August 19th, 2014
St. Louis Cops Shoot and Kill Man in Incident Near Ferguson
Two St. Louis city police officers shot and killed a man who came within several feet of them brandishing a knife on Tuesday in a confrontation a few miles from the turbulent suburb of Ferguson, authorities said.
The man, 23, had taken energy drinks and a package of pastries from a nearby convenience store, Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters. He said that the man was “acting erratically, walking back and forth, up and down the street.”
The chief said that the officers repeatedly ordered the man to drop the knife. The chief said the man answered: “Shoot me now. Kill me now.” He said the man moved toward one of the officers and came within 3 to 4 feet.
“One of the witnesses described it as a suicide by cop,” Dotson said.
August 18th, 2014
Very bad news, despite the little silver lining (in boldface below). In the Los Angeles Times written by Jim Puzzanghera:
More than a third of American adults have no retirement savings, and 14% of those ages 65 and older also haven’t put money away yet, according to a new study.
The low savings rate for people at or approaching retirement age is alarming, said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, which conducted the survey. The results were released Monday.
About a quarter — 26% — of those ages 50 to 64 haven't started saving for retirement, the survey said; the figure was 33% of people 30 to 49 years old.
36% of adults have no retirement funds saved
More than one-third of Americans haven't begun saving for retirement, a study says.
Overall, 36% of those 18 years or older have not started saving for retirement, according to the survey of 1,003 adults.
“They still have time to start, but they still have to save so much as a percentage of their income to make up for the years they weren’t saving that it puts them in a tough spot,” McBride said.
Savers have been hurt in recent years by historically low interest rates caused by the Federal Reserve’s attempts to stimulate the economy after the Great Recession.
The survey's findings were not all bad, McBride said. It indicated that younger people are starting to save earlier than in past generations.
Twice as many adults who are 30 to 49 years old started saving when they were in their 20s instead of waiting until their 30s, the survey said. Seniors were just as likely to have waited until they were in their 40s to start saving as they were to have started in their 20s, McBride said.
Greater awareness of the financial problems of Social Security is a main reason younger people have started earlier on their retirement plans, he said. Automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans also has helped people to start saving earlier.
This is the reason companies had pensions. Pushing savings on to the individual to handle will cause more harm to the society. Ultimately society will have to handle those who were unfortunate, unlucky, made risky choices etc.
“The burden for retirement savings is increasingly upon us as individuals, and people are aware of that,” McBride said.
Still, 69% of those 18 to 29 years old have no retirement savings, according to the survey.
August 17th, 2014
I have said before that being anti-Zionist is not the same as being anti-Semitic.
But it appears that the current anti-Zionism can lead to anti-semitism.
A letter from an "ordinary middle-aged Londoner" expressing fears about growing anti-semitism in Britain has gone viral, with many taking to social media to express their own discomfort.
The letter from Stephen Spencer Ryde, sent to the Independent, has been retweeted more than 1,000 times since it was published on Friday.
I’m just an ordinary middle-aged Londoner.Sent from my GT-P3113 using Tapatalk
I work in an office. I go to football. I like eating out. I enjoy the arts. I am a proud family man. I give up time for charity work. I try to be a decent contributing member of society. I pay my taxes honestly. But there appears to be something that sets me and my kind apart.
At park gates in East London a friend of mine gets told to f**k off for photographing a flag. At a pub in Bath my wife gets called scum when she mentions her background. In a student hall in Manchester a friend’s son is asked to leave as the specially prepared food he chose to eat is not permitted because it carries a label written in a language used by a country that is “banned” by the student union.
In Belfast a historic blue plaque is removed to deny part of my history. In theatres in Edinburgh and London I am told to denounce my opinions or lose the right to perform. A sportsman in Ireland tweets if he sees my kind he’ll punch us in the face and recommends others follow suit.
Protesters across the country show no shame in shouting that my historical persecutors were right and social media is rife with vitriol towards me (even from so-called friends). And in Bradford I’m told that I am not even permitted to enter the city.
What is this? Racism. Where is this? Britain and Ireland. When is this? Now. Who am I? I am a Jew.
Never again, we say, never again.
August 10th, 2014
A report from the Center for Responsive Politics is fascinating, even though it excludes 501(c) organizations.
|Totals on this page reflect donations from employees of the organization, its PAC and in some cases its own treasury. These totals include all campaign contributions to federal candidates, parties, political action committees (including superPACs), federal 527 organizations, and Carey committees. Because 501(c) organizations do not disclose their donors, contributions to those groups are not included here, except in cases where the group discloses voluntarily. Only contributions to Democrats and Republicans or liberal and conservative outside groups are included in calculating the percentages the donor has given to either party.|
The evil Koch Brothers are #36.
July 28th, 2014
so.. war under false pretenses.. . seems familiar..
When the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, kidnapped in the West Bank, were found late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words. "Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay," he said, initiating a campaign that eventually escalated into the present conflict in the region.
But now, Israeli officials admit the kidnappings were not Hamas's handiwork after all. (Update: The comments from the Israeli spokesperson in question indicate that the group thought to be responsible, a "lone cell," may not have been under direct orders from Hamas's leadership, but was loosely affiliated with the group.
By: Tom Servo
July 21st, 2014
Millennials' Political Views Don't Make Any Sense
That's not a harsh assessment. It's just a fair description.
Derek Thompson Jul 15 2014, 7:56 AM ET
Millennial politics is simple, really. Young people support big government, unless it costs any more money. They're for smaller government, unless budget cuts scratch a program they've heard of. They'd like Washington to fix everything, just so long as it doesn't run anything.
That's all from a new Reason Foundation poll surveying 2,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Millennials' political views are, at best, in a stage of constant metamorphosis and, at worst, "totally incoherent," as Dylan Matthews puts it.
- Millennials hate the political parties more than everyone else, but they have the highest opinion of Congress.
- Young people are the most likely to be single parents and the least likely to approve of single parenthood.
- Young people voted overwhelmingly for Obama when he promised universal health care, but they oppose his universal health care law as much as the rest of the country ... even though they still pledge high support for universal health care. (Like other groups, but more so: They seem allergic to the term Obamacare.)
1. Millennials are more liberal than the rest of the country, particularly on social issues, but they get more economically conservative when they make more money.<snip>
2. Millennials don't know what they're talking about when it comes to economics.<snip>
3. Far less important, but entertaining nonetheless: Millennials don't know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice.
July 19th, 2014
With the recent decisions in Hobby Lobby, FEC v. McCutcheon, and Citizen's United, overall public opinion of the Supreme Court has been very low. However, I would hazard a guess that the Supreme Court could give a rat's furry behind what the public opinion polling says.
Americans do not seem to understand the Supreme Court or the judiciary as a whole nearly as much as they think they do. Whether this is a result of the prevalence of shows like Law & Order or courtroom "reality" shows like Judge Judy, or simply due to a lack of ignorance on the part of the American public, I do not know.
What I do know, is the people doing the most criticizing have the least knowledge, and have not read the decisions they're criticizing.
Take, for example, the Hobby Lobby case. That case dealt with, at its core, a person's rights, albeit a juristic person, in conflict with federal law. Strictly speaking, there was not an issue of a human person being denied access to birth control by a company. Another case will undoubtedly wind its way to the Supreme Court that will settle that issue. I disagree with Hobby Lobby's decision, but for an entirely different reason than that which has been given the most attention. In deciding the case, the Supreme Court has affirmed that Congress can decide the outcome of a case by determining which level of scrutiny the Court must apply. Without the RFRA, the statute that caused the decision, the Supreme Court would have likely used rational basis review in deciding the case, which would have made the decision less likely to go for Hobby Lobby.
The only good thing that can come from the Hobby Lobby decision is that now the Supreme Court doesn't have much of a leg to stand on when using a separation-of-powers argument to prohibit Congress from requiring Supreme Court cases be televised. I think something like that would do nothing but good.
In dealing with McCutcheon and Citizens United, the Supreme Court had to deal with the fact that the Constitution was written for a time when political parties were not organized, and thus had to apply the vague language of the Constitution to modern controversies the Framers wouldn't have ever imagined.
Yesterday, when the Supreme Court announced that Utah's application for a stay in their same-sex marriage case was granted, many people on Facebook acted as if they had decided the entire case. When I tried to explain that it was just a procedural step in every case, that a judgement does not go into force until the appeals process is exhausted, I was largely ignored.
June 29th, 2014
Does this come from Obama disclaiming Americas exceptionalism over other countries? Or what would cause Americans not to be proud of being an American?
June 22nd, 2014
A trenchant critique offered by Elliott Abrams in Politico.
There’s always Tunisia. Amid the smoking ruins of the Middle East, there is that one encouraging success story. But unfortunately for the Obama narratives, the president had about as much as to do with Tunisia’s turn toward democracy as he did with the World Cup rankings. Where administration policy has had an impact, the story is one of failure and danger.
The Middle East that Obama inherited in 2009 was largely at peace, for the surge in Iraq had beaten down the al Qaeda-linked groups. U.S. relations with traditional allies in the Gulf, Jordan, Israel and Egypt were very good. Iran was contained, its Revolutionary Guard forces at home. Today, terrorism has metastasized in Syria and Iraq, Jordan is at risk, the humanitarian toll is staggering, terrorist groups are growing fast and relations with U.S. allies are strained.
How did it happen? Begin with hubris: The new president told the world, in his Cairo speech in June 2009, that he had special expertise in understanding the entire world of Islam—knowledge “rooted in my own experience” because “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.” But President Obama wasn’t speaking that day in an imaginary location called “the world of Islam;” he was in Cairo, in the Arab Middle East, in a place where nothing counted more than power. “As a boy,” Obama told his listeners, “I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk.” Nice touch, but Arab rulers were more interested in knowing whether as a man he heard the approaching sound of gunfire, saw the growing threat of al Qaeda from the Maghreb to the Arabian Peninsula, and understood the ambitions of the ayatollahs as Iran moved closer and closer to a bomb....
But these errors are minor when compared to those in Iraq and Syria. When the peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad was brutally crushed, Obama said Assad must go; when Assad used sarin gas, Obama said this was intolerable and crossed a red line. But behind these words there was no American power, and speeches are cheap in the Middle East. Despite the urgings of all his top advisers (using the term loosely; he seems to ignore their advice)—Panetta at CIA and then Defense, Clinton at State, Petraeus at CIA, even Dempsey at the Pentagon—the president refused to give meaningful assistance to the Syrian nationalist rebels. Assistance was announced in June 2013 and then again in June 2014 (in the president’s West Point speech) but it is a minimal effort, far too small to match the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Quds Force fighters in Syria. Arabs see this as a proxy war with Iran, but in the White House the key desire is to put all those nasty Middle Eastern wars behind us. So in the Middle East American power became a mirage, something no one could find—something enemies did not fear and allies could not count on.
The humanitarian result has been tragic: At least 160,000 killed in Syria, perhaps eight million displaced. More than a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon (a country of four million people, before Obama added those Syrians), about a million and a quarter Syrian refugees in Jordan (population six million before Obama). Poison gas back on the world scene as a tolerated weapon, with Assad using chlorine gas systematically in “barrel bombs” this year and paying no price whatsoever for this and for his repeated attacks on civilian targets. Both of the key officials handling Syria for Obama—State Department special envoy Fred Hof and Ambassador Robert Ford—resigned in disgust when they could no longer defend Obama’s hands-off policy. Can Samantha Power be far behind, watching the mass killings and seeing her president respond to them with rhetoric?
The result in security terms is even worse: the largest gathering of jihadis we have ever seen, 12,000 now and expanding.They come from all over the world, a jihadi Arab League, a jihadi EU, a jihadi U.N. Two or three thousand are from Europe, and an estimated 70 from the United States. When they go home, some no doubt disillusioned but many committed, experienced and well trained, “home” will be Milwaukee and Manchester and Marseille—and, as we see now on the front pages, to Mosul. When Obama took office there was no such phenomenon; it is his creation, the result of his passivity in Syria while Sunnis were being slaughtered by the Assad regime.
And now they have spread back into Iraq in sufficient numbers to threaten the survival of its government. Obama has reacted, sending 300 advisers, a number that may presage further expansion of American military efforts. Perhaps they will find good targets, and be the basis for American air strikes and additional diplomatic pressure. But we had won this game, at great expense, before Obama walked away. The fiery rage of Iraqi Sunnis at the government in Baghdad had been banked by 2009. American diplomatic efforts, whose power was based in the American military role, disappeared under Obama, who just wanted out. It was his main campaign pledge.
The wind-up and conclusion:
From World War II, or at least from the day the British left Aden, the United States has been the dominant power in the Middle East. Harry Truman backed the Zionists and Israel came into being; we opposed Suez so the British, French and Israelis backed off; we became the key arms supplier for all our friends and kept the Soviets out; we reversed Saddam’s grabbing of Kuwait; we drove him from power; we drew a red line against chemical warfare; we said an Iranian bomb was unacceptable.
But that red line then disappeared in a last-minute reversal by the president that to this day is mentioned in every conversation about security in the Middle East, and no Arab or Israeli leader now trusts that the United States will stop the Iranian bomb. After all, we have passively watched al Qaeda become a major force in the heart of the region, and watched Iran creep closer to a nuclear weapon, and watched Iran send expeditionary forces to Syria—unopposed by any serious American pushback. Today no one in the Middle East knows what the rulebook is and whether the Americans will enforce any rules at all. No one can safely tell you what the borders of Iraq or Syria will be a few years hence. No one can tell you whether American power is to be feared, or can safely be derided.
That’s the net effect of five and a half years of Obama policy. And, to repeat, it is Obama policy: not the collective wisdom of Kerry and Clinton and Panetta and Petraeus and other “advisers,” but the very personal set of decisions by the one true policymaker, the man who came to office thinking he had a special insight into the entire world of Islam. In the Middle East today, the “call of the azaan” is as widely heard as Obama remembered from Indonesia. But when leaders look around they see clever, well-resourced challenges from Shia and Sunni extremists armed to the teeth, with endless ambitions, willing to kill and kill to grasp power—and far more powerful today than the day this president came into office. They do not see an American leader who fully understands those challenges and who realizes that power, not speeches, must be used to defend our friends and allies and interests. So there’s one other thing a lot of Israeli and Arab leaders share, as they shake their heads and compare notes in those secret meetings: an urgent wish that Jan. 20, 2017, were a lot closer.
Report: Poland’s Foreign Minister Blasts ‘Worthless’ U.S. Relationship
Nolan Freeney, Time.
In tapes obtained by a Polish magazine, Radoslaw Sikorski used an expletive to describe his country's alliance with the U.S.
Polish magazine Wprost claims to have obtained recordings of a conversation in which Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski says “the Polish-American alliance is worthless, even harmful, as it gives Poland a false sense of security. It’s bulls—t.”
June 20th, 2014
The only "good" thing about Ebola is that is burns to hot.. kills before it spreads and a fast incubation period.
The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa is "totally out of control," according to a senior official for Doctors Without Borders, who says the medical group is stretched to the limit in its capacity to respond.
The current outbreak has caused more deaths than any other on record, said another official with the medical charity. Ebola has been linked to more than 330 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization.
International organizations and the governments involved need to send in more health experts and increase public education messages about how to stop the spread of the disease, Bart Janssens, the director of operations for the group in Brussels, told The Associated Press on Friday.
"The reality is clear that the epidemic is now in a second wave," Janssens said. "And, for me, it is totally out of control."
The outbreak, which began in Guinea either late last year or early this year, had appeared to slow before picking up pace again in recent weeks, including spreading to the Liberian capital for the first time.
"This is the highest outbreak on record and has the highest number of deaths, so this is unprecedented so far," said Armand Sprecher, a public health specialist with Doctors Without Borders.