching is a political act."

"She argues that whiteness poses an existential threat to social, political, and economic life in the U.S."

During her lecture, Anderson-Levy is slated to speak on a number of issues, including "the violence of whiteness" and how colleges and universities in the United States may be complicit in perpetuating this violence.

"This presentation explores the ubiquity and violence of whiteness and the ways in which academic institutions are poised to either reproduce or interrupt these discourses," writes Anderson-Levy, referring to herself in the third person.

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National Geographic has been racist all these years

National Geographic acknowledged on Monday that it covered the world through a racist lens for generations, with its magazine portrayals of bare-breasted women and naive brown-skinned tribesmen as savage, unsophisticated and unintelligent.

'We had to own our story to move beyond it,' editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg told The Associated Press in an interview about the yellow-bordered magazine's April issue, which is devoted to race.

National Geographic first published its magazine in 1888. An investigation conducted last fall by University of Virginia photography historian John Edwin Mason showed that until the 1970s, it virtually ignored people of color in the United States who were not domestics or laborers.

He also found it reinforced repeatedly the idea that people of color from foreign lands were 'exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages - every type of cliché.'

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bye, bye, Rex

The abrupt firing Tuesday of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson follows months of infighting between the State Department and White House over efforts by Tillerson to save the Iran nuclear deal and ignore President Donald Trump's demands that the agreement be fixed or completely scrapped by the United States, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

In the weeks leading up to Tillerson's departure, he had been spearheading efforts to convince European allies to agree to a range of fixes to the nuclear deal that would address Iran's ongoing ballistic missile program and continued nuclear research.

While Trump had prescribed a range of fixes that he viewed as tightening the deal's flaws, Tillerson recently caved to European pressure to walk back these demands and appease Tehran while preserving the deal, according to these sources. The Free Beacon first disclosed this tension last week in a wide-ranging report.

White House allies warned Tillerson's senior staff for weeks that efforts to save the nuclear deal and balk on Trump's key demands regarding the deal could cost Tillerson his job, a warning that became reality Tuesday when Trump fired Tillerson by tweet.

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The gangs of Berlin

Arab criminal gangs operating in Berlin have been accused of targetting individual police officers with threats, including spreading rumours of sexual encounters with prostitutes, in order to intimidate or take revenge on officers.

Over the past several years, the power of Arab family organised crime gangs in Berlin has increased substantially as they have largely taken over the city’s drug and prostitution trade. According to a new report, the gangs are now using their power to threaten and intimidate authorities to stop investigations, German media reports.

The gangs have developed several different tactics to intimidate or discredit officers including spreading rumours that certain officers have been visiting with prostitutes or even that they were being given free girls for sex, insinuating they were corrupt.

Berlin police spokesman Benjamin Jendro said "such slander is very stressful for our colleagues."

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There is no such thing as voter fraud

Three illegal aliens in Illinois were indicted on felony charges for voting in the 2016 election.

The clerk’s office of Lake County, north of Chicago, discovered the alleged crimes, charging three illegal aliens with perjury for misrepresenting their citizenship. Two other local residents were charged with voting twice, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The charges against the five local residents began with information uncovered by the Lake County clerk’s office, and then the cases were developed through an investigation by the Lake County state’s attorney’s office.

Marcelo Villaruz and his wife, Gina Villaruz of Beach Park, Illinois, and Yvette Yust of Waukegan were charged with 3 felonies, which carry a potential sentence of probation or two to five years in prison upon conviction.

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Enlightened Environmentalism

Apocalyptic scenarios attributed to global warming are simply false and the human race will be able to accommodate whatever "climate change" throws at us, claims a remarkably sober new essay in Scientific American.

The essay, penned by John Horgan, the director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology, analyzes two recent reports by "ecomodernists" who reject climate panic and frame the question of climate change and humanity’s ability to cope with it in radically new terms.

One of the reports, a work called "Enlightened Environmentalism" by Harvard iconoclast Steven Pinker, urges people to regain some much-needed perspective on climate, especially in the context of the overwhelming material benefits of industrialization.

Pooh-poohing "the mainstream environmental movement, and the radicalism and fatalism it encourages," Pinker argues that humanity can solve problems related to climate change the same way it has solved myriad other problems, by harnessing "the benevolent forces of modernity."

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Swamp critters

"The Swamp" usually refers to the vast federal bureaucratic machinery of mostly unelected top officials who exercise influence and power without worry about the appearance of conflicts of interest. They are often exempt from the consequences of the laws and regulations that affect others. The chief characteristics of the swamp are the interlocking friendships, business relationships, marriages and partnerships in Washington, and their immune response against anyone who challenges them.

Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has proven the locus classicus of a dysfunctional and highly incestuous Washington cultureso much so that it borders on being a caricature of a Washington investigation.

How did it come about? Mueller’s acquaintance, former FBI Director James Comey (Mueller and Comey were lauded dating back to the Bush Administration as "brothers in arms"), has testified that he was so exasperated with the president that he leaked his own confidential and likely classified memos of presidential meetings to the press via a friend in order that it "might prompt the appointment of a special counsel." It certainly did that. And mirabile dictu, the special counsel was soon none other than Robert Mueller with whom Comey had had a professional relationship in a variety of contexts for nearly 20 years. At some point, will one of Mueller’s staff have to depose him to ask whether he ever discussed the possibility of a special counsel appointment with Comey prior to Comey’s firing?

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Paying for the Wall

Mexico won’t have to pay for the wall, after all. US taxpayers won’t have to pick up the tab, either. The controversial barrier, rather, will cover its own cost just by closing the border to illegal immigrants who tend to go on the federal dole.

That’s the finding of recent immigration studies showing the $18 billion wall President Trump plans to build along the southern border will pay for itself by curbing the importation of not only crime and drugs, but poverty.

"The wall could pay for itself even if it only modestly reduced illegal crossings and drug smuggling," Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Post.

Federal data shows that a wall would work. A two-story corrugated metal fence in El Paso, Texas, first erected under the Bush administration has already curtailed illegal border crossings there by more than 89 percent over the five-year period during which it was built.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mayor of London focused on hate speech

Stricter regulation, including large fines, is one option to force technology companies to take the issue of hate speech more seriously, the Mayor of London has said.

"We can’t assume that tech companies will find the solutions by themselves," Sadiq Khan told the BBC.

He said companies have to be "chivvied and cajoled to take action".

On Monday, he will share examples of abuse he has personally received.

The messages will form part of his keynote speech at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas.

He said the messages could deter people from entering politics or public life.

"If someone like me is receiving these sorts of messages in a public environment," he said. "Imagine how you feel as a young person, if you’re somebody who’s putting your head above the parapet.

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Messianic huckster

Elon Musk is a goofball techbro whose real business is quack philosophizing, not inventions or engineering.

I realize that the founder of Tesla and SpaceX really does make things, like electric cars and spaceships. But Musk's numerous attempts to realize his gleaming visions of a Jetsons-like future have never come close to living up to the (largely self-manufactured) hype. Lately he has started claiming that he is going to send cargo-laden rocket ships to Mars by the middle of President Trump's second term, in advance of the establishment of a permanent human colony. I'm not holding my breath.

Why have we allowed this lunatic a prominent place in our public and commercial life? Even his name makes him sound like the villain who convinces the Earth Federation in the year 4836 to trade in its fleet of perfectly serviceable if somewhat old-fashioned solar-powered starships for his sleek but shoddily made models that, allegedly, run on nothing but crystals from the planet Flion.

The line between science and science fiction has always been a blurry one. No sooner would Jules Verne write a story about, say, an electric submarine than some genius inventor would will it into reality. The problem with Musk is that he seems willing to calmly accept the reality of every nebulous Star Trek plot device in existence without bothering with the boring part where the thing actually has to work. Even a supercomputer operating on the principle of the so-called infinite monkey theorem could not devise a credible individual repository for all the wild things Musk believes. From the imminence of total human extinction to the perennial undergraduate assertion that, like, maybe we are all living inside in the Matrix, there is no implausible, discredited, absurd-on-its-face theory or cause that Musk has not endorsed with brio.

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Cops no longer in New York City schools

The last NYPD cops assigned full-time to New York City public schools are being moved out despite nationwide calls for heightened security in the wake of last month’s Florida shootings.

As the nation mourned the 17 victims of the school massacre at Parkland, Fla., the NYPD was removing Sgt. Raul Espinet from his post at Francis Lewis HS in Fresh Meadows, Queens where he had worked for more than a dozen years. Parents, teachers and students are livid over the beloved cop’s departure.

"My colleagues think it’s outrageous and really stupid," teacher Arthur Goldstein said. "We’re not enthusiastic about arming teachers, but we liked having a cop around."

Espinet’s position was eliminated because cops in Mayor de Blasio’s new community policing units will visit schools while patrolling the neighborhood, according to the NYPD. School safety agents are stationed at all schools, but are not armed.

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The wackos come out in force when they're the minority

As I’ve discussed here in the past, it’s often easier in political terms to fight from the cheap seats as the minority party than it is to actually take control and run the government. When the GOP was in that position we often saw some rather wacky ideas cropping up when candidates would take a viable debate point and turn up the volume to eleven until they reached an illogical extreme. If one candidate proposes building a wall on the Mexican border, you can bet that it won’t be long until someone else comes along and demands that it include a moat filled with sharks with lasers mounted on them.

Democrats are huddled in the minority position. Complaining about deportations, defending criminal illegal immigrants and pushing for sanctuary policies are all the rage right now. So, of course, someone had to similarly crank the thermostat of hot takes up to the maximum setting and call for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) entirely. The Daily Caller noted yesterday that this is already affecting potential POTUS contenders for the Democratic primary.

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The women who lived on the CIA grounds

A quarter mile from CIA’s Headquarters building, within the confines of CIA property, sits a four story Georgian Revival house at 6200 Georgetown Pike. The house is the oldest standing structure on CIA grounds. Built in 1926, the house was occupied by Margaret Scattergood and Florence Thorne for 53 years. Looking for a quiet retreat, they purchased the house and 20 acres of land in 1933. Margaret was a Quaker and a pacifist who devoted a significant portion of her time and funds to advancing liberal causes.

Neither Margaret nor Florence could have ever predicted that within 30 years of purchase, their home would be enclosed on CIA property, behind its protective barriers, while hundreds of CIA officers came to work just a stones’ throw away.

Margaret Scattergood was born into a wealthy and religious Quaker family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1926 she moved to Washington to work for the American Federation of Labor (AFL). There she met Florence Thorne, 17 years her senior, who eventually became the research director for the AFL. The two women struck up a friendship that lasted a lifetime.

Margaret and Florence purchased a plot of land that contained a wood-framed house, a modest tenant house, a guest house/office, two car garage and a barn. They dubbed it, "the Calvert Estate," in tribute to Florence’s distinguished lineage (Florence’s mother was a direct descendant of Sir George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore of Maryland). The land consisted of gently rolling slopes with tall, mature pine and oak trees that lined the driveway. There was an apple orchard that produced delicious apples they sold at market. Margaret spent much of her time riding on the land; she was a skilled horsewoman and spent many hours in the saddle.

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